Wednesday 31 October 2012

Star Wars sold to Disney: new film in 2015

The things that happen when you go to bed early, eh? In a nutshell, George Lucas has sold Lucasfilm to Disney, who intend to continue the series. George will continue as a consultant. We can only speculate, at this point, what direction this will take. First, what does this transition mean in terms of popular appeal? Disney was a wildly varied reputation, from employees referring to it as Mauschwitz and Duckau, to it being the beloved object of adoration for sweet little children. It also controls the innovative Pixar studios and the Marvel comic franchise. It is this latter piece of ownership that may make many people swoon. The recent Marvel films have been unanimously well-received, filled with derring-do, action and likeable characters. These elements all bear comparison with Star Wars, but there is one major difference. Whereas Star Wars fans tend to be split on whether the Prequel Trilogy is incomparably glorious or diabolically disastrous, in part because of George's creative decisions, there is no such evident split in fan appreciation of the recent Marvel flicks.

There are some people who still associate Disney solely with fairy-tale princesses and talking furniture, but there is clearly a wider aspect to the corporation. I shall make some people swoon now by suggesting the first thing that I thought: the director of the Avengers flick was Joss Whedon, who has shown consistently good form on the small screen and the silver. He even has specific experience of a sci-fi show in which a small rag-tag band of rebels fight against an evil empire. Heck, the band's leader is clearly in the mould of Han Solo. Whether Joss would be interested is arguable, and the extent to which George's consultant role will enable him to poke at stuff is as yet unclear. The potential of the situation is pretty clear. For some years now, there has been talk of a live-action TV series, and George had apparently been unwilling to proceed without firm editorial control and the certainty of not being cancelled if the start was bumpy. With the backing of the Disney corporation, that coming to pass just became much more likely.

Something else that strikes me as very promising is Disney's lust for marketing and selling associated paraphernalia. Is there a major shopping centre that lacks a Disney Store? A lustful and mercenary nature is something unattractive in a human, but in a corporation, it means they desperately want you to give them money, which can have excellent consequences. Something I have wanted ever since I was a little boy is a ruleset for playing Star Wars fleet battles. Taking into account the current release of the X-Wing skirmish game, as well as Disney's mercenary nature, that just took another step closer to reality. I should say that I am aware that there are rulesets out there suitable for the setting, and that what I am really after is a large range of correctly-scaled models.

When it comes to George, I don't tend toward either of the extremes. I don't appreciate his faffing about with the details of the original films, e.g. inserting Christiansen in place of Sebastian Shaw at the end of RotJ. On the other hand, I do not regard the Prequels as the unmitigated disaster that some folk do. I even harbour a heretical thought about Jarjar that will enrage both camps: he's so bad he's good. The largest problem I have with George is that old maxim: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Too long has he had his own way about everything. This has led to some thoroughly boneheaded ideas: who was the protagonist of Episode I? What's with choosing accents that will make people think you're a racist? Why is a Black and White Minstrel with floppy ears the comic relief? If anyone had been prepared to stand up to him and point out these problems, we would probably have got a better film. If George had decided to get a better director than himself in, we would probably have seen a better film.

He himself says that he wants to see the franchise outlive him, and he wants to oversee the handover while he still has time. George has had some great ideas, but he has had some truly awful ones, too. I expect that what we will see from Disney will divide opinion. We can only wait and see whether they decide to use Thrawn for Episode VII. He is much-beloved of fans of the Expanded Universe, but who else has heard of the guy? If you haven't, then he's a blue-skinned, red-eyed alien admiral, commanding the remnants of the Imperial Fleet five years after Endor. He is Sherlock Holmes on a spaceship, and his loyal confidant is Captain Pellaeon, who is rather in the mould of Nigel Bruce's Dr Watson. The trilogy (written by Timothy Zahn) in which he appears is very enjoyable, but I am not sure we shall see it on the big screen. First, it is full of detail. Second, George has never been keen on using others' visions of his work, and he will be a consultant. Third, it means working to an established script: we do not yet know whether Disney will take a wholly new tack or decide to recycle work. All we can expect for sure are Jedi, spaceships and blasters. I am looking forward to this. Pardon me the inevitable pun, but I see this acquisition as -


Tuesday 30 October 2012

Happy Birthday to me!

