Friday, January 24, 2020

Starship Gallery: Noble Armada Kugan Warships

Some rarely-seen ships from the A Call To Arms: Noble Armada Kurgan range, which came out toward the later part of the game's existence.  Regrettably, I never managed to get the heavier ships in the range, so we're stuck with images from the lighter elements of the fleet.  The game is long dead at this point, and unlike ACTA Babylon 5 it doesn't seem to have a lingering fan base, but I'm still going to waste time talking about the way these ships worked in ACTA NA.  Feel free to skip the commentary and just look at the pictures if that's not of interest.

Top Row:  Yildugh Destroyer, Khabir Light Carrier, another Destroyer
Middle Row:  Three Qawwas Frigates
Bottom Row:  A lone Mujahidin Raider

The Kurgan rules appeared in the Fleets of the Fading Suns book.  They're one of the setting's "barbarian" powers from beyond the region of space dominated by the Empire with the grudging cooperation of the Church of the Pancreator, the Guilds, and the Noble Houses.  This is pretty amusing from the Kurgan point of view, since they regard themselves as being at least as advanced as the Empire, and certainly they see their society and religion as being obviously superior.

Same ships, rear angle view

The Kurgan fleet has many similarities to the forces of the Al-Malik Noble House, in that they rely exclusively on weaponry that bypasses shields due to the Slow trait.  The Kurgan do mount a fair number of rockets and some missiles and torpedoes, but not as many as the Al-Malik do.  Instead, their ships also carry a weapon called the heat blaster.  These are also widely used by the Church (for burning heretics, predictably) and are otherwise something of a rare technology in most of Imperial Space.

Left side view

Heat blasters are a bit shorter ranged than the standard blasters are (15/20/30 for light/medium/heavy) and do less damage at the low end of the scale (1/2/3).  They lack the Burn-Out trait but gain Slow, so rather than knocking down shields briefly they simply bypass them and hit the hull directly.  They also gain the Inaccurate trait when firing at a ship with active shields, and the fleet has almost no way to knock down shields (pretty much just crit effects) so they almost always suffer from a -1 to hit.  If a Heat Blaster scores any crits at all, you also increase the Crew crit location track by one.  So, they struggle to hit reliably but all the damage goes to hull, and any crits roast crew on top of their other effects.  Depending on how their crit rolls go, they may be extremely deadly, but general damage output is behind the very similar Al-Malik (at least barring a heavy point defense laser environment, which is rare).  This is exacerbated by the lack of any Kurgan ships with the Scout trait, something the Al-Malik make excellent use of.

Right side view

Aside from the heat blasters, the Kurgan also have some other quirks.  Their ships, class for class, have more starting hull than other fleets.  The exact amount varies but averages between 20-25% extra.  This makes them quite tough, although it's overkill in some cases.  Their dreadnought has 90 hull rather than the more normal 75, but by the time you get anywhere near that you'll be nearly wrecked by critical effects in most cases.  Still a definite plus for them, though.

Top Row:  Khabir Light Carrier, Yildugh Destroyer, another Light Carrier
Bottow Row:  Damaged Sheerkhur Galliot, three Qawwas frigates, intact Galliot

Their ships also run a bit heavy on troops, rivaling the Hazat fleet on some ships.  They have access to both Elite and "Grimson" (power armor Marauders) troops as upgrades, putting them ahead of many Noble Houses in that regard.  Speeds are middling-high, with many ships moving 12 and none below 8, with average agility for their class.  Their boarding game can certainly be quite a threat, especially with the lighter, faster ships operating in packs.

Rear view

Another noteworthy feature is their carrier and attack craft selection.  Their Khabir light carrier is fairly average for its type, but has the vital Command +1 trait.  They also have the huge Arigaba carrier with 16 craft capacity, although its guns are light for its (cruiser) size and it still only has Command +1.  Unusually, their Kublai dreadnought also has a small 4 craft attack wing, although they're primarily a gun platform and lack the Command trait.  Expect to see at least one carrier in a Kurgan fleet, especially since the Fleets book made everyone's carriers actually worth taking.

Left side view

The fleet also has a weird mix of attack craft.  They have three  types to choose from.  One is a specialist interceptor with a +2 dogfight mod, something rivaled only by the Al-Malik fleet.  They also have an actual multi-role fighter/bomber, something no other force can claim.  These carry a single microtorp for attacking ships while retaining a high speed, good defenses, and a +1 dogfight mod, which is huge for an offensive craft.  Finally, they have a "suicide fighter" (something they share with the loons of the Church fleet) that is a one-shot flying bomb that dies when it attacks, but combines a raft of weapon traits:  Accurate, Devastating +1, Guided, Multihit d6, One-Shot, and Slow.  They can only attack once and then they're removed whether they hit or miss and they have a horrid -2 dogfight mod and mediocre defenses, but if they connect they're serious bad news.

