Sunday, March 31, 2019

Suggested rules for Starguard Ameron Infantry in 15mm Stargrunt - and another platoon

Revisiting the idea of playing Starguard Amerons in 15mm, thought I'd look at potential rules under Stargrunt 2 to model the fluff in their native Starguard setting.  Also, taking an opportunity to show off a second platoon of their infantry.
A typical platoon will have two large "line" squads with 12-15 men depending on the current supply of manpower, backed up by a third "support" squad of specialists with various support weapons, mostly inexpensive mortars and rocket launchers.  The support squad is more often short-handed than the line units are, although they often have a few extra troopers (often from outside the platoon) assigned as "mules" hauling ammunition.

Ameron gear in Stargrunt terms is pretty basic stuff.  They get d4 armor for battledress and a helmet, which is about as bad as it gets.  Their standard infantry weapon is a basic low-tech assault rifle, with firepower 2 and impact d8, usually a locally-built Wrath v7 AR.  Some models (mostly pastors and a few weapon crews) are issued heavy autopistols with firepower 1 and d10 impact, although these are of very little use in a firefight.

The most common support weapon is the Fury SAW, a conventional light machine gun with firepower d8 and impact d10.  Some squads are issued one or two reusable IAVR launchers with the usual firepower d10 and impact d12(x2), usually with a half dozen or so reloads spread among squad members.  Most armies prefer single shot buzzbombs for this role and insure every trooper has one or two available, but Amerons are less well-equipped.  The Larsen HAMR is another fairly common sight, issued to expert marksmen with sniper training.  It has the usual d8 firepower due to low rate of fire and d12x2 impact. 

Most platoons include an integral fire support squad with a variety of light mortars, medium spigot mortars, and multiple rocket launchers (which use the stats for medium mortars).  Ammo is generally pretty limited outside of fixed defensive operations, so allow no more than 3-4 fire missions per light mortar ad 2-3 for mediums and rocket launchers.  Units with an attached ammo cart would have another 1-2 missions available.  Carts are soft-skinned targets with only d6 armor and any penetrating hit triggers an explosion that inflicts d6 hits with impact d12 on any unit within 6 MU.  They can move 4 MU a turn with two crewmen dragging it, or 2 MU with a single crew. 
While their equipment may not be any great shakes, Amerons are noted for solid morale.  As long as their platoon's pastor is still active (including being walking wounded) they are treated as having high motivation regardless of mission AND ignore penalties for abandoning the wounded (who are either "granted mercy" on the spot or expected to make their way to medical aid stations on their own).  Without a pastor, a platoon reverts to whatever motivation their mission would normally call for and must deal with casualties as normal. 
You will note that I haven't mentioned medics.  Most platoons don't have one, as they have some odd cultural ideas about modern medicine and faith healing that severely limit the number of medics available.  When they do have a formal medic, they're generally assigned to "mule" duty dragging an ammo cart until called for and generally only act on orders from the pastor while he's still alive.  

In terms of leadership, Amerons are very average and should use the normal spread of counters when determining random ratings.  Their high motivation does help with morale tests, though.  Quality is generally regular, with a few rare veterans and occasional green units where raw recruits have outstripped returning casualties and experienced replacements.  In game terms, use about 70% regular, 20% green, and 10% veteran counters for random ratings.  Elites would have better equipment and support than this style of basic infantry.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Stargrunt / Starguard Ameron Infantry Platoon in 15mm

While I'm mostly a 15mm player for scifi ground combat these days, in years past I did quite a bit of Starguard, one of the longest-lasting rules sets in the genre and still available through Tin Soldier over here:
The official Starguard minis have always been 25mm scale, but recently Ground Zero Games released their Brethren of the New Light range.
They're intended for use as medium-low tech lightly equipped troops belonging to a religious cult, with somewhat basic and even backward weaponry.  Coincidentally, this makes them just about perfect 15mm scale proxies for one Starguard's factions - the Amerons.  Followers of a grim fundamentalist religion that serve as cheap mercenaries to help support their backward colony world, the Amerons are noted for their stubbornness and determination, particularly when facing "unbelievers" - which is basically everyone and everything in the universe except other Amerons.  And they might include some of them too if their battle pastors decide they've caught a hint of heresy or sin.  I've taken some liberties with their TOE, building a platoon of 41 men (they're not noted for being proponents of sexual equality) here split between three squads.
The first two squads are standard light infantry skirmishers operating in groups of thirteen troops, including squad leaders and seconds and a smattering of HAMR and LMG support weapons.  The first ("senior") squad here is generally accompanied by the platoon's pastor, a veteran soldier and elder of the Church who acts as a morale officer.