Another day closer to death! Heh, it should be a nice day. I have nothing special planned. Some friends, I mentioned yesterday, came over at the weekend, as weekday birthdays are insufferable to arrange. M&J and N&B got me some nice presents. Tomorrow I am going to a friend's Halloween party, but today I have no special plans. I may have a game of Star Fleet with my brother, and we shall certainly sit down and watch a spot of telly. He's bought me the second season of the delightful American sitcom Community, and I slept through last night's University Challenge, so he's sure to have recorded it for me. I've been early to bed and early to rise of late, but health, wealth and wisdom remain shockingly elusive. Cheerio for now, folks!

Monday 29 October 2012

Star Fleet: Reinforcements Painted

I had hoped to be able to present a Batrep of Saturday's game today, but due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, there wasn't enough time to fit in a game of Star Fleet: ACTA. Maybe next time! We had a comic time playing Artemis. With slightly too few people, everyone behaved as though they and everyone else were captain. I failed to realise (remember?) that the Helm position also controls the Shields. So we got a bit shot up in our first fight. I bet this is why Kirk always used to shout it: it slipped Sulu's mind! Mawbs was our Mr Chekov, firing missiles in quick succession into the enemy, always bidding me to follow their tail. I sounded like Scotty: "I'm doing the best I can!" Then Nathan, controlling engineering, would divert power to manoeuvring thrusters so I could get behind them. Most of the piloting involved heading right at the enemy, and then zooming away at warp before turning about and trying to get behind them.

After beating someone, we'd get a new message that Outpost 7 (or something) was under attack, and Berni bid me set course 040. Then I'd behave as Captain, having noticed we'd run low on missiles and power, and head us to another space station to refit and re-arm. The last battle was the funniest. Having engaged several enemy ships, we'd taken a heck of a battering, with damage markers covering half the locations on the ship. We turned away, letting a friendly AI cruiser get destroyed protecting our flight, and that's when things went a bit Sink the Bismarck! The damage control teams had all died in the fires, so Nathan couldn't get them to repair anything. Our manoeuvring thrusters were out, but the main engine was fine. We could go to warp and maintain normal sublight speeds, but we couldn't turn at all! So Mawbs fired off some EMP warheads which were our sole armament, and the enemy squadron turned ponderously toward us. Nath decided we'd self-destruct in hopes of taking them out, but I think their combined firepower destroyed our ravaged hull before that could happen.

It was a great deal of fun. It's a bit reminiscent of Quasar or paintball: you throw yourself into it, wholly aware that it's ridiculous, and you have a great time. That is the key: one can't have a sense of self-importance if one wants to have a good time. A sense of the ridiculous is a key element in my enjoyment of almost everything, and an element in everything else. Remember Monty Python!

Having made the point that all is ridiculous, join me in welcoming the painted additions to the Federation and Romulan fleets: the War Eagle Cruiser and the Manta Ray-class New Fast Cruiser.

Sunday 28 October 2012

A rose by any other name: Research and Fluff

Inspired to ponder by this article at BoLS, I decided to set down my thoughts. I'd welcome yours. I quite like accuracy, but it is sometimes impossible. This is the case both for historical gaming and imagined settings. In the first case, the historical record may be incomplete, and one would end up tearing one's hair out trying to find the correct uniform colours for an obscure unit in the ECW. In the latter case, there can be multiple interpretations. If you have any interest in Games Workshop, you're probably aware that they (fairly) recently released a whole host of new bits and bobs for one of the campaigns well-known to readers of the background or fluff, The Badab War. This dates back to the time when GW didn't take itself so seriously as now, so you can find a unit called the Space Sharks, and another unit with some eyebrow-raising (or seizure-inducing) camouflage schemes. The silliness has been toned down, and the grandiosity turned up, so the Space Shark are now the Carcharodons, for instance. So you are equally right to call them by either name. I've been playing a lot of Star Fleet: ACTA lately, and in looking into the fluff of that universe, I've noted a few discrepancies with The Original Series. I don't mean the big things like wars breaking out, but small things, like ships from the TV show bearing different numbers in this version of events. Again you can make a case that either is right.

