Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Control Battalion Redux

For those of you who might have missed it, in summer of 2010 we published a story featuring the troopers of the Control Battalions which gives some feel for what they are and how they fight. It can be read HERE.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Felid Prideguard

When a Felid baron leads his circles to war, he generally has a household bodyguard of veteran warriors which rides in his Lion transport and fights by his side. This is the baron’s Prideguard, promoted from the best of the Alpha Warriors in his circles.

The Prideguard can be concentrated around its lord, or it can be spread throughout the Baron’s circles, acting as elite cadres to bolster the rest in combat.

The most distinctive feature of these household soldiers is their helmets, which provide the Guards enhanced visual and aural perception, an independent air supply, and closer communications with their baron, just as he is linked to the Alpha Warriors commanding his other circles.

These helmets are expensive for cash-strapped Felid baronies, but the wealthier barons have the financial means to also offer the Prideguard helmet as a reward, granting them in a brief ceremony after battle to one common warrior who showed conspicuous bravery. Being granted such an honorific helmet generally creates a fast track to promotion to a coveted position of Alpha Warrior in the circle. Not all Felid warriors see the honorific helmets as purely a blessing, however, as such a reward generally invites the rivalry of the established Alpha Warrior in the circle. Furthermore, most Felids initially dislike wearing these rather form-fitting helmets, for it is against their nature to wear anything on their faces or heads, and they perceive enclosure within the helmet as an impingement on their own keen senses (although they soon learn that the helmet actually improves their senses).

Whatever its perception within the circles, the Prideguard helmet is a clear sign to the foe that they are facing the most formidable of the Felid warriors, endowed with the greatest situational awareness.

Our latest pack of Felids, the Prideguard, is now available in a circle of ten, with one Prideguard Alpha Warrior (generally the eldest son of the baron), one Prideguard Warrior with a Heavy Plasma Gun, one with a Grenade Launcher, and seven with heavy blasters.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Preview of 15mm Chinantecs

We're about to release our next range of ancients (technically Medievals/Renaissance) -- the Chinantecs, a confederation of people from 20 towns in the Oaxacan highlands in what is now Mexico. They were fierce enemies of the Aztecs and so welcomed the Spanish as allies in their struggle to remain independent of Aztec conquest. Histories vary but some say that they had been conquered just before the Spanish arrived in a bitter series of campaigns, others asserting that a few of the towns were still holding out when the Spanish overthrew the Aztecs.

Probably the most interesting element of their warfare was their use of phalanxes of spearmen using enormous spears, reported, perhaps with some exaggeration, to be over 6m (20 feet) long. Even more unusual, these spears have razor sharp obsidian glass embedded along the lateral edge of the pole, running a considerable length down the shaft. The soldiers who used these spears also used a cloth shield called a pavesina by the Spanish, suggesting it was large and roughly rectangular, this shield apparently being of thick fabric so that when not in use it could be rolled up and carried.

The Chinantecs also used archers, although their role is unclear. They may have formed behind the spear masses to shoot overhead at the enemy, as this is the way they marched to the aid of Cortes during a Conquistador civil war -- intersperced with the spearmen. Or they may simply have marched that way, and formed separately as skirmishers on the flanks or to the front of the spear units.

They also are described as using some slingers, a common troop type throughout ancient Mexico, so we have made some of those as well. They may seem a drab troop type, but the sling was one of the weapons most feared by the Conquistadors.

Next we come to their nobility who, very unusually for Mexico, used the bow, but this was supplemented with the macana, a wooden club/sword edged with obsidian. The macana had a loop for the warrior's wrist. The best interpretation of how they carried it whilst shooting is that they wore it dangling from their wrist as they shot, which to a non-archer like me seems precarious, but I've had archers assure me it would be no problem! You can only see it on one pose here because of the angle, but the nobles all have a macana dangling from their right wrist. They also wear thick fabric armour and helmets which sport fancy feather decorations.

Finally we have a leadership element, a warlord wearing a back standard, and a musician with a conch shell trumpet, common in this part of Mexico.

When the Chinantecs marched to the aid of Cortes, they arrived just too late to fight, and the captured rebels apparently considered this very a good thing! They are quoted as being very impressed with the martial bearing of the warriors. As can be seen from the images, the Chinantecs painted their faces and legs in black and/or red warpaint. They models are depicted in the long breechclout and sandals that were typical of the peoples of the area.

To read more about the Chinantecs, you may wish to consult Ian Heath's wonderful wargamer's guide, ARMIES OF THE AZTEC AND INCA EMPIRES, OTHER NATIVE PEOPLES OF THE AMERICAS, AND THE CONQUISTADORES (Armies of the Sixteenth Century).

