Mass Pikemen Gaming Club: An Action-Packed Combat Patrol session for May 2018

Last Saturday, May 19th, the Mass Pikemen held a gaming session in East Brookfield, MA.  We were fortunate to have a fun game using the Combat Patrol™ card-based rules system – which I have adapted for use in retro sci-fi games using fun Old School miniatures.  The ones here were from Archive Miniatures and Team Frog.  The scenario involved an attack by the Mark III Warbots (two squads) on the peace-loving amphibian F.R.O.G. Commandos, who were once again defending their sacred pond from enemy desecration.  This time, the Warbots brought along two new troop additions.  One was another Archive Miniatures Juggerbot to act as the Warbot’s Platoon Sergeant.  This improved command and control in support of the previously existing Juggerbot platoon leader.  Secondly, this marked the first deployment for the death-dealing, flame-throwing giant robot known as Roberker.

The F.R.O.G. Commandos defended their pond’s enclosure with a couple of squads and the heavy weapons section, including the Dread FROGBOT.

In addition to our experienced players, we had a couple of new players, Mike Morgan and Chris Comeau, who quickly picked up on the Combat Patrol™ system.

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The F.R.O.G. Commandos deploy. 
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Roberker, the two Juggerbots, a Red Khang Robot, and the Red Warbot Squad move over the bridge.  Roberker, in the rear, being a giant robot, just walked through the river

The Frogs quickly moved to counter the Warbot’s movements.  The Dread FROGBOT with its short cannon and two chain guns arrived at the defensive outer wall, and was able to get off a couple of bursts, damaging several Warbots.  However, the Warbots effectively closed and used a devastating plasma breaching weapon against the FROGBOT.  Even though the fire was off center slightly, the FROGBOT’s left side was basically vaporized.  Undaunted, the Frogs kept up their spirited defense with their assault rifles, holding the line.

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The Warbots use a Plasma Beam Breacher, knocking out the FROGBOT.

A little to the Frog’s left, Roberker advanced and took fire, but not before spraying flaming death from its two nozzle arms.  Several Frogs were fricasseed, but Roberker took several hits as he advanced.

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The F.R.O.G. heavy weapon section gets a bit roasted by Roberker

Then the Frogs made a bold jet pack assault focusing on the golden Juggerbot platoon leader.  They managed to damage the leader, however they actually killed two of their own in the crossfire as shown below.  However, this proved to be a critical move on the Frog’s part.

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The F.R.O.G. Commandos make a bold assault, damaging the Warbot platoon leader (golden Juggerbot), and unfortunately killing two of their own with friendly fire.

One of the modifications that I make to the Combat Patrol™ rules in retro sci-fi games is to have robots use the South Pacific Japanese decks, which have different morale results.  The golden Juggerbot platoon leader, having been wounded, now had to make a morale check.  Amazingly (and against all odds) he pulled the card that said the leader was shamed – and commits hari kiri – is destroyed, and is removed from the game.  This pinned all of the attackers, reducing their advance significantly.  Some of the Warbots, like the purple squad on the other side of the tabletop (played by Ellen Morin) did manage to rally, but it was a big turning point in the game.

Another interesting action at the end was the brave individual attack on Roberker by the F.R.O.G. leader, Captain Frog, armed with only a Frog Blade and a pistol.  Captain Frog jet packed into hand-to-hand combat with Roberker, and despite the stiff odds, beat the giant robot.  As Roberker was already severely damaged from the previous assault rifle fire of the Frogs, Captain Frog’s actions took out Roberker.

(This proved again the Buck Surdu theory that the first time a figure gets on the tabletop that it gets whacked!)

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The purple Warbot squad advances through a narrow defile.

On the other end of the table, the purple Warbot squad made significant advances away from the other carnage, and were able to use their plasma ball breacher (in this case a ball of high energy plasma) to fire at the defenders.  Even though the fire was slightly errant, as shown below, one Frog was vaporized, and the fence breached.

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The Warbots fire a Plasma Ball Breacher (think flying ball of plasma fired like a rifle grenade, not like a putt!), opening the way to the pond.  We use the card’s bayonet at the top left in Combat Patrol to show the direction of scatter if the target is missed, as was the case here.

At this point, the game was called.  Clearly, I believe the Warbots were going to make it to the pond, but the F.R.O.G. Commandos defense was truly spirited and exemplary!

We are looking forward to the next Mass Pikemen Gaming Club session on June 23rd!

Thanks for looking – please share your feedback below in the comments section.

 

HAVOC XXXIV Recap – Notes & Photos

Finding a gaming convention that is close by to my home has been somewhat frustrating for me over the last few years.  Since I returned to the hobby, I have attended a few BARRAGE events in Maryland , but that’s it.

Imagine then that there was a con 15 miles from my home AND that they have been having it for 34 years (and I never knew!).  The event was the three-day (Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday) HAVOC convention, run annually by Battlegroup Boston.  This year was HAVOC XXXIV, and I learned of it through the New England Wargame Groups List page on FaceBook.  It ran from April 6-8, and I am really glad that I could attend, but it was a last-minute decision.  I was also hoping to let folks know about our group, The Mass Pikemen’s Gaming Club in Central Massachusetts.