When it comes to historical gaming, I have a similar perspective. It is not so much that one can argue this or that as that I really don't mind if last week's Army of Northern Virginia is this week scrapping in the Vicksburg, or - perhaps even more shocking - if the erstwhile 95th Rifles are now the 60th Royal Americans. I don't have all the figures to field every combination I would like, and I'm not too bothered whether this particular regiment has the right facings and colours. If I can match things up, I will, but the game's the thing! Then again, to return to imaginary settings for a moment, sometimes I'm happy imagining things and other times it feels too ridiculous for words. I was never any good at coming up with fluff for my Imperial Guard, as they're just wee chaps shooting at things. Set that against my write-up of one of my Star Fleet games. In that instance I had a ball of a time, deriving a lot of enjoyment from replicating the cheesy fun that I most associate with ST: TOS. That isn't to say that TOS couldn't be dramatic. Balance of Terror is probably my favourite dramatic episode, although since it's a WWII submarine-hunting story in space, one can debate how truly Trekky it is.

That's about my position, folks. What do you think?

Saturday 27 October 2012

Star Fleet: Balance of Error - BatRep

Having received a squadron of Romulans, which you can see en masse here, how could I not take them onto the field of battle? So with malice aforethought the Romulans surged forth across the Federation border to terrorise and despoil. Did they succeed? Read on to discover the truth! My brother and I rolled for sides, and I took the Romulans, consisting of a Battle Hawk, a SkyHawk Destroyer and a War Eagle Cruiser, while he took the Federation, consisting of the renowned Enterprise, and a Ramius-class. This was represented by a Burke-class, as I'm still awaiting the arrival of the fleet box. Since the idea was to test out cloaking devices, I elected to start the game cloaked. In a sense, this was a bit of a mis-step, leading to the highest number of turns in any of our games so far!

In turn 1 the Feds got the Initiative. Both sides advanced, the Federation cautiously, and the Romulans at the maximum 6" speed. The second turn saw more of the same, but with Romulan Initiative. The third turn saw the Romulans continue to advance, while the Federation ships fired blindly at the Romulans. That 2+ save for being cloaked proved its worth, and nary a shot got through. The fourth turn was a repeat of this, but with slight damage to the SkyHawk. Turn five was another non-event, with more undamaging speculative fire. But come turn 6 I was at last in range.

Over eager, perhaps, I decloaked everything and fired all weapons. The Battle Hawk and Ramius were both crippled in the ensuing whirlwind of fire. When the Battle Hawk was crippled, I rolled for damage to her traits, and every single one was lost. My brother and I joked that a cascade failure had obviously hit the ship! The SkyHawk took some slight damage, and Enterprise launched a Suicide Shuttle. The War Eagle, which I had high hopes in, remembering the way Kirk retired from it at speed in Balance of Terror, proved rather a damp squib. You have the option to shoot down Plasma Torpedoes, and I have the ability to roll bad dice to hit! In short, the 7 dice were reduced to a couple, which didn't even hit my target. My brother suggested with a grin there should be a game mechanic for comedies of errors, with that missing torpedo hitting the damaged Battle Hawk.

Next turn the two undamaged Romulan ships cloaked again to reload weapons, and Niall sagely finished off the crippled Battle Hawk. Enterprise scored some slight damage on the cloaking SkyHawk, and launched another Suicide Shuttle. Next turn Federation accuracy had clearly improved, as Mr Chekov managed to hit both Romulan ships, although the first shuttle blew up without hitting the SkyHawk. The next turn followed the same pattern, and then the Romulans again decloaked, which went dreadfully. SkyHawk was crippled, and yet again the Plasma Torpedo from the War Eagle was shot out of the sky. A Suicide Shuttle crashed into the Skyhawk. Next turn another Suicide Shuttle smacked into the SkyHawk, destroying it. The War Eagle recloaked, and got hit by the ever-improving Mr Chekov. She then decided that with the other ships dead and Enterprise seemingly immune to her Plasma Torpedo, that discretion was the better part of valour. She decloaked and made to warp away, but the Federation warships blasted her to atoms. Another successful mission for the Enterpise!

Well, what can we say here? A Federation Heavy Cruiser is powerful enough to shoot down a Plasma Torpedo most of them time, provided it is the only thing attacking her. So as usual it's all about concentration of fire. I foolishly split my Alpha-strike between the two Federation ships. Even though I crippled one, I failed to finish her off, and she was still blowing things up at game's end. Niall, on the other hand, played a canny game, retiring toward the edge of the board to limit my opportunities to flank him. I am having a few folk over later today, and hope to get in a game of Star Fleet: ACTA at some point. I doubt I'll have a chance to write it up tonight, so if it happens, you can look forward to it appearing here on Monday morning.

