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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Season of the Ring!

Being relocated for a few months I don't really have access to all my games and miniatures so I've been pondering what to write about here on Fire Broadside. The answer came to me when I played my first game of The Battle of Five Armies and recalled that I have some catching up to do!

I have reviewed the core book (first edition) and the Loremaster's Screen but since then there have been a number of really cool books released for The One Ring roleplaying game from Cubicle 7. They've also released a small storytelling board game and, as I mentioned above, I've got my grubby paws on Ares Games' spectacular looking The Battle of Five Armies board game. All of this combined in my head into what I've chosen to call the Season of the Ring! 

During the winter and spring months I will post reviews of all the Cubicle 7 books released so far (excluding the new core book that I have yet to acquire), as well as a few Lord of the Rings board games that I enjoy.

Wanting to start with a bang I've decided that the first review to hit the site will be the one for The Battle of Five Armies as it is such a visual spectacle to behold! Next up will be the Rivendell source book for The One Ring that is being released right now. After that I will probably do the reviews in order of release, starting with Tales from Wilderland, interspersed with some board gaming now and then.

So there you have it - an introduction to the Season of the Ring!


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Thursday, 11 December 2014

October and November Releases for Infinity!


Hello there dear Mayanauts! Now that things have calmed down a bit and we're set for the next few months here in Japan I thought I'd get back up to speed. First off I wanted to catch up on my Infinity reporting. There has been all kinds of neat stuff being revealed about N3, but I simply don't have time to cover it all so refer you instead to the likes of Datasphere, Mayacast and Beasts of War for that. Instead I'll try to keep up with the new releases.

I missed October, but since there are only two November releases I thought I might just as well do a post with both months releases! Let's start with November...

Kasym Beg, super bad-ass Kum Chieftan really looks the part and would fit right in in an early Robert Rodriguez movie. Following up on the revamped Kum bikers from a couple of months ago we now have their most renowned chieftan. Like I said then the model is absoulutely spectacular, but I can't but help miss the old monobikes. Still, this guy would be high on my list if I played Haqqislam! We don't have stats for him yet, but if he's anything like his predecessor Izzat Beg (who he killed!) he'll be a nice bag of tricks to add to your force.

Alright, now here's the really big drop of November; a totally revamped Combined Army Starter box! This might get a little lengthy. We got to see some sneak peeks earlier in the year and now here we are. The Exrah have gone the way of the Squats and their successors are something completely new. Unidron Batroids are the new (remote) line troops and are fairly similar to the Ikadron that I really like. These are a bit thinner (no Baggage) and comes with the awesome sounding Plasma Carbine! While not as devastating as a proper Plasma Rifle I'm glad to see more plasma for the Combined Army as that is a kind of signature of theirs. Then we have two Sygmaa who, who are Tohaa who are collaborating with the EI. The Fracta is some kind of drop troop sporting the neat "wings" first introduced with the sepsitorized Ko Dali (*sob*). The Maakrep Trackers Unit carries a spectacular looking HMG (first in a vanilla starter? I think so) and the name suggests to me that it will have some kind of visor for camo hunting. Both great looking models that still have something a little Tohaa-esque to them but with conventional armour and some cool looking helmets. Finally there's the Umbra Legate that is, apparently, a martial arts trooper that is second in command in the armies of the EI. Second under the Charontids I assume. This guy looks almost stereotypically evil and would fit in perfectly in a Star Wars movie if you just changed his sword into a lightsabre. Again a very nice looking mini that has grown on me a lot since I first saw it.

Now, while this box is a humongous improvement over the original I'm still a little sad to see the more inhuman aspects of the Combined Army disappear. While many of the old Exrah sculpts had a clear man in a rubber suit-feel to them I certainly think they could have been re-imagined and resculpted to great effect. Sure, there will always be the great Tyranid spectre looming over any non-humanoid alien miniatures, but I'm sure CB could have made something unique with the Exrah. Instead we now have simply another army of almost-humans that don't differ all that much from the forces of the Human Sphere. Don't get me wrong, the actual models in the new starter are pewter perfection, but I still think this was a lost opportunity. Still, CB usually know what they're doing and I can feel those Unidrons beckoning me...

Now, on to October!



