Thunderboats! and hydroplane racing are a big part of my gaming life. Still are. I’ve run Thunderboats! at every Enfilade for most of the last ten years, and I really hear about it if I decide to do something else. And lo, there will be Thunderboats! at Enfilade 2018 in the very first game period on Friday afternoon.
But we got an interesting tweak on Thunderboats! when David Manley shared his derivation of the racing game, Mad Wet Max on his blog. If you don’t know David, he has designed most of the games Dave Schueler and I work with. Close Action for WWII coastal actions, Buldogs Away for modern small vessel combat, AirWar C.21 for modern air combat–all David Manley. He’s also kindly lent us some beta copies of rules, Lord of the Seas for medieval naval warfare, and recently a copy of some WWII air rules similar to AW C21. David’s games, which I admire most for their period feel without opacity or being too fiddly, are on sale at Wargames Vault through A and A Games, or Long Face Games.
In any case, David shared some information regarding his development of Thunderboats! on his blog in August that just looked too cool to ignore. It’s a hydroplaneish combat game. He sent rules on to Dave and I and we hope to give them a try this Saturday at Meeples in West Seattle.
Won’t get into the rules much, at least not until we play them a time or two. Let’s just say the racers have to meet some traveling objectives, and they can use their armaments to prevent their competitors from meeting theirs.
The basis of any boat racing game is, of course, the boats. I ordered some fairly inexpensive Matchbox boats from eBay. I think I got about 12 boats for $25. They were two orders with lots of variety. I chose six of them I wanted to use, and I’m going to get a couple more. The problem is scale, some of the boats represent something much larger than is intended for the game, so you have to be choosy. I passed some of my duplicates on to Dave Schueler so he could have some, but I’d like to add a couple more to my six. Eight boats for Enfilade.
Out of the Blue is armed with a pair of rocket launchers, a machine gun and will tow a parascender behind to drop grenades in boats that are a little too close.
Once I chose my boats I had to modify them. The first thing I did was use my Dremel tool with sanding disk to strip off all the paint and decals.In some cases, I also made some modifications. The Tiger Shark had a big tail, which I removed. All had wheels I cut off.
Red Scorpion is armed with a short barreled cannon with balky ammunition and a shotgun. It is protected by mesh armor.
The next step is to determine armament. Manley included a variety of weapons in his rules, including rocket launchers, mortars, mine droppers, machine guns and small arms. I added the rocket, mortar and mine dropper tubes, and will factor in most of the small arms to the modified Thunderboat! cards. I used simple brass tubing I cut with my Dremel tool, and then sanded the rough edges off. Careful, the tubing heats up quickly. I usually drilled in a small piece of brass wire where I wanted the tubes to go, before slipping them over the wire and gluing in place. That seemed better than drilling gigantic holes for the tubes. For the game, each tube usually has one round. Once it has fired, it’s gone. It’s better to spread the armament and ammunition around because there are gun hits in the game rules. For the most part there are 2-4 tubes per boat, and small arms-mgs, shotguns, pistols have 4-6 turns of fire.
Specter is armed with four rocket launchers and a machine gun.
Once the armament was positioned, I primed and painted them. If you’ve ever seen The Road Warrior, you’ll recall that Max’s adversaries are driving vehicles that aren’t pretty and painted to a high gloss. I chose paint schemes that aren’t pretty with lots of washing and dry brushing.
Stag Beetle is armed with a pair of mortars, a mine dropper, and a machine gun.
I did decide to mount my boats on bases. Our situation is a bit different than David’s. He plays on a mat with 2″ hexes, while ours are 5′ hexes. Boats got to fit in a hex, and the bases seemed fine. I went with 4″ X 2″ bases. Some seemed a bit large, other boats barely fit on theirs. I went with 3mm hobby plywood from Michaels after choosing some 3/32 basswood. I applied Liquitex Modeling paste to the basswood and it warped badly, so I made the change to plywood. I used Vallejo Pastel Green as my base coat, then washed over it with Dark Prussian Blue, followed by khaki. Then I drybrushed Ceramcoat Ivory over the top. Coated the lot with Liquitex acrylic gloss gel, and voila, complete.
Tiger Shark is armed with a pair of mortars, a rocket launcher, a machine gun, and flies a parasceder
Well almost. David’s boats had some impromptu mesh armor, which I thought was really cool. I couldn’t quite figure out what he used to make it, but I poked around in a craft store and decided that burlap strips, sprayed black might look okay too. I’ve tried to protect a few of the boats with this material, and kind of like the way it turned out.
The Water Moccasin mounts a pair of rocket launchers, two mine droppers and a shotgun.
I haven’t written about the parascenders and think I’ll wait until after Saturday’s gathering to show and tell.