Friday, July 29, 2011

Hotz Mats

As part of my fantasy MERCS project, which I'm calling CLANS, I wanted to create a suitable battleground for my skirmishes to take place.
The first thing I needed was a theme to the battleground - something versatile for which terrain would be common or easy to make.

The first thing that came to mind for fantasy wargaming was grassy fields, which suits fantasy somewhat more than Sci-Fi. I already have my Toposolitario Battleground for Sci-Fi, so I thought I'd go to the other end of the spectrum for my fantasy battleground. I guess if I really wanted to, I could play Sci-Fi on grassy fields too.

With that idea, I started thinking about all the options for terrain that would be appropriate for Grassy Fields - and the options were really limitless. I could have hills, towns, ruins, trees - pretty much anything appropriate for a fantasy setting. Hills would be great for creating elevation ratings, town houses and ruins for full and half cover, and trees would be pretty good for half cover too!
So I was set on creating a grassy field battleground!

The first thing I need would be a gaming mat - something suitably designed that would thematically unify all the terrain on it, while still being durable enough to withstand the rigors of miniature wargaming (the occassionally spilt Coke).

I wasn't able to find any good papercrafting options, but after some looking I stumbled onto Hotz Mats.
Hotz Mats are treated felt gaming mats, designed specifically for miniature wargaming. Check out their website for all the details - they come in a range of designs and sizes, with the option for crater artwork and/or squares/hexagonal grids.

So, I found the size most appropriate for MERCS: the quarter-size (22"x34") which is close enough to the MERCS recommended 24"x36".

I ordered the Green Planet design, with no craters or hexes - the craters suits 15mm wargaming moreso than 28mm, but I guess they could represent a very war-ravaged landscape.
I also ordered the Moonscape design, with no craters or hexes, after I found out postage for two quarter-sized game mats had the same cost! I thought the Moonscape design could also be used as a dungeon, cave, or mountain pass setting.
For the two mats it costed me about AU$32, including postage. I went down to the local art store, and found the Hotz Mats prices (including postage) were actually cheaper than plain felt mats without any designs on them of roughly the same size... go figure.

32 days later, my package arrived from Canada! This struck me a particularly long, but Eric did warn me when I put my order through that there was a postal strike in Canada.

So here are some photos I snapped real quick before bed - I'll take more photos over the weekend, hopefully with better lighting.
I'll also be posting a short review on the mats as well, so stay tuned!

Green Planet (no craters, no hexes)
Moonscape (no craters, no hexes)

Sync out.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

[sefadu] Gunner WIP

Last Wednesday morning I put through my sefadu order with Defiant Gaming, which also included FCC models I decided I would get (to round off my MERCS collection) and some paints I needed to re-supply.

With crossed fingers I waited eagerly, in hopes that my package would arrive on Friday before the weekend (as post doesn't get delivered on weekends). To my relief, Dan came through and I had my MERCS miniatures and was ready to get painting - yay for quick order processing and delivery!

Here's my first attempt at the sefadu Gunner. I'm nowhere near capable of free-handing the designs on the artwork shown above, so I thought I'd include the yellow as heavy contrasted highlights. Looking at my painted model below and comparing it to the artwork, I might try to tweak the red and get it a bit brighter, as the other colours are pretty dark too - so for now, he's still a WIP I guess.

Sync out.

VIP Scenario Model

So this is what I've done with the miniature Kassad was so kind as to send me. I based his colour scheme on my favorite sci-fi character - see if you can guess without following this link.

Anyways, I'm still ironing out a playable VIP scenario and story for the model, so I'll post that when I'm happy with it. I'll decide on his basing once I'm solid on his background too!

Again, many thanks to Kassad!

Sync out.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Official Gear: Maps, Counters, Battlefoam Bag!

Gale Force Nine: Maps and Counters
In this forum thread, the MERCS team have given us a teaser as to what is going to be available come September, with a limited run available to those lucky enough to be at GenCon this year.