The pictures below are not from the game. I forgot to take any, so I've reconstructed some of the more noteworthy moments.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Star Fleet: Ships not for the Line of Battle - Part 3!

Not much to say here, just some pictures. I now have a nice force of civilian shipping for use in scenarios, and a small Borg Cube, for which I must knock up some statistics. The Manta Ray and King Eagle are getting some initial coats of paint, and I hope to have them finished off by tomorrow. For now enjoy these pictures.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Star Fleet: Federation and Romulan reinforcements!

I may have mentioned that my birthday is approaching toward the end of the month. I'm going to put any money I receive toward some more Star Fleet doodahs, but since they would only arrive after the day, I'm ordering them in advance. Some would say this spoils the idea of birthdays. I am not that someone! Wayland Games have a considerable discount, but only stock a limited range. The discount is so signal that I am crossing my fingers that these are the discontinued resin miniatures. That package has yet to arrive. I have received my small order from Mongoose themselves, a Manta Ray-class New Fast Cruiser for the Feds and for the Romulans a King Eagle Cruiser. This is not the opponent in the renowned episode Balance of Terror, which is the rather cheaper War Eagle, but this ship is pretty close to a Constitution-class in points terms, so might make for a fairer fight! For once a Federation ship went together without complaining too much, and the Romulan is another sigh-of-contentment-inducing single-piece model. Here's how they look prior to undercoating. The Lexington is to give some idea of how they compare in size to other models.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Star Fleet: Romulans ready, Freighters PIP

I have finished off the sinister not-Vulcans, and begun painting a load of freighters. I have also finished modelling the wee freighters I was making from the Eldar Apocalypse HQ bits and bobs. Everything's just had a coat of grey spraypaint and then a base colour and some dry-brushing. They might get a wash and then I'll proceed to detailing the viewports and warp engines. I get a bit bored painting everything the same colour, so there is something of a "Rainbow Fleet" quality to this convocation of merchantmen. I like it.

Monday 22 October 2012

Star Fleet: Ships not for the Line of Battle - Part 2!

Given the number of views that the first part got, I think people will enjoy this collection of new unusual vessels I've knocked up from bits of scrap for Star Fleet games. Even though the Star Fleet Universe explicitly excludes the Borg, I see no reason not to knock up a wee Cube for a fun game. I forgot to photograph it before coating it with plasticard, but it was originally a small Rubik's Cube, which attached to a keychain. I found it up in the attic a little while ago and decided that a cube was perfect for converting into a Cube. Yes. The smaller ships are largely from bits and pieces left over from the GW Apocalypse HQ sprue, and a with a bit of plasticard and GS thrown in for good measure. They aren't the most beautiful ships in the world, but they're only meant to represent a few freighters. I have consciously styled their warp engines after Romulan ones, but I shan't feel compelled to abide by those implications. The bits of Eldar HQ sprue look rather nice in this scale, and I'll be presenting their final form in a future post. Also coming to a blog post near you in the immediate future should be some shots of these little fellas painted up. I am still not sure what the long spiky ship is going to be - well, a freighter, of course, but it's still a little too messy to paint. I might slap some weird bits on it for colour, as it were. Anyway, here are the pictures.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Star Fleet Terrain: Nebulae

A really simple little thing here, guys. I grabbed some 2mm thick plasticard to use as the basis of the nebulae. I cut it into appropriately wavy-edged shapes, and undercoated it grey. Then I hit it with a coat of gloss black, spattered some drips of white over it and then dusted red or green spraypaint over the rest in order to simulate the appearance of a nebula. I just touched up the edges where the black paint hadn't taken, and Bob's your uncle! USS Lexington shows the size of these pieces.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Star Fleet: Romulans decloaking!

A couple of PIP shots of some nice little fellas from the Romulan fleet sent for my approaching birthday by my good friend in South Korea. I shall hold off gaming with them until a bit closer to the date, otherwise it'd be going against the spirit of birthday presents. However, I am enjoying painting the little things. The bird emblems on the lower hulls are engraved, so not terrifyingly challenging as I had feared before seeing the models in the flesh. They should all be done in a few days, fingers crossed, but for now here's where they stand. Pictured are the contents of the Romulan Squadron box from Mongoose, containing a Condor-class Dreadnought (the big lad), a KR Heavy Cruiser (surplus Klingon D6 sold on to the Romulans and fiddled with a bit), then a War Eagle Cruiser and a Battle Hawk, with a SkyHawk Destroyer being the wee thingy beneath the rebadged Klingon vessel. Assembly was no trouble at all with most of these models, as all the Romulans are single-piece. The Klingon ship necessitated the usual gluing of one's fingers to the hull, frustrated curse-words and excessive Greenstuff application that is by now a sure sign that I am assembling something which connects to something else along a 1-2mm thick strip. Still, it hasn't fallen apart since assembly, so I'm either getting better or 50% of the model is now GS! Once I have finished the painting, I'll try to get some pictures taken in my primitive light box. It's hiding atop a bookshelf, as is so often the way with things one wants.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Mushroom Pesto

