One thing every gamer needs is lots of good terrain. Nice looking terrain enhances the play experience and plentiful, well placed terrain increases tactical options. This is especially the case for skirmish and small scale games. Games like Mercs, Deadzone, Infinity and others all come alive with good board layouts. Luckily producing good terrain, specifically buildings, is easier than ever.
There are four primary types of materials used to make model buildings: resin, hardfoam (a form of resin), laser cut wood (or plastic) and injection molded plastic. Each material has its advantageous and disadvantages.
- Resin – Probably the most common resin buildings are those produced by Gale Force 9 in their Battlefield in a Box line. These have the advantage of being highly detailed, pre-painted and ready to go right out of the box. They are moderate in weight and slightly fragile. Depending on the scale and environment you are trying to represent the Gothic line or even the historical Flames of War line are useful.
- Hardfoam – The most numerous options for hardfoam buildings and terrain come from Micro Art Studio. Hardfoam is quite detailed and easy to paint. It is also light but somewhat fragile. Its biggest disadvantage is that it is solid so hardfoam buildings almost never have an interior and models cannot be placed under them either. This of course limits their use in certain situations.
- Laser cut – Laser cut wood (plywood, MDF, etc) as well as newer PVC products are perhaps where the gamers’ options have recently really started to increase. Manufacturers have gotten better and better with designs and choice has grown considerably. Laser cut buildings have the advantage of variety in design, detailed accessible interiors and complex layouts. They are also generally quite durable. Their big disadvantages are that they need to be painted well to really look good and often lack sufficient surface detail. The process itself also limits designs to a certain degree. 4Ground really set things on fire with their pre-painted line of buildings. They only have historical buildings at the moment but have announced a sci-fi line is coming soon. Crescent Root Studio has perhaps done even better but so far has no sci-fi options. Manufacturers we particularly like are Warsenal, Underground Lasers, Micro Art Studio, Systema Gaming and Spartan Scenics.
- Injection Molded Plastic – The nirvana of gaming building material is perhaps injection molded plastic. It is relatively cheap, has high detail, is easy to work with and easy paint. It is also light and reasonably durable. Its main disadvantage is basically choice. Until recently Games Workshop had the only really useful line of plastic buildings available, but of course you were stuck with the Gothic look. With the arrival of Mantic’s Deadzone a whole new line of Battlezones were also created. The Battlezone line is comprised of a variety of pieces based on a 3 inch square. Gamers can assemble them in almost infinite ways to create buildings and environments that suit their needs. Certainly future options will help break away from the cube to create even better variety.
Of course even great buildings need to sit on something. Thanks to recent technologies the old grass mat is no longer needed. Certainly gamers can use foam board and other materials to create detailed urban battlefields but far easier, cheaper and more portable options (and more practical for actual gaming) are the new gaming tiles and mats. This was perhaps started in concept by Games Workshop with their Citadel Realm of Battle Gameboards but they never took the line anywhere to its full potential. It took Secret Weapon Miniatures to produce its upcoming Tablescapes line to start to unlock the varied options of plastic molded gaming boards. Tablescapes are one foot square injection molded plastic tiles in a variety of designs. What is great about them is that because they are plastic it is very easy for gamers to glue them together and use regular modeling techniques to create custom sizes that fit their needs. Or one can simply leave them as individual tiles for maximum flexibility.
Of course plastic tiles still have to be painted and stored. An even easier and quicker solution is the new gaming mats produced on the rubberized ‘mouse pad’ material. Probably the first to produce a variety of both 4’x4′ and 4’x6′ mats was Frontline Gaming with their FAT Mat Mega Mats. These give a great looking surface on which to place buildings and terrain but are also flat and smooth for easy gaming. Mantic produces a similar Deadzone mat and now Micro Art Studio probably has the ultimate urban mat with its new District 5 mat. What is unique about District 5 is that it has a geomorphic design so multiple mats can be placed together to create varied urban layouts.
Lastly we should also mention Hawk Wargames’ Cityscape and Ruinscape line of urban tiles. They are designed for 10mm gaming but easily used for 15mm or even in 28mm as sidewalks. The ‘scapes are full-color cardboard tiles you can layout to create varied cityscapes. Keep them loose for variety and flexibility or glue them to board and enhance as needed for an even better look.
There has never been a better time to fight in the city. So go grab some buildings and storm the gates!