Back in March, I went to the HAVOC web page, and I also saw that they were looking for game masters.  I needed to wait to see if I could attend.  Ultimately, I was able to not only attend the event, but to run two retro sci-fi games using the Combat Patrol™ system.  The first game I ran was on Friday night.  It was “Attack of the Warbots” using figures from the Archive Star Rovers line from the late 1970’s (Mark III Warbots, Star Ducks, Aphids, and Power-Armored Frinx) along with my Mark 1 Sphere tanks).  There were also some Wargames Supply Dump Robo-Sentry guns acting as stationary defenses.

In this blog, first I’ll discuss the two games I ran, then share some photos and eye candy of some of the convention.

0 warbots only
My flyer for the game

I managed to get 7 players for the game, which was great.  I did not get as many pictures as I would have liked as I was running the game.  The players really had a great time and there was a lot of action.  No one had ever seen these figures before, and the mass of the Mark 1’s surprised them all!  I used a number of Armorcast sci-fi structures as well on the board, and they worked great.

1 setup Attack of the Warbots
The Warbots make their assault.  Their goal was to recapture a Mark 1 Sphere tank behind the building on the right center (which the Frinx were attempting to repair for their own use).  A Robo-Sentry gun has been taken out by the Warbots and burns in the middle.
2 Robo sentry guns and Sphere tank burn
Frinx anti-tank fire from the factory’s 2nd floor knock out a Warbot Mark 1 Sphere tank between the slag mounds, and more Robo-Sentry guns burn.  The remaining Mark 1 prepares to use its Death Ray on the Aphids on the left.   
3 Aphid Platoon Leader attacks Sphere tank
The Mark 1’s attempt to fry the Aphids fails and its weapon malfunctions.  Seizing the opportunity, the Aphid platoon leader leaps onto the tank from the second floor and attempts to destroy it with a satchel charge.
4 Warbots advance
The satchel charge attack failed to penetrate the Mark 1.  Frinx bazookas then hit the tank while the platoon leader was on top of it.  The Mark 1 was immobilized by this AT fire, but the Aphid platoon leader was killed by the same attack.  Note the card on the tank – I use cards with pictures on them to denote casualties for infantry. 

While all this was going on, the Warbots on the right closed with the Robo-Sentry guns and the Star Ducks defending the wall.  In this game, I have the Warbots use the Japanese Combat Patrol™ deck, which has different morale results.  A morale card result caused one Warbot team to make a Banzai charge at the last surviving Robo Sentry gun, which was jammed.  This enabled the Star Ducks to hit the team with direct fire.  When the Banzai charge was over, another morale check caused this same team to flee the game, stifling this assault.  The Frinx just got their captured tank fixed as the game was out of time.  Due to the casualties inflicted by the Warbots, I called the game a draw.  The players all were highly excited by the game and loved the ease of use of the Combat Patrol™ decks for all aspects of the game.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, my game was nominated for the “Al Award”.  From the HAVOC website, this is “presented for the game with the most stunning visual appeal. Our crack team of experts (expert team of cracks) will vote on the game that made us say “Wow!”.”  I was honored to be nominated, but even more so to win!  Thanks so much for this to Battlegroup Boston!  A great con it was to be sure – and I felt very welcome here by all the club members.

000 Al Award

11a award
A true honor!  Thanks so much Battlegroup Boston!

The second game I ran was on Sunday, which was “GO FROGS RIBBIT – STOP THE BUGS”.  It was a battle between the F.R.O.G. Commandos (with Star Duck reinforcements) and two Archive Star Rovers foes – the aforementioned Aphids and the Hurraku Space Phraints.  So, basically, it was insectivores versus insects, albeit big bugs.  The Frogs were defending a wooded area between two rivers and specifically their sacred pond.  The insects’ objective was to seize the pond, and to dispatch as many amphibians as possible along the way with extreme prejudice.

8aa 04062018 HAVOC frogs phraints only
My game flyer for this game

I ended up with four players for this game – one for each attacking bug side on opposite sides of the board.  Star Ducks would reinforce the Frogs as a special event card was pulled during the game.  The Frogs would use the regular decks, while the bugs would use the Japanese decks.  The Space Phraints also had a Sith.  Here again, the players quickly adapted to the Combat Patrol™ deck.  All were new to the game.

8a set up for FROGS with me
My set up – Aphids attack from the south, Space Phraints from the north.  Terrain posed a challenge for the attacker because their long range weapons advantages were nullified.
8n me gming
The players listen as I brief – photo by Mike Paine

The Aphids got into the fray first with their Grav Cycles, while the Aphid infantry and the Space Phraints advanced.

8b Aphid Grav cycles start
Aphid Grav Cycles prepare to jet across the river

8c game begins

8d Grav Cycles attack
The Aphid Grav Cycles charge into the two 2nd squad Frog positions (two teams by the yellow dice).  The Frogs prepare to respond with Frogbot’s chain guns, their assault rifles, and a flame thrower.  The Aphids attacking on the right have begun to take heavy casualties.
8h Aphids taking flamethrower hits
Aphid attacks are torched.  The leader of the one on the right lost all of his troops and ended up committing ritual suicide from a morale check card.

