Tuesday, December 30, 2014

5150 Star Navy and Star Trek Wargaming

Federation Squadron: miniatures by FASA and Starline

As an end-of-year experiment, Megz and I engaged in a friendly game of 5150 Star Navy, by Two Hour Wargames.  We used my old collection of FASA and Starline ships from the Star Trek franchise.  

Our old rules of choice were FASA'a Starship Combat Simulator, with detailed SSD's and lots of damage rolls and adjustments for loss of power and superstructure, and while not as slow as Star Fleet Battles, a fleet-sized game could take about four our so hours.. I've been hankering to try the 5150 rules out, as they have been reported on The Miniatures Page as being fast and fun.

The rules themselves are available as a pdf, and are some 65 pages long, plus an index.  For our purposes, we can draw on the supplied races from the 5150 universe and adapt them to Star trek.  The Star Navy would form the template for the Federation, and the Hishen would provide the guideline for the Klingons.

Klingon Squadron: miniatures by FASA and Amarillo Design Bureau
 The Federation squadron featured a Constitution-class Cruiser (U.S.S. Exeter, sister-ship to the famous Enterprise) supported by two Larsen-Class destroyers.

Destroyer, damaged by hostile fire...

 The Klingon squadron was comprised of two D7-A Battlecruisers (IKVs Klothos and Tantarth - as seen in the original series and animated series) led by a D7-M (IKV K'Tinga) as seen in The Motion Picture.

Pregame and Turn 1: 5150 Star Navy has some interesting pregame scouting rules, which will affect set-up and deployment. It was determined that, while the Federation were defending the system, they had managed to jump the Klingon infiltrators. The Klingons rolled badly, and as a result, the Federation would be coming in to their forward port flank.

All ships were REP 4 (standard naval) except the cruiser Exeter, which had a TV crew aboard, and rated a REP of 5) .

The Feds came in at speed 6 (max for the cruiser) and one of their destroyers damaged D7(B)'s shields. The Klingons panicked and targeted the destroyer, bringing down her shields and damaging her hull.  Our first table rule was enacted, we halved the damage larger ships do to smaller ones.

Turn 2-3. The Feds targeted the D7-M, as she had extra guns and a photon torpedo tube.  Three ships on one - she blew up real good.

Turn 5 - 6. An attempt to avenge their commander, the surviving D7s took out both destroyers.  Then attempted to accelerate past the Exeter and exploit her weak rear arc.

The passing maneuovre fails, and a D7 dies.

Shouting some nonsense from the Next Gen TV series, the last D7 (the Klothos) decided to "ram these disruptors down their throats" and closes, batteries blazing...

The stars favour the Khomerex (Empire) and the Exeter is dispatched. Ka'plah!

Post Game Thoughts:  These rules, with some genre-specific tweaking, have a lot of potential.  We were able to complete the game in just under an hour, and that included searching for rules, pencils and dice. I imagine we could play a  four-to-six squadron game in two hours, given more experience.

There are some interesting game mechanisms, based on the 5150 house system, where reaction tests are made and are either passed, partially passed or failed. Partially-passed gunnery plagued the Federation in the mid-game, though not badly enough for the Klingons to walk over them.

I plan to bring these rules to the Friday Night Pals and see what mayhem can be wrought - I think I'll add some attack shuttles for amusement's sake.

Look forward to another post in the New Year....Ω

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Return of the Forgotten Photos: Babylon 5 Fleet Action - The Battle of the Line

Another old set of photos, of a fleet-scale game of the Battle of the Line, from the Babylon 5 Universe, using the Babylon Fleet Action rules from the now defunct company, Agents of Gaming..  AoG was a good, if somewhat self-indulgent, company that produced Babylon 5 Wars and Babylon 5 Fleet Action.

Babylon 5 Wars looked and played a bit like a streamlined version of Star Fleet Battles, and while fun, could take a long time to complete a game. B5 Fleet Action organised mutliple ships  into squadrons, factored in weapons, shields and maneuvre, and enable players to engage in large fleet actions and finish in perhaps four hours.

These are old pictures, dating from 2001.  I think they were taken on film, developed and then scanned.  They were lurking on an old Iomega Zip disk - remember those?  Like a 3.5 diskette on steroids, they were.

