Borderwars 2016

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Bug players issue orders to their arthropod troops!
I had a very enjoyable weekend in Kansas City at Borderwars Convention. A small miniatures heavy event hosted by HMGS I ran Hive and the Flame for two sessions and had a total of about ten players
Aerial unit movement stand
Aerial unit movement stand with six armed and armored assault landers
The first session was Friday evening and consisted of the initial air phase of the final assault on the Hive. In a couple of hours we played four turns with the action being between two flights of armed landers an a massive swarm of flying lancers. The armed landers were unable to keep away from the cloud of winged arthropods and although the humans were able to whittle the wasp like bugs’ numbers down significantly with automatic weapons fire could not prevent the chitenous invaders from boarding.
"Good Lord! They are all over us!" The flying lancers swarm all over human armed landers.
“Good Lord! They are all over us!” The flying lancers swarm all over human armed landers.
At that point the aliens began to take a toll on the assault craft. They destroyed most of a flight and damaged a number of others in the second flight.
"I saw the assault ships burning over the Hive"
“I saw the assault ships burning over the Hive”
Only one of the flights escaped the aerial melee unscathed. As that group entered the range of the Supra Major shooters its luck ran out and very quickly two of its six ships were hit and destroyed. With the surviving landers from this squadron about to touch down, supported by the fire from a pair of Shakespeare class rocket armed gunboats we broke for the night.
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A Shakespeare rocket armed gunship begins making its attack run.
We picked the game up the next afternoon (as the morning was taken up by a large lovely 15mm Napoleonic game-in which most attendees played or watched).
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Terrain ready for the troops of Napoleon
While that as going on I ended up purchasing a number of deeply discounted Flames of War products including an armored locomotive and a pair of tank hunter railcars, some land mattress rocket launchers, a German anti tank aircraft (soon to be converted into a tilt rotor craft for HQC) and three sets of craters (the last of which were immediately put on the table!)
Once play started up again the human players wasted no time in trying to get their remaining landers on the ground and their troops in. They did lose one more lander to the last of the flying bugs, which were finally wiped out in turn. One of the Shakespeares came under heavy ground fire and down to its last damage point was forced to withdraw.
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Down by the stern and heavily aflame the Othello tries to limp from the battle before she is destroyed
A flight of ornithopters came in to support the landing and attempted to suppress the bug shooters and was roughly handled, with four of its six machines being downed.
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Downed Ornithopter by Flames of War craters. Bug shooter units stand ready near their victim to fire their next salvo.
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When the landers hit the top of the hive they were immediately met by swarms of warrior bugs which attempted to overrun the machines before they could disgorge their troops. The defensive fire from the landers was able to thin out the attackers and the close assault on the armored landers resulted in heavy bug casualties and no machines destroyed.
As the First Aerial Divisions troops began to debus the Hive’s Queen and King as well as numerous larva were forced to the surface. This gave the humans a clear and critical target, but the giant aliens tunneled up well away from the landing zone. A second flight of ornithopers attacked the royal personages but was unable to do much damage and were heavily engaged by bug shooters who downed two machines.
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Players try and determine if the miniature is the “King” or the “Queen”. It turns out sexing giant alien arthropods is far more difficult than might be assumed.
The troops which came roaring out of the landing craft were quickly engaged in melee by the surviving bug warriors near the landing zone and although they suffered heavy casualties were able to clear away the remaining units from the landing zone.
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Three types of aerial craft drive towards the landing zones
By this time the con was winding down and the game was called. It was too close to call and a draw was declared.
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Awesome custom game tables from a Kansas City based company. This one is cherry!
There were a lot of good learning and ideas thrown around, which will help with future games
Generally the new movement stands worked pretty darned well and did their job.
Put “plates” on the flying movements stands so that when bugs melee with a flyer they can be more easily placed there.
Make identification of flying bug swarms and individual flyers easier
Possibly use the new plates to put a small damage chart
Tactically if you are a human don’t let the bugs melee with you EVER
If you are a bug player melee with unarmed flyers not the ones with four 1 pdr pom poms
For the Shakespeares, once they get in good rocket range salvo the entire war load of 48 rockets. Divide them between as many Supra Major shooter units as practical. At medium range the rockets hit on a 1-8 on a D20 and each rocket draws 16 cards. That means 12 rockets are likely to destroy a unit of three surpa major shooters.
Bug shooters should concentrate their fire on single machines, it is better to kill a smaller number of machines than to damage several
Killing landers in the air kills the troops inside
We’ve played with a number of “fast convention” rules so this is what we will be using in the future
Machines are only damaged (depending upon the size of the machine) on “kill” results i.e. hearts or Jokers in ranged combat
Machines are damaged (depending upon the size of the machine) on “kill” results in Melee
Machines require several “forced back” results in melee (depending upon the size of the machine) to be forced back-this is new, up till now we’ve played that machines can be forced back on a single forced back result of are never forced back
There needs to be an easier way to track machines in combat
The game runs faster the more players there are (well within reason)

Bugs General Roosevelt, Millions of them!

