Friday, 30 May 2014

Star Fleet: Disaster/Victory at Attica Beta

It's been a while since I played a game of ACTA: Star Fleet. In fact, the last time we tried out the new drone rules, which were a bit burdensome. So I reverted to the old ones this time. I ran a practice game against myself, mainly to reacquaint myself with the rules, which worked. I totally dropped the ball on several things, as you'll see. The scenario was Call to Arms, which pretty much amounts to "You have eight turns to shoot one another to death. Terrain is optional." I fancied loading one fleet into a few high value ships, and giving the other an Initiative and movement advantage. One alternates movement by ship in this game, so if you have more ships, you can outmanoeuvre your opponent. The fleets were as follows.

Federation Taskforce:
Flag: USS Mars, Mars-class Battleship  (the large model with four nacelles
USS Farragut and USS Yorktown (to the starboard and port, respectively, of Mars), Constitution-class Heavy Cruisers
USS Carolina, Escort Cruiser

USS Reliant (a model from Shapeways, used because it's the Reliant, of course!), Discovery-class (?) New Scout Cruiser

Klingon Fleet:
IKS Revenge, D7C Command Cruiser (represented by FD7 model with a bullet-shaped prow rather than the other cruiser's standard curved triangle)
IKS Doom, D5WD Drone Cruiser (her third nacelle, located on the centreline on her rear hull, makes her stand out)
IKS Brazen and Bombardier, D6 Heavy Cruisers (the two identical other cruisers)
IKS Interceptor and Invidious, F5 Frigates (the larger pair of small ships)
IKS Mosquito and Gnat, E4 Light Frigates (the tiny wee things)

Having experienced severe frustration in previous battles because it's effectively impossible to fix ships when things break as a result of enemy fire, all the ships involved had high Crew Quality ratings. In practice, this meant everything was fixed at once, but these are most of the highest-rated ships in the fleet, so it seems fine. In terms of terrain, the only piece of any import was the dust cloud. It shaded the Feds and their opponents equally, but obscured the entire Federation fleet at the beginning of the battle. The two asteroid fields and planetoid never got a look-in. The Feds won the pre-battle Initiative roll, forcing the Klingons to deploy first. I placed the heavy ships on the left and the light ones on the right, having some misplaced idea about distracting the Federation fire with the light ships.

The Klingons won the Initiative roll for the first turn, and I advanced the right flank of small ships. The Federation force moved en bloc into the dust cloud, where it would contentedly remain for a while, doing nothing more strenuous than move a few inches or turn on the spot. USS Reliant proved her weight in gold by blocking a lot of enemy fire. She also did some illegal things, as I realised as I looked more closely at the rules. The Klingons aimed to take out the Mars, reckoning correctly that at more than one third of the cost of the fleet, her loss would gut it. However, I forgot that she was also the most heavily-protected ship on the board, defended by the Reliant's Scout functions, the Carolina's escort capabilities, and her own massive armament and shielding. The Federation instead elected to shoot at the closest targets, which saw the small Klingon ships bloodied and beaten. One F5, IKS Invidious, is destroyed by the Carolina's drones. An E4, IKS Mosquito, is blasted into dust by Mars' weapons.

As the disaster on the right flank became apparent, turn 3 saw the Klingons decide to get the hell out of Dodge before anything else went disastrously wrong. Federation sensors spotting the Klingons preparing to go to high warp, however, led to the Federation squadron charging across the battlefield, and unloading an obscene number of photon torpedoes right down the throat of the very expensive (and seriously under-performing) D5WD Bombardment Cruiser. A lot of the Federation ships' previously useless aft-firing phasers went toward the surviving small ships. The cruiser Yorktown destroys the second F5, IKS Interceptor, with rear phaser fire. Farragut fires the crucial shots that mangle the D5WD, two of her photons passing straight through the enemy's shields, and following up with some equally effective phasers, which demolished her shields and crippled her. Reliant did some tidying up, destroying both the E4 Gnat and the D5WD. Although the Klingons fired back with all they had, it caused nothing more serious all game than two criticals (both at once repaired) and some moderate hull and shield damage to Mars and the two heavy cruisers.

