Welcome to the Highlander Studios blog.

I won't promise any earth shattering revelations here. What I will be trying to do is post some new products as I release them, share some thoughts on gaming and show some pics of games and other stuff that I enjoy. So come in and make yourselves at home.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

U.S. 5th Cavalry on Mars

     I attended a great seminar on Space: 1889 at Origins this year. Not only was it well presented and full of good information relating to my current sculpting project, but it also seeded several scenarios for Space: 1889 games. The most interesting to me was that the United States had sent a troop of the 5th Cavalry to Mars. That set off vivid images of Custer making his last stand behind fallen gashants while surrounded by hordes of Hill Martians. Imagine my surprise when a little research dug up the fact that Custer had briefly been assigned to the 5th during the Civil War. It suddenly all fit together.

     Custer was actually one of the few survivors of the Little Big Horn. This combined with his political leanings and glory hounding caused some consternation with the War Department. Custer was quietly shipped off to Mars at the head of a troop of 5th Cavalry where he would be out of the way. On a routine patrol he finds himself once again surrounded by angry native forces.

     So we have the basis for a game. But what to do about the figures? I had already planned to start Hill Martians for Space: 1889 so getting them sculpted was not an issue. Well, the actual production delays may be an issue, but hopefully things are timed just right and I'll have the figures in time for my Fall In game. I plan to do U.S. Cavalry for Mars later, but they aren't slated until December at the earliest. What to do?

     I gave the matter some thought and started playing with the idea of putting other figures on the gashant I had done. I tried some of the John Ford style cavalry that I'm doing for Legends In Time, but they would require major conversion to fit correctly. I pulled out a couple of Blue Moon cowboys and tried them out. Hmmm... just about right. A little filing here... a little widening there and... U.S. 5th on Mars.

     Old glory was kind enough to sell me a pack of just their cavalry riders which I set about converting to fit on my gashant models.

     The combined figures looked pretty good.

     I decided how many I wanted and set to assembling, priming and painting.

     The results were pleasing. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't have time to have the gashant conversions with bridles and saddles produced. But that would have caused even more trouble with the Blue Moon figures anyway. So I'll just deal with the lack of reigns and girth cinches.

     The overall effect when they are mounted together on  a base is good. They'll do nicely for my game at any rate. And I can replace them later when I make the official Space:1889 figures.

     Now I'll spend the rest of this week painting the rest of the mounted and dismounted cavalry. I hope to have the Hill Martians by the end of the week so I have time to paint them for the game. Fingers crossed, people.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

15mm Huts Have Arrived

     Acheson Creations has finished molding and casting the first four huts for me. All right, so they're the only four huts at this time, but you know what I mean.

     The first is a half-stone granary or treasury.

     The second has complete stone walls. This was the first one I did. The roof is a little tight and it requires a few passes with a file or knife around the inside top of the wall.

     The third is a wattle and daub structure with only a few cracks showing.

     The last is another wattle and daub hut. This one shows a little wear. There are patches where the wattle shows through around the structure.

     All will sell for $8 each or the complete set of four can be purchased for $28. They are unpainted and each is two parts; the wall and the roof. Highlander Studios shop.

     Painted sets of the Space: 1889 adventurers and steppe tigers are also now available. They can be found here: Space: 1889 items.

     I am taking pre-orders for Fall In. Anyone interested in picking up merchandise at the show can place an order in advance via email to me at Highlander Studios. Please put Fall In pre-order in the subject line.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tomorrow's War - First Impressions

     Last month Joe at Osprey posted that he was looking for bloggers to review Tomorrow's War. I emailed that I was interested, pointed him to my blog and told him a little bit about what I did here. He kindly sent me a copy of the rules and I've been reading through them as I have time throughout the day. This first review is by no means comprehensive. I'll be digesting for a while, but I wanted to post my initial impressions. I'll follow up over the next several weeks with a review the actual game mechanics and a few battle reports, but for now, I'll just hit the physical production and layout.

