With some of the new mech games out like Titanfall we’ve gotten into the mech mood. Obviously the tabletop gaming environment gives far greater variety of engagements limited only by your imagination and, well, miniatures.
To help set some background The Art of Titanfall is a great place to start even if you never plan on playing the game. Likewise the Titanfall: Prima Official Game Guide is also flled with nice art (a lot from the Art book but not all) and looks at the battlefields. If you like graphic novels Hawken Genesis is an interesting story but lacks in mech action. Speaking of Hawken, a nice filler game is the Hawken Real-Time Card Game. It is a fun card game that plays in about 15min. There are two sets out so far that can be combined.
Certainly 6mm with Battletech may be the first thing some think of for mech gaming. But the computer games offer a more personal look so we wanted something with a bit more presence so went looking for 15mm options. The most obvious choice is Critical Mass Games. They have a number of 15mm mech options now and even a new ‘mecha workshop‘ that lets you buy bits to customize your mechs to your own tastes.
Below we have pictures of some of the Critical Mass Games’ mechs. From left to right is the Imperator, Arc Fleet Support Combat Walker, Blackguard, Ravager and Predator Assault Suit. [Note: We used alternate weapon options on the Blackguard and Ravager] They have a number of other models as well within those lines. The Imperator is the big boy of the bunch. We easily magnetized the waist and arms on the Imperator and the torsos on the others. As you can see the various mechs scale well with each other giving you large, medium and battlesuit options along with gun and jumping close assault mechs. Add in the mecha workshop and you can really create a force to your specifications.
But if you are wanting that Titanfall aesthetic have no fear, the new Flytrap mechs fit the bill. The Warfighter Epoch line currently offers three different mech designs along with pilot/troop figs. Unlike CMG these are all metal models. The metal is quite soft as are the details. They are very fiddly to put together and need to be pinned but once complete are nice. The arms and legs are the same on all three models with only the torso unique. Size wise they are sort of in between the Blackguard/Ravager and the Assault Suit.
For rules we are going to try Gruntz and Strike Legion (and if you haven’t seen it yet the new Strike Legion v1.5 Compilation is great) but there are other mech specific rules coming out soon as well that will be worth a try.
We finally had a chance to get in some games of Chain of Command from TooFatLardies. Because we are still painting up our 28mm forces — and because we have tons of 15mm Flames of War forces — we decided to try it in 15mm. It not only worked just fine but looked great at that scale. Two issues came up using FoW-based figures: First, tracking casualties was a bit cumbersome. We later came up with the idea of using colored bases under the FoW bases that would denote the number of casualties off the stand. This would probably work just fine. The second issue was a positive one; because Chain of Command is very team focused using the standard two FoW infantry stands per squad works out just fine and makes movement and placement generally clear. You of course do lose a bit of placement flexibility but this is generally not a big problem but visually can be odd at times (such as when moving down a road or along a hedgerow).
But we liked how that worked so much we went ahead and based up some 15mm figures individually. We used custom plywood bases from Litko. General troops went on 15mm round bases, heavy weapon and crew got 15mm square bases and we put junior leaders on 15mm hexagon bases. Senior leaders, with two figures per base, went on 20mm hexagon bases and 20mm square fit well for weapon teams such as Bazookas, snipers and observers. Mortars and MG’s we placed on 1″x1.5″ bases (standard FoW small base). Not shown in the photos below are the colored bands applied to the back of each base to denote squad affiliation. This all worked out very well. The different base shapes makes it easier to pick out different troops with the smaller figures. Another idea could be to base troops on 20mm bases and use some of the excess space to add color for easier identification and spotting. You could also use the different base shapes for different squads as well.
With individually based figures casualties are easy to remove as is moving troops between teams and breaking off troops. You can also place the figures exactly where you want them. The only real downside to the individually based figures is that they are a bit fiddly to move around and on a nice table can actually be hard to see. But with the low unit count in CoC this really was not an issue.
While we have not tried it yet I think a combination of the above two approaches could be ideal. Start out with the regular FoW-based figures and as casualties are taken or units broken off convert them to the individually based figures. One could easily make unit trays as well for the individually based figures.
