Travel Space Hulk

(A.K.A. Space Saver Hulk)

Some years ago I set about creating a Travel Space Hulk game.  I’d seen some people had made versions using Epic (6mm) models, magnets of some variety, and scaled down the boards that came with the original game.  This does reduce the size of the game but, as I know from experience, the individual 6mm figures are very fiddly and are realistically too small for game pieces, and the downsized boards still require a fair amount of space to set up – and that space needs to be level and stable.

I was planning to take my version of this to a friend’s stag do at the other end of a long train trip with other friends so my design brief necessitated something that was not only portable but also had a small footprint in play. As Space Hulk is fundamentally a square grid based game I looked at commercially available travel versions of other grid based games and Scrabble seemed like a good candidate. I initially bought a magnetic version but it was pretty clear as soon as I set it up that it wasn’t going to fly.  However, whilst killing time in the shops at an airport departure lounge I found a different set that used more substantial plastic tiles that clipped into the square grid.

Travel Space Hulk' Travel Scrabble box

(I don’t seem to have any photos of the set before I modified it.)

The added advantage of this set is that the board is clear plastic with the Scrabble board as a printed underlay so it can be sold in different language versions.  This was easy to remove and replace with a printed board with a Space Hulk style map.

Next up was the choice of figures.  I knew from Epic that 6mm was too small and it was pretty obvious that 28mm figures weren’t going to fit on the tiles.  15mm seemed like a reasonable compromise – with the added bonus that there are a wide selection of really good 15mm sci-fi figures out there.  After some casting around (no pun intended) I found Khurasan Miniatures who had some “Space Demon Assault Warriors” (TTC-901) and a multi-part “Federal Marine Special Assault Brigade in Power Armour” (TTC-1004). (Personally, I think these look better than James Workshop’s figures.)

Khurasan Miniatures TTC-1004: 15mm Federal Marine Special Assault Brigade in Power Armour

These figures proved to be an ideal size and, combined with some plasticard rectangles for doors, this gave me everything needed for the game.  Assembly was fairly straightforward and some roughly painted tokens for blips (with numbers written on the underside) and flame markers rounded things out for a playable game.

Space Saver Hulk, unpainted

This is where I got to as an MVP for the stag do trip:  we played it on the train on the way down and it worked really well.

Then, after the trip, it got put away into the games’ cupboard and that was it for nearly a decade.

Redux

With a trip to a French campsite situated in the middle of a race track coming up I dug it out of storage with a view to tidying it up and taking it to play whilst drinking pastis and eating barbecued ringpiece sausage – the set’s form factor being ideal for playing in that kind of situation.  It was still in the MVP state so I decided to spend a long weekend in getting it into a better shape.

Complete set of Travel Space Hulk

I went with classic Blood Angels and Genestealer colours, at the smaller scale the colours do more work than the sculpts so it really makes the game feel like classic Space Hulk. Travel Space Hulk Marines Travel Space Hulk

The blips have the number of Genestealers on the reverse as you would expect.
Travel Space Hulk blip reveal

The nature of this particular Travel Scrabble set really makes this work.  The map isn’t ideal for the original rule set, it lacks the long corridors that help the Marine player but that’s a minor issue – it’s better to be able to play some Space Hulk when travelling than none at all…

Marine player's view of Travel Space Hulk game in progress Genestealer player's view of Travel Space Hulk game in progress

The way the tiles clip into the board is perfect for game play as it stops things moving about when you’re playing on a train, in a pub or at a campsite, and the small size of the board means it doesn’t need a very big space to set up in the aforementioned locations.

Close up view of Travel Space Hulk game in progress

The counters fit inside the box but I need to come up with a storage solution for the figures, when they were unpainted it was fine to have them loose but, despite a heavy coat of varnish, they need some more protection now.
Travel Space Hulk counter storage

When it comes to rules we have a good enough understanding of the mechanics and what’s fun so freestyle things, that’s the joy of playing games with good friends.

Cyber Altered Task unit

And of course, what Space Hulk game would be complete without a C.A.T.
Travel Space Hulk C.A.T.

Epic Slaanesh army

My Epic Slaanesh army from the early 2000s.