The Aphids however did effectively draw the Frogs to their attack, weakening the side facing the Hurraku Space Phraints.  This would have consequences.

8e Phraints advance
The Frogs 1st Squad maneuvers towards the Hurraku
8f Phraints advance by hill
1st Squad’s assault rifles inflict heavy damage on the advancing Hurraku Space Phraints.  The red beads represent morale checks for the Hurraku
8g taking flamethrower Phraints advance by hill
Then the Frogs used their flamethrower on them…

At this point, the Hurraku gambled and turned the tide of battle.  Linda (the Hurraku player) decided to take advantage of her Sith’s power of “Rage”.  This ability causes a Banzai attack. This also removes all stun markers from her troops while they charge at the enemy and engage solely in hand-to-hand combat (or just melee as we are talking about bugs and Frogs).  The Hurraku also all have the same activation number until the banzai charge ends, resulting in a true mass attack.  Here (in melee) the Hurraku have an advantage as they are very tough fighters.  They also move fast normally, and the “Rage” improves that movement by a factor of two.

8i BANZAI BUG ATTACK
BANZAI!  TO THE POND!
8j BANZAI BUG ATTACK
The other flank is swarmed
8k BANZAI BUG ATTACK
The Frogs are devastated by the assault.  Cards denote dead Frogs.  Blue beads represent morale checks for the Frogs, which were mounting up quickly.  During a Banzai charge, attackers do accrue morale checks, but are not stunned.  They also activate all at the same time.  The attackers would end their charge after a special card is pulled from the Action Deck – so it can go on for a while.  In this game, it never ended.

At this point, a Star Duck squad jet packed in as reinforcements, but it was not enough.  They jet-packed in to defend the pond.

8l Star Ducks arrive
Star Ducks reinforce Frogs for a last stand
8m BUGS WIN
A Hurraku Space Phraint reaches the sacred pond and wins the game

The players here had a good time and were good sports.  The tide swung from one side to the other.  In the end, the “Rage” Banzai charge was decisive.

I will now share some photos of the two games I played on Saturday morning and afternoon (I did not play Saturday night).  I played a Bolt Action scenario run by Friedrich Helisch.  The scenario was a 1941 German attack on a Russian-held village.  David Shuster was on the Russian side, while Friedrich and I played the Germans.  This was my first try at Bolt Action.

5 bolt action start
The battle begins as Germans move towards the village

5a bolt action mid

5b David Shuster bolt action mid
David Shuster moves his Russians up
5c David Shuster bolt action mid advance
View from the Russians side
5d first building assault
Germans successfully storm the first building

5e first building seized

5e second building seized
Germans successfully take the second building
5f stug hit
The Sturmgeschutz is hit

This was a points-based game, and our taking of the second building allowed us to win by 1 point, so it was very close.  As for the rules, I am on the fence, but more than willing to try them again at some point in the future.

The second game I played was a Gaslands scenario.  I had heard this was an interesting game and thought I’d try it out.  In this game you get so many points to choose and arm 2-3 vehicles (performance car, regular car, and pickup truck).  The goal is to run over (3 points) or shoot (1 point) pedestrians (in homage to Death Race 2000) instead of the usual zombies on the game board.  You can attack your opponents, but their destruction does not get you points (you do eliminate the competition).  The movement is very much like X-Wing.

I played with two other players, who chose to max out two vehicles, while I did three lesser-armed vehicles.  I chose to go after the competition and eventually had one of two vehicles to be the last on the tabletop.  However, at this point the game masters deploy invulnerable  Monster trucks to hunt you down and end the game.  I just missed my last pedestrian which would have tied me for first.  The game masters (Michael Eichner and Erich Eichner) did a nice job, and this was a fun game.  The table looked great too.

7 Gaslight start
The game starts – I had the red cars
7a gaslight start
After using a flamethrower on a white car, I t-boned the orange one, but flipped over the structure
7b gaslight playing
Game play – photo by Mike Paine

I thought that I should share some photos of the rest of the con.  I did not get to see as much as I would have liked, but there were a lot of very cool games.  Kudos to all the folks at Battlegroup Boston, as well as the GM’s and players!  Please share your thoughts in the comments section – thanks for reading this blog!

6 the HAVOC on Sat AM
A view of the con Saturday morning. There were two rooms.
9b 3d deathmatch from above
Tim Allen had a magnificent home game using Legos
9 3d deathmatch from above
The Deathmatch Arena 3D game
9a 3d deathmatch from above
Characters from Deathmatch Arena 3D
12 Lion Rampant
Lion Rampant game (big game!) run by Richard F. Wareing – photo by Mike Paine
13 Chain of Command Hurtgen forest
Thomas Ballou ran a Battle of the Hurgen Forest scenario – photo by Mike Paine
14 Silent Death Smash
Bruce Carson ran a Silent Death Smash game – photo by Mike Paine
10j hanghai game
Mike Paine’s immense game – spectacular!  Eye candy for this below, some I borrowed from Mike Paine with permission

