I flew down to New Orleans for Colonial Barracks II this weekend. I’ve been part of the Sword and the Flame family since last year when they let me publish The Hive and the Flame. Lori Brom had been a dream to work with as I wrote a Victorian Science Fiction version of her father’s classic miniatures rules.
I got in very late Thursday. Friday morning I roused myself and sought out the convention. After a bit of confusion on the part of the front desk staff I located the event space and came face to face with Lori Brom. She was even more pleasant in person than she had been over the Internet. I also met her father Larry, creator of so many excellent miniatures rules, as well as several others of the Brom family.
Due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy many of the folks scheduled to come down couldn’t make it but the Jackson Gamers were well represented. I wasn’t scheduled to run anything until Saturday so I watched an excellent American Rev Game done in tradition 40mm Semi Round figures cast using Prince August Molds.
I went to dinner at the City Diner, which is but a short walk from the hotel. A huge bowl of Jambalaya was followed by a serving of Tres Leche cake (with carmel drizzled whipped cream). It was stunningly good. It was also about 45,000 calories and I could barely walk back. Luckily the ground was level!
Saturday I ran my two games. Since I flew down I had to take a very limited number of figures. I brought three boxes of Media Crushers and drones and a number of British infantry and four various steam tanks. Getting them through TSA was a bit of an adventure.
I borrowed some basic terrain and did a basic Hive and the Flame game. I ran the same general scenario twice. The initial game was conducted longways. The Bug players elected to have their forces arrayed in two groups, one forward and the second further back.
The British players used scouts effectively and were able to smoke out the hidden bug units. The Bug player had attempted to make an end around flanking attack behind some hills. This was detected by scouts as well and the British player deployed to fend them off. The British fire was generally effective and the three front units of Bugs took heavy casualties. In particular drones were killed in one of the units causing it to become torpid.
The Bug player attempted to get drones from one unit to another. Two of the scouts came into hand to hand combat with the moving drones and managed to keep the drones from getting to the second bug unit, so it remained torpid.
On the British right flank the Bugs got into close combat and quickly ate an entire 20 figure unit.
The British regrouped and were able to fend off the bugs and prevent them from closing by directing massive firepower at them. The second group of bugs was never able to get far enough forward to get into the action.
After lunch (again at the City Diner!) we were back at it. This time I had the action across the short end of the table.
According to those present this was the first ever game of any of the Sword and the Flame Games that had more female than male players.
The action started on Turn 1. The Bugs had forward deployed four of their six units. Those four units were spotted as soon as they moved and came under fire very quickly. They took some casualties but came on forward. Turn two and three saw massive firepower directed at charging Bug hordes and deadly melees shattering British units. Casualties were extremely heavy on both sides. One Bug unit rolled three ones on three six sided dice for a charge movement and failed to make contact. A second charge attempt fell an inch short of contact. Movement dice failed the bug players several times, and in critical situation.
The British formed square under the icy cool command of veteran Lori Brom. The Bug hordes broke on them like waves.
Turn four saw the Bugs in close combat. One of the Bug groups lost all its drones and ran amok. It attacked one of its brother units just as the first bug unit was entering melee with one of the British units. The British were wiped out, but the Bug Units were badly mauled as well.
The Bugs overran two of the tanks, destroying both of them, but taking massive casualties in the process. By the end of the game the Bugs had been reduced to only a single unit under effective command, with two leaderless torpid units wandering aimlessly across the the battlefield. Two of the British infantry units had been wiped out or had routed. One was badly mauled and the other had held up very well. With the two remaining tanks these were able to pour fire into the last Bug unit.
The melees had been extremly close run things. What can only be described as mighty dice rolling by Lori Brom resulted in the squares holding. The game balanced on a razor edge for four of the six turns. Dice rolls and tactics allowed the British to defeat the aliens, but only after suffering massive casualties. It was a victory for the human Queen’s soldiers but a near run one at that.
After that we went to (you guessed it) The City Diner. This is ONE of their pancakes!
I has their fried chicken Which was amazing!
That night a huge Anglo Egyptian Game took place.
Sadly I didn’t get to see any of the Sunday games.
I had a really great time at Colonial Barracks. The miniatures were great, the terrain wonderful, but most importantly I got to meet some of the people I’ve “known” from the web or from gaming magazines for years. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it again next year and perhaps find a way to get more Bugs and more Steampunk down with me!