The following maps are single-sided, super durable, wet erasable, full color vinyl:

Missile Silo

Fuel Relay Station
The following counters are clear acrylic with printed design and a felt backing:

Action +1
Action +2
Simultaneous Action (SA) Action
Simultaneous Action (SA) Move
Simultaneous Action (SA) Attack
Armor Failure
Blood 1
Blood 2

Armor Failure
Repulsor Tag
Blood 1
Blood 2

Battlefoam MERCS Bag
The bag was announced in this thread, has a desert-tan colour for a sleek military look, and has a whole range of MERCS specific features, listed below:

Zippered Front Pocket, for dice and tokens
Flap pocket, big enough for the MERCS Rulebook

Elastic Sleeves Hold, for official MERCS Game Mats

MERCS Faction Card Pockets

Inside the bag - able to hold 60 MERCS

Inside the bag - able to hold 60 MERCS

Sync out.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Battle Bunker: Closing

This is from Battle Bunker's Viv, posted on our Australian wargaming forums:

"G'day everyone.

As the title suggests, my dream of owning my own wargaming store has been realised. But ... its time for things to come to an end. I have decided after having ran Battle Bunker for more then 2 years to close. Its been an amazing journey and I've had some awesome times, however, I just haven't been able to generate enough retail traffic for the store to remain open.

Wargaming and scenery building has always been a passion of mine, and it upsets me to say its a passion I have lost along the way after turning my hobby into a business. It hasn't been easy, though its been a load of fun .. but with changes happening in my life, I've had to consider my future ... and whilst I hope to regain and embrace my passion for wargaming and things in miniature, running a retail shop will no longer be part of it.

For those existing club members, (and those who are new to our ranks) at this stage I am considering keeping the Battle Bunker Gaming Club running on select days of the week, subject to assistance from those club members who want the club to continue to operate.

The retail side of my business will close on Wednesday 24th of August 2011. Any existing customer orders will be finalised this week as I talk with the various suppliers I deal with, however, all remaining stock will be on clearance at 35% off until the end of August. I will not be accepting any new customer orders.

So with out too much more rambling on and sentiment ... thanks for all your support, laughter and good times I've shared with you all!

Viv "

For a little background, Viv runs Battle Bunker, one of the few Local Gaming Stores in Australia (specifically in Melbourne). If you haven't watched Viv's wargaming/terrain/scenery tutorials on youtube, check them out here - they are fantastic How-To guides and displays of some of his custom work.

A Tribute
You can really feel Viv's passion in his youtube videos, and it saddens me to have heard this news. I've never met Viv, or communicated with him in any way, but when someone is that passionate about what they're doing it's easy to feel a loss.

His youtube videos have provided me with plenty of instruction, hints and tips, and construction How-To guides. But the most important thing he's given me, and I'm sure he's given others too - is inspiration. His videos always made me feel like the most daunting and difficult construction tasks were within my reach.

So this is my thanks to Viv of the Battle Bunker, for his contributions to the wargaming community. For always starting his videos with a smile, and signing off with a goodbye.

Sync out - take care Viv, all the best.

CLANS: Lords of Valhallen

My first CLANS squad - the Lords of Valhallen. I bought Games Workshop's Battle for Skull Pass a couple of years back, not really to play WHFB, but simply because I've always loved dwarves and goblins. They're my favorite fantasy races!

I've always liked the traditional fantasy fiction of dwarves, and kept that consistent in my background for CLANS. I also plan on doing a squad of dwarf slayers, firstly because I like the lore behind them and secondly because I'm an avid reader of Gotrek and Felix (reading through the saga for the second time now!).

Being from a large plastic boxed set, these models aren't as detailed as some of the other stuff available, but I had them lying around gathering dust, so I thought why not. I got to take my pick from the 30+ models in the box too, and it was nice to get some use out of these guys.

They were really fun to paint though, and I think the completed result looks cool. Anyways, onto some close ups of my Lords of Valhallen! (click to enlarge)

Sync out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ordered my sefadu and FCC!

I've placed my order with Defiant Gaming for my sefadu, and I'm VERY excited! I'm glad they were able to stock them so quickly - the MERCS guys only just dispatched their pre-orders on the 18th, so I wasn't expecting to have access to them down-under so soon.

They haven't got the sefadu factions cards yet though, but will have the cards next month when the Keiwai Waza come in.
No word yet on the reprinted KemVar faction cards though - if there's no update on that by the time the Keiwai Waza are released, I'll just grab the current prints. I've been itching to see how the Active Camo armour fares on the table!
[Update!] From MERC-Brian: We have the reprinted KemVar cards. They were reprinted along with CCC, sefadu and Waza.
Looks like I'll be getting 3 sets of faction cards in my next order!