[Note: This post is now superseded by Dust Warfare/Battlefield Resources — June 2014] Battlefront released a somewhat confusing set of posts (one and two) regarding Dust Warfare. It seems that FFG still has the rights to all current models (at least until stock runs out) as well as the rules for Dust Warfare. Battlefront will be releasing all new models (with the new DW cards) and campaign PDFs. But it seems that Dust Warfare itself is still in the hands of FFG. I guess we’ll have to see how this goes in 2014.
- TheWorldofDust.net (Dust Tactics.Com) — This is the new official home for all things Dust.
- Official Forums — The new official Dust Warfare forums are on TheWorldofDust.net.
- Dust Warfare Force Cards – The cards that come with the miniatures are actually for Dust Tactics. While one could modify those cards easily enough it seems a shame not to keep them for games of Dust Tactics. Plus there are some unique DW attributes that are difficult to add. Well Rodney Smith and others to the rescue. Rodney has created a great set of Dust Warfare specific cards you can print out and use. So far there are two sets: The Core Set and the SSU Set. Also see post 449. There will be official DW cards in 2014. They will ship with all new Dust boxes as well as be available as sets.
- Dust Warfare Force Builder — So far there is no official Army Builder app or anything for Dust Warfare. Luckily C. Jackobson decided to just build his own. It is a website that gets the job done and produces basic text output for your army.
- Paolo Parente’s Dust Site — The man who started it all. Here you can see the Premium Models as well as the unique Dust 48 line. There is also Dust Terrain and of course Dust publications. If you can’t find these things at your local retailers or favorite online store you can order from Paolo and he will ship out quickly.
- Dust Warfare PDF Rulebooks — You can get the PDF versions of the rules from Wargame Vault along with the expansion/campaign books.
- Dust Chronicles — A fanzine devoted to Dust Warfare and Dust Tactics. Very well done.
- Fantasy Flight Games’ Dust Warfare Forum — While TheWorldofDust.net has the official forums FFG’s Dust Warfare forum still seems available.
- BattleTactics TV — BTTV has some excellent videos that cover the Premium Models as well as other aspects of the game.
- Beasts of War Dust Warfare Coverage — The blokes over at The Beasts of War occasionally have some good DW bits including video unboxings of new units. Also see their YouTube Channel.
- BoLS Dust Warfare Coverage — The Bell of Lost Souls occasionally pulls itself away from 40K and covers Dust Warfare.
- Unit Forward — Unit Forward is a Dust Warfare site with excellent coverage. Great photos and lots of AARs and game resources. Also home of Zero Station a Dust Warfare podcast.
- Dust-War — Another fan site with solid Dust Warfare coverage.
- Watch It Played — A series of videos on how to play Dust Warfare.
- Esoteric Order of Gamers — Dust Warfare play sheets
[Note: This post supersedes our original set of links to Dust Warfare resources.]
It has been awhile since we looked at what is new in the Napoleonic realm. Since our last post there have been a number of new goodies released and we even discovered some old ones.
Perhaps most recent is Columbia Games’ new Napoleon 4th Edition block game fresh off its Kickstarter. Napoleon is a classic game that is now better than ever. Also from Columbia is their Eagles: Waterloo 1815 card game. We finally got a chance to try this and really like it. It takes a couple of plays to get comfortable with but is a quick playing game that gives a nice feel of Napoleonic warfare and the cards are very nicely illustrated. We wish they would expand the game with more battles. Annoyingly Columbia has not posted the full rules, but check BoardgameGeek for a nice rules summary.
Another classic game we got to the table is Age of Napoleon 2nd Edition. If you want a grand strategic game for two that you can play in one sitting this is a good choice.
GMT Games has been busy and put out the Russian forces for their excellent Commands & Colors: Napoleonics system. Either the Prussians or Austrians will be next. They also released Fading Glory: Napoleonic Series 20, which is a package of four small games previously done by VPG. They are small games that are fun and quick to play. We look forward to the next set.
Warlord Games released two Napoleonic expansions to their Black Powder miniature rules: Albion Triumphant Volume 1 – The Peninsular campaign and Albion Triumphant Volume 2 – The Hundred Days campaign should keep fans of Black Powder busy for awhile. As always the books are also useful to players of many other game systems.
Another very recent addition is 2HourWargames’ new Muskets and Shakos rules. This is a 65-page ruleset covering the period of 1803-1815 at division level.
Computer gamers are in luck as well. Matrix Games released the excellent Napoleon’s Campaigns game. It takes a bit of time to learn but has a nice tutorial and manual and your time spent will be rewarded with a challenging game.
