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Day 1 at Origins 2014

So I got here late yesterday. It took my entire Ford Ranger to haul all the terrain and minis and such up here from home. It was around ten large plastic cases

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning I spent three hours laying out terrain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a picture with Lee standing in to show the scale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There will be Bugs GALORE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The battle starts at 10:00 AM tomorrow and will continue (with various breaks and such until 6:00 PM Saturday. Come see us in The F Hall at Origins!

 

Colonial Barracks III-Gaming meets Hollywood

This year Colonial Barracks had a theme; Game Masters had to tie their scenarios to a movie (I tied mine to three, but you’ll find out about that in a minute.

Almost all the games used variants of the various Larry Brom written rules and periods ran from about 1700 to 1900. Scales were generally 25/28mm but the American Revolution game (based loosely on The Patriot) was done with 40mm semi-rounds and there were a couple of 15mm games and one 6mm game (a first for Colonial Barracks).

 

Attendance was up from last year (thanks to Super Storm Sandy the east coast folks were thin on the ground in 2012). Several excellent vendors were in attendance as well. I barely had weight in my bags for what I packed so couldn’t buy much of anything but Ral Partha and Castaway Arts were both there as was Nick of Regimental Supply as well as some excellent hand made terrain.

 

 

Although this is a small convention (for now) the game masters do not skimp on their terrain or figures.

 

I have to admit my figures aren’t as nice as most of the others, but I will blame TSA for that, since instead of painting I had to spend my time re-gluing after the Atlanta Massacre. The Alamo from Blue Moon was very well received as were some of the prototype 3D printed tanks from Richard’s Rosa Miniatures. Arun’s TINY 15mm 3D printed artillery garnered some well deserved praise also.

I ran a Hive and the Flame game based on three films: The setting was The Alamo, the defenders were Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders from the film Rough Riders and they faced giant bugs from THEM! (see I told you three films).

The human defenders had five companies of infantry, a quartet of steam tanks and a bunch of artillery (more guns than they had crews for in fact). The bugs had over a hundred major crushers, a couple of units of supra major crushers and a slew of major shooters. The bus entered the table and quickly moved forward using the scattered trees for cover from the artillery fire. One of the supra major crusher units was brought on with out cover and quickly attracted the fire of every artillery unit that was in range. This quickly stripped all the drones off and the supra majors were reduced to a torpid state. The humans had artillery troubles of their own as several short rounds landed among their troops and caused their first casualties. As the insects moved forward they traded fire from their shooters. They however got the short end of the stick as the firepower of the artillery and steam tanks caused far more casualties. The American players used their tanks extremely effectively. They kept their vehicles in range to hit the bugs but too far away for bug fire to be effective and well outside of charge range. The tanks moved backwards and forwards the entire game optimizing their fire and maintaining a safe position.

The bug columns marched forward, taking casualties but getting closer and closer. Three groups made to the walls and over. The group that marched on the low wooden palisade made it over easily and forced the humans back after a bloody round of melee. The defender on the left of the gate fought a spirited defense and killed several but were also forced back. That story repeated itself on the left of the gate as well. A wall of deadly insectoids came sweeping forward on three fronts forcing the puny humans back.

 

The humans for their part were pushed back but did not route, hauling their wounded with them they reformed in the central plaza and in the smaller open yard before the church. Others abandoned their guns and grabbed up their rifles and began firing down from the building rooftops. At this point the second unit of supra majors lost their last drones and ran amok charging into a unit of major crushers just behind it removing both units from the attack on the humans. This was a critical loss for the aliens as it robbed them of momentum and allowed the defenders to concentrate their fire on the units that had breached their defenses. The courtyards became killing grounds as brutal volleys of point blank rifle and cannon fire cut down the aliens before they could get into melee with their prey.

 

I’ll leave folks with a gallery of some of the games at the convention.

 

 

 

More on 3D bugs

The whole Hive family, well almost of them anyway

 

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.

 

Terry

Rosa Miniatures and Games forms to breed bugs!

“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 which is why people wanting to buy a 3D printer should read into as much information as possible, more here. 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.

