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.

Flames of War Great War

August 1st, 2014

Flames of War Great War

This week sees the release of the Flames of War Great War supplement. You can either buy a boxed set which comes with the supplement, or you can buy the August issue of Wargames Illustrated, that comes bundled with the supplement for “free”. Alongside the rules there are various models, including two boxed starter sets.

I got my copy of Wargames Illustrated yesterday and spent some time reading the supplement and the plethora of articles in the magazine itself on the new supplement and the rules.

The models look really nice, this is the Mark IV Male.

Mark IV Male

You can compare that detailed model with the 15mm version I bought many years ago. This version is a lot more detailed, looks much better and really captures the feel of this, one of the first tanks. As well as tanks there are infantry and artillery. I really quite like the introductory boxed set available, Mitchell’s Marauders.

GBRAB1 Mitchell's Marauders

Your rifle company is well-equipped for assaulting and crushing the enemy. Prepare your assault with your Mark IV tanks. They will pulverize Jerry’s gun nests with high-explosives and rake his trenches with machine-gun fire. Then send in your highly-trained rifle platoons to clear out the trenches and breakthrough.

The box provides all you need for an introductory game, infantry, tanks and artillery.

There is also a German boxed set available. Though that boxed set has the A7V, you can of course use captured British tanks for your German forces.

I feel I can’t say too much on the rules, as I have not had a chance for a game with them…

The articles within Wargames Illustrated cover a range of issues, one of the interesting aspects is debunking the myth that the Great War was just about muddy trenches. Towards the end of the war there were more battles that were about movement and breakthroughs across new areas that hadn’t been torn apart from relentless artillery barrages.

With the 100th anniversary of the Great War this month, I can see these models proving popular. For the future I hope we can see some more models, notably missing are armoured cars, which though played little part in the trenches, were well utilised in other theatres of the war.


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