Monday 29 November 2021

The Great Rationalisation of '21: Mighty Empires!

Next from the loft we have the Games Workshop big box game Mighty Empires, originally designed as a campaign system for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, but also playable as a game in its own right.  2 of my friends had copies of the game and I was fortunate to be able to acquire both from them for the original purchase price of £25 each.  Mind you, we are talking a quarter of a century ago...

A section of Albrecht Altdorfer's "Battle of Issus"

Mighty Empires is unusual in having a box lid decorated with historical art rather than a painting by one of the usual GW cover artists.  The 1529 painting by Albrecht Altdorfer shows Alexander the Great defeating Darius III of Persia in 333BC.

Box 1 - map pieces, dragons etc.

The first of my boxes contains the map tiles (I used to spend hours arranging and re-arranging these to create marvellous maps), a tub of dragons, some gold coins I bought to hand out to players as something more tactile than just scribbling down how many "gold crowns" you received in revenue at the end of each campaign turn.  The small tubs contain some of the game counters.  There's also that Kryomek plastic blister pack, but more on that in a moment...

Box 2 - counters, armies, settlements

The second box contains all the plastic fortresses, cities and villages that go on the map, also the banners (i.e. troop counters) and lots more counters.  I made a North marker hex that could be added to the map if desired.

Rules and maps.

The rules have been hole punched and popped in a binder along with all the extra rules they published in White Dwarf.  There is also a punched pocket containing some old campaign maps.

A map.

I fondly remember the campaigns played against my friend Matthew who lived over the road, we'd set up a map on a coffee table in my room and play over the course of 3 or 4 days, maybe 20 years of actual game time.  After setting up the map and choosing your starting locations, each player had 6 turns (each representing 1 month) to explore the map.  An unexplored tile would need to be scouted before you could move into it, 2D6 would be rolled to determing whether it contained a village, fortress, city, or was barren.  Different tables were used depending upon whether it was a river valley, highlands or plains.  Rolling doubles when scouting meant you'd discovered an independent settlement. After the campaign season, you'd tot up how much revenue in gold crowns you recevived from your various settlements (1 for a village of fortress, 2 for a city, +1 for each ship if you had a port), then spend the revenue on improving settlements (building fortresses or cities, bridges, ships), recruiting troops, buying supplies for them.  Wizards in your realm might also cast some spells.

Another map.

We must have managed 4 or 5 big games over a couple of years.  Using 2 sets of the game made the campaigns suitably epic and far-reaching.

Undaed - yay!

Now we return to that Kromek packet.  One of the sets of Mighty Empires included several of the add-on sets of metal miniatures produced for the game, including pirate ships, wizards' towers, bridges and the undead.  Ah yes, the undead.  All our games would feature the Necropolis somewhere near the border between our two realms.

Undead army banner.

The skeleton army banners are really nice, lots of detail that rewards the quick ink-wash-and-drybrush method of painting.

Dare you enter the Necropolis?  Of course!

The Necropolis is a lovely piece of scenery too, suitably forebidding.  I like the fact that the back has a slightly different design.  Investigating the Necropolis could have all sorts of results, you might find a rich tomb and gain some extra gold crowns, or perhaps some of your army would become terrified and desert.  If you were really unlucky, you'd accidentally disturb the Necromancer who would ride forth with his great undead horde and raze the surrounding area.  Happy days!

Necropolis from the back.

Now that I have a 3d printer, I intend to add some extra pieces of scenery in due course, a mine, some temples, perhaps a great wall...

Sunday 28 November 2021

The Great Rationalisation of '21: Epic Battles

I started playing roleplaying and wargames in the late 1980's - the "Golden Age" of Games Workshop to many, the time of WH40K: Rogue Trader first edition, WFB 3rd Edition, WFRP, Realm of Chaos and the Big Box Games.

Yes, the Big Box Games... I had a lot of them: Space Hulk; Mighty Empires; Advanced Heroquest; Space Marine; Adeptus Titanicus.  I'll focus on the latter 2 today.

I started buying White Dwarf magazine with issue 113.  There were regular articles with rules expansions for many of the games in every issue.  Epic started with Adeptus Titanicus, White Dwarf articles added rules for infantry (Space Marines and Imperial Guards) and armoured vehicles, Dreadnoughts, Robots and more.  Space Marine arrived soon after, and White Dwarf ran a competition to win a copy of the game or a £5 voucher off the price, I won a voucher and eagerly rushed to our local independent games shop Truro Micro to nab my copy.

