Saturday, January 28, 2012

Starfleet Wars: Avarian Ships, Part 2

This installment will cover the bigger ships in the Avarian Fleet, along with the transports. A future third post will then cover the Avarian fighters, Star Armored Pursuits Ships, Starbombers, and space stations. This is timely as the first battle of The Chancellor Campaign is about to get under way, with a Terran Super Galactic Dreadnought hunting down an Avarian convoy, whilst an Avarian Cruiser wing (six Stellar Cruisers and a Galactic Dreadnought) attempt to intervene.

"Nest" Class Galactic Attack Carrier (GAC)

The Galactic Attack Carriers are pretty much what you'd think; the spacegoing equivalents of Aircraft carriers. They are designed to carry a large quantity of fighters, which can be configured in several different ways, through the void of space, for use in fleet actions, commerce raiding, planetary bombardment, and scouting duties.

As such they have limited offensive power and decent defensive power in their own right, as well as respectable anti-fighter capabilities.

Statistics for the Nest Class Galactic Attack Carrier:

Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
  125            5                    9                 54%                  36                 2                 6

Somewhat contrary to what one might expect, the Avarians make less use of fighters than the Terrans, but more than the other races.

As the Epoxy seal broke on the base of this ship (easily repaired), this bottom view shows you just how detailed even the underside of these models are. Impressive!

Vulture Class Galactic Attack Carrier (GAC)

This variation of the Galactic Attack Carrier for the Avarians was released later in the history of the line. According to the background material, the introduction of this class indicates a potential shift in the Avarian doctrine towards greater use of fighters and Carriers.

The Vulture class GAC represents a modest improvement over the older, Nest class.

Here are the stats for this upgraded GAC:

Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
 130              7                   9                 54%                  36                 2                 8

This Carrier is a very nicely detailed model indeed!

Once again, a shot of the underside shows the lavish attention to minor details and sculpting characteristic of the Starfleet Wars (now known and avaiable as Galactic Knights) ships.

Ventral view of the Vulture from the rear, showing the detail associated with the ship's engines

Condor Class Galactic Dreadnought (GD)

The Galactic Dreadnoughts were the strongest (and largest) ships in the original release of the Starfleet Wars series. Here are a pair of Avarian Condor class GD's.

Once again, according to the background materials, until recently the Avarians had focused much more on their powerful Galactic Battlecruisers, but have started to produce more of these bigger ships recently.

Here are the stats for the Condor class Avarian GD:

Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
 257             14                 15                 76%                   4                 2                 10

As you can see, these ships are at least  twice as powerful as any lesser craft... Battle Stations!

An underside view once again reveals the wealth of detail not even seen during usual game play!

"Gryphon" class Super Galactic Dreadnought (SGD)

Among the last releases in the Starfleet Wars series were these immense ships (the model itself is 6" long by 3 " wide). Truly in a class by themselves, the Super Galactic Dreadnoughts are literally capable of defeating an entire enemy fleet all by themselves! One of the last ships I bought, you can see that I only started painting it. I will have to return to it and finish the job... maybe later this year?

Here are the stats for this Behemoth of space, the Gryphon class Super Galactic Dreadnought:

Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
 475             21                 21               100%                  28                 7                 33

As if that wasn't enough, these ships also get a "free" additional Offensive and Defensive factor that doesn't have to be powered, and is only knocked out when the ship has suffered 75% or more damage. In the case of the Gryphon, this is 7 for the Beams, and 8 for the shields!  Ruffle my faathers!

Turkey Class Galactic Transport (GTP)

At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the lowly transports. These Turkeys are essential to move troops and resources along the spaceways of the Avarian United Worlds.

Because of the need to optimize the space devoted to cargo, these ships have less capable engines, and are limited to a speed of "4", whilst all warships have a maximum speed of "5". Thus, they are incapable of out running warships unless their pursuers have suffered significant damage to their engines.

The upcoming battle in the Chancellor Campaign, fought on the approaches to the Vertex system, will feature a large number of these Transports. Perhaps "Sitting Ducks" might have been a more appropriate name for the class, LOL?

Here are the woefully poor stats for the Turkey class Galactic Transport:

Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
  21              0                   1                 13%                 none                 1                 1

A view of the underside of a Turkey; the epoxy makes it look almost as though the base is impaling the ship and causing it to bleed. Sadly, it is likely that quite a few of these ships will be in a similar attitude after the coming battle!

Soar high, and may your aeries welcome you at journey's end...