The second ("junior") squad usually contains any newer recruits, and generally acts as a second wave force following up assaults by the first squad.  Sometimes this pattern is reversed, especially when facing situations where extremely heavy resistance is expected.  The platoon's pastor invariably accompanies second squad in this case, partly for the added leadership and morale boost and partly to enforce sanctions for any displays of cowardice or shirking. 

The platoon is generally rounded out by a third squad of specialists, in this case a light artillery support unit.  This particular unit includes a battery of four spigot mortars with a pair of ground mount rocket launchers, each with a two man crew.  They've also had a handcart and a pair of troopers attached for ammunition hauling duties.

"Mule" troopers are generally on punishment detail for some minor disciplinary infraction (major ones are punishable by summary execution) and are not issued weapons.  Most artillery crewmen are similarly unarmed outside of personal holdout weapons, the expectation being that operating a mortar leaves no time to use a rifle that could be better issued elsewhere.  This sort of corner-cutting is common throughout Ameron mercenary units.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Full Thrust Studio Bergstrom ORCDeF Fleet Revisited

When I last posted about this range of ships here
I commented on how I might tweak them after some play experience.  After sitting down and fiddling around for a bit I've come up with the variant designs below.  Rather than going with grasers and heavy flank-mounted beam weapons, the new fleet relies on twin (or quad, for the superdreadnought) heavy beam cannons mounted forward and lighter beam arrays on the flanks.  Every ship in the fleet can now put out significant firepower at 36MU and the capital ships can reach out to 48MU.  However, they have very narrow firing arcs on those big main guns and their flanking batteries are half the strength of the older designs, so they really don't want to spend too much time within 24MU of an enemy until they've been softened up.  They've also lightened their hulls a bit in exchange for screens, which tend to work well when you're trying to hang around at extreme ranges where most incoming fire is from large beams and grasers.
The resulting ships are more versatile in some ways, but exemplify the differences in viable ship design between cinematic movement and vector movement games.  I'd feel fine putting these ships on the table with these rules under vector, where they can turn easily to keep their big guns on target.  In cinematic, I'd expect to do some damage as the enemy closes (assuming we started more-or-less facing them) but during the turn-and-burn stage I'd be suffering badly and getting the prow guns back in arc might just never happen.  They're not hopeless in cinematic play, but certainly much easier to handicap by smart maneuvering.

Light cruisers are inexpensive "workhorse" ships deployed in large numbers for patrol and security work, while still retaining just enough range and combat power to serve alongside heavier vessels in fleet actions.  Not a particularly agile ship for her mass, the ORCDeF light cruiser relies heavily on her large spinal mounted beam cannons for offensive firepower.  She sports moderate screens protecting a reasonably durable hull with light armor plating over key areas.

ORCDeF Light Cruiser
TMF 52
NPV 177/CPV 152
Thrust 4
2 q
Level 1 Screen q
2 Fire Controls qq
2 Class 3 Beam Batteries (F)
2 Class 2 Beam Batteries (F/FP/AP) q (F/FS/AS) q
Armor 2
Hull 16 (2/4/4/4/4) - 3 crew units, one every 6th box

Larger and more powerful than the light cruiser, attack cruisers are still quite common in ORCDeF space and generally serve in the same roles.  They contribute the same amount of long range main battery fire as other cruiser types, but have greatly enhanced flank secondaries.  This also makes them quite dangerous at medium and short ranges, especially over their favored prow arc.