I have two weekends left before Border Wars. I have much to do. I have to finish all the aerial movement stands (pictures of those will be forthcoming). I think I have all the human troops I’ll be needing for this first convention of 2016 all based flocked and in their transport containers. I’m trying to get enough Bugs to face the human onslaught. One thing that the bugs usually suffer is a lack of ranged combat critters. I’m working hard fill this gap

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Hand cast media shooters for The Hive. These are from my designs and Scott Flowers’ original sculpts

In addition the bugs will need a lot of command and control drones. These are Khurasan’s Mantis Men in 15mm. These are really great little sculpts and paint up nicely.

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The yellow figures on top are Khurasan’s Mantis Men, The “rolly-polly” looking brown figures are some out of production Gaming Figures Inc. generic bugs.

To increase the Hive’s close in combat power I’ve added a number of units of “trappers” these are like enormous ant lion larva; burried just below the ground they remain hidden until their enemies come to them. These old GFI figures will be Media Trappers. The Supra Major Trappers are getting worked on as well. Wait till folks see what ancient miniatures I have pulled out of the box for them!

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Ral Partha Head Hangers from the old Runequest line. Now cast by Iron Wind Enterprises

Finally there are these old Ral Partha Runequest figures. I believe they are Head Hangers. I omitted their trophies and now these will be Supra Major Crushers

 

Painted and flocked!

As the Convention Season draws ever nearer I continue to put brush to figures.

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The Virtual Armchair General and Old Glory 15mm United States Artillery. Called “redlegs” because of the red stripe down their pant legs. Ready for the service of the piece against the alien Hive

I might get better at photography at some point.

Blue Moon 15mm Gurkhas. Excellent figures, with great animation. They are ready for the table, I think

So far I’m painting human troops and getting them flocked

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Eureka 15mm Australian Light horse. The picture doesn’t do them justice

Air Skiffs from Mad Mecha Guy

http://madmechaguy.kong365.com/en-gb

I bought a group of 15mm aerial skiffs from Mad Mecha Guy. These kits are laser cut MDF. These are open simple open topped craft that look a lot like vessels one might find in that ancient and distant galaxy on a desert world crewed by a big slug’s henchmen.

http://madmechaguy.kong365.com/en-gb/collections/15mm-range/products/15mm-flying-skifflighter

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Building all five was a decent way to spend a weekend afternoon. This picture shows these models from the top, bottom and side.

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The bottom is perfect for an aerolyth array. These craft are going to get a bit of an upgrade. The Hive certainly won’t have any trouble feasting on the crew of such an open vehicle. I will be adding side walls and a top. These are going to become air ambulances for the Hive Wars. Once they are finished you will see them with a Corsec Engineering Omnistand fitting, a coat of glossy white paint and big red crosses. I have two larger Mad Mecha Guy ships to complete as well. I look forward to putting them together.

 

 

Painting, painting painting

The campaign season for my tiny warriors begins in May, so to make sure their morale is high and that they are ready for the battlefields I have been spending my evenings and weekends with brush in hand.

Preparing troops for the 2016 summer campaign
Preparing troops for the 2016 summer campaign

I’m gaming in 15mm and have figures from a number of manufacturers. The units of the United States Army include a regular infantry regiment (from Old Glory’s Boxer Rebellion line),

Preparing troops for the 2016 summer campaign
TVAG troops, both Buffalo Soldiers and Rough Riders. Officers, NCOs, standard bearers, other ranks and some Colt machine guns.

the 12th Cavalry (an African American regiment), the First Volunteer Cavalry (The Rough Riders)

"Redleg" artillerymen. The United States Artillery of the period wore a red stripe on their pant legs and has carried that "redleg" nickname for over a hundred years
“Redleg” artillerymen. The United States Artillery of the period wore a red stripe on their pant legs and has carried that “redleg” nickname for over a hundred years

and artillery crewmen all from The Virtual Armchair General’s Rough Rider’s line. I also painted some Blue Moon Gurkhas.

Blue Moon Gurkhas with British officers. I hat to try and paint the chin straps, since they were sculpted on!
Blue Moon Gurkhas with British officers. I hat to try and paint the chin straps, since they were sculpted on!

Finally are Eureka’s WW1 Australian Light Horse (dismounted, of course).

Eureka Australian Light Horse. Amazing figures with great detail.
Eureka Australian Light Horse. Amazing figures with great detail.

