Thursday, February 23, 2012

Martian Civil War

My flyer was pulled out of the box for only the second time.  It was fun to run, and was a constant pain to the bad guys.
After our last gathering, plans were made to hold a game just battling Martians against Martians.  The basis for any included units had to be that the units would have to be Martian troops armed with Martian weapons.  So Mark and I gave folks plenty of time to paint up troops which was only extended by the arrival of Snowpocalypse in January.  We finally managed to get twelve players together last weekend.
A short look from the far end (left flank) of the table.  Gary Griess' troops advance; but not far.

Hill Martians in the foreground backed by lancers and legions contest our troops in the center.

In a five minute meeting while we laid out troops, Mark and I agreed on victory conditions.  Each player was allowed four points.  A basic infantry unit, such as legion, hill tribes, or city militia was one point.  Mounted troops on gashants or artillery pieces were two points. We agreed the game would end when one side or the other exited three units with good morale on the enemy's side of the board. 
Though my heavy gun was not a consistent death dealer, it did intervene at critical moments of the game.

I snuck my light flyer in as a two pointer and also took a heavy gun.  My goal was to help out a bit with the game, and run things that were fun and easy.  I chose well.
Gary's troops hold the left flank

Of course, when you play a game such as this, any sense of strategy or tactics go straight out the window.  Everything is a local struggle with lots of dead troops. I believe my cry to start the game was "If you're not dead by the end of turn three, you're not playing this right."

Near the end of the game, Chris Bauermeister's two legions suffered terrific casualties, but held on well enough to get one of them off the table. 

In the end that's pretty much how things turned out.  I used my flyer to support troops on our right.  Lawrence Bateman's hill Martians bolted after rolling ones two turns in a row (on a 20-sided die.) That left a hole to be filled.  Dale tried to do so with his gashant lancers, but it wasn't enough.  Chris B. managed to get one legion off the table, but that was the only unit that would make it off. 

The rest of the table was a mass of charging and counter charging.  I placed my heavy gun so it could command the most ground.  In one turn, I fired into a melee that found our legion clearly at a disadvantage, and managed to kill the commander of a gashant mounted unit, and wounded member of an enemy Martian legion, without causing any casualties to our own unit.  The flyer, mostly administered pin pricks, being only armed with a light gun, but in one turn it also killed a legion leader, so it was worth having. 

While pretty meaningless in the great scheme of things, this was one of the most fun Martian battles of all time.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Landship Down Revisited

A week ago we gathered for a massive Martian game at the Game Matrix.  I'd talked Mark Waddington into a game a few weeks ago, wanting to sneak in some of my newer units.  He agreed and offered to pull out Landship Down, a scenario he developed a few years ago in which a landship, together with British infantry and auxiliaries were being rescued by an overland expedition fighting its way through Martians interdicting their advance.
The naked initial terrain set up from the Martian left.  The center woods tied down a fair number of Brits, but would also cost a lot of dead Martians.

The damaged British landship with its defenders.

 Simple concept.  Mark made me a Martian commander and allowed us 25 units plus some additional goodies.  15 of the units had to be Martian, but the remaining ten could be various mercenary/allied troops.
The initial British setup for its rescue force. You can see the force of mechanicals at the British disposal.

The Martians decided to ring the broken landship and its escorting force with foreign troops that could keep them under considerable fire.  This led to a lot of British casualties as the German and Fenian units were on a par with the Brits, and superior to the Martian auxiliaries.  As things devolved into a kind of trench warfare, the Brits waited for help.
The Martians had a small flyer which never had quite the effect on the game the big British Zeppelin had.

