Your majesty is not amused

Steampunk Victoria
Your majesty is not amused, bring me my large calibre weapon!

Since I discovered Space 1889 all those years ago, I have had a real interest and love for Victorian Science Fiction and steampunk.

In terms of gaming, I did play a few games of Space 1889, but the game I enjoyed more was Clooudships on Mars with the Martian Flyers and

I also had and managed to get a box of British Troops and Martian Warriors.

Space 1889 British Troops

I expanded my Martians with some Alternative Armies Elves

It was Space 1889 which introduced me to the books of HG Wells and The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.

I remember reading the Difference Engine and thinking what an ideal background this would be for gaming. I wrote an article about this many years ago and published it on the website.

I really enjoyed the film, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but did think it could probably do with more Steampunk elements in there.

More recently I have been adding steampunk elements to some old west games.

However I have wanted to create some games in Victorian London in the vein of the Difference Engine, Sherlock Holmes, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

One model which I did think would be fun, was the limited edition steampunk Queen Victoria from the Giants in Miniature range available from Wargames Illustrated.

The worlds of Steampunk and Victorian Science Fiction are a fantastic setting to game within. Yet nothing seems to epitomise the Victorian era more than the Queen-Empress who gave her name to it – so what could be better than a figure that brings the fantastical and the historical into a glorious union?

Steampunk Victoria is the product of a fevered imagination and a desire to hit as many of the ‘targets’ of the genre as we can. Clockwork Monocular? Check! Steam Powered backpack? Check! Large calibre firearm? Check! Now you can field the Queen-Empress in your tabletop battles, striding forward at the head of Her Majesty’s Expeditionary Force On Mars or prowling the backstreets of London on secret missions to defeat the enemies of her Empire.

As for rules for these kinds of games, there are various sets available, for example, the obvious one would be In Her Majesty’s Name.

However my usual thinking is to utilise an existing set of rules to which I am more familiar. Great Escape Games have taken their old west rules, Dead Man’s Hands and used them for a 1920’s gangster setting, with The Chicago Way. I think that these rules could be easily converted for using in a Victorian London Steampunk setting.

I would need to think about the stats of her electro rifle.

Alongside her would be redcoats armed with steampunk weapons, again we would need to think about stats for them. Time to reflect on the rules and do some planning and thinking.

Then there is the question, who would they fight?

TARDIS

I am reminded of the (new) Doctor Who season two, second episode with Queen Victoria, Tooth and Claw, a group of warrior monks have sinister plans for the monarch, and the full moon is about to summon a creature out of legend.

Queen Victoria and the Doctor

More recently episode nine of season ten, we had the Empress of Mars.

The Doctor and Bill travel to Mars, but upon arrival, they find themselves in the middle of a conflict between the Ice Warriors and Victorian soldiers.

So we could have a range of villains fighting her majesty.

Then we could have the French.

So Victoria will have her day!

Why has ‘God save the Queen’ been scrawled on the surface of Mars?

Really looking forward to Saturday’s episode of Doctor Who, The Empress of Mars, where we see Victorian era British soldiers on Mars fighting the Ice Warriors.

‘God save the Queen’ has been scrawled on the surface of Mars. What are Victorians doing on the home of the Ice Warriors? And what will they find beneath the Martian soil?

I’ve had a fondness for Victorian Science Fiction for many years, though I was aware of HG Wells War of the Worlds and the Time Machine, what really got me interested was GDW’s Space 1889 game. I did buy some of their 25mm miniatures and played a few games.

As well as the British soldiers I also had a few of the Martians.

As you can see they don’t look like the Ice Warriors.

Since then I have expanded my awareness and interest in Victorian Science Fiction beyond Space 1889 and looked at steampunk and other sources.

I really did enjoy The Difference Engine and I published an article about gaming in that universe.

“In the mists down Knightsbridge a procession of some kind was moving steadily across the road. Ghostlike, blurred by distance and the fog, they appeared to be military gurneys, the squat treaded monsters of the Crimean war. Fog muffled a heavy chugging and the faint repeated clank of jointed iron. One after another they passed. Each gurney hauled a linked articulated caisson. These wains appeared to be canvas-shrouded cannon, with men, footsoldiers in canvas coloured drab, clustered atop the cannons like barnacles, with a sea-urchin bristle of bayonetted rifles.”

