Thursday 22 August 2013

Void 1.1 and From the Leadpile!


Well its been a busy week here with me finally tracking down somewhere to live and getting to the interview stage for another job but such jabberings are for another time! I've spent the last weeks commute reading through the rather decent Void 1.1 game books.

Void was produced initially by i-Kore until they went bust before being picked up by Urban Mammoth and Scotia Grendel and has gone through a bewildering number of rulesets, settings and visual styles but my favorite has always been the stuff that was produced in the i-Kore days.

Viridian Strike Commandos versus Junker Convict Legionnaires 

The game is set in a future where Humanity developed in a binary star system on a world called Viridia. Due to rampant industrialisation, the planets icecaps melted and flooded the planet forcing its inhabitants to tack to arc like biodomes to survive. After the floodwaters receded, the survivors were forced to come to terms with the ruins of their civilisation and re-evaluate how to live.

With the use of genetic engineering they managed to return the planet to a habitable level and became a rather interesting combination of Eco types run by megacorporations instead of governments. In the following centuries they inhabited the harsh desert of Ironglass which saw the rise of the Junkers, descendants of convicts forced to work in the marginal atmosphere and the Syntha of Prime, scientists bent on combining man and machine to improve humanity.

 Yes the Viridians have dinosaur tanks!

Following numerous rebellions which saw the independence of first Prime and then Ironglass, the tripartite alliance was formed and VASA was brought into being (a bit like an interstellar UN and police force) and humanity began exploring the stars until eventually coming across the utterly alien Korolon.

The rulebooks and forcebooks are all available as a free download from Scotia Grendel and I would highly recommend folks take a peek as theres lots of interesting stuff to read and borrow for other game systems!

On its release, Void created a bit of a ripple in the games industry as it had a markedly more high tech, light and almost anime feeling to it, especially when compared to the likes of GW and with Stuart Beel's distinctive artwork:

 VASA Archangels, girls with swimsuits, wings and guns!

Interestingly the look has darkened in the years since as can be seen from these illustrations:

Gone is the anime, here's a more grim and Soviet styled VASA which appeared from nowhere especially when considering the background!

Likewise, Viridia turned into something more akin to space Nazis! The artwork and figures became more technically advanced but it lost quite a bit of the space age fun of the original. I must admit I never warmed to it as it looked like they had looked at some of the big computer games and crossed it with GW and discarded a huge chunk of background to justify it.

So why am I looking at it now, you may ask? Well in the spirit of Budgethammer, I want to integrate the setting and forces into games in the future and really like the inhabitants of this futuristic setting. The books are quite well written and include lots of bits of fluff that could make for a good campaign or one off game and the figures themselves are still readily available for a very reasonable price!

Interestingly, the box set is still available for a very reasonable price and has a ton of plastic figures in it which would make for good additions to imperial guard and space marines too!

I think I need to spend some time developing some sort of hybrid setting that will allow me to use whatever stuff I like from each setting and create my own too but that will have to wait until after I've moved house!

In the meantime I have painted another figure from my pile of miniatures!

Bring Me Skincare Products!

He's originally from the old Darkworld game and is in actual fact made out of plastic and isn't the best figure in the world, his robes are a bit blobby, his jewels are poorly defined and he has a freakily blobby right hand but he looks ok as either a mutant leader for Sci-fi games or an evil baddie for fantasy.

I must admit if I was to paint him again, I'd paint the hood gold or some such rather than green as its difficult to differentiate between his head and the weird snake crown. Also I would hack off his blobby hand and replace it with a more suitable one! Hopefully my next paint job will be a bit more fun to do too!

All the best!

Tuesday 13 August 2013

From the Lead Pile: Imperial Comms Specialist


As promised in my Budgethammer commandments, I have got something painted before posting any more ramblings on the blog!

"Broadsword Calling Danny Boy!"

I quite like the amount of assorted gubbins the fellow is carrying although in the future, comms links seem to be the size of an 80s mobile phone!

I also completed a piece of VOR scenery that will be coming in very handy for either an objective or a handy piece of cover!

