The online residence of wargame creator and writer Gavin Syme
Category Archives: Gaming Concepts
I spend a lot of time writing, designing, testing and playing wargames of all kinds as part of my job. In these posts you can read about ideas and concepts that occur to me during these processes. Sometimes these ideas will become living breathing titles and miniatures and at other times they might well end up being nothing at all but a pleasant thought.
Its our biggest code on the Ion Age so far and this little look at it gives you a taste before release day. Our birthday month is heating up and thanks to everyone who has sent in kind words and picked up the figures they missed from the Year One Collection. Read on and dream of a grand space opera setting. Go to the Ion Age blog and excuse me after a massive typing day for not saying more here inside my own head blog.
There is a lot going on at work just now. Major product releases one after another. This has meant less time for me to do much in the way of hobby or personal time projects but its well worth a blog post here. So what has the week for me been?
Its all been about buildings, vehicles and aliens in 15mm scale. 15mm scale means that a human being of average height is about a centimetre and a half tall as a miniature. Its a great scale as it means very large objects can be modelled affordable and well without a huge expenditure of energy. The aliens were the brand new Prang, alien raiders and soldiers over on 15mm.co.uk. These chaps made by my friend Eli Arndt over in the USA are great fun and suggestions for their use range from pirates to bodyguards. If you are interested in seeing them pop along to the blog for that website. The vehicles, well that was Sam Croes beautiful Skylark Patrol Flyer a resin kit in 15mm scale for The Ion Age. You can see it on top of the tower in the above image. Terrain came in the shape of the landing pad that tops off the tower in the above image. You can read more on the Ion Age blog.
Typically I do the writing, blogging, web work and photo editing for releases and I am not interrupted much by customers or fans while doing it but in the last seven days its been a total opposite. Many have been praising and asking about these new items. This is the focal point of this posting. It makes me smile. Being asked what something will look and what it will cost and if there is a story to it is very invigorating it makes you realise that people care. Frankly it makes me sure that investing my time and efforts into this universe was the right thing to do.
Its been a long search and at times a painful one but at last I own a paperback copy of the Escape from New York novel by Mike McQuay. A close run thing (much like the Escape story itself!) with many bidders and a final price that might make you sweat but which is still less than buying a copy through a book dealer it has just arrived in the mail. I will do a review of the book once I read it but you might ask for now..why are you interested in a novel about a film that is thirty years old?
The answer is Snake Plissken (played by Kurt Russell) the character has had a big impact on me for as long as I can remember. Sure the film is a little ropey and in places it drags but it and its characters have real presence that many newer movies do not. Snake is an anti-hero living in a nightmare police state future America with a military past hinted at and a fame that he does not want. The book is meant to expand on Snake’s background and give weight to tag lines in the film. I sure hope it does. The novel is significant because it includes scenes that were cut out of the film, such as the Federal Reserve Depository robbery that results in Snake’s incarceration. The novel provides motivation and backstory to Snake and Hauk — both disillusioned war veterans — deepening their relationship that was only hinted at it in the film. The novel explains how Snake lost his eye during the Battle for Leningrad in World War III, how Hauk became warden of New York, and Hauk’s quest to find his crazy son who lives somewhere in the prison. The novel fleshes out the world that these characters exist in, at times presenting a future even bleaker than the one depicted in the film. The book explains that the West Coast is a no-man’s land, and the country’s population is gradually being driven crazy by nerve gas as a result of World War III. Awesome!
I actually do have a plan beyond the obtaining and reading of the book and that plan is to try and get 15mm.co.uk to back my idea of more HOF codes that are suitable for the EFNY setting. We already have the SFA which will stand in for the thuggish guards and we have HOF55 (pictured above) which will, with more packs coming this season, stand in for gangers in the prison city. But we don’t have what I yearn for….a Snake for the nest. A miniature like that could be put into many projects and wargaming settings. Perhaps a Maggie and a Cabbie along with a Duke and a Hauk too. Sometimes I get my way but with 15mm.co.uk’s customer base wanting it too…well perhaps this post will assist in that. Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you are as keen as I am. Eye Patches are cool!
Quick posting to link over to the Alternative Armies blog. Its been near twenty years since the last new ‘greens’ were released for The Ion Age, at that time Firefight. I have reached another milestone today along with Sam Croes in bringing out new 28mm designs. Four for now but many more to come. A little pat on the back for me today I think! Click on the link if you want to learn more.
Today the expansion to the original Hab Dome over The Ion Age was released. Why blog about it here? Well its been a focus for me this week away from a bad week in general and its been awaited by a number of customers since the image of it was first ‘leaked’ (above) a few weeks after the October release of the Hab Dome. There is a detailed post written by me on the Ion Age Blog. Have a look. Its one of the longest posts thus far with fiction, information, pictures and more.
I don’t have a lot of time just now for personal blog posts but this was worth the time and all kudos goes to Sam Croes who spent a lot of time designing the Tower Module so that not only does it look awesome it just ‘snap fits’ into place allowing towers of up to five levels to be made. On The Miniatures Page a thread has gotten some good feedback on this release with suggestions about using the module as ground storage or as an escape pod. That is one of the things I love about the hobby industry, the imagination of the players and model makers.
Today I spent a couple of hours taking photographs. Not so unusual for me but today was a little different in that the pictures were for the upcoming conversion packs for 15mm miniatures on The Ion Age. Above is one of the final composed images for one of the pack codes. You can read about this over on The Ion Age blog. These pictures were an absolute swine to take for several reasons. Firstly the sheer size of the pieces in them. Most are half a centimetre or less in length which means they would rather stick to Human skin than the paper I placed them on. Then the positioning, even the slightest breeze or knock sends them flying and that includes the ends of my chubby digits (no artist am I!). Lastly lighting. Lighting is tricky with all miniatures as shadows can destroy a good picture. The issue with these tiny white metal pieces is that they suffer shadows in images often not evident to the naked eye due to size. Solution was a single high powered light source and then taking shots from directly above while staying out of the light cone.
