Steam Wars – Airborne Assault Mission.

A first flight for the Assault Barges was always going to be on the cards.  From the point of starting to construct them, the project was destined to trigger an increased desire to play Steam Wars and get a few of my Naval Marines on the table.

The scene was set for the Navy to come up against one of Coronasan’s armies over the green hills and lush grass of an alternate Steampunk Earth.

The Mission was to get to the objective within 6 turns and what better way than to fly there, laden down with tough US Navy Crewmen and Marines.

Supported by a scout car and a pair of Gyrocopters it would be hard to slow their advance, or so I thought…

The objective was the fields behind the farmhouses at the other end of the table.

The people trying to stop me however, were actually not people at all. Coronasan took this opportunity to bring out his Mechanica Army for the first time and show off their true might.  The force was made up of all manner of robotic and mechanical marvels.  All led by a man in a flying iron suit and a mad scientist with accompanying hunched lackey.

All they had to do was hold the farm houses and stop my foot soldiers from getting boots on the ground behind the buildings.  As my forces advanced slowly into the fields in front of the houses, the Mechanica troops fanned out, ready to start taking shots at the Skyships.

It wasn’t long before their fire had caused enough damage to force me into disembarking my marines from the first Assault Barge.  She had taken almost all she could and I did not want her going down with all hands still onboard.

The second Barge was not far behind and as she unloaded her human cargo, they started the job of engaging with the strange robotic troopers.  The first casualties fell quickly and the confidence of the Naval Marines rose with such easy kills.

In a fit of overconfidence the flagship, laden with specialist assault troopers, also disembarked the majority of its forces and took out a further unit of robotic troopers.

It was at this point that the first of the assault barges, having safely delivered its charges, was finally destroyed by the Mechanica Fighter jets.

Being almost within spitting distance of the objective, confidence within the Naval force was riding high.  Then came the return fire of the robotic ground forces.  Not strong enough to destroy the well protected and dug in marines, it did however, start to have an effect.  The first line troopers in the centre became pinned and their momentum was slowed as they took cover.

In hopes of encouraging them forward the Command squad forged ahead in their skyship, planning to either draw their troopers along behind them, or take the objective themselves.

In the closing moments of the mission, as the clock was running out, a single Gyrocopter forged ahead. Unable to take the objective itself, its aim was to clear the way for the ground forces to move in.  After spending all game without a viable target, and surviving a hail of fire as it flew over the enemy forces. It unloaded its payload of bombs at the robots defending the objective…  And missed…

Needless to say, the Assault troopers were still stalled, just too far from the objective to make a difference.  Marine troopers began to fall on both flanks as the robotic forces pushed back and, in a last ditch effort, the command team rappelled down to claim the objective themselves.  The only chance the Navy had of completing their mission was to assault the robots hiding behind the last house.

And that was the moment I failed to capture on film.  Why you might ask?  To the great surprise of an exhausted audience, the robotic troopers managed not only to received their charge but managed to wipe their attackers from the face of that fair land.  Blood stained, but relatively unscathed, they had held the objective against a plucky effort to eject them.

All in all, this proved to be a great game, and a very cinematic climax to an eventful mission.  I will look forward to the next time my Barges have the opportunity to fly to war…

Steam Wars – A Game Planned And Some Barges Decked Out

When you come to read this I will have likely already had my first game using these Assault barges in Steam Wars.  I plan to try a full on airborne assault (well, almost fully airborne as I don’t have an airborne transport for any of my steam tanks as yet – Any ideas, on a postcard to the usual address).

When I started building these Barges I guessed that I would get six or so figures onboard if I also wanted a deck gun in place.  I can actually get two units of five marines, or ratings, onboard while still having room for a deck gun (I need to get hold of a few more crewmen that can be based on little 15-20mm round bases so as to not take up too much room.

The Oxford can take a much larger complement of marines.  Here she is, loaded with two units of six heavy boarders, as well as a large deck gun and a five man command squad.  Even will this lot onboard she could take another one or two units.

The second Barge matches the original with ten men and deck gun.

The main assault force totals 37 men (7 units of 5 or 6 men) and their three deck guns.

To support them, I have also allocated my two Gyrocopters to the force. One is tasked with eliminating armoured ground targets with its bombs, the other is tasked with providing close air support, as I know Coronasan will be bringing along plenty of fighter planes.