I don't quite remember which side won the scenario - I tend to think that the Earth Force had to simply hang on for a certain number of turns, at which point the Minbari, who are up to this point wiping the map with the earthers, suddenly and mysteriously ask for a truce.  The rest is Television History...

I do remember the Evil Minbari Warlord, Myk'Ry'an, upon discovering the location of the Earth command ship (the only carrier on the map, hmm...) decided to concentrate fire, decapitate the Earth fleet, and break my scenario.  Only some desperate maneuvre on the part of the carrier and escorts helped avoid disaster.

Hold the Line!  The Minbari Advance

The blocky, wedge-shaped carrier and command ship (bottom centre) takes evasive action.

Two Hyperion cruisers, flanked by two pairs of Nova Battleships
Smaller escorts and some GZG in foreground

The Minbari Fleet

The Earth Alliance Command has ships to burn, which is fortunate, 'cuz they do.

The Earth Alliance Fleet

Fire, you Fool! Fire EVERYTHING!
Finding these pictures made me a bit nostalgic.  I think I'll try this scenarion again, or a smaller part of it, using Starmada...Ω

Monday, November 24, 2014

GZG 15mm 8-Wheeled APC

 Last week, painting was good, and i managed to finish four of Jon Tuffley's 8-Wheeled APC:s from the StarGrunt 15mm vehicle range. Specifically, V15-50A.

One significant difference is the vehicle weapon mount - those pictured are not supplied with the models as listed, they are from the GZG Grav APC V15-20A.  A platoon of which I've shown painted here.

V15-50A Miniature by Ground Zero Games

There was nothing wrong with the auto-cannon as supplied - I'm using these vehicles as part of a Traveller-universe TL-12/13 mercenary troop, named "Spinward Marches Solutions, LLIC".  They need plasma-guns for fire support. (I'll be including a writeup on SMS in the very near future...)

I'm well-pleased with these castings, the parts all fit nicely (I did need to dremel out the gun mount, as I was mixing bits) and the detail is up to GZG's usual excellent standards.

V15-50A Miniature by Ground Zero Games

One minor hitch was my being able to find, after two year's delay, all of my GZG plasma turrets - only two could be found.  A frantic email to Himself at GZG resulted in a promise to cast me two more, at a very reasonable rate, to include with my next order.

Jon Tuffley's Customer Care simply CANNOT be beaten.  Full stop...Ω

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kelvar Garth's USS Xenophon

With the release of the 20+ minute "supertrailer" on the upcoming film "Axanar", I decided to post some piccies of a conversion of the USS Xenophon, a Marklin-class destroyer, commanded by Captain Kelvar Garth, hero of Axanar.

Captain Garth was also James T. Kirk's hero, and his exploits were required reading at the Star Fleet Academy, as we learn in the classic Star Trek original series episode "Whom Gods Destroy".  The introduction of a mad captain, cleverer than Kirk, is a masterstroke, especially when seen through a lens that's nearly a half-century old. At every turn of the plot, Garth is ahead of Kirk, until a timely intervention by Kirk's First Officer.

To give Garth depth, the FASA Star Trek role-playing game introduced the concept of the Four Years War, between the Klingons and the Federation, about 20 years prior to Kirk's five year mission as captain of the Enterprise. Garth was a war hero, and his greatest victory  was at the Battle of Axanar.

The model was based on a FASA USS Baker scout hull, with the nacelles from a frigate attached, and a thin card wedge glued onto the primary hull.  From the RPG fluff, Marklins were scrappy ships, which makes it a pity that there were only about twenty built, with the design being unsuitable for extensive upgrading.

Now that the Star Trek Wargaming bug has bitten me again, I'll try to arrange a few games and post some pictures soon....Ω

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Forgotten Photos: My Sontaran Experiment

These were painted back in 2010 for a Doctor Who game that never materialised. The plan was to have gamed the Sontaran invasion of the planet Gallifrey, as seen in the 1978 series "The Invasion of Time".

Figures by Black Tree Design

The scenario would have included the Fourth Doctor, Leela, K-9, the Citadel Guards, some outcast Timelords vs. Sontarans.  I remember the issue was adding more Time Lords in their robes, as I could only find a model for the Lord President, and finding the right terrain to model the Citadel of Gallifrey.