That should be enough to keep your inner conqueror busy for awhile.
Mantic Games has a new Kickstarter. This time it is for a sci-fi miniature skirmish game with a twist. The game passed its funding goal in just over 30 minutes and blew past $300,000 in funding with 3o days still to go. Designed by Jake Thornton, Deadzone, set in the Warpath universe, is a unique blend of board and miniature game. It is played on a 3″ grid for movement but with 3D terrain. In fact part of the Kickstarter is a whole new line of injection molded plastic terrain pieces that can be used to make custom buildings over which to fight.
The alpha rules are available and they look quite good (Kickstarter supporters now have the full rules PDF and it is very well done). There is also a FAQ. The game is I-Go-U-Go but with special action cards and a nice overwatch mechanic to break up the flow. Movement is simply by 3″ squares but where you move within the square matters. Line of site is also a basic if you can see it you can shoot it. We suspect there is more depth hiding behind the simplicity. How you move your troops and to where in the square will have an effect. How you choose to react and what cards you choose to play and when you play them will matter. Even the game length itself is set by the first player to go through their deck so length will be variable from game to game. All of these simple mechanics should combine to create a tactically challenging game.
In addition to the great plastic terrain, a very nice rubber gaming mat has funded along with a number of new models. While the game is set in the Warpath universe and uses its existing races, all of the sculpts are new for Deadzone. So far they seem to range from good to outstanding. Our favorites are the Enforcers and the Plague.
The Deadzone Kickstarter closed at $1,216,482. Backers can look forward to a ton of good stuff.
We’re still painting our CCC unit for MERCS. You’d think six guys wouldn’t take too long but you stick in a squad of Terminators, a detour into Dropzone Commander and a little affair with Sedition Wars and there you go. Not to mention our next squad of Bolt Action Germans staring at us the whole time….
But we got some extra motivation to get going again following Beasts of War’s MERCS Week. They really did some outstanding coverage of the game and probably some of their best work overall yet. Our favorite quote of the week was, “Did you say nukes?!” Below are some of the highlights and other useful links.
- Getting into MERCS
- MERCS Intro Game 1 – Part 1
- MERCS Intro Game 1 – Part 2
- MERCS Intro Game 2
- MERCS Intro Game 3
- CCC Faction Interview
- CCC Breacher
- Keizai Waza Faction Tips
- Kemvar Faction Interview
- Kemvar Faction Tips
- USCR Faction Interview
- Official MERCS Downloads
- MERCS Unofficial Scenario Generator v1.6
- Paradigm Shift Campaign
One thing many folks comment on when seeing MERCS played, and which you’ll see in the BoW videos, is that the cards used as movement templates not only seem annoying but somewhat gimmicky. We agree but you can dispense with them altogether and we think it actually improves the play. The cards are fine for those playing MERCS more as a board game on the paper map but any miniature player is going to want to dump them. Just use a fixed 2.5″ template/stick to measure movement. You can move up to that maximum. We also made the various fire templates out of card so we don’t have to keep holding two or three cards down on the table to check coverage. Basically you just need a 7″ circle, 7″ straight and a T with a 6″ long base and 7″ wide top (the 3-card T) and a T with a 6″ long base and 3.5″ top (the 2-card T). The cards are 2.5″ wide. This all speeds play and allows you to leave your cards free for reference and initiative order sequence.
Also don’t miss the MERCS Bag. It is a nice small convenient size that still allows you to carry 6-10 squads with room for your cards and other misc gaming stuff. It is also useful for any 28mm skirmish game or even 6-15mm games as well.
Well here is something completely different. Anyone who has been visiting the site recently knows we’ve gotten sucked back into 28mm gaming. Well as if that hole wasn’t getting deep enough we stumbled across Crooked Dice Game Design Studio’s 7TV: Wargaming in the world of Cult TV.
We have always been huge fans of the original James Bond movies. The mix of action and campy 60’s fun and style is classic. 7TV essentially brings that world to the tabletop. You can play the game as a literal ‘TV set’ simulation with as much or little campy action and over-the-top characters as you wish or drop out the concept of TV altogether and play it as a straight modern skirmish game.
At its heart 7TV is simply a 28mm skirmish game — of course there is no real reason one couldn’t play in 15mm either. Scale is 2m per inch and each turn is 1-5 minutes of real time. The game is designed to be played with about 12-40 miniatures. Each miniature has various stats such as movement, agility, morale, etc. It uses an interesting activation and leadership mechanic and uses cards for special weapons (gadgets) and events.