10 hanghai game10a hanghai game10b hanghai game

10c hanghai game
Game play – photo by Mike Paine
10d hanghai game
Nice sampan -photo by Mike Paine
10e hanghai game
Beautiful terrain, so complex – photo by Mike Paine
10f hanghai game
Photo by Mike Paine
10g hanghai game
Game play – photo by Mike Paine
10h hanghai game
Chinese bombard – photo by Mike Paine
10i hanghai game
 Nice American gunboat – photo by Mike Paine

 

 

 

Mark Con 2017 (aka Ma’k Con 2017)

I have been accused of having a Boston accent, but this is not really true – I have a Worcester accent, or properly a Worcester County accent.  Throughout my military and civilian career, my pronunciation of my name, Mark, sounds to others like Ma’k.  My good buddy Buck Surdu has often shortened it to “Ma’k” on his blog posts.  Last weekend (right before Thanksgiving) he and my other good buddy, Dave Wood, made the drive up from Maryland on a traffic-filled Friday afternoon for a Saturday full of gaming – and it was called “Ma’k Con”.  My wife Lynn really helped out as well with her keeping us well fed.  This blog post is about the gaming we crammed into that Saturday.

Buck and Dave got me into tabletop wargaming when we were back at West Point.  Since then, Buck has published a myriad of rules for gaming, and Dave has contributed to many of those rule sets.  The most recent rules that Buck published is a fantastically easy to play and streamlined card-based system for skirmish-level combat in WWII called Combat Patrol™.  It is truly flexible, and has had optional rules and supplements written to cover different possible scenarios, to include the South Pacific theater, the Winter War, the Falklands War, the Napoleonic era, and even the Star Wars universe.  These can be downloaded for free from his website, and the cards are available in the US from Drive Thru Cards and in the EU from Sally Forth. The rules are also available in book form from both On Military Matters and Sally Forth.

Buck recently added a new set of cards for the South Pacific, which have different morale results for Japanese troops.  Readers of this blog know that I have been collecting and assembling units from the old Archive Miniatures Star Rovers line of figures, specifically Star Ducks, Power-Armored Frinx, Aphids, and Mark III Warbots.  Additionally, I have been supplementing these forces with Khang Robots, weapons, Robo-Sentry Guns from War Games Supply Dump, and my own sculpt of a sphere tank.  I also used some weapons from Bombshell Miniatures.

I decided that I would combine aspects from different Combat Patrol™ rules for a fun retro sci-fi game.  Specifically, I would use the new South Pacific deck for morale results for robots, the new vehicle-mounted flame thrower template for my sphere tanks’ death rays, and the Sith rules from the Star Wars supplement.  Also, I added in several rules from the optional rules.  Lastly, I added my own special rules for the Mark III Warbots and their leader, Juggerbot, to account for possible effects that weapons fire could cause on their behaviors and capabilities.

Upon arrival in Massachusetts, Buck surprised Dave and I with uniform t-shirts from West Point that we would have worn to gym or when we played sports.  It was called Gym-A (Gym-Alpha) and we wore it for Saturday’s game marathon.  Admittedly, both Buck and Dave wore it better than I did.  We were also joined by my daughter Ellen Morin and her fiancé Chris Smedile.

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Buck Surdu, me, and Dave Wood (US version for you UK followers) in our Gym-A shirts

The scenario was one where the Star Ducks, Aphids, and Frinx were allied against the cybernetic horde of attacking robots.  The non-metallic forces had captured a robot Mark 1 Sphere tank.  The Frinx were attempting to repair it so it could be used against the robots, who were to have two Mark I Sphere tanks of their own in the assault.  The tanks have two side mounted laser cannons, and a Death Ray (think 1953 War of the Worlds movie).  Dave and Ellen had the robots, while Buck, Chris and I defended.

1 Ma'kcon
Dave and Ellen prepare to attack.  The Aphids are in the ruined building to the front, and there are the Robo-Sentry Guns acting as speed bumps to their front.

The Robo-Sentry guns slowed the attacking robots slightly, but allowed Aphid and Star Duck mortar fire to hit the Warbots near Juggerbot, damaging the robot leader, and causing some of his robots to go rogue, or blow up.  When they went rogue, they would attack the nearest figure.  Juggerbot ended up dealing with such a problem.

2 Ma'kcon
The battle begins with the Warbots clearing the Robo-Sentry gun defenses.

Normally, in Combat Patrol™ games, figures can take a certain number of hits, usually three wounds, before they die or are incapacitated.  In this game Frinx had 4 wounds (because of their power-armor), most line Star Ducks had 3, and Warbots had 6.  However, I allowed for critical hits as outlined below.  This had a nice balancing effect on the game.

Warbot critical hit
Warbot Critical Hit Chart – lots of 4’s and 5’s happened!

The Warbots also had some devastating energy weapons.  The opposing forces had two “Sith Lords” (Duck Wader from the Star Ducks and Lt. Ma’k from the Frinx) with special powers from the Star Wars supplement.  Early in the game, Buck moved Duck Wader up to engage the Warbots, only to get vaporized along with some Aphids by an arc weapon blast.

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Duck Wader (center) near the corner where he was shortly vaporized thereafter
4 Ma'kcon
The Frinx AT section moves up – only to never make an impact

The other Sith, Lt. Ma’k, used his Force powers to fly into the middle of a group of 8 immobilized Warbots (they had drawn a “Hold until Death” morale result due to Frinx fire, but the robots could still fire).