 Alien Scenery

The Vor scenery is made of a solid grey plastic and is suitably alien and interesting looking. Sadly its only produced in one design but with a little bit of cutting and conversion, it should be possible to alter it suitably. I do like the fact its got a kind of iris so special rules in game may allow for opening it to shoot through or allow access to other dimensional weirdness. I may sculpt some tentacles emerging from the next one!

Its also mounted on a piece of cork tile which was covered in a rough coat of filler to give it a bit of texture. The result looks quite decent so I may fiddle around with the technique to make some interesting small terrain elements to add some pitfalls to games!

Theres still a fair amount of work needing done on the base to really make it interesting but its ok for games for now. Sadly almost all of my 28mm scale scenery was sold or traded off years ago so its going to be interesting to replace it within my budget (I suspect that the techniques showcased in the Rogue Trader rulebook will be put into effect!)

Next up heres some conversions of a few WW2 US troops for my Battletech project:

15mm of Davion Infantry!

I have had the little fellows for at least five or six years lying around in a box so instead of splashing out on some new sci-fi figures to represent my Davion militia, I just added some sci-fi bits to the Peter Pig GIs. It's Budgethammer in practice! 

Infantry supported by a Davion Blackhawk Mech

You will notice that I have decided to go for 15mm instead of the 10mm stuff that I was previously using. The main reason for this is I want to play games more suited to skirmishes but with figures with a decent amount of detail, not to mention there's lots of companies out there producing some really great figures!

This also means the mechs are less giganting stompy robots of destruction and scaled to a more reasonable size.

All the best!

Sunday 11 August 2013

Rulebook Rampage and the Budgethammer Pledge!


Well its been a busy couple of days between work and finishing painting some bits and bobs for my Battletech project and I've spent my spare moments perusing my embarrassingly large collection of rulebooks, many of which for games which are long out of production.

I must say that its been a really fascinating experience as reading the many and often very original rules and backgrounds has been rather inspiring. While some are very simplistic, others may have tomes of special rules and so on but its infected me with the need to try them out!

Over the years I've played mostly Rogue Trader, 2nd Edition 40k and various editions of Fantasy Battle. I do feel that this overwhelming use of the rather creaky Warhammer rule system has left me rather missing out on some of the other, often arguably better rulesets out there.

I discovered this when I was looking for a suitable ruleset for some fantasy skirmishing and discovered the joys of Song of Blades. Its a very different system from Warhammer with a very simple style of play and the bare minimum of stats. Despite this its enormous fun and its sheer simplicity allows for quick yet engaging games that are still satisfying to play.

This got me to thinking what other games are there that I could try out and over the years I've compiled quite a decent library of rules from dozens of companies.

Likewise the experience of reading these rules has exposed me to many, often brilliant settings which put the GW Grimdark to shame. For example there's VOR, The Maelstrom, a truly excellent setting which involves the earth being pulled into a pocket dimension and humanity facing annihilation unless they explore their strange new surroundings and finding a way to escape.

Coupled with some brilliant alien species, such as the monstrous Growlers, the undead Pharon or the crystalline Shard, it makes for a really fascinating read and I'd encourage anyone to pick up a copy just for the background. Even if you have no intention of using the rules, its great to steal inspiration from. For example if you are a GW fan looking to play a few games set in the Eye of Terror or on some planet trapped by a warp storm, the Vor background is perfect! Coupled with a massive chart of possible weird and wonderful battlefield effects ranging from the insignificant to literally earth-shattering its got pretty much everything one could ask for!

On a similar vein, there's We Can Be Heroes, Fantastic Worlds and Chaos on Chronos, a trio of rulesets intended to relive classic pulpy sci-fi tales. At first glance they are very different from the likes of Rogue Trader but with a bit of a deeper perusal, they show great promise for playing small, character driven scenarios which would be ideal for folks wishing to field inquisitorial agents, rogue traders or similar.

