Archive for June, 2009

Pig Iron Pt.3 – Kolony Militia

Posted in Companies, Minis, Review with tags , , , on June 25, 2009 by stingersix

Continuing my Pig Iron Productions posts, here are some pics of my Kolony Militia platoon. These minis seem to be some of Pig Iron’s most popular, and you can see why. They have a retro look with the gas masks and Fritz style helmets, and I understand this makes them great stand-ins for the uber-expensive Death Korps of Krieg minis that Forge World makes for 40K.

This line represents Pig Iron really hitting its stride. They did a great job with their Heavy Infantry and vehicles, and the Kolony troops really hit it out of the park! The figures are well proportioned, cleanly cast in a variety of poses, and have the same distinctive look that the Heavy Infantry have. They also come with separate heads and combined with one of Pig Iron’s head sprues, allows for customization and conversion. This makes this line, like all of Pig Iron’s stuff, extremely versatile and cool to boot!

On with the pictures!

This is one of the rifle squads.
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This is the leader. I used one of the Pig Iron heads and shaved the kepi down to make a peaked cap.
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Here’s another leader conversion. This one is a Hasslefree head and a Pig Iron head. I had to file down both to make them fit together. This would have gone a lot faster if I’d had a Dremel or some such tool…
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And a few shots of various troops.
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The Kolony range is growing too, with some Rebels that would make great Chaos cultists or other rabble or militia. I just can’t say enough good things about Pig Iron!

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This Quar’s War – Uh-oh, they got me!

Posted in Minis with tags , on June 21, 2009 by stingersix

I got a copy of the quirky but very cool This Quar’s War as a (belated) birthday present today. This Quar’s War is a miniatures game with a WW1 feel, using some odd looking miniatures that I wasn’t into at first and now find myself strangely drawn to. The Quar design has a sort of retro, Ralph Bakshi/Vaughn Bode/Cobalt 60 look that I’ve always found interesting.

The rulebook is very well done, with a clean and attractive layout and excellent art. My friend Chris who gave me the book was one of the playtesters and had the artist draw a picture on the inside cover, which is very cool. On first blush, it also looks very playable and I have a feeling that once I finish my Spacelords, I’ll be getting myself a platoon’s worth of Quar!

Stargrunt

Posted in Review with tags , , , on June 17, 2009 by stingersix

I want to talk a bit about Stargrunt, which has been my preferred minis game for the past 3 years or so. This is not a new game – in fact, it’s 13 years old, having been published by Ground Zero Games in 1996. Actually the proper name of the game is Stargrunt II, the original having been a smaller set of self published rules.

Stargrunt is designed for 25mm minis but works just as well with 15mm or 28mm minis, and the design philosophy is basically “bring whatever you want to the table”. That’s an attitude I like and it allows you to exercise your creativity when making up your forces and the fluff to go with them. Ground Zero Games has their fluff and background but by no means requires you to use it.

With the very small group of players I managed to cultivate, we’ve had a great time designing a setting in which to set our battles. Check out this thread on the Endgame forums to see what we’ve done, and this thread for a battle report.

So what’s to like about this game? Like any game, it is designed to deliver on a certain set of demands and expectations. Now, I’ve played quite a few minis games, including 40K (admittedly, 20 years ago, but anyway) and most of them at the 28mm scale focus on the individual trooper. Sure, they’re usually part of a unit but generally the rules treat each figure on the table separately.

That’s fine, but it’s important to realize that makes most games like this are skirmish games. I find that with a lot of skirmish style games, the sort of fire and movement tactics I’d like to employ are hard to use or not really effective. Skirmish games also often have a strong focus on individual hero figures who do most of the ass kicking, or suck up a lot of points and just get killed. Again, I don’t mind this in a skirmish game, but I like playing games at a slightly higher level of focus – platoon or company level tactics.

And that’s what Stargrunt does. Units act as whole units, firing, checking morale and performing other actions as a unit. When you open fire for example, you don’t roll a die for each figure in the unit, you roll one die for the unit’s overall firepower, and its training (plus a die for any integral support weapons).

I really like this, particularly the idea of the unit’s troop quality level determining the effectiveness of its fire. Green units for example, engage targets at a much shorter range and effectiveness than an elite unit, which only makes sense. The game streamlines this by matching the basic range band unit to their quality and linking that to the type of die they roll. A Green unit for example, has a basic range band of 6″ and rolls a d6. This makes it fairly easy to remember what to roll.

And generally everything is an opposed roll so you’re always involved. The turn sequence also keeps your eyes on the table since players alternate moving their units. So rather than waiting for other other guy to move all his units, you move a squad, he moves a squad, and so on.

