Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Evil Minions

Mercenaries at their very best (or worst if you prefer). The troops representing the Evil Minions are always working toward their own specific goal but occasionally will work for the highest bidder to earn a bit of cold hard cash. At the very least they will do whatever they can to disrupt one or both sides in any situation just for the pure pleasure in doing so.

No one really knows who the Evil Minions are, who controls them, or where they come from. Their equipment is obviously of earth origin and always of the highest quality and latest technology.

Best guess is an ex-military officer from some army that has his own personal goals and is creating and training his own military force. No one has any idea where their main headquarters is and the few prisoners that have been taken have all taken cyanide before disclosing any information. All attempts at infiltrating or even meeting with the Minion organization have failed. No army can predict when these fellows will appear or what their main purpose might be.

On one occasion a strong force of Evil Minions arrived during a battle, attacked both sides simultaneously for over an hour, and then retreated back into the hills. One can only assume it was some sort of training exercise but who can be sure?

Several rumors abound centered on the use of what is called a lightning gun. A fascinating concept but all earth scientists have stated that such a weapon could not possibly exist.

The amount of times the Evil Minions have appeared has been slowly but surely increasing. They are obviously preparing to complete whatever goal they have chosen. Hopefully it will not disrupt the upcoming campaign against the rebels in Shastapsh.

The figures and guns in the pictures are all available from The London war Room.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mechanical Steam Cavalry

After the success with creating flying steam driven ships and then tracked steam powered vehicles it was not surprising when the British shipwrights and mechanics developed a steam driven mechanical horse.

The popularity of the design led the British to fully equip several cavalry units with the new mounts. Like other mechanical contraptions of the age they are prone to breakdowns and must have access to a steady supply of water. The advantage of these new beasts is that they are nearly impervious to small arms fire and offer a high level of cover to their riders.

They may move exceptionally fast in a charge (by pushing the engine beyond its standard capacity) and the shock value of the iron horse in open terrain is tremendous against unarmored targets.

Once again it is the younger officers and troopers who have shown the most interest in volunteering for these new units. It will take time to see if the new units prove themselves a true asset on the Battlefield.

Note that there was a serious incident at the shipyard and a troop of these new horses went missing. At first it was presumed to be a transport error but rumors now abound that the missing “animals” have been seen in the city of Shastapsh ridden by rebels.

Kevin’s unit is based in Shastapsh and is the 1st Virginia Steam Cavalry. The unit is composed of ex-Confederates fighting in the city service. They distinguished themselves fighting against the Oenotrians during the city’s revolt against their masters, despite some mechanical failures. The riders are Dixon figures from their fine ACW range.

How they were made:

The horses were taken from the Mage Knight series of “Click base” figures know as Galeshi Cavalrymen. The rider and original base were removed and the mechanical horse lightly touched up and then dry brushed and remounted on a different base. The new riders are from Redoubt miniatures. Lancers seemed the perfect fit.

Any questions? Be happy to answer them!


HMS Aphid

With the arrival of the first British envoys on Mars came the discovery of what is called Liftwood. This wondrous tree was capable of the amazing ability to lift heavy objects into the air. The native Martians had been using the special wood for hundreds of years and with the arrival of earthmen the demand for this rare wood increased dramatically. Much of the effort of the various earth nations that had stations on Mars went to the acquisition of the incredible and extremely rare wood.

For the first few years the British purchased wooden hulled airships mostly from the Parhoonese and equipped them with modern earth weapons. It was not until 1882 that the first purpose built iron clad aerial warships (The HMS Aphid & HMS Ladybug) were completed at the new naval yards in Syrtis Major.

In 1885 control of the newly formed Royal Aerial Service was given to the Royal Navy. The governmental decision caused much bitterness among the officers of the aerial service. Many of these officers resigned their commissions and returned to private life. The group referred to as the Red Captains is now full of these officers and men formerly of the aerial service.

The design of the Aphid and her sistership Ladybug proved to be incredibly successful though they both suffered from engine difficulties. The ships were easy to manufacture and both were refitted in 1886 with better force draught engines. Later vessels in the Aphid class were also equipped with a 4 inch Long front gun adding a bit stronger punch to the vessels firepower.

Note that the Aphid class ships were meant as patrol gunboats and only carried a small crew of 15. They were just over 90 feet long and while armor plated offered little protection to the open deck gun crews.

