Sunday, September 29, 2019

Fading Suns Noble Armada Hawkwood & Decados Troop Landing Ships

One more lot of Fading Suns/Noble Armada minis today.
These are the Decados (left) and Hawkwood (right) troop landing ships.  They have a rather strange history even by Noble Armada standards.  They were only sold by Holistic Games (the original publishers of all things Fading Suns) as part of the boxed sets that came with the factions' dreadnoughts, and are currently OOP.  The Holistic edition of Noble Armada had stats for them IIRC, with them being largish but lightly armed ships designed mostly for landing troops planetside, although they could also board fairly well if they could catch a target ship.

The Mongoose version of Noble Armada never did stats for them and the minis went unreleased even as the rest of the line grew and grew.  It's possible they simply didn't have the masters or molds for them, but they did tell players that had them from the Holistic days to proxy them as galliots.  This is pretty funny since both ships were featured in the art of the ACTA NA rulebook, with the Hawkwood ship appearing right on the front cover and the Decados ship getting a half-page art piece all to itself, as well as painted minis appearing in fleet shots.

Not sure if they've been included in the FASA edition of the rules, although I wouldn't be surprised if they were.  They seem to be staying a little closer to Holistic's version of the game than Mongoose did.  If so we'll hopefully see them released by Ral Partha Europe at some point, which will mark the first time they've been available outside of an expensive combo box.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Fading Suns Noble Armada Hazat Adonais-class Dreadnought

Today's post showcases an Adonais-class dreadnought from the Fading Suns / Noble Armada games, the largest ship of the House Hazat fleet.  Only three of the five Noble Houses even build dreadnoughts as the stars slowly darken.
Like most Hazat ships, the Adonais combines an uncommonly large troop complement for its size and a very hard-hitting array of blaster weaponry capable of smashing any foe who comes too close.

This model has been mounted on a 1.5" base with a metal flight post for added durability.  The join between the forward and aft hull has been drilled and pinned, and the two "buttress" pieces have been inverted for extra sturdiness.

The model measures almost exactly 4" long, about the size of a dreadnought or heavy battleship from Ground Zero Games' Full Thrust range.  It can be bought (unassembled and unpainted - comes in 4 parts) through Ral Partha Europe these days for roughly $24 before shipping.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Starship Kitbashing: SC/T-88D8 "Highlander" Gas Giant Scoop Ship

After yesterday's big lot of Deisho ships and fighters
today is prep day for some experimental projects.  The easiest of them is finished up, so I present you with a proof of concept kitbash inspired by some old QT Models figures. 
This is the "Highlander" scoop miner/gas transport, registry number SC/T-88D8, currently in colonial government service in the New Hoboken system.  Calling her a "ship" is pushing the definition pretty hard, as this type of scoop miner is mostly just a cruiser-sized armored cargo sphere meant for holding pressurized gas.  The control module and (unmanned) main drive are plugged into attachment sockets in the sphere and three attitude thrusters are molecularly bonded to the hull.

The control module has three docking arms for three winged shuttles designed to scoop material from the atmosphere of gas giants and return it to their mother "ship" to undergo initial filtering and processing, separating out valuable elements as well as fuel and reaction mass for use on the work site.  The module contains some minimal crew accommodations (only slightly better than the shuttles' own) and the pumping and filtration gear.  The work crews spend most of their time in their shuttles, which work rotating shifts 24/7 until the sphere is filled with its pressurized cargo.  One shuttle and crew is always attached to the ship, monitoring gas filtration and orbital positioning while the other two are "down in the soup" collecting gas.  The SC/T has no flight avionics of its own and is actually flown from one of the docked shuttles remotely operating the various thrusters. 

The Highlander is only minimally capable of interplanetary travel, and its low thrust requires it to maintain a high orbit over the gas giant it's currently mining.  The shuttles themselves have extremely powerful engines for their size, and given access to all the free reaction mass they can use a scooping run can be finished in well under a 24 hour period.  Modern, well built and rigorously maintained, they actually account for close to 70% of the SC/T's total value.  When one is occasionally lost due to the hazards of gas mining, the remaining crews are under standing orders to return to base rather than attempting to carry on operations with only two shuttles.

Most gas mining ops using similar vessels fly to a spaceborn refinery platform, empty their cargo, and return to the work site as fast as possible.  New Hoboken, as an interstellar backwater, lacks high-capacity refining in-system though.  Instead, they have a half a dozen of the "main hull" spheres on hand, and when one is filled they store it in orbit to await a jump-tug to carry it to market.  The control module and drive unit are "unplugged" from the sphere, the attitude jets are debonded, and the whole array is fitted to a new sphere.  The process takes only a few days during which the shuttle crews go on leave, after which the "new ship" is issued a fresh registry number and returns to work in the outer system.  Traditions (and superstitious workers) demand that the Highlander name be transferred to the new registry code. 