You really feel Stargrunt’s focus on troop quality and morale in play. High quality troops truly can do more with less. Since pinning units with suppressing fire is a valid and viable tactic in this game, having good troops can make a big difference. In one game I witnessed, the attacking player had Veteran troops and the defender had Green troops. The Veteran troops kept taking Suppression markers but were able to shrug them off and keep going fairly easily. The Green troops on the other hand, tended to get Suppressed and stay that way.

In Stargrunt your commanders actually command as opposed to playing Rambo. The big benefit of having a platoon or company commander on the field is their ability to reactivate units that have already had their actions, thus giving them another turn essentially. Seeing this particular feature in play is really quite interesting. Skillful use of this ability can really widen your tactical options.

So, Stargrunt has a very “realistic” feel to it, if you want to employ squad level tactics that simulate their real-world application. The textbook way of taking out an enemy position is to suppress it with one fire team, flank it with another, and then close on it and destroy it. You can do this in Stargrunt. Charging headlong in the open against an enemy that is not suppressed results in what you would expect, your broken and routing squad.

The game is not perfect. The layout is not user friendly, with the order of the chapters not flowing intuitively from one to the other. There has only ever been one edition, and if there were to be a second, I would ask for a complete reorganization of the rules, and an index. The writing is not always clear and needs to be tightened up, and there are a lot of little omissions and things that aren’t exactly clearly stated. Plus there is a bit of a learning curve compared to many other minis games. It’s not difficult, it’s just that there are a lot of things to soak up. Despite this, once you get the game going and start to realize just what it can do, it’s a lot of fun. Stargrunt has more depth than you might think.

Stargrunt is out of print, but not unavailable. Print copies can be had (complete with a set of the game’s counters) for just 5 bucks! You can also download a copy of the rules absolutely free from Ground Zero Games as well!

There aren’t too many Stargrunt websites, but one of the best that leads to most of the others is Stargrunt.ca and HyperBear is another excellent Stargrunt site.

The Pig Iron minis I’ve painted recently were all done for games of Stargrunt, and the focus of my collecting and painting right now is building platoons for Stargrunt.

I’m always up for a game of Stargrunt! Drop me a line if you want to give it a try!

Paper models – Dropship

Posted in Minis with tags , on June 16, 2009 by stingersix

If you surf around long enough, you’ll find there are a lot of people out there making some very cool paper models, some specifically for wargaming and most free to download.

One of the best I found are those made by this guy in Spain, his site is called Toposolitario. I downloaded his Pluton B dropship and UHV2000 Walrus hover APC. I printed them out on 100lb test paper and they went together very nicely. Since the color patterns are printed on, there’s no painting necessary. I can’t say they’re easy to assemble – they’re made with some sort of CAD program that makes them rather complicated. But if you’re careful and patient, the effect is very nice.
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I’ll try and get some pics up of the two APCs I made. In the end, I got three nice-looking paper models that, were they made of plastic, resin or metal, probably would have cost me well over $50 all together. All I paid for was the paper, about 6 bucks. I should go sling the designer a few bucks on PayPal for his labors…

WIP – Spacelords Cybertech Bunkerbreakers

Posted in Minis, WIP with tags , , , on June 15, 2009 by stingersix

Right now, I’m working on a platoon of Spacelords Cybertech Bunkerbreakers by em4. These figures have a long and storied history, first released in the 80’s I believe by an outfit from Germany called Metal Magic. The excellent minis archive page The Stuff of Legends has a list of all the Spacelords minis that were produced, with pics of some of them. The rights were bought by em4, which produced a few codes in the Cybertech, Yoyodyne, Phagons and Civilian lines. The minis em4 now has in these lines are made from new castings and molds and look fantastic.

Since I’ve gotten into the mindset of collecting platoons to use for Stargrunt, I wanted a bunch of heavily armored troops. The Cybertech Bunkerbreakers fit the bill and there is something about their kinda retro 80’s look that I really like (god help me, I keep hearing Blue Oyster Cult’s Veteran of the Psychic Wars in my head while I work on these). So I bought 18 of the regular troopers.

I just finished my first squad.
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Heavy Laser Gunner
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Trooper
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My color scheme is a two-tone grey camo pattern, for use by troops fighting on a lunar surface. I know I should have applied the same colors to their weapons, but I just like the green and the orange-brown stocks and grips says 1970’s and 80’s sci-fi plastic to me, so go figure. The numbers on their helmets and breastplates are done with dry rub transfers (these guys are with 2nd squad).