The voucher got me 25% off the £20 price tag for my box of 16 Land Raiders, 32 Rhinos, 320 Marines plus a small cityscape of car and plastic buildings.  A few months later, I added Adeptus Titanicus with its 6 mighty Warlord Titans and some marvellous polystyrene buildings to fight amongst.

My sorting in the loft included checking the current contents of my boxes, I've acquired extra copies of SM and AT over the years and I wasn't sure which boxes were which.  The original boxes contain only part of the games now, the painted vehicles being stored more safely in multi-compartment plastic hobby boxes.

As an aside, the cover of the Space Marine box is the point at which the Dark Angel Space Marines changed from black armour to dark green armour.  Apparently the box lid was supposed to depict the Salamanders chapter but owing to confusion somewhere along the line they ended up with the Dark Angel insignia.  Despite the fact that there was were already multiple colour references to the Dark Angels having black armour (40K Space Marines box, Rogue Trader, 40K Compendium, Space Hulk supplement Deathwing to name a few), the decision was obviously made that the new colour scheme would stick instead.

My original Space Marine box now contains a hugely expanded city comprising 3 complete sets of buildings.  I have a fourth set too, which is in a CityTech box and gets used with BattleTech games instead.  I like the design of these buildings, the Space Marine rulebook detailed all the different building types which added nothing to the game in terms of rules but did let you try your city planning skills (no, the generatorium wouldn't be sited by the residential buildings, but is next to the administratum really the correct place either...?).  The buildings were ideally scaled for infantry and armour battles.  You didn't need huge structures like those in AT, these smaller buildings allowed you to create a more maze-like set of streets with plenty of cover but not so tall that they made it awkward to reach into the gaps to move your models around.

You can see from the cover of Adeptus Titanicus that the original Titans weren't really 1/300 scale, more like 1/900 or 1/1000 (so infantry abotu 2mm tall or smaller). There are teeny tiny marines milling around the feet of those Titans!

The AT box contains an odd assortment.  I have the cover of the Codex Titanicus rules expansion which introduced Orks, Eldar plus a whole load of new vehicles including the Thunderbolt dropship, plus revised rules for Dreadnoughts, Robots and a whole range of support weapons/vehicles (Rapier, Tarantula, Landspeeder etc).  The actual rules from this supplement are elsewhere, they came loose-leaf in the card cover ready for insertion into a ring binder.  Most of the bog box games had a rulebook designed to be cut apart, punched and inserted into a binder to allow expansions to be added. As well as scenery, blast templates, counters and the like, the cardboard parts sheets usually included a long rectangular strip showing the game's name.  It was years before I realised that these were designed to slip into the spine of a ring binder to help identify its contents!

Some of my epic Chaos forced were lurking within the box, a Bloodthirster and some Bloodletters, plus theres a few Chaos Marines and some Squats in there too.

I also have some papercraft scenery and a load of counters from different versions of the game.  That white and yellow counter peeping from underneath is a felt-tip coloured photcopy of a traitor Imperial Guard infantry stand from the White Dwarf infantry rules for Adeptus Titanicus.

Last of all is my Bendicks Victoria Orange chocolates box containing the unit datacards from Space Marine.  Each unit had its own card, for the original game this included Tactical, Assault, Devastator and Support infantry stands plus Land Raiders, Rhinos and Whirlwinds.  There was a full set of each for both the Loyalist and Traitor players.  White Dwarf soon added extra that you could cut out and stick to a cereal packet: Predator, Bike, Rapier, Tarantula, Mole mortar, Thudd gun, Landspeeder. The next release of vehicles changed to a different style and introduced some additional heavy vehicles such as the Falchion and Glaive superheavy tanks (later renamed Shadowsword and Baneblade and then the names were ret-conned back into 30K/40K history as different vehicles), Basilisk (carrying a macro-cannon in this early version) and Manticore (2 x multi-launchers) self-propelled artillery and more.  A third design of datacard followed, revising some of those already created and adding in extra vehicles (Leman Russ, Eldar Tempest heavy grav tank, Ork battle fortress).  They soon realised that having a datacard for every vehicle would make it very difficult to run the game and wisely switched to tables of vehicles instead!

