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's 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...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Interstellar Wars: The Battle of Ross 154

After a gap of several months, I was able to get to a meeting of the Friday Night Pals.  I was keen to put my Imperial Battleship through her paces, and designed a Power Projection scenario based on an incident that occurred in a game of GDW's Imperium, with a dash of WWI African history.

The scenario, set during the Interstellar Wars in the Traveller Universe, revolves around an Imperial Battleship, the Karunasborg, which has suffered a jump systems failure as a result of wilderness maintenance while in the Ross 154 system, known to the Vilani as Agidda. The battleship is in orbit around the fourth planet in the Ross 154 system, known as Agidda Delta/Rufiji. Rob C. and DJ played the Imperials, whilst Albrecht, Kenzie and myself played the Terran Confederation.

The Karunasborg and her destroyer escorts

What is it about Agidda/Ross 154 that makes it a continual combat zone? Well, it's just under three parsecs from Terra, placing it within two or three jumps distance. It's a Hi-Population world, with a technological culture, and it is anti-1st Imperium.

Scenario Background: A Terran scoutship has detected the Karunasborg and lived to tell the tale: now the Confederation has dispatched a heavy cruiser squadron with orders to destroy the Karunasborg and any important escorts.

What the Terrans don't know is that the Karunasborg has been reinforced by a detachment of light cruisers and a light carrier with a compliment of fighters. The Vilani are still out-numbered, but the odds have narrowed.

The Terran Confederation Fleet Arrives
Here's the scenario in Power Projection format:

Ross 154 - Agidda Delta/Rufij

Attacking forces must destroy damaged Imperial Dreadnought. Defender must prevent this.

1st Imperium as Defender/Native
(200 points budget)
Zirukaruna-class BB                   (52)

4 x Shamshir-class DD               (64)
2 x Shibash -class CL                 (50)
1 x Shaskis-class ECV               (25)
            with 4 flights fighters
                                                (191 points + fighters)

Imperial Objectives: 1. Defend Dreadnought for six Turns.  2.Escape 50% Fleet

Terran ConFed as Attacker/Intruder (300 points budget)
3 x New Brooklyn-class CR            (99)
1 x Regulus-class CS                    (25)
2 x Crockett-class DD                    (28)
4 x Guanxou-class CL                   (100)
                                                    (252 points)

Terran Objectives: 1. Destroy Dreadnought. 2. Damage CLs (2 threshold checks)

Native sets up at Native start point. Intruder enters from board edge B.  Native must hold for six turns and then depart via jump engines.


Damaged ship misjumps on an 8+; one shift in favour of Intruder’s victory level
Damaged ship destroyed on an 11+; two shift in favour of Intruder’s victory level

Imperial Light Cruisers, Escort Carrier and fighters

Turn 1 and 2: The Imperials held station whilst the ConFed fleet advanced at 3/4th speed. As I have written before, DJ is a cunning and dangerous opponent.  He used his heavy missile fighters to great effect, detonating a Terran destroyer, bloodying a Terran cruiser, and just being a general nuisance.  As the ConFed advanced, they had to weather a volley of Imperial missiles while being unable to reply in kind.

Terran ConFed Heavy Cruiser, Strike Cruiser and Destroyers

During the second turn, the lads finally got to see a charged particle spinal mount fire (Here's your C-beams a-glitter, Earthlings) as the BB opened up on my brand-spanking-new heavy cruiser.  3d6 damage took out three rows of structure - the only bright spot being we weren't using Tuffley's B5 mods, so I didn't have to check for structure criticals. That would have seen my cruiser collapse like an old accordion.

Imperial Light Cruiser is down

Turn 3 and 4: The ConFed had lost two ships (mine), but had managed to score some missile hits on the Karunasborg, thanks to Kenzie and my Strike Cruiser. Albrechts cruiser had also been savaged, but he managed to cripple the Imperial light cruisers and escort carrier. The dreaded particle spinal mount had missed my strike cruiser, whilst i was still busy trying to shoot down fighters.