Keeper of Secrets (Warhammer Fantasy Daemonette conversion) and Daemonettes (Warmaster)
Epic Slaanesh Keeper of Secrets and Daemonettes
Warlord Titan with aspects of a Keeper of Secrets
Epic Slaanesh Keeper of Secrets/Warlord titan
Reaver Titan with aspects of a Daemonette
Epic Slaanesh Deamonette/Reaver titan
Hell-Knights and (unfinished) Questor Titan
Epic Slaanesh Hell-KnightsEpic Slaanesh Questor titan
Tactical Squads
Epic Slaanesh tactical squadsEpic Slaanesh tactical squads
Chosen Squads
Epic Slaanesh Chosen squads
Raptor Squads
Epic Slaanesh Raptor squads
Havocs Squads
Epic Slaanesh squads
Squats (unbased)
Epic Chaos Squats
Steed Riders
Epic Slaanesh Steed ridersEpic Slaanesh Steed riders
Noise Marine Squads and Warhound Titan with aspects of a Fiend
Epic Noise marines and Fiend/Warhound titan
Beastmen Squads and Warhound Titan with aspects of a Fiend
Epic Slaanesh beastmen and Fiend/Warhound titan
Dreadnoughts and Land Raiders
Epic Slaanesh Dreadnoughts
Robots and Land Raiders
Epic Slaanesh robots and Land Raiders
Heavy Tanks and Spaceship
Epic Slaanesh heavy tanks and space ship
Aircraft
Epic Slaanesh aircraft
Giant Military Cat
A Giant Military Cat towers over the forces of Slaanesh

Trumpeter T-62 and Revel T-55 in 1/72 scale

To provide a period correct opposing force for my ealrly 70s Chieftain I settled on a T-62.  (Early T-72s would have been entering service but they wouldn’t have been present in numbers but, more to the point, the only T-72 model I could find was an M1 variant that entered service in 1979.)

For this I picked up the Trumpeter T-62.  This is fundamentally a reasonable kit but the image on the box features a lot more detail than is present on the sprues in the box.  As any modeler will know this is a good reason to buy a new kit – in this case the Revell T-55 A/AM which is significantly better detailed than the Trumpeter T-62.  As the T-62 is very similar to the T-55 there a a lot of parts that will translate directly across – from headlights to hatches.  I think that between the two I can make a detailed  T-62 appropriate for the early 70s.

Trumpeter T-62 and Revell T-55A/AM 1/72 scale

Storage box

Storage is a key part of the usability of any wargaming setup – it has to be easy otherwise I’m not going to make much use of it.  For the 1:300 aircraft I have used closed cell foam floor mats stuck to card backing and stacked in a plastic storage box.

The foam was first cut to size so that it fitted into the box and then the individual aircraft shapes were cut out.  A sharp knife is needed and I made a paper template for each aircraft type as tracing round the actual models would inevitably lead to damage.

Once the aircraft shapes were cut out, and trimmed where necessary to get a good fit, the foam was glued to a cardboard backing with PVA glue.  After leaving them to set under a decent weight the card was trimmed to the edges of the foam.

1:300 aircraft storage trays

Whilst the FW 190s fitted nicely in the foam layer the B-17s have a high tail.  To get round this pieces of the foam I’d cut out of the aircraft holes were secured on top with a hot glue gun to provide some spacing.  The layers on top won’t be that heavy so the slight compressibility of the foam isn’t an issue.

B-17s in storage tray

Storage trays stacked in box

To make getting the layers out of the box easier one corner has been cut out to allow a finger to hook under a layer.

Corner cutout of storage trays

B-17 combat box

The B-17s are now painted, decals have been applied, exhaust tracks added and everything sealed with a coat of satin varnish.

1:300 B-17 combat box

From the 6 o’clock high position the different heights of the flights is easier to see.

1:300 B-17 combat box from 6 o'clock high

The stand mountings aren’t finalised yet but they’re off the painting table.

B-17 Squadron Heraldry

When initially looking at the heraldry I had left the B-17 numbering until later.  I couldn’t find any available transfers that would fit what I needed so I’ve got some transfer paper and made up my own sheet.

By the point in the war this scenario is set (11 September 1944) the majority of aircraft would have been silver (or natural metal finish as it’s sometimes known) so the markings would have been black. (There would have been a few olive drab aircraft sill in service but I’m going with 12 silver aircraft.)