In the photos below you’ll see some of the American Late War Armored Rifle platoon figures (all Battlefront miniatures in this case). The fields with walls terrain piece is from Crescent Root. Buildings are from Crescent Root, JR and Landmark.
Overall we really enjoyed Chain of Command. If you like WW2 skirmish games give it a shot and don’t worry too much about scale and basing. Basing really doesn’t matter that much so just go with what you have or your preference.
The latest Meeples & Miniatures podcast, Episode #124, has a very interesting discussion with Ken Whitehurst about his upcoming 6mm scifi ruleset Polyversal. The game is being published by Collins Epic Wargames of Spearpoint 1943 fame.
The game was announced months ago but with very little information. Ken’s interview is the best information we’ve had on Polyversal to date. The game will be a 6mm scifi miniatures game covering company to battalion level battles. It sounds very interesting but listen to the show and judge for yourself.
Collins Epic Wargames will be launching the game via Kickstarter sometime later in 2014. They will hopefully be partnering with a number of 6mm mini manufacturers so you won’t be locked into any one miniature line. Even better, the folks they are talking to are the major 6mm manufacturers so if you play any 6mm now you probably already have some of the forces you will need for the game.
We looked at a number of 6mm miniatures awhile back. Unfortunately since then Old Crow ceased production. Aintsy Castings picked up their line but so far have only produced the 15mm models not the 6mm. This is a shame as the Hammer’s Slammers 6mm minis were superb.
But there are plenty of other choices out there and Plasmablast, as we noted, is outstanding as well. We recently ordered some Microworld figures so we’ll report on those later. Oddly missing from the Polyversal list is Ground Zero Games’ Dirtside and Future Wars miniatures. These are also quite good but some of the models are slightly on the small side compared to the other manufactures.
We look forward to hearing more about Polyversal and seeing it hit Kickstarter.
There have been a great many computer wargames and expansions released over the past few weeks and months. Matrix Games especially seems to be on a roll and there is more still to come. It’s a good time to be a computer wargamer! Here are some of our favorites:
Battle Academy: Fortress Metz — A campaign add-on for Battle Academy. It covers the US 3rd Army in WW2 as it tries to encircle Metz in France. The iPad version of Battle Academy and all its campaigns also works great.
Combat Mission Battle for Normandy: Market Garden — The excellent CM: Battle for Normandy game expanded for Operation Market-Garden. One of our favorite games and favorite battles.
Command: Modern Air Naval Operations — The spiritual successor to the classic Harpoon series of games. We’ve had a tough time getting imto this one because there is so much there but it will probably reward the gamer who puts in the time. “Surface fleets, submarine squadrons, air wings, land-based batteries and even satellite constellations are yours to direct as you see fit – from the lowliest pirate skiff to the mightiest aircraft carrier, from propeller biplanes to supersonic stealth fighters. Every sensor and weapon system is modeled in meticulous detail. You are given the hardware; but you have to use it well.”
Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel — Conflict of Heroes is a great boardgame with a great computer version. “Storms of Steel is a stand-alone expansion to the critically acclaimed tactical computer wargame Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear, the official adaptation of the award-winning board game from Academy Games. Storms of Steel is set in the Battle of Kursk and brings an impressive new campaign, created in part by legendary wargame designer John Hill, to Conflict of Heroes. Storms of Steel adds rules for airplanes, snipers, and over fifty new units.”
Drive on Moscow — Follow up to the excellent Battle of the Bulge for your iPad, Drive on Moscow brings you Operation Barbarossa. The AI struggles in this adaptation far more than in Bulge but recent updates have improved it. Still well worth your time.
Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm — A complete remake of the original Flashpoint: Germany. This is one of the best Cold War/Modern era wargames available.
Lock ‘n Load: Heroes of Stalingrad — Five years in the making, this is Mark H. Walker’s boardgame brought to the computer. It is a very literal conversion and plays almost identically to the boardgame.
Panzer Korps – iPad — The classic Panzer General game redone and brought to the iPad. Works great. Still has the original problem of being too puzzle like but still a fun simple wargame.
