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Thursday, 27 December 2012

Post Christmas FSA Present

Well Happy Christmas (or whatever alternative "winter" holiday you celebrate)!

I meant to post this up before, but of course this time of year is incredibly busy, so it had to wait until now.

What I've done is to create some alternative ship stat cards, specifically for printing in black and white (originally as an output source for Army Builder). Once done, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing these more widely.

I know others have done alternative ship stat cards in the past, but they mess with the traditional order of ship stats and I prefer the "original" order. I also wanted to include MARs, not have too big a card and show weapons in a standard format. I like the idea of showing weapons where they are on the ship too.

So that's what I did. 139 times. So here's the full current ship list of stat cards in PDF format. Have a great holiday.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Relthoza Dreadnought The Fang of Turu'Duth

Have had this painted for a long time, but as I mentioned in prior posts, had issues with taking decent photos of it. Since then, I've got a new camera (a Pentax K-m DLSR), so thought it was about time I got it posted. Here she is, the Fang of Turu'Duth;

Joining the dots - Linking models, stats and ship design

So many will know already that I upgradede the Excel Custom ship Creator for Firestorm Armada, and ship design has always been an interest for me since I first picked up Megatraveller way back in the 1980s. Creating a ship that's useful without being overpowered in FSA is pretty easy, but the rules are rather simplistic and very open to abuse, and there's little in them for a designer to balance in terms of weapons, speed, power etc.

Now the standard ship creation rules are fine for what they do, but I also like my sci-fi to have a relatively high "suspension of belief" factor for me. So, whilst I can fully accept things like warp drive, fold-space drive etc (which are all based on extrapolations of our current understanding of physics), I don't like lazy SF devices like "the alien ship was almost indestructible because it's hull was made of a new element - impervium". That's just daft, and is the sort of pulp sci-fi engine that comes straight out of the '50s.

Now one of the best things about SGs FSA are the excellent models - chunky things with lots of detail. What sometimes irks me about SG though, is the seeming lack of connection between the model sculpt and the game stats, and there are MANY examples of this in the game. Just a couple of examples - the retro MAR for the Directorate is reinforced fore (which applies to all Large/Medium models), yet the Tormentor R&D cruisers fore looks pretty unprotected and vulnerable. The Ba'kash ships all have arms and can be open or closed - this has no effect on their stats, and their best arcs are port/starboard, despite the arms being here and the cetral section revelaed appears to have a weapon...

Again, people who follow my blog and/or posts on the SG community will know I'm a statistics/Excel/analysis nutter, and things like this both bug me and seem to cry out for a solution. As the models are quite clear on their detail, it's pretty easy to pick out details like weapons (or apparent weapons). Take the Terran ships as an example of what I'm menaing - the Fixed Fore weapons on th Razorthorn, Apollo, Titan, Pilgrim, Sentinel etc are all very clear - the Razorthorn & Apollo have 2, the Titan 3 etc. Looking at their stats you can then work out the apparent weapon strength per weapon, and so class them together - so an Apollo, Razorthorn and Titan all use the same main large Fixed fore mass drivers, jus the Titan links together three rather than two. It's thus possible to have a set of base stats for a Large Terran Mass driver to use in other designs - you see where I'm going with this?

With a suite of common weapons, then drives, PD systems, hulls etc, it would be a much richer and more interesting design system, and can be tailored for different races strengths. I've started this process, and it works well for some, not so well for others. It will involve some compromises and stat changes, but I'm not averse to that to produce a deeper, more immersive and more tied-in system. I'll post some specifics and updates as I go along.

Friday, 21 December 2012

FSA Scenario - The Battle for Halfway Station

Next up in my Christmas bonanza is a scenario-project I've spent a fair bit of time on recently, a conversion of the Battle of Midway for FSA. There were several barriers to this - it's not a straightforward "just chuck these ships in a battle" kind of thing, because Midway really demonstrated the shift in naval power away from the capital class battleship and cruiser, and over to carrier-bourne air superiority - this is really the opposite philosophy to FSA as a game!.

As such, range is the big thing - in FSA your primary weapon ranges cover up to 32", so there's little of the board that's safe from a gunned-up capital ship. in contrast, the Japanese at Midway had a couple of battleships in the first carrier force that never really got a chance to use their big guns - all the action was between fighters, bombers and what they attacked. The decisive section of the battle took minutes out of an engagement spread over a few days, and luck was a huge factor.

So, the two main things were range and wings. Range was taken care of by reducing range bands to 2" instead of 8", and reducing all ships movement to 2" (there wasn't much difference between a carrier and a destroyer in terms of speed) - this figure arrived at by comparison of wing and ship movement, keeping the wing movement as a standard.

Ship stats I created by looking at all the ships involved in the main action (those of the First Carrier Force for the Japanese and Task Force 16 & 17 for the Americans) and comparing mass, armour, weapons (number, type & effectiveness) etc - that took the most of the time involved in the project, as it meant a lot of research and source data mining

Next up were wings - movement was already sorted, but one of the main strategic parts of the real battle was in terms of being able to keep effective wing combat cover, balanced with offensive capability. Many ships on both sides had to ditch through lack of fuel without a ready landing platform in range. In FSA, wings have no "range". In addition, the American fighters of the time were outclassed by the Zero (an imbalance that didn't take long to rectify, but nevertheless was very apparent early in the conflict). So I needed a way to represent the endurance of the wings, and create the possibility of a log-jam of wings needing to be recovered/rearmed/relaunched.

