Yesterday, as promised, I put on a couple of games at the Emerald City Gamefest in Seattle. Unfortunately my Sky Galleons games did not attract a lot of interest among non-miniaturists, but thankfully there were friends available to run the game. Dave Schueler suggested that one problem at such mini-cons is that most games played there only last an hour or so, while miniature games frequently require a much longer commitment. I never thought of it that way.
I ran an old chestnut in the early game period, the revenge raid on Shastapsh. I thought about providing more options for both sides, but ran out of time to determine if I had anything like play balance with the forces, so I stuck with my original vessels.
The Brits have Thunderer and Reliant and three smaller gunboats with nastier armament than the run of the mill Aphid. I use the Brigade models with armored turrets and give them 4.7inch quick firing guns. That's unpleasant. They have fairly unremarkable secondary armament. The Martians have five Whisperdeath kites. The British have the onus of blowing stuff up as part of a reprisal raid and can target lots of things-royal palace, pipelines, water pumping stations, neighborhoods, bridges, but with five large Martian kites about to descend on them, they need a good plan. The British did pretty well the first turn, knocking out ground defenses and pounding the pumping station pretty well, but were caught low by the kites spewing Martian fire and dragging drogue torpedoes.
Once the Martians engaged the British, the action hardly moved at all, taking place over the north bridge. Reliant was quickly faced with fighting a level five fire, eventually putting it out over three turns. Thunderer likewise was doused. However, most of the bad stuff happened to the three hapless gunboats, Perseus, Hercules, and Theseus. Theseus burned. Hercules fought a desperate boarding action, but was eventually overwhelmed and scuttled by its captors. Perseus was the only ship nailed by a torpedo, and saved itself from plunging into the canal at the last possible moment. No Martian ship was destroyed, but many were ravaged by gunfire and the ubiquitous Nordenfeldt fire.
The Britsh suffered from a certain amount of bad luck, winning the initiative only on the first turn. They always went last, meaning the Martians were always dropping flaming nastiness on them or trying to torpedo them. They also missed many of their best shots, even though they hit on a 4-6, though the burning ship issues didn't help. They also didn't have a great plan once the Martian ships closed in..
Surprisingly, the Martians didn't attempt any rams, though I think there were a fair number of opportunities. Nevertheless, it was clear that the British were going to sail off with their tails between their legs.
I've scheduled another SGoM game for Saturday the 30th, after Thanksgiving. This is also a do-again scenario, which will kick off our SGoM/Space 1889 campaign.
The first picture shows the blue roofs of the Royal Palace guarded by tethermines. The tethermines are actually Gametech flight stands put to a better use. All the buildings including water pipes and bridges are from the 1/300 Middle East range by JR Miniatures. JR is cheap and easy to deal with online. I'd actually like to add another 30 or so buildings (which would cost about $40.) In the next photo you can see four kites ganging up on one of the smaller gunboats (if you look carefully you can see Thunderer creeping into the background.) The little gunboat is one of the Osprey Class patrol nefs offered by Brigade Models for Aeronef. Don't care much for Aeronef, but I like the Brigade minis to fill out my own vessels. The kite minis are straight out of the SGoM game with wire and paper masts and sails. They're alright, but sadly they are quite out of game scale-they should be much larger. The third picture shows my Gametech Whisperdeath (also too small) with my Gametech Reliant (a little too small) with two of the Brigade gunboats. The Gametech vessels are simply mini-masterpieces. Love 'em. Wish somebody would pick up the molds and the Chadwick's license.
All of my models have brass wires set as posts into their hulls. I use brass tubing cut to five different levels corresponding with very low, low, medium, high and very high. This tubing is set into weighted plywood bases. Any time a ship changes altitude I just swap out bases. For the my ground batteries, I use 1/600 scale mortars and guns for American Civil War batteries from Bay Area Yards. They are great, cheap, and not too large.
Last but not least, Thunderer is a beautiful miniature that I love to use in games. It is a scratchbuilt, and not by me. Larry Enoch built it for me some years ago together with an Intrepid and two Triumphs. They are highly detailed and just amazing. Larry is an incredibly talented artist, scratchbuilding American Civil War ships, and other sci-fi vessels, as well as the Space 1889 stuff he did for me.
Emerald City Gamefest is a cute little con in Seattle that contacted me about putting on a Sky Galleons of Mars game. I agreed to that and some Thunderboats! for Saturday the 15th. I've talked some friends into heading north with me, just so I can depend on having enough players to play the games.
I'm running a tried and true scenario, so it should be pretty fun. Lots of death and things burning. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures.
Last weekend I spent most of my time making safer carrying containers for all of my airships. I built little mini altitude markers by drilling holes for brass tubing and supergluing it into left over Litko bases. Then I glued some sheet magnet on to the bases, and setting them on some roof flashing at the bottom of a box. Nothing slides around much and that was the whole point. I had the miniatures poorly stored, so this was worth the time and effort.
I'm a high school history and journalism teacher, a career I've loved and continued to enjoy. Aside from my family I have several passions-miniature wargaming, movies, books and music. I'm also a died in the wool Mariners fan and baseball lover.