Yay, new Dog-Warriors for Ariadna! We have seen renders of these and the finished models don't disappoint! Like the Antipode pack the new dog-warriors have totally updated the look and even fairly recent releases like the Cameronian and McMurrough pales in comparison. While I like the slightly more alien looking Antipodes better these are still damn cool models, There's some really neat detailing, like that face scars matching the dog-warrior and dogface, and good weapon scaling making the chainguns look like pistols in the hands of the dog-warriors. At 28 points for a 6-4 superjumping monster with three wounds I think they're a steal! Of course, things might change any day now with N3. :)

Next up we have a Haqqislam Janissaries with HMG. Now here's a model that has been updated to the new 3D-printing age that didn't really need it. In fact, I would even say that the older models actually look better than this new iteration. The design is as great as ever, but I don't like how thin it has become - the guy inside must be built like a stick figure! Then again, even though it doesn't look as good as the old ones it's still a very cool model and the new Haqq HMG is quickly becoming my favourite of the entire range. In game he's a fairly standard HI with the bonus of being religious.

Time for another re-pack! This time has come to the Japanese with the JSA Support Pack. Still there is something new here as CB has blessed us with two distinct miniatures for the Tokusetsu Kohei and Tokusetsu Eisei. Yay! The old models look like always and the new Eisei is a great match for her engineer colleague. She seems to be sporting the autoinjector gun that has been rumoured to make an appearance in N3 and a neat looking nurse's hat. Nice flowing hair brings a little bit of dynamism to an otherwise fairly static model and overall she looks great! And of
course CB will be selling her separately for a while so that people who own the rest of the models in the pack can get her. Here's a separate picture of the Eisei as well.










Next up is another Tohaa Kotail, this time with a Spitfire. Like the first one this sports a short jacket with a hood over the symbiotic armour and has a nice pose that suggests movement without overdoing it. Very cool! The Tohaa Spitfire also has a great design which doesn't hurt. I mentioned last time how scary these guys seem so I won't repeat myself. Just... keep a close eye on them!





Finally we have something different in the Warcor. Up until now it has always been GoGo Marlene on site, reporting from the combat zone, but now finally we have something that look more suitable to the task. Doing running miniatures like this is always a gamble but here I think CB pulls it off reasonably well, especially looking at the middle picture. It certainly looks like a guy who is trying to keep up with some elite soldiers while at the same time trying to avoid a hot firey death! He has some great detailing like the shoulder bag, flak vest and helmet. The little drone is pretty cool as well and something I'd be happy to add to my table even though it has no in-game function. Warcors can of course be used in Campaign Paradiso to help advance your army/SpecOps.


Aaaand, that's it for another couple of weeks! Of all these releases the Combined Army starter is my clear favourite, followed by Kasym and the Warcor. I'm really excited for December though as we'll get to see the new Hac Tao! Not to mention the release of N3 of course.

In other news my friend Claes has just decided to get into Infinity and got himself a solid Haqqislam starting force. This is great news for me as I haven't had any Infinity players in my personal gaming group and I think it will help me get to actually play a lot more! :D
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Monday, 1 December 2014

WANDERERS


Still alive, still alive! Just busy with the proto-gamer and preparations for a four month stay in Japan. I have a bunch of material that will be hitting the site in the coming months, as well as the regular Infinity news. However, today I simply wanted to share this amazing short by Erik Wernquist.

Similarly to the series of Sagan Series of shorts Erik has used Carl Sagan's voice as he's reading from Pale Blue Dot (if you haven't already get it and read it NOW), but instead of simply piecing together existing vidoes he has gone a step further and created his own vision of what our future as a true space faring race might look like. Apparently inspired by Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 and other hard sci-fi works of fiction, it's incredibly well done and resonates with me on a deep level as this is exactly the kind of stuff I see in my head when imagining our future.

So turn down the lights, crank up the volume and play this baby in fullscreen! Then head over to Erik's site for some beautiful stills with commentary.

Oh, and of course it's extra neat that it's made in Sweden. ;)

Alright fellow space farers! I'll be back again as soon as I've acclimatized in Japan (probably by the end of the week or so).


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Friday, 24 October 2014

Preview of Adventures in Hyboria for Age of Conan!


Those who have followed Fire Broadside for some time might remember my review of Age of Conan a few years back (and new followers might as well, as it's a very popular article!). It is a game I quickly grew fond of but that never really seemed to take off in terms of general popularity in the gaming community. I speculated that it might have had to do with an unfortunate release date among other things, but it seems the main contributor was probably that Nexus went under and Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello, the original designers of the game, kind of lost touch with it. There were rumours of an expansion that was designed and pretty much ready for production but since FFG didn't seem all that interested in it (Age of Conan often turned up in their sales) we all wondered if we would ever see it!

