The Shell Case does Salute – Neil

Salute 2014

As the 12th April comes ever closer and the prospect of another day filled with nothing but the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s best all-round gaming show (and with the recent trend with Games Day, arguably just the outright best) fills our every waking thought (especially Mat’s – it’s his first time and he’s really quite excited), the members of The Shell Case team attending Salute this year (sorry Ashley, next time maybe?) have taken time to reflect on their hopes and expectations for Salute 2014.

And now to Neil to wax lyrical:

Neil

So it’s that time of year once again and with just over a week to go, I couldn’t be more excited about Salute 2014… that is unless I was Mat, but first times are always more special. Last year was great and so this will be a tough act to follow, but as always Salute has attracted a lot of great companies and I’m sure it will be awesome.

That said, this time last year I had just fallen hard harder than is comfortable for Dreadball and as a result a lot of my day was spent looking at all the brand new and mega exciting stuff that Mantic had to offer me, nearly emptying my bank account in the process. This year however, unlike Rob, for the first time ever I am going to Salute with no real plan at all. For the first time in a long time I am really not in need of anything major for any of my armies, and although there are some great games out there, I am tight and I’m yet to come across a new game that is getting me hot and hard enough to part with my cash. However with all the great new stuff companies usually bring I’m pretty sure that will very quickly change.

There are however a few things that will definitely be on my to do list;

1. Just enjoy spending the day with the rest of The Shell Case guys and the chaps. It’s sickening I know but a day with them is always a laugh.

2. Hopefully meet some of you at the #warmongers gathering and checking out some of your best buys.

3. I always have room for a new Dreadball MVP or 3, and maybe a new team. One using season 3 rules would be very cool.

4. With all the shiny around, I’m sure it will be almost impossible to resist buying at least one new game. I have been toying with Malifaux and In Her Majesty’s Name from Osprey.

Once I am there, I will suddenly find a million extra awesome but unnecessary things to buy to add to my Orks, Prussians or Banebrood. So, you know, it’ll be Salute.

Shell Case Shorts 12 – Winner 2

The second winner of Shell Case Shorts 12 has written a superb story set in the Dystopian Wars universe but with a far more…domestic twist to it. Enjoy…

The Circus – by Al Phillips

The crack of the gunshot made people scream and scatter in every direction, women scooping up their children and running for the nearest place of safety as the report of the pistol echoed all around the buildings of the Strand. The bullet impacted squarely in the back of the fleeing Prussian spy, pitching him face first on to the cobbled frost covered street with a thud as loyal subjects to the Crown scattering in every direction.

Special Investigator Barclay Pensworth holstered his service revolver his breathing heavy and fogging in the winter air. Pulling his jacket closed, he approached the man lying in an expanding pool of blood, cursing himself for going for the kill shot rather than wounding him. Dead men can’t talk. Wounded men do, especially once the interrogators get hold of them. And the interrogators he knew weren’t the kind of men to let a little blood and a bullet hole put them off.

Crouching down Pensworth rolled the dying agent on to his back. The man, in his thirties, in a cheap tweed suit and messy curled hair took a swing for him but in his weakened state Pensworth batted the fist aside easily enough and pinned the spy down, knee rested firmly on his chest.

‘What was your mission?’ He asked in faultless Prussian. The man didn’t have long left and the analysts back at the Circus had already confirmed his identity, wasting time asking him about it would only benefit the Prussian’s plans, not his.

The agent started to laugh but it degenerated into a hacking, choking cough as blood began to fill his lungs.  ‘We spend half our time looking over our shoulders,’ the agent gurgled in perfectly pronounced English. ‘Convinced that Special Branch is about to spring a trap and kill us all.’ More coughing and blood boiled up out of the agent’s throat and joined the spreading pool beneath him. ‘But you don’t know anything. You think we’re just interested in stealing documents and fucking your secretaries for secrets.’ The spy shook bodily and his face drained of colour, his eyes taking on a glassy look.

Pensworth had seen it a dozen times before and started to stand. The agents hand shot out and pulled him down, bloody hands smearing his shirt with gore.

‘Dies ist nur der Anfang…’ He said before his breath gave out and his body went limp.

Barclay Pensworth stood, his face set with a grim distaste as Clement Barrington arrived on the scene, panting, hands on his knees and sweat seeping through his jacket.

‘What did he say?’ Barrington gasped.

‘This is just the beginning.’

***

Pensworth sat at his desk at the Internal Securities Department, 12 Millbank, London, staring at the coroner’s photo of the dead Prussian spy. The man’s last words were still ringing in his ears as all around him teams of analysts and researchers scrutinised documents, listened to wire taps and deciphered messages from every corner of the Britannian Empire and beyond for some shred of an indication of what the many enemies of Britannia were plotting.

