Monday, August 31, 2009

The Way Forward

As time moves on, I fell the tug of this project maybe a little less. Don't get me wrong, I still want to proceed with the Panzerkampfers! That was until I found out about Leviathans from Catalyst games. The pre-release blog and be found here.

See, my first miniatures game was a naval historical game. And my second. I have a very small force of 1:2400 WW2 naval and a much bigger force of WW1. I liked WW1 because it got back to slugging matches between the heavies. You couldn't have a similar battle in WW2, because of the torpedo armed destroyers and waves of fighters/dive bombers/torpedo bombers. With a limited number of 'large' actions, the 'what-if' factor was much higher. You could pit Scheer and Jellicoe in any mythic battle from the open Atlantic to the Med, the Indian Ocean, anywhere!

Levithans is like an uber kewl cross between a WW1 naval game and Sky Galleons of Mars. I got to peruse the rules and half-play a demo at 2K9 GenCon. It was enjoyable, as much as it could be at a con. I very much look forward to the rules and getting my hands on some miniatures!

This is the proposed cover art! What is not to love?!?!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dodging the Bullets

I was missing, but now I am back, to befuddle the e-waves to my audience of...lessee...0!

There was some rumor, and some possibility of the CAV line disappearing before I could make any of my proposed conversions. Thankfully, after a short discussion with some of the staffers at GeekFest...err, Gen Con, all will be pleased to hear that it is still in production and my evil schemes can move forward!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Treasured Past... ( V )

...where Reaper comes to the rescue.

That's right, Reaper! Specifically CAV, or Combat Assault Vehicle. I wanted to try CAV, as my old LGS was a big supporter of Reaper Minis. There was a big Battletech contingent, but I was never much for BT, not since the original cardboard box. (Yes I am that old, ask Red about his birthday party.) I loved Heavy Gear and Jovian Chronicles, but couldn't get any interest going. CAV did get a bump when we got a local "Black Lightning" (the Reaper demo team) rep in the store to run demos. It flowed a lot better than BT, but had its own clunky rules. Plus, at that time it wasn't really supported; no new minis had been released in a while, and the product line was pretty small. Every one wanted to play the same 'killer' CAV's, and at that point it all came down to initiative and who fired first.

Time creeps on, as it wants to do, and the CAV's went into the storage boxes to be forgotten. Resurrected at last for this project, they are now seeing the light of day! The whole shebang kicked off with the KDM Mastodon. Even from the beginning, I thought it looked German. Then, I realized why. The angle of the leg armor reminded me of the hull of the German Valkyrie. Sadly, pictures are completely sparse on the net anymore, so the reader must trust me until my own pictures get posted.

This was followed by my paint decisions on the KDM Rhino. I decided on an overall Panzer Gray scheme. Again, all this laying the seeds of the future. The plates on the feet and on the hips reminded me of WW2 armor (more British, like the Valentine, with it's bolted mantlet and frontal armor)

With my frustration as to whether any of the Battletech walker legs would have any relevance, I did have several CAV's in the Basement o' Doom. Lining them up with the corresponding turrets of the appropriate 'Flames of War' tanks, well, it's magic! Lots of the CAV's have the backwards bent, or chicken-leg design, and some have a similar design to the original Gear Krieg mecha. The CAV's also have several (but less than Battletech) weight classes, so scaling up is not a problem.

So what is it I am running toward?

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Treasured Past... ( IV )

...wherein needles are lost in haystacks.

Where I have expounded on the use/viability of the Panzerduck example, modeling such an item is proving to be a monumental task. As stated before, the few examples of artwork I have, involve either the legs attaching directly to the turret, or in more evolved examples, the turret sits above the top of the hip. RAFM has a short list of light tanks, but most of this idea came out after the introduction of Battlefront Miniatures, "Flames of War." The cast resin tanks are perfect for executing the idea, as the turret is removable.

However, where to find the walker legs? My primary idea was to scavenge parts from Battletech miniatures. So I hit up the Iron Wind Metals website, and was stunned. All of the miniature pictures are either studio or staff pained examples! Painted! Awesome! That's what I thought until I sought to enlarge the image. While all the pictures are painted and photographed, they are also very small. The page is programmed to return you to the top of the page you left, so there was a lot of scrolling and re-scrolling back to where I was.

From the dinky pictures, and from a Battletech wiki-like page, I boiled the entire Iron Wind Battletech catalog down to thirty-five possible examples I might use. Thirty-five! I guess I should be relieved it was only 35. Costing between 10 and 20 dollars each, I am still not sure how to proceed in evaluating which I could use.

Then another day dawned....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Treasured Past... ( III )

...where the future is revealed.

Well, OK. Maybe not the future. I can see from the raging list of ba-zillionz of followers that I am as John the Baptist in the wilderness. But, hey, it's my blog, n'est-ce pas?

So, the future came after an impulse purchase of the GK:Wargaming Companion. At that time, I got it for a song in a second hand bin, and after flipping through it, I discovered, as with all Dream Pod 9 products, it had a depth and flavor, that regularly boggles the brain pan. After several years away from the game, this was the volume that rekindled the interest. It continually referenced items that were not detailed in this volume, however. The Canal Defense Light, German heavy lasers, Russian lend-lease walkers, etc. All things that looked like they were written from some source text. So, I went looking for it.

