Friday, December 27, 2013

Traveller - 15mm Ziru Sirka Point Defense Sleds

Sharushid Type 53 Fire Support/Point Defense ACV IFV

The Type 53 uses the standard Imperial Type 52 hover-sled chassis, with the addition of a larger turret housing a 44mm mass-driver and coaxial VRF gauss gun. Most of the infantry stations have been removed to accommodate the sensors and fire control computer.  The MD gun is designed to destroy light tanks and APCs/AIFVs, though it can also be used to shoot down indirect-fire munitions.  Supplementing the main gun, and linked to the main fire control is the coaxial VRF gauss gun. The VRF gauss gun is tasked as the primary Point Defense and anti-infantry weapon.

The majority of armored vehicles in Ziru Sirka service represent some sort of trade-off, and the Type 53 is no exception. Designed to provide medium fire support to infantry, the Type 53 is also tasked with providing point defense against enemy missiles, rockets and artillery shells, leading one Terran military expert to describe the Type 53 as a cross between an alligator and an ostrich.
The 44mm MD gun being insufficient to penetrate the front armor of most ConFed tanks, the T-53 mounts four 84mm anti-tank missiles in the anti-armor role. Missile reloads are stored in the vehicle: a veteran crew can replace each spent missile in about a minute per missile.
Critics of the Type 53 often cite the weak armor (easily penetrated by the latest RAM grenades) relative slow speed of the missiles, and dual role.  By combining fire support and point defense into one vehicle, the Imperium has essentially created a high-value APC that looks like a tank, hunts like a tank and draws fire like a tank, while having none of the advantages of a tank.   

The coaxial mounting of the main gun/VFR gauss gun forces the Type 53 crew to concentrate on one task at a time (either Fire Support or Point Defense), which proved limiting during the Interstellar Wars.


During the later period of the Interstellar Wars an additional VRF gun was mounted atop the turret* displacing the EMS sensor dome. This allowed the upgraded Type 53 (designated Type 53A1) to engage multiple targets without degrading performance....Ω

*the Frontier Legion is credited with salvaging a Type 52 and creating the first Type 53A1 prototype. Imperial Quartermasters deny this, of course, as the proper patents were never submitted.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

15mm Ziru Sirka Artillery - revisited

For years, I've had a Stan Johansen Star Armor Grav Gun Platform gathering dust on the shelf.  As with some of my Star Armor tank castings, someone gave it to me. This came in handy, as there was something about the Star Armor ACV tank hulls that, for the Imperial Artillery, simply wasn't working for me. The hulls I had been given were designed for hover tanks, and as the Vilani say, tradition must be honoured. I wanted something that looked like big honking gun platforms.

Back to the project at hand. After dremeling the grav bits off,  the Johansen gun platform fits the separately-purchasable hover skirt nicely, and reminded me in a way of the M270. True, the gun platform is exposed, inviting a troubling counter-battery strike - however, the Vilani Imperium enjoys a tech advantage over their opponents, and invariably out-ranges Op-force batteries by a comfortable margin. Perhaps the Vilani see a protected gun platform as a sign of weakness.

Gun Section Reports: READY...

I think the result is an improvement.

Specs for this brute were generated using Fire, Fusion and Steel - using electro-thermic chemical propellant, this gun hurls a 288mm (450kg) warhead 57ks or 35 miles. 

Not bad for TL 11...Ω

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Traveller 15mm Ziru Sirka Artillery

Modern artillery has such a long range, in 15mm it can often be represented off board. In the Traveller universe, this is especially true for futuristic artillery, so I don't often deploy grav or GEV artillery vehicles in my table top war games.

This changed a few weeks ago. In helping an old friend clean out his basement hobby area, I was rewarded with some nice bits of old Stan Johansen Star Armor - some GEV hulls and artillery pieces.  After transferring them to *my* basement hobby table, I began to think of scenarios involving artillery vehicles in the First Imperium.

Show with 15mm GZG New Anglian Federation

One scenario which keeps recommending itself is a Delta Sierra/Deep Serious situation where a battery is being threatened by an over-run; probably the worst thing for a gunner is to lose his gun.

Missile Battery

This idea was combined with another I had written down to form a scenario where the Imperial GEV artillery was "ambushed", while en-route to their next firing position, by Terran Confederation Recon troops.  The Terrans are trying to destroy the Imperial vehicles, whilst the Imperials are trying to get into firing position. The guns become victory objectives for both sides, whilst the massive firepower becomes tertiary to the scenario.

Of course, once I had hit on the scenario, I had to order more vehicles from Stan Johansen.  My friend had given me enough miniatures to peak my interest, but not enough to carry out this new escapade.

Thanks guy...Ω

Monday, September 16, 2013


This has been a long-term project, which stalled for a two-year period.