We hadn’t done one of these in a long time and the weather today seemed perfect. St Charles is just a few miles down Highway 70 from us so off we went. http://www.historicstcharles.com/about-us/history/main-street/
The area dates originally from the mid 1700s. It was the first capital of the State of Missouri. There were many buildings that date from the nineteenth century. The architecture includes many widow walks, towers, a lot of decorative ironwork. The streets are brick as is much of sidewalk. One block down flows the Missouri River. Ignore the casino and take a look at the old train station and the rebuilt boat hose. The Lewis and Clark expedition set off from this location and replicas of their boats are in the boat house.
Old Mainstreet has a number of shops, some trendy and others that deal in a variety of things, such as antiques. There are a number of really decent antique stores and vintage clothing stores which can supply a lot of garb and accessories to costumers.
The buildings are worth seeing. The street is a historic preservation district. No buildings can be changed. For a period a computer consulting company was purchasing properties on the street. Although there was some dissatisfaction with a computer firm displacing the more normal residents but they did an excellent job in restoring and preserving buildings.
It could take several hours to walk the street and look at all the buildings. Some were originally riverside warehouses, homes to wealthy boat owners or served a variety of industrial and service functions. Some are small cottages others are fairly large structures. Most are brick, while others are local limestone. Wood was also used in many of them. A number of tall towers gave their owners excellent views up and down the river.
The area has been used for numerous period photograph sessions as well as at least one made for TV Movie (Standing in for Mark Twain’s Hannibal).
One of the greatest things about St Charles Mainstreet is the food. I’ll recommend several places Eros is a wonderful Greek restuarant. We had a remarkable lunch there. My lamb chili was amazing and our appetizers were great.
We weren’t down there for dinner but we can suggest Mother-in-Law House http://www.motherinlawhouse.com/. The food is great and the Victorian surroundings are lovely. The period house is decorated with exactly the type of wall paper and fixtures one would expect. When you have dinner there make certain you try the carrots that the hostess will bring to your table. The steaks are good but the fried chicken has never failed to reach the highest standards!
The building is alleged to be haunted, as are many of the buildings on the street. A good friend of ours Michael Henry runs a very entertaining Ghost Tour after dark. http://www.stcharlesghosts.com/ His tour comes highly recommended. As a long time area resident he has a vast knowledge of the history of the district. His book is available in the tourist center
We spent a couple of hours wandering up and down the street. http://www.figueros.com/ is a shop that sells coffee and all the hot sauces known to man. We also dropped into The English Shop, which has a wide range of products from the UK http://www.theenglishshoponline.com/home.html. Finally we stopped for dessert at The Little O Soda Shop. This is a new place on the Street, a traditional old fashion soda fountain. The picture below is my wife’s orange marshmallow soda. We tried their cream soda, the soda pictured below and two of their malts. I had a wonderful caramel malt and Shannon had a strawberry marshmallow one. Both were perfect!
Here are a couple of kit bashed steam tanks.
Both are on the same chassis. This started life as a Crusader kit from Airfix. The rear ramp is from a 1/87 scale Minitanks M113, as was the large rectangular hatch. Embar provided the tracks from their 1/72nd scale Whippet http://www.wonderlandmodels.com/products/emhar-172-mka-whippet-ww1-tank/. I took the right and left tracks and sanded them so they formed a single track unit that could be either the left or the right (making the casting so much easier). The front turret is from a Battlefront Humber Armored Car, with the 15mm BESA replaced with a Stan Johansen Maxim gun. The two versions shown are a rocket armed version and a gun armed version.
The gun turrets in the rear of these vehicle are from Gaming Models http://www.gamodls.com/ in particular these guys http://www.gamodls.com/Nations/British/A-9_3.JPG. The A-9 turrets are nicely rivetted up making them perfect for steampunk. The kits from Gaming Models are really nice. He produces a number of vehicles that no one else makes and his prices are about half of what everyone else charges.
Here is a rocket amred version. In scale these would be 6 inch rockets. Each packa has 12 rockets so it will bring 24 rockets into battle and two full sets of reloads. The rocket packs are from Rebel Miniatures http://www.rebelminis.com/, specifically these guys http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/yhst-51356505839231_2196_43616698 which are Tempest Grav Tanks.
Saturday saw The Hive and the Flame slotted for a demo game at Diecon. I had set up the terrain the evening before to generate some interest and was pleased by the turnout when the game started Saturday morning. In all between 10 and 15 folks tried out the system and they all seemed pleased with it. The vehicles garnered some very welcome praise, as did the Hive terrain itself.
