Because of my role as Creative Manager of Alternative Armies and 15mm.co.uk I have access to material, news and information that will not be made public on the company websites for days or even weeks to come. I share it here in this category of posts.
These are due to release this week but I wanted to give a little post about them here before that as I have to say that I just love the alien species of Vergan created by Eli Arndt for the SHM line on 15mm.co.uk. Eli has created and is creating a number of alien species and these are one of my favourites. Why do I like them so much?
Well its partly style and its partly ethos. You can use them in any game system and they are of Human height with greater bulk so they match in with ease. Their style is pure space opera of the kind that Star Wars promotes where alien races are welcomed and not automatically targeted as ‘Xenos’ to be exterminated just for the sin of existing like in some other settings. They remind me of aliens produced in 25mm scale in the 1980′s back when larger scales were as open to experimentation as the smaller 15mm scale is now. Its a shame that the seeming increased ‘need for polish for its own sake’ in the wargaming industry, sometimes without any visible increase in quality or value for money, has meant that only 15mm scale now see’s such bold and different designs in the 21st century. Ethos wise its just that. Fun and good value combined with not taking themselves too seriously. Perfect for me and for 15mm.co.uk.
Why call them ‘Free Traders’ and not ‘Soldiers’? Eli said to me when he sent me the designs that he thought of the Vergans as merchants not mercenaries. After a bit of thought I came to agree with him. Some of the other races in SHM like the Prang are blatantly militaristic but the Vergans seem to carry weapons mainly for self defence. Part of a starship crew or in a spaceport these blob shaped and many tentacled fellows might just heft an energy rifle only when the traitorous Human they are dealing with tries to double cross them. The aliens are not always the bad guys…humm…I can feel a USEME scenario brewing now.
The Vergans join the first of their kind (SHM20) as single miniatures but also as a value pack. I do hope that Eli makes more of them in the future (perhaps a Vergan child or female) but he is a busy guy with LNG and other projects so time will tell.
Rumour has it that today a certain Emma is making an honest man of Craig Andrews (editor of Barking Irons Online and Orcs in the Webbe) by marrying him. Being ten years long, long service myself I offer my congratulations to the happy couple and wish them all the best for the future. Craig is a top bloke, I have known him for a number of years now and he deserves all the love that life can offer a man.
‘You can take the cudgel away from my head now my Good Lady…see I said nothing negative about ten long, long years service…. ’
Its been a hectic week for it was time for the ‘creative staff meet’ hosted this time by me here in Girvan in Scotland. As you can see from the picture above myself (centre…ain’t I pretty!), Sam Croes on the right and the crypt keeper himself Eve Hallow on the left (yes, he does manage speak with that on!) had a jolly time of it. Being face to face allows for a lot of conversation and ideas to flow quickly and they did. It did mean that I have been out of the office all week but I do promise to catch up on, what I am told, is all of the fifty plus emails for me that are awaiting answers.
As well as work we did do some sight seeing too as it was Sam’s first time here in Ayrshire so I took him to see Alloway and the land of Burns along with some scenic sights. This was made easier by four dry and sunny days in a row which for Scotland is a rare thing. Eve did not come along…sunlight does not agree with him strangely…
Sam was kind enough to give me some pressies from his homeland of Belgium and I gave him some goodies from here as did Eve Hallow. I have not pictured all of the presents as I drank some of them and ate others but I will review the excellent looking comic books and the music too. Time should not be so pressed now for me.
Gifts from the lands of Ghent!
Its rare to have so much talent in one room and it was a blast and I can’t wait until we all meet up again in London at Salute 2013 in April. In a time of instant communication and ever faster computers sometimes you just can’t beat working shoulder to shoulder on exciting things for the future of miniature wargaming. Eve say’s he might even turn up to Salute without the mask or his shovel for digging up corpses!
Sadly the joint post-apocalypse wargaming blog begun between myself and Maj Diz Aster called Terra Burning is no more. In effect it was a still birth of a project for no sooner had the details been agreed and the blog begun the poor Maj had a series of incidents that led to him telling me he was quitting wargaming. While I am happy to say that Maj has returned to wargaming now fired with new enthusiasm for different scales and genres other than 15mm science fiction the TB blog was doomed. Without his assistance I was unwilling to take it on alone. Indeed I seldom agree to joint projects like this one as my time is limited and I get rather a large number of offers each year. I had hoped Terra Burning would be a hit but alas…twas’ not to be. The blog has been removed from the sphere.
I may post some of the article I had spent hours drafting for Terra Burning over on my own TTWG blog if the mood takes me but for now it seems the rad ruins and the wasteland scarred precincts have fallen silent. Sorry.