I especially like Fantastic Worlds special abilities, for example the evil overlord archetype has the "let me introduce my minions" rule which allows him to bring a group of underlings into play in typically evil manner but requires the player to name a character in play and then introduce them to his or her evil minions!

To be honest, this rpg lite approach to gaming, along with scenario driven gameplay is far more fun than a more typical line up and fight approach and is something I'm hoping to introduce to my games once I've got enough stuff painted up!

The one downside to all this reading is that it keeps giving me more ideas for forces, settings and characters, not to mention whole campaigns! The fun job is going to be condensing it all down into a useful and semi coherent setting and getting down to work with forming some warbands and giving them a good bit of background, their motivations and so on.

This brings me onto the Budgethammer Pledge!

Essentially I want to use the project to get the most enjoyment out of my hobby for the least amount of cash or hassle so I thought I'd post a few commandments I am setting myself!

The Ten Commandments of Budgethammer

1 Thou shalt enjoy thy hobby
2 Thou shalt not spend more than £15 a month on thy hobby
3 Thou shalt paint at least 4 figures from thy lead pile each month
4 Thou shalt not buy any more figures until the last months ones have been painted
5 Thou shalt play a minimum of two games a month
6 Thou shalt use whatever ruleset thou find pleasing
7 Thou shalt not spend money on the ooh shiny syndrome
8 Thou shalt not use figures from only one range or manufacturer for any given force
9 Thou shalt try out at least one new rule system each month
10 Thou shalt not post any blog entry without at least one painted miniature featured!

It may all seem a little draconian but I feel I need some sort of guideline to keep me from straying off on a tangent. The commandments will feature strongly in future blog posts and you will notice I have commanded myself to play at least two games a month and at least one of them must be using a ruleset not previously used!

Anyhow, enough of my inane jabberings! Hopefully next time there will be a few more pics of painted miniatures rather than just me rambling on about whatever books I happen to be looking at!

All the best!

Friday 9 August 2013

From the Lead Pile: Imperial Guard and Mystery Miniature


Well I've begun working through my assorted unpainted lead and have completed a couple of figures that have been languishing unpainted for several years!

First up theres a somewhat converted Catachan jungle fighter:

 Imperial Guard

I converted him a couple of years back to represent a somewhat more heavily armed guardsman with carapace armour and a combat rifle. I never did understand how Catachans are supposed to have flak armour when all they seem to wear is a vest!

In keeping with my Budgethammer principles, he will see use anyway as part of my Imperial garrison force but has been on deployment so long his uniform has been replaced by a pair of jeans and a non standard combat rifle he has acquired along the way and he certainly looks the part of a grizzled veteran!

Next up theres a bit of a mystery figure:

 The Veiled One

I can't even remember who made him other than the fact that I bought him from Spirit Games a few years ago along with a couple of other miniatures. Despite the fact that the sculpting is a bit on the rough side, he has lots of character and will come in handy as either a native guide, bounty hunter or even see use in fantasy games!

The Imperial Guard garrison is slowly coming together and once I have one or two more figures painted up, will be ready for some small skirmishes!

Imperial Garrison, Farpoint

Instead of only having them for one game setting, they will be seeing action against the likes of the Kryomek or Growlers so may be proxies for Union or Nexus troops or even Capitol corporate troopers and as Budgethammer embodies the principles of using whatever you like, the force is rather apt!

I'm hoping to be able to expand their numbers to a couple of squads, a command unit and possibly some sort of small vehicle (the tanks are going to be saved until I have some larger forces!) 

I have also got some Orks undercoated on the paint table so hope to expand my Goff force too so I can get some small skirmishes in between planetary defenders and alien raiders!

All the best!

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Budget Gaming and Star Mogul


Well I thought I should make a crack at starting my project! Initially I spent a glorious hour or two flicking through my assorted rulebooks and have settled on some early goals to aim for but thought I would spend a little time looking at what the options are for the gamer on a budget these days!

But a few of the Collection of Doom!