Lt. Ma’k (a Frinx) then tried a Sith power – Force Blast – which damaged some robots’ weapons and caused them to explode.  Additionally, friendly mortar rounds landed there (Lt. Ma’k did not care) and eventually he succumbed, as did several Warbots. Simultaneously, Juggerbot finally was destroyed by Aphids on Grav-Cycles.  As he was the platoon leader, his destruction led to his unit becoming pinned – and only activating on black cards.  This really had the effect of reducing the entire robot platoon’s combat effectiveness.

5 Ma'kcon
Lt. Ma’k (by the purple die) makes his last stand.  Note the black die for the Warbot Green Team 2 due to a “Hold until Death” morale role.  Later the entire Warbot platoon would get black dice (“pinned”) when Juggerbot was destroyed.
6 Ma'kcon
The death (destruction) of Juggerbot
7 Ma'kcon
Aphids an Grav-Cycles make a desperate charge before dying to the last bug – but they sealed Juggerbot’s fate
8 Ma'kcon
Frinx on Glyptodon cavalry move up before being taking heavy fire and being routed

At this point, the carbon-based living got very lucky and fixed their captured Sphere tank earlier than would have been expected due to Chris pulling some great cards.  However, the robots got reinforcements in the form of two of their own Sphere tanks, a squad of Warbots, plus 2 self-propelled robot guns.   Chris and Buck were able to immobilize one tank with some very lucky shots.  The other annihilated a squad of Buck’s Star Ducks with a Death Ray Blast.

9 Ma'kcon
Buck’s Star Ducks are hit by Death Ray fire
10 Ma'kcon
Some of Buck’s Star Ducks jet pack onto the immobilized Mark I Sphere tank.  Their satchel charges (6) attacks all failed to destroy the tank.

By now it was dinnertime and pizza called, plus we wanted to move to the next game.  It looked like a slight victory for the living forces, but casualties were high!  The game turned out well and I may redo this scenario at Barrage in Maryland in January.  Buck’s account of the battle is the next entry in this blog.

11 Ma'kcon
Surveying the carnage
12 Ma'kcon
Great Game!

Then we moved onto a play test of Dave’s micro-armor game of “The Battle of Nikolayevka (Nikitowka)” using the Look Sarge No Charts rules.  This was a breakout of Italian forces on the Eastern Front in 1943 as part of the Battle of Stalingrad.  So we had Italians and some Germans attacking a small town held by the Russians.  The link above describes the historical battle well.

Buck attacked with a combined German/Italian force on the right half of the battlefield and I attacked along the left half.  Dave defended.  It was a tough slog, with the Russian artillery (they had no armor) making progress difficult.  Later in the game Dave had us command reinforcements in the form of the Italian stragglers from an earlier phase in the battle.  It was a good scenario, and interesting to see a primarily Italian versus Russian scenario.

13 Ma'kcon
Initial set up – Italians and Germans (on left) fight into the town to the right of the railway crossing (in light orange)
14 Ma'kcon
Another view showing the town in the upper right.  The attackers needed to get into the town so as not to freeze to death.
15 Ma'kcon
Assaulting the rail line defenses
16 Ma'kcon
Buck tries to get into the town

I think Dave will have a very good scenario for an upcoming convention!

The day flew by, and I am so appreciative that we West Point Old Grads had the chance to game together.  Thanks to Buck and Dave, and Chris and Ellen!  And of course, Lynn for her logistical support!!

Khang Robots

This post is about another group of miniatures that I acquired in March from the recently closed Wargames Supply Dump (thanks so much Roger!).

These are DG-08 and DG-09, Khang Robots.  One model is tracked, the other has legs.  I purchased 2 kits of each type of robot.

I’m currently planning on building out a series of different squads and platoons for use in retro-sci-fi skirmish games using the Combat Patrol™ system of rules.  I have described previously here in this blog my casting work on making a platoon of Archive Miniatures Mark III Warbots.  I thought these Khang Robots would be great as leaders for that platoon.  They look so very retro!  The tracked version really evokes the old “B9” from the 1960’s TV series Lost in Space.

00 b9

Additionally, I eventually will be painting up a unit of WSD Khang troopers, and I can use these four robots to augment those forces as well.

The kits arrived, and I washed them with a light scrub with soap and water, and let them dry.  Once dry, I assembled them with super glue.  I tried to glue each robots’ arms so that they would each have a different position for better aesthetics.  After they were together, I affixed them to 1¼” steel washers using Loctite glue for ease of eventual magnetic box storage.  Then, I used poster tack to affix the models to popsicle sticks for ease of painting.  This is now my new favorite tactic as it is very easy to remove after painting.

I then primed them (top and bottom) with Krylon “Ultra Flat” white matte spray paint.  This allows me the option to write (with a fine-tipped Sharpie) on the washer bottoms with info that I’d like to have on them, such as the model’s name, the date of completion, my name, and any unit identification.

After the primer dried, I gave the models an aggressive wash with Citadel “Nuln Oil”.