All three scoop shuttles attached?  Someone's either loafing on the jump or the Highlander is crawling to or from the work site.

If I were that Kra'Vak destroyer I don't think I'd be getting quite that close to their prey.  Poking a hole in the Highlander when she's loaded is likely to produce some explosive results.  The compound gasses themselves aren't technically explosive, but the substances they decay into when not under extreme pressure sure are - and that's not considering the way that armored sphere will burst when compromised and spray debris everywhere.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Full Thrust: Cold Navy Deisho Heavy Assault Group

Today's post showcases a Deisho Heavy Assault Group from Ravenstar's Cold Navy range supported by fighters from Brigade Models and statted up for Full Thrust.  The ships were a gift and a little battered and missing some parts, but I've patched up the voids, added some turrets from the bits box, and repurposed the mounting points for the conning towers as lateral hanger bays and docking arrays. 
In FT terms the group consists of one superdreadnought (with two fighter groups), two heavy battleships (each with one fighter group), one fleet carrier (with eight fighter groups), and two escort cruisers.  Most stat write-ups use standard rules, although the escort cruisers carry Light Pulse Torpedoes, the rules for which can be found here:

The escort cruisers are on 1" bases, the larger ships are all on 1.5" bases.  The models are all resin with a few metal add-ons on some, and are quite stable compared to similarly sized metal figs.

Yao'Jing'Tao Superdreadnought

TMF 242
NPV 844+fighters/CPV 1068+fighters
Thrust 2
1 q
Level 1 Screen q
4 Fire Controls qqqq
4 PDS qqqq
2 Hangers qq
5 Pulse Torpedoes (F) qqqqq
2 Class 4 Beam Batteries (F/FP/FS/AP/AS)
2 Class 3 Beam Batteries (F/FP/AP) q (F/FS/AS) q
8 Class 2 Beam Batteries (F/FP/FS) qq (F/FP/AP) qq (F/FS/AS) qq (A/AP/AS) qq
Hull 74 (19/19/18/18) - 13 crew units, one every 6th box
Garm'Oung'Tao Fleet Carrier

TMF 222
NPV 635+fighters/CPV 494+fighters
Thrust 4
Level 1 Screen q
1 Fire Control q
2 PDS qq
8 Hangers qqqqqqqq
2 Class 1 Beam Batteries (All Arcs) qq
Hull 68 (17/17/17/17) - 12 crew units, one every 6th box
Two Bao'Gung'Tao Heavy Battleships

TMF 147
NPV 425+fighters/CPV 450+fighters
Thrust 4
2 q
Level 1 Screen q
3 Fire Controls qqq
4 PDS qqqq
1 Hanger q
2 Pulse Torpedoes (F) qq
2 Class 3 Beam Batteries (F/FP/FS) qq
9 Class 2 Beam Batteries (F/FP/FS) qq (F/FP/AP) qqq (F/FS/AS) qqq (A/AP/AS) q
Hull 42 (11/11/10/10) - 8 crew units, one every 6th box
Two Shi'Dong'Tao Escort Cruisers

TMF 67
NPV 232/CPV 210
Thrust 4
2 q
Level 1 Screen q
2 Fire Controls qq
2 Area Defense Fire Controls qq
6 PDS qqqqqq
2 Light Pulse Torpedoes (F) qq
6 Class 1 Beam Batteries (All Arcs) qqqqqq
Hull 22 (11/11/10/10) - 4 crew units, one every 6th box

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Multisystem, Multiscale House Rules for Scifi Terrain