The scenario was a steampunk version of Operations Market Garden. A force of flying machines was to land troops atop the ruins of the Hive and a large mechanized column would punch through and link up with them.
The play started with a large force of flying bugs circling, just as one would expect from hornets who have just had their nest kicked. Once the British aerial units entered the board the flyers headed straight for them. The first turn resulted in first blood as the British fired upon the nearest flying lancers and did some level of destruction to the massive swarm.
The second turn saw an all out aerial melee ensure with the bugs concentrating on the lighter and unarmoured ornithopters. Although the machine guns on there craft were able to kill a number of bugs the bugs got some of their own back and downed three ornithopters. On the ground a unit of Major Lancers erupted near to a battery of steam propelled 5 inch howitzers and were able to get into close combat range. The remaining British armour split up, some going back to help the gunners and the main portion headed towards the Hive.
Turn three continued the aerial attrition, but saw a large part of the flying lancer swarm break off and head towards the British ground forces. The action quickly evolved into two separate battles. One with the bulk of both sides’ flying forces engaged in a running battle headed towards the Hive and a second centered around the British ground forces with both sides attempting to provide some air support.
The British aerial column continued its dogged advance toward its landing zone. Once within visual range they discovered the entire area covered with larva. These were Rebel Miniatures ripper worms and they make perfect young’ns for the Hive. With their mouths open they exhibit the hunger so core to these alien creatures. This unwanted discovery added tot eh British aerial commander’s problems as he had to not only fight off the flying lancers (as well as a trio of Super Heavy shooters that appeared to provide an increasingly accurate and damaging fire) but also had to clear the landing Zone of these six foot long flesh eating maggots. It was time to unleash several salvos of 9.2 inch rockets, which did do a fair job of reducing the maggots to pulp.
Back at the other end of the board things continued to go south for the British player. His air cover was forced from the board and several more units of ground bugs arrived through the vast tunnel network beneath Devon. More and more of his vehicles were immobilized or knocked out. Even though several units of bugs were completely wiped out the ground force was still compelled to retire.
Without the ground force to soak up bug reinforcements more and more bugs headed for the landing zones. They came boiling out of the tunnels and soon, even with the firepower of the massed rocket batteries, the landing zones would be swamped. Viewing discretion as the better part of valour the assault ships came back in and recovered their landing parties
I’ll finish the buildout discussion after Diecon 12 (next weekend) but wanted to give folks an impression of the forces that will be available for the British Empire at that convention.
Five large assault flyers
18 two place ornithopters
We are happy to announce that Stars of Empire is now available as an instantly downloadable .pdf through RPG Now!
The control surfaces were a particular issue with this build. Initially I used the aluminum landing struts from R/C aircraft. I cut these in half and widened the existing holes in the sides of the aft hull. I bashed up some rudders from plastic and aluminum stock.
I decided I really didn’t like this. The angle of the horizontal parts looked good but the rudders were terrible and there were no horizontal control surfaces. This is when I took the two Ryan Spirits and decided to use their wings. For the 1:48 scale kit I took the top half of the wing, cut it in half and glued it together as a top and bottom of a single airfoil. I used Green Stuff and sanded until I had a single long smooth airfoil. This provided a really nice “generic” airfoil for use as a rudder or other control surface. The 1:72 scale had a solid single piece wing. I cut this in half at the center line and then sanded the bottom sides off both pieces. Once these were flat I glued them together and puttied the leading edge to sand it smooth as well.
This gave me a pair of masters for the production of resin parts. I sent them up to Wayne in Michigan who provided really excellent castings. Once the parts had arrived back in St Louis I had to decide what to do with them. One thing that a lot of VSF designs lack is enough control surfaces. The ships will be moving slowly and will have a lot of mass. Combined that with the limited resistance of air compared to water and a lot of control surface will be needed. I decided to do a fairly complex set of surfaces. I wanted to make maximum use of the pieces I had. The main surfaces would be made from the larger airfoil and I would fill in with the smaller one.