I am quite the fan of mushrooms and garlic and pesto. So when I heard rumours of a mushroom pesto recipe out there, I went a-looking. I mainly ran into ones with parsley, and I had thyme, but it turned out delicious, so I'm quite happy! The quantity I made probably serves probably four or five folk. In a word, the remainder is in the fridge waiting for the next time I fancy some pasta. And the next few times after that!


1. Mushrooms
2. Garlic
3. Fresh thyme
4. Cashews

5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6. Dark soy sauce
7. Fresh ground black pepper
8. Onion
9. Porcini mushrooms
10. Red wine vinegar


1. Pop Porcini mushrooms in some boiling water and leave for 10 minutes or so.
2. Then pop some pasta on to boil (wait a few minutes if you're using regular rather than wholewheat).
3. Chop onion and mushrooms (I think I used about 150-200g/5-7oz of mushrooms, with Shiitake, Chestnut, Portobello and large flat white, but whatever you have), then fry with a teaspoon of normal olive oil.
4. Crush garlic (I used half a bulb, but I do love garlic) and tear some thyme (as much as you like – I half murdered my plant). Pop them in a mixing jug with the cashews (I used about 50g/2oz), 10ml/2tsp of the red wine vinegar, and 60ml (4tbs) of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
5. Add 10ml/2tsp of the soy sauce to the frying mushrooms, grind some pepper into the pan, too, and add the Porcinis and most of their stock (remember that the very dregs will be gritty).
6. Keep cooking until the mushrooms and the pasta are nicely done. Then drain the pasta and add the cooked mushrooms to the mixing jug with the other ingredients in. Swoosh it all up with a food processor and then mix into the pasta. Savour the mushroominess!

Tuesday 9 October 2012

What's going on 'ere, then?

I have a couple of things planned for the blog this week. While not everyone has Christmas decorations, pretty much everyone has spare pieces of polystyrene packaging, so look out for a terrain tutorial on making asteroid fields. I have been a bit slow playing more battles with my brother for totally non-gaming-related reason. In fact, I'm being a bit slapdash in many of my commitments at the minute. The reason is that mid-October sees the opening of the period during which one can apply to become a teacher. When you apply to become a teacher you need to find all your old exam certificates - for mindlessly bureaucratic reasons in some cases. Don't get me wrong: I can quite see why they'd want you to have done a related degree, so you don't try to go from doing a BA in Windsurfing Science to teaching GCSE English. Given that they want you to have heard of Shakespeare and quadratic equations, I can see why they would want you to have proof of your GCSEs. I'm just not sure why they need to have your A-levels. Can you guess which are the only exam certificates I can't find?

Ominously, the GCSEs and BA were in the same file, buried at the bottom of a box containing insurance details for several old cars. Yet the A-levels were absent. My saintly brother had secreted my MA certificate behind his PC, as he rightly assumed I'd lose it otherwise. So I have been turning the house upside down in a crazy search for these pointless papers. Frankly, my A-levels were awful, anyway. You wouldn't pretend to have the grades I got any more than you would visit the doctor and pretend to have syphilis. Fortunately, Clearing led me to the wonderful and wonderfully quirky Lampeter, once part of the University of Wales and now amalgamated with a college from Carmarthen or something? I've not been back to the old alma mater in a few years. I had a superb student:teacher ratio on my BA. I was literally the only student in the university taking some of the modules. I'm a fairly self-disciplined type, but even without that, I fancy that lecturers would have noticed had class attendance dropped or risen 100% from week to week.

So there's the problem: I am being responsible in seeking out pieces of paper that I haven't seen since 1999, which is rather getting in the way of modelling and gaming time at the minute. I am doing it in a good cause, and one which will lead to me having more money to spend on vitally important things like Klingon Battlecruisers and the like. Bear with us, folk, during this period of technical difficulties.

