I ran a large Hive and the Flame scenario at DragonCon this year. Last year I could only bring as much stuff as would get on an airplane. This year we drove down and had all the game that would fit into a Ford Ranger with a small camper shell!
DragonCon is not known to be a Gamer’s convention but I think it is far more gamer friendly than its reputation would indicate. They had a large amount of space in the Hilton. Although the space is in the basement it is well lit and the A/C down there works great! There is also a small food cart in the gaming area which makes getting a bite very convenient. The space is also on the same floor as the loading dock, which made getting all my figs and terrain in a fairly easy chore.
I had intended upon doing the large floor layout I had done at origins and DieCon but with all the traffic at Dragoncon decided it would be safer for the figures not to be on the floor overnight, so I did a large table game instead. I put out a lot of the terrain I had used before, Blue Moon’s Alamo as a ruined Colombian Mission and Monday Knight’s French farmhouse as a Hacienda, as well as a small village. Roads were from Hallowed Ground and rivers from Armorcast. Trees were Adventure Terrain’s.
A lot of the alien figs are from Rosa, which is 3D printing bugs from Rachael Mayo’s original artwork. Others were Scott Flower’s molds which I hand cast from during the winter months. Also there are bug figures from Ral Partha, Khurasan and several other makers. Human troops include TVAG, kit bashes, Arun’s Objects May Appear Shapeways store and Old Glory 15mm minis.
We started gaming after the parade finished on Saturday and ended about 6 PM Sunday so we played a total of around 12 hours in two days. The smaller table and its denser terrain layout favored the defense so I beefed up the Bug forces somewhat. I also tried to ensure that as random reinforcements came on they were balanced out by some extra help to the other side (I only did this once, when the humans got a number of air units on a single turn)
The Bugs rolled forward and were able to get into the refugee stream fairly quickly and the road became an unpaved linear slaughterhouse. Every turn the bug player kept advancing forward and overran more of the poor helpless civilians. The human player was never able to get a unit powerful enough to stop them. They had enough trouble just slowing down the main advance. As has they have proven in the past the Amazonian native workers provided far more staunch opposition then their stats would indicate. The Colombian Presidential Lancers were wiped out early on by a unit of flying lancers. As is also the case the bug flying lancer units troublesome to the human players, moving fast and attacking in unexpected directions. Those and the Supra Major shooters are consistently some of the most dangerous of all Hivemembers.
For their part the humans made great use of their ornithopters and then their more powerful armored aerial gunboats. The first of the bigger ships that came onto the table was used to prevent a unit of flying lancers from swarming the battery of Colombian Krupp guns. It was boarded by the aliens and although it wiped out that unit and preserved the artillery it was almost knocked out (It lost 19 of its twenty hits, and it came down to the last die roll with a single flying lancer and the ship having a single hit left).
The hacienda (Casa del Linegen-Defended by 15mm Elanor Parker and Charelton Heston from Blue Moon) stood up to the alien attack until the final turn on Sunday, when Heston was mortally wounded after defeating numerous giant bugs as they overran his position. His dying action was to ignite the remaining powder charges for his cannon blowing many of the “Damned Dirty Bugs” into oblivion!
When it came time to call the game the Bugs were advancing and eating refugees but the human line had not been broken, even though they had lost more than half their ornithopters, one of their big flyers was crippled and several ground units had been wiped out. It was too close to call, so by referee fiat and with player concurrence it was deemed a draw.
In all I had a couple of dozen players over the two days and everyone seemed to have a very good time!
I love used books and I also really like cats; Atlanta Vintage Books has both! This is a used book store like used book stores should be. It is somewhat chaotic and only organized into fairly broad categories. That being said this store has an amazing selection and very reasonable pricing on most items. My wife and I spend the better part of an hour and half there and if hunger had not driven us to seek lunch might well still be there. Their military history section was huge and stocked with some nice classics as well as some very pleasant surprises. They had a large number of Squadron Signal books as well as several other series. They had really nice sections on civil aviation and maritime topics as well. Their railroad selection was good and they also have a large number of books on The West.
