25 February 2010

Err, What I Meant to Say Was...

I've been reading, and filing metal!  And I have a correction to make concerning my previous posting.  In it, I commented on the odd makeup of The Greys figure selection, and concluded with, "That's what I get for not picking them myself," or words to that effect.

Wellll, I spoke too soon.  As it turns out the figure selection is exactly appropriate for a 100-point army in ASQL.  The way the rules work is you have minimum and maximum types-of-stands per each 100 points, and the minimum is 3 Science Teams and 2 Robotic Servants.  Period.  That's the minimum you are required to have to play The Greys army.

So the fact that I have 5 Command figures (1 stand's worth), 10 Science Team figures (2 stands' worth) and 5 Soldiers (1 stand's worth) is not all that surprising after all.  Command Stands, in the rules, are not separate figures/stands, they are an upgrade you take for your existing stands.  So I can either mix a couple of the Command figures in with some Science Team figures, or just keep them as a stand-alone Command Stand, and it perfectly fits the requirements of the rules.

What's more, there is some flexibility in regard to how many figures are on a stand.  The recommended number is 5, but any number is pretty much o.k., as long as you and your opponent understand what it represents.  So with 20 figures to choose from, I should be able to upgrade my army "artificially" by using fewer figures per stand.  Instead of 4 stands of 5 figures, I might be able to do 5 stands of 4 figures, or even 10 stands of 2 figures!  The only real change will be the appearance of the army on the table.  Ten nearly-empty stands isn't as impressive-looking as four full stands.

At any rate, the game mechanics sound interesting if a trifle convoluted, and I'm very glad for the table of contents, as the order of presentation is, to me at least, not intuitive (so I'll be using the ToC to find what I need faster than just flipping through the book).  But a single read-through is not indicative of how a game plays, so I shall reserve final judgment until I play it.

Here are a couple of photos of my forces waiting for primer, all neatly mounted on U.S. pennies for bases.  They'll never be this close together again except in the heat of battle!
Those Human Imperials will regret letting The Greys get behind them!

Now to figure out a color scheme.  Thanks for reading!

17 February 2010


The goodies from 15mm.co.uk arrived yesterday, a day ahead of schedule.  It's been a long wait, but I was able to finish the projects on my painting table, as of last night, so waiting served a purpose.  (As soon as the weather warms up a trifle I'll give them a clearcoat and take some pics.  Not sure where I'll post them, as everything I was working on was premanufactured scenery.  They had been sitting in the closet for far too long, and in one of my usual bouncing-between-subjects moods, I swept them all up and painted them.  But as they're not really sci-fi related I don't know where I'll post them.  Prolly at my other blog.  I'll let you know.)

Anyway, I tore into the box containing the ASQL rulebook and figures.  Here's a photo of the contents.  You can click it to see it larger; 15mm figures are pretty hard to get good images of.
Here's the Human Imperial Army [ASL05]:
It looks like there are:
16 Imperial Troopers (Bolt Gun) [Laserburn #300]
2 Imperial Officers [Laserburn #304]
2 Senior Imperial Officers [Laserburn #305] 
5 Imperial Trooper (Rapid Fire Bolt Gun) [Laserburn #308]
6 Assault Droids [Laserburn #311]
1 Military APC Glaive-Tracked Variant [Laserburn #V008t]
1 Robo-Turret - Heavy Laser for Glaive [Laserburn #RT01]
33 total miniatures including a vehicle.
This cost £13.00.

In the other bag are The Greys [ASL10]:
1 Grey Alien Command [HOF47], 5 figures which includes:
     Commander pointing
     General with large headset and cape
     Grey with Pysker Amplification gear
     x2 Grey with distance viewing device
1 Grey Alien Science Team [HOF48], 10 figs which includes:
     x2 Grey with heavy cases and slung weapon
     x3 Grey with capture claw probe
     x2 Grey with Atomic counter gear
     x3 Grey with info pad in hand
1 Grey Alien Soldiers [HOF49], 5 figures which includes:
     x4 Greys in simple combat suits with energy rifles
     Grey with support size 'death ray projector'
1 Grey Alien Flying Saucer [HOF50]
6 Robotic Servants [HOF44]
5 Robot Scout Drones [HOF45]
32 total miniatures including a vehicle.
This cost £15.00.
The ASQL rulebook cost £12.00.
Shipping was £3.60.

The total cost to me in US dollars, after the excruciating exchange rate, was $71.26.  Removing the rulebook and shipping, this means that 65 figures cost approximately 72 cents per figure (lumping together vehicles and infantry).  That's still pretty affordable, and completely unattainable in 28mm scale in metals.

I realize the Laserburn molds are rather old, so that explains the fairly-substantial flash and mold lines on the figures.  I'm o.k. with doing some work on them, as long as it's not excessive (which it's not), but that one guy on the right is gonna be blind I think.
The Grey molds are pretty new and they are very clean, only a little work is needed to get these guys ready for painting.
However, I'm a little surprised by the figure selection:  essentially two-and-a-half Science Teams, an extra Command Team figure, and 5 count 'em 5 total actual Soldiers (you know, the guys with the guns....).  I'm not philosophically opposed to "substituting" figures as needed, but I never expected to need to substitute almost half the force!

