Monthly Archives: September 2013
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So what has Richard and his merry band of top flight artists been up to? They have been designing over two dozen nasty insectoid creatures. With the magic of 3D printing each of these will be available in both 15mm and 25mm. These minis will be identical, except for size.
So, you say that Steampunk isn’t your thing? That’s Ok-Giant Bugs go with everything! My true 25mm Ral Partha Romans have faced off against a bug horde. Classic Traveller had a mini adventure titled Horde, and Starship Troopers certainly cements the relationship between enormous arthropods and high tech civilizations. THEM! pits World War Two technology against giant ants. It takes a lot of 30-06 or .45 ACP to put down a bug the size of a car, but a bazooka with WP rounds will do the job nicely.
So from Ancient Rome to the far future any battlefield can be spiced up with a swarm of hungry chitenous horrors! In fact if you can find a copy of Metagames Chitin I:The Harvest Wars you don’t even need anything except bugs. It can be hive vs. hive.
Game club night and no ideas? Just throw a human army out and then it’s just like a picnic. The bugs will certainly show up! The good thing (or bad-take your pick) is that bugs just keep coming. They make great solo wargame opponents.
“Adventures in producing 3D Printer Miniatures for HiveQueen and Country” by Richard Delorme (Rosa Miniatures and Games)
In July 2013 I formed Rosa Miniatures and Games to develop miniatures for the Hive Queen and Country universe using the latest technology 3D printing. This technology provide more details and permits overhanging parts, thus you will receive “bugs” of exceptional quality. Since the Hive Queen and Country universe is played as both a table top war-game (Hive and the Flame) and as a role-playing game (Stars of Empire), our miniature line for this game will be produced in both 15mm and 25mm.
One of the first task was experimenting to find the best materials and printer for the job. It was quickly apparent that 3D printer manufactures frequently make claims that are exaggerated to say the least. Being cautious and having limited funds I asked for demonstrations / test prints of our first “bug” STL files. The first four printers I tested failed dramatically: three of these were 3DSystems printers the Cubify, the Projet1500, and the Project3500; the Makerbot proved unable to meet the challenge, but to be fair to Makerbot, the company reps did not think the machine could print such a small highly detailed object. The fifth printer was the Afinia, which gave suprisingly good results; they were not up to the extreme detail of the HiveQueen and Country designs, but it was close enough to do some prototyping. I also gained the assistance of Tri-County Community College and Clemson University Material Science Laboratory which permitted me to experiment with resin based machines.
Above are three “Media Legionaries” at 25mm scale (40 mm in length). The green miniature was made using an object machine and some “expired” resin. The photo does not do justice to the fine detail on this model. The white model was produced by Shapeways (at about 5 times the cost of the object model) and the detail is slightly less defined the models points are rounded. It appears that the machines Shapeways uses have problems with pointed extensions. The company rejected most of our models because of this issue. The last model is of the Afinia and has been spray painted for use at Dragon Con gaming tables. But it is very clear that the model lacks the fine detail found on the other models. In our experience, ABS machines cannot produce fine points at all and small features are lost.
It became clear early on that a resin based machine was needed to manufacture the creatures for HiveQueen and Country, however at $90,000 an Object machine was outside our capital. I was intreged by the Form1 machine but, Formlabs does not do business in SC for some nebulous legal reason that they will not explain. However the company did produce a test sample of our most difficult creature at about twice the intended scale (see below).
A breakthrough came when I asked why FormLabs why they did not do business in SC on the company webb forum. A jeweler noticed my post on the FormLabs site and recommended the B9Creator. Always willing to try a new machine, I logged onto the B9 Creator forum and a very nice teacher named Larry Watson (DC Schools) printed a bug for me using the B9Creator. I had two more bugs made by AU Enterprises (see below). The first is at 25mm scale and is about 65mm in length and the small is the same model is 15mm scale and is 40mm in length.
Our experimental work has determined that high resolution resins are the best material to produce high quality miniature of creatures. We have been able to produce quality tanks using ABS plastic, but are having some difficulty with machine guns and smaller caliber artillery barrels. Given the larger size of vehicles it makes sense to use the lower cost ABS for the body of the tank and at this time the ABS machines generally have larger build volumes.
