Monday Knight Productions released the last of it "Fleet Books"/Rules expansions last month in a stealth fashion worthy of the cloaking devices employed by the original Superior Starfleet Wars rules version of the Aquarian ships. After a brief debate, of, maybe a minute, I decided that I would get a copy to complete my set, even though the Aquarians are the one fleet I *don't* have.... although Joe (Fishtales blog) has a boatload, er, well a shipload of them! At the same time, I decided that I liked what I have seen and played of the Galactic Knights rules enough to get a 2" hex grid star field table cloth for use with them, so I picked up the largest (6 x 4 feet) one they sell at the same time.
Available from Monday Knight Productions, $10 for CD-rom version, $15 for print, or $20 for both! Certainly a reasonable price; no pdf version as far as I know.
The book is a fairly slim 30 pages with a plastic spine binding, of which almost half is the ship charts for the new "standard" designs for the Aquarian ships sold by MKP - 12 ship types in all, with 2 variants for the Aquarian Starbomber (for two very different roles). There are roughly two pages of rather thinly done "fluff" introducing the Aquarians and their place in the Known Galaxy, including what is known of their origins, biology, philosophy, and political stance. Barely adequate, I would say - the Superior materials, although hardly extensive, were better done, I think. But at the end of the day, fluff is, well - fluff! You can very easily develop your own to replace/modify/augment the "official" version.
The background does explain the Aquarian philosophy,. which is more to cripple their opponents than destroy them, and their relatively neutral stance in relation to the other star-faring species. This is facilitated by their limited colonization, settling only worlds that are entirely water covered, and thus inherently of low interest to other species, and difficult for them to hold should they succeed in conquering an Aquarian world. The Alliance is rather loosely organized, at times making its actions and motivations even more opaque to other species. Finally, the Aquarians are the most technologically advanced of all the fleets.
Those familiar with the Starfleet Wars version of the Aquarian ships will want to know first if the cloaking device from those rules appears in the GK version. As I had expected, the answer is "no. Implementing this in game terms was challenging in Starfleet Wars, and would be at least as challenging in Galactic Knights. Thus, I think the authors made the right choice on that one, as cool as it was.
That being said, what new goodies do the Aquarians have access to? First is their "nannite techonology" armor. This armor is limited in amount,and must be equal on all sides of the ship. The nannite technology allows the Aquarians to "shift" the damaged sections of armor to any side(s) of the ship of their choice during the "drift" phase of each turn, subject to limitations based upon the size of the ship (bigger ships can shift more, smaller ships less). Assuming you anticipate the upcoming threats reasonably accurately. this greatly increases the efficiency of the armor. The "shifting" of damaged sections seems like it might get a bit fiddly in game terms, but I imagined that play testing showed that allowing the armor to function such that it screened all directions within a given layer was too powerful an advantage. The Nannite armor limits Aquarian ships to no more than one shield generator regardless of the size of the ship.
Second, Aquarian vessels mount a new kind of weapon, "Pulse Cannons". These are designed to strip off the outer layers of armor and weapon systems from the target, rather than penetrating deep into the critical systems. Thus, hits scored by Pulse cannons are marked off horizontally rather than vertically.
Third, Aquarians employ a unique kind of missile, the Harpoon. These missiles do not destroy the target, rather they orbit it and emit a dampening field around the target that impairs the effected ships outgoing fire. The effect increases as more Harpoons are present. this is particularly annoying for large, powerful enemy ships!
Finally, the Aquarians have one minor wrinkle on fighter bay. Unlike other species, their fighter bays can be located deep within the ship, not just in the surface layer. Fighters exit from such burring bays via Launch tubes in the surface layer. his increases the "survivability" of Aquarian fighters after a battle compared with other species.
That's pretty much it; nothing really revolutionary, but enough to give the Aquarians their own special flavor and tactics. I look forward to trying them out on the tabletop... even though I still have plenty of other systems/species to try out as well.
In other news, next the folks at MKP are considering developing rules for their space stations (yay!), and possibly a scenario and or campaign book(s) (whoopee!).
Ugh, whats that cold, slimy fin on my back? Commander Pyke? Leaking state secrets of the Alliance to outsiders? Why, sir, I was merely trying to explain to them why your illustrious forces were best left alone. After all, sir...
<Blub, blub, blub>