John Lambert gives us some background on his new fleet of spaceships…
Having enjoyed Gaslands, I was intrigued to learn that the Author, Mike Hutchinson’s next venture was going to be a journey into space, entitled A Billion Suns. I signed up to be a playtester and purchased some excellent American Republic spaceships from Brigade Models. Here’s the result:
What about the game?
I’d never been wowed by Space games that resembled a Naval game and this has many interesting ideas that I really like. Players act as CEOs whose game objective is to fulfil a contract. These are either Commercial or Military in nature and it looks like there will be 12 of each. Each player has an Admiral’s Helm which the player uses to boost his ships capabilities for the turn (seize initiative, speed, firepower, defence shields) and a profit and loss tracker. There are no fleet lists, players have to judge what to buy to fulfil the contract but will only win if they are in profit at the end of the game. Deployment is by jump point. These are placed by the player and ships enter and leave the table via these jump points. It allows for playing between two tables, which sounds great for multi player games as fleets can jump onto a different table! Gravitational effects are governed by Ship size and Planetoid size. We hope to get another game in at the second meeting in April.
Tony F reports on one of the two mega-games that the club put on at the August bank holiday weekend meeting.
Last weekend the club ran an extended meeting – nine hours of gaming, from 10am to 7pm. To take advantage of this there were two extra large games – a Napoleonic 15mm game set in the days just before Waterloo, and a nine-player Hammer’s Slammers clash. A report on the former will be with us soon, and here’s a brief-ish rundown of events in the latter game.
This game took place on a 15 foot long table covering a border zone between the territories of the Stewarts and the Hirosekis on the planet of Kalan (mentioned briefly in the essay Backdrop to Chaos in volume one of The Complete Hammer’s Slammers). Each of the nine players commanded a combat detachment, and each side also had an air defence detachment as a shared asset.
The Hirosekis fielded three detachments (one each of Heavy Mechanised, Planetary Warfare and Mechanised Infantry) stiffened by two Lightning Division detachments (Armoured and Infantry), with air defence provided by a Foster’s Mercenaries calliope detachment. The Stewarts’ first line of defence was provided by a detachment of Stewart Borderers – this is a unit I made up specifically for the game, comprising mostly infantry with some anti-tank guns and fixed defences. They’re very much unofficial, the detachment sheet has no points values, but feel free to use them in your own games if you wish. The defenders also had two Stewart Highland detachments and a supporting Harris Commando Armoured detachment, all in off-table barracks – these came on 1dAv turns after the first shot was fired. Air defence came from a troop of United Defence Calliopes (and boy, did they earn their fee…).
The clash would provide an interesting comparison between the Hirosekis, a Commissar force with average quality troops but commanded by officers with high leadership ratings, and the fanatic Stewart Highlanders who were rated as elite, but whose officers left much to be desired. In game terms this meant that the Hirosekis had lots of leadership points with which to order their troops around, but the troops in action couldn’t hit a barn door (from inside the barn…). On the other hand, the Stewarts were excellent quality troops but the poor leadership values of their officers meant surrendering the initiative and having very few leadership points – it took a long time to get the Highland Detachments into position once they entered the table.
The objective was a TV transitter aerial, which the Hirosekis needed in order to broadcast propaganda to the Scots. The Stewarts had been told that they needed to hold on as long as possible so that reinforcements who were currently on the way could reach the battlefield.
The battle raged for almost seven hours – the Hirosekis opened proceedings by advancing their heavy armour down their right flank with the Lightning Division’s heavy blowers charging down the main arterial road, accompanied by mortars and MLRS. The Borderers, a territorial unit, clung on desperately as the Japanese advanced with their anti-tank guns having little impact. Their morale rose when the first of the Highland detachments came on table, as the Hirosekis finally had someone else to shoot at !
As mentioned, it took a long time for the Highlanders to get into position because of a dire shortage of leadership points. Once their tanks and anti-tank guns managed to deploy they started to chip away at the Hiroseki and Lightning Division heavies which had begun to advance at speed (the Lightning Division blowers performing a rarely-seen Thunder Run manouevre down the main road). But the Stewarts only had four tanks between them, and once they started to be knocked out they were reliant on the towed anti-tank guns, which had to be deployed in the open to counter the Soheis. The two APC mounted heavy mortars were very handy, one of them knocking out three enemy tanks on its own.