I also bought up the MERCS FCC models, as I just haven't found the motivation to paint my Infinity models. The MERCS FCC didn't appeal to me at first, but they kinda grew on me. The Infinity models are nice, but not the same scale, style and feel as MERCS.
The collector in me triumphed, and I've decided I'll be grabbing all the MERCS factions.

Sync out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CLANS: Fantasy Skirmish

As an extension to my predisposition to proxy, my love for both fantasy fiction and the MERCS ruleset has brought me to create what I call CLANS - a fantasy skirmish game using the MERCS rules and factions.
It's not a clever acronym like MERCS (Military and Economic Reconnaissance and Counter Security) but I thought it captured the concept.
It's traditional fantasy fiction, but that's how I like my fantasy. Here's a little background into the fiction - I plan on basing my following fantasy battle reports around the concepts here.

The Beginning

When the Trinity birthed the world and it's races, they looked down on their creations and were happy.

The Conceiver looked down on the lands eagerly, his ideas coming alive, and evolving into the vision of his mind's eye. Life blossomed, and the lands were beautiful.
The Shaper, tired from his constructions, wiped the sweat from his brow and lay down to rest. He smiled as he looked upon the life forms he had moulded and the landscapes he had carved.
The Blesser was weariest of all, having shared his lifeforce with all the creatures and life of the land, that they too may have life. He closed his eyes, and drifted into the Sleep.

Excitedly, the Conceiver watched the the creatures of world they had created. He looked down on the divided realms of the world, and the lands that each of the young races were granted.
The dwarves, stubborn and proud, were granted the depths, to carve out the mountains for their homes.
The elves, arrogant and beautiful, were given the lush forests, teeming with bountiful life to mirror their beauty.
The goblins, cunning and nimble, had the crags of the arid lands in which to quarrell and bicker.
The orcs, barbaric and fierce, were given the vast deserts, endless harsh dunes to fight and war amongst themselves.

While his kin rested, the Conceiver grew bored with the peaceful division that existed between the races.
Finding the Shaper's discarded and failed creations, he cast them down onto the world to join the other prosperous races. Then, taking the Shaper's hammer in his undisciplined hand, he began to reshape the lands...

* * *

Varen closed his ledger and blew out the candle. Another day of scribing left his eyes dry and a terrible pain in his back. He had to constantly remind himself that his efforts would echo through the halls of his Clan for the ages.
It had been half a century since the Shifting had collapsed the greater part of the underground city of Valhallen. Only a fraction of the dwarf population had survived to rebuild, and as a scholar, it fell on Varen to rewrite the past three centuries of their Clan's history.
The Shifting also brought new threats to Valhallen. Many different strange and sentient creatures had emerged, so different to anything any dwarf had ever seen. It had brought conflict to the dwarves, which were already so few after the Shifting. The dwarves were quick to fortify their home, however with their supplies ever dwindling, they constantly had to the venture out in search of food and provisions.
The Shifting also exposed and created countless entrances into Valhallen, obscure passages and tunnels which the dwarves cannot possibly patrol or hope to completely fortify.
Varen stared into the pools of reflection, and wondered at future of his kind.

* * *

The scent was strong in the air, and was as unmistakable as it was pungent. Farria looked at her comrades knowingly.
They blended into their surroundings, nocking their bows. The orcs trudged through the elven ancestral homelands of Florellan, desecrating the soil with each step. They pushed and shoved, with no sense of discipline or order.
The Shaping had brought famine and war to the forests. Though the elves were superior warriors, and had evolved their combat technique to suit their homeland, the orcs came on in an unyeilding tide of hate and brute force. They had washed through forest, stampeding over the lush foliage and sacred wildlife which the elves so revered.
It was only with appauling casualties, superior strategy and steadfast valor that the elves were able to push the orcs back into the deserts. The elven population had been decimated, however after the incursion, only a handful of orcs had survived and the remaining elves were enough to hold them off. The elf population has since remained stagnant, unable to birth new young as the war with the orcs destroyed much of the forests, of which the elves rely on to bless their offspring with Lifeseed.
Recently though, the orcs had started to replenish their numbers and were constantly raiding the forests of the elves once again.
Farria, as one with her hunting party, drew sight on the orcs, and loosed an arrow.

