Friday, 10 July 2015

Armada Wave 3+ Speculation - Imperials Pt 1

With Wave 1 for SW Armada released I am now very eagerly awaiting Wave 2. I have designs on 3 of the Raider class, and I'll be getting an ISD because, well, it's just compulsory for Imperial players.

But while waiting, and in between actually playing the game, I've started speculating on what ships might be in Waves 3 and beyond. Armed with the link to Wookiepedia, here is first part of my musings. The order is largest ships first, with Pt 1 covering Imperial ships down to 600m. 

First Order Star Destroyer
Seen very briefly in trailer 2 for The Force Awakens, virtually nothing is known about this class. Even its size is unconfirmed. However if we assume that the spherical structure on top of the command tower is the same size as those on an ISD, then this vessel appears to be of similar size or perhaps slightly larger, and hence I have put this ship at the top of this list.

If the above size estimate is correct this ship would be on a large base and command 3. Hull and shields would presumably be similar to those on an ISD.

Tector Class
The Tector class is canonical, but almost nothing is known about it. It appears very briefly in RotJ in a shot of the Millenium Falcon flying along the ventral hull of a ship which looks virtually identical to the Imperial class except lacking the hangars and reactor bulb. The upper hull of the Tector class has never been seen. The easiest option for FFG would be to stick with the prevailing fan assumption that the upper hull is the same as the Imperial class, and just redo the lower hull to fit. Making changes to the upper hull would be a bold move, and presumably require licencing approval, so I think this is unlikely. Could be potentially pretty cool if they did change it though - an ISD with a leaner, meaner superstructure.

Rules wise, it's reasonable to assume the Tector would be similar to the Imperial class. It would certainly be on a large base and command 3. The lack of ventral hangars would presumably mean a lower squadron value. It is described as having additional armour, which could be reflected in either more hull points and/or extra defense tokens.

Venator Class
First seen in Revenge of the Sith and later in The Clone Wars animated series. While this a prequel era ship, the final shot from RotS confirms that these vessels did continue to serve into the Imperial period. That plus the fact that it's just such a cool design and I think there is every chance we will see Venator's for Armada at some point.

The Venator class is of similar size to the Victory class (1100m versus 900m), so that is the best starting point for guessing its profile. It will presumably be a medium ship, with command 3. The Venator has more visible hangars, so a higher squadron value and Titles/Characters/Upgrades focused on fighters seem likely. Because having more hangars probably makes it not as tough as a VSD it might lose a point of hull or engineering.

Acclamator Class
Another canonical prequel era ship, the 750m Acclamator class falls exactly halfway in size between the Victory and Gladiator classes. My guess is it will be on a medium base - while it could potentially be on small base, the Gladiator class is already pretty large compared with other small base ships.

The Acclamator class is described as an "assault ship", designed to land army units on planets. If FFG ever intends to add either planetary assault missions or boarding rules to Armada, the Acclamator class would be an ideal ship to release at the same time. Based on its size it would have either 6 or 7 hull points; I'll guess 7, because an assault ship would be built tough. For shields I'll guess 3 front, 2 everywhere else. That would give it 9 total (cf. 10 total for a VSD and 8 total for a GSD) and it completely makes sense for an assault ship to need good shielding from all aspects. It's firepower is difficult to even guess at, except that it would be much less than a VSD. I'll speculate 3 dice on front and sides, in some mix of red and blue.

Interdictor Class
The Interdictor class (by which I mean the original Immobilizer 418 class, not other ships performing the same role) is a type that is well-established in the SW expanded universe, and it's a pretty cool looking design, so I expect FFG will produce one for Armada fairly early on. On the other hand it presents them with a challenge - how to incorporate its signature gravity well projectors into the game? They could just ignore them, but that would waste the most unique thing about the class. How well the rules for the gravity-projectors work could easily make or break this class, and I won't even speculate what they might be.

At 600m the Interdictor class is slightly longer than a GSD but slightly narrower (in most depictions, although this varies), so I'll guess at 5 hull and 2/2/2/1 shields. It would presumably be a small ship (although it might just sneak in as a medium), with command 2.