With music by Queen, Max Von Sydow dressed as Evil Spock, Brian Blessed in valkyrie armour, Melody Anderson in a cabaret slave girl costume and Ornella Muti in spandex, what's not to love about Dino Di Laurentis' 1980 film Flash Gordon: Saviour of the Universe?

Campy and cool, rowdy and raucous, resplendent with gold lamé, lycra, blasters and bondo, this film remains one of my favourites and when I was first introduced to Rattrap Productions Fantastic Worlds rules set, I resolved to put a few forces of Hawkmen, Treemen, Earthlings and Ming's  supporters together for some tongue-in-cheek gaming.

Below are the first installment - Ming's Security - available from Dirk Garrison miniatures.  They are painted in the mangenta  pink as seen in the film.  The gold trim was easier to paint than I expected - the masonic-style symbol on their chests was considerably less so.

Ming's Security - Back to the Fuschia

Next time...Voltan's Hawkmen....aaaahAAAH!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rebel Minis Red Guard to Solomani Naval Assault Infantry

It's been a while since we've played Striker II, but the 15mm Red Guard from Rebel Minis have me dusting off the rules book and practising my Solomani Manifesto as they prepare to square off against my Imperial 99th Provisional Marines.

These were easy to paint with good detail and animation. I based mine for Striker II - I found that I can adapt based figs to StarGrunt II using Mark Clambo's StrikerGrunt rules hack.

They are in desperate need for some support troops, not to mention some C3 figures as well.

I went with a dark field grey as a nod to those other famous Confederates - the C.S.A. It doesn't hurt that it also resembles WW2-era Wehrmacht: I don't buy into the Solomani-are-Space-Nazis meme, but it does help to give them a bit of character.

The various light and dark greys were rather monotonous to paint, but I didn't want to mess about with a camouflage pattern.

Next is my DLD-era GAIFV (Grav Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle).  It looks to me like Dave at DLD was thinking of the Sd.Kfz. 251, also of Wehrmacht fame.

The original model had a sort of duck's bill arrangement under the prow - I tossed those in favour of a milliput fender.

The turret mounts a plasma gun and was purchased from Brigade Models about eight years ago.

 My Assault (Naval) Infantry template postulates that the Solomani don't use marines in the same way as the Imperium does. The ConFed have ship's troops (marines) for shipboard security, but for rapid deployment of heavy combat units, my ConFed uses Naval Infantry in the same manner as the Soviet Union used to do.

Naval Assault Infantry Platoon

Solomani Doctrine may not be as effective as Imperial, but then again, they did come off the worse in the Rim War...Ω

Monday, August 19, 2013

15mm Mine Processing Dome

 Mining is a common feature in Traveller, whether it be lanthanum for jump drives or bauxite for making aluminium. When one wants to create a Traveller war-game scenario involving mercenaries, the seizing of mining sites seems to be an obvious choice.

Below is my centre-piece for Mine #5 - a TL 8 ore precessing dome.  It's a simple conversion from an old Stonewyrks #8803 "Domed Building", which an old friend gave to me while moving house last November. This thing is cast in hydra-stone/gypsum and is quite hefty.

I actually now have two of these, having originally bought mine in the late '90s (at the same time my friend bought his) as a 28mm building. Admittedly, I didn't much care for the size-vs-scale, since at 28mm, it's a pretty small building.

And thus, it languished for nearly two decades.  Until I needed something in 15mm scale.

With 15mm GZG NAC Infantry

The building itself is mostly scale-neutral, except for the doorway, which betrays the 28mm roots.  A simple styrene cap with a GZG building fixture door in 15mm remedies this.

The other issue I have with "ultra-modern/modern-plus" gaming buildings is colour scheme. My initial impulse is to reach for the light grey aerosol can.  In this case, I decided to go with a "Company" look, and a combination of burgundy and bronze was the result. Walmart sells a "Hammered Bronze" DIY spray can which worked very well for the dome.

With 25/28mm door & Black Tree Doctor Who figures

Next step is to paint up some company housing for the miners, and then the real fun starts...Ω

Sunday, July 7, 2013

For Confederation and Cause!

A quick dig through the storage boxes resulted in these ready-made grav tanks; mothballed since 2004 and awaiting the Call to defend the Solomani Cause.

They were originally intended as Imperial light scout tanks, but as Jon at GZG has released some models which are much more like those depicted in Traveller, these will now be pressed into the service of the ConFed.

Shown with 15mm GZG New Anglian Confederation officers and staff

These are a kitbash, using the long OOP DLD 15mm Civet hull. Back in the day, I had purchased three, which is just enough for a light platoon of scout tanks.  I might be able to stretch that to two platoons by adding some air/rafts with observers and some infantry in cavalry APCs.

The turret is from John McEwan's Reviresco Starguard line -  part of the Devil Cat Light Tank kit.  Though Starguard is closer to 20mm scale, the big turret fits well to the modern 15mm hull.

