6mm-Minis is Maksim-Smelchak's blog to discuss gaming, miniatures, books, movies, food, Israel, Judaism, life in general and other funny crud. My favorite scale of miniatures is 6mm, which is also called 1/285 or 1/300 scale. I enjoy many different kinds of games including ancients, Napoleonics, WWI, WWII, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Car Wars AKA Autoduel (a sort of crash'n'derby automobile combat game), 6mm Godzilla AKA Kaiju games, and science fiction games. I'm open to everything though!

Saturday, December 31, 2005

PERSONAL NEWS: Happy New Years, Everyone!

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to drop a quick note and wish everyone the best in 2006!

Make good resolutions and keep them!



SCI-FI MUSING: Technology, Fightercraft & 40k!

Hi Guys,

To answer Luis AKA Cuban Commissar's question of:

"I was just wondering what people envision: a separate type of space and aircraft or craft capable of operating in either environment (space or atmosphere)?"

I write the following in reply:


First of all, atmospheric craft and deep space craft have very different mission requirements.

Atmospheric craft have three primary roles:
- Air Superiority
- Ground Strikes
- Specialized Roles

Space craft also have three primary roles:
- Space Superiority
- Capital Ship Strikes
- Specialized Roles


Each type of craft also has specialized equipment needs:

Atmospheric craft require:
- Streamlining
- Control Surfaces
- Landing Gear

Space Craft require:
- Maneauver engines (Vernier jets or the like)
- Carrier docking gear (Not necessarily landing gear per se)

A craft that does both requires:
- Reentry shielding in the form of armor or power shields
- Enough thrust to break out of an atmosphere (Often requiring booster rockets or engines)

So to build a craft that can perform in space or an atmosphere adds a tremendous amount of complication and expense to a design. It makes more sense to have specialized craft. Amphibians have their roles, but few are ever purchased by any military due to their expenses. A specialized craft will either equal or trump an amphibian and do so with less expense. Expense is a key consideration of attritional warfare, which is likely to be one of the modes of warfare (attrition) for the rest of time.


In an intergalactic or multiplanetary empire/nation/force, there is an additional consideration of different types of atmospheres. Not all atmospheres were created equal if you get my drift. Some are able to provide more or less lift to a control surface. This means that atmospheric craft will probably require "tuning" or specialized adaptation kits to work in different atmospheres.


So, the real question whether we have specialized atmosperic and space craft in a science fiction background is what technology they possess. Backgrounds that have technologies capable of economically brooching the differences between the primary two flyer environments will have "amphibians" (craft capable of operating in atmosphere or space) where backgrounds without such mitigating technology will not.


I see "amphibious" craft in a univere without "wonder technology" to be very specialized craft used by marines or specialized forces with the planetary assault role. Otherwise, it would be simply easier to use a dropship to broach an atmosphere and then release loads of atmospheric fighters rather than have a few more expensive amphibians.


Antigravity technolgy is one of the "wonder technologies" that would make dual-environment fighters possible. Gravity is not dependent upon an atmopsphere so craft with antigravity engines (called repulsorlift in Star Wars) could easily function in either atmosphere.

The other needed technology is heat shielding. A craft that enters an atmosphere has to shed or deflect heat somehow. Current 20th and now 21rst century spacecraft use ablative panelling that is good for one use. One of the most common hypothesized ways of dealing with rentry heat is through the use of power fields (force fields) that can be formed into a cone or any other shape capable of best dealing with reentry heat.


Specialized small craft missions are the ones that have the most radical equipment requirements.

Naval scouts or pickets would never have a need for atmospheric equipments. These are specialized craft like today's P-3 Orion that have along endurance and act like AWACs sitting on station with sensors going. They need to have both endurance (extended crew life support, fuel supplies, etc.) capable of staying on stations for weeks or more. And yet, small craft can probably perform this mission more economically than light capital ships in most backgrounds.