Pensworth knew that there were dozens of spies operating in England alone. Everyone of them hell-bent on learning anything they could about the Britannian war effort and feeding it back to their superiors. Pensworth and his fellow Special Investigators knew this because the Crown had sent hundreds of its own agents around the world to do exactly the same thing. But unlike the thuggish tactics of the Yanks or the sadistic streak of the Prussians, the Internal Securities Department had a remarkable success rate when it came to turning those enemy agents to the will of her Majesty’s war effort.

Setting the photo aside he opened the file that had been hastily compiled as the pieces of the puzzle concerning the Prussian spy’s duplicity had fallen into place. Nothing jumped out at him. Pensworth had learned the man’s real name was Moritz Schweiger, not James Kendal as his impressively convincing counterfeit documents stated. Schweiger it seemed had built a quite unremarkable cover which, from experience, was the best kind.

He had led an unremarkable life as a waiter in some of London’s nicer restaurants, always paid his rent on time, had friends which he visited regularly and even donated money to the Royal War Orphans Trust. He was even seeing a rather pretty young thing, judging by her picture, who was the daughter of the mining magnate Lord Gerald John Richardson the fifth. A veteran of the Crimean and personal friend to Prince Albert, after he was discharged from service he had made his fortune in mining raw materials and after Albert’s death had stayed in close contact with her Majesty.

The funny thing was, Pensworth thought, it wasn’t his connection with the Lord, and therefore her Majesty, that had set alarm bells ringing but Mister Kendal’s parents. The family had, apparently, repatriated from Hong Kong eighteen months ago yet his parents were nowhere to be seen and their beloved son was slumming it waiting tables. Furthermore he would make a phone call every Sunday, regular as clockwork to a West London phone number and, according to the wire taps, spoke to his father. Yet despite the apparent closeness he never once went to visit them or them him which didn’t sit right for parents that would pay hundreds of pounds to transport him from the other side of the world. Pensworth’s instructor when he joined the ISD had always told him; the devil is in the details.

Flicking through the dossier he knew this to be true more than ever with Schweiger. Both the address he had phoned and Schweiger’s home had already been searched. Both locations had turned up very little other than enough transmission and cipher equipment to keep the boys in Technical happy for weeks. Regardless there was nothing to indicate a wider plot beyond the usual espionage and clandestine activities.

Pensworth’s superiors had told him to close the case and move onto a suspected Russian spy network operating out of a Gentlemen’s Club in Soho. The Russians weren’t subtle; it was an easy collar and could wait. Besides these things always went down the same way and he didn’t relish the thought of a protracted gun battle.

But more than that, the dying man’s last words still nagged at him. He took out the photo of the dead man and stared at it once more. He looked past the peaceful expression, the pool of blood, the overly white tooth that contained cyanide that the agent didn’t get the chance to use. He relaxed his eyes and let the entire image sink into his mind.

He blinked as he noticed for the first time a familiar lapel badge pinned to Schweiger’s jacket. He yanked open the top draw of his desk, his hand snaking in amongst the files, half eaten bags of boiled sweets, the cigar tin that contained his last Cohiba as his hand closed around the handle of the looking-glass something heavy slammed into the desk draw, trapping his arm. He yelped in pain and surprise yanking his arm free.

Looking up irritated he saw that the something heavy was Clement.

‘Sorry about that old boy,’ He beamed taking a bite from a sandwich. He leaned over his partner’s shoulder. ‘I thought the Ringmaster had already told you to put Gerry to bed.’

‘He did Clem, but something doesn’t sit well with me.’ He poked the photo. ‘What do you make of that?’ Indicating the lapel badge.

Clem leaned closer, the smell of tuna ripe on his breath. His small eyes, surrounded by a flushed and podgy face, squinted.

‘Looks like the membership badge for the Beefsteak Club on Irving Street.’

‘How on Earth do you know that?’ Pensworth asked. Clement smiled and turned his jacket lining outwards so his partner could see the small round badge.

‘Because I’m a member Barclay old boy.’

‘So how does a waiter, earning three shillings and nine pence per week afford a club membership?’ Clement shrugged as he pushed the rest of the sandwich into his mouth. Pensworth shook his head at his partner. ‘Well grab your coat fatty, we’re going to find out.’

***

The Beefsteak Club was like most of the other up market Gentlemen’s Clubs of London: wood panelling on every wall, tall back leather chairs, thick cigar smoke and burlesque shows three times a day. Had Barclay Pensworth’s mother still been alive she would have been mortified that her eldest son was in such an establishment.

He and Clement walked through the club, noticing fellow members of Special Branch, her Majesty’s crown court and seventeen members of parliament all enjoying the show. Pensworth ignored them all; he wasn’t interested in how the political elite got their jollies, so long as they didn’t break the law in doing it.

It didn’t take long for them to attract the attention of the maitre’d who hurriedly intercepted the pair as the systematically and deliberately opened the door to every private room in the club. By the time the tall, wiry and weasel faced man with slicked over hair caught up with the pair and hurried them into his office they had walked in on four private dances, seven card games or various types, two illicit acts that Pensworth would be referring to the local constabulary and what looked like the shadow education minister lashed face down to a bench and having his bottom whipped by a women clad in a peculiar leather get up. Pensworth didn’t understand it himself but was smart enough to let it lie. Political currency was valuable in his line of work.

