Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Versatile Mini's: Ground Zero Games

One of the things I love so much about 15mm sci-fi miniatures is there versatility. It's very easy to set aside multiple uses for the same set of figures -and all the more so because so few 15mm miniatures have the instant "brand recognition" of the likes of GW's Space Marines or Privateer Press' Warmachine Line.

The New Israeli's from GZG's are a case in point. Earlier this year I painted a batch of these figures to represent Mass Effect human marines. Now, with a quick re-paint with a nifty white colour scheme I can use them as Imperial Stormtroopers for games of D6 Star Wars Battles. I also intend to use them as Zaman Droptroopers for games of Tomorrow's War. And, in a pinch, considering I intend to add many walkers to the force (in keeping with the Stormtrooper theme), I could even use them as Tau. However, that being said, I have the GZG UN troopers ear-marked for any Tau invasion of Bad Landing.

What's more, by swapping out the aforementioned walker-type vehicles for more traditional tracked or wheeled vehicles, I can even field these miniatures as an especially well-armoured Imperial Guard force. It's amazing (to me at least) how much use a 15mm gamer can squeeze out of one set of figures, helped along simply by a few minor changes in the force structure and some tailoring of vehicle themes for the force.

But I reckon that for a versatile 15mm alien range, you can't go wrong with GZG's Alien Mercenary sets SG15-X05 and SG15-X08. Three blisters will net you 36 of these monsters -which are ideal for painting up as Gears of War Locust, 40K Orks, the Mercenaries from Fifth Element or any other "thug" type alien race you care to mention -even Star Wars Gamorreans! I only have 36 of these guys at the moment, but I intend to net myself another three packs soon to take the force up to 72. I also plan to add in a few vehicles with a random selection of "Orky" refinements made up out of green stuff. That said, I could have just as easily painted my lads grey and purchased a few of the more insect-like miniatures lines out there for Bio-tech support (Khurasan's insect aliens make for excellent grubs) and painted myself a Locust army instead. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact the grey Locust skin would be lost in the lunar-themed scenery of Bad Landing, I probably would have.

Anyway, that photo just up there is a snap-shot of my first test-miniature for the "Ork" force I'm building for Rogue Trader and Tomorrow's War. I've painted quite a few more of them since then, but dearly beloved is down visiting her mum for the holidays and so there'll be no more photo's till she comes home.

 Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. Until next time.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

15mm GZG Free Trader Crew & The City of Bad Landing.

Crew of the "Glow-Worm" class vessel Sanguinity, if you follow me. Available as two separate blister packs from Ground Zero Games: SG15-X04A and SG15-X04B.


Unfortunately, the lighting conditions for these pictures weren't wonderful (my painting spot-light can only do so much) so the marvellous detail of the GZG sculpts doesn't come through all that well. But let me tell you they're lovely sculpts and instantly recognisable. The reading crew-member in the second picture even has a sculpted moustache. The individual sections of the well-dressed lady's tiara and necklace are also sculpted very cleanly.

Recently, I've been moving away from the concept of 15mm solely in a Mass Effect Context. This should be good news for everyone who follows this blog (all dozen or so of you), especially given it means I'll be posting more often. So, what am I up to 15mm wise?

Bad Landing Terrain Project:

In recent weeks I've set about re-painting my GZG New Israelis. While the Grey colour scheme was very close to what I was after, it just doesn't go well with my "luna-scape" 15mm sci-fi basing. Now they have something of the Imperial Stormtrooper look going for them (pictures to follow). I could have simply changed the basing style, of course. But that would be problematic. You see, my biggest project right now is the creation of a 15mm "Colony" board. The city of "Bad Landing". I'm going for a look inspired by the Hadley's Hope colony from the movie Aliens, with a little bit of the settlement from the BBC TV series Outcasts as well. I'm hoping to portray the settlement through several era's of it's development.