The much-awaited reinforcements that the Scots were clinging on for finally appeared – but in the rear of the Hirosekis ! Colonel Clark, commander of Clark’s Commandos, had on his own initiative diverted his landing shuttle to an open plain behind the Hiroseki forces and sent a high-speed detachment straight into the Japanese soft underbelly. The force of light armoured cars tore into the mix of artillery, command and air defence vehicles, routing Foster’s unit almost immediately and destroying virtually all of the Hiroseki artillery. The Japanese recovered their poise quickly however, and Clark’s Commandos pretty much disappeared in hail of powerguns and lasers.
Refusing to be distracted by the clamour behind them, the remaining Hiroseki tanks made a desperate dash for the transmitter mast; one Sohei and a Shaman got there, only to be mauled by a fusilade from the remaining Stewart anti-tank guns. The Lightning Division blowers charged down the road and attempted to reach the mast that way. The leading tank was knocked out, but the following vehicle pushed it aside and the defenders had simply run out of ways to stop it.
After seven hours hard fighting, we gave the Hirosekis a minor victory for reaching the mast; more than half of their heavy tanks had gone, including that of their CO, Major Tredaiwa. The Lightning Division tanks had also taken a battering, while Foster’s Mercenaries had disappeared altogether. On the other side of the table, only one of the Stewart detachments was in any sort of shape; the other Highland detachment and the Borderers were one TU away from breaking, and the Harris Commando unit had lost most of their infantry.
We’d like to thank John Treadaway, Kevin Dallimore and Peter Merritt of the South London Warlords for coming down and helping us put the game on – John provided the Hirosekis, one of the Stewart detachments and Clark’s Commandos plus a fair chunk of the scenery. The rest of the forces and scenery were painted by me. All of the figures and vehicles are from Brigade Models apart from Clark’s Commandos, which are from Darkest Star.
Tony F shows off some of the new models he’s putting together for next weekend’s extended meeting
If you’ve missed the previous updates, we’ve extended the hours for our August bank holiday weekend meeting, with the club open until 7pm. To take advantage of this, two members are putting on extra-large games catering for lots of players.
My offering is a 15mm science-fiction game set in the Hammer’s Slammers universe of US author David Drake. With around 10-12 players expected to take part we’ll need lots of forces to go round, so I’ve been working away on some new mercenary detachments. The first to be finished is this unit of Foster’s Mercenaries, a specialist air-defence and artillery outfit. They are equipped with huge multi-wheeled Centurion transport vehicles – some are command or transport vehicles, the others armed with howitzers or rapid-firing calliopes. The detachment also has an organic infantry element for local defence.
The vehicles and infantry are all from Brigade Models and you can read a bit more about them on the BM blog, including details on construction and painting. Even better, this is another task knocked off my To-do list for the year 🙂
Here’s some sci fi scatter terrain I put together for a recent game. A lot of the parts came from the bits box or shops like Poundland – so it can be very cheap to put together terrain pieces.
As we all know, extraplanetary deserts are well known for having jettisoned escape pods buried in them. And this one’s no different. The escape pod is a Revell 1/144 Apollo Command Module kit. It was mounted on an old CD and then filler was slapped on.
And if alien deserts are known for their escape pods they are just as well known for their enigmatic dinosaur skeletons.
I bought this about a year or so ago in The Works. They had several different dinosaur skeletons, in clear plastic tubes, for about £2 each. So I bought one of each, just in case. This was actually more hassle to put together than it looks like it should be. The trick is filling the rib cage. I used expanded polystyrene bits where the ribs would be (which would also keep the weight down) and then slathered it in filler before pushing the skeleton into it.
The next piece is a generic bit of industrial waste. The wheels and the cement mixer tumbler were from Poundland kids toys. The grey container thing is actually an empty stapler cartridge from an office printer/photocopier.
This bunker/shack/whatever is another bit from a Poundland toy. It’s actually the scoop from a toy tipper truck turned upside down and then bits of plasticard and other odds and ends stuck on.
The fun at Poundland doesn’t stop! I can’t take credit for this one – I stole the idea from someone else on a forum somewhere. It’s a pair of toy guns, the handles cut off and covered with plasticard. The end of the barrel is also cut off and used to make some kind of exhaust vent. Then given a slap of paint.
Yup, finally, more Poundland! A toy truck, tyres removed, and given a new paint-job and rusted up as a derelict.