 

1 in bag robots
The kits as they arrived

 

 

2 unassembled Khang robots
The Khang Robots unassembled and drying after cleaning

 

 

3 assembled Khang robots
Assembled and based awaiting priming

 

 

4 primed Khang robots
After priming

I used Vallejo Model Air Metallics “Steel” as the primary base coat for the models’ helmets, shoulders, belt, and claws.  I painted the waist/ribbed chest area with Citadel “Mechanicus Standard Gray”.  Then, for a shiny rubber-like look on the ribs, boots, and legs, I applied a coat of Armory “Gloss Black”.  For the front of the tracked bases and the chest-mounted cannons, I used Vallejo Model Air Metallics “Gun Metal”.  Then I highlighted the shiny parts on the shoulders and helmets with Vallejo Model Air Metallics “Aluminum”.  For the voice box (cannot really call it a mouth!) I added a light coat of Citadel “Spiritstone Red”.

Moving on to some of the details on the helmet, arm sockets, “ears”, and back components, I found a great solution with Vallejo Model Air Metallics “Copper”.  There were several lights on the front and back of the robots, and for these I used a spotter brush with Citadel “Yriel Yellow”, Vallejo Model Air Metallics “Signal Red”, Craftsmart “Sapphire”, and DecoArt “Crystal Green” – varying the lights a bit in the front.

For the vents in the front of the tracked figures, I used “Gloss Black”, with “Steel” on the vents.  I then extensively used Vallejo Model Air Metallics “Gold” and Craftsmart “Onyx” on bolt straps and bolts respectively throughout all the models.  I also used “Onyx” to highlight the “Gloss Black” painted parts.

I then chose some bright-colored metallics to theme the robots and make them easier to identify on the gaming table.  My four choices were: DecoArt “Crystal Green”, “Festive Red”, “Peacock Blue”, and Craftsmart “Amethyst”. I painted with these as you see below – as highlights on  the robots’ helmet crests, “ears”, belts, boots, and backs of the lower chassis (all depending on the models).  I did a lot of highlighting!

This completed my initial base coating and highlighting.  For the bases, I thought I’d use Citadel “Martian Ironcrust”.  This texture paint has a nice crackling effect if you use a blow dryer between applications (as I did) to dry the paint.  I also added some Army Painter “Black Battlefield” into it when it was still moist – and this worked well to give a realistic texture.  For the tracked models, I tried to make a track and chassis impression with the “Martian Ironcrust”.   I also tried to show the accumulation of dust on the tracks and boots with this texture paint.  I think it worked well enough.

 

 

5 mid stage base coat on Khang robots
Early base coating, front view

 

 

6 mid stage base coat on Khang robots back
Early base coating, back view

I then moved on to serial washes with Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” on some lighter parts and “Nuln Oil” on others such as the ribs.  For the robots’ claws, I found that Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” gave a unique metallic tone to the claws.  On the bases, “Agrax Earthshade” really enhanced the cracks and gave a lot of depth to them.  I used a lot of washes to give depth to the figures.

 

 

16 Khang Robots prevarnish
Ready for varnish

 

 

17 Khang Robots prevarnish base closeup
Close up of my attempt to create track and chassis marks, and accumulation of dirt

I then waited  a day or so for the humidity to go down and for the temperature to be adequate for varnishing.  I sprayed the models with one coat of Krylon “Clear Matte”, followed by two coats of Testors “Dullcoat”, allowing for adequate drying time between applications.

 

 

21 3 way red
The Red Khang Robot

 

 

25 3 way blue
The Blue Khang Robot

 

 

29 3 way green
The Green Khang Robot

 

 

33 3 way purple
The Purple Khang Robot

 

 

35 group shot 2 top
Nice view of the tops of the Khang Robots

 

 

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Group shot!

These are pretty cool figures – and the downside is that pretty cool figures have a lot of details!  The upside is they give the painter a tremendous opportunity to create a nice visual product.  These are really fun retro sci-fi figures – and I hope that I did achieve success with these four.  I really like them, and am motivated to get going on the Mark III Warbots to complete the platoon – and to use my new airbrush to prime, base coat, and varnish this my next project.  Stay tuned, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section!  Thanks!

 

 

Robo Sentry Guns from WSD

Back in March of 2017, I read that WSD (Wargames Supply Dump) in the U.K. was shutting down its website and its figures from the Dirk Garrison line would no longer be available.  Very bad news!  I had not yet had the chance to buy any of these, and their retro sci-fi look lured me in to try to get a few before it was too late.

I was able to get a few different sets, which I will be painting up and using in my retro sci-fi games using the card-based Combat Patrol™ system.

The first ones I started were MIS06 “Robo Sentry Guns“.  These came in a two-pieces per kit.  As you can see below, the models were not greatly detailed, but very nice for what I wanted – unmanned and immovable guns for attacking infantry (or vehicles) to deal with during a skirmish.  They were sculpted by Jason Miller.  I wanted to buy 10, but only 5 were left by the time I tried to buy them.  I grabbed them as they were heavily discounted!

 

1 in bag
The Robo Sentry Guns as shipped

 

 

2 robo guns primed
The Robo Sentry Guns primed

I affixed the bases to a 1¼” steel washer using Loctite glue.  This tactic allows me to use magnetic sheets to easily store them in plastic boxes.  I then primed them with Krylon “Ultra Flat” matte spray paint.  I also made sure that I painted the bottoms white as well, as I find that leaves me the option to place information on the bottom that I’d like to have once the models are done, such as the model’s name, the date it was finished, and any unit identification, etc.  I just use a fine-tipped Sharpie.