In stage one, it'll be a simple mining/terraforming/geo-survey colony. So the original buildings will be pre-fab and shanty style structures, with maybe a bar, a landing port and a few industrial looking structures or two. Not to mention an atmosphere processor. The terrain piece in the Free-Trader pictures is from this era: it's a repainted Pegasus Hobby's WWII ammo dump. On this board, it will represent the dump for seismic survey charges and mining charges rather than an actual ammo dump, but I think it looks the part.

Another look at the Re-Painted Ammo Dump from Pegasus.
In stage two I'll add small apartment buildings such as those made by Old Crow, a larger hospital, police station and so on. Perhaps even a few agri-domes or an enclosed park of two. This will mark the beginning the colony's growth into a proper town rather than a mere frontier mining settlement. The landscape will still mostly be a barren lunar rock, and the colony will start to look more established and settled. However, we're still talking more Mos Eisley than Star Trek Earth.

Stage three will see the addition of high-rise buildings, corporate headquarters, malls, franchise style stores and the like. By this stage the colony will have more of a "Traveller" look than an near-future look, but there should still be plenty of opportunities for game play. Again, the soil will be of the lunar rock variety, but gene-tailored plants  and open air parks and gardens will make the city look much greener than it did in the early stages.

I hope to have a few more updates on my progress posted soon. Currently, my WIP for the settlement is an industrial-style cess-pit. Other than the fencing around the edge, it's almost done. After that, I have a few more buildings in mind. You won't be seeing any actual habitat buildings for a while though. I need to order in some building parts from Jon at GZG before I have a go at those. My skills with the old Green Stuff simply aren't up to the task.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

In the Emperor's Name

Last night, I had the chance to lead my Imperial Guard squad in support of Gary's Inquisitorial Kill Team in my first ever game of "In The Emperor's Name," a set of skirmish rules based on GW's 40k Universe.

It is a simple, un-complicated and (best of all) free system which was frankly a delight to play. So much so that I've now been persuaded to follow up our successful rescue of a captured Throne Agent from the evil clutches of a Genestealer Cult by taking part in a new campaign.

Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera with me to the game. But I shall do better next week, when we're having another practice game. Now that I've seen how my force works I have a few ideas about how to improve it. Alas, Commisar Savage, did not survive the first practice game, so my new force will be based around the very capable L.t Mason, who did survive the skirmish (and covered in glory too). I plan on adding an Ogryn and a sniper to my force for next week's game.

You can download this awesome little game and try it out for yourself, here: 

Look out for pictures and a game report soon.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Volus: Rebel Miniatures

Vorcha: not the first Mass Effect race one thinks of when it comes to war-gaming. For one thing, they look like short, cuddly teddy-bears with all the fur-shaved off (and that's just when ther're in their life-support suits)! For another, the Volus  are a client race of the Turians, and who needs an army when the Turians have you're back?
Well, the Volus. Apparently.
Rebel Miniatures have a lovely pack of miniatures in exo-suits called the Sons of Thunder. Like the Vorcha, they are short, fat and heavily armour-plated. If the Volus had an army, this is what their soldiers would look like:
 There really isn't any need to offer further comment is there? I mean, c'mon, even their fat butts are Volus-sized?
$10.95 for a pack of 21 miniatures. However, that said, Rebel Miniatures are currently having a summer sale. Well worth a look. It's almost enough to make we want to collect a platoon. But be warned, these are all the sculpts you get. The afore-pictured sculpts constitute the entire range.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Converted Salarians and Asari

A few days ago I reviewed a selection of critical mass miniatures suitable for the ME universe with just a little conversion work[link]. So here they are. As you can see, I'm hardly the greatest sculptor in the world when it comes to the old milli-put, but I don't think they look too bad at all. In fact, if I'd just left the two "horns" on the Salarians un-split they'd have made good Battarians as well.

You may remember that I actually bought two packs of both these blisters. The five of each I've painted so far will serve as an Asari Commando team and a Salarian Special Tasks Group squad respectively. I intend to paint the other two packs as player characters, with one or two miniatures sneaking their way into mixed race merc squads.