ORCDeF Attack Cruiser
TMF 67
NPV 227/CPV 205
Thrust 4
2 q
Level 1 Screen q
2 Fire Controls qq
2 Class 3 Beam Batteries (F)
4 Class 2 Beam Batteries (F/FP/AP) qq (F/FS/AS) qq
Armor 2
Hull 21 (2/6/5/5/5) - 4 crew units, one every 6th box

Roughly the size of most fleets' heavy cruiser classes, the ORCDeF defense cruiser is a specialized vessel that trades off some potential firepower for an extensive array of anti-fighter/anti-missile weaponry.  Often deployed as the flagship of small patrol squadrons, they also serve a fleet defense role in larger formations.  They are some of the most heavily screened ships in the fleet, making it difficult to remove their defensive support.

ORCDeF Defense Cruiser
TMF 87
NPV 297/CPV 286
Thrust 4
2 q
Level 2 Screen qq
2 Fire Controls qq
1 ADFC q
2 Class 3 Beam Batteries (F)
2 Class 2 Beam Batteries (F/FP/AP) q (F/FS/AS) q
Armor 3
Hull 26 (3/7/7/6/6) - 5 crew units, one every 6th box

Smallest of the ORCDeF capital ships, the "battle cruiser" is basically a pocket battleship rather than an extremely heavy cruiser design.  She mounts a pair of immensely potent class 4 beam batteries, giving her tremendous offensive reach.  These are backed up by modest but effective secondary batteries and the usual mix of moderate screens and light armor over a moderately strong hull.

ORCDeF Battle Cruiser
TMF 104
NPV 349/CPV 353
Thrust 4
2 q
Level 1 Screen q
2 Fire Controls qq
4 PDS qqqq
2 Class 4 Beam Batteries (F)
4 Class 2 Beam Batteries (F/FP/AP) qq (F/FS/AS) qq
Armor 3
Hull 35 (3/9/9/9/8) - 6 crew units, one every 6th box

Battleships are the standard heavy warship of the fleet, with solid defenses, extensive secondary and tertiary weapon mounts, and the signature twin class 4 beams of all ORCDeF capital ships.  They retain an adequate thrust rating despite their size and can keep station with the smaller cruiser classes without difficulty.

ORCDeF Battleship
TMF 132
NPV 542/CPV 584
Thrust 4
2 q
Level 1 Screen q
3 Fire Controls qqq
5 PDS qqqqq
2 Class 4 Beam Batteries (F)
6 Class 2 Beam Batteries (F/FP/AP) qqq (F/FS/AS) qqq
Armor 4
Hull 46 (4/12/12/11/11) - 7 crew units, one every 7th box

Largest ship in the ORCDeF roster, the superdreadnought is a truly massive hybrid warship/carrier/command flagship design.  Her main battery of two class 4 and two class 3 beam cannon is unequalled within the fleet, and is backed up by extensive secondary beam armament  on each flank.  She carries two squadrons of multirole fighters for further offense, and mounts a heavy area defense array to hold off enemy fighters and missiles.  All of this equipment is protected by level 2 screens and moderate armoring over a sturdy hull structure.  Unfortunately, the ship's drives are unable to reach normal fleet speeds, and superdreadnoughts are among the slowest and clumsiest vessels in human space.

ORCDeF Superdreadnought
TMF 184
NPV 646+fighters/CPV 702+fighters
Thrust 2
1 q
Level 2 Screen qq
4 Fire Controls qqqq
1 ADFC q
6 PDS qqqqqq
2 Hangers qq
2 Class 4 Beam Batteries (F)
2 Class 3 Beam Batteries (F) qq
8 Class 2 Beam Batteries (F/FP/AP) qqqq (F/FS/AS) qqqq
Armor 4
Hull 56 (4/14/14/14/14) - 10 crew units, one every 6th box


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Gryphon Fleet - Studio Bergstrom Shadow Weaver Designs Miniatures Gallery

Bit of a rewind today, going back five years to take a look at some of Studio Bergstrom's less-seen miniatures. 

These are a selection of minis from the Gryphon fleet:
These were sculpted by Shadow Weaver, who some may recognize as one of the bigger contributors over on Starship Combat News back in the day.
They're manufactured by Studio Bergstrom under license, and have been available for about half  a decade now.

