Sunday 25 March 2012

15mm Sci-Fi: Autosentia on parade

Here are some pictures of my 15mm Autosentia collection so far. I'm quite happy with how the basing turned out for the most part. The larger infantry units are on 5p pieces whilst the battedroids are on 12mm washers. Eventually the infantry figures will have magnetised sabot bases (FOW dimensions) and this will let me use them in whatever squad configurations I want, as well as let me use them for skirmish games. 

Mk1 Spider Droids 'Sniperbots'

 MkII Spider Droids 'Tarantulas' (The colour set-up on these photos is all screwed up, sorry!)

 Combat Drones

Heavy Assault Droids 

Autosentia Battldroids

Elements of an Autosentia Century (family photo!)

I feel that even though these minis came from two different manufacturers, the shared colour-scheme, basing and 'white line' insignia really help tie them together into one cohesive force.

I still have another 2 of the 'Tarantulas' and around 30ish of the Battledroids to paint up, as well as some command drones to lead them. Eventually they will get some mechs and gunships but for the moment I'm a little sick of painting beige so can't wait for my Recon infantry to arrive from CMG! (check out this post for more details on the next faction I'll be working on)

Saturday 24 March 2012

Update: I am still alive...

In case anyone was wondering, I am still breathing. 12 days without a post is quite a while and I hope not to leave it so long again but pressing matters (read: Civil Service Assessment day and two summative assignments) conspired to press miniatures into the corner of my mind. Saying that, I did manage to get a few 15mms finished off and base most of my expanding force (pictures will follow soonish). Although I have serially forgotten to send  the mdf bases I have off to to get holes cut so I can use them as sabot bases. 

The 15mm project is starting to come together now. I'm still mucking about with rulesets (I've  had a look at Strike Legion and Future War Commander but am so far undecided) but hopefully will be able to start getting some test games in in the next few months ahead. I've also just made a biggish order to Old Crow; some vehicles for a opposing force force to take on my fledgling Autosentia. Namewise I haven't given it much thought yet but these certainly arn't meant to be your archetypal 'good guys'. I'm thinking along the lines of the peacekeepers from Farscape, overall, they're 'good' but their means and motivations are unpalatable. Essentially, they're defending the galaxy from mass genocide by a machine race (the Autosentia) who believe organic beings are a virus, an inferior life-form which must be eliminated. However, I'm thinking that their means of achieving this aim will be somewhat callous and self-serving. 

Below are some of the infantry and vehicles I plan to include in the force, those from the UK  have already been ordered for the most part. 

(CMG) For the grunts. These will mounted up in the Goanna Scouts and Claymore's from Old Crow. CMG also make a large selection of support weapons including grenade launchers, missile launchers, laser cannons and snipers. Excellent.
I considered using Khurasan federal infantry but on close examination the CMG sculpts look much cleaner and have much more serviceable looking weapons. 
(CMG) For the elite droptroopers, these will be lifted  into battle by the Armoured Dropships from Old Crow.
Power Armoured Infantry from Khurasan.  The best looking 15mm PA around imo (altho Blue Moon's comes close). 
(CMG). Gravbikes for recon/fast attack. (Budget permitting...)
Medium tanks from Old Crow
Heavy Armour from Khurasan
These Goanna scout cars from Old Crow will have the weapons sprue from Rebel minis added to give them some punch. Think future Hummers for the grunts. 
A heavy APC for either grunts or power armour. Not sure whether to include these or save them for another army. 
This Armoured Dropship from Cold Crow is meant for 6mm but measures in at 135mm long, making it perfect as a heavy dropship for 15mm. I've ordered two of these to carry a full platoon of up-armoured drop-troopers or power armour. 

I've also ordered these turret pieces from Old Crow to add some firepower to the dropships. 

I'm toying with using these 'Alien AFVs' as space fighters on CAS missions. 

I'm still debating what kind of colour-scheme to use on these. My Autosentia are a sandy beige colour and are mounted on rocky arid bases. These guys need to have the same basing so they'll probably end up green with desert camo although I'm sorely tempted to do them in orange/red and dark grey for no other reason than it would look awesome (if completely lacking in sense) and I like painting those colours.  