By the way, about the paint-job: the highlighting was much better before I put the matt varnish on. I don't normally use varnish when painting 28mm, but on 15mm it seemed pretty much essential. What I hadn't realized was that it might have been smarter to put the matt coat on before highlighting. Ah well. Live and learn.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Alliance and Quarians: Rebel Miniatures

Rebel Miniatures produce a number of fine 15mm ranges, but it's their sci-fi range (unsurprisingly) that offer the most to Mass Effect Gamers.
While I've been busily painting away to produce an Alliance Armoured Infantry Platoon assembled from the very awesome New Israeli 15mm line from Ground Zero Games,  the Rebel Miniature's Earth Force range very nearly came up trumps.
Two products from the Earth Force Range and most of the Sahadeen range are of particular interest for gaming in Mass Effect universe:

The following images are all from the Renegade Miniatures website and are used without permission.

Earth Force:
Earth Force Armoured Troops:

To my mind, the armour on these miniatures is extremely evocative of the few glimpses we receive in the ME universe of Alliance Marine armour. The pack costs $10.95 in US money and for that you receive 21 of these nifty looking miniatures in the five poses shown.
The main draw-back for me (and the reason they didn't make the cut as my Alliance Marine miniatures of choice) is the limited number of poses and the distinct lack of squad or fire team level support weapons. Normally I would  still pick up a pack to represent Alliance Special Forces troops, but instead I'll probably use them as human mercenaries, pirates, private security or Cerebus troops instead. Why? Because the next featured Rebel Miniatures pack is even more evocative of Mass Effect humans (and Shepherd in particular) than these guys.

Earth Force Infiltrators:

While the Armoured Troops above remind me of the various Alliance Marines encountered in the original ME (normally found lying face down in a pool of their own blood) this set is perfect to represent Shepherd, Ashley, Kaiden and similar Alliance N1-7 types. The N, as any ME fan knows, being the Occupational Speciality Code for Special Forces. 
Like the similarly priced Armoured Troops the set suffers from a lack of variety in sculpts and an even more distinct lack of weapons variations. In ME terms, they would all appear to be wielding shotguns. Weapon swaps are easy enough given the way these sculpts are posed however (if a bit fiddly at 15mm scale) so this factor is not as limiting for our purposes as the weapons-load of the Earth Force Armoured Troops. I'll be picking up a pack of these guys (but only one) to convert and paint as human character models for my ME roleplaying game (fortunately there are male and female sculpts in evidence). The rest will see use on the table-top as an Earth Alliance Marine Special Forces team or possibly even as Alliance Corsairs. They also come as nifty bike set as well (not pictured).

Sahadeen Army
Moving on we come to the Sahadeen Army range, also by Rebel Miniatures. The entire range of four sets (excluding the tent set) are ideal for use as Quarians with just one or two simple caveats. Firstly, while most of the figures are hooded and masked, several are bare-headed. However, this is easy to fix with a little milli-put. Secondly, they are distinctly lacking in armour plating in ME terms, being limited to obvious shoulder and knee pieces (though the chest could arguably- also be painted as armour plates in some places). However given that Quarian armour is somewhat intricate in terms of decoration over practical functionality, this should not be too much of  a problem to overcome providing the right palette is used on cloth areas. Finally, although masked, none of the miniatures wear a full face visor. Again, easy enough to solve by simply covering the miniatures face and cloth mask with a flat piece of milli-put.
Now on to the miniatures.

Sahadeen War Maidens:
These miniatures have to be the pick of the range for me. Though only four poses are shown in the image, five are listed in the product description. Again, 21 miniatures for $10.95 US. Three of the four poses depicted have the advantage of already being hooded and masked, so very little conversion work will be required to get these figures looking in a Quarian way.  Weapon choice is (again) limited, a very common situation with Rebel Miniatures, but these would make for good Engineer character types. Possibly adepts or infiltrators as well with the right weapon swaps. Tali could use shotguns in ME and ME2 -and those Earth Force Infiltrators with their "shotguns" would look great with War Maiden pistols and vice versa. For me this is a great little set and excellent value for money.