Dreadnaught Class
Another ship that is well-established in the expanded universe even if never seen canonically, the Dreadnaught class is supposed to be very common in the SW galaxy.

Although Dreadnaughts are the same length as the Interdictor, they are considerably more solidly built. I'm picking they're more likely to be on a medium base, but they could just sneak in on a small. Based on its size I would say command 2... however in-universe the Dreadnaught is supposed to have an extremely large crew for its size, which could mean command 3. Because its larger than the GSD I'll guess hull 6, but with the same 3/2/2/1 shields. For armament I'll guess four red/blue dice on the boardsides, 3 red front, 2 red rear.

So, that's my thoughts on possible large-medum Imperial ship releases. Next installment - Imperial ships smaller than 600m, plus fighters.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Gathering the Imperial Armada

The latest wargaming craze going through my social circle is Star Wars: Armada. Produced by Fantasy Flight Games (the same company that does the X-Wing miniatures games), Armada is an extremely polished game; high production values in the game components, pre-painted ship models, and excellent game design.

On Saturday afternoon I went around to Ben's place for a 400 point game. At this point we both had a couple of games under our belt, so we were starting to get the hang of at least the capital ship aspects. But until now we had only used the X-Wings and TIEs that came with the basic box. Since then Ben had acquired the Rebel and Imperial fighter boxes, so we could now play with the full range of fighter types available to us. Ben had gone for a fighter-centered strategy, taking the Assault Frigate Gallant Haven as his flagship, with 2 A-Wings, 2 Y-Wings (one of which was Dutch Vander), 3 X-Wings, and a B-Wing (Keyan Farlander), Supporting this carrier force he also had two Nebulon B's and a Corvette. Against this I had a Victory II star destroyer with Tarkin, two Gladiator II star destroyers (both with expanded launchers, one being Dominator), 8 basic TIES (one being Howlrunner), Sontir Fel in his TIE Interceptor, and two TIE Bombers (one being Rhymer).

With 2 less points in my fleet I had the initiative. I opted to be first player, and selected Precision Strike as the mission. I deployed my VSD in the center, flanked by the two GSDs. Ben deployed his Assault Frigate facing my VSD, flanked by his two Nebulon's and with the Corvette further out to my left.

For the first couple of turns the fleets slowly closed. Ben's A-wings charged forward and inflicted a point of damage each before one was swarmed by a pair of TIEs and the other was dispatched by Sontir Fel. Long range fire from Ben's fleet chipped away at the shields of my GSDs.

By turn three a massive dogfight had emerged in the middle. Ben had been slowly  advancing Gallant Home up the middle, with most of his fighters clustered around it to take advantage of it's "ignore first point of damage from each attack" rule. My TIEs had charged in regardless, and the combination of Howlrunner, Sontir Fel, and sheer numbers managed (initiatlly at least) hold their own despite the rebel's defensive advantage.

Also on turn three, the Gladiator's were finally in range to strike. With both having Expanded Launchers they had a brutal four black and two red dice attack at close range. On the left the unnamed GSD reduced a Nebulon-B to one hull point left, while Demolisher smashed down the full-strength shields of Gallant Home and inflicted a point of damage.

In turn four the game had become a brawl. My entire fleet, Gallant Home, and one of Ben's Nebulon's were all crowded in the center, surrounded by the ongoing fighter clash. This should have been perfect conditions for the GSDs. But sadly they had been too badly battered during the approach, with both having virtually no shields remaining. Neither survived the turn.

At the start of turn five I was left with my virtually undamaged Victory against all of Ben's fleet. While I managed to finish off the crippled Nebulon-B it was still three to one, and by the end of the turn the VSD was destroyed.

So a very fun game. Having the full range of fighter types available makes the fight battle vastly more interesting. Ben used Gallant Home very well, shepharding his fighters until they were within striking distance of my ships. My TIE counterattack worked reasonably well (Ben's fighters only got about 3-4 attacks against me all game) but I largely wasted my Bombers, holding them back all game instead of moving up to attack.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Current Projects

Most of the time I have multiple gaming projects on the go at once. Impulse purchases result in many models that can sit around for years before a random burst of enthusiasm means they finally get painted. The projects that I have had the most enthusiasm for lately have all been 28mm sci-fi.

