Friday, October 24, 2008

There's No Truth in Martian Skin Color

I'm one of those common cases in historical miniature gaming. I am owned by the history. Even greater than the geekdom of playing games with toy soldiers is the geekdom of getting the history right. And it's getting worse as I get older.

No such problem on Mars. No history. Or at least I can more or less make it up as I go along.

In the summer of 2005 I painted up all of my RAFM Martian Legion figures. I singly mounted them on washers, primed 'em with my faithful Testors spray flat white enamel and had at it. I decided on the old Ral Partha dun horse color for their skin tone. I like it, the color was not too bright, but clearly not human. Bad move. I can't get it anymore and the Iron Wind substitute isn't the same shade of biscuit yellow. Oh, well.

After I showed off my Martians to collaborator Mark Waddington, he set about to paint his own pile of lead. However, he wanted to get it right, and make our figures more or less uniform. My response was that there are no Osprey books for Mars. "There is no truth in Martian skin color."

And this is the way we've approached our project. We've tried to focus on the fun. Our scenarios have told a story about Mars, but it is a narrative of our own making, tied into the Chadwick story, but not limited by it. One of our more noteworthy scenarios is Landship Down. Mark's design is loosely based on the story of Blackhawk Down in Somalia, a steam tank goes bust, supported by a couple of units of infantry, while the Brits mount a rescue mission complete with armor and air support. It's always a fiasco, because the colonials dither, while the Martians slowly pick off the defenders. Sad. Sad and sorry.

I designed a scenario around Fredrick Weyerhaeuser's purchase of some liftwood forest, and the rush to seize it by British and Imperial forces, while Weyerhaeser and his work crew try to defend it.

More to come soon about our rules, campaign plans, and upcoming games.

The two pictures come from our Landship Down scenario in February 2008. The first photo is of the lonesome British left to defend the broken down steam tank. The other picture is of the rescue force. No pictures of the Martians, but then they fought as though they were invisible.

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