‘What can I do for you gentlemen,’ Fussed the maître’d after both men showed him their identification. Pensworth leaned against the oak desk. Like every other room in the club it looked as though a small woodland had been felled to deck out the office. Even the red leather, riveted desk chair was the same cut as those the rich and the fat currently wallowed in. Pensworth nodded at Clement Barrington who dutifully pulled out the photo of Schreiger taken at the scene of his death and handed it to the man.

‘Do you know him?’ Pensworth asked, reaching into his jacket and pulling a pencil and small notepad from his jacket pocket. The man opposite him stared at the photo before handing it back, nodding. ‘That is Mister Kendal, a regular here.’ The man’s tone was disapproving.

‘You didn’t like him?’ Pensworth probed. The maître’d shook his head.

‘He was a common sort, a waiter for a footman if I were to guess. It’s the shoes you see.’ The man cast his eyes down at Pensworth’s own scuffed Policeman specials before continuing. ‘But we had to suffer him as he was a member by another man’s graces.’

Before Pensworth could ask further questions the man continued. ‘And he certainly made use of those good graces. He ran up bar bills into the hundreds attempting to brown nose his way in with our more exclusive members. I even caught him harassing Lord Livingstone Melbrooks-‘

‘Wait,’ Pensworth cut in, ‘Lord Melbrooks as in the new ambassador to the Covenant of Antarctica?’

‘The very same.’ Said the maître‘d.

Suddenly a bad feeling settled in to Barclay Pensworth’s stomach, heavy and brooding.

‘Clem, call the Circus, get as many men as they can spare over to Lord Melbrooks’ residence on Upper Grosvenor, I’ll start the carriage.’ Pensworth darted from the office the door slamming behind him.

The maître’d dropped to his chair startled. Clement smiled down at him.

‘Don’t worry old boy,’

***

The carriage growled and chugged its way through the streets as fast as Pensworth could make it go. Unlike the newer combustion engines now available, Pensworth still used a steam-driven model. It was far better of long distances but perambulating through the cobbled streets of London it was a hateful device and made the 2 mile journey all the more intense for fear the contraption would simply breakdown.

By the time the pair pulled up outside the Lord’s home the sun was starting to set and lights were coming on all down Upper Grosvenor Street. The Melbrook’s residence was shrouded in darkness. Both men disembarked from the carriage, the boiler whistling and clucked as the furnace was turned down to idling, and drew their weapons.

‘Where are the others?’ Pensworth asked. Barrington shrugged. He’d produced a bag of humbugs from somewhere and was cheerfully and noisily sucking on one.

‘They said they were on their way.’ He mumbled.

‘Well we can’t wait.’ Pensworth bounded up the stone stairs of the grand abode and without breaking stride kicked the door in. The black lacquered door splintered from the impact sending splinters of wood in all directions. Before Barrington could stuff his humbugs into his pocket his partner was through the door and sweeping his gun side to side for targets. By the time he’d joined him, Pensworth had already skulked his way through the impressive living room and was now stood in front of the hanging corpse of Lord Melbrooks, in the main dining room.

Pensworth holstered his gun with a curse and surveyed the scene. The body had been there for a couple of days judging by its stiffness and stink. There was a chair over turned below the Lord’s feet and the room itself was largely untouched, the table still set for dinner. Walking back into the main hallway Barrington was the first to break the silence.

‘Looks like the old bugger topped himself.’

Pensworth shook his head. The hallway rug wasn’t straight, something unheard of in a home such as this. Folding the carpet back he could see the parquet flooring was scraped and scuffed.

‘Look,’ He said pointing at the floor. ‘There was a scuffle.’ He turned and walked slowly back into the dining room scanning the floor for more clues. He crouched down next to a drinks table and picked something up.

‘What is it?’ Clement Barrington asked.

‘A small sliver of what I suspect was a crystal decanter. I’d say the Lord put up quite the fight. Little wonder, he was career military and boxed for his regiment.’ Setting the sliver down he moved to a small blood spot. ‘Someone took a nasty sock to the mouth.’

He heard Barrington sigh behind him. ‘How do you know all this?’ He asked.

‘Research, Clem, old chap. When Melbrooks was announced as the next ambassador to the Covenant the Circus did a full work up on him to make sure he wasn’t going to sell all our secrets for his very own snow fortress.’

‘Don’t they all live underground?’

Pensworth rolled his eyes as he pulled himself upright and dusted down his trousers. ‘Come on Clem, we need to report this and make the Foreign Minister he’s going to need a new ambassador.’

Then the window and everything around him exploded. The air was filled with noise, shattered glass and bursting wood. Both men dropped to the ground as the dining room and the hanging corpse of Lord Melbrooks was torn to pieces.

