Designer’s Insight: Mar 13

Posted by on Apr 4, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Designer’s Insight: Mar 13

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Kingdom of Britannia Steward Class Guardian Tank

I gave the Steward a third track as I wanted this mobile command hub to feel like nothing could stand in its way on the battlefield. I envisioned the interior of the tank to have as many engineers and crew as soldiers and fighting units. Men shovelling coal into boilers atop gantries and walkways as troops run around readying for battle, all cramped and tripping over each other as they went about their duty’s just to accommodate a third track running through the centre of the tank’s hull! The small command drop on shadows the beautiful St Paul’s Cathedral drop on that belongs to the Sovereign Land Ship and provides a familiar aesthetic to the other British units.

Kingdom of Britannia Steward Class Guardian Tank

Kingdom of Britannia Steward Class Guardian Tank

Kingdom of Britannia Foxhound Class Light Tank

The Foxhound has all the bespoke beauty of a WWI tank (a running theme through all the British armoured units), complete with ‘wagon wheels’ at the rear to accommodate the weight of the main gun at its ‘heavy end.’ The idea behind the rack of shells was to promote a relentless bombardment feel; a plunger pushes each shell along the rack forcing the next into the chamber. Of course the exposed shells would be at risk of damage or sabotage, but It looked too cool to pass up on.

Kingdom of Britannia Foxhound Class Light Tank

Kingdom of Britannia Foxhound Class Light Tank

Prussian Empire HM-1 ‘Recke’ Class Heavy Tank

The Prussian Empire armoured forces were some of the earliest land based models made for Dystopian Wars and remain some of my favourites. It’s hard to say why; I think the slab-sided nature and merging draft angles that pay homage to Germany’s first forays into mechanised warfare makes them enticing from a design standpoint. On the surface it’s a very boxy aesthetic, but when you get down to it the obtuse angles perfectly complement the obtuse mindset of the Prussian Military doctrine. Looking back to the early models it was only the grand Sturmpanzer that utilised the idea of merged multiple hulls to give it a dominating presence ahead of the other tanks, so I felt giving the biggest and meanest medium class tank the same dreadful persona and multiple hulls was the next step. I also added a vast array of tracks at its base to chew up the ground it passes. The great ramp at the front and the German style roofing help convey the idea that this vehicle is filled with personnel, even more so than many of the Prussian vessels already on the tabletop.

Prussian Empire HM-1 'Recke' Class Heavy Tank

Prussian Empire HM-1 ‘Recke’ Class Heavy Tank

Empire of the Blazing Sun Myobu Class Light Gyro Tank

We have amphibious tanks in Dystopian Wars, we have great walking contraptions that can stomp over land and sea, we have ships that ply the skies, we have subterranean and submersible monstrosities than bring the war to every level of the battlefield and even a hovering squid to boot! The Myobu Light Gyro Tank may just be the first tank that can fly, or at least hop.

Conveying the strange nature of such a vehicle was a challenge as the Blazing Sun forces, and many of the other Dystopian Wars Nations, have very different styles between their Land, Naval and Aerial models. The cylindrical train style is something shared by the Blazing Sun’s Naval and Aerial units but left off the muddy ground, and while it fits flyers nicely, making it also seem rugged enough for ground combat is a more difficult challenge. After all, it would be easy to strap wings on to any one of the tanks we already produce, but it would be too easy to picture them breaking off the instant the Myobu came crashing back to the ground. The solution was to make something that looked rugged, to bring the eye to the way the superstructure links down to the axles of the major wheels to look like heavy suspension and continue those lines up into an overarching framework. Curving the edges gives us the hint of the aerial cylinders the Blazing Sun are known for as well as the addition of a pair of Gyrotors to give the Myobu the force it needs to leave the ground. There’s also some handy short-lived rocket engines hidden above the tracks (both at the rear for thrust and the front for slightly more controlled deceleration) .

The Myobu may be one of the smaller medium models we produce, but I had more fun making it than some of our much bigger, more complicated models.

Empire of the Blazing Sun Myobu Class Light Gyro Tank

Empire of the Blazing Sun Myobu Class Light Gyro Tank

Empire of the Blazing Sun O-I ‘Miage-Nyudo’ Class Heavy Walker

The O-I Heavy Walker holds a special place in my heart because one of my goals with the Dystopian Wars models has been to convey the motion and scale of these massive mechanical monstrosities as they soar, trundle and stomp over the battlefields of Dystopian Wars. Every time I look at a Blazing Sun four legged walker I see the odd hydraulic waddle it would make as it crosses the field, laughably at odds with the fury of its massive cannons and rocket salvos.

So any opportunity to add to that model is welcome, and a functional addition of an observation tower makes it even more appealing. Imagine the waddling behemoth and its tilting motion as it moves; it made me smile thinking how much worse the experience would be for the poor souls way up at the top.