The Indians set up on the right side of the table.  The steam elephant has already sustained some mechanical damage due to a bad breakdown roll.
 Help was indeed coming.  The remaining Martian units were hunkered down in or behind every terrain feature left on the board, hoping to delay or degrade the mass of troops and, tanks and walkers coming our way.  The battle that progressed down the length of the sixteen foot table seemed to divide into a left, center and right.  On the (Martian) left troops defended a ridge and valley to the some woods.  In the center quite a few Martian units defended the woods and two important hills in the chief killing zone of the table.  On the right was another ridge line lined with troops and Martian weapons. 
Things are starting to get tense for the Indians. The steam elephant is down and destroyed and Gatling fire from the "Big Walker Spitting Death" has caused casualties among the Madras infantry.
 The Martians opened the game with a quick attack on advancing British units with a unit of Amazonians.  John McEwan hoped to catch the Brits napping and knock out a couple of quick attackers.  Unfortunately the dice gods didn't go our way (for most of the game) and he was repulsed.  The British were able to advance with a mechanical lancer unit that did considerable damage on that flank and to the rear of the woods, rendering out center tenuous. 

In the center it was a meat grinder.  Advancing with a tank, British regulars with Martian auxiliaries were able to slowly advance through the woods tearing up Martian defenders, but at considerable cost to themselves.  Without an effective answer to the British armor, there was little they could do to the tank.  The first hill in the center was not occupied by our troops.  The Brits parked an enormous walker there, which we were able to damage pretty well with artillery fire, but just could not a strong enough hit on to penetrate it and get it out of the game. That walker generally served as a fire base, blasting away with its medium gun and  However Brits did not move troops into what we called the "valley of death."
It's the last turn and the Indians, together with Martian troops have launched a last glorious charge.  The flying Martians on the left flank were repulsed, but the Indians and Martian legion were locked in a continuing melee.
 On the right, my Indian troops defended, together with a Martian Legion against a couple of British regular units.  After being bombed and shot by a British zeppelin, the Baluchi unit was down to 60 percent strength.  The Madras infantry also was peppered by fire and by the time it was engaged was down a couple of figures.  Eventually they made their way to the front and ended the game with a charge on British units attempting to advance on the Martian gun positions on the right flank.  As the game ended, both units were involved in a hairy continuing melee on the British right flank. 

The one unit we had few answers for was the British airship.  Though we scored one rocket hit on the leviathan, it did little damage, and didn't set the catastrophic fire needed to get it out of the game.  With three bomb loads and some guns to boot, it really tore up some our defenses.  

 The game was massive and we played four and a half hours, considerably longer than any of our other games.  At the end of our time, and players needing to leave, the game was still a draw.  However, the Martians were pretty thin everywhere, and one turn of  of bad die rolling anywhere would have led to a British breakthrough.  I didn't see the same problem for the Brits anyplace. 

Mark did a fabulous job of running the game.  Usually I would help with one end of the table and he would run the other end.  But, I confess, I wanted to play with my new units.  There are a couple of times when the game bogged a bit, but it was fun.

 Alas, my new troops didn't do that well.  The Indians go smacked a bit, but redeemed themselves with their final charge.  The steam elephant damaged a British tank, and exchanged shots with the really enormous walker.  It was an uneven fight and eventually had its legs shot out.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stonehouse Miniatures Steam Elephant

 Sometimes miniatures are too cool to pass up.  Four or five years ago I bought the steam elephant offered by Stonehouse miniatures.  I wasn't quite sure what to do with it, but eventually the germ of an idea emerged in my mind, and the elephant walker became part of it.
 I decided to put together an Indian brigade and picked up some of the Old Glory figures from the Northwest Frontier range.  What more to do but add the steam elephant to this group of figures. 
The miniature is pretty darn nice, cast in white resin.  Any irregularities you see in the casting are my failings.  It isn't a lot.  Some air bubbles pop up, mostly in the rivets, but the body and head is pretty clean.  There was some residual flash along the bottom of the turret that I failed to see clearly and clean properly.  My bad. 

The elephant comes with a separate head, base for the turret and turret.  The tusks and the light gun come cast into a resin "wafer" and have to be cut out.  An X-acto knife and file are all that's needed to clean these up.  I opted for the tusks rather than the rockets that could go in their place. 

Before I assembled the figure, I tossed the pieces into a bowl of warm soapy water and used a toothbrush to remove any releasing agents that might be on the model.  I assembled the bits with Zap-A-Gap.  I did file down the stud for the head, so it would fit the body more closely. 