The main gun is from the Starseige Rebellion Imperial weapons pack - I think it was designed for some Gundam-style mobile suit. The box off the side of the cupola is a mini-missile launcher.

These models will do fine as GRPZ-IV's - a light grav tank used in the recon companies of the ConFederation Assault Brigades.

All that's left to do is to detail the tanks with Solomani markings and possibly add some dry-brushing, as my tastes have changed a bit in the near-decade that's passed since I first finished them.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rebel Minis Red Guard - Solomani Enough for You?

I've just seen the new 15mm release from Rebel Minis and I'm newly inspired to paint up a batch of Solomani Confederation troops to tussle with my (Third) Imperials.
Rebel Miniatures Red Guard

These little beauties are strongly reminiscent of those illustrated by Blair Reynolds in the DGP Solomani and Aslan book - and I think he captured the look of a parallel development, compared to the 3I, while maintaining an esthetic distinction.

About ten years ago, when getting into 15mm sci-fi (thanks to Jon Tuffley and GZG-Con) I began to build elements of my ConFed army - vehicles were easiest, especially grav tanks and grav sleds - but finding ground troops with the right animus was difficult.  Rebel Minis has resolved this issue for me...Ω

Saturday, March 23, 2013

More Forgotten Photos - Star Wars "Firehawk Down"

 What follows are another old set of photos from a game I ran back in 2002 at the now-closed Jenkintown Hobby Center in North Philadelphia. 

Having recently seen the film "Blackhawk Down" in the cinema, I was seeking to recreate the big fight without using modern figures.  Back in those days, there was a sensitivity amongst the HMGS membership about avoiding any games which used recent conflicts which might prove offensive to any veteran who might have lost companions in the same.  It's a rule which I still follow.

Setting the scenario of two crashed grav tanks in the Star Wars universe seemed interesting, but switching the sides, so that the baddies of the Empire were seeking to rescue the tank crews (or prevent them from being taken captive by the Rebels) and prevent the tanks from falling into Rebel hands.

For swarms of indigenous troops, I used Ral Partha Pathans, with a small cadre of WEG Rebel Commando minis.

Rules used were StarGrunt II, modified for Star Wars. Vehicles are old GZG 25mm resin, now available again from Demonscape miniatures.

At right - the crashed Grav Tank Firehawk  4-2.

Indigenous rebel-backed fighters are attempting to swarm the crash site while rebel-trained snipers provide fire support.

A closer pic of the crash site.  The Imperial crew are in grey and are either dug-in at the base of the tank, or are firing from the deck.

There are two squads of insurgents - one skirmishes in the open while the second attempts to sneak in from the flank.

The second crash site. Firehawk 4 - 3 has crashed in a ruined building.  the ruins provided more cover, but made it difficult to extract the crew. 

Atop the building at left, a squad of Imperial Storm Commandos has grav-roped on to the roof, while a swarm of indigs attempts to rush the crashed tank.

Firehawk 4 - 3 is able to fire it's main gun from the ruined building, along a narrow traverse, which helps restrict the rebel advance.

Rebel strongpoint with a blaster turret.  This emplacement, dubbed the Turret of Doom, was able to keep Firehawk 4 - 2 pinned down throughout the game. The building is painted styrofoam packing.

Another rebel sniper nest of scum and villainy.
Here comes the air-support. An out of focus "Shrike" Attack Speeder strafes some rebels caught in the open.

A shrike is, of course, a little bird.  A nasty little bird.

Here's a better picture of the modified GZG AV6 .The addition of fixed wing-mounted blasters and rocket pods had the desired effect...rebel indigs dropped in droves.

These were mounted on wooden dowells so they could "fly" a good three feet above the playing table.

The rebel command post. Alliance officers coordinate the attacks from a safe distance.

I recall the game ended in a tie - Firehawk 4 - 3 was rescued, while the more exposed and harder pressed 4 - 2 was overrun.

Post-Game Thoughts:
Interesting how sparse the terrain looks to me, now.  Were I to replay this scenario, I'd add another three or so buildings, more craters and piles of debris - not to mention some AT-ST walkers in support of the Imperials.

For the Rebels, I have since painted more commandos, though I'd still use my Pathans to represent the local blaster-fodder.

The table is covered in a black felt cloth which was an attempt to simulate macadam - I would now use a dark grey cloth instead.

If I ever get up to GZG-Con on Owego, this would be an amusing game to run...Ω

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Babylon 5 Starmada: Ambush at Ragesh 3

Narn Battle Squadron

The Narn-Centauri War broke out anew last night as the Friday Pals met to try Starmada: Admiralty by Majestic 12 games.  I brought out my AOG B5 Fleet Action miniatures. In past games, we have been using a modified Full Thrust/Earth Force Sourcebook rules set by Jon Tuffley , and while the carnage was everything one could hope for, some dissatisfaction about the movement of ships had cropped up. Starmada:Admiralty was going to help prevent the fleets from closing too quickly, and preserve a "fleet action" feel.