Empire of the Blazing Sun O-I 'Miage-Nyudo' Class Heavy Walker

Empire of the Blazing Sun O-I ‘Miage-Nyudo’ Class Heavy Walker

Covenant of Antarctica Orpheus Class Drone Controller

I think I got a bit carried away with walking crabs and spiders for the Covenant Land models. I admit that, as fun as it was, the screw-propelled drive system on the Socrates Bombard is still one of my favourite touches on the Covenant vehicles as it really captures the pragmatism this Covenant of the world’s great thinkers would take to life on ice and snow. I savoured an opportunity to put more of these devices into practice, and for a largely static control vehicle the Orpheus was the perfect example. It also allows the opportunity to incorporate elements of the Pericles’ superstructure into the model; where on the fleet carrier the massive launch racks also double as the control crew’s antenna array, here it is just the antenna. The rest of the model is fairly boxy when compared to the other Covenant models to emphasise the idea that it’s stocked full of drones ready to launch.

Covenant of Antarctica Orpheus Class Drone Controller

Covenant of Antarctica Orpheus Class Drone Controller

Covenant of Antarctica Skorpios Class Heavy Bombard

Never let it be said that I didn’t enjoy making the Socrates Bombard: the massive spherical weapon mount, the screw driven trolley for an undercarriage… everything about it screams the right level of ridiculous combined with a menacing purpose. That said, it does stand out from the other Covenant land models, so the most obvious means of differentiating a second bombard in the range was to lean on the side of the biomimicry. As can be plainly seen the main hull is a modification of the Atticus hull but every one of the changes to the core model is made to imply the weight of the massive cannon strapped to the back. The stance has been squared off and the rear legs have been thickened out to bear the force of tremendous recoil, while tiny fore appendages have been added for stability. You can see the abdominal section sagging under the weight of the main weapon while it’s elevation is assisted by an armature at the front of the hull. You can tell this is not just an Atticus that has been repurposed with heavier ordinance: it is its own deadly weapon of war, tailored to the role of bombard.

Covenant of Antarctica Skorpios Class Heavy Bombard

Covenant of Antarctica Skorpios Class Heavy Bombard

Republique of France Arbalete Class Medium Land Carrier

Tanks are all fine and dandy, guns being as easy to model as the next detail, but the truly exciting models to make for Dystopian Wars are not necessarily combat vessels, sometimes it’s the strangest contraptions with the oddest purposes that really get my mind working. Like the Covenant of Antarctica Callimachus Orb or the Russian Coalition Vorkuta Drill, the Arbalete is a support vessel for the armies of the Dystopian world so without modelling racks of gun barrels and rocket batteries extra thought has to go into the mechanics of how such a device would work. Our carriers have the benefit of Element 270 enhanced aircraft, materials and mechanisms to justify their relatively short decks, but fitting a launch onto a medium vessel? It was a challenge, one made worse by the fact that I didn’t want to just copy the Covenant’s drone launch racks for the Republique of France, which really cut down my options.

In our world when flight decks shorten we made use of the Steam catapult, so I threw one of those in. Not enough? How about a massive ballista style catapult to assist the steam variant? If that’s not enough then mounting the deck on a pivot so it can launch fighters at a high angle would have to do it. It’s a good job implausible isn’t a word we use around here!

After that addition the model is fairly straight forward, but the necessity to justify the role on the battlefield was important enough that the rear part of the deck features a deployable ramp for lifting new fighters onto the precarious deck to be launched in sequence. Most of the concept sketches are dedicated to the exact motions with which this ramp works… I do get bogged down on details like that.

In order to incorporate this feature everything else from the driving compartment to the smoke stacks were moved to the front of the model, but in the end I think both the shape and the mechanism work phenomenally at conveying this mad device’s role on the battlefield.

Republique of France Arbalete Class Medium Land Carrier

Republique of France Arbalete Class Medium Land Carrier

Russian Coalition Orlov Class Heavy Tank

For this set of releases we had a lot of fun playing around with size classes, nudging the definition of medium class land model to its upper and lower limits. The Orlov just might be the biggest medium class model out there now as when I made it I pushed its hull out as far as it would go, still fitting on our medium tank bases. On that little acrylic rectangle we have more interleaved armoured wheels than any other Russian medium, two massive central compartments with their menacing front grills and two enormous naval turrets (the landship only has one). There’s not much more than can be said for the Orlov; every little piece of malevolence in the Russian aesthetic and the most ominous features from the land range have been shoved into one model that is equal parts slab steel tonnage to bristling weapon barrels. I think even the more monstrous mediums on the Dystopian battlefield might think twice about their chances when they see this rolling over the horizon, but what else would they expect from the Russian Coalition? They do already have the Kursk Land Dreadnought after all…

Russian Coalition Orlov Class Heavy Tank

Russian Coalition Orlov Class Heavy Tank

All of these deadly armoured models are compatible with Dystopian Wars and Armoured Clash and are available to buy now from the Spartan Games Online Store.