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Starfleet Wars: Avarian Ships Part 1

Somewhere around 1975, ALNAVCO released the Superior "Starfleet Wars" rules and ships. There were five different races; the Terrans (whose ships look suspiciously like those of the Empire in Star Wars), the Avarians (birdlike creatures), Entomalians (inumerable isectoid race), Carnivorans (a Feline related race - think Kzin), and the Aquarians (water breathing life forms), These were very nice  models, and the introductory rules came with one of the small ships for each race. My original wargaming group got hooked on them, and we began collecting fleets - Chuck took the Entomalians, Paul the Terrans, Charlie the Aquarians, and I took the Avarians, plus the Carnivorans for good measure (as I always usually painted and out purchased the rest of the guys combined when it came to any of our projects) .

The fliers that came out with the original release of the ships showed all of them painted white with minimal details in other colors, sort of a la "Star Wars". We didn't care for that, and devised our own general paint schemes for the five races - Entomalians in browns with yellow, orange, and dark green highlights, Terrans in white and silver, Aquarians in medium blue, greens, and gold, Avarians in dark blue, Carnivorans in black and red. We kicked around various ideas for a space campaign with our fleets, but it never got beyond the planning stages. Recently, Mack has been reviewing the original Starfleet Wars rules on his Super Galactic Dreadnought blog, as well as collecting and painting ships of the various factions, recently re-released under the Galactic Knights brand, and with brand new Galactic Knights rules, which are not the subject of these posts. There is a review of the new GK rules on Board Game Geek here.

Last week on his blog, Mack proposed a campaign modeled on the WW2 hunt for the Bismark, the details of which can be found at:

Named "The Chancellor Campaign", he called for volunteers as strategic and (local) tactical players. I volunteered for the former, and am now the proud(?) admiral in charge of the powerful Avarian Homeworlds fleet. Together with two fellow Avarian players, we must hunt down and neutralize the massive Terran Super Galactic Dreadnought "Chancellor", and its Galactic Battleship escort, before they can do too much damage to our shipping, which is focused upon bolstering the defenses of one of our star systems where we anticipate a future Terran assault.

I've been threatening to post pictures of my own Starfleet Wars ships for quite some time, and this campaign provides me with an excuse to so so. Never fear, I am still painting Napoleonic troops, and posts on topics Napoleonic will continue to be prominent here.  So, let's start with some pictures of the first batches of Avarian star ships.

"Hawk" class Stellar Destroyers (SD)

The Stellar Destroyers were the smallest class of ships in the original SFW rules, and the boxed starter set came with one SD each from each of the five factions... just to whet your appetite!

The stats for the "Hawk" Class SD are as follows:
Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
    31             2                     3                16%               none                2                  6

By way of explanation, in SFW, beams and shields, and engines must be powered; it costs the SQUARE of the desired factor in power units to enable it; thus a beam factor of 2 costs 4 units, while a shield factor of 3 costs 9 power units, and a move factor of 5 would cost 25. Standard ships are capable of a maximum speed of 5 (movement is 3" x the move factor) Each turn the player must specify what he is powering. As a ship takes hist, its power factors are reduced, with zero reducing the ship to immobility. It is readily apparent that, even undamaged, no ships will be capable of powering their max speed, shields and beams. Thus, there are always choices to be made.

The CIDS factor is the % chance to hit fighter craft - each ship has 10 rolls per turn (when in range), with bigger and better ships having higher CIDS factors. As a ship takes damage, its number of CIDS shots is reduced proportionate to the damage suffered.  Finally, Particle Weapons (PW - think torpedoes) require no energy to fire for their first shot, but thereafter 5 power units per factor fired are expended. They ignore shields of the target, and can cause special (critical) damage as well. They are the principal weapon of the smaller ships, but the number of reloads is finite and their range is less. Never the less, they can be deadly, even to large ships, IF they get close enough. Tractors can also be powered from the same pools, and there are "boarding" rules as well.

The stats for each factions ships of the same class are all subtly different, reflecting the differing tactical doctrines of their creators. These distinctions could easily be further differentiated with minimal rules tinkering. 

"Screech Owl"  class Stellar Destroyer Leaders (SDL)

This class was a rather late addition to the SFW ships, coming out after several other new ships and ship types had been released by Superior. Note that I give each ship a "facing color" of its own (above red, yellow, green and orange) - you can see my Napoleonic background there, obviously! For the Avarians, the first ship of a class always has red, then the second yellow, the third green, etc. This makes the ships readily distinguishable on the tabletop without needing labels. 

Here are the stats for the Avarian "Screech Owl" class SDL's:
Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
  36                 2                    4                 22%             none               3                   9

Thus it can be seen these slightly larger ships pack a bit of extra punch above the run of the mill SD! 