There are a lot of scifi ground combat games out there, ranging from small scale skirmish rules to mass combats between whole armies.  All of them feature some kind of rules for terrain, but very few seem to do much beyond the usual sort of hills, woods, rivers, etc. that you see in realistic historical games.  Sometimes we get a bit of a scifi touch with rules for varying gravity or alien wildlife or toxic atmospheres, but you don't see a lot of more "out there" stuff, particularly for fights taking place "indoors" in huge future arcologies, the decks of a gigantic starship, or mysterious alien ruins.
So, here's some suggestions for a few house rules to add a bit of that to whatever game and whatever scale you prefer.   They are not intended for cutthroat competitive play so don't pester your local tournament organizer about using them.  I'll write this as scale and system neutral, with a few suggestions on how to implement them in specific rule sets as examples.  None require anything elaborate as a model to put on the table, although if you just use counters as markers you might want to up your terrain game a bit.
First up, there's that old classic, the teleport portal.  Or transporter.  Or stargate.  Or Q-99 Rapid Transit Personnel Evaporator/Revaporator.  Whatever.  It's a doohickey that lets your models move across the table without following the usual rules.  The rules below assume they're either poorly understood, badly maintained, highly experimental, or all of the above, so not entirely safe to use.
To use these, set up five gates scattered over the table before setting up your troops, numbering them from 1 through 5.  To be most interesting, they should be pretty far apart from one another, not too close to table edges and corners, and in spots where there's some other cover nearby and/or line of sight blockers.  A model can move into base contact with a teleporter and use it to attempt to jump to another gate.
Roll 1d6 for the model (or unit, if your rules don't have individual models moving on their own).  If the result is the same number as the gate you're using, the teleport fails and you end your movement for that turn, although you can still shoot or perform other actions.  If the result corresponds to another gate's number, set the model(s) that were jumping through the gate up in contact with that gate, or in unit cohesion with it if multiple models were teleporting.
If you roll a six, or a number that doesn't match a functioning gate, remove the model(s) from the table.  At the end of your next turn, roll again.  If you get a result matching up to a functioning gate you appear there.  If you don't, the model(s) are lost in time and space or routed to a holding cell or vented into space or something similar, and count as casualties.

Gates should be tough but breakable.  In Stargrunt I'd treat them as a 2d12 armor vehicle that's wrecked by any penetration, in Rogue Stars I'd give them 5 points of armor and have them break when they take Critical Damage or worse.  A broken gate is no longer a valid destination for the 1d6 roll and therefore makes using the gate network more risky.
You could also experiment with using more or fewer gates, but I'd pick a number that's one less than a die type (so 3, 5, 7, etc.) just for convenience.  The more gates you have the safer they are to use (although that can change as people break them and produce more "missing" results) but the less likely you are to go just where you want.  You could also allow appropriately skilled characters (eg Johnny Techmarine in 40K or a character with a level of Tech in Rogue Stars) try to control a gate by rolling an extra die and choosing which result you prefer.
Secondly, there's the ever-popular mysterious field generator.  These are big humming machines that crackle now and then, and project a field of esoteric energy that interfere with fire directed at nearby models.  To use these, set up four generators scattered around the table, numbered from 1 to 4.  I'd avoid putting them inside setup zones or within a single move of a table edge, and they should have line of sight to all the other generators.  Any shooting directed against a model/unit within 3" of a generator (maybe going up to 6" if you're playing on a 4'x6' table or larger) is deflected or absorbed on a d6 roll of 4+, rolling once for each shot actually taken.  Fire from models within the field is unaffected, so you can shoot out just fine.

However, at the end of any turn where one or more shots were stopped by a generator in this way, roll a d6.  On a 5 or 6, there's an alarming whining noise but nothing else happens.  On a die result corresponding to one of the other generators, draw a straight line between it and the generator you're testing for as an arc of raw energy leaps between them.  Every model within 1" of that line takes an automatic hit for fairly serious damage.  In Stargrunt a d8 impact hit seems about right, for Rogue Stars a torso hit from a Zap Rifle should do.  If you roll the result that corresponds to the testing generator, then every model within its defensive aura range takes the same hit as bolts of power arc wildly around it.
The generator(s) involved are unharmed by any of this, and are generally invulnerable to damage of any kind.  You could allow "techie" types as above to shut down a generator in contact with a die roll, with a deactivated generator no longer providing saves and counting as a "safe" 5-6 result from then on.  Experimenting with using more or fewer generators is fine, but mostly I'd just increase or decrease their radius of effect based on your table size and how much impact on play you want them to have.

Control panels are also a neat piece of scenery, albeit with less firm rules.  If your scenario calls for doing something like "deactivating the tractor beam" or "starting/stopping the self destruct countdown" then a control panel planted someplace tricky for both/all sides to get to is ideal.  If you're using the teleporters of generators above, techs could fiddle with them from a control panel rather than needing to be in contact with them.  Or you could allow bulkheads or doors to be opened/closed/locked/unlocked form the controls.  In all cases they should about equally accessible by all players.  They're pretty breakable (about as tough as an unarmored human) and what happens when they break should be spelled out beforehand.  It's possible that only one side is allowed to attack control panels in a scenario.  Enemy boarding parties breaking the Big Red Button that fires the Doomsday Weapon might be fine, or maybe it's too risky to tamper with and needs to be protected.