Atmospheric ground strike craft a would also never have a requirement for space capabilities. They also have no need of endurance. They perform a strike mission, deliver ordinance and return to base.

The most likely craft to need a dual-environment capability would be air or space superiority craft.

The next most lilely would be high-end strike craft like F-111s or Su-24s... craft with specialized attack missions.

It would make very little sense otherwise to equip craft with dual-environment capability unless they were supporting a specialized marine task force.


Another variable to throw into the mixture is how capable are ground (planetary) defences. It's a heck of a lot harder to hit a spacecraft than an aircraft. Missiles require more fuel. Direct fire weaponry requires incredible ranges. Even the realtively simple ground-based laser would require extremely high power to penetrate even the thinnest atmpshere (...and Earth does not have a thin atmosphere).

Reagan's "Star Wars" SDI (Strategic Defence Initiative) was examining mass drivers, particle weapons and missiles. And at that, the proposed plans intended to mount these weapons in satellites to brooch the atmosphere issue.

The most likely air / space defence weapon is the SAM. Add enough boosters and you can go spacebourne. It also requires a much simpler science / technology / industrial base than more sophisticated beam weapons might require.

Of course, this is all specualtionsince science fiction is by definition FICTION!


Eldar have all sorts of advanced technology so dual-environment craft seem plausible for them.

For most of the Empire, I owuld say "no"... they do not have the technology or funding for dual-environment craft. However, the Space Marines and Adeptus Mechanicus have access to resources beyond the Imperial Guard and Navy so for them, I would think it would be both possible and plausible. As it stands, the Space Marine Thunderhawk gunship is a dual-environment craft. And per my hypothesis, it is also a specialized craft meant to support planetary assaults. Most human spacecraft do not seem to have this dual-environment capability though. The human empire use dropships and other sort of landers to get from space to shore.

The Necrons have no fighters the last I checked so the issue is moot. However, as described in cannon, they certainly have the technology to build dual-environment fighter craft. Further so, the Necrons have some sort of teleportation technology which would seem to make the issue futher moot. Why bother to use landing shuttles if you have "beam me up, Scotty?" One could guess that one would use landing shuttles if there is technology to block teleportation, but in the 40k universe, noone seems to have the technology to block Necron teleportation.

I can see Orkz either way. On one hand, Orkz are brutally simple in their use of technology, but on the other hand, Orkz use and control other technolgies that noone else understands such as the vaunted Traktor Beamz. An extrapolation of Traktor Beam might make dual-environment craft possible, but with their current shape and form, they certainly wouldn't work under conventional means. The Orkz need a "wonder technology" to make dual-environment craft plausible for them.

Squats create mechanical marvels, but I don't see them bothering with dual-environment craft. They would probably take the more efficient method (...in the backwards technology of human space) of using specialize craft. Not only that, but Squats live in some pretty harsh environments so the variety of atmospheres on Squat-held worlds would almost preclude that specialized atmospheric craft would have to be built. The Squats could probably build dual-environment craft, but I don't see them bothering... inefficient in the Squat view, which is based on advanced scientific and engineering understandings.

The Tau are highly advanced although less so than the Eldar. They also operate specialized space forces and already have dual-environment fighter craft according to canon so it's very easy to say "yes" that they have this technology. Now, I can't see their allies having it though. The Kroot would certainly not seem to have the capability of building dual-environment craft.

Tyranids are all about efficiencies of mass production. I can't see them bothering to build dual-environment craft when they can just as easily recycle specialized craft from one form to another. I don't see Tyranids using dual-environment craft unless there was a real need for it. Mycetic Spore Pods would seem to support this hypothesis. Why bother with dual-environment craft when you plan to have space superiority before you begin bombarding a planet?



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MODELLING: My Scenery-building History.

Hi Guys,

- My very first terrain board that I made many years ago was a green one. It was also huge, bulky and totally unsuitable for transportation. I made it out of 3/4" plywood with spars. A team of guys could have stood on it. I got rid of it at a later date as it was a pain to transport and store for an apartment dweller like myself.

