Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Building the Ancients' Tripod

I now have a Tripod for my Ancients army. You've probably seen this picture by now.

Here's how I built it. I knew this was going to be a tricky piece to make, and so I went to Lowes and Home Depot looking for parts.  After a few false starts, I found the following lamp on sale. 

The map minus shades.

As you can see, the arms of the lamp are flexible metal tubes.  When I saw this, I said "that would look great upside down." 

Next I needed something to put on top.  I went with this drip shield for a stove:

I put an old plastic tub under it and it balanced nicely:

I then used some cardboard and plasticard to permanently affix the shield, and to seal up the gap on the bottom.  I sued the same painting technique I used on the sails of the Trireme to indicate the common technological base between the Ancients and the Free Martians.
The underside.
For my next step, I placed some bases and green stuff "jewels" over the holes in the shield.

 Finally, I painted the extensions, and added some alienesque hieroglyphs onto the carapace.  Most of the parts were already shiny metal, so I didn't have to paint them.

Here is the teaser shot, before I used GIMP on it to add the sky and laser beams.
Guns of August is this weekend in Williamsburg, VA.  (Hence the early post this week.) I hope to see some of you there.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Mark IV

"That's what I want!  That's what I want to have."

-- Adolf Hitler upon seeing a tank demonstration

My Martian colonists need a tank.  But not just any tank.  They need a tank that looks like it was built, hastily, for use against the Ancients, by people who've never used a tank in battle before, and who have (at best) 1930s-ish technology.  I want something big, clunky, covered in rivets, and generally odd-looking.  So I need to avoid the more familiar hull-shapes of WWII - no Shermans, or Tigers or T-34s.

Here's the first candidate for the job: a British WWI Mark IV from Old Glory.

The model comes with two sponson options: either side can have a cannon or machine-gun.  (WWI trivia: a tank with cannon sponsons was "male."  A tank with machinegun sponsons was "female."  I guess machineguns are soft and feminine? A tank with one of each is a "hermaphrodite.") I assembled a male tank.

As a tank for my Martian Colonists, it certainly fulfills several aesthetic requirements.  It's clunky and weird looking, for sure. It's got lots of rivets.  On the other hand, it is somewhat small.  I am surprised at how tiny it actually is. In pictures from WWI, the Mark IV looks like a Winnebago with machine-guns.  In actuality, it's about Sherman-sized.

Another issue is the cannons.  In real history, early tanks had small calibre guns because they did not expect to fight other armored vehicles much. Their envisioned role was as an anti-infantry instrument. Hence, the rapid increase in size and velocity of WWII tank armament, and the related increase of their armor, once they started actually fighting each other.

In my universe, the Colonists invent tanks as a way of fighting the Ancient's war machines.  So they are likely to put the biggest gun they can onto the chassis. The Mark IV's guns look pretty dang wimpy to fight alien war machines.

Friday, August 9, 2013

More Vehicle Thoughts

Using a HE template
Here are some updated rules, based on my playtest with the Free Martian Trireme.

Split Profiles

Some weapons have an option of two firing modes.  You must choose one or the other.

Geek Notes

For example, a tank's main gun might have the option of firing either anti-tank or an anti-personnel rounds.  The anti-tank round would have a high AT but a low RoF.  The anti-personnel round would have a medium template and a HE rating.


Templates may have a notation (-1) next to them.  This means that all to-Hit rolls by the template are made at -1.

Geek Notes

Example: RoF for a large gun might be:  Medium Template/0/Medium Template -1.  This would mean that the gun fires normally with a big template when stationary, can't fire at all when moving, and fires at -1 to-Hit when stationary.

For vehicles, the main gun's anti-personnel round will usually be Medium Template/Medium Template -1/Medium Template -1.  So it will be less accurate when moving or buttoned.

Multiple Weapons

When a vehicle has multiple weapons, it may fire only one of them at full RoF.  Any additional weapons fire at the moving RoF.  (Or at the Buttoned RoF if they are Moving and Buttoned, and the Buttoned RoF is worse.)

Geek Notes

The reduced RoF for addition weapons reflects the vehicles' crew limited attention and the diminishing return in firing multiple weapons (particularly machine guns) at the same target.  Remember, RoF represents an amalgam number of likely effective shots -- not just the volume of bullets in the air. 

For foot troops, I don't usually worry about reducing the effectiveness of extra machineguns firing -- it makes game play simpler.  But tanks can potentially fire so many guns, and from such a concentrated location, that I think it is necessary to preserve game balance.  (It also prevents rules aberrations such as afflict 40k, where a tank covered in lots of little machineguns is significantly more awesome than one with a single specialized weapon.)