Well there's a window into my current plans. Hopefully I'll be able to persuade someone at the Warlord's to actually give me a game!

Monday 12 March 2012

Review: Thoughts on Future War Commander

I've had a good read through the rules a few times now and having played BlitzKrieg Commander I have a decent grasp of how the mechanics (at least those not specific to sci-fi) play out. Here's my thoughts on the rule-set as it stands.

Core Game Mechanics

As you'll probably know this game is based on the Warmaster mechanic, essentially this means that 'command' units, which have a 'Command Value' (CV) between 6-10,  roll 2d6 and have to score equal or under the CV to give their battle-group an order. Units can receive as many orders per turn (moving, shooting deploying etc) as the commander can past command tests, albeit with modifiers which decrease the chances of success for each action, distance, obstructions etc. Without regurgitating the rulebook this means that the fog of war is well modelled, if you roll well you units can bound across the table and level city blocks, however, the flip-side is that if you suck with dice (e.g. Anatoli) you will be serially disappointed as your elite infantry sit around scratching their blue arses. I think so long as you can take setbacks philosophically and don't want a 'tournament game' this won't be a major issue.

I've talked about the shooting mechanics for BKC on my previous post and these are the same so I won't go into it again. Something I find irritating about the rules is that whilst there is a distinction between soft and hard targets the units stats don't let you show this difference for each weapons system, your weapon either attacks both types of target equally or one not at all. So, for example, shooting your ion cannon at tanks and infantry might give you 4/80 (4d6, 60cm range) against both targets when you want the weapon significantly more powerful against tanks and less so against infantry. The same kind of problem emerges in close assault, units have an Assault value for attacking all units, soft and hard. I find it hard to believe that infantry with fists, assault rifles and grenades would be as effective at tank hunting as fighting infantry. This is even more problematic in a sci fi setting because you cannot assume that all races/creatures even have anti-tank weaponry at all, or the intelligence to target a tank's weak areas.  I know you could just wave some hands and say the bugs have acid blood or the troops all have disposable bazookas but it just takes the granularity out of the system, a key component in my mind of any generic sci-fi game system. I think I may have to tweak this.

Technology and Army Lists

The website boasts that the book covers a large plethora of science fiction technology and this is true, there are some cool gagets like shields, shield domes, plasma weapons, teleporters and smart missiles. However, I felt that seeing as its a sci-fi book this section needed to be longer and include things like ion weapons and micromissiles, although admittedly its no real effort to make up rules for these and add them in.

I was quite impressed with the army doctrines section which gives ideas on how to model armies with different structures and psychologies, this is a key element to a generic sci-fi game and I'm really glad they put it in. However, I'm not entirely sure how to get the best out of it, the technology level of the forces (which imo could have done with either an 'ultra' or 'mid' level in addition to primitive, contemporary and hi-tech) gives a reduction in total number of points you can take, the army doctrines seem to impose no reductions or points modifications despite the fact that the cyborg doctrine appears to make armies considerably more powerful. I may have to enquire further about this on the forum.


The book certainly looks good, I'd have liked more pictures (who doesn't?) but as a whole the book is well written and presented with some really nice, well painted armies (sadly mostly 6mm and 28mm as this book predated the recent 15mm sci-fi rush). Its mostly in black and white with colour sections but this is only to be expected, after all, they are a small publishing house.


Overall I'm excited about this book, there's some great mechanics and potential in there I just think it needs some tweaking to make it the game that I want to play. I intend to use FWC as a chasis on to which I can bolt additional rules and bits and bobs to create something which fits with what I want my 15mm sci-fi armies to be like.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Review: Blitzkrieg Commander

Actually, to be honest, the term 'review' is a little grandiose. Here are some thoughts on the game of early-war Blitzkrieg Commander (in 10mm) that Philip put on at the Warlords last night for the noobs (me and Phyllion).