Pensworth and Barrington crawled out of the room, glass and splinters raining down on them from above as the fusillade from outside continued. Making it into the hallway Pensworth risked a glance out of the side window. Three men, nondescript suits, all armed with auto repeating rifles. Military hardware.

Pensworth edged round the shattered door and took aim at the nearest shooter, slowly pulling back the firing hammer with a practised hand. He was about to fire when a hand grabbed him by the collar and yanked him backwards. He span instinctively reversing the grip on his pistol ready to use it as a club on his attacker but it was Barrington pale-faced, his hands held up defensively.

‘What are you doing?’ Pensworth growled, ‘I had a clear shot.’

‘At the first one, yes. But what about the other two? That door affords you no protection old boy, they would have cut you to pieces.’

Pensworth scowled but knew his partner was right. The shooting had stopped and Pensworth spied the shooters jumping into a auto-carriage and sped away. ‘After them!’ He shouted, running down the steps, reaching his own conveyance only to find that the shooters had been thorough and riddled the boiler with holes.

A thought surfaced in his mind but before it could formulate a crumpled bag of humbugs was thrust under his nose. ‘Want one old boy?’ Barrington beamed at him.

***

The following morning Pensworth stood in his best suit and smartest shoes, and ram rod straight as the foreign secretary, Lord Cornelius Blackwood, read his report. It wasn’t much and it was inconclusive at best. Pensworth was unable to pursue the gunmen and so was yet to determine who they worked for or how they knew he and Barrington were there. Only the weaponry was identifiable as a Lee-Enfield Auto-Repeater ARLEIV a British made weapon and one found as a support weapon in every squad, in every regiment bearing the Britannic flag.

Blackwood turned over the last page and folded the report closed.

‘An interesting work of fiction Mister Pensworth.’ Said Blackwood leaning back against his overstuffed chair and steepling his fingers.

‘Pardon me my Lord?’

‘All this nonsense about Lord Melbrooks being found hung.’ He said waving a dismissive hand at the report. ‘A load of poppycock.’

‘My Lord, I saw the body with my own eyes.’

‘Then tell me,’ Blackwood stood and stared out of his window of the Houses of Parliament, staring down at the dirty waters of the Thames, ‘How is it that Lord Melbrooks departed these shores for Antarctica three days ago.’

‘What?’ Pensworth’s surprise overrode his sense of propriety. ‘That’s impossible.’

‘Impossible or not, when plod finally arrived at Melbrooks address all they found were bullet holes and bloody great mess. If you weren’t a Special Investigator I’d have you charged with breaking and entering and criminal damage.’

‘I don’t understand, my lord. Melbrooks is dead and I believe a Prussian spy is behind it.’

‘Enough,’ Blackwood raged. ‘That couldn’t have been Melbrook.’

‘I know what I saw!’

‘You forget you place Investigator! That couldn’t have been Melbrook because the damn blasted fool arrived in Antarctica yesterday and subsequently provoked the Covenant in to declaring war on the Kingdom of Britannia. His body washed to shore on the Falkland Islands this morning.’

Pensworth mind was reeling. Nothing was making any sense.

‘Now if you’ll excuse me, I have Lord Richardson waiting for me in the other room.’

‘Richardson?!’ Blackwood’s irritation was almost tangible at Pensworth’s lack of respect.

‘Yes, Investigator, now we’re at war with the Covenant as well as every other damn fool nation we’re going to need raw materials like never before.’

Pensworth felt numb as he was ushered out of Blackwood’s office.

What did it all mean? Melbrook, Richardson, Schweiger, what did they all have in common?

***

Clement Barrington sat in one of the private rooms of the Beefsteak Club on Irving Street and waited for the showgirl. He liked the burlesque shows as much as the next man but he found it all got a bit awkward when the show got to its racier parts. He’s much rather looking at ladies in a state of undress be a private experience. He reached for the scotch he couldn’t afford and took a long and lingering sip.

The door latch clicked behind him and he smiled. Rose was his favourite, and not just because she offered extras. The door closed and he adjusted, making himself comfortable.

‘Come on Rose my dear, don’t keep me waiting.’

‘I’m afraid Rose will be a while longer. Old boy.’

Barrington froze as he heard the familiar click of a gun cocking.

‘Barclay,’ Barrington said slowly, ‘What are you doing?’

‘I’m doing my job Clem.’ Barrington felt Pensworth move closer but he stayed behind him. ‘Or do you prefer Udo Herzog?’

Barrington let out a sigh.

‘Bravo Barclay old boy, you finally figured it out.’

‘I understand the Prussians wanting to provoke a war between the Covenant and Britannia, we were the only power left that they had remotely cordial relations with, but I don’t understand what Richardson has to do with all this.’

Barrington rose and turned to face his partner.

‘You presume too grand a plan Barclay old boy. Richardson came to us. Gave us the means to infiltrate the Circus. Even offered up his daughter to help maintain Schweiger’s cover.’

‘But why?’ But Pensworth already knew the answer as he said it.