Sahadeen Infantry:
Use these to represent the male members of the Quarian fleet. Like so many Rebel Miniature's products, they come in packs of 21, five poses, for $10.95. Three of the five poses are masked and hooded and require little work with the milli-put to convert into Quarians. Of the other two, one is holding the same long-arm as the three hooded troops. The fifth and final miniature appears to be a leader figure wielding a pistol. There's not much to say about these guys that hasn't already been mentioned in previous paragraphs except to say they are, likewise, a very nice set of sculpts and excellent value for money.

Sahadeen  Gun Team and Heavy Weapons Team:
These final two sets are what round-out the collection and make the Sahadeen range a playable Quarian army for Mass Effect. The Gun Team. Six excellent figures - 2 spotters, 2 gunners and 2 "support troops" (that's coolant-clip loaders and barrel-changers to you and me) for just $4.99. My only niggle with this set is that the gunner seems rather exposed and naked. This can easily be solved by adding some cover to the base. After all, if he didn't have a rock to hide behind, he'd be lying down and ignoring the tripod. Best of all, they're all masked. So less conversion work required (though the spotters visor will be a bit fiddly to fit around those binoculars).

Finally we have the Heavy Weapons Team: $3.49 US for six (arguably eight) miniatures: 2 sniper teams, 2 squad support weapons (SWA analogues) and 2 missile launchers. Great value for money and vital for rounding out all those long-arm equipped troopers into balanced squads and fireteams. In this last case, fully half the sculpts have their hoods pulled back and sculpting the visor on the spotter figure is going to be an issue, but otherwise a fantastic little set at a great price, though you'll need several to round out your Quarian army.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Mass Effect PCs: Asari

Elder states-beings of the Citadel Races, the Asari have resided on the Citadel longer than any other extant race other than the Keepers. One of the two founding races of the Citadel Council, the Asari have always served as the mediators and centrists of the Council races.

The Asari  race is entirely female. Asari reproduce through a form of parthenogenesis in which they attune their nervous system to that of another individual of any gender, and of any species, to reproduce. Consequently, Asari have a not entirely justifiable reputation as a somewhat sexually promiscuous race.
Asari can live for over 1,000 years, though few do due to a variety of causes such as accident, war and disease. In the Maiden stage of their lives, Asari often wander restlessly, seeking new knowledge and broadening their life experience. When the Matron stage begins, they "meld" with suitable partners to produce and raise offspring, believing that the child inherits the best qualities of the "father" (which, contrary to common rumour, can obviously be another Asari). Finally, Asari who out-live their body's fertility progress to the third and final stage of life, the Matriarch stage. At this point an Asari assumes the role of a respected leader and councilor.

Due to some biological quirks, Asari appear to be attractive to many races, not merely humans. For example, the tentacle like head-structure on the back of their skulls reminds many Tuarians of Tuarian bone-plates. Even Salurians seem to find Asari skin tones attractive and pleasing, despite not being a particularly sexually-driven race.

The in-born Asari ability to manipulate their own nervous system in order to reproduce makes them a race of powerful biotics. The very process of learning how to control ones own Nervous System has much in common with the basic biotic training systems of other races.

Due to their long and productive life cycle, Asari rarely make hasty decisions, at least in comparison to other races. Asari far prefer to take the "long-view" in any decision making process. Few Asari are comfortable in taking decisive action, preferring a long period of study and observation to making a rapid decision that may later prove io have been ill-considered.This is the source of their traditionally centrist views. That is, a certain desire to maintain the status quo in matters of military, economic and political balance.