I decided to paint the two parts separately, base coat both, and then assemble the kit after that.  I also made a change in my process in that I used 3M white poster tack from Michael’s to affix the bases to popsicle sticks for painting instead of white glue.  This worked MUCH better – and the tack is reusable – so I was happy to discover this would work and so well.  The models stayed affixed very well.

I started brushwork with a wash of Citadel “Nuln Oil” over both pieces.  I followed this with a heavy dry brushing with Citadel “Mechanicus Standard Gray”.  Then, I switched to Vallejo Model Air “Medium Gunship Gray” for the tripod legs (with a brush – no airbrushing was done on these models).  For the tripod feet, and the center mount, I used Vallejo Model Air “Steel”.  The gun itself was mounted on a rock-like structure on a washer disk.  I thought the rock made little sense for a robo sentry gun, so I decided to obscure it with Armory “Gloss Black” (still good from 1996!). I then shaded the tripod base with “Nuln Oil”.  I subsequently used Secret Weapons Washes “Heavy Body Black” on the base, followed by lightly dry brushing and stippling it with “Mechanicus Standard Gray”.

At this point, I glued the two pieces together with wood glue, and let the assembly dry overnight.  To further obscure the rock, I used Vallejo Model Air “Gold” on the washer – with an eye towards mimicking the coloration of the lunar modules from the Apollo missions.  I thought it worked well, though it took three coats to get it properly covered.

On the gun, I used Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”, with Vallejo “Aluminum” on the optics.  On the optics I then painted the ends with “Gold” and Citadel “Spiritstone Red”.  I finished the gun with Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash”, with some light highlighting with “Gun Metal”.  Once dry, I applied two coats of Testors “Dullcoat”, allowing for adequate drying between coats.

 

 

3 robo guns finished facing forward
Robo Sentry Guns facing forward

 

 

4 robo guns finished pic
Robo Sentry Guns in different poses

 

 

5 robo gun close up
Close up of Robo Sentry Gun
6 robo gun close up with Star Duck SFC Mallard
Showdown with SFC Mallard

I think these will be a nice addition to my Combat Patrol™ games, as I can use these in multiple situations as a GM.  I like the retro sci-fi look, and as I move into building a Robot army, these will fit in nicely (more to come on those in future blog posts).  I also added a photo to the Lost Minis Wiki on the model, as there was none there.  Still, sad to see that WSD will no longer produce these cool minis.

 

October Casting Projects – more 1977 Star Rovers!

I have been collecting various examples of the long-defunct Archive Miniatures Star Rovers line of figures from 1977.  This month, I have had some health issues that precluded being able to sit down (long story and a pain if you know what I mean).  Therefore, I chose to work on making molds and casting, focusing on Star Rovers, which is something I do standing up.

My overall goal is to create squad-sized units of these “lost” but very cool minis.  I want these to set up and play games of Buck Surdu’s Combat Patrol™, as well as to see if I can create a scenario using the Star Rovers figures that I have collected.  Combat Patrol™ was created as a WWII skirmish card-based miniatures rules set, but it has been successfully adapted to other historical periods as well as Star Wars™ scenarios.  To learn more about Combat Patrol™, click here.

Before I get to the figures and the making of the molds, I wanted to share information about my casting set up.  I basically use pewter and I use a Hot Pot 2 crucible with a Lyman pyrometer to measure the alloy’s temperature.

I also use appropriate safety equipment!

The Hot Pot 2 holds about 4 pounds of molten metal, and is used for making bullets, fishing sinkers, and miniatures.  Unfortunately, it comes with a tripod stand which teeters and is prone to tipping. Why the manufacturer did not use four legs on the stand for stability is beyond me.  After a couple of spills (where I dodged the 650° F contents and had a lovely clean up) I was determined to have a new set up.  Currently I have 1′ x 1′ steel sheets clamped to my old Sears Craftsman® work bench that I have had for close to 30 years.  My friend Jeff Smith came up with an idea that proved to be a great fix.  He had an old cast iron (heavy) Christmas tree stand he was not using.  I filled the large holder with play sand to raise the bottom up and put the tripod into the sand in the tree well.  This provided great stability and rendered the set up virtually spill-proof.  I clamped the tree stand to my work bench (after extending my bench depth about an inch).  This worked great and I am very happy with my new casting set up.

 

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My new set up in the garage – clamped molds on the right

 

 

 

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Close up of use of the iron Christmas tree stand to hold the Hot Pot 2, clamped to the workbench

 

Now I need to step back – I made four molds for five figures this month using Castaldo® QuickSil RTV Jewelry Molding Compound.  These Star Rovers figures were:

  • Archive #2064, Hurraku, Space Phraints
  • Archive #2075, Mark III Warbots
  • Archive #2020, Space Centaur Officer with Pistol
  • Archive #2050, Dragonspawn Advance Guard, Lizardaen
  • Archive #2052, Kneeling Dragonspawn Trooper

To learn more about the Archive Miniatures Star Rovers line click here.