‘Money. Richardson wants to be the exclusive provider or raw materials to the Britannic war effort and a war on another front, especially one as seaborne as the Covenant would hundreds of new warships.’

‘All this over money?’ Pensworth spat taking a step closer to his former friend.

‘Don’t be nieve Barclay. This war will burn out eventually and when it does Richardson will be the only man left standing with any credibility left. And the fortune to silence anyone who knows different.’

Pensworth nodded. He had pieced it altogether after his meeting with Lord Blackwood. He’d subtly investigated Lord Richardson’s holdings and finances and noticed not only aggressive expansion in mines but steel production. He’s also identified Richardson as Schweiger’s benefactor at the club. And for one other.

‘Just answer me this one last question Clem.’

Barrington shrugged, finishing off his scotch with practised ease.

‘Why did you kill the maître‘d?’Barrington smiled. It was a cruel smile Pensworth had never seen on the man before.

‘He gave me up. He didn’t realise it, of course, but as soon as he mentioned Schweiger and the ambassador I knew it would only be a matter of time. I knew my own movements in the club would eventually come to light.’

‘And the gunman outside Melbrook’s house?’

‘Necessary. I had to silence you but when the bullets started flying and they hadn’t killed you in the opening volley I found myself unable to do the job myself. We’ve been through a lot you and I these last two years.’

Pensworth nodded. ‘We have.’ He smiled at Barrington. ‘Which is what makes this so hard.’

The shot was swallowed up by the burlesque music and bellowed laughter of dozens of drunk and happy businessmen. Barrington’s body wouldn’t be found for another three hours by which time Rose had been paid off to say that he’d attempted to rape her and an unknown patron, hearing he screams for help, had shot him in her defence. The constabulary were currently unaware of the shooter’s whereabouts.

The following day the papers ran a headline story about mining magnate Lord Gerald John Richardson the fifth being tragically killed in an automotive accident whilst travelling to his country residence. He had been planning on spending time with her daughter following the shooting of her gentleman friend by muggers barely two days before.

Eye witnesses reported hearing what sounded like a gunshot before the auto-carriage lost control and collided with an oncoming lorry but they were unconfirmed.

Lord Richardson’s business holdings were currently frozen by the treasury while a will is found. However, due to the looming threat of war with the Covenant, sources close to the PM suggest that the assets may be nationalised until the crisis of war is over.

Pensworth folded the paper and tucked it under his arm tossing coins on to the news stand before joining the rest of the commuters on their way to work.

Dystopian Legions Release Details

Dystopian Legions will be shipping on the 31st October. Initially just the Prussians, Empire of the Blazing Sun, FSA and Britannians but fear not the Covenant won’t be far behind (hooray!). IT’s all very exciting and finally I have something to put on my Christmas list. Starter sets will be going for around the £40 mark which and will include a quick play version of the rules. Not indications yet how much the rule book will be but I suspect £20. Unit boxes will be £15 for 6 and musicians £7 for 2 so not bad really. It’ll be interesting to see how much the tanks go for. I suspect around the £30 mark a they’re solid resin. And massive.

Full release info for each faction can be found via the links below.

PE nation intro

EOTBS nation intro

FSA nation intro

KOB nation intro

We Are Legion

Prepare yourself for another Nerdgasm as Spartan shows off some renders from the upcoming Dystopian Legions. Absolutely love the FSA Treadbike, the Prussian Lucifyre and the Lord Flashheart-esque Britannian Officer. And yes the Air Cavalry Officer has huge boobs.

Dystopian Legions

So the big news on in the community is the announcement from Spartan Games of the up coming release of Dystopian Legions in October.

This is a huge progression from Spartan moving into the 28mm wargaming market. And judging by the snaps below it’s going to be a little bit tasty. And I can say, hand on heart, my wife is gonna absolutely kill me…

Here’s the announcement from the Spartan website:

DYSTOPIAN LEGIONS is a fast-paced, action-packed 28mm scale tabletop game set in the exciting world of Dystopian Wars, where Victorian super science fiction has created a fascinating and brutal arena for a deadly world war.

Concept artwork for Dystopian Legions

Having brought carnage to the Dystopian battlefields with giant tanks, massive airships and technologically advanced naval vessels it is now time to get up close and personal with your warfare. It is up to your platoons of infantry to storm enemy positions, capture towns, secure strategic objectives and devastate rival nations.

Infantry sections are the building block of Dystopian Legions, but we’ve created so much more for gamers to build their armies with. Also available for battlefield commanders will be elite infantry units, section upgrades, mechanised walkers, tankettes, armoured personnel carriers and special characters, such as leaders and scientists who can inspire your men and cause fear in the enemy.

Turn back, the road is closed!

And if that isn’t enough we’ve created full-scale battle tanks, stoked full of detail and delivered in glorious high quality resin. Marvel at these giant behemoths of the battlefield…

The Empire of the Blazing Sun ambush the Prussian Empire

The game is scalable from a small number of models right the way up to a full-blown company of men with armoured support. A modular approach to army building guarantees the game embraces further new releases and game expansions.