Turn 5 and 6: As one of Albrecht's light cruisers blew up, his squadron engaged the Karunasborg at medium range, knocking out some systems, including the spinal mount. My surviving destroyer had managed to knock out another fighter flight. Kenzie was flanking around the far side of the local gas giant. t
By the end of turn six, the Imperial battleship was ready to jump. Consulting the Power Projection jump rules, we were surprised (some of us more so than others) that minimum safe jump distance was 70 inches from the planet.  Somewhat put out, amidst some degree of mirth (some of us more than others) DJ elected to jump at minimum distance of 7 inches, and rolled an 8, which indicated a misjump.  This shifted the victory slightly into the Confederations favour, but it had been a difficult fight.

Closing in for the kill

Post Game Thoughts:
Tough little scenario.  I had feared a Terran walkover, but with the Imperials standing off and firing missiles, the Terran ship advantage was trimmed down nicely. The game took about three hours, which included chit-chat and suchlike.

The fighters, which I had added somewhat as an after thought, were very effective.  We've made fighters harder to kill, by essentially giving them three hit points and three weapons batteries. A hit from a ship kills one hp and one battery. Without enough destroyers as escorts, the cruisers had a hard time fighting both fighters and enemy ships.

Some readers who play Power Projection may have noticed an absence of nuclear missile markers - in fact, I forgot to deploy them, so the game was played with standard missiles. Maybe both sides were out?...Ω

Monday, March 3, 2014

Still More Forgotten Photos - Star Wars Fleet Action

Some of the chaps over at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Wargames Society were discussing Star Wars Fleet wargaming, so I decided to put my oar (or twin ion engines) in.

These may well be my oldest photos yet - from 2001 - so I apologise for the quality. Once I get the chance, I'll take new photies and replace them here.

These minis were either conversions from existing Galoob Micro Machines/Action Fleet or else heavily kit-bashed.

Below are two Imperial Serpent-class cruisers.  These are mostly milliput with some bits from Starblazers miniatures for the bridge.  Abaft starboard is an Interdictor Cruisers - notice the balls.

Below are two Imperial Nebulon Frigates.  These were kit-bashed from two of GDW's Sky Galleons of Mars plastic ships - maybe an End-Runner?  Various sections of plastic pipette, coffee stirrers and cocktail sticks were used, along with a healthy dose of Milliput.  The three little corvettes in the lower right hand corner were cut from the hanger of the die-cast metal Imperial SD.

Below, the two frigates are escorting a die-cast metal Imperial-class Star Destroyer and a slightly smaller Galoob plastic Victory-class Star Destroyer. The Interdictor cruiser can be seen at the top left.  This is a nice picture for showing the relevant size. The hex-grid is (IIRC) 1.5 inch.

Finally, the Rebel scum. All are from the Galoob Micro-Machine/Action Fleet line. The small MC40s were simply cut-down versions of the MC80.  I think the ship on the extreme left was a  Star Blazers figure, drafted as a Dreadnaught.

These were fun to make, in the days when I had a lot of free time.  The scale was dictated by the availability of the Mon Cal ships, as I had no intention of scratch building both sides.  Somewhere, I have the Super Star Destroyer "Executor" as a kit, which I have yet to build. Ah, someday....Ω

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ziru Sirka Battleship

This is a scratch built Zirukaruna (Vilani for "Grand Emperor") Imperial battleship for playing the old GDW game Imperium with miniatures, using a combination of Full Thrust and/or Power Projection: Fleet. This ship represents the BB1 Battleship that becomes available in the game by successful petition to the Shadow

I'm trying to keep to the rough outline of the Imperial counters from the Imperium board game. Bits assembled from a table tennis/ping pong ball, with the lens ring of an old toy flashlight, plus particle batteries from the bits box. The aperture from the CPAWS spinal mount is a small drinking straw/coffee stick.

My design sequence is, admittedly, rather Byzantine - I try to keep to the original ratio of beams, missiles and shields as laid out in Imperium. The ship is designed using the MegaTraveller sequence, then converted to Power Projection.

As far as performance goes, this TL 11 brute masses 22,000 dt, lumbers along at Manoeuvre 2, has Jump 2 and is armed with a 1.75 gigawatt CPAWS spinal mount, two 100 ton CPAW bays, eight 50 ton missile bays, and a plethora of  lasers and sandcasters.

Being only partially streamlined, the Zirukaruna relies on support tankers for refueling; though it is possible to undertake wilderness refueling, the Vilani find it difficult to envision a battleship operating in wilderness conditions....Ω