Its not often that I spend an entire day on one central task but today was such a day. Today, with the assistance of my good lady, I photographed all of the professionally painted releases for the next three months for 15mm.co.uk. This came to more than three hundred images of roughly seventy unreleased miniatures from the HOF, HOT, SHM ranges crafted by six different designers. We take photographs very seriously with the aim of showing the actual miniature in the best light and with no software trickery involved. So many hours of thousands of watts of light and positioning figures resulted in some great shots but left me with eyes like a Blood Hound!
The vast majority of the new miniatures are in the HOF 15mm Science Fiction range and all but a handful were painted over several weeks by Eve Hallow. He is an excellent miniature painter with an eye for colour. Its also his birthday this weekend so I will be standing him a Lady Juniper or two at the local hostelry and giving him a wee gift but for the moment I will tell you of his first gift. He is not only a miniature painter but an aspiring sculptor too and his first miniature will be hitting the SHM range this week… coincidence or what…on his birthday weekend.
I am not allowed to show you all the images I took (don’t even ask…you would burst with the thrill of it!) but I will sneak out a few in the coming weeks and for now I give you what is coming out this week. The Jelly Cube by Eve Hallow, the Criat Mercenary by Will Grundy (another first!) and the icky Biomorph by the excellent Eli Arndt. Enjoy!
Aside from a liar of a politician finally being exposed today the big news is that historians have proved beyond reasonable doubt that a skeleton found under a car park in Leicester is indeed that of King Richard III who died in 1485. This is excellent news for me as I love the War of the Roses period of English history and this really brings it up to date and may mean some revision of books held up to this point to be correct. You can read the detail on the Guardian’s Blog but this does solve one of the big mysteries of English history and its also amazing that they found the body at all. Really long odds against it. Hunchback and Murderer or a victim of Elizabethan spin doctoring? You decide. Got to love Olivier!
The day is here (well it was yesterday but I do have to sleep) Slaughterloo Redux is in print, in boxes and being sent out to all those who ordered it from Alternative Armies. You can find out all about the book on the website and I will not repeat it here (there is also a folder of free files you can download too) as this is my personal blog and I just want to talk a little about the process of the book and the joy of its publication.
Back in the autumn of 2012 when it became clear that the original print run of Slaughterloo 2nd edition was going to run out the decision was made to update it and put it into one book instead of a boxed set. The process of making one book out of three was larger than I originally though as not only had it to be combined but it had to be updated. The rules mechanics did not change but the army lists and statistics tables had to be expanded and tidied up along with more new material added. On top of this there was a new scenario to write and a new way of writing it (based on the Flintloque 3rd edition model) required. Page after page all the way up to one hundred and sixty eight pages. The biggest book I have ever worked on. The authorship is of course split between myself and Alex Draper but I oversaw the digital layouts and artwork editing myself. Over a hundred and fifty of Edward Jackson’s great ‘world of valon’ images are in the book and each of them had to be sized and rendered. Topping out at 175,000 words the editing and proofing took three weeks to complete. Hundreds of work hours but it was more than worth it as the book is a beautiful object in its own right.
You can see from the pictures in this posting, I wanted to show an actual copy instead of digital copy as normal, the quality of the print work and of the paper stock. The book has a great weight and is a joy to flick through and read at leisure and that is before you get to the actual game (Alex’s rules are superb!). You can read it as a reference book too. In a time when prices go ever up for wargaming material and the content gets ever slimmer and font sizes ever bigger this bad boy gives you the works for just twenty pounds. I believe in giving people a damn good read as well as a good game to play.
Unfortunately the weather in the UK did delay release and shipping by two weeks and by consequence this posting too. Obviously I did not see this coming but the company has not had a single grumble never mind complaint about the delay. Alternative Armies has many loyal gentlemen for customers, let me tell you. Snow and wind did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm though. Slaughterloo woohoo!
p.s. you might now ask how I am going to top this book…well 2013 is a long year and there is plenty of time. Just you all wait and see.
The Latest on BIO as of the weekend…its updated already since then!
Back in December I took part in the now annual Alternative Armies interview for the Orcs in the Webbe advent calendar. In that interview I was told that Craig Andrews, owner of Orcs in the Webbe and editor of Barking Irons Online, would be making a planned effort to kick the volume of content on Barking Irons up a notch. Well its now late January and Craig has certainly met his goal!