Welcome to DYSTOPIAN LEGIONS… warfare just got so much more personal! Check out the nation links to the right for more information.

And because I’m so damn nice to you all, I’ve also robbed the faction fluff too. So far only 4 factions have been announced but you know my beloved Covenant will be getting an outing. And I have two words for you. Iron. Men. Take a good look at some of the snaps, the models look awesome. This game is going to be massive.

Empire of the Blazing Sun

Although the smallest of the great powers, the Empire of the Blazing Sun have carved out an influence far greater than their modest territories would suggest.

This is largely due to their formidable strength in arms. The core of this nation’s force are the elite Ashigaru Sections, better trained and equipped than the infantry of any other nation. The Ashigaru are armed with the infamous ‘Dragon’s Breath’; firing cartridges filled with mysterious compounds that ignite on contact with the air, fired from a rapid-repeating shotgun. These horrifying weapons are truly devastating once the Ashigaru have closed to within range.

A unit of Shinobi Ninjas

The Ashigaru are trained to make the best of their equipment, using fluid manoeuvre and aggressive shock assaults. These are supported with short range rockets, along with the nations unique and highly recognisable Ke-Ho tanks. Further, all infantry in the Blazing Sun’s armies are equipped with gas grenades to suppress and disorient the enemy before launching their assaults.

Additionally, the Empire of the Blazing Sun armies make use of various specialist troops. They range from the subtle and deadly Shinobi, who employ stealth and speed in place of cumbersome armour to dissect vital targets, to the renowned Rocket Corps Samurai, who descend upon the Empress’ foes from the clouds and sunder their formations with ferocity and matchless skill at arms.

Considered amongst the greatest of the Imperial Alchemical Institute’s achievements are the flying Steambikes piloted by their boldest Samurai in crushing charges.

Knowing that they have the world’s best trained soldiers under their command, Officers in the Blazing Sun’s armies demand peerless discipline and execution from their troops. This they use to direct the fast moving, hard hitting assaults their forces are famous for, and they can always be assured loyalty and obedience from their men. Of course, martial prowess is a matter of honour amongst the Blazing Sun’s upper classes, and the majority of their Officers exemplify this trait, able to best any opponent with their matchless swordsmanship.

Concept art for Empire of the Blazing Sun Lord (left) and Ashigaru Infantry (right)

An example of the highly detailed Empire of the Blazing Sun models for Dystopian Legions

Federated States of America

Eschewing the rigid formations employed by the majority of European forces in favour of a more flexible and responsive military, the core units of the Federated States’ Armies are the Federal Infantry.

Operating in fluid skirmish formations they manoeuvre into position, then bringing to bear an overwhelming volume of fire from massed ranks of Winchester Repeating Carbines supported by Orlington 1869 Light Machine Guns. The Federal Infantry are drilled extensively to keep their weapons at optimal firing range at all times, coordinating their movements to deny the enemy advance and crush the foe under sheer weight of fire.

A stand-off between troops from the Prussian Empire and the Federated States of America

The specialists who operate the supporting Light Machine Guns and larger field Gatlings know well how to push their weapons to maximum effect. In turn the crews of the imposing Pioneer tanks and Revolving Cannon gun teams are experts at cracking enemy armour.

Embracing their pioneer traditions, the Federal Armies employ a range of patriotic freelance soldiers as scouts. These hunters are expert marksmen and can use their Buffalo Rifles to pick off high priority targets from great distances, whilst using their matchless skills to remain hidden from return fire.

The fine traditions of the American Cavalry regiments also retain their place in the Federated States military, both in the forms of the valiant Air Cavalry and the elite Treadbike riders. Both use the principles of mobile firepower to great effect; able to use their great speed and manoeuvrability to encircle the foe and strike at vulnerable targets.

The officers of the Federal Armies are expert at employing efficient fire-and-retire tactics. They keep their troops fighting at maximum effectiveness at all times, knowing when to push them forward to harass the enemy, and when to pull them back in good order so that they can reform and keep firing.

Concept art for Federated States of America Federal Infantry with Specialist Weapon (left) and Air Cavalry Officer (right)

An example of the highly detailed Federated States of America models for Dystopian Legions

Kingdom of Britannia

The Kingdom of Britannia holds dominion over an empire upon which the sun will never set, and as one would expect, the defence and policing of these lands has long required The Crown to uphold a tremendous body of professional Solders.

The Britannian army is structured around a solid core of Line Infantry Platoons, who by virtue of their training and able aristocratic leadership are able to keep the enemy at bay with well-coordinated volleys of rifle fire, before advancing and overwhelming whatever remains with the time-honoured combination of savage flamethrowers and the cold steel of the bayonet.

Captain Gilbert 'Bertie' Smethington II

These platoons benefit from a great deal of support from the other Admiralties of the Britannian military, at any one time able to draw upon the support of the machine-guns and field batteries of the Royal Artillery, and the Tanks, Tankettes and Armoured Transports of the Royal Armoured Corps.