Internally, Asari government relies on Consensus. Having evolved from the government of city-states on their home-world of Thessia, any and all Asari are expected (and frequently do) offer comment on all levels of governance, from the city-level to the highest reaches of inter-planetary and Citadel rule. However, in nearly all cases, the opinions of he younger Asari taking part in any discussion almost always defer to those of the Matriarchs present.

Cascade Failure Rules
Asari Modifiers:
  • All Asari begin play as multi-classed characters with two class choices. At least one class choice must be Kinetic or Empath, to reflect their early biotic training and abilities. All experience point awards must be split between the two classes, though it is not required that the xp be split equally.
  • +2 to Kinetic Saving Throw
  • Charm counts as a class skill for all Asari characters.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Mass Effect RP: Nailing The Campaign Concept

When running a Mass Effect RP it would be all too simple to simply sit back, relax and bring in the old tried-and-tested "Free Trader" campaign model, where the characters are a pick-n-mix of races and cultures united by the simple goal of making money.

Yet this simple concept has always had it's flaws. For example, how many merchant ships plying the seas of the modern world regularly abandon contracts to go haring off on some wild-goose chase in search of adventure? Not many. Factor in the complete lack of over-riding campaign direction in simply flying around trying to sells tuff and you've lost my interest completely. Yeah, that's right. I'm that guy who hated Elite back in high-school.

There's nothing wrong with a free-trader style game, it's just not my thing. Yet despite that, Sand-box style play is my favorite type of campaign. However, for me there has to be a decent, over-riding reason for the characters to work and fight together. In my soon to begin OSRIC "Expeditionary campaign [link] the twenty odd characters have all been ship-wrecked on a strange island.

Luckily, in the Mass Effect universe there are plenty of options to explain the existence of a (traditionaly) mixed-race, mixed-background adventuring party.All of which fit the themes and tropes of the Mass Effect universe.

The Spectre Model:

 Probably the most obvious choice. One or more members of the party are Spectres. The rest are his agents. This model is somewhat similar to the "Throne Agents" model of the Inquisitor RPG, and lends itself well to a Mass Effect roleplaying campaign. The Spectre might be an actual member of the group (like Shepherd and his crew), or an NPC directing the group from the shadows of a different world or even a space craft (like the Illusive Man and Cerberus. The only real issue with having a Spectre as a PC is the very real risk of abuse. What's to stop a Spectre from simply requisitioning everything he needs, from an experimental ship to an entire army (or armada)? The answer is to either have the team working under circumstances that precludes having the Spectre blow his cover (still risky; if things go wrong her can still call in the big guns) or have the Spectre operate outside Council space. Outside council space (say beyond a newly re-opened relay) not only won't his Spectre status serve to impress anyone save other ex-pats from council space, the locals probably won't even know what a Spectre is.

This latter option is the direction my campaign will be taking, with a PC Spectre and his crew pursuing a wanted war-criminal beyond the bounds of Council Space.

The Cerberus Model:
Cerberus has already shown itself willing to work with non-humans, and most of the Cerberus personnel encountered in ME2 lack the xeno-phobia the organisation is supposedly famous for. Of course, it could just be that the Illusive Man was smart enough to pick the least racist members of his group to work with Shepherd. But even so, justification exists for a humano-centric team furthering this groups goals with a few alien allies or mercenaries in tow. Such a campaign model has a wealth of RP opportunities. A Spectre, for example, goes where he is needed. But it wouldn't be too hard to establish a Cerberus team working out of a particular station or planet if you wanted to spend more time establishing certain locations and local NPC's.

Finally, Cerberus might be the only "militant private interest group" we really know about thus far, but that's not to say the other races don't have a similar organisation (perhaps with the goal of acquiring a council place for the member races in question) working for them.