Now, on the game's five year anniversary (wooo!), Ares Games came with the very happy news of having bought the rights and the remaining stock of Age of Conan and would soon launch a small kickstarter for the expansion; Adventures in Hyboria. Of course, Ares is kind of Nexus resurrected and all of the original designers are involved. Happy days!

So let's get to the preview! Andrea from Ares contacted me after having read my original review and asked if I wanted to have a look at the beta files for the expansion and make a preview here on Fire Broadside. Thinking highly of the original and being curious about how Ares have intended to adjust the only thing that I found a little lacking in the game I naturally said yes. So what was lacking? Well, even though Age of Conan is very much a wargame taking place in the world of Conan and the legend himself is not the central focus, I still felt that his role could have been fleshed out a bit more. From a gameplay perspective it wasn't really needed, but with all the rich stories about the man I couldn't help but feel that his adventures could have been more thematic than they were.

Luckily for us Ares listened...

The main aim of Adventures in Hyboria is to expand the way Conan works from a thematic standpoint, however there are a couple of other additions that I would like to talk about first. Spies, Prisoners and Companions. So let's take a look at them all in order.

Spies

Each faction now get five spies to add to their arsenal of tricks. You get three at the start of the game and then one more at every Age Change phase. You place your spies at the beginning of your game and then again at each Age Change phase. You can't place them in friendly provinces, nor in a province where a Spy is already present. Once there they can provide the owner with an additional Contest Die if flipped from its ready side. So they're not overly strong, but I think they might help mitigating unlucky rolls, especially in the critical early game when one extra die can be the different between conquering a province or having your army decimated and lag behind the other players (like myself in our last game when I foolishly tried to pacify the Pictish Wilderness on my first turn!).

Each faction also receives five new Kingdom Cards that play off these Spies in different ways. For example, Stygian Spies can provide them with extra Strategy Cards while Hyperborea can use theirs for an extra Military Action. Although I don't think spies were needed specifically I do like what they bring to the game and I think they might help speed up things for those groups who want to get to grips with the each other earlier in the game. They are also Conan fodder as the barbarian is not overly fond of their deceitful ways. If Conan enters a province with a Spy the Conan player can try and kill it by rolling a number of Contest die equal to his current Mood (see below) and if a hit is rolled the Spy is removed and Conan gain experience.

Prisoners

While we already have the (awesomely named!) "Crom, coun the dead!" tokens in the base game
Adventures in Hyboria introduces the concept of prisoners of war. There are five Prisoner tokens for each faction and every time you eliminate an enemy Army, Emissary or Control token you get to take a Prisoner tokens corresponding to that faction. Prisoner tokens are then worth points at the end of the game, like Crom, count the dead!, but you can also use them during the Age Change phase to trade tokens with other players and if you manage to get some of your own colour they can be exchanged for Emissarys or Army units on a one for one basis.

Another addition that I think again will help speed up gameplay by giving players some extra "free" units. Not needed exactly, but nice nonetheless. Oh, and there are also a few new objective cards that involves Spies and Prisoners so they are fully integrated in the core mechanics of the game!

Companions

Now we start to get to the really juicy thematic additions to the game! With the expansion you add three extra Companion Adventure tokens to the pool and if you draw one you can immeditately trade it for a Gold or Sorcery token (yeah, right!) or you can discard it to draw from the deck of Conan Companions! There are nine in all (so it will take you a few games  before you've had them all in play) and they work like your other Play-on-the-table cards in that they give you some kind of perk that breaks the normal rules of the game. For example, Bélit can be used to place two Raider tokens in two coastal provinces and Balthus allows you to draw a new Adventure card for Conan. When used the Companion card is flipped but still provide a bonus of women, treasure or monsters at the end of the game.

I really like this addition as it brings more of Howard's tales into the game. Their game effects aren't super dramatic but they certainly can be useful and it's simply cool having all these familiar names around! Good stuff!


Now, let's take a peek at the meat and potatoes of Adventures in Hyboria:

The new Conan quest mechanic!