I didn't quite have a clear idea of how I wanted to paint the assembled figure.  I took a look at the complete mini on the Stonehouse page and liked the idea of the gray with metal strap supports.  Rather than try to brush paint the entire sizable figure, I decided to spray it with Testor's Light Aircraft Gray.  It took several shots from different angles, but eventually I had reasonable coverage. 

I made a decision to try to provide some weathering and detailing to the kit, but kept it pretty simple and straightforward.  To accent the armored panels I painted between the plates with Vallejo Neutral Gray.  I painted the metal strapping with Vallejo Gunmetal Gray.  When the model was painted, I made the decision to give it some weathering.  Thinning out some Ceramcoat golden brown, I added some rust spots near the edges of adjoining plates, particularly near joints on the legs. Then I gave the whole biz a black wash. 

 I like the miniature quite a bit.  I'm hoping the mini, together with the rest of the Indian contingent will make it into Saturday's really big Martian battle. The Stonehouse steam elephant is $30, and worth the money.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I've been working on a new storyline for Mars.  I'll publish them in the near future as the project nears completion.  The story calls for some new units that I've added to my painted pile of lead.  The good news is that the lead piles is shrinking rapidly and it is getting painted.

First up are hill Martians from RAFM.  They are supposed to be semi-impoverished tribesmen.  They appear different than my other indigenous troops.  Their skin-color is reddish instead of yellowish-perfectly appropriate a la Edgar Rice Burroughs if not Frank Chadwick. They are untrained, fast moving swordsmen, counted on to take advantage of the unwary in rough terrain.

My second group of figures are mounted light horsemen, er, gashantry.  These are, again, RAFM miniatures for both the riders and mounts.  I wanted to do something different with these figures, so I peeked into an envelope of left over goodies from an order of Conquest Comanche figures.  I had lots of weapons, some shields and feathers I thought might give an unusual irregular look to them.  I made one spear, and together with the feather decorated shields, was pleased with the come with what you have look. They are actually my favorite Space 1889 unit. 

Last, but not least, I painted up some command figures.  Riding with the native mounted is an Indian trumpteter.  I also painted an Indian command figure and a British commander. These are Perry figures from their Sudan range.  They don't sit the Gashants perfectly, and because I'm too lazy and don't plan far enough ahead they sit above their mounts a bit.  Even so, they don't look ridiculous. Why are they here?  More information to follow.

  Next up:  The Stonehouse Elephant Walker.  Ahh, c'mon everybody needs one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Something Old, Something New

I took some time away from my American Revolution project to work on some new Sky Galleons vessels.  I have a fair amount of unpainted lead from a purchase I made from Stone Mountain a couple years ago.  They found some old Lizards Grin Martian ships in their basement and sold off the lot.  Needless to say, it was pretty popular stuff and I picked up some of the ships I wanted.

I've painted up a Macefield, a couple of French Harpon gunboats, a Warm Winds merchant kite, and a Mikasa class armed merchant.  These together with some Brigade Miniatures patrol gunboats  gave me an idea for a new scenario.  
Alert class gunboats by Brigade Miniatures.  Their two 4.7" quick-firing guns provide punch, but their light armor and limited secondary armament are vulnerabilities.

Lizard's Grin Warm Winds kite.  The scale of the kite is way out of line; with a hull size of 20 it should be the largest vessel I own.  It isn't.

Lizard's Grin Macefield.  Not a great model, but it'll do.

French Harpon class gunboats by Lizard's Grin.  Not a bad representation.

The next air battle in our Shastapsh campaign will take place outside the of the island city.  A change of scenery will do us good.  I've also come up with a new terrain feature I want to try out.  It has some tricks and some down sides, but it's worth a try.  Don't want to give away too much.
Lizard's Grin Mikasa armed transport.  A useful addition to my collection

The tricky part is getting all the Red Captains together to play out the scenario.  Everyone is pretty busy and as we head in to the holidays will only become moreso.
Plastic Fenian Ram right out of the Sky Galleons box (masts added.) Everybody needs Irish Rebels on Mars.