"Falcon" class Stellar Cruisers (SC)

Here's a squadron of  Falcon class SC's; it is now easier to see the overall paint scheme I have used for the Avarian ships - dark blue hulls, black "necks", white superstructures, light blue layers below those where applicable, and gun metal colored levels below that. The major laser mounts are metallic blue with silver barrels, and the small laser turrets (representing CIDS mounts) are silver. 

The stats for the "Falcon" class SC's are:
Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
    65             6                   7                54%                none                2                   6 


"Squadron - Flank Speed!"

Thus, these Cruisers take more than twice as much damage as the Destroyers, and can certainly power higher factors, especially when traveling at the faster speeds. They ae also much better at fending off the attacks of fighter craft. 

"Eagle Class" Galactic Battecruisers (GB)

This particular class is  the pride of the Avarian fleet; it easily outclasses the ships in the same class of any other faction! In addition, the sloping hulls of the Avarian ships are described as being "heavily armored", especially from above. Supposedly the Avarians characteristically fought in a "box-like" formation, hulls to the outside. There is nothing in the rules that encourages or rewards this, however. 

Here are the stats for the impressive "Eagle" class Galactic Battlecruisers:
Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
  156            10                 12              44%                  none                2                 6

I made these "flight stands" years ago from washers, nails, and epoxy, then spray painted black. These models are really quite heavy - too heavy for a single plastic flight stand of the old school to be sure!

A look at a pair of Eagles, engines putting out "full thrust". Note the multiple heavy laser turrets! The star mat is from the old Geohex line... 4 by 6 feet, and without the hex grid!

The SFW wars describe the Avarian Particle Weapons as "Proximity Fused Anti-Matter missiles"; each faction has a different weapon description. This, however, has no effect upon the game according to the rules as written. Once again, no reason that couldn't be changed a bit for more flavor!

Well, I think that's about it for now. Subsequent posts will cover the Galactic Attack Carriers, Galactic Dreadnoughts, and Super Galactic Dreadnoughts of the Avarian fleet, followed by their Transports, Starbombers, Star Armored Pursuit Ships, fighters ("attack craft"), and Space stations.  I'll then cover the Terrans in the same fashion, and, eventually the Carnivorans, Entomalians, and Aquarians.

For those of you who are not fans of Sci-Fi, don't worry, the Napoleonics will be back and soon; my Russian Opolchenie are nearing completion as we march on towards the battle of Borodino at Historicon this July!



Thursday, January 19, 2012

Battle of the Sambre, 57 AD

On Sunday, January 8th, we of the Hartford Area Historical Gaming Society had a grand Ancients game at the Home of HAHGS member Thomas (who has just started his own blog). Ultimately, a total of 8 of us were in attendance, including Peter C. (game Organizer and referee), Joseph C. (spectator extraordinaire, and bringer of snacks, nutritious and otherwise!), the Barbarian (Nervii) players, namely myself, Thomas, and Andy; and the Roman players, namely Greg, James, and Matt. It turned out that with many of us having some Roman and Gallic/German/Barbarian armies, we were able to filed quite an impressive force, with some 16 Warbands of  24 figures each, and a nearly like number of Romans, of 16 each, plus a smattering of skirmishers and cavalry. Part of the point of running the game was an introduction to the Hail Caesar rules, which  we are planning on using for a very loose, abstract Ancients "campaign". As none of us had played more than a game or two using these rules, and several of us (myself included) don't even own a copy yet, this was intended to be very much a low key learning experience... and so it proved. I did prepare a bit by reading the "orders" section of Black Powder, from which Hail Caesar is in part derived, and that did prove helpful.

Hail Caesar Rulebook

Peter C. set up the scenario, adapting it from the Commands and Colors scenario for the same battle. You can read Caesar's own account of the battle here, but briefly, despite knowing that the Belgae were massed in force and planning an ambush, Caesar managed to fall into the trap, and was very fortunate to secure a victory, largely through his own personal efforts (at least by his own account, written for popular consumption back home!) rallying the surprised and dispersed legions who were constructing the usual Roman defensive camp, and the stellar fighting qualities of his veteran 9th and 10th Legions.

View of the Nervii line from their right; I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures, which were taken with my I-phone (the camera of which really isn't up to the job of miniatures photography). The large window at the end of the game room is great for letting the light in, but thoroughly confused the camera as well. Don't bother to click on any pics for enlarged views! :-(   Still, you can get a sense of the sweep of the game! There are much better pictures here on Peter C's blog.

Close up of the Nervii right, with skirmishers and Cavalry fording the Sambre, and Roman skirmishers opposite. 

"Where did all those Barbs come from?"

View of the Roman Left, with LC and skirmish archers and slingers to the front, and the venerable X Legion behind them.