On the full scale machine the basic design idea was for the horizontal surfaces to be a single piece; what is called a stabilator because it is both a stabilizer and an elevator. This would pivot along its center line. Through the pivot point axle would run a structural member and gearing to control the rudders. This would connect to a gear box upon which the upper and lower rudders would be attached. The Upper rudder would be the larger of the two and the lower would be able to swing out 90 degrees and act as an air brake (if both were swung out at the same time) or as a drag rudder if only one was extended. The lower rudder would also be connected to a box on its lower end and from there back to the main hull buy a long brace piece. This brace piece and the axle of the stabilator would form a strong structure for the control surfaces.
I used the two chop saws to cut the large airfoils into the correct shapes. You might know these as miter saws – they are the same thing, though. You might be interested to know that there are 4 types of miter saw. I am using two; a standard cordless miter saw and a compound miter saw. The rudder was easy. I just marked up the ten pieces and cut the same length off each of the outboard ends. The stabilators were cut out on the outboard side to allow the rudders to swing without interfering and had an angled cut on the inboard side to natch the angle of the hull. This required a paper template to be made and the chop saw to be marked so i could use its mitre guide. All worked well. Now I drilled all the necessary 1/8 inch holes for brass rods in the big pieces and 1/16 inch ones for the small rudders.
The gear boxes (two per control surface assembly) were made from acrylic square stock. The larger gearboxes were from 1/2 square stock and the others from slightly smaller material. The central boxes got three holes drilled in them and the lower boxes just a single one.
The paired assembles were put together. I had to make certain there was a “left” and a “right” for each ship and that all the airfoils were lined up in the correct directions.
Once assembled and primed they were set aside to dry and to ensure the glue was set.
Next I detailed the upper hull with Mirco Engineering girder pieces.
The places for turrets were drilled. I assembled the Male sponsons, but left off all the bits that allow the 6 pdrs to elevate and traverse. With the close space behind the sponsons these parts will not fit. In fact I had to snip off the entire breech to allow it to fit. Even then the circular gun shields only fit if the weapon is traversed to a near broadside firing position. I cut the gun tube short as well, to me this represents a howitzer, not a long 6 pdr.
The first of the Heavy Troop Ships is almost ready for the table top.
This has been a very complex build. It started as a quick and cheap conversion of the old Disney Toy. When the toys went on sale I picked up a total of five of them, which will make for a good sized sqaudron. I was originally building it as a liftwood flyer for Space 1889. Once Hive, Queen and Country took on its own life I repurposed the build. I game in 15mm so this is a “big” ship, 11 inches long so over 100 feet long in scale. The original toy is a bit “chunchy”. I would have perfered a hull about 20% longer in proportion, but had to work with what I had.
Here is the final parts list:
- Aqua Evac Toy
- Four 1:87 scale M270 MLRS kits-Use the rocket launchers from each and the front cab from two kits https://www.3000toys.com/catalog/products.asp?TYPE=-&MFG=BOLEY&ORDER=P&SCALE=1/87&setup=
- Two Airfix 1:76 scale British WW1 Tanks, at least one must be a Male tank http://www.airfix.com/airfix-products/military-vehicles/tanks/a01315-wwi-male-tank-a01315/
- One 1:87 scale Saladin armored car (or alternatively one Airfix 1:76 scale Centurian tank)-Use the rear decking
- Wings from a 1:48 Ryan Spirit of St Louis-used to make masters for a resin airfoil http://www.revell.com/
- Wings from a 1:72 Ryan Spirit of St Louis-used to make masters for a resin airfoil http://www.testors.com/
- Two 15mm scale Bishop turrets from Gaming Miniatures Inc. http://www.gamodls.com/
- Four 15mm scale Humber armored car turrets-regunned with 1 pdr pom poms
- Various Micro Engineering HO and N scale girder plates http://microengineering.com/
- Various Platstrut pieces http://www.plastruct.com/
- Brass Rod
- Brass Tubing
- Various ship fittings from HR http://www.hrprod.com/fittings.html
- Corsec Engineering omni stand and hex base http://corseceng.com/
- Two muffin fans from dead computers
- Two sets of various plastic gears
- Acrylic sqaure rod
- Green Stuff plastic putty
- Super Glue
- 2 Inch cut off saw
- 6 inch cut off saw
- Drill press
- Various hobby knives
Assembly and Modification of the Aqua Evac
The Aqua Evac comes in a box set that includes parts and such for various versions that can be assembled into a number of ways. Assemble the parts for the standard submarine version. This is a toy so be ready for some poor fitting. The Hull will be made up of nine peices. Each side is made of a front and a rear section. The bottom consists of a flat peice and a bow ramp. The top has the deck and deckhouse moulded as a single piece. An upper door for the bow ramp is at the forward end and a large boxy structure is the aft end of the hull. A variety of propellors, fins and such come with the kit. They can all go into the parts box. The surface details will be used to the fullest. The toy’s fins were mounted on the sides and the fittings will be reused to mount the rocket batteries. There is a fitting on each side aft that I drilled out for the shaftes for the stabilators. I drilled them out to 1/8 inch, so I could run in brass rod. There were two holes in the aft section that are perfect for the drive shaftes of the propellers. A number of other holes exist in the upper deck. Fill those in with Green Stuff or cover them with fittings such as hatches. Gun turrets will be mounted on this surface so several of the holes will get covered by or drilled out to take the turrets.
