Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Ogres in the Chop Shop: Pan European Mark 3 WIP

 
 
Week three of the Ogre fest. 

Here is a side view of my newest Mark 3, showing the cut down tower to represent it being lowered.  No doubt some bright spark is going to come along and tell me the Mark 3 wasn't able to lower its tower, and I'll say who says it's lowered? 

I've gone and positioned the secondary batteries at a different angle too, so as to visually differentiate my Pan Euro Mark 3 from my two Combine Mark 3 Ogres.  Not sure that I actually like the look, but it's cannon, so it's cool.


Here are a  couple of pictures showing how I built up the model with magnets from the get go.  I started with gluing in the first magnet to the front half and reinforced the joint with Milliput.


I then added Milliput to the rear half and pressed the magnet into it while it was still soft.  All looking a bit rough from the magnet being pulled out while the Milliput was drying.



Here you see how the embedded the magnets into each half of the body shell.  After all this was set I added more Milliput to fill out the cavities in both halves of the Mark 3 body.  This is to both strengthen the joint, and give the model a more correct visual profile when looking at it straight on where one can see the underside.
  

Friday, 11 April 2014

Ogres in the Chop Shop: Pan European Mark 2 WIP



Ending week two of my April Ogre postings here is my Mark 2 assembled, and looking pretty spiffy.  This is one of those models, which for me at least, looks better sitting in front of one than it does in pictures.  I don't know why that should be, but it just is.  For me, the design looks more like what the Pan Europeans would do to improve the Mark 1, rather than a true Mark 2 design, but that's just my opinion and it is worth exactly what you paid for it.  Hence the posting stating this is going to be a Pan European Ogre.


I routinely fill in the underneath of all my Ogre models, not to give them heft or anything, but because when I look at the model at eye level I notice the hollowed out bottoms, and it annoys me.  Most people I imagine are less fussy about this than I.


I've magnetised the turret so that it doesn't come off during handling, but still allowing it to fully rotate for the play value on the table.  As they say in advertising; keep watching this space for more, as I prepare for week three, and further pictures of my alarmingly big Ogre collection.  It's a bit like Pokemon; gotta catch them all.
   

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Ogres in the Chop Shop: Combine Ninja WIP



In my mind the Combine  Ninja is the cutest of all the Ogre models issued by Steve Jackson Games.  There is something about the proportions that make it look sleek, fast and tidy.


Here is what the bottom looks like when one has embedded the magnets in Milliput.

 

And finally a close-up of the magnets and how I've strengthened the joints with fillets of Milliput around the rear body joint.  This prevent the magnet from being sheered off, as super glue is not good at handling sheer forces, whereas Milliput does.
   

Friday, 4 April 2014

Nihon Vehicles WIP



A tray of miniatures that I stripped back to bare metal.  They were originally painted yellow, and used as stand-ins for my Combine force, before I became an MIB and started demonstrating Ogre officially.  I've split the models that use to be my Combine force into those that are going to be used with my Nihon Mark 4, while the rest will form the core of a Chinese force at some point in the future.

Most of the models I have are the old Ral-Partha BattleTech vehicles, including the long out of production original Pegasus scout GEV, which is a lovely miniature.  The light tanks, as I have said before are Heroic & Ros miniatures; the turret from their Merkava, and the body from the Bradley.  The modified SRN4 is if I remember correctly from Stan Johanson's range he used to market for BattleTech, long gone I'm afraid.

I held back on sorting out these models under the mistaken impression that SJG were interested in developing their Ogre miniatures line, which clearly they are not, because they can't make money selling them.  Every cloud has a silver lining, in my case it means I can expand my forces using stand ins with a clear conscience.  Finally, I also want to shout out to Super Galactic Dreadnought's blog, where he posted these two images that I'm re-posting for the record.


If you look at the list above one can see Combine Set 8 with the tantalising title of Divisional Assets, which may have been a tracked mobile command post of some sort.


The list with the Paneuropean Set 12 Archangel GEV-MCP and escorts would have introduced another new unit to the game, and the escorts were most likely to have been some GEVs.  However, none of this ever happend, and most likely never will.

In my opinion, without a targeted marketing strategy to generate sales interest, and new additions to the miniatures line to maintain it, Ogre miniatures was never going to make enough money for SJG, and arguably even if it was making money it wouldn't make enough to satisfy the bottom line.
  

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ogres in the Chop Shop: Nihon Mark 4 WIP



Welcome to the first in a series of Ogre miniatures related post that I am putting up this month.  I had thought about doing an April's Fool post for Ogre, but the idea I had left a bad taste in my mouth, and wasn't funny for any definition of funny that made one laugh; more like crying in frustration from the attitude express here; my post and Phil Reed's reply follows it.

