A couple of years ago, on my modelling/sculpting blog, I posted about my blossoming interest in getting a Steampunk game going. Most of the information is still relevent and so i thought it was worth bringing it over here!
With all the steampunk novels I’ve been reading recently (see my Pax Britannia reviews) I am in the mood for doing some steampunk skirmish wargaming. I like the quirky styles of some steampunk miniatures, and feel that to really show off their character I prefer to stick with 28mm or larger sizes. I have two or three 54mm figures, including these two from Black Crab Sculpting Studio.
However, with the price of miniatures ever rising, and metal prices still going up, I think I will probably go for 28mm figures, even though I am only planning on having very small groups of figures on each side (I would think up to an absolute maximum of about 20 per side).
There seem to be a good selection of steampunk style miniatures available from a growing band of manufacturers.
I also have plenty of the Scheltrum Miniatures Selenites (well I did sculpt them), and their other VSF figures. In fact, I still have the 28mm scale airship that I made around 10 years ago (vac-formed balloon with resin and white-metal gondola)…
There is also Wyrd Miniatures Malifaux, some of their figures are very nice, although they are a premium priced range, so I don’t really want to buy too many of them. Of course one advantage of going with Malifaux, would be the associated rules system, but I don’t really want to be restricted from using other companies figures.
I also have plenty of 28mm colonial figures, from various manufacturers, that could be pressed into service for the odd steampunk game. Off the top of my head, some of Foundry’s Darkest Africa range and similar, as well a large collection of British Sudan campaign figures.
So, which rules to go for? I want a game that has small parties (up to about 20 figures at the most) on each side, but most of the steampunk wargaming rules seem to be mass battle rules.
I picked up When The Navy Walked and it’s expansions from Wargames Vault the other day, which looks interesting, but still too large scale for my taste. I see from their website that The Armchair General are planning a set of skirmish rules for When The Navy Walks, but I want to get going with this just now. I have also been considering G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T., which seems to be popular and has been around for quite some time. I have even considered using a slimmed down version of some of the role playing rules that are out there. Talking of role playing rules Space 1889 does have their wargaming rules Soldier’s Companion, but that seems quite restrictive, and I really want something more skirmish based.
What I was really looking for was something like .45Adventure from Rattrap Productions. Unfortunately all of their different rules sets, which are all wonderfully “pulpy”, miss the steampunk genre, however, as I have most of them, a little conversion work could be a possibility.
What is looking most promising at the moment, however, is the rules set In The Emperor’s Name, that is being developed on the Forge Of War/FUBAR Yahoo group. It is a set of rules to fight small scale actions between two “Retinues”. ITEN is actually set up to use the Warhammer 40K background, but having chatted in the group a little, there is quite an interest in developing a separate rules set, to be called (at least for now) In Her Majesty’s Name…
All in all, I think that skirmish is the perfect type of game for the Steampunk genre, so I am really surprised that there are not more rule sets out there yet.
The most obvious change to this article is the last item. In Her Majesty’s Name has now been promoted to from a community produced game to a fully published rule set, to be released by Osprey in early May.
It also seems that Design 28 Miniatures have disappeared. I am sure I heard someone else had picked up their range of miniatures, but as yet I haven’t been able to track them down!
I have had an interest in Steampunk, or Victorian Science Fiction as it used to be called, for many years. If fact i sculpted a range of VSF figures for Scheltrum Miniatures around 15 years ago (Steampunk hadn’t even been heard of within the gaming hobby at that time).
Now, I must add, I was a fairly inexperienced sculptor when I sculpted these, and also Scheltrum wanted the figures designed as multipart mix and match designs with separate legs, consequently, by modern standards, they probably don’t stand up to too close an inspection!
Still, Scheltrum Miniatures were the first company that i am aware of to produce a reasonably extensive VSF/Steampunk range, along with vehicles and buildings. They even produced a set of rules, Ironclad Empires which I edited and helped playtest and demo at a couple of wargames shows. Unfortunately the rules never received an official release…
The buildings and vehicles were designed by Sholto Humphries, the proprietor of Scheltrum Miniatures. I sculpted all the figures in this article.
Anyway, moving on to the aims of the blog. For many years there was real scarcity in decent Steampunk figures. You would get the occasional miniature turn up here and there, a few companies release small ranges, but as a genre I felt it was very poorly served. Very often gamers had to resort to converting figures from other historical ranges (“punking them up”) . Whether that be Colonial British, Darkest Africa or possibly American West these were all pressganged into use as Steampunk…
So why now? Well I think there is a simple answer to that. Just look around and you will see that some of the bigger companies are producing extensive ranges of figures. Spartan Games initially released Dystopian Wars and have now gone 28mm with Dystopian Legions, Micro Arts Studio in Poland have a growing range for the Skirmish game Wolsung, North Star Military Figures are launching their range of figures to accompany Osprey Publishing’s new Steampunk rules, In Her Majesty’s Name. There are also ranges from Infamy Miniatures, Lead Adventure and at 54mm Smart Max has it’s wonderful Smog range. Last but not least we have the Kickstarter campaign from West Wind Productions to expand their Empire of The Dead game with 70+ new figures…
I am sure that other companies are also producing there own ranges.
I will occasionally review rules sets and anything else that I feel would be of interest to Steampunk gamers. This may also include figures that are not strictly Steampunk/VSF, but which have potential for use within the genre.
Finally, if anyone would like to contribute articles or photos to the blog please drop me a line and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Any companies that would like me to review their figures of rules are also welcome to get in touch! You can email me at (ironmammoth AT gmail DOT com)