Saturday 6 October 2012

The things kids say!

Well, that's grossly unfair to children. Children say silly things because they know no better. When adults talk rot, however, one has licence to laugh one's head off - or raise a sceptical eyebrow if one is a follower of Surak of Vulcan, or as we Earthlings may know him, Zeno of Citium. One example that always makes me sparkle with sarcasm is Marilyn Monroe's comic line, "I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best." To be honest, I doubt I could have handled Marilyn Monroe at her worst. I am none too fond of drugs or mood-swings, and she seems exceedingly scatty and unreliable. She was inarguably pretty, but not over-burdened with insight. It gets even better when people misremember "handle" as "love", yielding the absolute nonsense that one has to begin by loving someone who is awful, expecting them magically to improve. There's a phrase that describes that situation: abusive relationship.

Some people are worth handling at their worst so that we can enjoy their best, but it's a fallacy to believe that all are. Worse, it's a dangerous fallacy, one that can leave the deceived party stuck in an awful and irremediable situation for years, working like an ass. Yes, I know whereof I speak. Let's leave that aside; it's a tired discussion. Let's look at the other side of the coin. I am flawed, "But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best." This is nothing but an excuse to stay flawed. It isn't a rallying cry to personal satisfaction but to stagnation and indolence. Rather than bother with self-improvement, one should simply remain as one is until death takes us and we decay. It is an idea that is depressing in the most fundamental sense, assuring us that we are right not to bother pushing ourselves, learning and growing. I am not arguing that we should all rush out and book parachute lessons before moving to the Congo to become aid workers, but the static life is no good for people.

Having begun with the heights of philosophy, I shall end in the same way. Consider these two thoughts of geniuses of our (I use that rather loosely) age.

These are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others. Groucho Marx

Yesterday I was a dog. Today I’m a dog. Tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog. There’s just so little hope of advancement. Snoopy

Friday 5 October 2012

Star Fleet: Terrain Instructions - it's only a Christmas Moon!

Want enough moons or asteroids for your battlefield? To the Christmas decorations depository, Terrainman! First, get your Christmas baubles. Then prepare some bases for them. I mainly used to hot glue gun to secure bits of bamboo skewer to some bases. Next use the hot glue gun to secure your baubles to the ends of the skewers. Since the baubles are hollow, the skewers are about 3" long. Get some sand and some PVA glue, and probably a bit of newspaper to limit the mess. Go over the baubles with glue and sand a few times, and finish off with a dilute layer of PVA to fasten everything together. Then grab some black paint and undercoat your moons and bases. Then drybrush progressively lighter shades of grey onto your moons. Tidy up any untidy bits, and Bob's your uncle! If you want, you can use other colours, such as browns and reds to evoke an iron-rich planetoid. But for this article I just wanted to get a lot of moons to tabletop standard as quickly as possible. Here you go, folks. Cheap as anything, this - unless someone objects at Christmastime!

Thursday 4 October 2012

Star Fleet: Fleets and Terrain

Here's everything I have so far completed for Star Fleet. Towards the month's end is my birthday, and I intend to acquire a few more bits and bobs. For now, though, this is everything, and it isn't too small a force, I'd say! The Federation has two Dreadnoughts, two Battlecruisers, a Command Cruiser, Heavy Cruiser, New Heavy Cruiser, Light Cruiser, New Light Cruiser, War Destroyer and Frigate, while the Klingons have C8 Dreadnought, D6 Heavy Cruiser, D7 Battlecruiser, C7 Heavy Cruiser and F5 Frigate. Half a dozen shuttles, a few home-made civilian freighters and a home-made Mobile Base round out the models. A single planet and a lot of asteroids and moons comprise the terrain. I need some more of those, though, and some Dust Clouds. Watch for a future update on how I decide to make them!

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Star Fleet: Battle of Acheron VI

Dropping out of warp as they entered the mysterious Acheron system, the two Romulan vessels accelerated toward the sixth planet, then gradually faded away, no longer visible to sensors or even the naked eye. Throughout the three Federation vessels on patrol in the system, alarms harangued crews to battle stations. Aboard USS Enterprise, recently returned to duty following a stay in spacedock, Captain Kirk surged onto the bridge. Commander Spock's measured tones conveyed a cool summary of events: two refitted Klingon vessels, a dreadnought and a  with working cloaking devices had entered the system, accelerated toward the planet, then disappeared from sensors. Some slight traces enabled Spock to have a general idea of their location, but nothing precise. Commodore Ross aboard USS Lexington had ordered all ships to hold station, and to deploy all shuttles, fitted with anti-matter warheads.