Despite that, I don't see them around much, which is really a shame in my opinion.

The figures are very nicely detailed and cleverly made.

Almost all of them (the corvette below being the sole exception) are multi-part figures with parts that can be swapped around to make a huge variety of configurations.

The parts are even sold individually, letting you kitbash to your heart's content:
The store is VERY good about describing which parts will fit with which.
It is considerably less expensive to buy the minis in their pre-set configurations on the main Gryphon fleet page, though.
Still, being able to buy parts is a real plus if you just want to do a few minor conversions.

The store doesn't mention it but many of the large fins are reversible, allowing you to mount them either swept back (as in my photos) or swept forward (as the store images show).

There are a few exceptions to that, but most can be "flipped" in either direction.

Despite the many fins and separate prows and all, these are quite sturdy models.

They use a slot-and-tab system for the various bits that make it very easy to assemble everything and gives a much stronger and cleaner fit than I'm used to in starship figs.
They are fairly heavy though, and pretty good-sized as the various scale shots with rulers and Ground Zero Games NSL ships demonstrate.
The models in the photos were all mounted on roofing nails, which made the weight a non-issue.

Well, a non-issue for breakage, anyway.

They were still pretty heavy to carry around to games.

And when I sold them the postage wasn't exactly low.  :)
Speaking of selling things, do be sure to check out our new weekly feature, the Items For Sale page:


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

"White Knights" Revisited - more ORCDeF Space Marines

Revisiting Ground Zero Games' excellent ORCDeF marine range that I discussed here:
Where the previous lot was a grav-mobile mechanized platoon, today's figure's represent a more static defensive force such as you'd find defending a settlement from raiders or covering your dropships in a landing zone during large operations.  
Lot includes two platoon-strength units, the first being a heavy weapons platoon with four gun teams, four smart mortar teams, attached forward observers and orbital support coordinators, plus a couple of smart missile specialists.

Total of 24 men, plus the 4 individually based mortar models.

Second platoon is a standard "leg" infantry platoon with three 8-man squads, each with a mix of gauss rifle troopers, heavy weapon specialists, and leaders.  Total of 24 infantry miniatures.

Really love these sculpts, and not just because they're so very Star Wars-ish when painted this way.  Doesn't hurt, though.  :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Full Thrust Convoy TQX-5551: Outbound for the Frontier at last

After a week of showcasing the ships in this convoy in smaller lots, we've finally got some big full-group shots.
Total of 30 ships plus a pair of small cutters which can be seen docked to two of the ships as well as being their own seperate models.

Fourteen civilian ships in a bunch of different styles, fourteen escort warships of varying sizes, a big UNSC science ship that kind of straddles the line between civilian and military, and a huge auxiliary warship built off a converted military fleet tender.
Most models are from Ground Zero Games' Full Thrust range, with a few Brigade Models and Silent Death minis mixed in.  Includes the following:
2 NAC Troutbridge frigates (GZG)
1 NAC Fort Carstairs auxiliary warship (converted GZG fleet tender)
2 New Israeli Tzayad destroyers (GZG)
2 ScanFed Hrafn frigates (GZG)
2 Free Cal-Tex Austin destroyers (GZG)
1 Japanese Soyokaze destroyer (GZG)
2 Japanese Ashigaru frigates (GZG)
1 Japanese Shoya sensor picket (GZG)
1 UNSC Mountain light cruiser (GZG)
2 UNSC Lake destroyer (GZG)
1 UNSC Deep Space Explorer (converted GZG Visionary explorer)
5 Tradewind and Tradewind 2 cargo ships (GZG, one of each variant)
1 Olympus passenger ship (GZG)
1 Kestrel free trader (GZG)
2 Luxury space yachts (GZG, one lightly converted)
1 Merino livestock transport (GZG)
1 Aquarius liquid transport (Brigade)
1 Solar Mariner far trader (Brigade)
1 Sentry guradship (Silent Death)
2 little cutters on separate flight bases (GZG 15mm Stargrunt figs) 

You can see more photos and a bunch of background stuff at the links below: