Steampunk Old West: Time Travel

August 22nd, 2014

Old West

This is a series of blog articles, updating and based on my original article on Steampunk Old West. I will be posting a few blog articles over the next week or so on my experiences and thoughts on taking the old west and adding a dash of victorian science fiction. I have painted and have been painting up some Foundry Old West figures for use with the Legends of the Old West Warhammer Historical rules. I liked the concept of a traditional Old West game, however the film Cowboys and Aliens got me thinking about “different” old west backgrounds. I did first start thinking about adding Victorian Science Fiction or Steampunk elements to the games.

As well as aliens, and steampunk tech, another thing that could be added to the mix is time travel.

One inspiration for this was Harry Turtledove’s Guns of the South, in which South Africans travel in time and arm the Confederate South with the AK47. Adding 20th Century weaponry to the 19th Century can make for some interesting scenarios and games. The key really is to keep the weapons to a minimum, otherwise you no longer have an old west game, it’s just a moderns game but with cowboys!

Another idea would be to put some modern day soldiers in the old west. Though having the advantage of modern weapons, the journey back in time would be confusing and the modern day soldiers would be hesitant and unsure.

Another variation would be to follow a Star Trek style scenario have have future humans travel back in time to the old west. They could be armed with phaser style weaponry.

Star Trek: The Next Generation had a few old west holodeck adventures and that could be another mechanism for having games with cowboys and future tech. For example the Borg invade the Enterprise holodeck and the Star Fleet personnel need to team up with cowboy holograms to defeat them.

“Spectre of the Gun” (originally titled “The Last Gunfight”) is an episode from the third season of the original science fiction television series Star Trek that was first broadcast on October 25, 1968. In this episode, having been found trespassors into Melkotian space, Captain Kirk and his companions are sent to die in a psychic illusion that takes the form of the town of Tombstone, Arizona, on Earth on the historic date October 26, 1881.

A Town Called Mercy

Of course if we are talking about Time Travel then we mustn’t forget the Doctor. Across his many generations he has travelled to the Old West, including the recent episode, A Town Called Mercy. This episode saw the Doctor, Rory and Amy visiting the American Frontier, or “Wild West”, where they encounter a town which is cut off from the rest of the frontier until they hand over Kahler-Jex, an alien doctor, to a cyborg called the Gunslinger. However, the Gunslinger is a product of experiments by Jex to win a civil war on his planet, and the Doctor is unsure of what is the right thing to do.

The first Doctor also visited the wild west in The Gunfighters, where he interacted with the main protagonists in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

I already have a few Doctor Who miniatures that are on my workbench.

Steampunk Old West: Steam Tanks

August 21st, 2014

Steam Tank

This is a series of blog articles, updating and based on my original article on Steampunk Old West. I will be posting a few blog articles over the next week or so on my experiences and thoughts on taking the old west and adding a dash of victorian science fiction. I have painted and have been painting up some Foundry Old West figures for use with the Legends of the Old West Warhammer Historical rules. I liked the concept of a traditional Old West game, however the film Cowboys and Aliens got me thinking about “different” old west backgrounds. I did first start thinking about adding Victorian Science Fiction or Steampunk elements to the games. Taking aspects such as steam tanks, electric rifles, and aether flyers and adding them to the old west.

In this post I will be discussing steam tanks, these are powerful armoured vehicles driven by steam engines. In our world, tanks came about because of the need to break trench warfare, and these tanks were driven by petrol engines. In a steampunk world, or in the world of victorian science fiction, the tank arrives much earlier, however no petrol engines here, they are driven by steam.

Whilst looking for scenery for Flames of War I did come across some really nice looking Victorian SF tanks from Ironclad Miniatures.

Okay so we can’t really use the name “tank” as that was merely a cover name used by the British in World War One to describe their new armoured fighting vehicles. However we now know what a tank is, and these look like tanks, just in the old west they wouldn’t have called them tanks. I am going to call them tanks even if the inhabitants of the old west wouldn’t have!

Two of the range strike me as ideal models for a Steampunk Old West setting. The first model is the Medium Tank is tracked steam tank with a single large turret. The second is the Armoured Steam Carriage, it can be built with either a Nordenfelt or Gatling machine gun.

Both of these look very steampunk and painted in desert colours would fit nicely into an old west setting. There are other models in the range that would probably also work just as well, but these two are the ones I I think work best.

I bought the Medium tank. This is a really nice model, that goes together very easily. I was pleased with the paintjob and how it turned out. I do feel I have managed to capture very much an Old West Steam Tank, one that would look right at home trundling down Main Street or for supporting an attack on a gold mine.

Medium Tank

You can see the workbench feature on this model here.

So what about rules for the steam tanks.

Well The Old West rules are from Warhammer Historical and are based around Warhammer, to me it would probably work to use the tank rules from Warhammer Historical’s World War One rules, The Great War. Sadly these rules are no longer available with the demise of Warhammer Historical. An alternative could be The Rules with no Name.

The weapons though in The Old West wouldn’t hurt these tanks (well except the nitro) so if these tanks were to be used then we would need some extra weapons added. Again the rules from The Great War allow for the use of artillery and gatling guns.

As this is steampunk, you could add some anti-tank weapon systems, like the bazooka, these could be steampunk rockets. Powerful explosive devices, powered by steam. Another steampunk weapons could be electric rifles

The Old West is circa 1882 and the Gatling Gun was patented in 1862. Of course in a steampunk setting you can allow for the rapid advance of weapons as well as the introduction of tanks. For example the French 75mm field gun was in our world adopted in 1898, well we could bring that forward, couldn’t we? Anyhow a variety of artillery was used in the American Civil War and that could be used for a steampunk old west game for fighting against steam tanks.