They have a number of friendly cats who roam the store staring at customers and looking longingly out the window at sidewalk pigeons. In addition to the feline staff the store has a very friendly humans as well. It was great to deal with the three people we met. They all love books and enjoy not only selling them but also discussing them. They know their business and have a pretty good idea what is on their shelves, but again a sharp eye can spot some exciting surprises!
This is one of the best bookstores I have had the joy to shop at in some time. It is probably in the top five used book stores I’ve ever been in. This store could hold its own with almost any shop in Hay-on-Wye and that is about the best praise I can lavish on a bookstore! If you are in Atlanta this is a must see stop for any bibliophile.
So I pack everything up Wednesday night and go grab a meal at a local fast food place. I get up early Thursday, stop and top off the tank, get a coffee and a cinnamon roll.
I drive nonstop the four hours from St Peters to Indy and find a parking spot. I’m feeling a bit queasy but put it down to the drive. I head to the restroom and am suddenly very very ill. Hoping this is one of those that hits very quickly and once you get rid of it you get well pretty quickly I drag myself over to the convention center. The nice people in Game Master Badging took mercy on me and cancelled my game for that day, got my badge from Will Call and helped me to first aid. First aid let me hang out for a bit and I tried to get back to the truck and to the hotel. No such luck. I didn’t even make it out of the convention center. I was sitting on a bench and decided laying on the floor would be better. Some nice people that I didn’t see because I was face down got the first aid folks again and a very nice female doctor, who might have been dressed like an elf (I think she had a gold leaf pattern hair band) assisted till they got there. Shawn P from Archon offered to call my wife back home but I had done that already, before I left first aid (THANKS man!). I was rolled back to first aid and laid down while folks tried to figure out what to do with me. While at first I was given evidence that this was not a get sick once and feel better illness as I was very very sick again. After a very brief discussion I consented to an ambulance. They arrived in due course and gave me some lovely anti nausea medicine. Methodist ED was very busy and I was parked in the hallway where the anti nausea medicine wore off with predictable results. I apparently had really irritated the spirits of Indianapolis because I was in the noisiest place in the hospital. Even for an ED there was a LOT of screaming. There was a child who screaming, there was also a women who was noncompliant with her meds and was in extreme pain for a really long time. I spend 11 hours there, and got three units of fluids and more of the lovely anti nausea medicine. My wife and our very good friend Mike arranged to come up and rescue me and the truck, which being stick was a bit on an issue. They finally got me about 1:00 AM Friday morning and we got a couple of hotel rooms half an hour away to get enough rest to drive home safely.
Since I am an EMT and have done first aid and safety at conventions and ren faires for many years it was really different to be on the other side of treatment. The first aid folks did a great job as did the ambulance crew and the ED staff. I really wish to thank the doctor that offered to treat my sorry looking mess I had become on the floor of the convention center. I’ve been that person before and it was nice to have someone come to my aid. If anyone knows who that was please let me know so I can say thanks.
The drafts of the Second Edition Stars of Empire Characters sheets are now available. These are drafts. We will continue to play with the data positioning. We also hope to add more graphics.
We will be using these this version of the sheets at Gencon next weekend!
Aerolyth Enterprises has not run a contest in a long time–So let’s start one right now!
And let’s do three separate categories really making it three contests!
The basic idea is design a “hangout” for Stars of Empire spacers or air crews during the period of 1890 to around 1910. One will be for aircrews on either Earth or Venus. The second will be for a spacer hangout on the ground of Earth or Venus and the third such a hangout on an orbital base or Luna or some other low gravity setting.
The setting can be for officers or enlisted crews or both. It can be military or civilian for air crews but civilian only for spacers (there aren’t really any military spacecraft in HQC yet)
The setting should include the owners and other important NPCs, what the interior looks like, the architecture, bill of fare, a list of other patrons, some basic traditions of the place (An example of this is that The Happy Bottom Riding Club only hung up photos of dead test pilots). Any drawings of the layout would be very welcome, as well as any artwork that shows the interior-if that artwork is available for publication (such as out of copyright photos and such) that would be great
So for prizes?
