I’ve always been a fan of miniatures. We used to buy the Ral Partha minis waaay back in the day and use them to represent our AD&D characters. We never thought of building terrain to help visualize our game campaigns, and we certainly never thought about building a game totally around the minis themselves.
That all changed for me back in the summer of 1994. I was introduced to the boxed game called Legions of Steel. It had little square tiles that would “snap” together. The game setting was the future, thus the tiles had a futuristic print applied to them, they looked like the innards of a space-ship or a future military base.
There were two types of minis; human space marines and the robotic machines. You rolled dice, there were loads of little cardboard tokens that signified when you were shooting your gun, when you tossed up a shield wall, or when you threw out a grenade. The scenario (and there was countless scenarios you could play) we did was simple, the machines had taken over a bunker and were trying to implant a virus into the computer system. It was the job of the humans to reach the computer center and either take out the enemy or blow up the computer center.
I played the machines. There were 3 rounds left before the program infected the computers, I was down to 1 machine left. There were 2 marines coming at me from down the hall. I moved into a room and stopped. They approached and I tossed a grenade. I fumbled my throw and it dropped at my feet. Somehow I managed to kill the two marines and myself with that grenade. Game over right? Nope! With two rounds left and no marines to stop the program, the virus got sent and even though all my machines were now piles of scrap, I won the scenario!
I’ve been hooked on it ever since.
After a month or so of playing, it sure did feel like this was a game of Humans vs. Terminators. I painted my machines to look like Terminators and the scenarios quickly morphed into something that John Connor would face. We even created special stats just for one marine and named his John Connor.
One day, while playing, a 3rd person wanted to play. How could we do that? We then decided to get a 2nd box of Legions of Steel and mesh the two games together. This called for a different color scheme for the machines, this time they were painted red (just because red was my favorite color). We used the same rules, no worries there, and just expanded the board by adding more tiles. Now it was two factions of Terminators vs. Humans.
Now I had many more tiles to work with but I wanted something big. Something grand. Something effing epic! Then it hit me… What if I added some Aliens to the mix? Oh sure, a new set of rules had to be created for them, but hot damn this was going to be some hot-diggity fun!
And then I ran across even more Aliens and like the red Terminators I gave these guys a different color scheme too. Now we had enough board and teams for 5 players! Yeah, the face-huggers couldn’t do squat to the Terminators, but the acid sure did work a number on them! And oh yeah, everyone could team up and go after 1 specific team. It was bloody chaos!
But it wasn’t over yet. My role in the game swiftly went to the sidelines because with so much going on, the rules got a little complicated. I mean, shucks, we did deviate a bit from the main rules set. Yes, the marines still used the same rules and the machine did as well, but now we had Aliens and multiple teams, it was getting crazy. Yeah, I felt it best if I just mediated the game from now on. We still played some one on one games, because I missed playing, but damn, it sure was fun to be the one who master-minded everything.
Then I had a grand idea…
During one scenario I told them there was a massive rumble felt deep within the facility. When one of them went to check it out they found bleached skulls…
And so introduced my newest game idea. We had been playing for about an hour when I introduced him. The players cheered and the Terminators immediately teamed up. The two Alien players tried to team up, but team 1 ended up backstabbing team 2 and they all died (team 2). The humans were trapped in the middle but did fairly well.. until they ran into this:
Oh yeah, a Predator. I never finished painting it but that didn’t stop us from having a grand game. Humans were slaughtered, machines were reduced to slag, aliens oozed acid all over the place.
Then in the end… everyone died. There was no stopping… HER.
From 1994 up to about 2003 we played this game, the various “home-brew” scenarios, and we had FUN. Eventually the cardboard tiles got pretty tired, they were cardboard after all. Eventually we starting making out own terrain, players came and went, but the game itself was legendary in the game store. I’d highly recommend picking this one up if you can find it. I’ve still got mine along with all the minis and now me and my two kids play it… Quite often.