Though there have been many Doctor Who stories set in the Victorian era and the Doctor has even met H G Wells, but I can’t recall an episode of Doctor Who that had such a Victorian Science Fiction background to the episode.

I really like the idea of Victorian British soldiers, more use to fighting in the Sudan or down at the Cape fighting Martians (well Ice Warriors) on Mars. You can see they have some kind of steampunk weaponry, but I am curious about how they got there, what was their space ship like? Well all will be revealed on Saturday.

This may be just one such episode of the Doctor, but if it goes down well with the audiences then we may see more.

Dystopian Wars

I don’t know about you, but occasionally I find a game that I think just makes me go “woah!” and I just have to have it.

I remember playing Talisman (1st Edition) for the first time and thinking what an amazing boardgame. I had before playing Talisman only played boardgames like Monopoly, and Talisman was so very different. That was nearly thirty years ago…

Since then other games that have had a similar impact include Car Wars, Twilight 2000 and Space 1889. I really enjoyed playing Car Wars and spent many hours designing vehicles and playing it back in the 1980s. I loved the concept behind Twilight 2000 and though I never really got a chance to play it for a lengthy campaign, I did enjoy reading articles and scenarios for it. Space 1889 was one of those ideas that I hadn’t really considered before and was my first introduction to Victorian Science Fiction (well the First Men in the Moon aside). Since then I have really enjoyed VSF and steampunk, I really liked the Difference Engine and even wrote an article on wargaming in the world of the Difference Engine.

So a few months back when I was a gaming shop in Birmingham and noticed the Dystopian Wars, I was like a moth to a candle! This was one of those games that I just had to have and would have to play.

Imagine a world similar to our own, but subtly different. Now imagine the year is 1870 and the Industrial Revolution occurred decades earlier than in our own world. Technology is far advanced, and in many cases, unrecognisable, which has led to the development of fantastic naval vessels, hulking land ships and terror from the skies in the form of airships and war balloons.

Looking at the models, unfortunately the rules had sold out, there was one model that caught my eye and that was the model I had to have and would set me down the path of the Dystopian Wars. It was the Prussian Sky Fortress.


Having decided that this was a definite purchase, I realised that I would also need an opponent and looking at the boxed sets, I decided to go with the Kingdom of Britannia.

A few weeks later I managed to get hold of the rulebook and was very impressed with the content and production values.

So time to get painting.

Space 1939

The ideas behind Space 1939 have been brewing for some time.

The concept is quite simple, take the Space 1889 universe complete with inter-planetary travel and transpose it to 1939 and the Second World War.

Why 1939?

Well it’s in the main because it sounds like 1889.

In this alternate world we have the same kinds of political machinations that we had prior to World War Two, but in this world you have æther flyers and liftwood armoured fighting vehicles.

As with any alternate history, once you have deviated from the history we know, it is highly improbable that the events that happen in our world also happening in the alternate world. In our world, World War Two was in many ways a direct result of World War One. Would World War One have resulted in trench warfare and the defeat of Germany if either side had liftwood based steam powered flyers.

Well the benefit of an imaginary alternate world, is that you don’t need to worry too much about deviation from the timeline due to the use of liftwood or æther flyers, but to just say that the alternate timeline followed a similar path to our own. If anything 19th Century space travel has increased the rate of technological change.

So it’s 1939 and the great nations of Earth are readying for war. Liftwood is in great demand and as a result shortages mean that only a small proportion of each nation’s war machines are liftwood based.

As well as tanks, armoured cars, cavalry, giant land fortresses and low level liftwood platforms will decide who wins the ground. In the air, liftwood flyers are supplemented with fighters and bombers.

So what about rules?

Well I could write my own rules, but why not use a rules set that people are familiar with. So you could use any rule set you like, but I will be looking at using Flames of War (and possibly Warhammer Historical for skirmish style games).

More soon…

Cloudships of Mars

I have always liked the concept of Space 1889 and over the years bought the game, models and other stuff.

Through the community feed and via this blog I did find this excellent Cloudships of Mars website (update: link is dead), which has some fantastic photos and models form the Space 1889 demonstration game which has been at Salute a few years back.

Cloudships of Mars

I have always wanted to do an Epic version of 1889, but never got much further than just thinking about it.

It’s these kinds of websites and images which inspire you to get the stuff out and have a game.