Finally the force is completed with the inclusion of an armoured scout car.  Fast moving, and tasked with  providing a level of mobile cover for the infantry when they make their initial assaults.  It also supplies, not only a light antitank gun, but also an additional AA capable machine gun to the force.

A fairly small force, due to the cost of my airborne carriers, I am hoping that their increased flexibility might make up for my lack of armoured vehicles.

We shall see how I fare…

Steam Wars – Assault Barges Completed

Once everything was dry it was time to add the 10 or so decals that would match the Oxford and proclaim the Barges as officially drafted into my Steam Wars Navy force.

Although these are MDF kits, the method of applying decals is no different to a standard plastic or die cast kit.  Once you have painted the MDF it is waterproof, and the surfaces are fairly flat. As long as the placement of your decal is not over an edge, or seam in the kit, you should never have any issues.

I would suggest a coat of spray varnish when it is all completed, to seal in the decals (I find it almost seems to dissolve the decal into the painted surface). Doing this ensures they do not lift off when handling the model during game play.

10 decals later and the finished effect is quite nice.

I had not noticed until I left them out to dry but they now cover a sizeable chunk of my gaming table.  Thats a 4 foot wide gaming surface covered when arrayed nose to tail…

I just have to profile them up for Steam Wars and then talk Coronasan into a game later this week.  They need a chance to hit the gaming table, and show me their worth.

Steam Wars – Assault Barges WIP

When last seen, these Blotz MDF Aether Launches (Assault Barges in my world) were built to the point of painting, and outside the weather was very wet and very windy.  Not ideal base coating weather if you are planning on using spray paints to speed up the process.

Painting the barges while they are still in parts allows me to cheat a little, as it allows me to leave the decks with the natural MDF finish.  As the decks are simple wooden planking by design, it will look just fine, and save me some time when finishing off these models.

This weekend I did manage to get outside to spray. I managed to find a brief moment, on Saturday, when it seemed dryer and the wind only gusted every other time I sprayed paint at the models. As all I needed to accomplish was a coat or two of white to the engine housings and the underside of each hull it was not too traumatic a time.

I then had to wait for the spray to dry so that I could get some colour on the metal edges of the engines, hull and the captains shield.  My collection of metallic marker pens again come in handy for these details.

Being an organised chap I managed to sand coat the bases while these were again drying so as to get all parts to roughly the same stage.  I also pulled out the Oxford class skyship, that I have as the flagship of the army, so that I could make sure they fitted the original paint scheme. The placement of decals on the new Assault Barges would also be dictated by this original model.

Steam Wars – More MDF Skyships

While I was tinkering with other MDF kits in the shed, I thought it was about time that I tried to get a couple of other kits off the ground (pun intended).

At one of the shows I attended last year I managed to get these two Skyships from the lovely folks at BlotZ.  They were £11 each and well worth the money in my opinion.  I already have one of the larger Blotz Skyships (my Oxford Class Patrol Skyship).  These are what they call their Aether Launch however I am likely just to call them my Assault Barges.

It is a really easy task to build these kits, but I don’t plan to paint these in the same way as my recent MDF houses.  These are going to be done in mostly white or bare wood. With that in mind, I don’t need lots of different parts painting up beforehand.  I can easily get away with just spraying the undersides of these, along with the hand rails, engine blocks, funnels and fins, in white – as I did my original Skyship – and then, when its dry, I can go over the metal work with a bronze metallic marker pen.  A couple of other colourful details and a few decals and I should be almost finished.

Before all that, while I am waiting for the glue to dry, I can try out the deck plans of these barges to see how they will load up with figures.  These will be part of my Navy Marine army so please excuse the use of Martian Sanwar Slaves for measuring the crew complement.

These barges have very long decks, so I am hoping that they will be able to fit a deck gun at the front and still have plenty of room for for Marines to be transported to the thick of battle.

By my guess, at this point, it looks to be a maximum of about 10-12 infantry that will fit that deck length. However, if I want to bring that deck gun along, I might have to limit things a little.  I might only be able to get a deck gun onboard with a unit of 6 infantry and maybe an officer or two to motivate them to jump off and attack.

Decisions, decisions…

Steam Wars – Gyrocopter Number Two Finished

Yes, I know, I should be painting little green things…  Some times you need to win a bit of motivation back by getting a couple of quick and easy successes under your belt though…

Here I present, for your viewing pleasure (or not), Gyrocopter Number Two.