This army is a new and fresh element to the DBMM game system, is also provided with a list in Field of Glory, and will also be included in the Field of Glory renaissance list, so it's one of those fortunate forces that sits astride time periods and allows you to use it for several different game systems. Should be released within the week, look for an announcement soon.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Control Battalions

After failures using various alien mercenaries to control the rebellious population of Sepulveda 7, and so that the incredibly valuable extraction of Angravium would continue unabated, the overlord of the Jo-eli Freehold, Jellina Jol-i I, decided to genetically craft her own soldiers. For this she used the vast resources of Sepulveda to oppress its own population -- the staggering wealth derived from the planet's huge stores of Angravium financed the scientific and medical research necessary to forge a race of supersoldiers from a witch's brew of human and alien DNA.

Naturally, this was a serious violation of Federal law, and accordingly the work was conducted in complete secrecy in the Black Tower, Jellina's fortress/palace built on an asteroid in the 368 Sumita system. In an effort to conceal the purpose of the research and experiments, each science team's work was very narrowly proscribed, fusing of the research being left to only the most devoted (and thus demented) of her scientists.

But no bottle remains corked forever. One young scientist initially excited about the research he was hired to conduct, David Rimmer, accidentally learned its ultimate goal, to his utter horror. With his own eyes he saw that Jellina was doing the unthinkable -- tapping the DNA of the ghastly creatures of another dimension, her transplanar expeditions finally having found, in the Imperial Maggots of the Maggoton Empire, suitable DNA for melding with that of humanity. What Rimmer spied one day in the top Secret TBA (Transhuman Breeding Area) was almost beyond comprehension -- part human, part maggot, these creatures were homicidal beyond description.

However, Jellina's scientists had found a method to keep them under control, using a chemical cocktail pumped into their lungs in a fine brown mist, constantly administered within the sealed domes of their permanently installed helmets. Sedated in this way, they made the perfect soldiers -- fearless, cunning and obedient.

Rimmer quickly decided on a course of action, sabotaging the TBA and fleeing the Black Tower, wearing as he went one of the special enviro-suits that scientists were provided to protect them from the intensely toxic Maggoton organic material. Rimmer vowed to stop Jellina's plan, and to aid the people of Sepulveda, whom he now realized were not traitorous rebels as Jol-i propaganda asserted, but rather freedom fighters attempting to throw off her oppressive yoke.

This was a setback, but Jellina soon had the TBA restored and thousands of Control troopers were being bred, domesticated, trained and sent off to Sepulveda where they were a rude shock indeed for the Resistance.

Operating in squads of nine, each used a pulse rifle, and the squad also included an SAP (Squad Assault Pulser) and a remote controlled drone which mounted both an HPW (heavy pulse weapon) and a grenade launcher. Operated by a remote pilot, the drone was often in the forefront of battle, its heavy chassis protecting it from small arms fire.

These troopers took the Resistance by storm, pushing them back on all fronts and asserting Jellina's control over the mining of Angravium, not to mention rounding up subjects who were suspected of Resistance ties -- to what fate, it is not known, for once rounded up, they never returned.

As they strode purposefully through the streets of Sepulvedan cities, villages and settlements, these strange masked troopers inspired fear but also intense speculation. Why had no one ever seen them remove their helmets, or eat or drink anything -- ever? Why when they spoke was it in a weird, digitally altered hiss? They became known, with fascination and dread, as the CoBas or, more often, simply the Helmets.

CoBa crews manned (if such a word can be used for transhumans) Jellina's motley collection of vehicles as well. A single company of CoBa infantry could have some of its squads carried in the MDMS Canetoad APC, others in the few remaining Atlas APMs acquired before the Federal trade sanctions, still others in the Hedgehog APC purchased from Nova Respublik, or even in the ramshackle Sod-Kafez 2.51 "Karkwagon" sold throughout the galaxy (usually for a song) by Karkarine military contractors. CoBa urban patrols were often conducted in the Locust Patrol Truck, these sinister black vehicles being widely used to "disappear" Resistance suspects in the middle of the night.

CoBa tankers similarly crewed Jellina's modest tank fleet, again a motley collection of vehicles including a handful of elderly Federal Silers, but mostly Nova Respublik and MDMS vehicles, including the redoubtable Taipan railgun-armed medium tank.

So successful were the oppressive activities of the Control Battalions that the Federation itself chose to intervene in the Sepulvedan Campaign, though at first covertly, sending Federal Marines in Resistance garb to aid the citizens of this war torn planet. For who knew what horror lurked within the bolted-on helmets of these strange troops, Jellina's obediant attack dogs?

We will soon be releasing two packs of Control Battalion infantry -- the rifleman set and the command and weapons set. Look for a release the week of February 7, 2011.