Everyone that completes a full entry gets a free .PDF of the Second Edition Stars of Empire rules when they are finished, as well the Air Machines 1900 book also in .PDF
Third place in each category gets a free hardcopy of the new Stars of Empire Second Edition book.
Second place in each category will see their setting included in HQC canon. The entry will be included as an official location in the game universe and all their NPCs will be provided with full stats in second edition Stars of Empire.
First Prize for each category: I will write an adventure tagged for the location, introducing additional NPCS and a full adventure (which should play out over at least eight hours for four to eight players, with full Game Master notes and materials
I think I would like to do a GRAND PRIZE but am not certain what the award would be. I am open to suggestions on that. I would be happy to run an adventure set in your locale for your gaming group if it isn’t too far to drive Let us say a place I can get up in the morning, drive there, run an eight hour game and return home without killing myself. If the winner would pony up a nice place to stay (one which in no way resembles a scene from Psycho, Misery, or, any film with the words: Camp, Friday, Saw (including “chainsaw”), Hostel, Elm, Night, Nightmare I would be willing to drive around eight hours, game for eight hours the next day and then drive home the following day (see I’m willing to give up a long weekend!)
My wife has also offered to do a watercolor of all of the first place winners. You get the un-matted original and we keep all the rights to the artwork (just scroll down to see some of her great work!)
The following film settings might provide some inspiration: Rick’s American Cafe from Casablanca, The Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars or The Happy Bottom Riding Club from The Right Stuff, the Bulldog Cafe from The Rocketeer and show a fraction of the types of establishments that might work for this contest. The traditional gentlemen’s club, as shown in the David Niven version of Around the World in 80 days is also a potential. On the other end of the spectrum from that would be a frontier trading post.
So to answer one question that many people might be asking: “If I don’t play Stars of Empire or any other games set in the Hive, Queen and Country Universe how can I write a decent entry”? I’ll make that a bit easier. If you send me a short description of your idea I will send you a copy of the .PDF of Stars of Empire first edition.
That should give you a pretty decent idea of the setting (since very little of that will change with the rewrite of the game engine). You will also receive an invitation to the very very active Hive, Queen and Country Yahoo! Group. The extensive archives will also give you a lot more background and you will be able to interact with the rest of the HQC community. In fact I will make it even easier than that; you can write a “generic” Steampunk/Victorian Science Fiction setting. Since many published and unpublished settings include very large flying machines that operate on some sort of anti-gravity lift technology and have boost to orbit transports, as well as orbital stations and interplanetary commercial travel. The setting can be painted with broad enough strokes to fit a lot of similar universes, and if the creator wants to produce an entry along those lines that would be perfect as well. How is that for easy?
So what does the entry need to include? How long should it be? What formats will be accepted?
Please submit as a .txt, .rtf, .doc or .docx file. The file should be 2000 to 5000 words. Illustrations may be included. If they are free of copyright or the copyright belongs to you and you wish to see them included with any Include a location of the establishment, a brief history and a general description of the place, its atmosphere and clientele.
At least five NPC employees
At least five NPC patrons
Basic Bill of Fare
Sketch floor plan
Our rights to any documents submitted:
We will have the right to publish the material in conventional or electronic format for use with Stars of Empire and Hive, Queen and Country. We may republish the material at any time for a period of ten years. This period may be extended by agreement of both parties.
During this period the author may use the original work in any way they choose except they may make no claim to any other aspects of Stars of Empire or Hive Queen and Country. They may republish or reuse any or all of their work in any other fashion so long as it doesn’t prevent our use as stated above.
Judging will be by a secret cabal of mysterious cloaked figures! We do reserve the right to issue no awards in any and all categories if there are no entrants that meet our requirements.
Submissions must be in by November 1st 2014 and winners will be announced on January 1st 2015.
Please feel free to ask any questions you may have.