Some of my future posts will look at the other big box games Space Hulk and Mighty Empires. There is also the question of all the vehicles and infantry from those Epic games...

Friday 26 November 2021

3D30: Paul's 30 3d printer tips. Part 1 - things to consider before buying a 3d printer

Having been using a resin 3d printer for a year, I've compiled a list of 30 tips.


The first 5 are presented below and might be a help for anyone considering whether to buy a printer - especially as there are lots of good deals out there at the moment during Black Friday.

  1. Research:
    1. Look for stl files before you buy - download a selection of free models to try out (thingiverse, cults3d - some companies have free samples from larger sets).  Decide whether the stuff is out there that you want to print.  If not, do you have the time/skill to learn to 3d sculpt models yourself, or the money to pay someone to do so?
    2. Consider ongoing costs: how pricey is resin, isopropanol etc in your country?
    3. Are you doing it because it's just the current fad or are you constantly thinking of things you want that you can 3d print?  Is there something you really need that just isn't produced by anyone else?
    4. If producing jewellery or mechanical components, do current resins provide the strength/resilience/hardness/flexibility that your projects will require?
    5. How will you clean/cure prints – can you afford a wash & cure station too?
  2. Think about what you're going to print:
    1. Do you really need a large print volume or fast printing time?
    2. Or will smaller size and longer print times be adequate?
    3. When will you print? I often prepare files in the evening, set the printer running next morning, then clean the prints after work.
  3. Look for deals:
    1. Do you need one NOW or can you wait 3 or 4 weeks for a special offer?
    2. Beware of combined deals on printer & wash/cure station, resin.  They are often cheaper individually (or the combined deal is just normal prices added together) or include a resin that you don't want (wrong colour/type).
  4. Beware of import duties for your country - direct from China price may be great but in the UK you could be hit with 20% VAT plus £8 handling charge! £100 printer + £20 VAT plus £8 = £128.  Possibly customs duty too on more expensive items (over £135). There can also be delays & inconvenience, possible problems with returns or replacements.
  5. Location - do you have somewhere suitable for it to go:
    1. Think about temperature - will a cold garage mean you can't print for part of the year or have problems with the resin? Cold temperatures cause the resin to thicken so it doesn’t flow as well, sometimes causing prints to fail.
    2. Smell and fumes - if using normal (i.e. not eco) resin, chemical smell may be unpleasant
    3. Ventilation - esp for b) above, do you need to install an extractor fan/vent?
    4. Can you keep small children / pets away from the printer & resin?
    5. Make sure washing & curing on same desk/table if possible - avoid risk of drips/splashes/spillages/dropping of prints when moving between locations (don't want spills on nice furniture/carpet etc.)
    6. Can you protect your flooring?  Resin spills on carpet will be all but impossible to clean up.
    7. Is there space?  Unless you have 3 or 4 hands (or an assistant), there are a lot of things you need to pick up/put down/open.  You need space to:
  • put down lids (i.e footprint of the machine x 2)
  • put down isopropanol container
  • put down wash & cure bits
  • put down print head

I'll cover some more of my tips another day, hopefully a few might find them of use.

Thursday 25 November 2021

The Great Rationalisation of '21: Aerospace support

 Several years ago I got some Matchbox Skybusters to serve in as air support in my 15mm games.  They'll be useful for airfield raid type missions.

Stealth Launch

"Stealth Launch" fighters come in a range of colour schemes, these came in a garish orange but I'm repainting them in a dull grey.  They'll be aerospace fighters for my Neo-Colonial Commonwealth forces.

Sea Arrow

These "Sea Arrow" planes are going to be militarised civilian aircraft with jury-rigged machine guns or improvised bombs.  I like their pusher-prop design.  I can imagine them operating from short runways hidden in the jungle...

I'll need to source some suitable transfers to mark up both sets of aircraft, I probably have some amongst my huge stash.

Tuesday 23 November 2021

The Great Rationalisation of '21: Mecha and city buildings

Some of the first things I need to pack up are assorted mecha I've acquired from eBay.  The Warhammer/Excalibur/Tomahawk and the Longbow/Phalanx/Spartan are Robotech/Exofleet toys that are awaiting repainting to match the rest of my Guavan Defence Force Mecha.