The identification symbol for the 100th BG was a square with a D inside. This appeared on both sides of the tail and – in a slightly larger box – on the upper and lower surfaces of the wings.

The code for 351 squadron of 100th BG is EP and the aircraft have a single letter identification code. As for the Luftwaffe aircraft I’ve gone for an idealised/abstract sequence of A-M (missing I as it doesn’t look great). The squadron code appears on each side of the fuselage and, smaller, on both sides of the tail.

Finally there’s the individual aircraft’s serial number which appeared on both sides of the tail above its identification code. There are valid ranges for these but, for what I’m after, a set of random numbers in the 200,000 – 400,000 range is close enough.

With all that, a USAF lettering font, and some measuring of images from various sources and I’ve got enough to produce a vector image that I can print on the transfer paper:

1:300 fictional markings for 351 sqadron, 100 Bomb Group

Bag the Hun scenario cards

One of the reasons for choosing Bag the Hun (BtH) as the rule system is that it uses a card deck for turn sequence meaning it’s ideally suited to solo play.

In the case of the scenario of a attack on a combat box of B-17s there’s not much choice in terms of actions:

  • The B-17s will fly straight and level in formation and shoot at any available target that comes into range.
  • The FW 190s will close in on the B-17s and try and shoot at any available target once they are in range.

Given the very restricted nature of this scenario there will be a number of cards that are normally included that we can discount:

  • Bogeys: This encounter takes place between two large formations within visual range so there will be no unspotted aircraft to represent.
  • Altitude bonus: This encounter takes place within one altitude band so there will never be a formation at a higher altitude.
  • Bail out: This is a one-off encounter so there is no need to track crew survival.
  • The Blank card: The purpose of this card is to mark scenario specific events and, in this case, there are none.

In BtH cards for movement and shooting are allocated on a formation basis: one each for each formation.  Normally formations are considered to be in the region of three or four aircraft but in this scenario we have two special case formations – the B-17 combat box and the FW 190 Sturmgruppe – both of 12 aircraft.  Let’s look at these individually:

B-17 Combat Box

Whilst the combat box consists of four flights of three aircraft, the 12 aircraft formation is the be-all-and-end-all of the B-17s – so much so that forcing an aircraft out of formation (Herausschuss) was the primary goal of the FW 190s.  So, in this scenario, the box will never break down into individual flights meaning only one formation move card is needed.

When it comes to shooting, the B-17s don’t have any pilot controlled guns so they don’t need a formation shoot card.  The B-17s will therefore be entirely reliant on air gunner cards which are allocated at the rate of one per four aircraft (rounded up).  With a starting compliment of 12 aircraft that gives three air gunner cards.

Normally each side would receive a formation bonus move card but, as the B-17s are size six aircraft they cannot use this card so it won’t be included.

FW 190 Sturmgruppe

The Sturmgruppe would approach the combat box in a single line abreast formation before, as late as possible, breaking up to attack the individual flights of the combat box.  As the basic formation of the Luftwaffe was the four aircraft Schwarm three formation move cards are needed.  Following the formation rules in BtH this means the Sturmgruppe can move as a single formation on Schwarm one’s move card and ignore Schwarm two and three’s move cards until such time as they choose to break formation.  (This break formation could be handled with a scenario specific card but this keeps it simple and gives the FW 190s the edge in terms of tactical manoeuvrability which is appropriate.)

As the FW 190 has pilot controlled guns, each formation will need a shoot card meaning three formation shoot cards are needed – matching the move cards.

There will be one formation move card for the FW 190s.

Conclusion

Whilst this may well be adjusted later based on experience, the starting card deck will be:

  • B-17 combat box move
  • B-17 gunners fire
  • B-17 gunners fire
  • B-17 gunners fire
  • FW 190 Schwarm one move
  • FW 190 Schwarm one fire
  • FW 190 Schwarm two move
  • FW 190 Schwarm two fire
  • FW 190 Schwarm three move
  • FW 190 Schwarm three fire
  • FW 190 formation bonus move

As a thought exercise this seems right:  the FW 190s have the tactical advantage in terms of manoeuvrability but the B-17s will still get plenty of chances to return fire.  (The way the rules work, it will only be a shot at a single FW 190 with each card but, with the combined bonuses granted by the interlocking fields of fire of a combat box, it’s got a very good chance of doing serious damage.)