I cannot find any reliable sources to buy these figures – I only find them sporadically on eBay.  This is why I recast them for personal use and for gifts.

My first mold in October was for the Space Phraints.  These are 9 foot tall emotionless insect men that were in the old Arduin game.  These are armed with huge swords and a ray gun.

I found a nice synopsis on Phraints from Saundby.com that you can see here.  The photos below show the original I got on eBay (the blue clay you see came from the mold-making process and is easily removed).

 

4-space-phraint-master
Space Phraint front

 

 

 

5-space-phraint-master-back
Space Phraint back

 

Below is the first mold half set up for the Space Phraint.  I used an old metal mold plug to create my flow aperture along with some golf tees my wife gave me a while back for Christmas.  I also used toothpicks to create air flow vents and release points for better casting.  I also wrote a mirror image of the word “PHRAINT” on the clay.  The QuickSil is measured and mixed and put into the mold press for curing.  I generally wait 28 minutes for it to cure – and I use a hand-held hair dryer to warm the outside of the press to assist in curing the RTV (room temperature vulcanizing) compound.

 

1-space-phraint-mold-first-half
Space Phraint mold in the mold press – first half

 

 

 

2-space-phraint-mold-first-half-removed
Removing the first half of the mold from the mold press before removing the blue clay from the RTV

 

 

3-space-phraint-mold-first-half-done
The first mold half of the Space Phraint mold

 

I then put the first half back into the mold press, applied a releasing cream to any wooden surfaces of the press that QuickSil would touch as well as the green set up rubber RTV.  I then measured and mixed more QuickSil and repeated the process.  After I made the mold, I cut out wooden backings for the mold from 1/8″ plywood using my scroll saw.

The Space Phraint mold was very successful and needed little modification during the casting process.  I was able to cast 42 figures from this mold.

 

6-space-phraint-in-formation-oct-2016-production
A formation of Space Phraints led by the original

 

The next mold is a Mark III Warbot.  As far as I can tell, there are no Mark I or II’s in Star Rovers!  He is clunky and retro looking, with a very cool ray gun/blaster.  He reminded me of Bender from Futurama, though he was created in 1977!

bender

 

6-archive-mark-iii-warbot-front
Mark III Warbot front

 

 

 

5-archive-mark-iii-warbot-back
Mark III Warbot back

 

I followed a similar process in making this mold as described above.

 

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Mark III Warbot first mold half

 

 

3-mark-iii-warbot-mold-both-halves-done
Mark III Warbot mold completed

 

This also was a successful mold.  I cast 42 figures using it.

 

4-mark-iii-warbot-mold-october-2016-production-in-formation
A formation of Mark III Warbots led by the original

 

I then moved onto the Space Centaur, who has rocket packs on his back, but is only armed with a laser pistol!  This was my first try at making a mold of a four-legged creature.  The mold itself needed more tweaking during the casting process than I like in terms of cutting vents and opening up spaces.  I believe that I should have used more of a cone-shaped pour aperture for the mold.  Here I used a small hotel soap and golf tees to shape the pouring well – and I think that works less effectively than a cone.  I also had leaking issues with the mold initially.  I solved these with adding more C-clamps when casting.

I was able to cast 36 figures with this mold.

 

1-archive-2020-space-centaur-officer-with-pistol
Master Space Centaur figure

 

 

 

2-archive-2020-space-centaur-officer-with-pistol-october-16-production-in-formation
A formation of Space Centaurs, led by the original

 

The last two figures that I worked on were Dragonspawn Infantry.  There were actually three made by Archive, but I do not have the prone figure, only the crouching and kneeling ones.  My guess from these pictures is that they were originally painted but then stripped.

 

2-dragon-spawn-crouching-master-fig-right-side
Kneeling Dragonspawn Trooper, right side

 

 

3-dragon-spawn-crouching-master-fig-left
Kneeling Dragonspawn Trooper, left side

 

 

 

4-dragon-spawn-standing-master-fig-right-side
Standing Dragonspawn Trooper, right side

 

 

 

5-dragon-spawn-standing-master-fig-leftside
Standing Dragonspawn Trooper, left side

 

I tried a new mold design – two figures in one mold.  I wanted to see if this would be more efficient.  It was not, primarily I believe that the cone aperture design works better, especially a tall one.  Here I used another hotel soap and golf tees – and I had a lot of casting failures with this mold.  With some adaptations during the casting process (making the pouring aperture and tees wider), my success rate improved, but the overall mold leaked a lot and was a pain to work with.  At one point, some of the RTV came off in a figure, but this did not seem to be a major issue with subsequent castings.

 

1-dragon-spawn-mold-first-half
My attempt at a new mold design – less than fully successful

 

I was able to cast 24 good figures of each type, but I probably had a 50% failure rate overall.

 

7-dragon-spawn-october-16-production-in-formation
Two Dragonspawn formations with master in front

 

I cast 168 miniatures in total with the four molds.  Some I am giving to friends, while the rest I an putting into the painting queue.

 

3-october-2016-production
October production on the table

 

I learned some new things about the process, and got a new casting set up that is much safer.  My next casting will be in a few months – I really want to start painting now that the weather is turning colder, and get them into a Combat Patrol™ game!