* * *

Gnokka had had enough. While his Clan argued and warred within itself, the dwarf hold was ripe for the taking.
He was well used to the constant conflict around him, first within his bloodkin and now within the Clan as a whole. He had risen to power through his devious nature, and cunning prowess which gave him sight beyond the immediate, which was the weakness of most of the goblin kind.
"SILENCE FOOLS!" His high-pitched voice carried over the rabble, and to his satisfaction he was obeyed.
"Since the Shifting, our number have grown too vast for our homeland of Craggor to sustain us. We are protected from the other races, in that our lands are barren and it is only our mighty stomachs that can eat the poison mushrooms and fungii of Craggor. They have no want of our lands, but now that our numbers are large enough, it is time we take what WE want!"
Murmurs of disagreement sounded throughout the masses. His kind were not the bravest of folk.
"The den of the dwarves extends deep into the mountains, and would make a fitting home for our noble race."
This time, heads nodded and a silent reverie fell over the horde.
"Too long have we squabbled for scraps amongst ourselves. The time of the goblin... IS NOW!"
A high-pitched roar of agreement sounded, and with that, Gnokka picked up his sword, and marched.

* * *

Rekwar scanned the treeline. He didn't see any movement, but that didn't mean an elf wasn't taking his mark.
He stayed low, out of bowshot. After years of watching his kind throw their lives away to sate their inborn bloodlust, he had learned to master himself. During combat was a different story though, but he had to get into combat first.
There were too few orcs now to muster an army to march on the forest - too few to even satify their bloodlust warring amongst themselves, but their numbers were growing steadily. The elves had learned to defend their lands well, taking to the trees and using their keen archery and guerilla warfare to kill off orc raiding parties. The animals of the land seemed to respond to this, knowing that being outside of the forest would mean becoming a meal for the orc Clan. They hid with the elves in the forest, where the elves treated them with a strange reverence.
Rekwar hated this. He hated hiding like a rabbit, fearful of creatures as weak as elves. But these were hard times, he knew, and only the strongest orcs would survive. Rekwar would be one of them.
He signalled his party to advance, and immediately they broke cover and made a break for the trees.
Rekwar stumbled but pushed on.
They were nearly past the clearing and to the edge of the trees. Rekwar's leg felt cold and tingled. A glance down and Rekwar found the cause of his stumble. The shaft of an arrow had buried itself in his thigh. Rekwar felt rage consume him, as he spotted the elf archer in the distance, taking aim on him again.
"Finally, elf flesh!"

Well, hope you enjoyed the fluff I came up with -  I really enjoyed writing it!

Sync out.

Monday, July 18, 2011

More Basing Options

Since I first posted my basing options, I've surprised myself with my modelling ability and as yet have not needed to buy any pre-made basing solutions.
But with sefadu and Keiwai Waza coming through soon, and me being subtly influenced by growing up watching Pokemon before class (gotta catch 'em all!) and hence deciding to buy he FCC models too - I started shopping around for more basing.

Defiant Gaming have just started stocking three more 30mm options, since my last post on basing, which I thought I'd post here just for completeness.

You'll find the below bases at Defiant for AU$6.92 for five:

Sync out.

Friday, July 15, 2011

MERCS Downloads

I thought I'd post all the MERCS downloads in one place, and I'll do my best to keep this up to date with all the latest versions of the documents.
Thank you to all the people who contribute to the Cause with the effort they've put into the following documents!

Official Rules FAQ including errata - Author: MERC-Achilles, PaintVagrant

Official Faction and Card FAQ including errata - Author: MERC-Achilles, PaintVagrant

Unofficial Scenario Generator - Author: MERC-Achilles
Wargaming is always more fun when it's story driven, and this scenario generator is a great way of quickly creating a concept to base your battle around.

MERCS Cheat Sheet  - Author: Reaper
A quick reference sheet for some of the rules and basics.

Campaign Rules - Author: MERC-Achilles
These are intended for use with the Scenario Generator, and create rules for persistent MERCS Campaigns.

Campaign Roster - Author: MERC-Achilles
To be used with the Campaign Rules above.

Sync out.