As previously mentioned, we’ve arranged for a longer than usual meeting on the bank holiday weekend, and two members are taking the opportunity to put on extra large games. The first of these is Dave Bates’ Napoleonic game from the Waterloo campaign.
Far removed from the mud and blood of Belgium, Tony Francis is hosting a large game based on Hammer’s Slammers, taken from American author David Drake’s series of stories. We should be joined by John Treadaway, co-author of the Hammer’s Slammers:The Crucible rules, so there will be no excuse for getting the rules wrong ! This game will also be staged in 15mm on a 12′ (possibly bigger, if we can find enough scenery to fill it) table. The game is set on the mining planet of Kalan, with conflict breaking out between the Japanese of Hiroseke and the Scots of Stewart – each side supported and supplemented by as many mercenaries as they can afford.
In his third painting update, Andy goes undercover
I’ve had this figure knocking around the paint box for years, so decided it was time to paint him up. If memory serves he was a Eureka Miniatures figure sold by Ground Zero Games in the UK, but I don’t think they are still available.
He (she?) is wearing a Ghillie Suit, but that won’t help much given the somewhat upright pose, I’d have though being prone would be safer.
The figure was undercoated black and painted with a variety of brown and green patches, with a final drybrush to pick out the foliage strands of the Ghillie suit using the same shade of green as used for the base.
Time to share a random selection of pictures from the last couple of club meetings – April 28th by Andy King, May 12th by Tony Francis and Stephen Tucker. Highlights include Pete’s ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’ Vietnam game, two naval games (Napoleonic and 50’s modern), Celtos Fantasy and a Star Wars fleet battle.
The rescue team put down at the Rebel outpost for much needed repairs following the rescue of the Imperial defector, Danor Jax. Whilst their ships were being seen to they downloaded and decoded Danor’s data. He immediately pointed his rescuers to some critical and time sensitive information. It concerned a secret meeting later that day, being attended by the Emperor himself. The co-ordinates and time of the meeting were accompanied by the intended flight plan of the Emperor’s personal shuttle and details of his small escort.
With only a small window available Wedge Antilles gathered the team together to discuss an audacious plan – to intercept and destroy the Emperor’s shuttle. Cut off the head and the body dies. Unfortunately, Roark Garnet’s HWK-290 had been too badly damaged and could not be made serviceable in time but both Wedge and Biggs Darklighter’s X-Wings and the Y-Wing could. The team knew the risks, their ships would not be fully repaired and the Emperor would be guarded by two of this elite Royal Guard pilots flying upgraded TIE Interceptors but this was an opportunity too good to miss. Wedge sent out a last minute message and the three ships made the jump to light speed.
Arriving at the co-ordinates the Rebels spotted the shuttle and its escort flying past an asteroid field. Biggs peered at his sensors, the readings didn’t make sense, their was something else registering moving through the asteroids – but he couldn’t get a lock on it.
The TIE Phantom moved out from its position with its cloaking device in operation and sped towards the approaching rebel ships. The Rebels opened fire but without a sensor lock the TIE was just too hard to hit! The Phantom decloaked, fired and recloaked. Biggs’ shields evaporated and his X-Wing shuddered under the barrage. The TIE flew past, perfectly executed a Koiogran turn and moved onto Bigg’s tail. He couldn’t shake it. The TIE decloaked, fired and recloaked again. Biggs’ was hit bad, another barrage would finish him. He told his astromech to programme the nav computer and span up the hyperdrive.
Meanwhile the Royal Guard pilots had moved ahead of the Imperial shuttle to intercept the rebels. Wedge engaged the first but the earlier damage had made his ship sluggish and he caught a burst from the TIE Interceptor which took down his shields. The two craft began a series of tight manoeuvres but the TIE was simply more agile than the damaged X-Wing and unleashed another burst which forced Wedge to withdraw.
The Y-Wing had managed to slip past the second Royal Guard TIE and engaged the shuttle. But the TIE swung around and the Y-Wing too came under heavy fire.
But just then, another X-Wing dropped out of hyperspace. Luke Skywalker had received Wedge’s message and come to help his old friend. His arrival couldn’t have been better timed, with the two Royal Guard TIEs already engaged the shuttle was on its own. Luke swung into action fired burst after burst at the larger ship as they flew towards one another. He slipped past the shuttle and brought his X-Wing around to move onto its tail and just as the Royal Guard TIEs started to engage him, he fired again into the rear of the shuttle. The resulting explosion was enormous.