In retrospect, employing such small ships against an enemy battleship was a bad idea. I ended up trying to bring them into effective combat range, which is very low, thus endangering them. I should have either selected a mass of small ships or made everything medium-sized and capable of enduring some punishment. Putting them on the flank meant they were an even more distinct target than if they had been amidst a lot of cruisers. Finally, their separation from the cruisers and proximity to the Federation ships meant they were in a horribly exposed position when the final turn came. I should also have remembered that the Reliant and Carolina were force multipliers, and considered eliminating them before trying to damage the battleship. From the Klingon perspective, the best thing that can be said is that I was reminded of what not to do!

You can see the battle unfold approximately below. I tried to take photos as things proceeded, but a few of these are staged afterwards, so apologies for any continuity errors.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

ACW: Baccus 6mm all-arms Confederate force

As well as the 15mm ACW chaps, I've also been working on some of Peter Berry's 6mm lads. I decided to have a little test run of one of each kind of unit. The cavalry regiment here is twice the size of a normal one, because nine figures to me. So instead 18 men and horses are taking up more space than 28 infantry on the corresponding base. I feel it both looks more visually appealing and it indicates just how much space a horseman takes up compared to an infantryman. The bases here aren't finished, and I need to find out whether I have any Confederate flags for the infantry, but they're mostly done, so I can start rolling out some more units. I think I bought a divisional pack back in the day, so there's one more Union cavalry unit, but a wealth of Rebel and Union infantry and artillery.

Monday, 26 May 2014

X-Wing: repainted Micromachines

I finally got round to playing X-Wing the other week. Some friends and I played the simple starter version - no complicated gaming when booze is involved! It inspired me to dig out some of my old Micromachines and have a crack at repainting them. Not to toot my own horn, but they've come out most satisfactorily. The Empire is now strengthened by an Interceptor, a technological terror to augment their two TIEs. Perversely, the Rebel X-Wing is now supported by her design's predecessor, the Z-95 Headhunter. Paint-wise, they all received a dark grey undercoat before I began work. The Squint (as anyone who's read the X-Wing books will know the Interceptor) received progressively lighter drybrushes of grey, then some black on the cockpit windows and wing panels to finish them off.

The Z-95 (did they merit a nickname in the X-Wing books?) again had progressively lighter greys drybrushed on, but then I switched to shades of khaki instead. A few spots had a coat of orange, which I then painted scarlet over. I then washed the whole fighter with some Agrax Earthshade, after which I repainted the cockpit window black. Finally, there's a Skipray Blastboat, which, memory tells me, and the Star Wars Wiki confirms, could help either side out. Like the TIE she also had progressively lighter drybrushes, then a few carefully applied spot of green, some black for the windows, a few spots of white, and a wash of Agrax Earthshade all over, giving her something of an intermediate look. I'll have to sort out some stats and bases for these guys for the next time I have a game. Here they are for now with the original models for comparison.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Terrain: Spanning the earth with buildings

I have three on the go here. The large building I showed the other day, which has a Middle-Eastern-cum-North-African-cum-Middle-American vibe, and a pair I had been working on before: a woodsman's cottage, which would probably dwell in the North American continent, but could sit in Europe quite happily, and a longhouse. Both these last were inspired by the nice little farmhouse at Terrain for Hippos. Right, so I've plastered the large building and the longhouse, put a spot of sand on the bases, and then it's just securing that sand and I can move on to painting. Here's how they look right now.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Terrain: Building under construction