How she was built:

Unlike most of the other vehicles and ships in my collection the Aphid is almost completely scratch-built. I spent a bit of time pouring through the various Space 1889 rulebooks and supplements and settled on this particular design. I scaled it for 28mm and then proceeded to the actual building phase. The basic ship was built from a pine block and covered in sheet styrene. All of the superstructures, boilers, fins, and ladders were also built from styrene. The liftwood portions underneath were cut from wooden clapboard and stained a “Martian” red. The riveting was done by hand. The decking was purchased from a hobby shop and is cut from wooden planks that were glued together with dark glue so the individual planks show up well. All the guns were ordered from The London War Room and Riveresco. The rail stanchions were from billings boats and the handrails themselves bent from brass rod. This ship has participated in several dozen tabletop battles with various different players in command and has yet to suffer a serious mishap. Those Brits build a damn sturdy ship!

More questions? Just let me know!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

German Medium Landship – Das Eisen Biest

The success of the British landships along with their ease of manufacturing (compared to walkers) made the Germans design their own version of a landship referred to as the Eisen Platten Land Schiff Mark I.

The name was quickly shortened to Das Eisen Biest. (The Iron Beast). It was considerably larger than the British vehicles with heavier armor, a medium gun in the hull and light gun plus a machinegun in a rotating turret. The extra armor and guns added drastically to the weight which required adding a second engine (one to drive each track).

Even then it was still slower than its lighter British opponents. This was offset by the heavier frontal gun and the ability of the turret to rotate to face an enemy without having to turn the whole vehicle.

Offering extra protection to its crew of 5 the Iron Beast could also carry a small unit of armed troops inside the spacious hull. This capability offered a new aspect to the tactical possibilities of the vehicle which the Germans have quickly adopted. Even with the high level of quality that the Germans put into everything they create the vehicle still has a tendency to breakdown at the most unexpected times.

German efficiency however, gets the machine back up and running quickly even in battle conditions. So far the machine has been tested only against native opponents and has yet to face an enemy its equal. As the German military force on Mars continues to expand and British eyes are turned toward the revolt in Shastapsh this opportunity may come sooner than anyone thinks.

How it was built: Do you recognize the basic vehicle?? No? Ah, come on! It’s the body of an Imperial AT-AT from Star Wars! It was taken from a kit made by AMT (from Ebay of course). The turret is actually one of the feet! I added blocks of wood underneath to represent tracks and all sorts of styrene pieces on the outside for tanks, stacks, guns, panels etc.. I just kept adding stuff till it looked “right” Black paint, a quick dry brush, and the spots of Rust (Martian Soil) finished it off.

Any questions?? If so I’m happy to answer any and all! Mark

Monday, January 12, 2009

American Monitor Class Bipod Walkers

The Americans have never really adopted the idea of colonialism on earth and this policy has been carried over on Mars. As of 1889 the U.S. had only a small armed military force stationed on Mars. In the trading center in Thymiamata there were three Companies of the 14th Infantry regiment, One Battery of the 2nd Artillery and One Troop of the 5th Cavalry. In addition there was one company of U.S. marines at the U.S. legation in Syrtis Major.

The major area of American interest was in gaining new trade markets (both legal and illegal). Openly the American traders will try to visit and set up trade relations with every Martian Kingdom or Princedom on Mars. This openness has led to the Americans expanding into trade areas previously blocked to other nations.
While the regular trading has met with good success the main portion of the American trading has involved illegal gun-running. The Americans have a large surplus of artillery and guns left over from the civil war and every bit of it is in demand on Mars. Most of the European nations on Mars turn a blind eye to the American activity but Britain and Belgium both are actively attempting to stop these illegal American guns from being brought to the red planet.

There is nothing the British can really do to the offending Americans without starting a war but those shipments that have been “found” by the British have all mysteriously been lost and apologies sent to the American shipping companies. With the extremely high demand for earth weapons it is very unlikely that this illegal activity will end anytime soon.

In fact the Americans have developed their own armored vehicle to assist in guarding such shipments. These new vehicles are two legged (bipodal) iron clad steam powered walkers. The actual turret is of medium armor, rotates and is of similar design to the original U.S.S. Monitor. Armed with a medium gun and two gatlings the American Monitor Class Walkers are formidable opponents.

Several nations both Earth and Martian have approached the Americans about the possibility of purchasing these new mechanical devices.
How the Machine was built:

The Monitor Class Walker was originally a six piece resin kit with an extra bag of white metal pieces (guns and such). The resin casting left much to be desired as most of the rivets were unformed and / or air bubbles. The turret top originally looked like it was supposed to be a wire type mesh or something I was never quite sure. Instead I covered the upper casement with styrene and made my own vision ports. Overall a nice kit that required a bit of extra work to get it serviceable. I would give the resin kit a “B -”. The white metal parts were really well cast (best gatlings I’ve ever seen) but the main gun supplied was way too large and barely fit in the turret. The main gun in the picture is a smaller Dahlgren I purchased separately.