7TV includes complete character and force generation mechanics plus a huge amount of pre-generated characters. Complete scenario and campaign generation rules are included as well. Four scenarios are included.
The 186-page rules are available as a PDF or in full color print. They are extremely well laid out with clean, clear text and lots of period style. Even better they are very well written and easy to understand. There are also plenty of expansions adding new missions and characters.
If you like the theme at all or just want a good skirmish game give 7TV a look.
Crooked Dice have their own 28mm miniatures line for 7TV that is very nice. For additional figures and terrain they recommended both Hasslefree Miniatures and Copplestone Castings. The Copplestone Room Sets are very nicely cast resin interior pieces. Many of the pieces are double-sided so can be placed against a wall or in the middle of a room — they really make your rooms and buildings look great. 15mm gamers are not left out either. Khurasan Miniatures has their 60’s Spy line of figures.
You can never have enough minions baby!
Well as I feared, Dust Warfare has proven to be the proverbial nose under the tent. Getting deep into Dust Warfare has led us to look at other 28mm scale games. This of course is natural as you get in the mode of painting in that scale, start to gather some terrain, get some more figs, etc. Perhaps an even bigger influence is just the fact that there are lots of excellent rule systems out now that do not require a large number of miniatures to play. This makes it even easier to get into these games without a large investment in hoards of 28mm figure.
I’ve already written about Saga. It continues to be a challenging and fun game. It appears a Roman army is now inevitable. But thanks to Saga I still only need around 50 figs so collecting one is not a particular burden in time or money. The metal and plastic Roman figs from Warlord Games are excellent. But we also grabbed some of the plastic Romans from The Wargames Factory and they are almost as good as the ones from Warlord Games. If you want to have some plastic options they are worth a look. And of course the next Saga expansion, The Raven’s Shadow, with four new factions, is due out soon.
We have officially taken the plunge into Bolt Action as well. The figs are great and the rules are even better. Like Saga you can play great games with just 20-50 figures and maybe a vehicle or three. The rules are very streamlined yet give a nice tactical feel. For more on Bolt Action don’t miss Bolt Action.net and the BAR (Bolt Action Radio) podcast. Anyone interested in Bolt Action might also want to check out Victory Decision: World War Two from A.D. Publishing. It is somewhat 40K-ish and larger scale but still a streamlined game.
Mantic Games recently released a new line of sci-fi figures for their Warpath game. The new Enforcer figs look quite nice. We have always liked the Corporation line in general. Along with the figs Mantic released a new version of the Warpath 2.0 beta rules. The rules look interesting and have a unique activation mechanic. Honestly we can’t say we are fans of the Warpath universe in general but we like the Enforcer and Corporation figs enough that we would like to do something with them.
Spartan Games probably deserves a mention as well. Their new Dystopian Legions game looks quite nice. The miniatures look interesting and well cast. We originally thought the minis were to be resin but for the most part they are pewter. We are unsure how the vehicles are going to be but if Forgeworld can pull off 28mm resin I suppose Spartan can as well. The quick-play rules are available for download and look quite interesting. But we will probably pass on this one. We are fans of Dystopian Wars because we like naval combat but are not big enough steampunk fans to jump into Legions but it appears to be a good effort. But then again we may weaken….
Perhaps the biggest recent find came about as a result of playing the XCOM: Enemy Unknown computer game. The game is a great tactical sci-fi game and gave us an instant desire for some sci-fi tactical tabletop gaming. We dug around a bit and discovered Mercs. It is very much XCOM on the tabletop with five figure units and an emphasis on fire and maneuver at the skirmish level. The miniatures are outstanding and the rulebook is one of the best presented rulebooks we have ever seen. In fact the rulebook is perhaps the new gold standard for rules. Not only are the production values high but it includes fluff as well as a look at the game design and miniature creation as well. We wish all publishers would do this. Thankfully the rules themselves seem to be as good as they look. We have not gotten in a game yet but the card-as-ruler mechanic certainly has to go — A simple fix — but otherwise the rules look very solid and the snap-to-cover mechanic is unique. Also be sure to check out SnaptoCover.com a nice Mercs fan site. We will certainly have more on Mercs after we get some games in.
Below is a look at the Mercs CCC starter pack. This is a quick way to get into the game (you’ll need the rules as well). Games are played with five troops to a side but you have six (and soon seven) to choose from so pick wisely.