     The first thing that I noticed was that the shipping envelope was heavier than I expected. I opened the package to find an inch thick, hard bound, full color book. It's 260 full color pages packed with rules, interesting illustrations and great photos of figures in action. The spine shifts a bit, which concerned me until I started reading it and realized that this is one of the few hard back rulebooks I've read that allows the pages to lay flat even when it's open to the middle of the book. The pages seem to be securely stitched in instead of glued and the pages themselves are substantially thick and should wear well. The only issue I'm having is the  printing of the background picture behind the text. It's about 10-20% opaque in the text boxes and I find it distracting and hard on my eyes if I read for more than 20 minutes.

     I had purchased the PDF pre-release version and was a bit concerned that I had to also purchase Force on Force if I wanted to play. I was also hesitant regarding the fluff that was promised. I like my rulebooks to contain rules. If I want a story, I'll read a novel. Well, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised on both counts. This book starts with about 20 pages of fluff and systematically lays out the basic rules, more advanced rules, rules for special units, a campaign system, troop stats for several nations and some scenarios.

     The fluff provides a brief background of the state of things in the Tomorrow's War universe. It's presented in a factual manner rather than anecdotal and provides a structure for a believable, near future setting. There are lots of interesting little tidbits interspersed that could be used for scenario or campaign seeds. I was a little disappointed that Israel was mentioned as a relevant factor in the text of another group, but it's current state is not defined.

     The rules themselves are laid out in a logical, progressive manner. They begin with the Basics of Play and move systematically through Units and Leaders, Infantry Combat, Mechanized Combat, Close Air Support, Off-board Artillery, Special Unit Types and Asymmetric Engagements.

     The campaign system seems well, thought out. It's limited in scope to unit sizes of about a platoon, but I think a bit of thought and tweaking would allow it to be adjusted for whatever size campaign you'd want to play. I was really intrigued by Operational Momentum Points. "These points represent the operational momentum that each force has accumulated prior to the actual operation." They can be used to buy assets for a scenario or saved and counted as victory points at the end of the game. The campaign is also flexible enough to accommodate a closed campaign with a predefined number and order of scenarios or an open ended campaign which could be as long and contain as many scenarios as the players wish.

     While not comprehensive, the tables of organization and the sample units lists provide a good deal of variety for interesting games. Again, the scope of the rules seems to be more suited to about a platoon with a few vehicles rather than great sweeping battles. For me that's about perfect.

     Tomorrow's War is published by Osprey Publishing and Ambush Alley Games and sells for $34.95 US dollars. Overall I'm very impressed with the quality of the production. It's a physically beautiful piece of work and it's sensibly formatted to provide easy assimilation of the rules. Good job, Osprey and Ambush Alley guys. I look forward to playing a few games and blogging the results.

Tomorrow's War is available for pre-order at a discounted price on Amazon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hill Martian Spear/ Halberd Sculpts

     All right there are just too many things going on for one post. I'll stretch this out over three or four posts this week.

     Let's start with an all night sculpting session to have things ready for delivery to Old Glory. I had a very limited window of opportunity to have my next master mold made in time for Fall In. So I put in several long days of sculpting that wrapped up this morning. The delivery of new Hill Martians for Space: 1889 was made this afternoon.

     You've seen these two before, but I included them here since they'll be part of the Hill Martian spear/ halberd pack.

     My apologies for the blurry photos. I had five minutes to snap them before I was out the door and on my way to deliver them and didn't get to review them. Anyway... here are two females for the same pack.

     This is the fifth pose for the spear pack.

     This is the first of the command pack. He'll have buddies added a little later, but right now I just needed one to have ready for my game at Fall In.

     The troop packs will contain 10 figures; 2 each of 5 poses. The spears should be available for sale at Fall In or shortly before that. The command packs will contain 4 individual poses to mix and match with the troop packs to build units.

     Other news for the Space: 1889 line: I picked up the first 2 sets of adventurers, gashant herd, dead gashant and steppe tigers from Old Glory. I'll have them posted on the business website for sale within a day or two. Painted photos will follow as I have time to do the displays.

     More news tomorrow.