With a huge cheer the Rebel ships made the jump to light speed.
Back at the output the rebel pilots were celebrating when the devastating news came in. The Emperor was still alive – the shuttle had only been one of his decoys! “It was a set up”, said Wedge, “that would explain the TIE Phantom which was already hidden in the asteroid field”.
“At least were all here to tell the tale”, said Luke.
Danor Jax had only ever wanted a quiet life. He had reluctantly joined the Imperial Information Office largely because it was steady work and they let him do what he loved, working with data streams. His had been a quiet life monitoring the equipment at the communications relay station and operating the cryptographic decoders when the need arose. That all ended when Darth Vader made a surprise visit to the station. Watching his senior officer being choked and then thrown into a bulkhead using the force should have made Danor cower out of fear. But that day something in Danor snapped, the Empire and all it stood for came into sharp focus and he knew he had to do something about it. As soon as the dark lord had departed Danor downloaded and decoded as much Imperial data from the streams as his AJ^6 headgear would accept and ran away to find the rebels.
The trip to Tatooine had been long and arduous but when Danor finally made contact with a Rebel agent he was elated. The agent had slipped away to arrange for Danor to be picked up and his data downloaded. Danor sat quietly in a cantina in Mos Eisley trying to avoid being noticed when a rough looking Rodian approached him. It turned out that his absence had been noted and with his access to sensitive data streams the Empire had started a manhunt. The Rodian promptly marched Danor at blaster point out of the cantina and along to his ship.
Having made contact, indicated the enormous value of Danor’s information and arranged for him to be collected, the Rebel agent was returning to the cantina and spotted the Rodian and Danor leaving. With too many Sandtroopers around to allow him to intervene, the agent contacted the approaching Rebel ships and told them the situation as the Rodian’s ship blasted off.
Wedge Antilles easily spotted the bounty hunter’s Firespray-31 on his X-Wing’s scopes but he also saw the orbiting Gozanti-class cruiser and its four TIE fighters. Forming up with his accompanying Y-Wing Wedge sent Biggs Darklighter and his X-Wing with Roark Garnet’s HWK-290 on a different course, avoiding the Gozanti but coming around to cut off the other routes of escape.
When Gozanti’s captain was informed of the appearance of the X-Wings he ordered it out of orbit on a course to intercept the bounty hunter and for the TIE pilots to scramble their ships.
Wedge and his wingman swung around to intercept the TIE fighters whilst Biggs and Roark moved to intercept the bounty hunter.
The Rodian spotted the HWK-290 and X-Wing approaching and veered to the right. Meanwhile two TIE fighters had detached from the cruiser and were speeding toward the rear of Biggs and Roark. Fortunately Roark had equipped the HWK-290 with an ion cannon turret which was a surprise to the pilot of one of the TIEs when all his systems shutdown and he began to drift.
The remaining two TIE fighters had also detached and made straight for Wedge and the Y-Wing with the laser turrets on the Gozanti also blasting away at them for good measure.
So two dogfights ensued with TIE fighters trying to outmanoeuvre the rebel craft. Unfortunately the less agile HWK-290 came under some heavy fire and with his shields down and having taken some heavy damage Roark had to withdraw. The loss of the ion cannon was a serious blow to the rebels but with a barrage of fire they dispatched two of the TIE fighters and gained the upper hand.
Unfortunately, the wily bounty hunter had slipped through both dogfights and with the rebel ships too busy to intervene, managed to dock with the Gozanti to transfer his rebel captive.
With this dire turn of events, there was only one option for the rebels, to attack the cruiser itself!
The three rebel ships made multiple runs as the cruiser and despite the heavy laser fire from its turrets managed to land several good hits.
With the prisoner transfer complete and sensing the increasing panic of the Imperials the bounty hunter cut his negotiations short, rushed back to his ship and released the docking clamps.
The remaining TIE fighters were desperately trying to protect their mothership but Biggs downed one of them and the other was damaged by Wedge. With Gozanti’s shields down, the Y-Wing making another run at the aft section with its proton torpedoes and did some serious damage.
Whilst the rebel ships focussed on the cruiser the Rodian made the jump to light speed and his next assignment.
His ship rapidly coming apart at the seams the cruiser’s Captain offered to trade his prisoner for safe passage and the rebels accepted.
Danor was saved and the battered X-Wings and Y-Wing jumped away to safety.