Lizard's Grin Hamburg.  Take two.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Game to Get Excited About

Yes it's been a while since my last post.  No I'm not dead, nor is this blog.  It's been a while since our last game, and a couple of those were one sided horror shows.  On Saturday the 21st however, we had a gathering at Bruce Meyer's house in which the Martians got to hand out a little payback for some of the indignities they've suffered at the hands of the colonials.

After being shoved through the passes guarding the approaches to Shastapsh, Martian forces made dawn raid on elements of the British forces preparing to besiege the rebel city.  Taking advantage of the misty conditions, Martian troops slipped through two of the passes facing British Imperial troops massing for their siege and assault on the island city.  Though pickets were out and active, their efforts to alert troops in their encampments did not lead to a quick response to the Martian advance.

To the south, hill Martians quickly overran the fixed fortifications and engulfed the British encampment.  Despite a short, sharp defense, three British companies were quickly overwhelmed by the hillmen and city troops led by Willie Fraser. 

The center British defenses were wholly unprepared by the appearance of a subterranean device.  Two armored vehicles befuddled defenders when they emerged from the ground, disgorging two companies of infantry.  These troops immediately captured British defenses and engaged infantry as they tried to come on line.  Martian combat engineers, the brave "red poles" attacked and severely damaged a British walker and steam tank before their crews could even emerge from their tents. The "mole" infantry appeared to be regular Earth infantry, perhaps Germans, and disrupted British efforts to halt and isolate the Martian attack.  Despite one of the vehicles being disabled by British artillery, it is clear these new weapons can have a decisive effect on the outcome of a battle.

Across the valley, to the east, Martian artillery and legionary troops held off furious British efforts to drive them back through the center pass. The action opened with gas fired from the discharger across the canal.  These impaired the defense of a company stationed in an advanced position and eventually led to their demise.  An attack on legionary troops was stymied when explosive round from lob mortars, also located across the canal demolished a steam tank supporting legions in British service.

All in all it was a difficult day for the defenders.  The Martians inflicted serious losses on the Brits and their allies, while losing few troops on their own. In addition to spoiling the upcoming offensive, Martians also damaged, destroyed and captured a considerable quantity of British armaments, including some previously seized by the Brits.

It was a fun game, for me at least.  A special thanks to Bruce for providing us with a space to play as well as ably running the moles and their denizens.  But a special, special thanks to Mark and Joe Waddington for planning and Game Mastering the scenario.

Disaster in the Skies

Maybe this could more accurately be titled Disaster in the Campaign. Nobody had a greater hand in its making than me, the scenario designer.

This sixth campaign game, and the last of the Sky Galleons battles, was drawn from the original three SGoM games I designed years ago. I did some ship design, and tinkered with some modified weapons systems. I used my big scratchbuilt Skyfire named Shastapsh armed with ACW guns--which really did make it more potent as I intended. But I also added some lightweight Smutts launchers, which were far more effective than I envisioned.

The Martians didn't help themselves by setting up close to the British entry point. Deploying on the opposite edge of the table would have forced the Brits to traverse the Shastapsh defenses, which were formidable. Even so, in my heart, I believe I just gave the Brits too much firepower.

The game effectively lasted two turns. The Martians kites, modified with two Nordenfeldt guns and carrying a passle of marines to attempt rams against the British. One kite missed the ram of the small gunboat Hercules, while the other struck Reliant. Reliant would have been a nasty ship to dispose of, but it was the only vessel with a hull size larger than the two Whisperdeaths. Instead, the two vessels were locked in combat, while the Brits raked the Martians with massive Nordenfeldt fire. The Martians suffered massive casualties, and even the huge load of marines was not enough to make the difference in the boarding action

The remainders of the Martian flotilla was torn apart by British weapons. Though there were seven lob cannon on the board, only one hit, and the resulting damage did not cause the kind of plunging trim loss needed to tip the battle. One of the little British torpedo boats was hit and destroyed, but not until it fatally loosed its load into Shastasph.

After turn two, the Martian survivors were forced to beat a hasty retreat up the canal, leaving the British air flotilla to ravage the city's air base. Needless to say, the Martian air minister was publicly impaled. (Would you expect any less?)