The Merc Model:
The players are all mercs working for a group such as the Blood Pack, Blue Suns or Eclipse. The main difficulty here being that mercs rarely get the chance to further their own interests or chase up personal quests. They go where the money is. This style of campaign has a lot of pros's, but tends to limit player choice to picking what contract to accept (if they happen to be senior members of a large group or the only members of a small team) and missions ultimately tend to have a lack of variety. The "mission of the week" syndrome tends to rear it's ugly head all too quickly using this campaign style. This sort of campaign is very apt for an episodic play style, but if that's not what your group is after the Merc template can very quickly become limiting. One way around this is to use long-term or open-target contracts rather than one-mission, specific-target contracts . These offer the PC's a great deal more latitude in determining how (and when) to fulfill the mission.

For example, a long-term contract to "de-stabilise Synapse corporation activities on this world to facilitate a buy-out of Corporate assets" offers a lot more lee-way and room for initiative and character-growth than a short-term: " Attack this particular synapse factory and put it out of action." The first contract lets the characters choose other options than a straight up fire-fight to meet their goals and also gives the players a sense of accomplishment. They can see the gradual effects that their activities are having on the game world. The second contract would have railroaded them into a fight, more or less forcing them off-planet immediately afterwords and preventing them from a glimpse of the big picture.

The Corsair/Asari Commando/Special Tasks Group Model:
 We know that the various council races all have special military and para-military units they use to take on and overcome challenges that conventional military or espionage elements could not handle. The only real difference between these groups and Spectres is, as far as I can see, that Spectres have more legal power, more-back up and work for the benefit of the galaxy as a whole (or at least the Citadel races). Whereas these groups work on behalf of their own governments, albeit occasionally being assigned other tasks at the request of the Citadel Council, much like the STG task force on Vermire.

This sort of campaign has many of the same pros-and-cons as the Merc format above, save that the PC's at least know their employer isn't going to screw-them behind their backs (in the military, when you're "employer" is screwing you, they at least have the decency to do it to your face and make it sound like they're actually doing you a favour). However, the different groups listed above each seem to have their own flavour and way of doing things. The STG seems most like a traditional Special Forces unit, albiet one with scientists and the like. The Asari Commando units on the other hand, have a "tribal" command structure and tend to carry out espionage and strike missions. The Corsairs, it seems (from the vague references made by Jacob in Mass Effect 2) work more like privateers, posing as private citizens but secretly in the pay of the Earth government.
Unlike the other Special Forces options, the Corsairs option could conceivably include characters from other races and distinctly non-military backgrounds, perhaps unaware of who their captain and senior officers really work for.
Out of all the listed options in this section, the Corsair model is probably the most playable. Using this model, the characters will be able to pursue their own goals, (including trade, if the party is in to that sort of thing) as well as performing secret missions on behalf of the Alliance Fleet.

Note: All images copyright BioWare and EA

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Mass Effect Proxies: CMG Update and Khurasan Miniatures

The four packs of proxy Salarians and Asari I ordered from Craig over at Critical Mass Games arrived the very next day. The conversions were even easier than I thought, despite the fact I'm hardly a master sculptor (if I were I'd be making my own figures after all, not buying someone else's) and I now have ten Salarians and five Asari based and ready for painting on my desk. The other five "Asari" are sitting in their little plastic bag, waiting for the arrival of some appropriate bare-headed females so I can performs some head swaps. I'll get most of them painted over the next few days and put the images up on the blog.

Craig was also good enough to send me a sneak pic of some other Geth-suitable miniatures he's working on at present. I can't say much more until he's ready to announce them, but suffice to say they look like they'll be great Geth-proxies as well as fantastic miniatures in their own right.

Meanwhile, continuing with our review of miniatures suitable for conversion into Mass Effect races, we now take a look at Khurasan Miniatures. Or, more specifically, the miniature ranges that have featured on the Khurasan Miniatures Blog. The company produces many more fine miniatures that the Mass Effect gamer should take an interest in but, due to the Khurasan web-page and production line being temporarily shut down [link] I'm unable to review them at this time.