- My second experiments were with cloth sheet maps. They were nice and portable but lacked heft. I tried painting one later and it was so much work that I decided to live with the pattern rather than try painting a huge sheet. This is an OK choice and not too expensive if you go by a cloth store when they run discount coupons.

- A third experiment involved paper... big butcher-paper rolls. The best thing about it was that I could create anything I wanted for next to nothing except a little time expended. Most art stores have large sheets and many teachers have access to this sort of paper as well. I made several paper maps including a Sinai Peninsula desert map. For long-term storage, I recommend buying an architect's poster tube. I like this method, but I still wanted something different for minis.

- The final method that I now prefer is to buy three or four simple plywood sheets that cost about a Dollar or two a piece... dirt cheap. I paint them with simple latex house paint (first matched to simple ceramic craft paint) and can make as many maps as I want. I have flocked some and left others unflocked. I have also used sponges to layer on paint and give depth.

The cheapest plywood sheets are very thin (1/8") and come in 2'x4' pieces so three will make a 4'x6' layout and four will make a 4'x8' layout.

- My Mars Forgeworld board consist of four sheets primed with cheap black and rust spraypaint and flocked with Woodland Scenics Iron Ore flocking (...originally made for RR transport car beds). We've (Chern and I) since made a number of terrain pieces for the Mars boards.

- A second set I made was an Agri-world board with a green base layer. I made this set without flock and made them two-sided. Both sides have green paint, but have different road arrangements on each side. I've made a few Agri-world boards with painted on rivers and left others without rivers so I could use separate river pieces. I'm still modelling scenery for this set.
- I have since made an Ash Wastes board with a grey base layer that was flocked with sand and kitty litter.

- I have also made a desert board with a tan-mustard base color. It was also flocked with sand.

- I also have both a white sheet set and white-painted plywood sheets for snow/ice-world terrain.

- I took a different approach with cities. I painted some boards with a flat grey/black paint and then built various city blocks that are placed on top of the city board.

A city block is a flat base with sidewalk on top. The sidewalk is only the edges of the sidewalk with big squares of open space between the sidewalk block edges. My buildings are all bases on square and rectangular bases in inch and half inch measurements so they fit into the buildings areas in between the sidewalks. So when I place down the "city blocks," the grey board becomes the street. It makes city set-up very easy instead of laboriously placing streets and buildings.

My buildings are all based on metal bases (usually 3"x3", 3"x6", 6"x6", 2"x4", 1"x3", etc.) that are commonly made for miniatures. This makes it easy to securely store them. The block flats have a thing layer of plasti-card (1mm) with thin low-powered magnetic sheeting over it. Over the magnet goes the sidewalk edges made from gridded plasti-card from RR companies. I generally use the 1/8" square grid because this looks good in 6mm Epic scale.

The cool thing is that the magnetic "city block" piece firmly holds onto the metal-based city building piece so I can transport a city block already built to save time on set-up at a con or game shop. All of the "city blocks" can be pre-built and stored in a big plastic bin. I also chalk a vague outline of where the "city blocks" go on the grey plywood base. Chalk can later be wiped off for a new arrangement. Any chalk left over adds to the dirtiness of the city street areas.

- So, I've gone through several years of experimenting with terrain boards. I hope you benefit from my experience. I recommend starting out with a smaller and simpler project and working your way up to bigger projects.

Out of the two choices proposed (Grey Ash Wastes) or (Brown Badlands) in an earlier post, I would say start with the Brown set first since most players have their minis based on brown and green bases with flocking. Try out the more exotic stuff later.


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GAMING NEWS: Maksim Steps Down As 'Nid Champion.

Hi Guys,

I'm getting ready to step down as 'Nid Champion. I've found a successor and I just need to ratify it with Jervis and the "leadership." I didn't want to step down and leave SG and Jervis short-handed.

