Sunday, September 18, 2011

Directorate Starter Fleet Complete

Was able to get some more painting time in. Here's the pictures:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Directorate Painting - First Attempt

Finally had some time to break out the minis this weekend and get to business with my Directorate fleet.

I hadn’t really had much time to look at the models since getting them last weekend, so first thing I did was get everything out and examine them, as these are the first Spartan Games models I’ve purchased.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the quality of the models, both resin and metals. The resins had some of the usual flash and a few mold lines, but nothing a modeling knife couldn’t trim up in short order.

My friend Todd pointed out that there appeared to be a significant degree of mold release still on his models, and I’d have to report the same – these will definitely require a trip through the kitchen sink carwash before trying to put any primer on them. As some resins get melty, I stuck with warm soapy water. Seemed to do the trick.

As for painting, I’m happy with the finished product, but must confess it wasn’t the hue I set out to achieve. Ideally, they would have been a very dark turquoise color with more muted gold trim. That said, they still read nice from table height , and I’m comfortable adapting this recipe for the rest of the ships.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Space Terrain Time

With my Firestorm Armada fleet arriving this weekend, I decided it was time to make some space terrain to go along with my shiny new Directorate fleet.

The plan was pretty straightforward: I wanted about four small planets/moons, two large planets/stars and some asteroids, and a cloth backdrop for the whole thing. I decided to save some of the more complicated ideas (black hole? space station?) for another day.

The whole thing was pretty easy and I had a lot of help from my girls, who are proving to be quite the young terrain builders.

We used with wooden balls for the planets and moons, which turned out to be a good choice as they presented a much smoother surface than the Styrofoam balls I’ve used previously.

Of everything we built, the asteroids were most disappointing. I placed some Styrofoam balls on stems early on, thinking that when I strayed them with primer they would ‘crumple’ with the paint. Unfortunately, within a few sprays it was immediately apparent that the paint wasn’t melting like it should. We tried using acetone, which did melt the balls, albeit very slowly. I had to use a hot foam knife to whittle away the rest. The final product is a bit of a fail: the asteroids are way too big to move ships through, and scale-wise they are as large as the planets. I may be revising these in the near future.

For the backdrop, I kept things subtle and simple. I don’t care for the really, really bright ones, so I just lightly sponge painted on some lavender and pink for a few modest nebulas, then flecked the whole thing with a tooth brush and some white paint.

So here’s the final product. Overall I’m pretty happy with things, though as I said the asteroids need some work. Now I just need some ships for this star system!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Battle Rep #1: Dindrazi vs Directorate vs Soryllians

Note: This match was basically our second ‘intro game’ and as such we used a simplified set of rules which did not include fighter wings.

What started as a standard versus match turned into a three way free-for-all with death by asteroids, hot boarding actions, and even a reactor meltdown! A summary follows.

Our table today was a bit longer than wide, so we decided to setup on opposite ends of the board to avoid instant confrontation. My initial feeling was the long ‘corridor’ shape of the table would give advantage to Todd’s Dindrazi, as their gun platforms are far more forward-oriented than mine. My plan was to refuse a flank, run to the asteroids, and hope that my opponent would close too fast and succumb to my superior boarders and wide fire arcs once trapped inside the asteroids.

Things initially went as planned, with my fleet rapidly advancing into the asteroid belt while effectively shutting out the Dindrazi battleship from the first few turns of shooting. My cruisers and frigates combined fire on the Dindrazi frigates on my left flank, thinning their ranks and bringing them closer for an assault.

By turn three, I was able to unleash two cruisers worth of assault troops on the lead enemy frigate, whilst spreading fire to the rest. At first, I believed this to be a tactical error on my part, as I reasoned the cruisers combined 8 boarders would easily overwhelm the frigate trapping both sets of boarders on the same small prize. But one of the Dindrazi point defense gunners had been taking his lessons, and the little bastard managed to single handiedy kill 4 of my boarders. What would have been a sure thing now became a desperate several turn struggle for control of the frigate.

Which brings me to lesson one of from this match. Redundancy is key in this game, whether you’re shooting. boarding, etc.. Because the ‘rule of six’ adds a dangerous, ‘predictably unpredictable’ element to the probability curve, even ‘failsafe actions’ like my double boarding can and will go wrong. Takeaway? If its worth doing, make sure you are ready to try and do it twice.

Once both fleets reached the asteroids, things became a right bloody mess. In addition to the ships attempting to pummel each other at close range, the capital ships from both sides began laying patterns of mines at point blank range. This resulted in some spectacular chain explosions which caused little damage to the capital ships and significant anything else unlucky enough to be nearby, and often from friendly mines.

Which brings me to lesson two: Mines are effective when dropped behind a capital ship as an effective anti-little guy deterrent, and they can even damage cruisers, but the chain-reaction nature of them means that dropping them close to your formations can take out more of your own craft than the opponent’s. Mines are probably best dropped early on as you can shut-off parts of the board and have time to deploy the hell away from them.

Anyway, as I mentioned, once inside the asteroids all hell broke loose, but the nature of the asteroid belt dramatically changed the scope of fire from prior games. Halving all shooting within 8” and rendering all shooting outside of 8” impossible is a HUGE change from standard play. Even at close range, our capital ships were getting only a couple of dice to throw at one another, and so reduced, they were having a hard time taking out even small ships.

So that makes for lesson three: Asteroid fields will make large ships near indestructible. As long as your ship is moving at half speed and not rolling on the nasty asteroid table, all dice coming in a re halved. That’s huge against ships with DR of 6-8, as it means your opponent is never going to be throwing the handfuls of dice needed to get past those high DR’s – even when they are outside the field shooting in.

All and all things were going well for the Directorate. Then the Soryllians arrived.

Not having enough time to play out separate matches, we agreed mid-game to have Reuben’s Soryllians come in as a third party force. While Rueben was being admittedly even-handed in his distribution of fire, he managed to catch one of my cruisers outside the belt and melted its reactor in a single volley – with the resultant explosion pulling down TWO more of my frigates. For some reason, I was reminded of the HMS Hood. But I digress.

By game end, the Soryllians were advancing on the rear of the Directorate, who in turn were advancing on the rear of the Dindrazi, who themselves were making shunting actions to try to get the hell out of there!

A good time was had by all, and only a few people got pushed out of airlocks.

So that’s it for this battle. No profound, game-altering tactical revelations, just some insight on how asteroids work and an important lesson about boarding – bring friends.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how the all-important ‘range band 2’ should dictate movement and deployment, but as of right now those ideas are too nebulous to share.

Until Next Time,

“Admiral” Eldritch