Piercing Fortress Europa — A new operational level game about WW2 battles in Italy. It has a huge emphasis on supply. Looks very good.
Unity of Command – Black Turn — A great expansion for another of our favorite wargames. Allows players to play Operation Barbarossa. Also on Steam.
Following up on our recent look at various Star Trek ship miniatures, we stumbled upon the Furuta line of Star Trek ship miniatures. These are plastic, pre-painted display miniatures. They are sold blind but are easy to find from retailers as specific ships.
First the bad news: Some of these are now essentially collectables and are extremely expensive.
The good news though is many are still very reasonably priced especially considering their strengths. As you can see from the photos below the quality of the miniatures is outstanding. They are as good or better than anything out there. They come in just a few pieces and snap together — We used a bit of plastic cement on ours — in just a few minutes. The paint jobs range from very good to outstanding and also include decals. They are easily equal to or better than what many modelers will be able to do themselves and they are ready to go in literally minutes.
The other good news, as you can see in the photos, is that they also scale very well with other miniatures for gaming. In the photos we put in a Starline 2500 ship miniature for comparison. The new generation Star Trek ships are supposed to be twice the size, or more, of the original ships. The problem with this from a gameplay standpoint is it just looks odd. The Furuta ships are 25% or so larger (depending on the model) than the Starline 2500 ships and that gives them a nice sense of size without being ridiculous. They mount easily on stands for gaming (we use the CorSec Engineering stands) and are perfect for Star Trek: Attack Wing or Federation Commander.
The last bit of bad news is that the Furuta line basically consists of mostly Federation ships. There are a few Klingon, Jem’Hdar, Romulan and Borg ships but the choices are very limited and often now expensive. Also if we see one more large Klingon Bird of Prey we’re gonna beam ourselves into space. But there is always hope Furuta will expand the line in the future. On the plus side, because the scale works well you can use Starline 2500 and AMT Klingon models with these just fine.
If you have any interest in Star Trek and especially if you play Attack Wing or Federation Commander you can’t get any better than the Furuta line.
Note: Here is a nice guide to actual Star Trek ship sizes. As you can see for gaming, keeping miniatures true to scale would get strange especially as you mix in the alien races that have some truly huge ships.
Legion Wargames released their latest solitaire wargame Picket Duty: Kamikaze Attacks Against U.S. Destroyers – Okinawa 1945.
By the time of the invasion of Okinawa in April 1945, the US Navy devised a plan to help ward off the expected kamikaze attacks during the battle for the island. In order to provide an early warning system for impending kamikaze attacks, the US Navy established 16 radar picket stations around the island Picket Duty is a solitaire game where you – as the captain of a Fletcher Class destroyer – fend off kamikaze attacks while performing picket duty off Okinawa. The game covers the time period from late March 1945 to late June 1945. Your goal is simple – survive.
The game comes with a basic game, advanced game, six historical scenarios, two hypothetical scenarios, a mini-campaign and a full campaign. Optional rules are also included. Each game turn is divided into three phases, each depicting an eight hour period. Key crew members are depicted with certain functions, as well as damage control teams. 35 types of Japanese planes are depicted on whopping 1.2″ square counters .
Game features include: Weather – Damage Control – Ammo and Fuel Consumption – Ship Trim and Listing – Land and Ship Radar – Air and Surface Fire Support – Ohka attacks, and more.
We have added a new section to the site, Now Playing.
Our Articles page long ago lost most of its usefulness as the site grew in content. The Category folders and site search are generally more helpful for finding what you need. Our Top Picks section is dedicated to the top classic games in various genres. The site itself lists what’s new and what we are doing, but we decided that a permanent spot that highlighted the games we are currently playing would be useful. This serves two purposes: First it shows what currently has our interest and also acts as a central location for resources on those games.
We will only list titles we like of course but some games may appear and then drop off if they prove less exciting in the long run. But if we are currently playing them or they still hold our interest we’ll keep them listed here. We have only posted a few initial titles but will fill it out over the coming weeks.
You can always access the page via the site’s top navigation link.