The MAC II Monsters are Matchbox Robotech toys.  Both need some extra work in the form of gun barrels, one needs the ammunition bins adding under the rear.

MAC II Monsters

To have some nice Mecha battles, I will also need suitably large scenery.  I found some great value multi-storey buildings on e-Bay.  These are 5-storey as standard but being modular, I can make them as tall or short as I wish.

A tall building

I've added trimmed matchsticks as windowsills to they aren't completely flat.

Two smaller buildings.

 I need to decide how I'm going to paint the buildings.  I want to avoid a dull grey cityscape but I also need the buildings to all be the same colour scheme so that I can mix and match storeys as desired.  I'm thinking perhaps a brick red.

Monday 22 November 2021

Adventures in 3D printing!

I’d been thinking about getting a 3D printer for a few years but they only recently reached the quality, affordability and ease of use for me to finally buy one.

I made a below asking price offer on an Anycubic Photon Zero resin printer during Black Friday 2020 and was surprised when it was accepted.  I ended up with a 3D printer and a wash and cure machine for under £200 - something which would have been absolutely unbelievable 4 or 5 years ago.

A small scene

In the year or so since getting the printer, I've produced a range of things.  Some of the first were some items of scenery for my 15mm games.


Although the Photon Zero has a small print area, most of what I print tends to be for 15mm gaming or smaller, so this isn't a major issue.


I've been learning all sorts of things, for instance many items were printed flat on the build plate to start, which resulted in an "elephant's foot" bulge around the base few layers, but this easily disappears in a few seconds with a sanding block.


Other items seem to work without any clean up required afterwards (apart from the usual rinse and cure).


Most of this scenery has been re-scaled from 28mm scenery.

"Midfielder" missile tank.

I rescaled this "Midfielder" (i.e. BattleTech Striker) to 200% normal size but it's a bit small for 15mm.

"Midfielder" missile tank.

I mixed various files together to add on the pioneer tools and some stowage.

Salamander scout/command vehicles.

"Epic Scale" (6mm) is where I've been most impressed.  Cost of old Epic stuff is prohibitive these days, at least as far as the Imperial Guard is concerned.

Destroyer tank hunters

There is loads of stuff available free on web sites like Thingiverse and Cults 3D that has allowed me to bulk out my existing epic forces.

Leman Russ Demolishers

In some instances, I've added on some of the metal Epic 40K parts such as dozer blades and cupola mounted storm bolters or searchlights.

Leman Russ Demolishers - multi-melta (left) and heavy flamer (right) sponsons.

Printing your own vehicles provides a range of possible variations (eg sponson weapons) that might not be be viable for a physical manufacturer.

Leman Russ Demolisher

 I'm hugely impressed with the results from this little bargain basement printer.

Leman Russ Vanquisher & Crassus superheavy troop transport.

I intend to add a few more 3d printing articles to this blog soon, maybe they will be of interest or use to anyone who is currently wondering whether to give the process a try.

Epic scale Chimera IFVs

Overall, I've been extremely pleased with my purchase, the only difficulty was in finding some isopropyl alcohol at the start for washing the models - at the height of COVID, production of Isopropanol had difficulty keeping up with demand for disinfectants!

Sunday 21 November 2021

The Great Rationalisation of '21: Introduction

The time has come for a sort-out!

We have building work planned and it will involve every room in the house at some point, including the loft.  This means that it's time for a review of all my stuff and I thought I'd take the opportunity to document some of it on my blog.  Being over 30 years worth of accumulated wargaming models, scenery, literature and reference materials, some of the older readers may find it brings back a few memories!

What sort of things might be cropping up in the next few weeks?

Battletech ( I started playing early 1990's just after the Clan invasion)

Citadel/GW (started back in 1988 during the original WH40K: Rogue Trader days when a box of 30 "beaky" Space Marines cost £9.99)

Star Wars Roleplaying (from around the time Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire trilogy came out, circa 1993ish)

A few modern military/SWAT and survivalist types for Zombie games at the local games club

The dungeon! A table-full of Hirst Arts dungeons for a modified version of Heroquest.

1/72 and 1/76 models - mainly Airfix, Revell and the occasional Italeri.

Starships, both small for wargaming plus some larger ones for display.

15mm modern and Sci-fi, the original reason that I started this blog back in 2010.