Creeping Onwards

Although progress is slow, work continues on the new Celtos rules. Another round of playtesting between Sidhe and Fomorian armies took place at the weekend. To replicate a typical home dining-room-table setup, we used six warbands per side on a 4×4 foot board, using Stephen Tucker’s excellent home-made terrain. Rather annoyingly from a personal point of view, and despite a change of dice from d6 to d10, my miserable dice-rolling continued from last weekend, condemning the Fomorians to two heavy defeats.

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Those who have been following the development saga will notice that since the last session we’ve ditched the round unit bases. Nice as these were, and they did make it easy to move warbands, they created a whole set of problems of their own, mostly concerning moving units into gaps between other units and the occupation of terrain features. Doing away with them has solved a swathe of rules issues at a stroke, so we’re back to a more fluid feel with individually based figures in free formation (although unit cohesion rules mean that figures must always remain in base-to-base contact with another figure in their own warband).

Less obvious from the photos is a change to the activation sequence, using numbered counters instead of drawing cards (the counters are just visible in some of the pictures). We tweaked a few other bits and pieces, including the allocation of hits between heroes and other warriors but, encouragingly, nothing else major. The two games we played were between Fomorians and Sidhe, because those are the two furthest developed army lists. So the next tasks are to work on the army lists for the Vanir, Gael and Fir Bolg and playtest those armies against each other.

Flag Day

It’s Good Friday today, which is a public holiday in the UK. This means I get a day off (woot !) but the shorter working week also means no new releases this time – and with Salute looming large on the horizon, we’re at the stage where we hoard all our new stuff for the show.

Hawaii

However, I came across an article yesterday on the BBC website about the national flag referendum in New Zealand, which led to a few clicks round the web and ended up with me discovering the state flag of Hawaii. I had no idea that the flag of one a US state contained, of all things, the Union Flag, especially since Hawaii has never been a UK territory. According to Wikipedia the origins of the flag aren’t clear, but I still thought it would be an interesting addition to our range of self-adhesive Aeronef flags.

While I was there I drew up a couple of others that might be useful, including the national and naval flags of Cuba (handy for the Span-Am war).

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VAN-204 – Confederate National Flag – £0.50
VAN-205 – Hawaiian State Flag – £0.50
VAN-2801 – Cuban National Flag – £0.50
VAN-2802 – Cuban Naval Jack – £0.50
VAN-2901 – Romanian National Flag – £0.50

Hammered by the Slammers

I had the very good fortune last weekend to spend Saturday afternoon in a game of Hammer’s Slammers:The Crucible, playing against one of the rulebook’s authors, John Treadaway.

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I was fielding my shiny new Alaudae Legion mercenaries against John’s New Ukranians supported by a detachment of upgraded Slammers.

I won’t attempt to go through the game blow-by-blow, but suffice it to say that despite John’s very generous efforts to help me with the subtle details of the rules, I didn’t emerge the winner. This was mostly due to my inability to roll anything useful when firing my missiles (to quote John, ‘some of the worst serial dice throwing I’ve ever seen!’). John has put up some pictures on the official website, while below I’ve put up a selection of mine. I’m looking forward to a rematch when I attempt to get my own back ! One lesson will be to rearm my heavy laser tanks with bigger guns…

If You Go Down To The Woods Today…

ToleroRelease

Natives of the fourth planet of the Eta Odin system, the Tolero are primitive but intelligent creatures who outwardly resemble terrestrial bears. More than one anthropologist has been taken in by their cute and cuddly appearance but received a nasty surprise from the pointy end of a Tolero spear !

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Armed with the afore-mentioned spears and short bows, the Tolero are hunters that roam the plains and prairies of their homeworld, stalking the docile Shomix quadripeds for food. Some ride on fearsome Thaeyax steeds, a vicious flightless avian similar to an Emu and nicknamed ‘Terror Birds’ by the first research teams to visit Eta Odin IV.

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There are still several research stations of different nationalities on the planet, investigating the possibilities of full colonisation. Small military outposts also exist, primarily to protect these bases from the attentions of the natives. Rumours also still persist of a Chinese labour camp, used to house particularly awkward prisoners that need to conveniently disappear, but this has predictably been denied by the CDSU government.

SF15-051 – Tolero with Spears (x8) – £2.75
SF15-052 – Tolero with Bows (x8) – £2.75
SF15-056 – Tolero Cavalry with Spears (x6) – £3.50
SF15-057 – Tolero Cavalry with Bows (x6) – £3.50

Those in the know will recognise the Tolero as being another part of the former ArmiesArmy range that we’ve finally got round to re-releasing.

The Alaudae Legion – Ready for Battle

At the end of last year we released some unit packs and a couple of vehicles for a new Hammer’s Slammers mercenary force, the Alaudae Legion (which translates to ‘The Skylarks’).

Over the last few weeks I’ve been putting together an Alaudae force in anticipation of getting them on the table in the near future. I’ve painted one of each detachment type in the Alaudae army listArmoured, Heavy Armoured and Infantry. This has made for an armour-heavy force of 21 vehicles and just three infantry sections, so I painted a few extra infantry in case I felt the force needed a bit more balance. However, they’d be a very good match for any other armoured unit in a tank fight.