I contribute content to Barking Irons when I can. A lot of this is done in time time off work or at the weekend (yes, I don’t sleep much!). Now its not as much as I would like but I am only human. Craig has taken my work along with that of a dozen others and planned out news, reviews, articles and scenarios for half a dozen game systems published by Alternative Armies and 15mm.co.uk. My latest was a HOF Fire-Team scenario you can find notes for on TTWG blog but only yesterday an excerpt from The Trolls of Valon from 2012 was put up too. I am very impressed with Craig’s dedication to wargaming and to me as well. Add to this that he holds down as full time job and has just successfully moved from Birmingham to Bristol and you have a chap who can spin a lot of plates while also maintaining a formidable online presence.
There is no doubt that Craig Andrews is the soul behind BIO and that I among the hundreds who regularly look to Barking Irons for their gaming material each week are looking forward to what will happen in the rest of 2013 and beyond with this online magazine.
Craig is going to be looking for voluntary funding for OITW to cover his costs. I have told him privately and will now state it publicly that Alternative Armies will contribute largely to this in supporting OITW. OITW now also covers other game systems in the ‘black powder fantasy’ wargaming genre created by Flintloque so I hope those other brands will also assist Craig and that this will meet his needs.
Last summer I wrote a short article for Irregular Magazine for their thirteenth issue. I was happy to be asked by a customer of 15mm.co.uk who is also on the staff of the magazine as they were looking for professional writers to create material for a ‘Mysteries of the East’ focused set of content. My love of all things Japanese combined with giant robots (more on this next month…it will be worth the wait) gave me an idea for a piece all about a sport that replaced war in a ravaged future Japan. Wrestling in the form of two hundred foot tall, two thousand ton machines, which shake a stadium and make a crowd of tens of thousands roar in approval. Robo Basho 2115!
The article is part one of two with the first part focusing on the history and background of Japan in 2115 which then leads to the sport of Robo Basho and the customs of the giant machines themselves the ‘Roborikishi’ in their stables. An account of that occurs inside the ring and the weapons allowed along with the Gyoiji or Referee too. The Kuroboshi III type giant mecha is looked over and its super thick armour and massive muscle servo bunches compared to western war machines of similar size. Ending with the roleplaying possibilities for Robo Basho the article explains what would be featured in part two. A good read if I say so myself!
Irregular Magazine 13 was due out last summer and the delay is regrettable. Here is a statement from the editor on this from their website:
First of all, we’d like to start with an apology to all of our readers and contributors. We were not able to publish Irregular Magazine in Summer 2012, which we deeply regret. We believe we’ve got through the problems that made this impossible and are now back on track with regular publications!
I do not want to get into this here but I think that the problems Irregular had are similar to those other online wargame magazines and indeed other printed monthly titles have had too. Finding and obtaining content that interests an ever diverging readership is tough and adding to that the sheer speed of the online community and news feeds means that traditional formats are failing. No point in putting news in a magazine these days. Focusing on deep article content is the way forward, a more journal like approach. This of course is hard to come by from writers and artists as it takes longer to create. For those interested it took me eight hours to pen the article plus an hours proof reading.
Lastly I must give praise to Sam Croes my good friend who created the superb Robo Basho artwork for the article which also features as the cover of the magazine too. His talent always makes me smile and he was very kind in agreeing to craft this piece of art in his limited free time for me. He has also produced a blog post on how he created the superb image for Sumo Basho, check it out.
After a busy weekend on the website of Alternative Armies and 15mm.co.uk I went into work to find that two of my titles had sold out their current print runs. The first third edition game book for Flintloque and the ninth title in the USEME series too. Both of these will be out of print for a while as I have to organise re-prints but both will come back into stock as they are core books and popular sellers. Indeed War in Catalucia will be in its third print run when brought in again and the total number of USEME booklets sold is nearing four thousand now.
While Zombie Dawn will be brought back into print just as it was there is a chance that I will take a few days to ‘update’ War in Catalucia. That does not mean any changes to the mechanics of the game (third edition is the most awesome incarnation of Flintloque ever as it is) rather some more background material and art taking into account the three years since release with more stats and army list information and the like. More as and when as normal on this.
The winter of 2012 and into this year has been good for Flintloque and USEME with new players taking up the offer of a free limited miniature called Gerrrard the Wolf and the masses of content on Barking Irons and the great new Orcs in the Webbe. USEME continues at a pace with weekly messages stating ‘release more titles!’ a firm favourite.
I am the Creative Manager of Alternative Armies and its sister brand 15mm.co.uk. While my role involves many tasks its primary one is the creation of new titles in the Wargame hobby market and the development of existing titles. Having been doing this for ten years I like to think that I have managed this rather well....
Read all about what I have been doing recently from my postings.