First off, Conan now has his own reference board where you track his experience and his moods. Experience is gained, not by reaching the destination of an Adventure card but by killing Spies and completing quests from the new Story cards I'll talk about below. Conan starts out as a Warrior, but by gaining experience grows to become a Mercenary and finally a General. Experience also has an impact on the value of women/treasure/monster tokens at the end of the game. It is no longer a flat +5/+2 but varies from +2/+0 to +6/+3. In addition to this, for anybody to crown Conan he also has to be at least half way on the experience track.

Each phase of Conans life (Warrior, Mercenary, General) provides a set of stats, Mood Wheel and a special die. The stats are Strength, Agility and Cunning and the Mood Wheel has numbers ranging from 0 to +3 and they are used when trying to complete a Story card. Each Conan die is unique and although most of the faces are beneficial, like additional hits, you can also roll Sorcery Banned (no use of Sorcery tokens for re-rolls) and Gold, which only only turns into a hit if you pay Conan one Gold. The respective Conan die now has to be rolled in all contests involving Conan which makes him potentially more powerful, but also slightly more dangerous to use.

Conan the Warrior?
Now, about the quests. As I mentioned mentioned above the slightly non-thematic, or at least bare bones, rules for Conan's questing in the base game has been overhauled. Even though Conan still plays largely the same role as before in the greater scheme of the game (marauding the lands causing havoc!) the actual quests and the character of Conan has been expanded quite a bit.

For starters there's a completely new Adventure deck. Mechanically it works the same as in the base game but thematically the deck is now more about Conan's general direction rather than a specific quest. Instead the quest part of the puzzle comes in the form of the new Story deck where each card represent an actual RE Howard story. So while the Adventure deck is drawn as normal the story cards are held in hand (one for each player) and can then be played by any non-Conan player after Conan has moved. Each card has the title of a Howard tale, some theme text and then the stat that Conan need to test to succeed and during which circumstance it can be played. Finally there's also a note of what Adventure token can be revealed (for the rest of the game) to allow you to re-roll a number of dice up to the value of the token.

Any non-Conan player can play a Story card after Conan has moved if he's then in province or area
specified by the card. When this happens Conan immediately receive the Experience points from the card (1-3) and get to try and complete the quest - if the Story card says Strenght then that is what Conan must use to do it. You roll a number of Contest dice equal to Conan's stat in question plus his current mood! You are allowed to advance the Mood wheel before rolling by paying one Gold per step, so basically pay Conan well and give him lots to drink and he'll be in a better mood and fight with more enthusiasm! You also roll the correct Conan die.

Three or more hits are considered a success and the rolling player get to take two Adventure tokens, keep one and exchange the other for Gold or Sorcery, as desired. A successful play of a Story card also triggers a round of bidding for Conan, which works as usual.

So to summarise with an example:
Anders is playing Turan and has control of Conan. At the start of his turn he moves him one step into Koth on his way to Stygia, as indicated on the Adventure card. Now Claes, who plays Hyperboria, gives a sly grin and plays the Story card "Queen of the Black Coast" that says "Play if Conan is inside or adjacent to Western Shem". "Conan joins Bélit, Queen of the Black Coast" he reads dramatically as he takes a look at the Conan reference sheet, and moves the Experience marker three steps. According to the Story card Claes has to roll using Conan's Cunning and since is still early years Conan has yet to leave his wild Warrior phase and his Cunning is a measly 1! He still has a lot to learn before he has the mind of a ruler of men. 
Fortunately the Mood wheel can help here and Claes pays one Gold to move it from +1 to +2 and ends up with a pool of three Contest dice and the Conan Warrior die. Rolling the dice Claes ends up with two hits from the Contest dice and the Gold face from the Conan die(!). Having spent his last Gold to advance the Mood wheel he mutters something nasty under his breath and he flips over one of his Women tokens, as mandated by the Story card, to re-roll two of his dice. This time Crom is with him and he scores the hits needed to succeed. "Take that, knave!" he exclaims triumphantly and reaches for the bag of Adventure tokens to claim his prize...

And that is Adventures in Hyboria in a nutshell! Except for the additional goodies that the Kickstarter is bringing in, some of which are exclusive and some of which will be in the retail box.

Initial Impressions

So what's my take on the whole thing? Well, with the Proto-Gamer demanding a lot of attention (she keeps reminding me that diapers don't change themselves!) I haven't had the time to actually print a mock-up and play a game, which I'm really looking forward to do when getting the chance! Still, I think I have a good enough grasp of the base game to have an inkling of how this expansion might impact the play experience, so here we go.