With the increasing availability of free rulesets in PDF format and the ever handy bring and buy at wargame shows, not to mention trawling Ebay, its a good time to be a budgetmammerer! Yes the older rulebooks such as Rogue Trader, Warhammer 3rd edition and many of the of an era books are becoming increasingly difficult to find for a reasonable price but others can be picked up for a couple of quid including postage or just downloaded for a very minimal sum (if not for free!)

For the budget gamer, theres loads of options and its quite often worth looking around for reviews or even just taking a punt on a ruleset and making it work for you!

I do find that theres a bit of a tendency out there to choose a ruleset and stick with it but with my goldfish like attention span, I find this a bit limiting. Many of these games have very different styles of play and the sheer variety of the experience of playing them is well worth the effort of reading through them.

For example, I have spent my commute  to work reading through Star Mogul: Ruins of an Empire. Originally produced by Alpha Forge in the mid 2000's its a really nice little ruleset that is literally bursting with ideas that will make for a really great game. The second revised edition is available from Megaminis as a PDF download for free!

Star Mogul!

Now I don't need to use the setting as is but its got lots that would make for a brilliant little campaign set in the Rogue Trader universe or in the Maelstrom of Vor or any one of a dozen other settings and for the budget gamer its got an added bonus, it is a skirmish game. You don't need loads of figures, just about a dozen a side and a small vehicle to represent your salvage team and a few bits and pieces of scenery for one of the ruined alien worlds or settlements that the game is set in.

The essence of budgethammer, is to take the best bits from whatever source you want and make them work for you so instead of just having groups of enterprising salvage teams, it could quite easily be inquisitorial parties fighting over lost tech, hive gangers brawling over turf or Nexus marines checking for Kryomek infestations, VASA peacekeepers raiding a pirate den or just about anything else you could imagine!
By Your Command!

The rules themselves are very playable and offer a very different experience from 40k or even Rogue Trader. Its more about recovering salvage and managing your crew without getting too badly shot up by the opponents while causing them no end of trouble in return.

Reading the rules and background conjures up all sorts of ideas for interesting scenarios ranging from finding alien types inhabiting the ruins you are exploring to rogue robots causing problems for your team! By incorporating some of the scenario ideas from Rogue Trader or Vor theres even more fun stuff to be had!

As already mentioned the game is a skirmish set and although it has an official range, theres nothing to stop Budgethammer from coming into play by simply using whatever figures you have! For example, I am sadly short of ganger type figures but have a small Imperial type of force slowly being painted. Instead of going out and buying more figures, I am going to use my Imperials as a paramilitary team and some Syntha troops from Void as a high tech opponent!

Sergeant Wallace

Now I have settled on some basic teams of figures, theres lots of fun to be had with creating a background for them. Who are they and where do they come from? What are their motivations and driving forces? How can I incorporate them into the setting? Are they members of the Earth Central Government searching for alien tech, megacorporate minions checking out potential mining claims or ex military renegades on the run from the authorities? At present I don't have a clue but its going to be fun finding out!

I'm off for an interview tomorrow so doubt much painting will be taking place between now and the weekend but I will see if I can get anything sorted out in my spare moments!

Till then all the best and apologies to you poor folks who have to listen to my ramblings and ravings!

Monday 5 August 2013

Oldhammer, Newhammer and Everything Else!


Well I'm back from my holidays, somewhat more tanned and raring to get some painting done. If only I had a holiday! Sadly I have a fairly full work schedule at the moment so finding time for hobby related malarky is going to be difficult but I am trying to get on with painting up the odd bits and bobs while I can!

The British Summer... 

While driving up from Portsmouth in tropical sunshine and heat followed by the traditional Midlands downpour and between listening to far too much Doctor Who audio books, I had the opportunity to ruminate on my hobby and the differences between Oldhammer, Newhammer, retro gaming and all the other fascinating different versions of the wonderful world of wargaming.

Now I've been a gamer but more of a painter of figures since the early 90s and even then my 2nd edition 40k Imperial Guard contained precious few actual GW figures, instead that long ago sold off but glorious force that never won a single game consisted of everything from Nexus Marines to plastic Havok figures.