Another year has passed in my life as a wargame writer and general all around fine fellow and over the previous few years a marker of this passing has been the annual Orcs in the Webbe interview. Now that the chaos of Christmas is behind me (and a Merry Mithras Day to one and all) I wanted to put up a short posting here on the blog about this year’s interview. You can read it here and it makes for interesting reading. Firstly thanks to Craig Andrews for the interview and for carrying on all his efforts into Black Powder Fantasy for wargamers everywhere not least Flintloque fans. Secondly I often don’t realise just how many tasks I take on during a year and the interview gives me a chance to reflect upon this both for the past and the future. I seldom take a day off and I think it shows in the loyalty of our customers to Alternative Armies, 15mm.co.uk and The Ion Age too.
I think the biggest thing for me to come out of the interview was that, as I expected, The Ion Age has taken up a lot of my year but also that my role in the company has changed. We have a larger team on all projects now and where once I was sole creative input there are now several voices in this area. I hope that this means I will have time for more side projects perhaps even some creative writing.
Lastly an apology to Craig to whom I had promised a piece of lengthy Dracci related fiction for the Calendar this year but due to a combination of atrocious weather which shut us down for several days, personal illness and sheer workload I was unable, the first time ever, to meet the deadline. Sorry! Looking at it, its not often I drop the ball but I am only Human.
Have a read at the Interview if you have the time. Its fun stuff indeed!
I have just made live and announced that 15mm.co.uk now has its own blogger blog. Out of the digital cold and into the hot light of cyber augmented reality the birth of the blog leads with a posting about the latest re-mastering and re-release of a classic Laserburn vehicle. From white metal to resin and back to life. Appropriate really for this new forum as well.
The blog is small just now but it will grow fast. You can visit it on www.15mmcouk.blogspot.co.uk. Its going to be a great read. Plus you can see our new vision logo.
I have been gone some time. Well not gone rather sitting here as always working away but rather working solid in my ‘downtime’ on the playtesting of Patrol Angis as per the last post here some six weeks ago. Six weeks, gone by a flash aside from the warm summer evenings now dark and stormy.
Just a quick post to say I will be getting back to normal now and to thank everyone in the test group for their efforts. You can see the six weekly blog posts about it by me over on The Ion Age blog. They make for some fine reading. I will be redrafting the rules engine based on the results of the playtest over the festive period for release next year.
A lot has happened with me in the last month and a half so perhaps some retrospective posts will feature plus some movie reviews and books reviews too now that I have time to leisure once more. Perhaps even a wargame or two if I can drum up a foe.
The concept of limited edition miniatures is nothing new. In fact Alternative Armies has had them for twenty years now in 28mm scale and other brands longer than this (remember those awesome 1980’s Citadel limited runs including Space Marine Santa’s and the like?) but they are seemingly always of the 25mm and 28mm scale of miniatures. I have had a dig around and found literally nothing limited in 15mm scale. Why is this? Is it because there is no interest? Is it because until recently 15mm did not have the same glamour as a scale as 28mm? Is it a cost issue with money making not being possible with having a sculptor make a 15mm that sells at a relatively low price only for a few hundred castings or so? Or is it simply something that no one has thought of yet as the wargaming hobby endlessly repeats itself with the same cookie cutter ideas?
Well in response to these self set questions I can offer some self decided evidence answers. I think there is interest as many wargamers play 15mm scale, more now than ever before especially in the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy and some of those wargamers will want limited’s as they do in the larger scale; stands to reason. Certainly 15mm had nothing like the presence it has now only seven years ago when I founded 15mm.co.uk and brought Laserburn back to the wargames table so maybe its not come up before. As for cost and money making this is different for every company but I think, having bashed the calculator keys, that as long as the run was of the five hundred or so mark it would be profitable so no get out clause there. Has no one thought of it yet? Well I admire companies like Critical Mass Games, Ground Zero Games and Khurasan Miniatures but they have no limited codes in their 15mm that I could see so perhaps like the rise in popularity of the scale it has not yet evolved as something companies do who produce that scale of miniatures will do.
This is something I have been thinking about for over two years. In fact it was near the top of my brief while I was musing on what would become the new Ion Age. Much like my idea to create the SHM Range on 15mm.co.uk which gave aspiring sculptors their chance to get something release when no one would take them seriously (which has been rather successful with more than seventy designs and a dozen designers to its ranks) I decided that I would give it a try. After all without some fun and a sense of adventure what is the point of this hobby? The Ion Age would be the perfect testing ground.
What would such a limited miniature probably be and how many would be produced? Well I knew it would be produced in a run of 500 numbered packs that much was based on the hard numbers. It would have to be TWO miniatures not one, to make the bulk up for packaging; that was a change over 28mm scale. As for what it would depict I followed the same outline of rules that I have for Flintloque. That being interesting characters but nothing unique or vital to a wargame system. Purchase would be from interest and a sense of collecting NOT out of a resignation to needing the figures to play a certain mission or personality…that is cruel and something other much larger companies do. So it would be a character officer to lead a lance or more of Retained Knights. A perfect jumping off point to see if the concept had legs and would run!
The Ion Age will be releasing its first limited edition packs of 15mm characters towards the end of this month. The pricing will be slightly more than the normal but not much and this is really only to cover the extra packaging and manpower this type of code needs as with all limited codes. You can see IAFL01 above. I will tell you no more about these two fine fellows just now though…you will just have to wait!
If you have any thoughts on this idea please do email me or comment against this post.