I love Epic, but it has died in my area. All of the web site / organizational changes and inconsistency have killed E-A as a game where I live, which was at one time, one of the biggest bastions of Epic worldwide with regular tournaments even after the E-40k debacle.

As much of the game, keeping up with the changes in E-A are too much for a single person. Without my mates playing and helping me to keep track of the rules as they evolve, I can't fairly stay 'Nid Army Champion and give the fans what they deserve.

And with infrequent and inconsistent communication with my leaders, I don't have a desire to further create and develop a list that may be completely thrown out the door at a whim. For example, I was specifically prohibited many times from developing 'Nid units from "Christmas Past," but Forgeworld can turn around in an instant and recreate those same 'Nid units as "Christmas Future." The Trygon is one example and the new 'Nid aerial barrage baloons are another.

In other words, I'm "out of the loop" when it comes to being a list writer. I'm unable to innovate much since I'm following the directives put to me. I want the freedom to include more creative input that I'm not going to get.

It really makes me feel like my work on the list and everything I put into it is irrevelant.

Not only that but Specialist Games has never taken the time to post the latest 'Nid lists on their web sites anyway. I have consistently had to mail them out as documents and have them posted on Chern's site for download as a PDF.

In other words, I'm not abandoning ship, but I'm not staying at the helm either. And this is largely because I'm not really at the helm, I've been more of a newspaper ombudsman than a true list or game developer.
I have no complaints about Jervis though. I still think he's a fine guy if a bit overworked and unable to communicate with his "chiefs" enough to make me want to stay a "chief." I'd either rather work for free for a boss that communicates with me more often or be my own boss.

The new proposed 'Nid Champion has asked me to help out and stick around, but I won't be putting the time into the game that I once did.

And for all of you scavengers out there, I WILL NOT be selling off my Epic collection! I'm still a huge fan, just one who needs a change of pace. And I still have one of the biggest and best 'Nid collections around!

Long live the Hive Mind!


For those of you who are interested, I'm developing a science fiction game of my own called "Planetfall." More information can be found here:


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Sunday, December 25, 2005

NOVEL: "Tides Of War" by Steven Pressfield.

Hi Guys,

I'm reading Steven Pressfield's "Tides of War" about the Peloponnesian War in ancient Greece. I'm very much enjoying the novel.

Happy Holidays to everyone whether it's Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah or something else!


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Thursday, December 22, 2005

MINI WARGAMING: Holiday HoTT night (21 December 2005) Game Report...

Hi Guys,

There was a sort of informal gaming night yesterday at A-1 Comics on Douglas in Roseville yesterday. We played a series of HOTT games.

Here are a few quotes from the MWS gaming group that all of the players belong to:
> Them Orcs aren't hapless.
> They have plenty of haps, maybe hundreds of them - they took them from my boys last night.
> Thank [insert deity of choice here, or not] for Don's trash-talking, spear-sucking, blade-licking, barbarians.
> We spotted him two army points destroyed for his poignant "Oooohhh...I'm soooooooo afraid..." taunting of the Romans before they stomped his boys into the dust shouting "Quis pater tuus?"
> Kurt Lambert wrote:
> And once again my Parthians stomped on Mark's hapless orcs, as well as taking out Don's pansy Hyborians' general and winning the field.
> They then took a well-deserved rest and sent out their (apparently untrained) understudies to take on Dick's Romans...
A link to the MWS E-group:


The following people were present:

- Mark Carper of the "One-Pip Ork Klan"
- Dick Mitchell of the Roman Procurators
- Don Delis of the Orator's Society
- Kurt the Mighty Ribald Man of Many Quips
- Maksim-Smelchak, Leader of the Appetizer-lov'in Spearmen

We all played at least two HOTT games each and some of us played three or even four games of HOTT.