First, a Terminator with Thunder Hammer, which I had previously blogged about. These were a TradeMe purchase that came already painted, but a couple of days soaking in Simple Green followed by a good scrub with an old toothbrush got it back to bare metal. It is now painted up in Red Hammer chapter colours.

Next up were an OpForce to face the Red Hammers, in this case some Dark Eldar warriors. These are mostly done, just a bit more drybrushing and some details left to paint.

Lastly, my Teratons for Dreadball. I've done 6 of the 8 starting team members. Painting the last two really should be my next priority, but as I have two gaps on my roster due to casualties I can afford to let this slip for a couple of weeks. But I have finished another Dreadball related model - an alternative ref-bot. I'm not a fan of the ref-bot that comes with the game, so instead I've painted up a floating ref-drone.

My main priority for the next little while will be finishing the Dark Eldar and last two Teratons. Beyond that I'm not sure. One or two stormbolter Terminators is a possibility. But the main game that seems to be being played locally is Infinity. Space Marine models could be used for this, but they don't really suit the aesthetic. The Dark Eldar on the other hand fit in nicely, so I might use what I have as a starting point and pick up some Infinity models to round it out to a full size force (they have some very cool looking quadruped drones...).

Friday, 16 January 2015

Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist.

Our local Dreadball league continues. Last Sunday my brother Vaughan came over and we played the official R.O.U.S versus Centurions match. This was a close game; the score never went above 2-3 points for either side, and the lead changed hands a couple of times. But in the end the sneaky rodents had scrapped a one point victory.
Start of the first rush

After the first rush. Centurions have the ball, but their defense isn't as strong as it usually is.

Fulltime. The ROUS have snatched a 1 point victory.

Late in the match Ben had showed up to observe, and as we had time left he and Vaughan played their match. As usual Ben was a master at using his dirty, dirty, Strikers to score and score big. He not only ended with an overwhelming victory, he also earned enough XP to advance three of his players (two Strikers and a Guard) to level 2, gaining the Roll, Roll, and Keeper skills.

ROUS versus Tigers

Ben contemplating his next play.

A couple of days later Jamie and I played the Centurions vs Blooz match. Predictably for two basher teams this was a brutual and bloody affair. In the end the Centurions had won by two points... but with 3 dead players for only a single Orx killed, it was very much a Pyrrhic victory.

Tidy formations before the whistle...

...which quickly descended into a brawl.

First casualty of the game, an Orx. Three Teratons (2 Guards and a Jack) also died.

With just one match left of the first round (R.O.U.S versus Blooz) the table stands as follows;

Team Points Played Ranking Species Coach
Terracorp Tigers 8 3 1st Human Ben
Chelonia Centurions 3 3 2nd Teratons Jonathan
Redwall R.O.U.S 2 2 3rd= Veer-Myn Vaughan
Orcland Blooz 2 2 3rd= Orx/Goblins Jamie

At this stage it's a mixed bag for the Centurions. On the upside they're in second place, and have two players at level 2 with useful skills. But the downside is they won't stay in second for long (the winner of the R.O.U.S/Blooz match will displace them), and due to casualties they will play their next match with an empty subs bench.

Friday, 9 January 2015

The Neo-Canterbury Sector Championship

Recently some friends and I have been playing Dreadball. The concept is it's a sci-fi sports games. So yes, similar to Blood Bowl, but sci-fi rather than fantasy, and the rules are different. It's a neat little game, great fun, and only needing 8 models per side and maybe 60-90 minutes per game. After a few practise games to figure out the rules and get the hang of it four of us have organised a league - the Neo-Canterbury Sector Championship. The participating teams are;

  • Chelonia Centurions (myself, Teratons)
  • Orcland Blooz (Jamie, Marauders)
  • Terracorp Tigers (Ben, Humans)
  • Redwall R.O.U.S. (Vaughan, Veer-Myn)
The plan is to play an initial round-robin of 6 games (no fixed schedule, everybody just arranges games until all 6 matches have been played). After the first round by mutual agreement we may go around again for a second six-match round-robin, or potentially even a third. At the end of this the top two teams will play a final, and we'll have a champion.