And I found it. GK: Fighting Vehicles of the Modern Age. 80 pages of droolingly good vehicles, variants, and weapon swap-outs. This is the only volume I could find details of the Donner and Uller class German heavy walkers, as well as the Russian G-27, and some of the Japanese machines. There is also a size comparison chart in the back, with several picture only ideas for future modeling, like the IS-2 with scattering field generator, and the U.S. General Jackson. Between this book, and the GK:Allied and Axis weapon packs, there would be much walking vehicle related mayhem for some time to come.

Now, the down side, the book is poorly spell checked and the text in the color picture section doesn't match the accompanying picture. But it was enough to get the old synapses firing. kaff-kaff-wheeze You young whippersnappers!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Treasured Past... ( II )

...another piece of the puzzle.

Nearly as soon as WW2 ended, tales and stories of heroic acts during that time were being told. As a youngster, I read just as many war comics as superheroes. The Haunted Tank, G.I. Combat, Sgt. Rock, and Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos, those set the stage for the wonderful "what-if's" of imagination.

Ted Nomura's 'Luftwaffe 1946' was no exception, but much later than the above. I read several issues and collected several, but the real spark came in Spring 1998. Antarctic Press published the 'Luftwaffe 1946' Annual #1. In that issue were several of his early sketches, several detailed paint schemes for aircraft (which was what first caught my eye) and a short piece outlining the 'Panzerducks.' A lot of the 'american manga' is very confusing, and tracking down the issues that contain the actual stories have become a source of intense frustration. Anyway, Mr. Nomura's vision was more of a walking tank turret. The 'hip' joints for the walker legs were attached to the turret sides, and the bulk of the machinery and fighting space hung below in a semi-round pod, looking somewhat like a duck. Hence the name. What intrigued me more about the mini strip was the true turreted walkers. The fighting/engine compartment sat at the hip joint, and above it was the turret ring. The two memorable pictures were of units with the Koenigstiger Porsche turret, and the more improbable Maus turret. Sadly I have no art to display to show what I mean. = (

When it all came together in my head, I thought that this could be the next logical step in walker production. Not would would using regular tank turrets speed up production, but it fit in with the firepower gap. A single heavy tank gun was more than all but the heaviest armored cars could carry. The armor would be similar to the previous models, but the increased mobility, blah, blah, blah. Plus, it was easy to locate the turrets not that Flames of War has begun issuing uber-yummy resin tanks. Modelling, well, that's another story.

The Treasured Past... ( I )

...or from whence we came.

Some can remember when their interest in any particular subject began. I can remember when my interest in WW2 history began. It was a dog-eared paperback copy about the battle of Britain. I was about 6, I think. I must have spent hours looking over the stark black-and-white images on the cover showing bombs falling on London, a Messerschmitt fighter, and a German soldier, maybe this one.

Before this, my images of 'Bonny Old' involved Robin Hood and King Arthur. It was quite a shock to know someone had dropped bombs on London! It was my want to know more that led to my interest in WW2 history. My father was quite surprised when I began to tuck in next to him to watch old war movies on TV, asking questions all the time.

After years of reading library volumes, and the occasional U.S. history text, I was fairly studied up on the general ebb and flow of the history of the war. In the interest of any subject, there comes a time when general knowledge becomes somewhat stagnant, but the journey to a more specialized knowledge seems fruitless. It was about that time that I discovered Gear Krieg. It was World War 2 with fighting Mecha!

It was also at that time, I discovered the Heavy Gear universe, but more on that later. I bought the rulebook and devoured it. I loved the alternate history and the modified pictures. (American Walkers on Omaha on D-day!) The game was...well, it was like Heavy Gear light. It seemed like it was written for a Heavy Gear player to play WW2, not for new players.

The system limped along, and my interests moved along. I acquired a few miniatures along the way. Then, came the dawn of Flames of War. The boys from New Zealand brought upon our nation a new level of yummy WW2 gaming with attractive miniatures and top-notch books. (Anyone remember Panzer Leader from Avalon Hill?) It was a big, intimidating system. I got the rb but interest at the LGS I was frequenting was low.

Around the summer of 2K6 I guess, the old DP9 website said they were selling off all the GK minis and closing the old page as part of the restructuring. One afternoon I was sitting round with a Valkyrie walker, wondering if any of the FoW vehicle crew could switch out for the walker-driver. THAT was the revelation! GK and FoW were moderately compatible in scale! That meant, with a little tweak here and there, walker combat could become a kit-bashed part of FoW.
As such, I bought lots and lots of the seemingly discontinued walkers.

The more I scratched the surface, however, the more I realized that GK walkers were nothing more than super all-terrain armored cars. The heaviest German walkers; the Donner and Uller, were approaching the protection level of early light tanks, but most walkers carried only light auto-cannons, or inaccurate mortar rounds.

The search continued....