 

Dragoncon 2013

I spent the weekend at Dragoncon in Atlanta. Previously I had been told that gaming at Dragoncon was pretty much a redheaded step child.

This is what the gaming area looked like in the afternoons!

 

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.

Another view of the gaming room in the Hilton

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).

 

Test prints and poster

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.

Bugs and Bash!

 

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.

 

Youngsters love to kill bugs!

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).

Blue Moon's fabulous Alamo. A wonderful model. It survived rough handling on the way to Atlanta. The case in which it was packed was ejected from the luggage conveyor. It caught air and landed inverted with a mighty crash. Thank goodness for resin!

 

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.

No paint yet but from front to back is the US Army 7 inch siege mortar and the tiny 2 pdr Hotchkiss from Arun. There is a 15mm figure for scale

 

 

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 mission's defenders await their fate

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.

Here was where the bugs lost Saturday's battle. Their charge fell a few inches short of getting in the fortress.

 

The bugs did get in, but they were so weakened they fell before the defenders

 

 

Super Majors get in, but are so few in number that they too were wiped out.

 

The remaining Super Majors attempt to clear Teddy Roosevelt and his standard bearer from the gate. They failed and were forced back by the Rough Riders! This was the end of any hope the bugs had

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.

Here comes the Bugs! Again the gate sees a major attack

Other bug columns head for the chapel flank. Things look grim for the humans!

 

The bugs overrun a pair of 3.2inch breechloaders

 

This is "Pepper Jack" the last remaining shooter from its unit. It engaged in an extremely ineffective duel with the corner mounted Gatling Gun. They fired at each other for about five turns without inflicting much harm.The Bugs break in. One group clears defenders from the rooftops. Another has swarmed over the low wall and wiped out the humans in the churchyard. In the background is a column that is about to scale the chapel wall itself.

 

 

 

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!

 

Terry

Hive and the Flame Game at Diecon

First things first. I should never try and run a different scenario at two back to back conventions! Last weekend was British attacking the Hive at Origins.

Teddy, his bugler and standard bearer-Bully!

 

This weekend was Teddy Roosevelt defending the San Juan Mission from bugs. This was during the Second Hive War and in HQC canon this is the event that sets Teddy on the road to the White House. To make things a bit more simple I only put ground units out on the table.  The Table was set with Adventure Terrain trees and a bit of Armourcast River. The center piece was Blue Moon’s Alamo. This is a show stopping piece, even though mine isn’t completely painted yet it still looks fabulous on the table.  It also takes up a lot of table space and limits the options of placement.

Blue Moon's Excellent Alamo

 

This gives an idea of just how big the model is on the table

 

The mission was defended by a mix of TVAG Rough Riders and Old Glory Boxer Rebellion minis. I had ordered the TVAG artillery and Rought Riders and Rough Rider booster set. The TVAG figures mesh well with the Old Glory but the artillery doesn’t. The Old Glory 3.2 inch and the TVAG ones are not nearly the same size. The Old Glory guns are much smaller and have finer detail. They appear to be on American Civil War era carriages though. The Sims Dudley dynamite guns are great through.

The battery of Sims Dudley weapons

 

With the oversized 3.2 incher though I turned a prblem to my advantage and they were now 7 inch siege howitzers. I also kit bashed up a pair of 2 pdr Hotchkiss mountain guns by taking a pair of the Old Glory Nordenfeldt carriages with Confederate William’s gun tubes.  In total the Humans has about one hundred riflemen, 3 seven inch howitzers, five 3,2 inch guns, a pair of Sims Dudley’s, a pair of 2 pdrs, a pom pom, two gatling guns and a Hotchkiss Rotating Cannon. They also had four Colt Potato Diggers and three Heavy Bomb Throwers.

TVAG 3.2 inch guns being used as 7 inch siege howitzers

The bugs started off with three units of Major Crushers as their scouting force. This would be backed up by a large number of other warriors as things went along, including a number of major shooters.