Friday, September 20, 2019

Stargrunt 15mm New Israeli Infantry Resculpts

Latest 15mm scifi project, a small section of New Israeli hardsuit infantry with drone support.
These are the newly resculpted figures, and I'm using them to represent members of the mysterious unit known only as the 300th, the "best of the best" in the NI army, elite troops issued with what amounts to light power armor and the best personal arms in human space.

There are rumors that these troops are the product of genetic engineering to produce supesoldiers, something officially denied by the New Israeli government.  Still, their physical and mental performance seem to exceed human norms, no matter how well-trained, and similar programs have been acknowledged by some other states, most notably the Romanov Hegemony.

Rumors or no, these soldiers do earn their place in the military rather than being born to it.  All were combat veterans in the regular army long before promotion to the ranks of the elites, and most have participated in gray or black ops missions many times.  They may be heroes, but they're not angels.  No halos to be found in this unit.  

The 300th are inevitably accompanied by at least a few advanced grav-mobile drones, usually used as shells for networked strategic AIs linking them to High Command.

There are eight different rifleman sculpts at the moment, including two that make nice fireteam leaders.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A Call To Arms: Noble Armada Wraith-class Stealth Destroyer

Here's something you don't see every day:  Three Wraith-class Al-Malik stealth destroyers from the OOP A Call To Arms Noble Armada game.
These minis came out late in the life of the game, along with many ships that were added in the Fleets of the Fading Suns supplement.  They were produced in fairly small numbers as Mongoose was already getting set to abandon the game even as the book came out.  Our local store was lucky enough to get a few packs from this late wave of product.

The Wraith class was marketed as a "stealth destroyer" but acts much more like a submarine than a destroyer on the tabletop.  Compared to the Efreet-class standard destroyers, she is slightly faster but much clumsier.  She relies more on stealth systems than armor to survive although her greater bulk makes her a bit more durable than the smaller Matachin class.  The Wraith lacks any turret armament at all, but mounts moderate 10 die rocket batteries on each broadside and carries the same large troop complement as a Matachin.

Those broadsides and troops are really not going to get used all that often, except perhaps defensively.  The outstanding feature of the Wraith is her prow weapon system, a massive 3 die torpedo launcher array.  This is a weapon normally found only on ships of cruiser grade or larger, and the Wraith is the only destroyer-grade hull to carry them.  That's three shots a turn of guided, shield-ignoring, double damage warheads that are highly resistant to gatling laser point defenses, and all that at 32" range from a ship that costs only 220 points (the standard Efreet was raised to 200 points in Fleets).  You can reliably score 4-6 damage per turn ignoring shields, and from ranges that make your stealth 4+ a meaningful defense - and you don't need (or benefit from) scout support to do it. 

The main drawback to the torpedoes is their front 90 degree firing arc, which means these ships want to get in to a good firing position then stay on All Stop orders and keep the range open for as long as possible, while whittling down priority targets.  If the enemy rushes you, they'll be open to massed rocket fire from the rest of your fleet - and the Fleets book gave everyone the option to load 10" range double damage rockets instead of the normal version, so sprinting face first into an Al-Malik fleet borders on suicide.  And if your attackers do manage to get past your battleline your own rocket broadsides are a bit stronger than a frigate's and you've got a dozen troops on board, enough to manage a capture themselves against many ships.

I wouldn't want to field more than one or two of these in most games due to their specialized nature, but with proper support they're well worth the 220 points.  They don't like facing a lot of enemy scouts (who break their stealth down and leave that weak 3+ hull open to fire) or other really long range weapons (which only appear on cruisers and heavier ships, and not even all of those), and they can have trouble dealing with a lot of smaller ships at once, but used carefully, they're a unique and interesting addition to the Al-Malik fleet roster.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Commission Work: GZG Alien Crusty Mecha

Had a recent commission job to paint up one of Ground Zero Games' alien Crusty mecha to match the color scheme of the smaller walkers I showcased back here:
This is a much bigger model, mounted on 40mm washer base here.

The kit comes in nine pieces - head, torso, lower torso/legs, two arms, two missile pods, and the two little antenna clusters.

Jon makes a variant set of legs with a different stance, but the other components are identical between the two kits AFAIK.

Unlike the smaller mecha there are no extra parts, although you could leave off the missiles pods and antenna clusters if desired.

The model mostly together smoothly and is fairly sturdy, the exception being the missile pods.

They really don't have a good attachment point on the model due to a fairly shallow socket and short pin, and you're much better off drilling into the main body of the pod and the upper arm and pinning it with wire.
As you can see, at about 60mm tall it's a medium mecha for 15mm, and a pretty hefty combat robot for 28mm use.  Have to love good scale jumpers.