A hiatus like this isn't uncommon for 15mm manufacturers, which tend to be one or two-men bands at best, so there's no reason for panic. Hopefully the company will be up and running again soon.

Due to my being unable to contact Khurasan miniatures at this time, the following images taken from the company's blog are used without permission.

 To the left we have the Garn flesh-eaters. Though modelled on the concept of "shark-men" the high, hunched backs, large mouths, huge teeth and stub-nosed snouts of the figures in this range just scream Kurgan. A relatively simple conversion in the form of a small lump of milli-put to form the distinctive Kurgan head-plate is all that would be required.
Likewise, here we have the Orca shock-trooper range, again humanoids aliens based on a large-headed, large-toothed sea-creature with a hunched posture. Again, the simple addition of some milli-put to form bony-plates and we have some excellent heavily-armed Krogan mercenaries.

Unfortunately, I'm unable to do a full review of the entire range available for these troops due to the aforementioned web-site issues. I'm not even entirely sure how many sculpts there are available in each range. I'll keep my eye on the progress with Khurasan however, and let you know more when I can.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Mass Effect Proxies: Critical Mass Games

British company, Critical Mass Games, produces a number of miniatures easily converted for use in Mass Effect wargaming. Here, we'll take a look at the companies Mercenary range, where you can find a good number of sculpts that, with a little work, will be more than adequate to represent the various races and factions of the Mass Effect universe on the tabletop.

I've ordered a small selection of these miniatures from mail order, and will post up the completed, painted conversions as soon as I'm able.

All the images in this article are copyright Critical Mass Games and are used with permission.

 First up is pack Merc-5, Vadorian assassins. As you can see, the five sculpts represent an all female group in tight-skin suits and closed visors, making them excellent proxies for an Asari commando unit on the Mass Effect battlefield. With their nice, simple rounded heads, it should be easy enough to mould on a conical representation of the Asari "head-tentacles'. In fact, it wouldn't even be necessary to sculpt every single tentacle since they would all be covered by the skin-suit in any case.

For a slightly more difficult modelling challenge, a quick head swap with any available female human figure (relatively easy thanks to the way these miniatures are posed) and a little more detailed sculpting with the old milli-put should produce some fine-looking bareheaded Asari as well.

 Next up we have Merc Packs 6 and 7, the Blockhead Battlesuit sets. It seems to me that the Geth in Mass Effect have two outstanding defining physical features: their single eye and their stylish, curved lines. Well, stylish curved lines are something these figures are certainly lacking, but a little filing at strategic points could go a long way in this regard.

However, the do come with that all important cyclops effect already sculpted on a little bit of mili-put to make the two, vertically stacked lenses into a single, larger lens and the result should hopefully be a very reasonable looking selection of Geth troopers.

 The very bulky weapons on the sculpt are likely to be something of a problem for purists, but a little judicious use of clippers to take off the extended barrels should so the trick well enough to satisfy most people. Including me.

 Set number nine on the range have nicely shaped heads with minimal noses. Although the armour is a little bulky, especially on the leader figure, with a little milli-put to sculpt two horn shaped protuberances onto the figures heads, these figures make for an excellent Salarian Special Tasks Group squad.

Finally, we come to set 12. Critical Mass produce a whole range of Protolene figures, which we'll examine in more detail in a later post, but these are the only ones present in the mercenary range.
This particular race has a great deal of Mass Effect potential. File away the hair and you have yourself some Vorcha. Clip the ears as well and your Protalene should make for very respectable looking Turians.