She is wonderful and talented. At gaming conventions I’m often complemented that Shannon is so “tolerant” to let me spend six days at Origins or three days at Diecon. I smile and say she isn’t “tolerant” she is a participant or a partner! She reads graphic novels, plays role playing games, will occasionally push lead on the gaming table and is learning to paint miniatures as well.
The last builds on her already sharp skills as a water-colorist. It is a great pleasure for me to showcase some of her art here on my web page! I look forward to Shannon doing some of the interior art for the second edition of Stars of Empire. Enough about that, here is her artwork!
She is a talented artists and the most wonderful wife and partner a person could ask for. This is a very small way of saying thanks for everything she brings to our life together.
I painted up some of the Ravenstar Studios resin castings. I’ve painted up three of the Horrids both the A and B tanks and the Mother APC. I also have one of the Landcore walking tanks.
The three Horrids are very interesting. I liked them when I first got them but found them even more admirable once I started working on them. The detail is outstanding. The surface detail is enough that they would look presentable with a base coat, wash and dry brush. I decided that I wanted to do more than that though. These are great castings and look even better (I think) with a more detailed paint job. I was finally able to get some time Friday evening after wrestling with the 5 1/2 hour long multiple choice endurance test called the Certified Safety Professional Examination (I won’t get the official results for a couple of weeks but the computer said I passed!) Ok enough about that, what about Ravenstar’s castings.
The three giant bugs are very big indeed, at least in 15mm. They are bigger than anything I’ve ever fielded for my Hive and the Flame games in 15mm, almost twice as big as Brigade’s I’ve been using as Supra Major Shooters. The Mother APC is a three part kit. In honestly I didn’t work hard to get the one flap to lay flush, I liked it being a bit akimbo. One of the interesting features of the miniatures is the “face” . It has over a dozen eyes on it. I painted these blue, because it seemed like red or back would be cliche.
I still think the horn looks a lot like Tundro’s from Herculoids (which isn’t a bad thing-I loved that show). There is a lot of good detail that showed up under the brush, and in this case I did give it just the simple three step, base, wash, dry brush treatment. The results seem pretty good. As I said I thought he two Tanks deserved a bit more. I gave them both a green motif, one with broad stripes, as indicated the detail on the casting. The legs on these two are also more prominent than on the Mother APC, so they got more detailing as well.
I again thought about red for the open mouths but decided that it would give the critters a Christmas color look I really wanted to avoid. The vermilion around the black teeth brought out the detail on the “gums” really well.
Finally the human walking tank itself got a three color scheme (sorta late war German WW2 colors). I used a reddish brown base coat and then put on silly putty to mask the undercoats. I them gave it a dark wash and a drybrushing. As I said. I though these looked nice in the raw. But I found them a blast to paint and think the results are pretty decent. I’m not sure if they will fit in the HQC universe but they are really nice. I really look forward to more in this line!
I just found a new (to me) resin miniatures company Ravenstar Studios http://www.ravenstarstudios.com/. I had seen their work before at the Ironwind booth at Origins. That booth stocked their various starship miniatures, which were very nice but luckily for my wallet I didn’t need. Then I found their web site and came across their “Horrids” which are part of their 15mm Land Core line.
These are a wide range of bug type critters. I ordered an assortment, the two big tanks, the APC the gas bug and a couple of other smaller ones. I also bought one of the Land Core Walking tanks.
First off service was excellent and everything arrived very quickly and very well packaged. Shipping was very reasonable.
Once I unpacked the raw castings they proved to be far nicer than I expected from the web site pictures. The two big bug tanks are multi-part, and each has the choice of one of two heads. One of each of the heads has an open mouth, the other closed and all four heads are scary! The A tank has a single large retractable weapon mounted far aft on its centerline and the B version a pair of smaller weapons, also on retractable mounts. The Mother APC has a single horn on its forehead that reminds me a lot of Tundro from the Herculoids. It has a pair of side “doors” for use as a carrier for some of the smaller Horrids creatures. One of those castings, the Screamer looks very much like a Tremors (II and II) Shrieker. It is about the right size in 15mm for that role. The Horrids Bug is a four legged creature but otherwise makes a good generalized insectoid warrior with its dangerous looking mandibles. The Gas Bag is just what it says it is, a bulbous animal with a a scary multi-eyed “face” and lots of tentacles.