Figures by Black Tree Design

Basically, Leela and the Guards would need to hold off the Sontarans long enough for the Doctor to build the De-Mat Gun. It would probably have been a rather fun game...Ω

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

X-Wing Scenario: Get the Tantive IV Part II, the AAR

 (This article continued from here.)

 The forces of the Empire and Alliance were arrayed for battle. To begin, we rolled once for initiative, and the rebels won - thus, they would be moving and shooting first.

The Empire forces were played by (TIES) Albrecht, (bombers)Kenzie and Eljay (a rare treat, to be sure, having Eljay about).

Scimitar bomber flight with Obsidian TIE escorts

Rob C. (our naval expert) and DeeJay (our hired assassin) flew the CR90 and X-Wing escort respectively.


Turns 1 - 2:  were spent with the fighters manoeuvering into position. The TIE fighters came up the middle if the map, dodging asteroids, while the TIE bombers followed. The X-Wings took a long bank toward the flank, while covering the CR90, which slowed and began to power up her guns.

X-Wing fighter screen

Turns 3 - 4: saw the fighters engage as the TIE bombers attempted to evade the X-Wing screen and set up for their torpedo runs against the corvette. Our boy Eljay had a bomber wander out of formation, to receive a terse command from Lt. Rashon (Howlrunner), but the damage was done, and an X-Wing attempted to pounce on the easy treat. Eljay avoided destruction, but had his targeting computer disabled (ironic, no?).

"Scimitar 3: return to formation immediately."

Turns 5 - 6: The TIE fighters had entered the CR90's long range, and the main battery and aft turbo-laser opened up on Howlrunner's TIE.

Howlrunner down

Howlrunner finally went down, having drawn two turn's worth of energy from the CR90, plust some X-Wing fire. "Tis a far, far better thing I do...(PAFF!)

Eljay, a veteran of many a Star Wars video game, saw his opportunity, forgot he was in a bomber, and flew straight across the TIE fighter screen at an isolated X-Wing.

TIE bomber smells blood...

Much amusing Imperial consternation ensued.

Turns 7: Kenzie's bomber flight had gone round the flank, and was setting up for an attack run.

Target in range...

Eljay's TIE bomber managed to inflict some damage on a Red Squadron X-Wing, before falling to a combination of Hobbie and some turbo-laser fire.

Naval gunnery

 Then Hobbie went down to combined TIE fire from Albrecht's flight.

Got Hobbie!

Turn 8: The surviving TIE bombers launched their proton torpedoes, and managed to bring down the corvette's shields (despite Rob C.'s frantically shunting energy back and forth like Enron). Unfortunately, they had neglected to communicate which section they were attacking, which blunted the result.

Just a few more seconds...

The last X-Wing went down under a hail of blaster fire from Albrecht's TIES.

Last X-Wing toasted

Shortly thereafter, the last TIE Bomber was destroyed by quad-laser fire, and the CR90 - shieldless but otherwise undamaged - was clear to make the jump into hyperspace.  The rebels had survived, but at the cost of three X-Wings.

Post Game Thoughts:

This was a lot of fun, and the fellows seemed to enjoy it (and they're not terribly enamoured of the FFG X-Wing rules, either).  It's a pity that the TIE bombers didn't coordinate their attacks on the aft section of the corvette, but live and learn.

The bombers definitely need to be tricked out with two sets of protons each to have any chance of damaging the CR90.

One bomber pilot noted that the fighter escort was a bit light - that was intentional.  I wanted the TIE fighters to work a bit.

The CR90 corvette is best operated by a single player for maximum efficiency and effect.  Rob C. was busily engaged working the systems, and did a much better job than my first foray.

General Thoughts:

X-Wing makes for a fast game - you won't actually smell the over-heated electronics or feel a stabiliser coming loose the way you would playing "Star Warriors". On the other hand, you won't spend four hours in a two-player head-to-head match, either.

X-Wing isn't exactly a war game - there are too many arbitrary "gamey" aspects (i.e. no collision rules for fighters, just overlap protocols - and a silly initiative rule, inter alia) but it is still a very amusing game...and it's frikken' STAR WARS, after all.