 

Bug scouts on the advance

The Bugs started off on the far end of the table. The three seige howitzers began firing, as they had plenty of range. The three scouting groups took enough fire as they made their way up the board to lose their drones and two of the groups became torpid while one ran amok. This slowed his scout force down and prevented them from making contact. The shooters came up while the scouts were milling about and although they took some casualties they began to inflict them as well.

The environment becomes target rich

By now the main force of Bugs was headed up table. The previously confident humans began to change their minds. No matter how much fire they put down table the bugs kept coming. In an effort to increase their fire power the Rough Riders tried to move guns from the unengaged sides. In doing so they lost control of one weapon bringing it down a ramp and it was destroyed.

3.2 inch gun runs wild down the ramp from its firing position and is destroyed

Under increasingly heavy fire the bug swarms kept up their advance. It seemed that whenever a bug group would be wiped out another would take its place on the horizon (which was exactly what was happening!). The humans didn’t get any such aid. Each time a bug shooter caused a casualty there was not one to fill the gap.

The bug swarms get closer and closer

The bugs marched closer and closer. The Bug player was clever and used his drones to bring the uncontrolled warriors into the advancing swarms. This swelled their numbers and made for tremendously terrifying attack groups. The artillery and finally rifles and machine weapons continued to take their toll. Drones were often casualties. A huge swarm approached the mission chapel building. Just before the warriors scaled the walls their last drone was killed. With a unit this large it was almost a guarantee that the unit would run amok. Only on a seventeen or eighteen would the unit become torpid. The bug player rolled a seventeen! Instead of a ravenous horde of insanely angry warriors swarming over the ruined church walls the creatures lost intrest and wandered aimlessly away. The church was saved, if only for one turn.

The Bugs advance to contact!

Carnage in the ravelin

 

Other swarms headed for the lower walls of the ravelin and the pallisade. The troops manning the stockade wall held for one turn and then broke and ran leaving the Gatlin gun behind. Those in the ravelin defending the gate were made of sterner stuff and held on fighting the bugs all the way up to their gun muzzles and then in hand to bug combat. They held for three turns before being wiped out completely. This allowed the troops on the walls behind them to pull back into the parade ground and form a defensive line. The bugs finally killed the last wounded in the ravelin and broke through the gate.

They are coming through!

The human troops had evacuated the wall just in time as a unit of bugs surged over it.

And not only through the gate but over the wall as well

While this was going on the other groups of bugs made it over teh pallisade between the church and the wall with the gate. They backed the human soldiers up again the wall and rolled forward. In desperation the Rough Riders fired their heavy artillery and bomb throwers into the swarm mere feet from the soldiers. Three turns the bugs surged forward and three times the American artillery and infantry stopped them. The bug dead piled up in front of the deperate soldiers.

Dead bugs carpet the courtyard before the church doors

The brave crew of the Gatling gun atop the curch platform wasn’t so luck. All but one was killed by the flug projectiles of the shooters and then finally a unit of bugs was able to climb the wall. One of them was killed in hand to hand combat with the last gunner but he was finally killed

The humans lose a desperate struggle on the church gun platform

And that was when we ran out of time! We’d been at it for almost eight hours. I lost count of the number of folks that rolled dice, let alone those who stopped to watch.From the post game comments it appeared that the players had a very good time. I’d also like to thank Chris at Game Nite who was retailing for me. I sent a few people over to his very nice booth and they bought a few copies of various Aerolyth Enterpises’ products which I duly signed.

 

 

 

 

 

Two days at Origins

Always take time for a cuppa before battle!

Friday and Saturday I ran two sessions of The Hive and the Flame. Both times I had 8 players at the table. The scenario was the British combined arms assault on the Hive. British forces consisted of 5 heavy assault flyers, three squadrons of ornithopters several companies of infantry and a mixed force of armoured vehicles.

The Hive was confusing for the bell hops, but they made the best of it!

 

Even in tabletop wargames logistics are a critical issue!

The terrain was mostly scratch built. Roads and trees are from Adventure terrain and the river is an old reliable from Armourcast.

Table from the British end

 

 

The Hive fielded a nearly endless supply of bugs.