Pre-season warmup match between the Centurions and the R.O.U.S.

Centurions vs Tigers

The Centurions form a rolling maul to secure the ball
So far things haven't gone well for the Centurions - in their first match they lost overwhelmingly to the Tigers. The only upside is one of my players has gained a level and the Can't Feel a Thing skill.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Bringing RPGs Full Circle

It's great having a gamer brother, because it means Christmas and Birthday presents are exactly the right thing for a current or planned army. For example, this year I received a Terminator Assault Squad. Two or three Terminators were next on the list for my Red Hammers chapter at 28mm. While I mostly wanted to stick with basic storm bolter/power-fist, at least one had to have a thunder-hammer - how could I not when the chapter name is the Red Hammers :)

 The plan was to repaint them in my chapter colours, but these already came in a cool and very striking black with flame edges scheme. The compromise was to strip and repaint one thunder-hammer and leave the rest as is.

While the Terminator spends a couple of days soaking in simple-green I have another project to work on. A while back I painted a Dark Eldar Sslyth. At the time it was just a one-off (not part of an army) but it came out extremely well. I regard it as the best painted model I have ever done.

Making a whole force of (hopefully) equally well painted models would be too much work for a full size 40K army. But for the squad/platoon level games I've been playing lately it's a realistic goal, so I have acquired some Dark Eldar Warriors to accompany the Sslyth.

Sybarite squad leader

Special weapon warrior with Blaster

Dark Eldar warriors

On the subject of skirmish level games, I've been considering another candidate rules system;


The combat rules used in pen-and-paper RPGs are effectively small wargames, usually resolving fights between an elite group of 3-6 combatants on one side (AKA, an adventuring party) and whatever the GM throws at them on the other. Since Dungeons & Dragons originally evolved out of medieval wargames using one of its descendants as a wargame would be coming full circle.

The specific rules I'm considering is d20, the system used for Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition as well as a host of other games. It has a number of pros and cons to being applied as a wargame.


  • Open-source
  • Extremely thoroughly playtested
  • Has rules to cover pretty much any situation
  • Can resolve squad/fireteam size battles in under a couple of hours
  • Can be played on a relatively small area. Four foot square would be heaps, and even two foot square would probably work.
  • High level of detail, making it possible for each model to be unique and interesting
  • While it doesn't have army-lists, it does have Challenge Rating (CR) and Encounter Level (EL) systems to help create roughly balanced fights. These could provide a starting point to more carefully balanced army-lists.


  • Natively uses a 5 ft = 1" square grid. Adapting to play on an open tabletop shouldn't be too hard, but will require establishing some conventions (e.g. around flanking)
  • May be too detailed. When playing an RPG one person keeps track of each character, while here each player would have to keep track of half a dozen. However I expect this should be managable provided the abilities and resources of each character are kept simple (no huge lists of spells/feats) - GMs frequently have to handle half a dozen or more monsters at a time.
  • Would require more book-keeping than most wargames. Each individual model would have a quarter to half page character sheet, with HP, expendible resources, and status conditions to keep track of.
  • The CR and EL balancing mechanics don't really cover equipment the character has. Some way of including this in a models effective CR would be needed.
In order to minimise several of the con's my thought is that (for unnamed, run of the mill troops) green combatants be 1st level Warriors, regular combatants 2nd level Warriors, veteran and/or elite combatants 3rd level Warriors, and special forces (including Space Marines and the like) 4th level Warriors.  Templates can be applied increasing the combatant's effective level (a Fiendish Dire Half-Dragon Space Marine might be equivalent to, say, 8th level) and named individuals can be higher level.

Conveniently I have already done a lot of work converting elements of 40K to d20, intended for an Inquisitoral RPG campaign which so far hasn't happened. So the key things to do are establish the conventions for open-table play, and decide how to use the CL/EL mechanics to balance forces.