There is an undercurrent of munchkin-ism in the 100-point tournament-style game, as players attempt to min-max their squadrons. Of course, squadron-building is one of the attractions, and can be done at home, at all hours, whenever the fit comes o'er you. Still, the "rock-paper-scissors" aspects could do with a touch of "lizard-Spock".

Some Home Rules a-Brewing:

Torpedoes. We're considering giving these extended range, movement factor and allow them to move on the map using a counter or miniature.  The same for missiles.  Also allow fighters to attempt to intercept, though there is no mechanic yet in place.

Base Overlap: It's a collision for both - roll a damage die for both.  Damage is applied and  indicates a lost action.  Enough of this fighter blocking nonsense.

Fighter Screens: Shooting past a fighter in the same arc as your target gives the defender an additional defense die.  If the range marker passes over any part of an intervening base, it qualifies as a "shoot-past"...Ω

Sunday, July 27, 2014

X-Wing Scenario: Get the Tantive IV - Part I, The Scenario

(Editor's note: This will be part one in a two part article.  I think this makes for better reading on the browser's behalf, and it will help to make up for my appalling lack of posts this year.)

Photo courtesy Albrecht and Megz

Originally, I had held off for almost a year before diving into the X-Wing miniature game by Fantasy Flight Games.  Since the demise of West End Games in the late '90s, I've tended to avoid any Officially Licensed Star Wars games material - especially starfighter oriented ones. In my mind, WEG's "Star Warriors" board game was as close as one could get to capturing the feel and mechanics of TIE fighters vs. X-wings, without playing a video game.

And while this last may still hold true, it must be said that X-Wing is an amusing and engaging game. And to paraphrase a character of Mike Meyers: "It's Frikken' Star Wars!".

With a kind birthday present from Megz, last year, I was hooked.

With the announced release of the Rebel Blockade Runner, my enthusiasm was renewed. Who wouldn't want to chase this ship down and board her? Hence the scenario:

"I Want That Ship..." (Get the Tantive IV)

This scenario is loosely based upon the Operation: Skyhook campaign and elements of the X-Wing PC game.  The Tantive IV has just received the third and final transmission of the Death Star plans and is fleeing the Toprawa system, with the TIE bombers and their escorts from the ISD Devastator in close pursuit.

Imperial Flights (squads - 158 points)

TIE Bomber Flight 1 (58 points)
  • Scimitar 1 - TIE Bomber (Rhymer) 2 x Proton Torpedoes
  • Scimitar Pilot -TIE Bomber, 2 x Proton Torpedoes

TIE Bomber Flight 2  (54 points)
  • Scimitar 2 - TIE Bomber (Jonus) 2 x Proton Torpedoes
  • Scimitar Pilot -TIE Bomber (2 x Proton Torpedoes)

TIE Escort Flight (46 points)
  • OS-721 (Howlrunner) TIE Fighter, Squad Leader
  • OS-723 Obsidian Pilot, TIE Fighter
  • OS-724 Obsidian Pilot, TIE Fighter
Imperial Objectives: Disable or Destroy the Tantive IV.

Alliance Flights (Squads - 191 points)

CR90 Cruiser - Title: Tantive IV (141 points)
  • Aft Compartment: WED-15 Repair Droid, Engineering Team, Backup Shield Generator, Single Turbolaser
  • Foreward Compartment: Raymus Antilles, Gunnery Team, Sensor Team, Comms Booster, Quad Laser Cannons x 2
Red Squadron Escort Flight (50 points)
  • "Hobby" Klivian, X-Wing, R2 Astromech
  • Red Squadron Pilot, X-Wing, R2 Astromech
  • Red Squadron Pilot, X-Wing, R2 Astromech
Alliance Objective: Escape the board on turn 9 (enter hyperspace)

Map and Setup: I used a 6' x 4' felt map. The Imperials set up within range 1 of one short edge, the Alliance sets up on the opposite map half, adjacent to the long edge.  Scatter six or so asteroids mid-way on the Imperial half of the map.

Pre Game Thoughts:
The pilots on both sides were kept as simple as possible, without maxing out their pilot modifications or adding unique R2 units.

The Rebels seem to have a clear advantage in points, but in play, the awkwardness of the CR90 offsets much of the Rebel advantage.  Also, there are a lot of Imperial ships, and "quantity has a quality all it's own".

Coming soon: Part II, the AAR...