The base game is very tight and well balanced so I wasn't surprised to see that there aren't really any changes to the core mechanics, as none were needed. The addition of Spies, Prisoners and Companions are cool and flavourful and I think especially Spies will have an impact on how the game is played. Prisoners and their accompanying Objective cards are simply a cool little addition and then we get the Companions that start bringing in the theme big time!

The new Conan mechanics makes him a little bit into a collective rpg character that all(?) players like to see gain experience and go on fantastic adventures and strange journeys. I think going from a simple travel destination to a fully fledged experience system is very well done and while it really brings forth Conan as a living character I don't think it should impact play time negatively in any major way. It's integrated well enough to have you pretty much "roll on the fly".

The only thing I found a bit surprising was that you still bid on Conan using the little tokens from the base game! I would have loved to see the bidding mechanic integrated with the questing in some way, but at the same time I realize that it is very delicately balanced as it is and having a perfect marriage of theme and mechanics might be hard when it comes to this bit. Still, it was my pet peeve from the base game... what does those tokens represent in game? Perhaps I should ask Roberto. :)

All in all, I'm very happy that Age of Conan has been resurrected and with an expansion only a few months away! If you are happy with the mechanics of the core game and don't care all that much about the Conan theme (does these people exist?!) you could probably skip this expansion and wait for the big one, introducing a second map and two new factions. But if you care anything for the theme and want to see Conan's role in the game expanded, then there's simply no question of what to do - get over to the kickstarter page and kick it! And if you don't have the base game but think this sounds awesome (which it is!) there's a pledge level for you as well.

Oh, and although I've used a bunch of pics from Milnius Conan movie it's really not a good representation of the character. It's an excellent fantasy movie that seem to take place in during the Hyborian age, but it is not... Conan. Read the books for a much more interesting and nuanced character.

Now, I really need to get back to my Age of Conan painting project!


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Friday, 10 October 2014

September Releases for Infinity!



Alright, Operation: Icestorm is out and we're not back to the regular release schedule. It looks like there was some kind of slip up at CB HQ last month though as both Yojimbo and the Kotail Mobile Unit were either pushed back to September or never meant to be released in August in the first place. Whatever the case I'll simply copy and paste what I wrote about them then, for completeness.

If you wonder why I haven't really covered all the cool Infinity news coming out of different seminars and cons it's simply because of the new father duties. :)

Anyway, what do we have...


The Morats certainly are on a roll these days and the latest addition to their ranks is the imposing Karnak Gazarot. This guy is a Superior Warrior-Officer and certainly look the part with the commanding pose. I really like the Mk12 he's carrying and the albino face looks better than the red in my opinion. It's a solid looking mini but doesn't really do anything special for me. He's quite nice in game though with Strategos L1, NWI and a light flamethrower to go with the Mk12. Oh and he's linkable as well. Hehe!


Here comes the obligatory follow up to what you get in O:I - a box of PanO special weapon Fusiliers. The new ones are such a great step up from the old models that it's not even funny so it's good to have CB follow up with this set as quickly as they did. These are simply great and although I try to pick out a favourite I have a really hard time as they all look good! From a different angle the two women might look a bit too similar in their pose (maybe) but even so I think they've done a great job of diversifying two bodies into four models. Better than the Ghulam infantry we got a couple of months ago for sure. The only slightly odd thing might be the HMG that looks really small, similar to the new Yu Jing HMG. While I don't have a problem with it from a realism standpoint or anything (they really should be called light machine guns anyway), it does make it a little harder to pick them out on the table. Still... that's really nitpicking. Love this box! Missile launcher redesign looks awesome! Really can't wait for a similar update to my Zhanshi. :D


Here's a new troop type for ALEPH - the Dactyls! We saw some concept art for this back in April and the sculpt does not disappoint. You can immediately see that she's part of the Steel Phalanx and she fits the bill of lightly armoured support very well. Great pose and a face with lots of character. Someone on the forums mentioned that it's good to have a female figure with some abs, and I couldn't agree more - she looks like she means business! She also has quite an impressive stat line as the Steel Phalanx engineer or doctor she comes equipped with combirifle, either ADHL or Flammenspear plus two breaker pistols and D-charges. All for a measly 23~24 points. Yes please! Will have to procure when I get my Steel Phalanx painting going.

And now for the previously "spoiled" releases.

