In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Black Steam

Some of my friends like Victorian Science Fiction. I'm not quite as keen (I've only made one steam tank, compared to Peter's 6 or 7, Dan's 3, and David's 4), but it's a bit of silly fun and gives my Indian Army another excuse to get out of the box. Since our armies have become rather biggish, I've been advocating using a large battle set of rules for our games like Black Powder instead of the usual Colonial-based, VSF rules which use the standard 20 man units from The Sword and the Flame, fist fulls of dice for shooting and man-to-man, opposed die rolls for hand-to-hand (which is very heroic, but really slows things down).

So on Friday night we had a rare get together, made more festive with Mincemeat tarts, my enormous tea pot and Christmas music on the basement CD player. Peter wanted to play VSF, and was intrigued by my ideas of using Black Powder, so after the hour long 'catching-up phase' (as Brian called it), we started getting some figures and terrain out and made up rules for the steam technology as we went along.

Deployment was determined by where people were sitting.

Dave begins deploying his Dutch army. "How many units can I get out? I have more!"

Peter and Barry discuss the Russian strategy, or is it "That man there has been very naughty!"
Facing the Russo-Dutch alliance were units of my Indian Army, Peter's VSF Canadians and a contingent of Boers (I handed Mike my box with my British mounted infantry and Boer commandos in it, saying "Here Mike, have some British infantry" expecting him to deploy the British... silly me). Presumably the Boers are upset by the Dutch Crown recruitng Venusian Parrotmen and have thrown in their lot with the British.


Canadians (the jesters cap is for when one makes a spectacularly bad move) 

Highlanders and Indians

Gurkhas and Guides with my steam tank
I just used the stats from the 'Crimea River' scenario for the Russians and 'El-Teb' for the British. For the steam technology we started with:

Command: all steam tech uses a Staff Rating one lower than the army (or a -1 modifier) and cannot use Group Moves. Each steam tank/steam unit must be given individual orders.

Tanks moved at infantry speed. Walkers moved at 8". I'm thinking wheeled should go a bit faster, say 18" but be limited to good terrain. Walkers (like Peter's notorious mechanical scorpion riding Cossacks or Dave's mechanical panther riding Dutch dragoons) don't suffer penalties in rough going or crossing obstacles.

Automatons (Peter has some wind up mechanical men) we thought shouldn't have to take break tests, but once they hit their stamina (which we set at 6) they're assumed to be too damaged to be effective and are destroyed.

Things like Venusian Parrotmen get Ferocious Charge and Impervious Suits get to reroll failed Saves.
Highlanders about to be attacked by parrotmen

Anything armoured we gave a +1 or +2 to their Morale Save, but accumulated hits from rifle fire or hand-to-hand were deemed to be shock/wounds to the crew and could cause the tank to withdraw/break down.

And then there's things like this:
How do I make up a rule for this?
On the left is a RAFM steam tank which Peter has fitted with a spar torpedo. It has successfuly charged a da Vinci tank (can't remember who makes them). I recall we gave the torpedo three dice. He rolled three hits and the tank failed all three saves, so it blew up.

But other exchanges of cannon and MG fire between armoured vehicles pointed out that we need some simple armour vs. shell rules and the results of penetrating hits.

Dutch High Command watch from atop a bunker, accompanied by mechanical butler, staff poodle and a rather pretty ADC.
The Russians managed to destroy the Canadians and the Indian Army managed to destroy the Dutch, so both sides claimed a stunning victory and ate some more tarts.

I wonder how my group would react if anyone ever managed to stage a planned scenario?


  1. James, so sorry I missed it. Love the new vehicles. My Venusian cavalry should be ready soon. Did anyone suffer "The Gurkha Rule"?


  2. But of course! :^)
    Dave's Van Helsing's Corps of Witchfinders (some lovely conversins) got smoked by the Highlanders.

  3. Looks like a really fun game. I would love to hear more about using Black Powder for VSF.

  4. As soon as I have more ideas i'll post them here!

  5. Looks like you guys had a fun time. Love the pics!

  6. Excellent!! Just love all that steam machine and victorian madness!