Sunday, 25 September 2011

Tomorrow's War - Review Part 1

Tomorrow’s War- First Impressions.

I’ve been lucky enough to be given a review copy of Tomorrow’s War by Osprey Publishing and Ambush Alley Games. I’m not affiliated with either, and haven’t been involved in the playtesting or development of the game, so beyond getting a free copy of the game I hope I can be reasonably objective.

I have only skimmed the book so far (in casualty whilst I was waiting for Amazing Geek Girl to get her head X-rayed after a nasty collision during her adventure race yesterday), but I’ll give you my first impressions.

The book is hardbound and full colour throughout (like the new version of Force on Force). The interior text is crisp and readable, and the pages are well laid out with good use of art and graphics. Pictures of models from a variety of Sci-fi ranges including (that I have seen so far) GZG (of course...), Khurasan, Old Crow, Pig Iron and Combat Wombat.

The first section of the book details the default setting for the TW universe, which I dipped in and out of. It seems perfectly serviceable, but I already have a background in mind for my games, so will probably just steal bits from it. I do like the names, though - The Republic or Arden and Democratic Peoples Republic Of Glory - with its Dear Leader Mk1 and Mk2 tanks- very North Korea In Spaaaaaaace.

The rules that I read are similar to the the aforementioned Force on Force and use a couple of systems that I'm unsure about. The first one is that in each turn, events are effectively dictated by who gets initiative. The player with the initiative (IP) activates all of their units one by one, and the non-initiative player (NIP) then tries to react to them. Once the IP has finished activating units, the NIP gets to try and activate any that are left. There are a couple of wrinkles to this basic system, but essentially it means the IP gets to act, the NIP gets to react.

I quite like the thought behind this, and can see how it reflects modern/near future combat where if you act decisively and aggressively towards achieving your goals and you can keep up the initiative of your actions you will be more likely to succeed.

I, however, have been accused of being a very Queen Theory, reactive war gamer (Queen theory - you concentrate on taking out the most units or the biggest, baddest unit on the table; King Theory - you concentrate on meeting the objectives) who is good in defensive scenarios, but too timid in attacking, so I'm not sure how I'll take to it.

The other area of uncertainty for me is that the figures on the table don't actually represent where the figures are, but an "area of control" for that unit. You don't fire at individual figures, but at the unit, and the majority of the unit has to be X for X to take effect - cover, AOE attacks and so on. To me, this is open to abuse. I like simple, unambiguous situations where it's clear what is and isn't the case. I've had too many arguments about rule interpretations over the years and can see that this would cause many more (another thing I've been accused of more than once is being argumentative - I, of course, disagree with this most strongly...).

Throughout the book there are many examples to show how the rules work in effect, which is most welcome. The rules are also divided up sensibly, with scenarios using the rules at the end of each section, so you can apply what you have read about in a practical way. This is a very nice touch as it means you can get playing without having to digest the whole, weighty tome.

There are rules for differing tech levels and how to build interesting alien races, so you could have plucky human resistance fighters facing off against weird high-tech aliens, or tech savvy marines fighting against toothy, acid blooded aliens, or stealthy, invisible hunters. All of these could be created very easily using those rules.

My next step is to have a game with my two nephews, who I'll call Goblin (11) and Orc (14). They enjoy gaming and enthusiastically critique each rule set we try them out on. They are both fans of the TV series Falling Skies, so I might try a scenario with some plucky human resistance fighters facing off against weird high-tech aliens.

In summary, I'm very impressed by my first look. I don't think I've seen a set of war games rules with such high production values for a long time. The rules are clear and well explained and appear to comprehensively cover everything that i was looking for. Ambush Alley and Osprey have clearly got a good partnership going if this is anything to judge by and if they can keep the quality of content and product up, they will be on to a winner.

Tiny trees

A quick guide to some forest terrain I made for 6mm gaming. I have micro scale models for WW2 USA and Finns, Cold war Russians and 3 or 4 different few Sci-fi armies too. Most of the forest terrain I had was designed for 15mm or larger, so tended to dwarf all the units.

I was browsing in Hobbycraft one day and came across some wavy pipecleaner packs they had in various colours. Thinking I could do something with them, I picked up a pack.

I had already commissioned some large hex shaped pieces of MDF from These were originally just going to be painted green to use as a way of distinguishing area cover, by placing normal, based trees on top of – allowing me to retire the threadbare and fraying pieces of cloth I’d previously used. The hexes can be joined together to create larger areas and other types of scatter placed on them to show scrub, fields, swamp or whatever.

I started by clipping the pipe cleaners into smaller pieces, cutting through the centre of the fattest part, and then through the thinnest part. I varied the distance I made the cuts, and found after a while that it was better to leave a short section between the thinnest parts to avoid the tree looking too spindly.