Like all modern warring nations, the scientific men of the Kingdom have been called upon in recent times to produce new and ever more astounding machines and weapons of war. These efforts take form on the battlefield in the form of the soaring Sky Hussars and the redoubtable Knights Templar.

The Sky Hussars utilise the very pinnacle of personal flying-machine technology to roar at incredible speed across the skies above the battlefield, descending to cremate their enemies wherever they stand with their Flame-Projecting weaponry.

The machines of the Knights Templar are no less an incredible sight to behold. Their great, hulking, humanoid forms are able to wade into the thickest of enemy fire with little fear of injury, before bringing their awesome might to bear.

These forces have never been left wanting for competent leadership. The Britannian Officer Corps is comprised, as it has been for centuries, almost entirely from the men of the Upper Classes. These individuals are born and raised knowing they are destined for great things, and can be expected to excel at the front by virtue of their ample training and self-confidence.

Concept art for Kingdom of Britannia Tank Commander (left) and Line Infantry with Specialist Weapon (right)

An example of the highly detailed Kingdom of Britannia models for Dystopian Legions

Prussian Empire

The great Prussian Reichswehr has proven itself throughout its history to be one of the finest fighting forces ever to have devastated the surface of the Earth.

The hammer-blow of any Prussian offensive comes in the form of the Grenadiers. These fine infantry are drilled to their cores and well equipped with some of the finest personal equipment. First and foremost is the Mauser-Tesla M69 Breach-Loading Rifle, a weapon made to the highest standards. At the end of this weapon is a violent ‘Tesla Bayonet’, a two-pronged electrical device that gives every Prussian Infantryman the upper hand against their opponents. In battle the Grenadiers favour highly offensive tactics, close range firepower followed by a stern charge to rout their enemies.

Oberst Werner Hahl with unit of Teutonic Knights

Prussian attacks are generally combined arms affairs, their infantry supported by various incarnations of the deadly Prussian Panzer tanks and transports, supported further by Machine Guns and Tesla Artillery batteries.

Perhaps more than any other nation, Prussia has drawn the new sciences of the modern age and applied them to its armed forces. Wherever and whenever they are deployed, a Prussian force can be expected to be accompanied by the fearsome aerial Luftlancers or elements of the mysterious Teutonic Knights.

The Luftlancers are a fearsome sight in battle, balancing high above the battlefield on tesla-powered plumes of smoke, they wait until the moment comes for them to strike like the knights of old, plunging down and charging into the enemy ranks, decimating them with their Tesla Lances.

Oberleutnant Lily Reitsch, famous aerial ace of the Prussian Empire

The Teutonic Knights are little less than Ironclads in human form. They take up the foremost positions in any Prussian force, slowly but surely wading through the fire towards enemy positions, fearless and indefatigable. Each armed with a Maschinengewehr 71 Machine Gun and strength augmented far beyond the greatest human potential, many enemy lives have been lost to these great machines.

The Prussian Reichswehr has never to fear that their elite military units are being squandered as they are led by only the finest of the Prussian Nobility. These Junkers take to the field with their men. Raised on a steady diet of Clausewitz and Jomini, trained in the finest military academies and hardened by years of Mensur, Prussian leadership is the envy of the world. In battle they can be expected to be seen at the front amongst their men, lending their martial skills into the fray.

Concept art for Prussian Empire Infantry (left) and Oberst Werner Hahl (right)

An example of the highly detailed Prussian Empire models for Dystopian Legions

 

The Funny Thing About Prussians…

…is they have all the armour plating of a carton of milk. In a stand up shooting match they will last roughly as long as a Wendy House against a Gatling gun. But what they do have is speed, tesla coils some outstanding support ships and flyers fantastic assault values.

I thought, to mix things up a bit, I’d combine reviews of some of the models and what they add to the fleet in gaming turns.

As mentioned, the Prussians are not a tough fleet and point for point, Prussian capital class ships do not stand up well against their opposite numbers in the other factions. However they have some of the meatiest support ships and superior assault points. Throw in a sky fortress that’s armed to the tits and as hard as the Prussian battleship and they can be a very formidable force.

So let’s begin. The Prussians is the only fleet I’d think twice about getting the starter fleet for. For a start the Reiver class cruiser isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be. They don’t lack for weapons but in a ranged battle they will lose every single time because they only have one decent ranged weapon system and their hulls are made of paper. The alternative is the Hussar class gunship. It’s a bit of an odd kettle of fish.

Looks wise, the model is way cool. Sleek and compact with two bloody great turrets, one of which nestled on top of a tesla generator which is the epitome of the steampunk genre. It still posses the exposed pipes and boxy design elements that speak of practicality above all other considerations that we’d stereotypically expect from the Prussian Empire.