I spent the weekend at Dragoncon in Atlanta. Previously I had been told that gaming at Dragoncon was pretty much a redheaded step child.
If it is then then gaming is the stepchild of the Rockefellers! Gaming was located in the basement of the Hilton. Yes it is the basement but it was a huge, well lit, well ventilated (the A/C was rocking!) space.
The low ceiling did make things a bit on the noisy side but the Hilton staff was very hard working. Trash was removed rapidly. There was even a hotdog stand (on Saturday and Sunday-the dogs were pretty good and 3.00 each).
Between Richard, his nephew Ben and I we had three sets of tables-I had a double for The Hive and The Flame, and Ben and Richard were running two different games, one was Steampunk Bash-build your automatons and take on the other inventors. The other table used the same rules but was automatons versus 3D printed bugs.
The pair ran nine games between Friday and Monday-The bulk were Bugs versus people and were on Saturday and Sunday. The average at the table was five or so, so almost fifty people got to play with the new 3D printed miniatures.
I ran games on both Saturday and Sunday. This was the same basic scenario I ran at Diecon in June. Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were defending the San Juan Mission from a huge Swarm Raid. Since I was hauling everything by air I had only three types of combat bugs (major and super major crushers and major shooters-and of course drones).
The Mission is Blue Moon’s Alamo-which is now mostly painted, and so looked even more impressive. I had a lot of really positive comments about the model. It was defended by a group of TVAG Rough Riders, Old Glory 15mm Boxer Rebellion American Infantry, guns from both companies and a number of 2 pdr Hotchkiss and the very lovely 7 inch siege mortars done as 3D printed models from Objects May Appear, Arun’s Shapeways store. I’ve never heard that the 7 inch has ever been available in this scale before and although the 2 pdr has been this is the most accurate 15mm produced to date.
The combat bugs were all hand cast from the molds that Scott Flower (my wife is very understanding about the use of the kitchen stove!). The drones are Khurusan mantis-men. I really look forward the new 3D printed critters, which will be based on Rachael Mayo’s amazing artwork. These will be spot on for the game and available in both 15mm and 25mm and there will be over 25 different prints in each scale.
The game Saturday started about noon, after folks filtered in from the massive costume parade. I ran it as a “come and go” event. Over the course of the afternoon I figure we had about twenty people throw dice and a similar number spend more than a few minutes looking over the table. The bug players lacked a bit on continuity as people came and went. This may have affected their strategy. They attacked in a series of waves. The human player was forced back off the front wall three times, once by each wave but at no time was the firing line in the main courtyard broken. The waves of bugs washed up against them and got whipped out before the next wave came in. This allowed the humans to defeat them in detail. The gun crews left their weapons and used their rifles when the bugs got in close and the repeaters did great destruction. Even with that it was still a very near run thing. The first wave launched a charge and rolled terrible dice for movement. The charge fell short. This gave the defenders an extra turn of fire, which they used to good effect. It was a pretty clear human victory, although certainly a hard fought one.
Sunday began badly. The carrying case with five glass top boxes of bugs was dropped. Two boxes had their glass shattered and of the two hundred plus bugs in the boxes about a dozen didn’t need to be re-glued. It took three of us about 90 minutes to get them all put together again (no disrespect to all the King’s Men and all of his Horses as well). The near disaster seemed to have fired the bugs up though. In one massive wave they marched resolutely on the Mission. This day it was the human players who misjudged. They developed a defense in depth, with three lines of riflemen. Unfortunately this meant that the wave of bugs was fired at by only the first group during its approach. By the time the first group fell back onto the second there just wasn’t enough time to attrite the wave. The bugs rolled right over the wall, and other groups flanked past the chapel and into the coral. From there that group was into the long barracks.
Over one hundred bug figures got into the mission. The end would have been quick.
I didn’t get much of a chance to roam around but what I did see was impressive-Winter came in a DBA game as Lannister met Stark for the throne of Westrose. there was a lot of battletech as well. Nice looking terrain and big miniatures.
The Dragoncon gaming staff did a great job. I hope to be there again next year!