Corporate Mercenary

Ever since then, I have found myself more than happy to pick and choose whatever ruleset I fancy playing and using whatever figures I have to hand which has resulted in me compiling a really eclectic selection of rulesets and figures ranging from Vor, Void, Kryomek, Aetherverse, Star Mogul, Necromunda and Rogue Trader to name but a few!

Warzone Brotherhood Elite Troopers bump into a Mechwarrior Mining Mech

This brings me onto my reason for posting this article! I firmly believe that variety adds spice to life so to make the most of my meagre gaming budget and now sadly much reduced collection, I am going to embark on my Budgethammer project.

Essentially I will be using a whole load of absolutely brilliant rulesets that could do with a little attention and at the same time showcasing some of the equally lovely figures that are or were produced by other companies during my golden age of miniatures!

For example, theres VOR; The Maelstrom, a rather interesting ruleset that covers a pocket dimension that has swallowed the Earth and many other planets from across the galaxy and is slowly sweeping them to their doom. Its a great setting and has some really unusual forces for it such as the mighty Growlers:

Grr and indeed Aargh!

Sculpted by Kev Adams, the Growlers are fantastic miniatures and look the business once painted up and even better, they make perfect monstrous foes in Rogue Trader or Trolls for Fantasy Battle!

As theres so many blogs out there covering some of the beautiful sculpts of the 1980s, I'm going to cater more towards the 1990s and early 2000s and a time when Games Workshop produced super bright colour schemes, Orks were humorous, and for the first time other gaming systems flashed into existence, sparkled briefly and then vanished almost without a trace!

Budgethammer as I am calling it for lack of a better term, is going to be my ongoing footling around with figures from all sorts of places but on a budget that only a the son of a Scot and a Yorkshireman could think generous!

 OOK! All good games should include superpowered and angry Apes!

As previously mentioned, I have a budget of £15 a month, combined with whatever I have in my leadpile and bits boxes and with this I hope to be able to build some small warbands and play some games that I have in my bookshelf or saved to my computer. I suspect I will mix and match settings and forces, stealing generously from whatever I find interesting and generally have fun with my hobby rather than worrying about the correct figures and whatnot!
Mining Robot

Theres probably going to be quite a lot of Rogue Trader as its one of my favorites and the first ruleset I bought but at the same time, I really want to relive the fun of Star Mogul, the shoulderpads of Warzone and numerous other games I played in my teens and early twenties.

Hopefully during my random wanderings through about twenty years worth of rulesets and figures, I will help showcase just how much fun one can have if they just play for fun and collect and paint what they like!

I do want to say that I am not hinting that choosing to use any specific ruleset, era or range of figures is wrong, just that its something that I just can't do, be it because of puny budget or the ooh shiny syndrome that forces me constantly wander off on a tangent.

Union Marine

Sadly I'm going to be working pretty much solid so its going to be a rather irregular sort of project that I will update as and when I have time to paint stuff but I do hope to be able to start posting battle reports, rulebook and figure reviews soon.

There is going to be one proviso though, I am going to be catering to the less serious military sci-fi and more towards science fantasy and small skirmishes as they are what I find more fun to play. My 15mm scale Battletech project is going to be somewhat more serious but more on that at a later date!

In the meantime, all the best!

Saturday 3 August 2013

Interesting Oldhammer Musings and Warband Challenge!


I've been perusing some of the excellent Oldhammer blogs out there and there seems to have been a bit of discussion over the inclusiveness or otherwise of old school gaming which has been really interesting.

With the big Oldhammer weekend coming up some folks seem to have been put off somewhat by the impression that one needs to only use classic metal figures from the 80s and collect vast armies with them.

From my admittedly limited experience, this just isn't the case. Yes some folks have built up some absolutely beautiful collections of 80s lead but I for one don't have the budget to do anything on such a large scale! Instead I tend to pick up figures from pretty much any manufacturer that I fancy that look good and see how I can fit them into a visually pleasing force. Likewise points values and so on are happily discarded for the most part as I just don't see the use for them!