Because I was painting a lot of vehicles at one go, I went for as simple a colour scheme as I could. After assembly, the vehicles were undercoated using Halfords’ grey automotive primer. This is my favourite primer as it gives a solid opaque coat with a nice matt surface and will stick to just about anything – and comes in big cans as well. I drybrushed straight onto this primer coat with Citadel Longbeard Grey. I then broke out the airbrush and sprayed random camouflage stripes in Tamiya Olive Green, and drybrushed the stripes in Citadel Nurgling Green. That was it for the base colours, a very simple 4-stage process that very quickly resulted in 21 tanks in 2-colour camouflage with highlighting.


The next stage was to brush paint in a number of details. This includes crew figures, stowage and some detail work on weapons, sensor blisters and lenses. I tried to pick colours that contrasted with the vehicle scheme to break up the rather drab look. The crew were given khaki overalls and dark green helmets using Tamiya paints. Stowage was picked out in dark grey (storage boxes), brown (ammo boxes) and sand (jerricans) with the external fuel tanks also in dark green. Sensor lenses were painted using a gem technique – highlighting the bottom of the lens from dark to light red, then putting a tiny white specular dot on the top corner. Some parts of the weapon barrels were painted in a dark silver (Citadel Leadbelcher), washed in purple (Citadel Leviathan Purple) and then drybrushed in Citadel Necron Compound to suggest discolouration caused by extreme heat. Radar domes were painted in Citadel Tyrant Skull.


Everything – vehicles and figures – was then given a heavy coat of Army Painter Strong Tone (from the big paint tin, not the dropper bottle). This was brushed on, wearing a rubber glove on the hand I held them in since the stuff is rather gloopy and unpleasant, and everything sat on sheets of greaseproof paper to dry otherwise they would stick to whatever surface they’re left on. One useful tip I learnt on a previous build was to use a Sharpie to number the bottom of hulls and turrets – that way they can be paired up again and the camouflage stripes will line up!


For the moment there are no decals available for the Alaudae, so the final stage for the vehicles was an airbrushed coat of Tamiya Flat Clear to matt down the gloss finish of the Quickshade. I’ve mentioned several times before about issues I’ve had with Army Painter’s own spray varnish – although excellent in most uses, I find it can craze or blister on large flat surfaces which have been coated with their own Quickshade products. It works fine on figures that have only small surface areas, but not vehicles, hence the use of an Acrylic clear coat that doesn’t react with it.


And that’s it – just over 10000 points’ worth of powerful armoured might, ready for combat. They should be swinging into action in a few days time – look out for a report to see how they get on !

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This Time, For Real…

Having teased you all with CGI previews of the new Imperial Skies designs, we can show how much progress we’ve already made on the models themselves – quite a lot, in fact. When I wrote the posts on the Kaiser, Gauloise and Vanguard we had only just ordered the 3D prints. Now, just 10 days later, we have moulds for the resin hulls and master moulds for many of the metal parts. The only missing items on the models are many of the turrets – and that’s simply because there’s a finite limit to how fast Phil can produce moulds, and the moulds for those aren’t ready yet. We now have a pretty good idea of numbers required to fulfil the Kickstarter pledges and we’ll start producing stock immediately.

The Dark Side of the Moon

Spheres and domes are an ideal design for bases on the moon or other low-pressure environments – no nasty corners to create weak spots and let the atmosphere out. They can be seen in classic science-fiction and old NASA publicity material, the most famous example of which is the Moonbase in Gerry Anderson’s UFO series.

Today we’re releasing our own take on this design with our Moonbase Habitation Sphere model. Technically the shape is not a sphere, but a truncated icosahedron with curved sides – instantly recognisable as the shape of a football (at least it is in six out of seven continents of the world – a soccer ball if you’re in North America !). The habitable sphere sits on an octagonal base unit which incorporates an airlock for access and houses store rooms and atmosphere recycling equipment.

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MoonbaseRelease

The design and casting of this one was quite tricky – the base is simple enough, but the sphere has been split into two halves. Five of the hexagonal side panels are cast as separate metal pieces that go together to hide the join quite effectively (thanks to John Treadaway for working this out). The kit comes as the three resin pieces plus six panels to allow some variety – three blank panels, and one each with a window, ventilation grill and escape hatch/access panel. The set of six panels are also available separately if you need spares to customise your moonbase.

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B15-601 – Habitation Sphere – £15.00
B15-601p – Spare Panels (x6) – £3.00

HMS Vanguard

The final preview of our new ships for Imperial Skies is the British Vanguard battleship. We’ve given it some slightly different armament in the form of two very large barbette weapons, plus a number of more conventional secondary turrets on the broadside.

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Progress has been good with these models – we already have the masters printed, cleaned up and ready for moulding (in fact the moulds for the resin hulls of the three larger vessels have already been made). Here’s a shot of all four side by side before moulding, which should give a good idea of the size of the German and French vessels.

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The Gaulois

After yesterday’s preview of the Kaiser, today it’s the turn of the French. This is the Gaulois, which started off as a battleship but has ended up growing to the size of a dreadnought. The main turrets and masts are the same as those from the Charlemagne battlecruiser, but the secondary turrets are new models.

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SMS Kaiser

We showed some preview screen grabs of the USS Lexington battlecruiser a few weeks ago, one of the four stretch goal models we agreed to produce as part of the Imperial Skies Kickstarter campaign. Today we’re showing another, the German Kaiser class Dreadnought. It follows similar design lines to the existing Blucher and Markgraf, just bigger !

The turrets are all new and will be made available as separate packs.

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