If the Romulans wanted to know what the Federation were doing in this out-of-the-way system, they would have to decloak and scan the planet's surface from orbit. If they did that, a host of shuttles acting like ancient fireships would hit their shields, weakening them before the Federation warships attacked. The minutes ticked by as shuttle after shuttle launched from the Enterprise, the Lexington and the Drake. Suddenly sensors registered an explosion near the Drake. Was it the Romulans? Had they decloaked and opened fire? No, one of Drake's shuttles, remotely piloted, had crashed into an asteroid. Moments later the Drake did open fire, as the Romulan battleship decloaked to scan the planet.

The message came through from the Commodore, "Now!" Enterprise slingshot herself around the planet, heading right into the teeth of a Romulan KR Cruiser and her barrage of Plasma Torpedoes, but her Photon Torpedoes and Phaser batteries silenced the hostile cruiser, smashing her shields. At the same time, on the other side of the planet, the Lexington likewise catapulted herself around the planet, and strained her engines to effect a High Energy Turn, ending her move just outside the enemy battleship's forward arc. The refitted Klingon's shields were strongest in the forward arc, and Commodore Ross unleashed every weapon he had into the weaker area aft. Explosions tore through the warship as Photon Torpedoes and Phasers did more damage than anyone could have predicted.

Aboard the battleship, damage crews were helpless to effect repairs as fires surged out of control. Yet discipline was retained, and a heavy barrage of fire struck Lexington and Enterprise. The scanning of the planet was proceeding well, with more than 86% of the work complete. Boosting shields despite the damage, the KC9R Dreadnought lunged to starboard, holding the Lexington squarely in her sights. But her targeting systems had been damaged by Lexington's devastating attack, and her weapons officers proved incapable of hitting the target with more than some glancing blows. Her engineers did better work, boosting her shields to provide some respite from the Federation vessels. The KR cruiser was hit by fatal blasts, and her crew began to abandon ship, knowing she could not survive long.

On the two Federation cruisers feverish crews worked to reload Photon Torpedoes, and Mr Scott managed to squeeze a little more power to the Enterprise's shields, while on Ross' flagship the helmsman demonstrated once again his deftness, executing another seemingly impossible turn to follow the enemy battleship. Sensors indicated that the enemy's engines were powering up for warp, and as the hostile cruiser exploded, the blast damaging Enterprise's scant shields, all three Federation ships poured their firepower into the battleship, which finally exploded with a catastrophic fireball which crippled and almost destroyed Lexington. The Federation had been successful in stopping the Romulans obtaining information on the sinister alien ruins of Acheron VI, but at what cost?


It was a bit of an odd one, this. We rolled randomly for sides, as usual, and I took the Federation. Since I had a planet I could orbit to zip out from behind, I hid two of my ships behind it. My smallest sat in an asteroid field, whence I didn't dare move it, so thick was the field. Mm, great planning! The Romulans were thus denied the effective use of their cloaks, since they had to uncloak right beside the planet to scan it and complete the mission. If there were no time-limit, they could have swept around behind me and really smashed me up, especially the KR Cruiser, since it's a modified D6, with all the agility that implies. I was surprised to see that the Romulans go straight from being cloaked to having shields up; I even had to re-read the rules to reassure myself of it. The lesson there is for me not to try to understand rules based on a TV show and some films, I think!

When the Romulans did decloak by the planet, I therefore had almost perfect placing. My heart was in my mouth in case Lexington didn't make that turn, but she did, and then I rolled an unfeasible number of 6s for her and Enterprise. By the end of the battle the KC9R Dreadnought had taken maximum damage to her Shields, Dilithium Chamber and Impulse Drive, Level 5 Critical Damage to her Crew, and Level 3 to her Weapons. It would have been worse, but I forgot the Damage Control part of Turn 7. Owing to the loose wording of the rules, since I only added the last two levels of Critical Damage to her Dilithium Chamber, she could still go to Warp in the final turn. It seemed more cinematic and sporting to allow at least the possibility, too. Also more cinematic was the final torrent of fire from the three Federation ships that blew her to smithereens and which saw Lexington crippled and nearly destroyed! Commodore Ross might need a bit of retraining.
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