As far as I can tell, here were the game records:

- Dick: 3W, 0L
- Don: 0W, 2L
- Kurt: 1W, 1L
- Maksim: 2W, 0L
- Mark: 0W, 3L

All had a good time and it's unfortunate that these were just practice games and not part of the HOTT campaign series since I won two games.

It was fun! I can't wait until we do it again.

Here's the Boardgame Geek link to HOTT:


Happy holidays everyone!


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Sunday, December 11, 2005

GAMING NEWS: Fun two weeks culminating in the 10 December 2005 MWS weekend meeting!

Hi Everyone,

I've been blessed the past two weeks or so...

Last Sunday I had a chance to play Assyrian Wars by Udo Grebe with my friend Vince Blackburn AKA Vynnie at another friend's house, Dave Hanifan. George and Jeff also showed up and we all had a good time. The components could have used better color differentiation, but all of us had a good time upon final consideration.

The Board Game Geek link to Assyrian Wars is here:

Last Tuesday, I found out that one of my favorite local gaming shops "Hobby Monkey" is taking a turn for the worse... less operating hours and several cancelled game tournaments including the immensely popular Formula De tournament, which really irks me because my racer had one of the top standings. The owner wants to close by 9:00pm on weeknights now (...sometimes 8:00pm) which really reduces the amount of time for gaming. Bummer...

I showed up on Tuesday at Hobby Monkey to find the poor Flames of Wars guys from Yuba City walking into an empty shop. We played a Formula De game, which they all liked. I was in first place until my car blew up in an unfortunate accident. Eric-Chern of Epic-Armageddon and Babylon-5 fame came in last place, but he finished unlike THREE of the rest of us! There were seven racers... pretty lethal race.

Yesterday, MWSS (Miniature Wargamers Society of Sacramento), had our monthly games day. Three games were hosted:

- 10mm (N-scale) WWII Eastern Front game with adapted ASL rules...
- 6mm/15mm HOTT Fantasy campaign...
- 15mm War of 1812 with Guns of Liberty rules...

I played in the 6mm/15mm HOTT Fantasy campaign and had a great time. I played two smaller HOTT battles (1 decisive win, 1 moderate loss) and played on the winning side of a Big-Battles-HOTT game which featured six armies (three a side) battling it out. General HOTT Dick Mitchell's "good consortium" (Elf army, human army and my magician's army) carried the day against Ork despot General Carper's hordes (Orc behemoth/archer band, Orc blades band and Orc shaman band).

I tried out an interesting HOTT army of eight spearmen supported by two magicians in the last game. It was fun although my sides didn't do much more than have my magicians toss spells at the enemy (which scared a key enemy behemoth which was forced to flee) and have my spearmen hold part of the line looking tough.

While the games were technically part of the HOTT campaign, we won't officially kick off the campaign until the January meeting so the games were really "practice" ones. I'm already afraid of the really tough Orc armies. Marc Carper really knows his game. And what a beautiful miniatures painter he is!

Photos of his minis and all three of the games can be found in a folder labelled "12-10-2005" at the MWSS E-group here:

After yesterday's game, Diana and I were invited to a wine-tasting by our friends Roger and Grace. Roger's my idea of a good guy to taste wine with, a former 82nd Airborne paratrooper with an attitude! He's also one of the world's premier miniatures painters and his work is regularly featured in gaming magazines in the UK and USA. We had a good time even though we weren't behaving according to "wine-tasting decorum!" We both got in trouble with his wife at one point so we mellowed out. She takes "wine tasting" much more seriously than we did... at the time! Although I still insist that a few of the wines we "sampled" wouldn't have been good for lubricating even a Peugot. More like pee-eeuhhh!

We tried three French wines and three Napa Valley wines. I much prefer the Napa Valley wines from California. The French wines almost all had a bad aftertaste and I was happy to toss the rest of them in the "slops" bucket.