First up is Yojimbo! Look at him! Just look!! It's Toshirō Mifune on a motorbike!! This is a model I've been looking forward to for a long time. We already have Miyamoto Musashi (that's an homage to another great Japanese folk hero who have also been played by Mifune on film) but Yojimbo on a bike is even cooler. The mounted model and the bike itself looks great. Love the pose and the gear stowed on the back. The standing pose,
which is a bonus in a way as it wasn't going to be included originally, is not quite as impressive as there's something that looks a little off to me. However, this is nitpicking and overall this is just a great looking box that I'm going to have to get my hands on! Also, you can never go wrong with Krazy Koalas.



Then we have the Tohaa Kotail who looks really cool, but simply can't measure up to Yojimbo. Tough luck, pal! This is a new symbiont armoured, twin combirifle wielding, 6-4 moving, holo-projectoring and superjumping troop type for N3. Sounds reeeeeally scary if you ask me! The model also looks badass enough to live up to that nasty sounding profile, I have to say. The mask is pretty sweet looking and the gunzerker style pose fits very well. Nice addition to the Tohaa lineup.




That's not all though as this month also sees the release of the cardstock terrain from Operation: Icestorm - the Moto.Tronica Scenery pack. I've talked about this scenery before but basically, I think it looks great. Very well designed, solid blocking terrain that is easy to put together and dirt cheap to boot (10.25€ RRP!). Get two of these sets and you can go from no terrain to a full Infinity table in 30 minutes. I will likely get a couple just to have on hand for quick games, even though I have some mdf and plastic terrain lying around.




And that's it for this month! Of course, Yojimbo is still my favourite but since he got last month I'm going with the Fusiliers. Hehe!

Oh, and I'm sure you are aware that you can pre-order the new Infinity 3rd edition rulebook on Monday October 13th! If you pre-order before November 13th you'll get the special edition heavy Authorized Bounty Hunter. The book has also been split in two with one book for rules and one for background and setting. They're both softback which is a bit of a shame, but at least come in a nice slip cover. I still haven't invested in Operation: Icestorm and am going back and forth debating wheather I really want to start Nomads (yes) or PanO (not really), but the new rulebook is, of course, a must have!


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Sunday, 28 September 2014

15mm Mars Rebellion Update



Alright, it's been about six months since I posted anything 15mm related so let's check in with the my Mars Rebellion setting to see what's going on.

I'm having a bit of a revival thanks to two things. First is the excellent new NSL power armour troopers from GZG. While I like the design NAC power armour that came out last year, they are a bit too slim for my taste and when I saw the new NSL sculpts I knew those were exactly what the doctor ordered! Big and quite chunky (like the regular NSL troops) and with the head integrated with the torso, a design I think just feels much more realistic when you basically want a walking tank. They come with a nice variety of weapons and I think I might group mine in squads of four with one leader, one rifle, one missile launcher and either one plasma or heavy SAW. Should make for a powerful and adaptable unit! The way I envisage them you might have one or maybe two of these squads against a platoon or more of regular infantry! I want to play up the Starship Trooper angle. :)

EarthSec troops escorting some geologists during an MLA raid.

The other reason for the revival was that I got wind of Nordic Weasel Games' new ruleset No End in Sight (again, thanks Dropship Horizon!). While it is written to cover WW2 to "ultra modern" battles, which means it's missing the proper sci-fi elements like powered armour, the basic system seemed interesting enough to me to get it anyway.

It's aimed at the platoon level or lower, it's D6 based and detailed without being overbearing. There's reaction fire and pinning, with focus on disabling your opponent in some way rather than killing him. Point blank firefights (Assaults) are more deadly, and can be needed to really shift enemies from a position. Leadership is very important and as you play you keep using your leaders to give orders, allowing him to roll a die and give orders to that many troops. Giving orders accumulate Stress and sooner or later your leader will become exhausted and unusable until the next turn. It's a fairly fluid integrated turn system that I really find interesting. I'll write more about the game when I actually try it out later. Oh, and please check out the Dropship Horizon link for a better overview.

There will be a sci-fi version (possibly called No Stars in Sight) of the rules released at a later date which should include all the neat stuff that I want in my games, including some kind of EW/hacking which is pretty cool! When I talked a little bit to Ivan on G+ he mentioned that he was hoping to have it out within two or three months, but that is of course only a rough estimate.