Right side view 

The fleet has a base tactics score of +1, and can buy psychic crews for a small discount.  Nowhere near as powerful as theurgy or the Vuldrok-only rune powers, but still good for some tricks.  Notably, occult powers are the only way the fleet can get access to the Scout trait anywhere - so expect that to get countered every single time.  Their ships are uniformly a bit cheaper than you'd expect for their class as well, so it's not uncommon to be outnumbered or outclassed a bit when facing them.  Their main weaknesses are their generally short weapon ranges and extremely erratic damage output, which is definitely behind the Noble House forces most of the time.  That can change real quick if they do manage to get a psychic Scout going, so watch out for that.  

Another group, same as the first

Standout classes for me are:  
The Yildugh destroyer, which is fast, very tough and has 10 troops, but has an awful weapons load - more than made up for by the 150 point cost, which is a large bargain.  Most Noble House destroyers saw a price increase to 200-220 points in the fleets book, making that discount even more significant.
The Qawwas frigate, only 90 points and almost as well armed as an Al-Malik frigate, with a huge 8 troops on board and speed 12 to boot.  Easily a rival to the excellent Hazat frigate, albeit not quite as good at shooting.
The Kublai dreadnought is a cheap dreadnought for 550 points, leaving you some extra to load offensive fighters and/or better troops.  Rather than wasting space on a heavy meson cannon it carries three torpedo turrets, cranking out 9 AD per turn and giving the fleet one ship that can really reach out and accurately smack something hard, and it mounts significant heat blaster broadsides as well.

Still the same

Is the fleet balanced?  Maybe.  Didn't get to play them much before the game died.  They look okay on paper, and are nicely different from any of the original fleets.  Mongoose was never noted for good playtesting and point balancing in this game, though.  Suppose I'll never know, sadly.

Finally done

But at least the minis are pretty.  Maybe Ral Partha Europe will get the molds sorted out and back in production someday.  They'd look nice flying in Full Thrust or Starmada games.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

King Kong & Pals: A Monster Movie Figure Set

Another old project from 2013 using a mix of Old Glory 15mm tribesmen and a Reaper giant gorilla figure to do a King Kong/Skull Island-themed figure set.
The Old Glory minis come in the usual nice variety of sculpts, and this is just one of many styles ("tribes") they make, many of them a bit "Hollywood" feeling. 

You can find the whole range here:

They come with shields in a variety of types, but I went without for these guys to keep the costume and prop budget down.

The big guy is a 28mm scale Reaper fig from the days before Bones came along.

Think I paid $25-ish for him in metal when he first came out, a bargain for the weight.

That was up to $45 the last time I looked, which means next time I need a giant primate it's the toy store for me.

Nicely detailed, as you'd expect from a Jason Wiebe sculpt.

Admittedly a bit small compared to the original movie monster (and a runt compared to the Tojo or Kaijuverse versions) but still good sized.

Perhaps it's a juvenile Kong, or an Exceptionally Mighty Joe Not-So-Young instead?

Monday, January 20, 2020

Combat Wombat 15mm Scifi Vehicles

Combat Wombat has been out of business for years now, and his old range languishes in limbo over at Skullduggery Press, but several people were wishing for images of the models for posterity's sake.  Some digging around in old photos (over a decade now, in some cases) turned up a few, at least.  No idea what these were called in the original catalog, but at least they're photos.
Some light grav tanks, most converted with a Rebel Miniatures Grey in the commander's hatch and added flight bases.
The turrets were drilled and pinned to let them rotate, and the bases were left unglued for ease of transport.

Some heavy hover tanks and a mobile artillery blower to go with them.  Think they shared some components, and the gun barrels are the signature turned-aluminum ones CW was so generous with.

I was definitely thinking Hammer's Slammers when I gave them all names.  Artillery hogs are apparently my spirit animal.

These were IFVs, and shared design features with a small family of models, including an APC and a smaller version as some kind of recon scout IIRC.

Probably some minor conversions to the turrets, but I can't swear to it.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Modular Robot Miniatures: 28mm Old Glory Showcase

Taking a look at Old Glory's 28mm scale modular robot set today, with some images dating back to 2012 (and painted even earlier).
You can find the unpainted version on their store here:

The full set gives you 13 different bodies and enough arms and heads to leave you with plenty of spares when you've assembled everything.

They theoretically cost $49 and can be purchased that way, but they're part of their collection of free figures that you get when signing up for their Old Glory Army deal:

So, you could pay $50, get a 40% discount on most of the figures they make for a year, and get this set of figures for free. 