Mounted on the wobbliest thin plastic rod that I have (note to self – buy more Perspex rod – next pack needs be much stronger) and flying high over the green and pleasant lands laid out in the shed.

Armed with chin mounted generic weapon (could be flamer or MG)

Ah! There it is, almost hidden from view in full flight…

Oh! That’s worse, looks like they mounted a shower head under the cockpit

Ah! Better again…   Hmmn, strange as to how they both look better with the copter in a crashed pose.  Hope that is not a sign of things to come.

And proof that photos should not be taken in a cold shed after a couple of shots of anything warming.  Look how crisp the focus is on that stagnant pool!

If I get any more done on those little green men I will let you know…

Steam Wars – Gyrocopter Number Two

There is always plenty to distract me from the job at hand in the shed.  When I am supposed to be painting Greenskins I end up starting work on a second Steam Wars Gyrocopter.

‘Starting work on’ might be a slight exaggeration.  This little Ironclad Miniatures Gyro was started about a year ago…  Built and undercoated/ basecoated then parked when the next new thing came in the door.  The pilot was done only a couple of weeks ago when I was prepping for our big weekend game of Steam Wars.  The gyros were dropped from the army list so this one didn’t get finished when all the other bits were getting completed.

As it has been front and centre in an almost started/ almost finished state for a week or two now, I decided to just get it done and out of the way…

These come unarmed and my first, you might remember, has some bombs stuck firmly to its sides.  This one will be a slightly more versatile model when it is finished.

A small generic MG style chin mount allows me to profile up a range of ranged anti infantry weapons.

A small rocket pod could be used against light vehicles or as more anti infantry firepower again.

Both are magnet mounted so I also have the option of leaving it unarmed.  In this format I can use it as an airborne artillery spotter, at a very much reduced points cost.

The chin magnet will allow for later weapon additions as well, if I find that an alternate option is needed (maybe a rotating Buzz Saw that I can cut down Zepplins with…)

A quick clean up and splash of grey paint and these will be done (as long as I don’t get distracted again…)

Steam Wars – The Big Weekend

As if by magic, the big weekend number 2 was upon us.  Steam Wars was the planned game, and it was a game that we expected to take some time.  All the women folk were away and the curry was bubbling away on the stove.

Nothing but a cat or two would be able to distract us!

Coronasan had not been idle while I was prepping my forces.  He had been building and painting a mix of MDF buildings and sorting out a 2 foot sea section to add to his fancy new harbour boards.  In a week he had also managed to build a selection of harbour jetties and walkways that would enable my Navy to arrive in style.

My photos do not do things justice sadly but, as my first wave made landfall and the Navy fliers picked out their first targets, we were off.  The objective was for the Navy to push inland and find the ‘Secret Plans’ that the British Science Division had stashed in one of the taller buildings on the second half of the table.

I suspect that this would have made a lovely demo game for our local game show ‘Campaign’.  We might have to consider this again if we get the time and have the energy to plan it.

The Navy pushed inland and quickly found the British rushing to the towns defence.

A few easy targets were taken out by my Navy Air Corps before they tried to move further inland.

The second wave was already arriving on the next Landing Craft and it would begin to get crowded on the harbour if the navy didn’t push on into the town soon.

Both tanks and artillery were present in the second wave, along with a second HMG team in their little steam launch.

As the British formed up in the town square, their jump troopers forged ahead and prepared for an attack from the rooftops.

After making short work of one of the Biplanes, the jump troopers found their retreat to be more difficult as they became pinned down by Navy rifle fire.

All this activity and rushing about was unnoticed by the Heavy divers who continued to plod on up the stairs of the harbour. Slow and steady wins the race!

The Navy tried to push through on their right flank but found the way congested and a British steam tank did nothing to help this along.

With more reinforcements arriving it was getting quite busy on the old quayside.

More effort was made on the Navy’s left flank and at first it seemed a way through might be found.

When the roads are blocked it is sometimes best to head over the rooftops.

Especially when a giant armoured bear and a steam giant come round the corner to stand in your way.

The British deployed their own Royal Air Force as they tried to hold the centre of the town.

In the end the US Rocketmen were able to reach the target building and secure the plans.  While the remainder of the US Navy force continued to be tied up fighting in the streets.