I had a busy weekend. A lot of garden furniture and whatnot had a coat of wood preserver. I only spent a couple of hours on the Saturday, but I was hard at it for nearly six on Sunday. That's what good weather's for, isn't it? As a result, I was a bit zonked out. I'm back at it now, anyway. I saw a few things last week which made me think I should have a go at a Middle Eastern house with a courtyard. One was this new Warlord kit. They do several nice buildings - if only there were more money in the world. Anyway, inspiration also struck in the form of the buildings in an AAR on Warseer by sigur. I'm sure there was a third one, but I can't seem to remember it now. Anyway, I decided to use a bit of plasticard for the base. I'd previously cut it out for another building, which is going to get a somewhat larger base to stand on. I sharpened a few matchsticks and used them to pin the walls together. I did a lot of dry-fitting, added a courtyard wall, and started work on a staircase. Then I decided to add a single-storey building in the courtyard to break up the staircase. I carved out a few doorways and windows, then hot-glued the whole together and to the base.

Here she is as she stands. I am going to apply some filler and sand to the outside of the building next. I don't want to muck up the windows I have waiting, so they'll be stuck on once the gloop has been applied and dried. Hence the roofs have yet to be applied to the main building and the courtyard extension. I've propped them in place for the second pair of photos to give some idea of how the building should look on completion.

Friday, 16 May 2014

40K Tanks: Leman Russ Vanquisher and Punisher

I'm not up to speed on Imperial Guard things these days. Astra Militarum - the stars of female soldiers? My Classicist's bones creak in protest. Eh, that's GW: if you can't stand the badly beaten corpse of Latin moaning and pleading for its life in the corner, stay out of the writers' way. Anyway, today I'm continuing with some work I started last time on converting some turrets I made years ago to serve on Leman Russes. The first one I trimmed the barrel back a bit, and inserted a Punisher barrel I made yonks ago. I recall I had some idea of a twin Punisher cannon on a Macharius variant  (as in forty shots, not 20 rerolled ones), and I still have that turret somewhere. The second I added most of the barrel from an old Vanquisher turret I partly scratchbuilt and partly kitbashed even longer ago. Maybe eight or nine years, that. It seems to me to have a vaguely WWII German look to it - maybe a Panther. The barrel length seems really disproportionate to the hull and turret size, and that tinkles that little bell that says Panther. I may do a couple more conversions of these old turrets. If I wanted to round out what was the Guard armoury last time, there'd be the Executioner, Exterminator and Eradicator to produce. I could make them all, but I don't want to push myself beyond what I'm willing to do.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

40K Tanks: Leman Russ and Demolisher

Another blast from the past, this. Several years ago I knocked up a few ridiculously tall Demolisher turrets. I'd like to say, they're more realistic than GW's, but these were early efforts, and are possibly (probably) both less realistic and less attractive than GW's work. Nonetheless, they have a certain nostalgic slab-sided charm for me, so I dissected the base of an old Russ turret, and married it to a Russ I'd made from leftovers and plasticard years ago. More charming by far is the regular Leman Russ. I had in mind a miniature Imperial tank which toted just a battlecannon in a turret, and a Heavy Bolter/Flamer in a frontal hull position. The sole one I made before losing interest and energy is quite adorable, but I knocked up ten turrets before succumbing to weakness. I'm pretty happy with them, and decided to convert a few to fit on the ragtag assembly of hulls I have sitting around these days. If they have a flaw, it's that to avoid creating a shell-trap, I have had to move the turrets quite far back. The turret hanging over the engine compartment doesn't bother me, but the hatches not being aligned with the neck does. But I like them anyway. Expect a few more soon.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Assault on Lead Mountain: 15mm ACW

Some of these models, the larger swisher ones, have been sitting around for a few years, but some of these lads, the small general and the lancers, may have been waiting to be painted for as long as two decades. There was an ad in Miniature Wargames back in the early '90s for both Confederates and Union forces: cavalry, infantry and artillery. I bought them, but I didn't have any paints. I think I made some abortive attempts with Dad's Humbrols, but oils just aren't my thing. They have languished ever since. I'm finally getting to work on them and the more recent purchases. I made a fairly accurate count, and there are about 700 infantry and horse that have no more than a basecoat. This is going to take a long time. Here's the start I've made. I don't think any two of the generals have exactly the same shade of grey jacket. That's the way I like it.

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