The year was 2259, the name of the place is Ragesh 3. The Centauri have a Marcanos-class base and a small fleet protecting it.  Two squadrons of Narn cruisers with two squadrons of Narn heavy destroyers enter the Ragesh system - their orders is to sweep and clear the system of the Centauri.

Rob C. (as Lord Cassdo) and myself (Lord Frylari) took the Centauri (Rob had the fleet, and I manned the station) while Warleaders D'Jay and K'enzie assumed the mantle of the thrice-damned Narns.

The Centauri Battle Line
The Centauri squadron consisted of: two Primus battlecruisers (with attendant fighter flights), two Sullust destroyers and a Vorchar Elint heavy combat vessel. The Marcanos base had four flights of fighters for system defence. The Elint vessel protected any friendly ships within 4 hexes by jamming enemy sensors and increasing the range by one band (i.e. medium range to long range, long range to no target).

The Narn Fleet

The Narn had two identical squadrons, each with: 2 G'Quan heavy cruisers, a G'Quonth attack cruiser, and two Katok battledestroyers. That would be a total of ten warships against five plus a base.

As the outnumbered parties, the Centauri had to destroy twice as many points of ships than they took as casualties to win  The Narn had to clear the system.
Marcanos Station

Fighters: Engage and Destroy
Turn 1 - 2 Opening moves. As the opposing squadrons closed, the fighters swooped in to engage their opposites.  B5 fleet games usually involve masses of fighters, and we've learned to try and hold a few flights in reserve to use against ships. So, instead of engaging in the optional Dogfights, the Centauri fighters stood off at range one while engaging the Narn and the Narn complied. The Narn, having more fighters, quickly gained the advantage in the fighter fight.

An Energy-mine Strike
Turn 3 - Energy Mines. The Narn energy mines began to drop on the Centauri fighters. As an area-effect weapon, each fighter in a flight was attacked, and each fighter in each adjacent hex was attacked at a slightly lower chance to hit.  The Centauri lost about 60% of their fighter screen.

Turn 3b - It's a Trap!  A second Centauri squadron, identical to the first, hidden in the planet's sensor-shadow, entered the battle.  Fresh fighters rushed forward  while the surviving Centauri flights withdrew to the relative safety of the Elint jamming field. When the Narn tried to track them, they found they were unable to fire (long range = no target).  Warleader D'Jay was outraged, and promised terrible retribution against the perfidious Centauri plague.
The Narns Advance

Turn 4, 5 - CGI Rendering Slows to a Halt.  Or that's what it felt like.  As the main fleet elements began to trade laser and pulse volleys, the game slowed to a crawl.
A Sullust destroyer in trouble
To Centauri dismay, the armour on the Narn cruisers was proving hard to crack (a bit too hard, if you ask me). The Narn lasers were carving up the larger Primuses at an alarming rate. The station had moved closer in it's orbit to the protective Elint screen, but hadn't quite reached yet, and was being pummeled by energy mines.

Endgame - It was getting late, so we called the game for the Narn - they had inflicted about 60 damage points to the Centauri 30. As one Centauri philosophically observed "We had them where we didn't want them..."

Post-game Thoughts:

The Ambush is Sprung
While I enjoy playing the Centauri, mainly due to their cheerful methods of skullduggery, I had intended to referee this session, due to the number of "gotchas" the Centauri were employing (Elint ships, and ambush).  Fortunately, while DJ was suitably outraged at each turn of the worm (or Spoo - 10 credits an ounce, if you can believe it), it didn't effect the outcome of the game. The Centauri still lost.

I had more detailed fighter flights printed out, but failed to bring them to the game. Thus all the fighters were treated as "standard" when really, the Centauri Sentris should have trait "Dogfight (+1 against fighters) and the Narn Frazis should have "Anti-Ship +1".
Centauri in Disarray

The B5 templates (downloadable from the MJ12 forums) need auditing.  The points were off, with the Centauri having about 50% more points then the Narn.  Certainly, the Narn Energy Mine needs some tweaking.

One of the reasons we used Starmada Admiralty was to limit ship speeds so the fleets actually operated like fleets - that was satisfactory.

We had high hopes for Starmada Admiralty, but there are some issues.  Movement aside, the single biggest issue we had was with the damage resolution phase. It seems straightforward enough - roll to hit, roll to penetrate shielding, roll damage - in practise, the game slows down drastically when more than a few ships are involved on each side.  This should improve with practise, so perhaps a smaller fight is in order for the next run.

We've agreed to try again, and I will add some game data to the ship rosters to help speed the game: advanced firing arcs, ship and weapon trait effects, damage charts, etc....Ω