A great game that I would happily play again although my tactics would definitely be different. The artillery units, in a raid like this, proved themselves to be more of a hinderance than a help.  Failing to supply any of the covering fire they had been tasked with.

Steam Wars – Big Weekend Prep Continues

With our big weekend Steam Wars game looming, lots of work has been done with an added sense of urgency.  Sometimes this brings out the best in me, but it can also lead to me taking short cuts and simplifying things just to get things done.

Its odd how our perceived OCD in one area can be ignored in another (or when we don’t have time to think it through).  I have never been a perfectionist in my painting. Sometimes I get by with simple pant schemes and other times I can get very involved with a piece and spend hours trying new tricks on it.

This week its all about simple…

My work colleagues (mostly all ladies) seem to be able to multi task with little effort. I’m am less likely to multi task and more likely to ‘Start one thing – Stop – Start something else – Stop – Go back to the first thing – Stop…’  You get the picture?

My painting table has been rotating from Heavy Dive Suits to Landing Craft to Walking Transport to Wheeled Transport.  As one wash dries on something, another colour is applied elsewhere, then as that dries, on to the next thing.  Its been quite nice actually.  Productive, as long as I don’t ask too much of the finished articles!

The one thing that has slowed things up is bloody rivets!  A side effect of playing a Victorian themed Steampunk game I guess, but why does everything have to have 200 rivets on it…

I know, it could be worse, I’m not painting tartan, or black and white checks I guess, but after 200 little silver dots I can’t always see straight.

Thankfully the Landing Craft are rivet free.  They also lend them selves to a ‘2 can basecoat’.  Nothing to do with the Toucan, although I remember as a child being told a story about how that particular bird got its name and colourful plumage.  He found out the hard way that he couldn’t carry 3 cans of paint!

Anyway, the ‘2 can basecoat’ is as simple as it sounds.  Spray one colour on the top side (obviously its best then to let it dry) turn it over and spray the bottom with an alternate colour.  In my case white and grey.  Don’t worry if the colours bleed across slightly, that adds weathering and shading.  An effect that, if you were using a proper painting method, you would need to add in at another stage.

The second shortcut with these boats was the sponge and dirty paint water method. Allows you the pleasure of avoiding unwanted brush marks and leaves you with a lovely layer of staining under the fingernails if you were not wearing gloves…

The usual sand and black edge completes the bases of any figures and adds a lighter look back to figures that can appear quite dark at first pass.

1/72 and 1/48 scale decals from the US Navy Goshawk model kit (easily available on eBay) finish the models off nicely.  I have used the same decals on every part of my Navy Force (I have been through about 4 sets of decals so far I think).

Loadouts for the Landing Craft have been planned to perfection and should allow me to get the best from the sea deployment I plan to use.

Snug but room for a few friends if needed.

Even the big guns and their tows are all but set for the off.

The Ironclad transports will be ready as well with the walker wading in and the wheeled car hitching a lift on a Lander.

The walking car also has a small gun that I picked up from a bits box at the Derby worlds game show a while back.  Just for self defence you know.

With that lot done I think I might even be ready…

Steam Wars – Planning For Our Largest Game Yet

With our second weekend planned for another larger game, I had only 7 days to get ready for what would prove to be our largest Steam Wars game to date.  The US navy would be deploying from the sea for the first time. If they were to do this successfully they would need plenty of transports that would allow the troops to come ashore safely.

Steam wars uses 5-6 men as a basic unit size, as such, it doesn’t need hordes of figures to get a good sized force together.  I had planned for an army of 3000 points but found that even a force that large left a lot of my US Navy army still in the box.  A normal game of Steam Wars is about 1000-1500 points a side.

So as to not choke the table with too many figures all at one time, the Navy was to deploy in 3 waves. Each deployed from their lovely new landing craft.

The landing craft are designs drawn up by Coronasan and cut by Jim at Products For Wargamers.  The first is the finished design and the second (slightly simpler design) is the initial prototype updated to be playable in our game.  Hopefully they will be available from Jims web store at some point.

The remaining forces were to be deployed from the Navy Steamer and their newest walking (and swimming) transport.  If I was to be ready for the game I had to sweet talk my own female cohort and talk them into me getting more time in the shed.

Thankfully, she who holds the keys is a kind and benevolent ruler and agreed to my requests, as long as a shopping trip was promised in the near future…