If these figures have one common limitation (other than the fact they all need a little work to optimise their appearance Mass Effects games) it lies in the limited number of sculpts available for each set. Fortunately, the Salurian STG and Asari Commando's work in small groups, so this shouldn't be an issue for most games. The Protolene figures, on the other hand, have a whole nother range available, making it relatively easy to use some of the sculpts for Turians and some for Vorcha without ever having to mix the two, even without conversions. However,the Blockhead Battlesuits are more of a problem. They are slightly larger sculpts (in retrospect, probably better suited to represent Geth destroyers rather than ordinary troopers) with just three versions in each set. Given how many such miniatures would be needed to represent atypical Geth force, this will leave the Geth player with very little variety in his forces. Not a problem for some gamers, but a real-stumbling block for others.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Mass Effect Movie Announced

News to me anyway. Avi and Ari Arad, Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni, the producers behind  smash hit action movies The Dark Knight and Spider-Man will be the team behind a live-action, big screen adaptation of  Mass Effect. I'm also told that co-founders of Bio-Ware, Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk will serve as executive producers, making sure the big boys stay true to the game.

Mark Protosevich of Thor and I Am Legend fame has been tipped as the potential screen-writer.

In a recent statement, Thomas Tull of Legendary Pictures announced:

"Mass Effect is a prime example of the kind of source material we at Legendary like to develop; it has depth, compelling characters and an engaging back story. This coupled with Avi and Ari producing and the skills of a great team adapting the screenplay, are the start of turning this smash videogame based property into a successful feature film."

Co-Porducer Avi Arad went on to say that:

"EA and BioWare are terrific partners who have created a brilliant piece of fiction with a universe filled with amazing aliens and technology. More importantly, though, they created a parable whose conflicts mirror the ones we currently face in our own world. This story emphasizes the need for all cultures to learn to work together."

I have to admit I fully agree with that last sentance. Mass Effect, like Gears of War, seem's ideally suited for a motion-picture adaption. My only real concern is how they're going to fit all the rich depth and plot-twists of the Mass Effect setting into a single movie. Yet the producers and Bio-Ware seem determined that the forthcoming film will mirror the events of the first Mass Effect Game.

We now return you to you're originally promised schedule of Mass Effect gaming-related goodness.

Mission Statement

I'm obsessed about three things: wargaming, role-playing and Mass Effect. But, being a typical gamer, I'd somehow managed to tear my self away from the Bioware's marvellous Mass Effect Universe after completing the game five times (with every class). Albeit thanks only to the welcome intervention of my that common affliction among my fellow gamers: Gamer A.D.D. Yet despite never having looked at the game since; and after 18 months of studiously trying to avoid Mass Effect 2, I finally succumbed to my primeval urges and picked up the sequel. This blog, and my perpetually cramped fingers (from playing the game obviously) are the tragic, yet inevitable result of this indiscretion.

Mission statement: to make this blog the best gorram "go-to" site for gaming in the Mass Effect Universe.

To this end, I'll be reviewing miniatures suitable for use as stand-ins or proxies for the Mass Effect universe as well as creating a Mass Effect Sandbox for RP and wargaming campaign play. I'll also be bringing you regular updates on the heroic victories and tragic defeats of my Mass Effect wargaming and role-playing experiences. Finally, I'll be posting rule variants for the various game systems I intend to use and abuse in simulating the Mass Effect Universe

For wargaming I'll be looking to the venerable, free yet excellent StarGrunt II system from Ground Zero Games and Tomorrow's War from Ambush Alley Games to simulate ground combat. I'm considering sadly out-of-print Renegade Legion and the excellent Full Thrust rules for space combat. Finally, I'll be employing a sublime blend of the free Cascade Failure and Stars Without Number systems for the RPG side of things. I'll also be trying out other game systems as they are suggested or I find a chance to play them.

In the meantime, I'd like to thank any and all of you who decide to follow me on this little roller-coaster as I build up a suitable collection of miniatures and terrain (in 15mm) starting from scratch. I imagine this little project is going to cost me one hell of a lot of time and money, but I certainly know it's going to be worth it.

I hope to hear from you guys about your own Mass Effect and 15mm gaming experiences too.

Take care. It's a dangerous universe out there.


Ignore the following images. They're second hand miniatures left over from a job lot I bought. I'm selling on Dakka Dakka and needed a link to post the images.