A good example of this is my Dwarven force that I am glacially constructing:

Firstly they are few in number but still eminently playable, they are mounted on 25mm round bases so I can use them for Song of Blades or similar skirmish games or Warhammer should I choose and were chosen simply because I like the look of them. Some are out of production, some still available and some are even plastic! In the greater scheme of things, I simply want to pick up figures that I like and paint them and if they make a nice unit or force, all the better!

Similarly, here's a pic of one of my Dark Elves. He's an old Grenadier figure I picked up a few years back but he doesn't look anything like the traditional old school Citadel range but has bucket loads of character and was fun to paint and he got me searching through my bits boxes and lead pile in search of similar themed models which would allow me to put together a warband.

It's this sort of thing that I think old school gaming should be about, the enjoyment of creating interesting little forces that will be used!

There's no need to stress about only using old Citadel! Oldhammer and similar old school gaming should be first and foremost be about having fun and enjoying your hobby. I have never understood the need to buy a unit you don't even like just because its good in a game.

My Rogue Trader force is similarly eclectic in nature, I've got a couple of old Warzone figures mixed in with 90s Citadel, Kryomek marines brush shoulders with Void Viridians and numerous others.

Speaking of which, I don't even tend to use the settings associated with GW. They are all fine and well but I don't feel the need to keep to the backgrounds from the rulesets. My fantasy setting is inspired by the old Leviathan game by Grendel and differs greatly from the Warhammer world. Old school gaming encourages one to use what they want and if they don't like an element, simply discard or change it to something you do like!

Even scale is totally up to the individual. There's absolutely nothing wrong with discarding 28mm for 15mm or even 6mm scales. I have a couple of small forces for Rogue Trader gaming in 15mm scale and I use them regularly as I have limited space and its quite possible to collect an entire force for about a tenner!

A Space Marine squad for the princely sum of under £2.00!

Interestingly the topic has got me thinking that its high time that I got myself sorted out and got my Dwarves and assorted Rogue Trader warbands sorted out and have set myself a bit of a challenge in doing so!

With a budget of £15 a month I am going to construct the following forces:

Imperial Guard Garrison
Space Marine Patrol
Rebel Insurgents
Mutie Horde
Eldar Pirates
Ork Marauders
Squat Mercantile Expedition

Obviously there's no way I can do the whole lot at once but combined with the contents of my lease pile and whatever bargains I can find, I doubt it will be too difficult to get any of the above forces into at least a small skirmish warband!

To complicate things I am also going to try and avoid using old Citadel, instead going for other manufacturers and even plastic figures and suitable toys and model kits where required!

Once I get back from my hols, I'm going it go through my lead pile and see what I've got and crack on with painting them! I am also going to work on a bit of an alternative setting featuring the Empire as the bad guys and assorted humans, aliens and robots fighting a desperate rebellion against the frankly fascist forces of the Imperium!

Hopefully my rantings will encourage folks to just do what they want! Don't feel you need to use any specific range or even ruleset! It's your hobby, its more important that you enjoy it than having to just adhere to the expectations of everyone else. That in my opinion is want old school gaming is all about!

All the best!

Friday 2 August 2013

Rogue Trader Suitable Bargain!


While in Portsmouth this afternoon I spotted that the Modelzone store was having a closing sale. While this is rather sad news, it does mean they have some real bargains to be had and I picked up some Trade Federation tanks from Revell for the princely sum of £5.00 a piece!

I built one of the tanks up this evening and must say its quite a nice simple kit being part of the Revell Easy Fit Star Wars range but still looks really rather good and at a scale of 1:50 is just about perfect for a rather high tech battle tank for an Imperial Guard expeditionary force I've been working on for an alternative Rogue Trader setting!

It comes pre painted but I will be doing some conversion on it before giving it a fresh, if somewhat battered coat of paint.

Speaking of a revised Rogue Trader, its well worth having a peek at ANDROID ARTS STARSWORD musings for a really interesting alternative take on the 40k setting and some really excellent concept sketches of everything from marines to tyranids!

All the best!