Adding steam tanks to an Old West game, certainly makes for a different game, and even if you don’t want to use tanks, you could use one as an objective.

Steampunk Old West: Cowboys and Aliens

August 20th, 2014

Cowboys and Aliens

This is a series of updated blog articles, based on my original article on Steampunk Old West. I will be posting a few blog articles over the next week or so on my experiences and thoughts on taking the old west and adding a dash of victorian science fiction. I have painted and have been painting up some Foundry Old West figures for use with the Legends of the Old West Warhammer Historical rules. I liked the concept of a traditional Old West game, however the film Cowboys and Aliens got me thinking about “different” old west backgrounds. I did first start thinking about adding Victorian Science Fiction or Steampunk elements to the games. Taking aspects such as steam tanks, electric rifles, and aether flyers and adding them to the old west.

Probably the key inspiration for this article was the film, Cowboys and Aliens.

Cowboys & Aliens is a 2011 American science fiction Western film directed by Jon Favreau and starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde. The film is based on the 2006 graphic novel of the same name created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. The main plot revolves around an amnesiac outlaw (Craig), a wealthy cattleman (Ford), and a mysterious traveler (Wilde) who must ally to save a group of townspeople abducted by aliens.

Obviously adding aliens into the mix is pretty simple, having now seen the film, there are some nice ideas in there with alien tech, flying saucers, and fighting aliens with only a six shooter or a rifle.

The film has quite a few ideas for scenarios that would be easy to transfer to the gaming table. You could of course “copy” the aliens from the film, or use ailens of your choice. They could be “friendly”, similar to humans, or totally alien (as in insectoid or monstrous).

You could add flying alien craft attacking an old west town or men on horses, who try and defend themselves with their antiquated pistols and carbines.

Cowboys and Aliens

You could avoid having aliens, and just add alien tech to games, a cowboy finds a phaser or laser rifle.

Cowboys and Aliens

One aspect that would need to be taken into consideration is the “shock” of seeing aliens, as 19th Century America probably didn’t have the cultural references that we have today. I am pretty sure that if aliens did in fact invade Arizona today, most people wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Back then, a very different reaction…

Steampunk Old West

August 19th, 2014

Victorian Science Fiction Steam Tank

This will be a series of updated blog articles, based on my original article on Steampunk Old West.

I have painted and have been painting up some Foundry Old West figures for use with the Legends of the Old West Warhammer Historical rules. These are classic 25mm figures, most of which are still available to get. My original plan was to play some games using these rules in a traditional old west style environment. The sort of place that you see in old cowboy films. I have now had a few games using my figures. I also managed to get some buildings and you can see them here.

Old West Buildings

These were fun games, quick and I liked the campaign style, which means you don’t just play with a one game mentality, you think much more of the long term impact. This means that you don’t go in with all guns blazing, you take your time, make sure every shot counts and don’t get shot!

I liked the concept of a traditional Old West game, however the film Cowboys and Aliens got me thinking about “different” old west backgrounds. I did first start thinking about adding Victorian Science Fiction or Steampunk elements to the games. Taking aspects such as steam tanks, electric rifles, and aether flyers and adding them to the old west.

I also remembered Wild Wild West, the steampunk action comedy. Now to be honest I loved the idea behind the film, steampunk in a cowboy setting, however the film itself was a bit of a disappointment. Forgetting the film it still is a really fun background. One day I wouldn’t mind seeing the original television series, however it looks like it is only available on DVD in the USA.

I will be posting a few blog articles over the next week or so on my experiences and thoughts on taking the old west and adding a dash of victorian science fiction.

STAR WARS: Armada

August 9th, 2014

Fantasy Flight Games have announced their new miniatures game of Tactical Fleet Battles in the Star Wars Galaxy.

Star Wars: Armada

Fantasy Flight Games is proud to announce the upcoming release of Star Wars™: Armada, a two-player miniatures game of epic fleet battles in the Star Wars galaxy!

Massive Star Destroyers fly to battle against Rebel corvettes and frigates. Banks of turbolasers unleash torrential volleys of fire against squadrons of X-wings and TIEs. Engineering teams race to route additional power to failing shields. Laser blasts and explosions flare across the battlefield. Even a single ship can change the tide of battle.

In Star Wars: Armada, you assume the role of fleet admiral, serving with either the Imperial Navy or Rebel Alliance. You assemble your fleet and engage the enemy. Using the game’s unique maneuver tool, you steer your capital ships across the battlefield, even while squadrons of starfighters buzz around them. Then, as these ships exchange fire, it’s your job to issue the tactical commands that will decide the course of battle and, perhaps, the fate of the galaxy.

I always liked the ideas behind their Star Wars: X-Wing game (though to be honest I never actually went out and bought a copy). Many years ago I played many games of Star Trek starship combat using the Full Thrust rules and I did play a few games using Full Thrust and some MicroMachines Star Wars models. This new game has quite a lot that appeals, includng some really nice looking pre-painted models.

STAR WARS: Armada

I think though (and this also applies to the X-Wing game) that the bases on the models, though obviously useful in game terms, do detract from the models and I would suspect when playing, the look and feel of the game. However that is a minor point.

As with X-Wing, and as indicated on the press release, we will see more models as expansion packs.

Looks good.


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