I built the walking tank as a VSF machine. This was super simple. I just installed what should have been a pair of ginormous cannons vertically and called them smoke stacks. This machine will never be able to use a hull down or hide position but it does look pretty good. The one complaint about this machine is it lacks any sort of feet at the end of its legs. The pointy little ends of the legs would have a huge amount of trouble walking on anything but hard stone.
The bigger bugs tanks and APC run between 14 and 16 dollars and so does the walking tank. For their size and complexity this pricing is reasonable and the smaller castings are very well priced. Nice work from Ravenstar Studios! Their Land Core line has some really good potential and I very much look forward to seeing what comes next!
Colonel Roosevelt’s command at the San Juan river crossing and mission held firm against extremely heavy alien swarm attacks over the last three days (at Diecon 14 in Collinsville, Illinois).
I reran the same massive floor game at Diecon that I ran last weekend at Origins. The terrain and scenario were the same. The battlefield consisted of a 20 X 30 foot floor area. It was crossed by the San Juan River (Armorcast resin river from 2 inch to 4 inch wide). The main North to South road is from Hollowed Ground. The mission is Blue Moon’s Alamo and the plantation is Monday Knight Products. The smaller roads and the trees are from Adventure Terrain. The smaller earthworks and emplacements are from Acheson Creations. I can’t recall from whence I got the very nice foam buildings that make up the village of San Juan.
The figures also come from a variety of sources. Many of the bugs are from Rosa Games and Miniatures and represent their continuing work to bring the HQC world into life with 3D printing. Others were hand cast from the old Gametech molds done by Scott Flower. Khurasan Miniatures, as well as Ral Partha were also well represented on the gaming floor.
The Big landers were kit bashed from a variety of sources. The Ornithopters were kit bashed and then Scott Flower made masters and then they were resin cast. Tom Hielsher painted them up so they look so great. The tanks were either kit bashed from Gaming Model’s line of WW2 tanks or were 3D printed by Rosa.
The human troops are from sources such as The Virtual Armchair General’s Spanish American War range. Blue Moon provided the Gurkhas. Old Glory Boxer Rebellion troops. Blue Moon also supplied a number of other figures, including the ones representing Charles and Mrs. Lienengen. Khurasan’s mesoamerican line. The old cannon is also Khurasan. The rest of the artillery is TVAG, OD or Arun’s Objects May Appear Shapeways store. The quad Maxim mounts are Peter Pig WW2 Soviet weapons. I used some Spartan Game AFVs from their Dystopian line for Scientif Artillery mounts.
OK, all that being said what about the action?
The battle in general took on a very similar form to that at Origins. The Bug player again chose to direct their main thrust along the southern flank of the battle area. This allowed the humans to concentrate their forces along this single axis. The humans were able to concentrate their flyers in the area as well and dropped their transported troops and armor there as well. The Bug player was much more effective at screening his heavy units with lighter ones and only suffered two units out of command, rather than the many seen at Origins. There was only a single case of Bug on Bug violence.
Even with that Bug players were unable to get the most out of their forces. By concentrating on the narrow frontage between the Lienengen mansion and the South edge of the play area the bugs allowed the human units to fight a slow grinding withdraw. Their units fell back and fired and occasionally counter-charged, robbing the bug units of their best modifiers for close combat-when they themselves charge.
This was the same type of dogged defense that won the battle at Origins. This weekend it was even more effective. The Bug player concentrated their flyers in close support of their other units and they were very roughly handled by the high volume of fire the human troops were able to put out. The concentration of bug flyers also allowed the human flyers to concentrate, and their massive fire power had disastrous effects on the aliens.
The bugs did send one unit of flyers after the refugees and it caused only two casualties to them before it was wiped out by a company of very angry Gurkhas.
By the middle of Sunday (after 19 hours of play) it was apparent that the bugs were not going break the human lines and would not be reaching the refugee buffet.