Here are a number of pictures taken showing how the various parts I took from the Airfix WW1 Tanks kits. The kit provides a hull rear plate I used two of them to cover the holes in the lower aft hull of the toy . I cut the bottom of the Airfix tank hull as a front plate under the ramp.
The MLRS cabs were cut off their hulls. Two cabs were used, cut them to size so they can cover the entire front of the deck house when glued together. Cover the sides of the deck house with Micro Engineering HO scale bridger girders. Cover the slots in the rear hull sides with the N scale girder plates.
I will continue the step by step in the next installment
Someone asked for a photo with 15mm miniatures to show its size. Here are a couple of pictures as requested.
The conversion of the Aqua Evacs to heavy troop carriers has been a complex build requiring a lot of parts from other kits. I thought I’d show a simpler and much less expensive conversion. This is of a much smaller troop carrier.
For this conversion I used parts of four kits. For the basic hull I am using an Airfix Buffalo Amphibian in 1:76, a pair of Female WW I tanks (various panels and plates as well as pair of sponsons for weapons), also from Airfix and a 1:72 A-10 for the tail.
The Buffalo is a rear ramped tracked amphibious tractor. It has a smoothly curved bow with the driver and commander in a cab. The troop compartment is opened topped. The new vehilce will be a fully enclosed lander with a front mounted ramp.
Construct the Buffalo hull starting on step 3. Do not worrry about steps 1 and 2. The floatation cells and all those raod wheels will go in the parts bin. On step 4 install parts 57 and 58 (the two hatches),
Now take the first WW I tank kit. Build the Female sponsons in steps 1-4. Take part 27 from each of two kits. Glue them side by side. Glue the hatch, part 46 in place as usual. Take parts 25 and 26 and glue them together. Remove the front glacis plate up to where the vertical plate begins. Install hatch cover 45 as normal. Once the pair of parts 27 have set remove the rearmost part of the parts at the last line of rivets.
Glue to combined parts 27 with the plates reversed. The front edge will be glued to the back edge of the Buffalos cab, over the troop compartment. There will be a space about 1/4 inch wide between the ramp and end of the plates. Fill this with sheet plastic. I used an N scale peice from Micro Engineering, which had some nice rivet and panel detail. Install the cab on the left front of the top of the vehicle, with its rear edge glued to the rivet line on the panel.
Take a piece of tubing or rod. carve it to the contour of what was the front of the Buffalo. This will be the propeller shaft. Over it place the three part A-10 tail. Cut the rudders short and glue the assembly on upside down.
Fill as needed with sheet plastic and Green Stuff putty.
This will give a decent small landing craft. With a few tweaks such as replacing the airscrews with jets or something more high tech will give a good 15mm small grop ship. Other modifications could give a more heavily armed varient. By replacing the Female sponsons with the Male version a larger gun replaces the automatic weapons in this version.
All in all this cost less than 30.00 and took about a day to build. There is very little waste. The WW I tanks are nearly entirely consumed by this conversion and the heavier assault flyers.
If anyone is interested in discussing this build please either join my yahoo group at http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/Hivequeen/ or on The Miniatures Page http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=269381.
I’d be very happy to trade ideas and techniques.
Getting the three squadrons of British Army Aerial Detchment Ornithopter MkIs ready for combat against The Hive at Diecon 12
These craft are going to be sporting two paint schemes. One will represent a non tactical scheme of gloss bright blue over undoped linen. The white tails and noses will get a sold “sqaudron” color of red or orange. Time permiting the Squadron Commander’s ships might get colored wing tips.
The second will be a tactical scheme based on RAF day fighters in 1940, Dark Earth and Dark over Duck Egg Blue.