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The character creation video is up

So last weekend we shot a couple of hours of video about creating characters. This taught me a lot of things:

I should never shoot video
I need to work out a lot more
There are a few holes in the character generation system (these can be fixed way more quickly than the first two)

Please take a look at the video and enjoy me as I flounder around. Know that we did complete it on time (actually 36 hours early)

Origins After Action Report

Human aerial armada forms up

Human aerial armada forms up

At origins we were provided with our own area, which was even clearly marked on the map! The space was perfectly sized having enough room for game play and auxiliary tables on and under which all the various units not in play and carrying cases could be stored or stacked.
The tables represent the tops of the enormous alien hive

The tables represent the tops of the enormous alien hive


The scenario was basically the same as that run at Border Wars and Diecon, although the increased space let us use a larger number of human flyers. The Human forces included a squadron of Mk I Ornithopters, two squadrons of landers, armed US ones and unarmed British ones and five Shakespeare class gunships. The ground troops aboard the various landers included Ghurkas, Australian Light Horse, British infantry as well as 12th United States Cav, 1st US Volunteer Cav, US Infantry and artillery as well as a number of mechanical fighting machines from both the US Army and the British Army.
Squadrons of Ornithopters screen the invasion force

Squadrons of Ornithopters screen the invasion force


Bug forces included pretty much everything I had based and flocked with 240 flyers available as well as hundreds of other ugly arthropods. A large proportion of the bugs were shooters and there was also a higher number of supra majors available, as this was a last ditch (last tunnel) defense of the Hive itself.

The terrain consisted of a number of tables representing the tops of the enormous hive structure. Round tables were not available so we made do with some short rectangular ones to represent the outlying towers and then three 8 foot tables for the main hive itself. Two of the three outer towers were connected to the main hive by narrow ridges. All the tables were covered with dyed and textured fabric and some hills were built up under the fabric with boxes. In all the area was approximately 30 by 30 not including room for the auxiliary tables.

The total area was almost 30 feet by 30 feet and over 1000 figures were in play. Dozens of aerial vessel and tank models were also used.

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The bugs started with all their units on top of the Hive, with the exception of the flyers who were position on the bug left flank and somewhat before the main hive ridge. The Humans were in a rather loose formation at the edge of the playing area. The separation of enemy flying units allowed two turns of movement before contact. This allowed the human players to shake out into a more tactical formation and to decide upon what part of the Hive they would make their landing. They chose to make a bee line for the tower on the Hive right flank (human left flank). They did this because it was the more exposed of the three towers, since the other two offered mutual support to each other, it was connected to the main hive by a ridge and it was furthest away from the cloudlike swarms of flying lancers.

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The bugs used their superior speed to rapidly close with the aerial armada and a huge scrum between the flying lancers and the Ornithopters quickly developed. The new flight stands made it psychologically easier for the bug player to keep his fliers together and that is what he did. Each of the Ornithopter models quickly found themselves being swamped by a unit of 12 flying lancers. Although Machine guns were able to take out some of the bugs they could not do nearly enough damage and the Ornithopters began to be chewed from the sky. Matt, one of our usual players at Origins, had an excellent suggestion about aerial close combat, which was rather than run the close combat phase until a unit was destroyed and removed or forced back run just one round of close combat. This gives air units much more longevity but still lets a swarm keep the flyers engaged, or lets escorts keep flying lancers away from troop transports.

By turn four the landing force had begun to trade fire with the long range shooters on the top of the Hive. The humans had twigged into what their rockets were for and as each of the Shakespeare class vessels came in range they salvoed all their rockets. Their primary targets were the larger shooters but if any rockets were left those were directed at clearing the top of the tower upon which they intended to land of melee bugs.
The long range duel and aerial gun and rocket barrages continued until turn seven by which time the chosen tower was covered with craters and strew with the twitching body parts of shattered arthropods. Chitin and claws lay thick across the ground. The humans has not had everything their way though. The Bugs had concentrated their fire on the larger Shakespeare class gunboats and had inflicted serious damage on two of them. Additionally the screen of Ornithopters was ripped apart and the surviving flying lancers came charging towards the vulnerable transports. As yet no Human flyers had landed although three groups of American ships had slowed so they could come down the next turn, as had two of the Shakespeares.