The scenario we played was that I - the German player - had to cross the table, seize the town, and destroy two bunkers occupied by dug in French conscripts, machine guns and anti-tank guns. Meanwhile Phil would command the French reserve, consisting of some heavy armour (Char B1s and some other french armour whose name I've forgotten) and a few mechanised units who would arrive on turn two. To do this I had one command (CV9) in the centre with 2 Panzer IVs, 4 Panzer IIIs and 2 Panzer IIs and another command (CV9) with 6 infantry units in trucks, a mortar and truck and a 150mm self-propelled infantry gun (this thing was a beast)  up the right flank. The CO (CV10) had a recon armoured  car and a towed 88m gun. The French player was dug-in around the town and right-hand bunker. 

The BC ruleset turned out to be pretty good. It is necessarily abstracted, given that each base represents a platoon, but conveys a sense of both fluidity and friction through the command system (based on the Warmaster system of command values) and suppression/initiative/opportunity fire rules. The fundamental mechanism of the game is the command roll; a 2d6 test which allows your units to take an action e.g. shooting, moving, assaulting. There is no limit to the number of orders you can give with a command in one turn but there are penalties for each successive activation as well as other factors such as opportunity fire and distance to command. This means that (as happened fairly frequently) a decent run on the dice can see your units move and shoot numerous times, I think one turn I got about 5 actions with one command. This is great because it puts an element of unpredictability in the mix - your units could activate multiple times and get round that flank, or blow up that tank, or they might just sit there. 

The shooting mechanics were very simply but effective, each unit has an anti-personel and an anti-tank rating, each expressed like so e.g. 3/60. This means 3 dice (d6) up to a range of 60cm. You roll the dice, 4+ is a hit (with some modifiers for target size etc) and some units (like tanks or dug in infantry) get saves which vary e.g. My Panzers all had armour 6+ whilst the Char B1s had armour 4+ (the latter lit up my Panzers quite successfully). Each hit is then rolled for, on a 4+ the unit is suppressed, which stops it from activating next turn. Hits are discarded at the end of the turn, so you have to kill a unit in one go, this encourages the concentration of fire-power. Assault works fairly similarly with a series of dice additions or subtractions for factors such as suppression, outflanking, supporting units etc. 

The game went something like this. I sent my tanks straight up the centre onto a hill and pushed the trucks down the right-flank as fast as possible. They took a few hits from the bunker which opportunity fired but non were lost (or even suppressed luckily!). The 88 moved into position to hit the bunker from long-range and failed to do anything of note for half the game. The self-propelled gun smoked up the bunker and made it easier to get close, however, it also blocked the 88s LOS (this was a school boy error). The tanks in the centre nibbled away at the french AT guns and managed to avoid taking any really damage, I think I lost a Panzer II, whilst taking out a 75mm and a 47mm AT gun. The trucks eventually reach the bunker and dismounted, and the engineers flanked it and blew it up without any trouble. I then put in an infantry assault on the hilltop and cleared out the 2-3 french infantry platoons up there with assaults and small arms fire. Meanwhile in the centre the French armour had arrived and after a few false starts (the french have pretty poor Command Values) got into a decent position and preceded to take my lightly armoured panzers apart whilst my shots pinged off their 4+ armour saves. I lost most of my tanks over the next 3 turns or so. However, the infantry made good progress on the flank and with some great supporting fire from the 150mm IG and mortar (which I'de forgotten about for half the game) rooted out some of the french infantry hiding in the town. I realised that the 88 was needed on the centre hill (to hit the French armour) and pretty rapidly redeployed it with my CO and starting inflicting some hits and suppression (but no kills) on the French armour. As time run out my 88 was about to start making some good progress on the tanks (or switch to the bunker on the left and take it out) and my infantry, including some assault engineers, were just moving into the town to clear the buildings of the french infantry rump. It was a pretty close run thing and it could probably still have gone either way if we'd have had time to finish the game. 

Oddly one of my favourite moments was re-deploying the 88, so many games seem to include limbers/tractors for guns but so rarely are they actually useful, one of the advantages of a game with this level of scope is that mobility really does matter in way that in 28mm, or even 15mm, it doesn't really seem to. 

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