In game terms, for the extra 20 points you get overall fewer weapon systems. But you do get one extra hit points and two turrets over the cruiser’s one and they get a couple more shots. However you don’t get any extra move, armour or a higher assault value and because they only come in units of 2, they’re hard to justify for the points. However, the tesla generators are extremely handy as it allows you to apply them in the only way I can see value in using them. Which is close support. Prussian support ships are mad good. Particularly the Arminius class frigate and the Stolz class destroyer. Gunships can lead the charge, screening the frigates from the worst of the damage whilst softening up the enemy. Once at short-range the gunships can deploy their tesla generators and then leave the frigates to do what they do best…

Which is boarding. Point for point the Arminius class frigates are brilliant. Aside from looking the part with a massive turret mounted on what is essentially a very small ship it looks as dangerous as it is in the game. At 6 shots at range band 1 the Arminius on its own packs a punch. Take a unit of 4 and that’s linked fire of 12 and 8 hull points for 100 points. Which is undeniably impressive.

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If you’re then able to fire the rear tesla coils and then board you’re pretty much guaranteed to take the target ship as a prize. Especially against fleets like the Covenant who suffer from low assault point values. To be fair, the entire Prussian fleet is good at boarding but the blitz kreig approach that support vessels can give you – combined with larger ships softening targets – makes them very hard to manage. Through in the modifier to hit for smaller targets and frigates and destroyers are lethal in Prussian fleets.

And talking of large ships…

20120722-152707.jpgThe the Blucher class dreadnought is an absolute beast of a model. It oozes streamlined aggression and its four turrets make it plenty scary. It’s also got some impressive Tesla coils too but the real bonus is its two, yes two shield generators. What this means is that you can move your dreadnought in close, abeam of a single target and level 18 shots at range band 3 whilst being afforded no small amount of protection from the shield generators. And if you’re feeling fruity it’s got 12 assault points too.

It’s a fearsome ship in its own right even having only two turrets available whilst closing on a target but with sensible position it can get shots off at a bevy of targets. Plus it has range which is invaluable compared to the majority of the Prussian fleet who need to close to be combat effective. What this means is that the dreadnought doesn’t lead the charge as with most fleets but lurks at the back pounding targets and only closing to engage if it’s really needed. At short-range the guns are devastating but dreadnoughts of other fleets are easily a match so knowing when to commit is key.

Combined arms is the name of the game for Prussians and as such the Imperium Class sky fortress is an absolute must. For a start it’s a fantastic model. I mean truly awesome. And massive. It’s incredible value considering how much resin you get. There were some pretty horrid mould lines on the blimp if I’m honest but they weren’t too problematic to remove. It did come with a bloody huge lump of resin on the on nose though (the Tesla coil is separate) and that’ll need to be trimmed away gradually, which is a bit of a faff.

The Prussian sky fortress is lethal. As tough as a battleship but with the benefit of being able to obscure itself. It’s prow mounted Tesla coil is also range band 1-4 and with the Lethal Strike MAR it can start stripping off assault points that’ll make life easier for the support vessels below. If allowed to close to range band 1 it also has 12 bombs it can drop on some poor bastards head.

And finally, it has tiny flyers. Tiny flyers are a bit hit and miss in Dystopian Wars. Continually having to rearm torpedo and dive bombers mean that unless you use them wisely you’ll struggle to make the most of them. But, again, this is where a coordinated approach is vital to the success of the Prussian way of war. By using the 2 free squadrons of tiny flyers as fighters you can ferry your bombers to their destination, attack and then either send the bombers to their deaths or return them for re-arming. Whichever is quickest. If you take two sky fortresses then not only will you have two very tough, and meaty flyers on the board but a formidable air arm that will take some defeating. The sky fortress closes to range band one all its weapons come into their own and can unleash some horrendous damage and as bombs are ordinance the sky fortress can be on fire and plummeting through the sky but the bombs will keep on falling.

The final piece of the puzzle is the Metzger Robots. The water lined models are brilliant. The detailing is great, although the ones I got had quite a bit of flash on them but that was still easily dealt with. And to a degree you can forgive that because you get two bases for £10.50 retail. Which is a fricking bargain. The pointed chest plate out of water is impressive. In the water it cuts through the waves like the ships of the fleet. In reality the rules aren’t quite so accommodating, cutting its move from 8 inches down to 4 inches all but leaving the robots stranded at the back of the line.

However this isn’t a bad thing as the speed of the fleet (and relative slowness of the sky fortress) makes them vulnerable to flanking actions. The Metzgers can bring up the rear harass anything that tries their luck. And their weapon systems are potent enough to harass and more. The reality is that they’ll most likely get destroyed for their trouble but they’re relatively tough so it’ll take some doing. But at 90 points a pop the loss will sting some.

Hopefully these insights will be of some use. The point is that the key to Prussians is overwhelming force using support vessels with other, larger, ships supporting, either as screens or ranging fire. Prussians will take casualties whether you like it or not. They’re just too squishy to avoid it. The trick is volume of ships, speed and assault the living shit of your opponent. And make sure you’ve got the muscle in key places to anchor your line. Simples.