All told this is somewhere above three hundred individual miniatures. In addition a friend is painting up a Battlefront Miniatures group of German storm troopers for use as Germano-Dutch troops. This will be the prime assault force for the attack on the Alien Hive.

I still have a lot of detail to paint on. For 15mm these figures are great sculpts. Once these are painted I will matte coat them, flock the bases and they will be ready for battle. That will just leave all the vehicles, a bunch bugs and lots of terrain to finish up!

 

First attempt at Hive Terrain for the Conventions this summer

I am shooting for a huge Hive for the conventions this summer. The Human aerial assault forces will move across the open floor towards the Alien Hive. The idea is that the aliens live in something like this.

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I need to be able to do this with the bare minimum of terrain. Only so much of a game will fit in a Ford Ranger! My idea is to use the boxes in which the miniatures will travel to give more verticality to the table tops.

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I’ve dyed a number of sheets but I need to do some texturing them, possibly with darker dye or perhaps by spraying bleach in streaks and spots. I’m open to suggestions.

Second Type of Victorian Light Drop Ship

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Working with Craig at Gaming Models the second of our kit bashed assault landers is ready! This one started life as a whole lot of things, primarily one of Gaming Models’ Landing Craft Assault miniatures. I added some railway bridge parts, wings off a Ryan Spirit of Saint Louis and a B-25 Mitchel tailplane. It has a mount for a pair of pusher/puller counter rotating props aft.

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It will carry a number of troops that debus through a front mounted ramp. Not sure about weapons yet, although a top mounted turret or side mounted hard points might well work.

 

Just to show you what the other landers we have worked on together look like here is photo with both of them together.

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Look for a lomans take the fight to of these guys at Origins and Diecon and a few other cons this summer as the Humans take the fight to The Hive!

After action report from Colonial Barracks

After Action Report

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I was privileged to get to run a game at Colonial Barracks in New Orleans last weekend. It’s an amazing convention, where a number of legends of the miniature gaming hobby showcase the best of the hobby with wonderful terrain and grandly painted armies. I was assisted by The Jackson Gamers, who loaned me a hundreds of true 25mm figures for the human forces.

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The Scenario

During the Second Hive War numerous mated pairs of reproductive aliens were scattered across the globe. Most of these were quickly located and destroyed before they could form Hives of their own. Several were able to find remote and distant location is which to get a start before humans discovered them. One such was in South Africa. Once word reached the British in the Cape Colony a Royal Navy aerial cruiser was dispatched. It expended its entire ammunition supply upon the alien structure and reported that the Hive had been destroyed.

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A ground force was dispatched to confirm the destruction of all the Hive creatures, especially the Queen and larva. The force was composed of various Imperial units, British, South African and Zulu. The British Army provided a unit of lancers and two of dragoons. These were supported by a Boer commando and a Zulu cavalry unit. The bulk of the infantry were traditionally armed Zulu forces, fifteen of them and one armed with rifles. Three companies of British infantry were also present. They were supported by three batteries of Royal Artillery field guns and one of Royal Navy machine guns. Unfortunately there were no steam tanks or flying machines available in the area and it was deemed important to get a force there quickly.

From the alien point of view they had been having a very bad week. First a giant sky object appears and blasts the Hell out of their home. The attacker had extremely powerful explosives that penetrated deep into the heart of the Hive, killing many larva and eggs and destroying the brood chambers. The collapse of the galleries and chambers put all the larva at risk, so workers labored unceasingly to bring them to the surface until new tunnels could be excavated.  Just as that activity had begun to show results the deadly aliens of the world had shown up in large numbers. To meet them the Hive had limited resources. Only four units of shooters were available and not a single flying lancer. Troopers, lancers and fighters would bear the brunt of the combat and even a large number of workers, including butchers would have to be placed on the surface. If the aliens reached the helpless larva the Hive would be wiped out.

The victory conditions were simple. If the human player was able to kill the larva they would win. If the bugs were able to preserve them they would win. For results in which some larva died and others lived would be determined on a ratio to killed versus survived.

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Opening placement

The humans were allowed to place any or all of their units on the sixth of the board at their end. Their entry area was constrained by a river, which was fordable at one location but which could be swum by the Zulu infantry units at any point. The humans could bring on any unit not initially placed on the table any time they chose. The human players decided to use three of their heavy weapon batteries to form a base of fire and leave one artillery battery available to move over the ford with the advancing troops. The Zulus were lined up along the river bank ready to swim across and the cavalry and European troops were to cross at the ford.

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The bugs were allowed far more limited placement. They had approximately 1/3 of their total force on the board at the start and would only get additional units if they drew a Black Joker during movement. The Bug initial placement included three of their four shooter units (on high ground atop the remaining towers of the Hive) and a number of other warrior units. Their larva groups were each protected by a unit of smaller warriors.