Even in 15mm the table tops got crowded

Even in 15mm the table tops got crowded

This ended the first session on Wednesday. We played 8 turns in approximately four hours. Serious casualties had been done to both sides and the Humans had used up almost all of his heavy rockets. The chosen landing zone still was within range of bug shooters and a handful of bug melee units were still intact on the surface. However the Humans were poised to land in force and take the ground war to the aliens.

Chaos in the Landing area

Chaos in the Landing area

The next session conflicted with the dealers’ room opening so we didn’t have enough players so took a break. The Thursday Afternoon session had enough to make a go of it and off we went. Two of the Shakespeares that had unloaded their rockets earlier turned and faced the swarming aliens. The ensuing scrum saw both Shakespeares downed and a third forced to use its rockets (set with time fuzes) to break up the clouds of aliens.
This left the landing zone seriously devoid of aircover as the American armed landers were on the ground unloading and the unarmed British machines were circling awaiting their turn. The need to get troops down and air vehicles back off the ground quickly resulted in the loss of a previously damaged Shakespeare and its cargo of tanks as it was swarmed by a large group of Major Crushers as it touched down and they succeeded in destroying it in a single turn. Its shattered remains continued to burn and suffer secondary explosions as its magazines cooked off for the remainder of the game.

Othello Burns

Othello Burns

There was absolute chaos on the landing zone as units became jumbled together and the vicious attacks of the remaining bug units caused casualties and prevented an orderly disembarkation. This was made even worse by the landing of the second wave. The unarmed landers came barreling it so they could escape from the pursuing flying lancers and get their troops off loaded before the aliens ripped them from the sky. They were able to land just as the armed American flyers were taking off and although no collisions occurred the sky looked to be covered by a steel and aerolyth overcast for some time. As the British troops unloaded the American Flyers and a remaining Shakespeare covered them, which cost the humans yet another of their heavy gunboats and the aliens a large number of their flying bugs. On the land the aliens were rushing all their forces towards the landing zone and attempting to build a defensive line across the ridge connecting the two with the main hive. For this session and the next the battle raged on the ground as bug units attempted to hold their ground and humans mopped up the last warriors in their landing zone and began to push their perimeter outwards, across the ridge. The flying bugs had been reduced in numbers to being more of a nuisance than a critical force and so the humans used most of their armed flyers to interdict the oncoming bug hordes as they rushed towards the ridge and its threat to the main hive.
In the last session there was a chance that the Alien Queen and king would be forced to the surface by all the commotion and on the second turn they surfaced. The nearby armed flyers quickly switched targets and began to pour fire into them. Initially the fire wasn’t terribly effective and realizing the threat to their Royalty the bugs launched all their remaining flying lancers into the aerial fray. In addition there were a large number of various types of shooters which also joined in. Between these two types of bug units the American landing craft began to take casualties and also they were unable to concentrate all their fire on the alien Royalty. This prevented the humans from killing either of these enormous creatures before the end of the game.
In view of the heavy losses in airships suffered by the Human and their inability to kill either the King or Queen the game was determined to be a Marginal Hive Victory.
In the four sessions that went we had a pretty decent number of players and played twenty turns. Our location at the very far end of the miniatures hall (well hidden by a number of large and high booths kept us from having as many players as last year, where we had a large number of walk ons. We did get a goodly number of observers and lots of pictures were taken, questions asked and compliments handed out on the models, miniatures, flight stands and game in general. I definitely want to thank Matt, Lee, Richard and Arun for helping out so much and all our players, as well as those that came by to watch or say hello.
Also a big shout out to Proving Ground Games who retailed for us. They sold not only our books but also The Original The Sword and the Flame from Sergeants3 and Gaming Models Inc’s new line of 15mm resin cast vehicles designed specifically for The Hive and the Flame but perfect for any Steampunk/Victorian Science Fiction miniatures game.

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!

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