So the picture above shows one of the sample models of the Mark 4 that Steve Jackson Games rejected some time back in the 1990s I guess.  Now assembled and resting on my workbench in all its massive glory.  For me this model goes a little past the line of how big is too big, because it is larger than the Mark 5 and the later Mark 6 models.  So I can see why it wasn't brought to market.  Not only that, but it would cost a small fortune to produce and an even larger one to buy.


As you can I've used neodymium magnets to connect the two halves of the model together, my preferred method of choice nowadays when it comes to Ogres.  The colour scheme for my new Nihon Ogre force is going to be overall pink with purple and orange splinter dazzle, it's going to look awesome.
  

Monday, 24 March 2014

Ogre Miniatures Furore



Bonjour Matelots ;-)

Blog Advisory:  I have a snarky sense of humour, see example above, and if you are easily offended by it then perhaps you should stop reading now.  This advisory is to flag that I am British, live in England, which is a part of Europe, and that American cultural language and social assumptions are only one of many in the World.  I'm also incredibly old, and still talk about SF shows that were made before some of you were born.  So you may find it hard to understand my metaphors; in addition my humour may offend those who are sensitive to things that trigger a strong negative affective response.  I offer no apology if it does.  With those terms and conditions, and allowing for any errors and omissions, lets start.

If you've not come here from the SJG forums, then this post may fly over your head. 

The Ogre miniature line was put back into production last year as part of SJG promise from the Ogre Kickstarter.  After Xmas a price rise was announced, and a big furore arose over how much they were going to cost now.  As a result SJG pulled the line from sale to review their marketing and costs.  This has in turn caused another furore.  In my opinion, the attempt to avoid the adverse consumer reaction only generated bad feelings amongst the rabid Ogre community, but SJG were on a hiding to nothing over this matter, because no matter what they did they were caught in a Catch 22 scenario.

The arguments around the price of the miniatures provoked these four responses:

1. Why can't the miniatures be made through contract casting to make them cheaper?
2. What about licensing them out to another firm to cast who can make them cheaper?
3. You could always start your own casting company and watch the money roll in.
4. Wouldn't it be cheaper to make them in plastic?

I'm now going to take all of the above apart.

1.  First off you have to find a contract casting firm that will take on the job, and that is easier said than done.  Secondly, said contractor will charge SJG for the casting, because they want to make a profit too.  Therefore, it is highly unlikely, that SJG can then sell the miniatures at a price that will make them a profit that is any cheaper than the price they put them up for sale after Xmas, which caused such an outrage in the first place.

If I were at SJG I think that I think I would be saying to myself something along the lines of, "Produce a few miniatures they said, make some money they said, have some fun they said, welcome to the party pal," (in the voice of John McClane's from Die Hard).

2. Licensing another firm to produce Ogre miniatures requires that there be a firm who is interested in paying SJG money for the privilege of casting miniatures of a range that the other firm will never own the intellectual property rights to.  This cuts into the other firms profit margin, because the cost of the licence will have to be added as a factor into the final selling price.  Much easier to cast models that one owns the IP too, and be done with it.

3.  This comment was actually made by someone associated with SJG, but I've included it here, because it makes a very salient point.  It stems from my two previous comments that even if one had a pot full of cash to start up one's own business, one would inevitably be faced with the bottom line; which is keeping one's company profitable.  Assuming that one loves the SJG Ogre range so much that you just have to get out there and do it, then what you are faced with is tying yourself down to being a small manufacturer of someone else's IP.  Wave bye, bye to your free time, and don't expect to be driving a Ferrari, or the company having its own Learjet any time soon.

4. The simple answer is no, and saying that other wargame firms produce plastics misses the fact that they may have economies of scale that SJG will never have for a line of Ogre miniatures in plastic.  And it gets worse than that, because the quality of the plastics that one could afford are probably not going to satisfy the needs of the customers who want Ogre miniatures.  For example take CGLs plastic mechs that are included in their boxed sets of BattleTech.  While CGL have included improved models of four of the mechs, the rest of the plastic miniatures are best described as adequate; where adequate means good enough for getting players into the game, but not meeting the needs of players like me who are into miniatures, and who like modifying their models.

So, I shall continue to hope that SJG do start selling the metal miniatures again, but I will not be telling them how to do that, because you know what?  They are not stupid, and know all of the above far better than some random person on the internet with an opinion.  "So been there, chewed gum, kicked ass, and if anyone asks have I paid my dues; the cheque is in the post pal," (in the voice of Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China for those too young to know).
  

Sunday, 16 March 2014

This is Madness, This is BattleTech!