Play of the Game

The human player counted on the fierce melee ability of his vast number of Zulu warriors to force the bug units back. He had not counted on either the melee prowess of the insectoids or their extremely aggressive nature.  As the humans began fording the river (and suffering truly remarkable casualties due to its swift current and deep channel) the Bug player moved one of their heaviest warrior units right into the ford. This unit of Media Troopers advanced right into the midst of several human units as they waited to cross and attacked them. They charged right across the water and up the steep bank. Suddenly the human plans were completely overtaken by events. Instead of pushing forward and establishing a bridgehead they were confronted by a mass of very deadly alien warriors holding the only crossing point for miles in either direction. In an effort to dislodge this unit they fired into it and had several infantry units charge. Finally they were able to kill all the controlling drones and most of the warriors. This did the humans little good as no sooner had they pushed the first unit out of the way an second charged into the ford and the process needed to be started all over again.

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On the human left flank the Zulu warriors had finally gotten most units across the stream and were moving to help clear the ford. As they did so they found themselves under fire from the shooters and charged by several units of warrior and worker bugs. Several melees broke out and although the masses of Zulus were generally able to defeat individual bug units, usually by the simple expedient of piling four or five Zulu units on each bug unit they found themselves taking savage casualties in return.

The only clear bright spot was they rapid destruction of Bug shooter units. Both the field artillery and the machine guns outranged the alien shooters and the aliens usually were able to fire for only a single turn or perhaps two turns before the human artillery made short work of them. Two of the Hive’s shooter units were wiped out in this manner.

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Around the ford the main battle still swirled. Three times the humans tried to cross in force and three times the Bug players sent a single unit forward to stop them. Each of these units was smashed in turn but they prevented the human force from making any real progress towards their objective.  After four hours of combat, with the bugs having lost half their shooters and several units of melee arthropods it was clear that the humans would not be able to force the river crossing. For their part the humans took considerable casualties to the traditional Zulu troops but relatively few to their other units. No cavalry was ever able to get into combat with the aliens and only a single company of British line infantry found itself face to face with the aliens. As the battle ended it was certain that the larva, and the Hive as a whole would live another day.

 

Hot Wash

First I totally screwed up the Human artillery. I think I mixed up Patrick’s Boilers and Breechloaders rules with the original Sword and the Flame and gave the human artillery 1/3 the dice they should have had when firing artillery. Secondly I probably should have made the bug start area further back. I also should have briefed the human players better. They should have been made more aware of the bugs’ melee abilities.

For their part the human players counted on melee far more than fire to deal with the bugs. As stated above this may have been partly my fault. However the human player should have ensured that all his rifle units were able to cover the ford with fire as he pushed his cavalry across to guard the bridgehead. The human player was also taken aback (and really dice whipped) by what happened when his Zulus tried to swim the river. It was horrific as the stream became choked with the bodies of brave warriors. He lost probably 10% of his force to drowning (this is an original TSatF rule, so I can’t be blamed for that).

For their part the Bug players made the most of what they had. They kept feeding units into the ford, stopping the human main advance. Each of the units was shattered in turn, but that is of no importance to The Hive. Only the survival of The Hive itself matters and the bug players internalized that very well. They fed melee units into the front just enough to force the humans to deal with them. The humans defeated every bug unit but it took them time to do so. With all that happening the humans were never able to push an artillery unit far enough forward to get the helpless larva in range or have their cavalry break free to charge distance.

Seven players participated and even with my mess ups seemed to have a good time. Getting seven people at my table, when they could have played in a number of spectacular games was very gratifying. I’d like to thank the Broms for putting the convention on, and all my players for spending their very valuable convention time with me!

The first day at Colonial Barracks

After the shock of the sad news of Larry Brom’s death Wednesday wore off I think most of the Colonial Barracks family of gamers decided to do what Larry would have wanted us to do, which is play and have fun. We do it with his memory close by, with many stories and recollections being shared.

Colonial Barracks is a small convention, but it has some of the most amazing game tables you are likely to see, as well as gloriously painted figures.

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New Aerial Landing craft being built to fight The Hive!

Craig from Gaming Models took a model I built and made a production mold for resin casting. I’ve always loved his work and have kit bashed a number of designed from his 15mm resin tanks and guns and what not. It was a ton of fun to work with him on this project.  These are VSF drop ships for the HQC Universe, but will certainly work for a lot of different game universes. I haven’t seen models yet, just these pictures. You will be able to see these assaulting the Hive next year at Diecon, Origins and maybe a few other places! I’ll have to add a prop to them, maybe counter rotating ones.

United States armored aerial landing craft right front quarter
United States armored aerial landing craft rear view

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