Now as I've collected a number of different forces I've started re-evaluating how these fit into my little Mars Rebellion narrative. I recently painted the NSL similar to the EDF troops from Red Faction, but the UNSC I've painted already fill the role of strong armed Earth army so what should I do with the NSL? Well, I think I might model the whole situation a bit on how it's presented in Jovian Chronicles, where Mars is actually split in two. On one side (larger by area) we have the original Earth colonies where EarthSec (GZG UNSC), which is a proper military force protecting the interests of Earth and her colonies, keep things under control. On the other side would be the the Martian Union that would consist of a number of free settlers and private interests and would be protected by the UDF - the Union Defence Force (GZG NSL). I imagine these two main powers would be roughly equally matched in terms of technology and although Earth has in theory a lot more resources to pull from the Union has better contacts with the Nomads in the belt and a better understanding of Mars as an environment.

Then there are third party interests like the Mars insurgents, the MLA - Mars Liberation Army (Rebel Minis Sahadeen), that is classed as a terrorist organization by Earth but enjoys a more neutral status among the citizens of the Martian Union. While there's nothing official it is more or less understood that the MLA are supported by the Martian Union, bringing them weapons and supplies. Then there are the crusties... these don't really fit in all that neatly as I had planned for a completely human centric story. But! The models are so cool and brings in so many opportunities so I'll simply have to throw them in there in a kind of "alternate universe" version of the setting. I really like the District 9 way of presenting them so will simply rip that off entirely and have them as refugees that no one really knows what to do with. The fun thing about them is that they make for great jokers that can fill mostly any role, be it low level slum revolutionaries or a small core of well armed and equipped raiders!

So with the factions sorted let's have a look at the models...

Incomplete EarthSec platoon. Missing a bunch of regular infantry.
My EarthSec platoon is pretty much done. I need to paint some more basic infantry and I'm sure I'll add fun stuff for it in the future as well. But I have two tanks, three APCs, power armoured infantry, a couple of mechs and specialist infantry all done. What I really want to add though is a hover jeep or two as they could do with some light vehicles. And there are of course a bunch of new-ish hovertank variants from Jon that I'm not sure I can resist for all that long. :)


My first test squad of UDF infantry. More to come.
I've really only started painting the UDF and although I have a bunch lined up, primed and ready, I need to fill out their ranks with a little more infantry and, especially, a tank or two and some APCs. After some browsing of different manufacturers' sites and careful consideration I've decided to go with the South African wheeled vehicles from Brigade Models (seen here at right). The new 3D sculpted pieces really look great and the wheeled approach makes them feel different both from the hovering EarthSec and from regular terrestrial armies of today. I haven't quite decided yet if I should go with the Wildebeest APC that is available now, or wait for the slightly smaller Buffel that is in the works. Bigger isn't necessarily better, but I do like those six wheels! Oh, and then there's of course the powered armour I mentioned above and a few fanbikes on their way to me now.


The big mech is missing, but apart from that these are all the MLA painted. Eek!
The MLA at the moment consists of three mechs and five or six infantry which isn't really all that intimidating (although the construction mech is big!). As my revolutionist faction have been split up into two, these guys will get the more improvised equipment and vehicles (as opposed to the UDF) so I'm thinking technicals and repurposed walkers. I have a feeling that the colonial rovers and civilian mechas from GZG will be common in their force. Perhaps also armoured cars or a captured tank. But mostly infantry with RPGs.


Crusty test paint.
Finally we have the crusties and they are so far the least painted force yet. I do seem to recall that the guy above did get four or five friends painted as well, but the rest are only primed thus far. Again, as a joker faction anything goes pretty much. I'll start with some infantry and civvies and then add some heavy weapons and crusty walkers. Not sure about vehicles in general, perhaps either super hi-tech grav vehicles or something like the four legged crab walker from GZG. I haven't decided yet.


Apart from the models there's the question of terrain of course. As some of you might know I have a Zuzzy mat that I got years ago, a small GZG shanty town and some other bits and pieces that would be more than enough to make a decent battlefield. The only thing that's missing is paint, which I have now ordered as well. Hopefully I'll have a nice red piece of Mars in my living room before christmas.

Oh, and to round out this Mars themed article: it seems like we might finally get a tv-series made from Kim Stanley Robinsons Mars trilogy. It's being made by Spike TV (?!!) which doens't really make me confident, but then there's a co-producer from Game of Thrones who's holding in it and Robinson will be there as a consultant, so who knows.

That's it for now!
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