Doing this with different stats for the FSA equivalents of the US & Japanese fighters meant that some of this could be represented in the game, and as accurately as possible reflect differences in the two sides capabilities.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with what I came up with as a first draft, but it obviously needs playtesting to determine if & what needs tweaking, so feel free as always to try & comment! Here it is;

FSA Battle of Halfway Station

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Civilian Ships in FSA

OK, I admit it, civilian ships in FSA have bugged me since v1 - they're way too powerful for me to represent standard civilian designs, and a civilian fleet could actually be a force to be reckoned with, which I think is just a tad absurd.

As always, this got me thinking exactly what I would like civilian ships in FSA to look like, and came up with the following - now shared for your enjoyment.

Alternative Civilian Ship Rules & Stats

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas is coming...and so are the Relthoza!

So less than a week until Christmas now, and things are definately getting more festive in our household...the tree, decorations, cards, invites to plays and Christmas drinks etc....

So, as a festive update, I'll be posting some things I've worked on over the past few weeks over the next few days - hope they're of interest!

The first is the Relthoza Trapdoor Hunter-Killer. I wanted to create a ship in FSA which had more of a submarine feel to it than the Destroyer type currently officially in play. To me a Destroyer is a ship that has a specific protective AA/Anti-sub role in a fleet, more like the Escorts in FSA. Still, the idea of a hidden ship stalking and striking others is an appealing one, but needed a few "extras" to do in FSA. Here's a link to what I came up with, after a few tweaks from community comments.

Relthoza Trapdoor Class Hunter-Killer

Feel free to playtest and feedback your thoughts!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

RSN Rising...

A couple of weeks ago I managed to get a couple of Spook Cruisers and a Spectre battleship to add to my Phoenixes, Bulwarks, Sirens and Banshee. None of these are yet painted, though all are primed and I've tried out a scheme I didn't really take to on a Bulwark. The RSN are the extreme end of the Dindrenzi scale, originators of the split from Terra and a bit fanatical. Some people refer to them as "space Nazis", which I think is somewhat misplaced, but actually - in terms of colours - it gaev me an idea...

My Dindrenzi fleet is based around Black, white, grey and orange - taking a lead from the District 9 alien ship colours. I wanted the Dindrenzi ships to be bold and making a statement - they believe they are the rightful inheritors of the galaxy, the cutting edge of humanity...they're not going to be very bland! With all the advanced equipment of the 38th century, unless you go to nano-scale cloaking (as the relthoza do), you might as well make a statement with your ships livery, right?

Which brings me back to the RSN and 1930s German political parties. The one thing th Nazis succeeded at above all else was propoganda - really in a way it had never been done before. The bold red, white and black of its symbology was instantly recognisable. This combination of colours has always been a powerful one, and I wanted to use it for my RSN - in a way that would complement my Dindrenzi fleet so they would look like brothers in arms (which they are).

Of course, my Relthoza are red, so I don't want to create a similar looking fleet.I've taken some side/front/rear/top photos of the ships so I can play around in a painting packge to decide on a scheme...until then, any suggestions are welcomed!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dindrenzi Dreadnought "The Destroying Angel"

I like to name my ships, it gives more of a narrative for the games Oscar and I play - we always come up with a back-story to our games too. My Dindrenzi dreadnought has been around for a while, but I've not really used it properly yet, and I thought I'd better get something done with it to field it properly. I fancied something different with it, but also wanted it to fit with the overall theme of my fleet. In the end I decided on linking the paint scheme with the name, and so the Destroying Angel was born. For those of you who know about fungi, the Destroying Angel is a name given to several all-white (even their spores are white), deadly poisonous fungi belonging to the Amanita genus. They contain amanatins, which are very powerful poisons with few effective treatment regimes.

The name and scheme thus seem perfect for the cream of Dindrenzi fleet aggression, and an all-white ship will not be out of place with the others, and will stand out as the flagship in being a little different. Of course the trick here is to successfully bring out the detail in the model without it looking just dull.

So, as my ship was already primed in white, the first thing to do was to paint the engine and cooling areas in metal, before giving it an overall coat of Klear/Future. This helps the next stage (the Paynes Grey wash) flow into recesses and stay off the main panels. Further work was then down to detailing and now I just have to touch up and weather. Here she is in the current almost-done state before tidy-up and weathering.

Painting the Pathogen

So the SG Community has been offline for well over a week now...just a very blank holding screen in place, saying "We are currently performing some necessary improvements and upgrades"

Unfortunately I'm not confident that's the reason, since the forum crash earlier this year. Taking any site offline to do upgrades shouldn't take more than 24 hours - ideally you have the coding etc done in Parallel and it's just a migration thing - SG seem to actually develop their sites in a serial manner, taking the server offline and writing the code on that one!

Anyway, whilst the community's offline I've been doing other things, notably our bathroom, and painting the Pathogen X9-V battleship I started in the last post. I've also been coding the v2 MotR Army Builder files, which has been a bit of a task and a half. Still, on to the Pathogen...

So I painted the non-transformed parts of the ship in my standard District-9 inspired Dindrenzi theme, and gave it a quick wash with Paynes Grey. I then basecoated the transformed areas in a medium-dark green base, followed by a Devlan Mud wash and drybrushing in various greens, yellows, and reds. I then picked out details in purples and pinks, then went on to add the infection tendrils and veins. I still need to do a couple of bits, most notably the engine exhausts, but minor stuff.

I'm reasonably happy with the way it cam out, and am looking forward to playing my new, infectious threat on the tabletop soon...