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.