The dispersed forces of the Roman Right at the start of the game. They were still building the Camp when the Nervii came boiling out of the woods and across the Sambre!

Blurry view of the Nervi line from their right, where my command, with the C-in-C lay. We are poised to cross the Sambre at the earliest opportunity!

My boys crossing the Rubicon... er, Sambre!

Greg, as Julius Caesar himself playing opposite me, calmly organizes his Legions just before the Barbarian Storm hits!

Meanwhile on the Nervii right, Andy's Warbands just make it up to the River, while their skirmishers boldly, some might even say rashly, take pot shots at the Romans, to little effect.

On the next  Nervii move, my warbands have made contact with three Roman units, and in two cases I have a second warband in support. "Eat Belgic Iron, you garlic chompers!"

After the Impact round, the near melee has resulted in a Barb win, with the Romans pushed back in Disorder, and my two warbands following up in immediate pursuit. The other combats see the Romans outscoring my guys, courtesy (in part) of very cold dice on my part, and very hot dice by Greg, especially his Saving throws... the accursed Romans, with their heavy armor, save on 4,5,6 on a D6. My brave lads, who usually save on a 5,6 for their medium armor (mostly their big, Bad @$$ shields), are reduced to a mere "6" to save on the opening round, modeling the effects of the Roman Pila in the opening round. 

Meanwhile, back on the opposite side of the field Andy and Thomas have finally gotten their own warbands clear of the Sambre. It is another three turns before the raw, reserve Legions (under Jim) can enter the rear table edge to succor the Roman cause...

The next round of melee sees my two far left flank warbands trade shots with their Roman counterparts. Despite the support and the Roman Disorder (the additional Roman unit of Greg's seen coming up doesn't quite mange to get into the action), the dour Romans manage to give as good as they get, while the middle (one Warband against one Roman) melee is decisively lost and my Warband dispersed. "Curses, those smooth-skinned eye-talian guys know how to fight after all!" The final 2 one on one melee grinds on with both side taking mounting casualties. In the center, however, Thomas' dice are as hot as mine are cold and *his* lads blow a hole right through the Roman center. Yay, Team!

In the following round, the disordered Romans on the far flank got support form the new unit moving up, and vaporized the primary warband in the combat, leaving the support unit to the flank of the entire Roman line, but very isolated. meantime, my general along with 2 warbands has crashed into a single Roman unit, whilst Thomas continues to steamroll the center. Even with all those advantages, I *still* can't break the damned Roman unit, though!  Argh! "May Crom curse you Romans and your evil saving throws!"

Back on the Nevii right, the clash bewteen the Barbarians and the X Legion is a mixed bag. Matt's Romans managed to charge Andy's Barbarians first here, which put the Nervii at a decided disadvantage, but the dice dictated perhaps a better results than the Barbs deserved. Still, one Roman unit is destroyed whilst 2 warbands are thrown back with heavy losses. 

Only a single unit is left in my once proud command; Hail Caesar has a rules mechanism that prevents cutesy flank attacks, so neither of these opposing units will get  chance to strike the other in the flank; rather they will face towards one another each in their own move, and settle matters in the following Turn. This worked very well without some of the annoying "legal brief" style rules about maneuvering units in proximity to the enemy found in some other ancient rules. 

James' command with the raw Legions of the Reserve have arrived, and none to soon. Meanwhile, Matt's X Legion is wisely pulling back to the comparative safety of the ridge line... and the friendly baggage!

View of the Roman Left at the end of the battle; Nervii attempts to storm the heights are defeated (the hill advantage is just too much to overcome along with the other Roman perks), but not with out sending some more Romans on a journey across the River Styx to meet the Dark God, Pluto!

At this point,, we called the game and declared it a Nervii victory, the sneaky tribesmen having outperformed their historical counterparts (with scant credit to my command, I might add). Although we made at least our share of rookie mistakes with the rules, we found them fairly easy to learn and fun to play. While probably not my first choice of rules for this era (I dislike saving throws as a rules mechanism, for one thing), they were fun to play (the excellent company certainly helped there as well), gave historically plausible results, and the game concluded in a reasonable time period (less than 4 hours with no expert players or referee). The variable movement distance rules I have no problems with, a similar concept (although executed quite differently) being a feature of both Field of Battle and my own Hostile Realms. Will I play them again?  Certainly!  I look forward to playing some more games of Hail Caesar! with the HAHGS guys; now I just have to decide if I'll take up the standard of my Carthagenians, the Romans, or go for a more unusual army, my Late Assyrians. For the sake of variety on the battlefield, if not competitiveness, I am leaning towards the later... in which case I may need to paint up my spare 4-Horse chariots!

Petronius (?)