I just based these on standard GW round bases. That’s Elmer’s Redi Spack to fill the gaps and smooth things out.
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Then I scoured the internet looking for more. These are pretty rare minis now, but I finally scored a few more off eBay to serve as my command element. These are actually lead miniatures, and they came in their original packages from 1986 or something like that. Now that I’ve handled them I guess I’m going to die, but anyway…

The two guys w/out their helmets on aren’t actually Bunkerbreakers – they’re from the Wartech line. But I figure they issue the orders and let the grunts do the heavy lifting.
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These are really nice minis and I’d buy more if I could actually find them somewhere!

The Deal

Posted in Blather with tags , , on June 14, 2009 by stingersix

When it comes to miniatures (and let’s face it, most of my hobbies), I find myself having to wheel and deal with my wife before (or sometimes after – usually after) I buy something. These days, the deal is, I can buy whatever miniatures I want as long as I paint them all before I buy more.

Now I know any self-respecting minis fan has piles of unpainted lead piled up. I mean, something cool catches your eye and you’ve just got to have it – now! Buying stuff and not painting it is just a normal condition for you and me.

Then again, when I think of this deal with my wife, it’s not that bad. As long as I paint what I have before I buy more, I can get whatever I want. Pretty good incentive to paint!

Seeing as how I want to get a force of Spriggan’s Spugs, I’m driven to finish up my WIP eM4 Spacelords!

Epic Space Marine

Posted in 40K, Minis, Nostalgia with tags , , , on June 13, 2009 by stingersix

OK, back in the dark ages, roundabouts 1987, I bought a strange looking hardcover called Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader. It was bad, it was dark, it was British. But most of all, it was EPIC (in huge adamantium letters). I got myself a boxed set of Space Marines and Space Orks, kitbashed my own vehicles, and spent the waning years of the 1980’s playing 40K into the wee hours with my friends.

I liked it a lot but that EPIC feel of the setting always made me want to see huge battles between thousands of troops, clashing in those amazing John Blanche and Ian Miller paintings. The battles of the Horus Heresy beckoned. Plus I could never get over the way GW would call a squad or a platoon of troops an army. Twenty guys is not an army. I wanted more – a company at least, if not battalions!

The first EPIC scale GW game I ever saw was Adeptus Titanicus, which was all about the Titans. Then they started adding in the infantry and such with the game Space Marine. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being drawn to 6mm scale gaming. When the second edition of Space Marine came out in 1991, I snapped that up and that was the beginning of about 5 or 6 years of very intense gaming.

I found an equally crazy opponent in Japan, my buddy Bruce, and he and I dove into this game whole hog. I remember our very first game we decided to play a 6000 point battle! It was a huge game and was like two conveyor belts rolling our forces toward a chasm of death in the middle of the table. We played every chance we could get. Eventually between us, we had several thousand points each of all the armies then available.

Those were some great games! I loved stepping back from the table in the middle of a game and seeing this huge vista of hundreds of troops, vehicles, and giant warbots crushing eahc other. I got to the point where I didn’t care about winning or losing, the only thing that was important was that I died well!

OK, I’m frothing. Lemme give you some pics.

These guys are standard 40K Marines done up in my Rising Sons Chapter colors. The banner is handpainted, including the kanji characters.

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In this shot you can see my Imperial Army force. Behind them is my Tyranid Army, and on the left is my Titan Legion.

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My always resolute Space Marine army. The big banner on the 40K minis was reproduced for these little guys.

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This is meant to be an Imperial Inquisitor and his retinue. The Inquisitor is a Terminator with a Marine Sergeant’s head. Also on that base are a regular Marine, and Ogryn, a Ratling Sniper, and an Eldar.

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Another conversion. This time, Commisar Yarrick for the Imperial Guard. I used an Ork Warboss claw for his arm.

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The utterly awesome Imperator Titan. Absolutely DESTROYED everything that stood before it.

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Bruce made this Nurgle Plague Tower for my Chaos army, entirely from scratch – scraps and bits from his bits box, and toothpicks!

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When the price of the Tyranid Dominatrix made me balk, I made one out of a Warhammer horse body and bunch of Tamiya modelling putty.

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One of my favorite minis – the terrifying Tyranid Bio-Titan. The goddamned thing would regenerate damage!

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Second Edition Space Marine and its companion game Titan Legions remains my favorite iteration of the game. I never bothered with later editions. I will say that the NetEpic version of the game, which builds on 2nd edition, is excellent. You can find the NetEpic stuff at the EPICentre http://netepic.org/EPICentre/