I've been thinking again about BattleTech, and what I think slows the game down.  In my not so humble opinion, I think now more than ever that the original game played better before they added so much chrome on top of the basic rules.  This in my opinion turned a fun game of giant battling robots into a bloated monstrosity with five plus volumes of rules that added nothing to the fun from playing the game.

So I've culled all the current core rulebooks but the A Time of War from my collection, and I've only kept that just in case I find myself in need of the opportunity to learn another set of rules.  I am aware of the irony involved in this decision, given that the core rule books would be ideal for all that extra added gribbly detail that RPG campaigns thrive on, except that when I GM sessions I tend to play fast and loose with tech, being much more interested in the plot and story, rather than the technical aspects of the weapons as such.

If I could go back and change the basics of the BattleTech rules I would do the following:

1.  Fix the ranges of the weapons by the simple expedient of making all the long range limits from the current stated start and extend them out to line-of-sight.  So a machine gun shoots at one, two and three plus hexes at a base to hit of four, six and eight.  Given the addition of movement modifiers this will make hitting with a machine gun a rather unlikely affair, and in my opinion will not adversely affect play balance.  Just to be clear I would apply this to all the other weapons too, and allow dice probabilities decide the outcomes, rather than imposing artificially short ranges on everything.

2.  No double heat sinks period, ever, full stop.  The one big game breaker that renders auto-cannons less than worthless is the double heat sink.  Get rid of them, end of problem.

3.  Ammo explosion rules amended to reduce the damage to be one round cooking off, and applying the this first to the armour of the section, then the internal structure, and only carrying over any excess to adjacent section after that.  Yes I like targets that go boom, but mechs are supposed to be state-of-the-art weapon platforms, so they should be at least as capable as a twentieth century Abrams MBT when it comes to containing an ammo explosion.

4.  Internal hits on mechs should take into account the volume of the mech, in that there is a lot of space inside a mech, which means harder to do damage when something gets through the armour.  So no re-rolls on empty spaces, armour allocation etc.  Battlemechs should soak up damage.

5.  Vehicles are meant to go boom, and therefore should not in my opinion be allowed to use anything to soak up critical hits.  In addition, the construction rules for vehicles should result in vehicles that are less capable than mechs, otherwise what is the point of having mechs in the first place when one can build vehicles that make more sense?  Otherwise you might as rename the game HoverTech.

6.  All weapons post 3025 should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, with in my opinion those that add rules requiring more dice rolls, or shooting modifiers etc. being eliminated.

7. While we are at it, the missile launcher rules need simplifying with less rolls of the dice to calculate number that hit and location.

What I want is a game where one pilots a battlemech with a platoon of infantry and one, or two vehicles per person that plays at BattleTech's sweet spot, which in my opinion was always at the tactical come gladiatorial level of mecha-on-mecha level of play.  YMMV on this, but you youngsters can get off my lawn is what I say.
   

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Heavy Gear Blitz Alpha Testing



Over on Dream Pod 9's forum one can find an announcement that they are revamping Heavy Gear Blitz, which in my opinion is a good thing, because as a beginning player I found the rules overly complicated, because of the way they were written, which kept confusing me.  They are also working in partnership with Arkrite Press LLC to relaunch a new edition of the RPG too.  I have really mixed feeling about aspects of Dream Pod 9's products; on one hand the games background setting is an absolute tour de force, and should be held up as one of the finest examples of an RPG setting.  Life on Terra Nova is almost like reading a historical overview of a real world.  On the other hand the tactical rules, as presented in Blitz are written in English words, but using a strange syntax and grammar exclusive to a particular type of nerdy wargamer where cool jargon over rides simplicity, and the need for clarity.

As an author who has just had her first novel mauled by my beta readers, I can tell you all that whatever one might think, one's writing is never as clear and concise as you would lead yourself to believe.  Rule number one, edit your writing by getting fresh eyes on the subject matter who won't read what you thought you wrote, but what you actually wrote.

Excited by finding all of the above out I put in a small order for some bits & pieces from DP9s site, and have been informed that my items are on there way as I write this entry.  So in the next couple of weeks some infantry, plus detail parts will arrive, and I'm planning on making some Chain of Command style patrol markers for my mecha games.  I also blagged four old out of print Heavy Gear books off eBay; a copy of Heavy Gear 1st Edition rules: A New Era Has Just Begun, and three source books, Into the Badlands, Character Compendium 1,  and a 1st edition copy of Life on Terra Nova to replace my tatty 2nd edition book.

Anyway, coloured me excited, because I would love a really good mecha orientated game that wasn't BattleTech to play, so I'm going off to spend some of my time critiquing the Blitz alpha draft to show that I'm doing my part, and want to know more etc.
   

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