Once cut the tiny trees were pushed into some handy corrugated cardboard and given a spray of GW Black undercoat to hide the very artificial green. I then used whatever green sprays I had to hand and did some very haphazard sprays over them, trying to go from dark to light in fairly even, light coats. I didn’t want the paint to clump the Chenille fibres too much. Once they were all dry I gave them a couple of coats of GW Hardcoat and a blast of Humbrol Matt varnish.

Meanwhile I started to prepare the hex bases to take the trees. I took a stack of 5 or 6 bases and used a Dremel with a 2mm bit to drill about 20 random holes in the bases. I did this by stacking them up and just drilling down through them. I did this on a cutting mat to preserve the table.

Unfortunately it hadn’t occurred to me that a Dremel will drill straight through 6 2mm MDF pieces, a 4mm cutting mat, 4 coats of hand polished varnish, 6 layers of hand buffed beeswax polish and 4 or 5mm of pine without breaking a sweat. I managed to drill 20 or so random holes in my dining room table.... Oh well. I’ll do a post on how to fill 10 or so tiny holes in a dining room table some other time.

I then sprayed some of the Hexes with a can of plasticoat brown I had to hand. I then coated them in a mix of 50/50 PVA and water and liberally coated them with Woodland Scenic’s Medium brown ballast. Once this was dry I sprayed them with Woodland Scenic’s scenery cement from a spray gun thingy. I let this almost dry before I randomly sprinkled some fine green flock and mixed scatter I had - source lost to the mists of time. Once this was done I re-sprayed them with the scenic cement and left them to dry in a nice, sunny spot. They then got 2 coats of Hardcoat and some more of the Humbrol matt Varnish.

At this point I realised I’d managed to block up all of the holes I’d drilled earlier with ballast and flock. I spent ½ hour or so with a scalpel picking out the holes again and then used a Sharpie to mark where the holes were.

Once the holes were cleared, I took the trees from the cardboard and slotted them into the holes....

I’m very pleased with the results. I plan to make another set in a winter theme to go with my Finns. I have a tub of the woodland scenic’s snow for the ground, but will probably just spray the trees with some white paint from above. I’m also going to make a few smaller trees on individual bases to act filler between the hexes.

Here are some shots of them in action with my 6mm Cold War Russians:

Friday, 16 September 2011

Big Dog

So here we have the second go at the CMG Protolene Ayame mecha. My original paint scheme was a lot of subtle airbrushing that aimed to make the suit look like a wolf's pelt or some kind of wild animal. Frankly, it sucked. It just looked like random splodges of greys and browns all over the place.

However, after using the nifty metallic paint that you have to polish up in the Secret Wedding Project I thought that it might make a nice metallic texture for the mecha.

The base coat is the Humbrol Brushed Aluminium that was polished (carefully - the resin is quite delicate) with a toothbrush. I then washed it with GW badab black to age it a bit. Over the top are a couple of Tamiya greys - Field Grey and Sea Grey I think. I then touched up the claws and "toes"with some GW Bolt Gun. Based using brown ballast, flock, Silfor tufts and a cork boulder, as usual.

I'm pretty pleased with the result.

I actually bought one of the Hunter and one of the Predator variants and swapped the arms, so each has a gun arm and a claw arm. I also have a newer Ayame Khan Scout variant with a pair of Gatling cannons which looks very mean.

I am slightly on the horns of a dilemma, though, as the rest of my Protolene forces are painted in very bold colours, partly because I figure the canine Protolene might be colour blind and also because I intend them to be a band of space pirates, so they are showing their "fierce face" by choosing to ignore camo. The Ayame, on the other hand, is quite subdued. It's not varnished yet, so I could go back and add some bolder colours, or maybe some kind of snarly shark mouth to it....

Nevertheless, I really like the Ayame's, they remind me of the Games Workshop Tau battle suits, especially the more recent versions. Combined with the GZG mini drones and the maybe the CMG Praesentia vehicles or perhaps the Khurasan Pelagic Dominate they could make good proxies for a 15mm Tau army.

Friday, 9 September 2011

GZG Japanese Powered Armour

Another relatively fast paint job for the GZG Japanese powered armour. Black base coat, grey drybrusing and a black wash. A few details picked out in GW chainmail and boltgun. I remember spending ages trying to find a away to make the squad support weapon on the second chap in from the right look more intimidating, without much success.

The leader also got an attempt at some sort of lightning or electricity running up and down his blades - not sure it's entierly sucessful, but it was worth a go.

I quite like these miniatures, the little sensor pods on either side of the helmet remind me of teddy bear ears, and after i realised that i found it a bit difficult to think of them as fearsome death dealers and not just go "ahhhhhh - how cute". Quite kwaii, as the otaku say.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Space cat biker gang.

Khurasan Miniatures have just released some images on TMP of their forthcomming Felid Jetbikes.

These are made of 100% pure awesome in my opinion. I've never really felt the Felid range, but these have really piqued my interest. I may have to get half a dozen of them and some dismounted infantry just to create a Angry Space-Cat Biker Gang.

I think they'd make ideal opponents for my CMG Protolene Khanate troops AKA the Crazy Space Dog Pirates.