That's quite a bit like paying a net $1 for a year's worth of 40% off on whatever else you order from them.

Kind of obviously a good deal, so a suspect they don't actually sell many of these sets at retail.

The models are nicely varied and depending on how you paint them, the sculpts will feel either retro-sci, Star Wars-ish, or (as I was shooting for with these ten) a grungy low-budget Ice Pirate kind of vibe.

They obviously make excellent PC figures for Star Wars roleplaying.

Also useful for scifi skirmish rules like Rogue Stars, Five parsecs From Home, Void pirates, etc.

Not out of place in near-future post-Apocalypse settings either, although you might want to convert them to be more beat-up in that case.

Bit harder to use them in mass combat scifi since you really can't get whole units of the same body design easily.

Suppose you could have a heterogenous squad of them for that, but there are better options for "trooper" bots IMO:
More of a Lost In Space feel on this one, with perhaps a nod to Robby from Forbidden Planet.  IIRC this is the only body variant that doesn't have a separate head.

I like the way the sculpt evokes that feel (especially with that those arms) without being a direct knockoff.

Some of them really scale-jump to 15mm well, as this shot of two robo-gladiators with some 15mm Ground Zero Games figs acting as their tech support staff.
Particularly fond of the orange tripod design here, even my 8 year old paint job and photography doesn't really do it justice.

Think I've done three sets of these over the years, and the many spare parts that's generated have helped with quite a bit of kitbashing as well.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Starship Terrain Part 2: Battlefleet Gothic / Full Thrust Gas Clouds, Asteroid Fields, Warp Rifts

A few years back I did a showcase gallery of some starship terrain pieces:

At the time I couldn't find images of all the "area" terrain I'd done for Battlefleet Gothic back in the early 2000's, which also got pressed into service in other rule sets.  Finally stumbled across them in an old file the other day so here's a follow up post.

I find "area" or "zone" terrain works best as flats, since most rule systems let ships enter and move through them.  3D terrain looks great, but it's impractical to balance ship minis on.  Hence all of these were made of thin plastic sheeting, about the same thickness as cereal box cardboard but much more durable and basically immune to getting wet.  They were cut into irregular shapes that roughly matched the range of sizes you could get with BFG's random terrain generator system, and I made enough that we usually had a more-or-less exact match for whatever the dice rolled up.  Everything was heavily matte-coated after painting and held up for several years of play and transport without visible wear.
The gas/dust clouds were sponge-painted using three different color palettes.
The blue/purple/pink set was the most whimsical, and included the infamous Colon Nebula.  The brighter sides were usually aligned toward the "sunward" table edge, which made remembering what directions were slow or speedy for Eldar much easier. 

The red/orange/yellow set got used preferentially for fights in the inner system, nearer the local star.

And the green/more green set included some of the most elaborate shapes.  They also got a bit of orange on some pieces to mark sunward, as well as to spice them up a bit.  Bit blander than I'd intended for these.

The asteroid fields were hand-painted, one rock at a time.  They're very simple paint schemes, if a bit time consuming.  Varying the size and shape and configurations of the asteroids helped make the shades-of-gray palette more interesting to look at. 

I made a point of doing a basic light/shadow effect on each piece so the rocks all share a uniform sunward side.  The templates for these were left rounded rather than the irregular gas clouds so it was a little easier to move without accidentally clipping, which is quite dangerous in BFG or Full Thrust.

Only did a few warp rifts, which are rare results on the random charts.  They were sprayed silver, then the "wave front" of intruding warpspace was painted in by hand.  I deliberately left one edge flat in an attempt to make them as unnatural-looking as possible, although if I do more in the future I'll probably do a full "border" on fully-irregular shapes instead.

Long since sold these off, but seeing them again has me feeling an itch to try another set and see how I can improve on them with almost a decade's more experience.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Rebel Minis 15mm Scifi Alien Worms Showcase

Looking back to 2014 today to show off some more models from Rebel Miniatures.

You can find these models unpainted on their web store here:

The worm-holes were handmade out of some putty on a 1" washer base, although Rebel sells something very similar in resin along with some terror-mites here:

The sand worm here was formerly a Starship Troopers figure, but has been redone as a three pieces miniature, with two resin body halves and a metal mouth section. 

The smaller ripper worms make nice companions models for the big boy, either as larva forms or just a related species from the same alien ecology.

As you can see, they're still pretty big in 15mm.

All of them could scale jump to 28mm without a problem, and they could work in scifi, fantasy, or horror settings as well.  Nice, versatile, inexpensive figs.  Hard not to like.