After the "wine tasting" there was a "white elephant" gift exchange. It's Murphy's Law that if you're Jewish, you will always end up with a Christmas ornament at a "holiday" (really Christmas) gift exchange. We (Diana and I) ended up with a set of diet books (The South Beach Diet Book and The South Beach Diet Cook Book) along with a... yeah, guess again... a Christmas ornament. I might just make a vow someday to make a version of Frosty with a Yarmulke! Dagnabit!

We gave the Christmas ornament to Grace and were able to swap our "books" for some kind of a "fancy shmancy" lemon liqueur from Italy. It's called "Limoncello" (spelling?). I haven't broken it open yet.

I've decided, all in all, that wine-tasting may not be my thing. The husband host was good and has started his own wine label, but the wife host, was bit shmarmy and her red thong underwear were hanging out in the wind. I wasn't going to say anything though... However at the first glance of her red thong, I vowed to not imbibe generously of the wine... get my drift!

Besides enjoying the company of Roger and Grace, I met someone who was an appreciator of Russian literature so I had a good time. Diana talked Baltimore football with the host and a few other folks.

All in all, the past two weeks or so have been good to me.


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Saturday, December 03, 2005

MINI WARGAMING: 6mm GZG Infantry Miniatures.

TOP: 6mm Japanese Corporate Mercenary troops (front view) from GZG.
Photo by Cuban Commissar.

Hi Everyone,

My friend Luis (Cuban Commissar) recently asked anyone if they'd seen or owned any of GZG's 6mm science fiction infantry so this is a post written for him.

TOP: 6mm ESU troops (front view - close-up) from GZG.
Photo by Cuban Commissar.

TOP: 6mm ESU troops (back view) from GZG.
Photo by Cuban Commissar.

First off: Yes, I own many of GZG's 6mm sci-fi infantry figures and I love them! Many other Epicomms members own them too including Cybershadow (Iain), L-4 (Ralph) and several others whose names are escaping me at the moment.

TOP: 6mm FSE troops (front view) from GZG.
Photo by Cuban Commissar.

TOP: 6mm NAC troops (front view) from GZG.
Photo by Cuban Commissar.

Both of GZG's 6mm sci-fi lines had infantry packets although the majority of the best ones came from their Dirtside II line. I probably have a few of all of the packets by now and have posted photos of my Arab figures before. I'll see about putting them up again.

TOP: 6mm New Israeli troops (front view) from GZG.
Photo by Cuban Commissar.
TOP: 6mm New Israeli troops (front view - panorama shot) from GZG.
Photo by Cuban Commissar.

The figures themselves tend to size well with GW's Epic-Armageddon figures, but allowing for the medium (...cast metal instead of plastic), are more compact and squat than GW's 6mm plastic figures.

They come in packs of about twenty to twenty-four figures and come with little metal bases that fit 2, 3 or 4 figures per base.

TOP: 6mm NSL troops (front view) from GZG.
Photo by Cuban Commissar.

They are expensive for how many you get in a pack. Both Scotia and Irregular's 6mm sci-fi infantry are a better deal for your money.

TOP: 6mm UN troops (front view - close-up) from GZG.
Photo by Cuban Commissar.

TOP: 6mm UN troops (front view) from GZG.
Photo by Cuban Commissar.

I do like the figures alot and will buy more in the future when the opportunity presents itself.

Good luck, Luis, and let us know whether you decide to get any!

Shabbat Shalom,

UPDATE (August 2007):
CC later did buy some sample packs and was kind enough to share some photos he took of them.

Notes regarding photos / pictures / videos: These are not all my images and videos. I am using various images and videos from around the web, mostly from public sources and/or private sources used with permission. I have tried to include only images and videos under public domain, creative commons, or fair use. If I have inadvertently violated any copyrights, please inform me and I will remove your image/s (if it is indeed an infringement).

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

NOVELS: "Space Viking" by: H. Beam Piper.

Hi Guys,

I just finished reading H. Beam Piper's "Space Viking," a true sci-fi classic.

It's easy to see why Traveller's authors were so inspired by it.

Great book! I highly recommend it.


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