Lots of Bugs

The objectives were simple. The British had to destroy the mass of larva exposed by a bombing raid and the bugs had to prevent that from happening.

Exposed larva in the craters left from high altitude bombardment

The Saturday game opened with the British launching their air units across the table. The ornithopters were screening for the bigger ships. They left their ground troops for later. Almost immediately the ornithopters ran into clouds of flying lancers and were quickly overwhelmed, losing an entire squadron as well as taking casualties in both the other ones. The flappers retired behind the heavier assault fliers.

Initial British advance

The general results of ornithopters tangling with flying lancers

The heavy fliers proceeded to have to deal with the flying lancers as well as the supra major shooters.

Brigade Games 15mm alien bug stands in for a Supra Major Shooter

The bigger ships took damage both from the Supra Major Shooters and swarming flying lancers.

Shakespear class flyers try and fight through the clouds of deadly flying bugs

While this was going on the land column attempted to move forward. The ground bugs used their ability to open up tunnels and flank the attackers. The ground columns, which were not capable of mutual support quickly found themselves over run and engaged in dire melee combat. Only the timely arrival of the surviving flappers which straffed the bug hordes allowed the British ground forces to survive.

At this point we had been playing for over seven hours and were about to run into a hard limit. I looked over the battlefield and gave the victory to the bugs.  They had once again roughed up the flappers and even the assault fliers took a beating. The ground forces were badly scattered and incapable of mutual support.

 

We had a really good hot wash and one of the players suugested a different tactical deployment for the British. His suggestion was for a very stately advance, tied to the speed of the ground units. Ground columns would support each other the heavy flyers would fly above the forward edge of the ground battle force. These two forces would support each other . The flappers, generally very weak, would fly over the ground columns and provide fast reactions to any bugs units that popped up.

This seemed like an excellent idea and I looked forward to seeing it in play on the table the next day. The player who suggested this didn’t show though so the second game was much like the first one, although luck was generally with the British players. they were able to get a flyer within rocket range of the Hive itself. 48 9.2 inch rockets fired in a massive salvo won the British a marginal victory.

Day Two-British Initial Moves

The Bugs await!

With its bridge destroyed and all bridge crew killed HMAS Hamlet cannot avoid her fate.

 

HMAS Twelft Night prepares to salvo 48 rockets into the heart of The Hive

 

I had 16 players between the two days and dozens of folks came by to see what was going on. There were a lot of positive comments on the terrain, the models, the miniatures and the game as well.

Terry

 

So if you support the Kickstarter and select a miniatures game run at your house

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/759107276/the-world-beneath-the-clouds-steampunk-rpg-venus-s

If you purchase a reward level that includes a miniatures game what would it be?  I will be open to ideas but can give you two choices right now. One will be a British combined arms assault on the Hive in Devon. This will include airborne forces, Ghukas, steam tanks and a zillion angry bugs fighting on the surface of the Hive itself.  The second option will be Teddy Roosevelt and his First Volunteer Mechanized Cavalry defending the San Juan Mission against the alien invaders!  Round lensed glasses, a mustache and Sims Dudley dynamite throwing air guns!  I’ll hang out for eight hours of gaming with you and your crew, dispsense ten copies of various books and generally make trouble for you with your better half. If sponsor for more you can keep the Hive terrain (the Alamo was a gift from my wife, no way that goes out the door) and perhaps a whole lot of bugs!  You have a week or so left. Think about it!  It would be all sorts of fun!

 

 

So what do the bug figures look like?

Media Crabs on the attack!

The supra major crab or crusher. five parts make up this, the largest miniature currently available. These are the heavy shock troops of The Hive
The Worker. A generic worker miniatures that can be used for most hive workers. This is another two part miniature
The Shooter provides a swarm with ranged combat ability. It is a five part kit.
. The Ant, a smaller two piece miniature. What it lacks in size it makes up for in numbers
 
A Media Chopper. This five piece model builds into a creature known for the massive damage its deadly rear legs do
Mantis like Legionary figures come in two peices. Another good type for general purposes
Medium Crab or Crusher, a two piece miniature that can core a swarm
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