Ah well, that's what happens when you let someone else pick your army.  I did go into this with my eyes open, so it's fine, although I would have preferred 7 more Soldiers (5 for a second Soldier squad, the sixth to fill out the Command Team and the seventh for the Science Team.  (Y'see, each code has 4 individual poses, so adding a Soldier to each of the other Teams keeps from duplicating poses.)

Now to start reading and filing metal!

04 February 2010

Coming Soon to a Planetoid Near You!

The world of 15mm Science Fiction gaming is exploding with new stuff:  new miniatures out the wazoo, new rule sets, and more new miniatures.  It's a Golden Age of (15mm SF) Gaming right now, with players spoilt for choice.  Check the side panels for links to some of the great goodness that is available.  I resisted for as long as I could, but I finally had to jump in before it all passed me by.  I still love my Colonials, and hope I won't be away from them too long at the same time as I look forward to spending time with my new old love:   Sci-Fi.

You read that right:  new old love.  My very first miniatures purchases were not for the D&D games I was playing at the time, aeons ago.  No, they were SF miniatures that just looked cool.  I think, deep down, SF has always been my one true love.  Star Trek, Star Wars, and the modern day blends of Postapocalyptic Gaming such as Mad Max and Car Wars; all of them are what I look to when I want Real Escapism.

One of the nice things about 15mm gaming is that it's very affordable, not only in a general sense, but also in comparison to 28mm gaming.  Games Workshop, the world leader in 28mm SF gaming, has an acknowledged, well-deserved reputation for being expensive.  Let me emphasize that:  EXPENSIVE.  It's been years -- quite literally -- since I bought any miniatures from GW.  I love the 40K universe they've created, and still enjoy the fluff, but even that has gotten to where I can't keep up.  How in the world can they publish 30 or 40 novels and expect anyone to keep up?  I can't really even afford to buy all their stuff:  new rulebooks every few years as they re-write the main rules again and again, new Codices (or Codexes, as they say), and tons of background books.  It's all fun, but I'm running out of room to store it all.  They're just too prolific.  It's too much.

While it's true there is a lot of stuff available for 15mm, it's much more affordable.  You can get a decent army -- 100 points or scaled for some other rule system -- for $50 or less and be finished!  Plus, they're much quicker to paint.  15mm by default has less detail than 28mm (although some of the new 15mm is amazingly detailed) so you don't have to spend as long per figure getting not only a good tabletop standard but a superior standard (which is what I strive for).  That's my experience from when I painted my 15mm British and Zulu figures from my Rorke's Drift set.

So I've taken the plunge.  I've just placed an order from the nice folks at 15mm.co.uk over in Scotland.  I've ordered Alien Squad Leader 2.0 (known to the Collective Internet Intelligence as ASQL2), and two 100-point armies designed for same.  They are a Human Imperial Army from the old Laserburn range and The Greys.  (link and link)  The  nice thing about it is that I have no idea what specific figures I'm getting, other than two 100-point armies.  Now normally I don't like not knowing what I'm getting.  But since I know nothing of the rules, I figured buying a pre-built pack would be a bonus.

I say I know nothing, but in fact I read a review, so I know a little.  I know that ASQL2 uses 50mm x 50mm bases with roughly 5 figures per base, and I know that I don't want to permanently base them like that.  I am tentatively planning on using U.S. pennies as individual bases, thereby allowing me to use the armies with all the other fantastic SF rule sets available out there (most of which require individual basing).  Then I would like to make movement trays of the needed size for ASQL2 that I can use with the inidivually-based figs.  I got this idea, which I am stealing in broad daylight, from the Basement gaming bunker blog.

I've thought about buying washers for bases, or the thin plywood bases Litko makes, but U.S. pennies cost...1 cent.  How much cheaper do you want?  Plus, they're the right size to my eye:  19mm in diameter, with room to add a magnetic sheet to the bottom if you want without making it too tall; yet it looks fine without it, too.  Naturally, for certain figures (Commanders, Support-type weapons, perhaps some vehicles) I'll need to use larger bases.  A U.S. nickel, maybe?  We shall see.

Now don't get me wrong:  I primarily ordered ASQL2 because I not only wanted the rules but also because they provided pre-built armies for it.  That's a tremendous incentive to me.  I have hopes to add to my growing Space Invasion Collection soon, but time will tell.  There are many other miniatures manufacturers out there, and other rule sets too.  A future blog posting will detail what I know about them.
At any rate, 15mm.co.uk advises that my goodies will arrive around Feb 17th, so that gives me nearly two weeks to finish up my current projects and make room on my painting table.  Actually, a little longer as I probably won't start painting until I read the rulebook first.  I am, however, agonizing over the long wait.  ...rotten Atlantic Ocean, getting in the way....