I mounted it on a 3 x 3 base, painted it black; dry brushed it and then added the rust (Martian soil). Ready for Battle!
Questions? If so, you but need to ask!

A Primer on Martian Military Tactics

Your Martians must deal with the trained volleys of earth foot soldiers, their machineguns, and their incredibly powerful artillery, not to mention the appearance of the metal clad steam powered monstrosities. When possible you are upgrading your weaponry and adopting some of the impressive earth tactics (such as mass volleys) but as a whole you are still fighting with outdated equipment and tactics.

To offset the overwhelming firepower of the invaders you have numbers, a well trained, if under-equipped, army and some unique tactics that when used properly have proven quite effective against the earth forces. Martian leaders have also taken to the art of diplomacy and have managed to use the greed of the different earth nations to acquire equipment, trainers, and even occasional direct military support.

Your first and foremost tactic is to avoid earth firepower at all costs. The range of their rifles and machineguns is two to three times most of yours and they are far more accurate. Keep your troops under cover!! Do not leave your units stationary in the open and / or in light cover as they will be cut to pieces. Try and keep them out of sight until the enemy is within range or you decide to attack.

Once you decide to attack do not hesitate. Form columns and if at all possible concentrate your legion forces. Your shield gunners offer a high level of protection to your troops and if you can close your choppers will cut through the most determined defense. Use your legion shooters as skirmish or flank troops to support the attack. Try to avoid attacking piecemeal as that will allow they earth troops to concentrate their firepower on one unit at a time. You will never survive.

Use your fast moving Hill Martian allies to try and force the flanks of the enemy line and better yet support a legionary assault. Their speed might also allow them to close-assault the enemy ironclads or as a follow up to a successful assault by your legions. Be careful as they are not always the most dependable of troops.

If you are in a defensive position there is a good chance that your artillery will be your single biggest asset. While not as accurate as the Earth weapons you have the advantage of numbers and can sometimes lay down a wall of firepower with your guns alone.

Though they are rare you occasionally will have a unit of “banded” shooters. These weapons load slowly and fire slowly but have a range that exceeds the earthen rifle equipped troops by 20%. They can be the perfect choice to “pester” dug in earthen units.

Should you have a unit of flying High Martians to command you can be sure that the enemy will move very cautiously. Use them judiciously. Always keep them in a position to attack but never attack unless the target is too good to resist. Better yet use them to support an existing planned assault. The combination of being attacked from more than one side at a time will quickly crush any opponent. You can also use them to threaten enemy supply or artillery units. This will force the enemy to defend these targets leaving fewer units to go on the offense.

Earthmen fear your Gashant mounted cavalry and especially your lancers. Like your High Martian allies their numbers are limited so use them wisely. They are deadly troops, are hard to kill with rifle fire but are only effective in the attack.

As time goes by your troops will possibly have more advanced technology to use and perhaps your own inventors might come up with ways to add new items to support your firepower.

In conclusion, keep your troops under cover or hidden until the time is right. Use your mobile troops to force the enemy to defend its flanks and rear and then to support your frontal assaults. These tactics have been proven to have a high level of success against the new foe from earth.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


On Mars there are occasional groups that are dedicated to the performance of one task and do everything in the extreme.

One such unit that has appeared in the last decade are the Sverdlinkers a group of fanatics dedicated to the eradication of all things from earth. While they are a secret cult they have no problem accepting assistance from any source (including other earthmen) in the completion of their task.

Be aware though that in the end even the “friendly” earthmen will be targets of this group. They are all masters of edged weapons and disdain the use of firearms or even armor.

Once given an order by their leader they will die in the attempt rather than admit or accept defeat. If their leader is killed or wounded they will fight even harder (Melee Bonus) to avenge his wound / death. They are probably the deadliest foes on Mars in hand-to-hand combat and are feared by all who face them. Being unarmored they move quickly through even rough terrain. They are considered elite troops and get a melee bonus for their special training. Since they also receive a bonus for charging and are guaranteed to close you can see that they can be devastating shock troops.

As long as the leader is alive (even wounded) the troops will do exactly as ordered. If the leader dies they will attack the nearest enemy force and will fight to the death. A wise British officer should consider staying out of the reach of this devastating unit and using his troops exceptional firepower to weaken the threat before entering melee. Unfortunately “Fall Back” is not a command taught with any emphasis at officers training back on Earth and several British units have paid the price in blood for their refusal to give ground to these “native” troops.