Friday 30 November 2012

Huge fleets fill the skies!

Right, I have been building up to this with all these shots of a few ships at a time, and finally we have reached the apex of it all. Here are the maximum sizes of my three fleets. The Romulans and Klingons share a few ships, mind you. The Romulans allowing for Klingon largesse, can muster 4 KF5R Frigates, a Battle Hawk, a SkyHawk, a War Eagle Cruiser, 4 KR Heavy Cruisers, a King Eagle Cruiser, 3 KRC Command Cruisers, a Condor Dreadnought and one or two KC9R Dreadnoughts (in universe they only ever had the one), for 3,500-3,900 points in total. Not too shabby a score, I'd say. The Klingons, if they greedily hoard their ships to themselves, can muster 2 E4 Light Frigates, 4 F5 Frigates, 4 D6 Cruisers, 2 D5 War Cruisers, 3 D7 Battlecruisers, 1 D5W New Heavy Cruiser, 1 FD7 Fast Cruiser, 3 C7 Heavy Battlecruisers, and 2 C8 Dreadnought, mustering just shy of 4,000 points. The Federation, grandest of them all, at a little shy of 5,000 points, has 2 Callahan Police Cutters, 4 Burke Frigates, 2 Ramius Battle Frigates, 1 Ortega New Destroyer, 3 Texas Light Cruisers, 1 Kearsage New Light Cruiser, 3 Constitution Heavy Cruisers, 1 Lexington Command Cruiser, 1 Wolverine Fast Cruiser, 1 Prometheus Strike Cruiser, 1 Chicago New Heavy Cruiser, 1 Manta Ray New Fast Cruiser, 4 Kirov Battlecruisers, and 3 Federation Dreadnoughts. The Romulans may increase substantially, if I decide to get their fleet box at some point, and the Federation and Klingons will see small increases as I acquire some new releases. Doesn't that new Gettysburg-class look pretty? Anyway, here is what they all look like arrayed to defend a world.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Frigates and Cruisers

These are the last ships from the fleet boxes I got for my birthday: a pair of F5 Frigates, a pair of D5 War Cruisers and a D5W New Heavy Cruiser (which is an evolution of the D5s with a third warp engine and some stat increases). All the ships bar the D5W, which is unique in my collection at present, have some coloured marker to distinguish them from their fellows. Red, blue, green and silver have proved sufficient thus far, and the fleet is already so large that I can barely imagine deploying it all en bloc. The wee F5s are a firm favourite of mine now: cheap and effective. I might end up getting some more of them, and having to come up with some more colours to denote them. It has the potential to get a bit Captain Scarlet!

Monday 26 November 2012

Battle of Polemos III

My brother and I decided to play the scenario Explore A Strange New World again, this time with a different array of forces, and on opposing sides. He took defensive side with the Federation: USS Lexington was his flagship, and three Constitution-class Heavy Cruisers, Enterprise, Constitution (marked with a pink D4) and Hood (marked with a ruby D8). On the Klingon side I attacked with four D6 Cruisers and two E4 Light Frigates. The Federation fleet, with a Command ship, Lexington, had the same opportunity for activation as the Klingons, but the superior numbers of the scurvy Klingons meant they had the opportunity to force the Federation ships into unfavourable manoeuvres, especially given that every Klingon ship was far better at turning than any of the Federation ones. I had a vague plan for once. I popped the E4s on the left flank, intending to use them as a distraction, while the D6s would scan the planet to fulfil the victory conditions. My brother's plan was to divide his forces with a weak left and a strong right, and envelop me when I reached the planet, catching me in a deadly crossfire. One of our plans worked out.

The first turn saw the Federation win the Initiative roll. All the Klingon ships ordered All Power to Engines! While every Federation ship launched a suicide shuttle. This was that I did last time we played this scenario, but I quite forgot to move them into range, and a blob of shuttles hung uselessly in orbit while the warships duked it out. That didn't happen this time. The second turn saw a Klingon Initiative victory, with some long range Disruptor fire at Enterprise from the D6s, while the E4s blasted a pair of shuttles. By the third turn my Klingons had reached the planet. I kept one E4 in close, and sent the other on a wide flanking manoeuvre, hoping it would provide a distraction for Lexington on my brother's right flank. USS Hood circled the planet, hitting the forward shields of D6 Silver (silver stripes, you see), damaging her hull and shields. Enterprise found herself outmanoeuvred by the Klingon D6s, and was eliminated with massed firepower. A few remaining shots hit USS Hood, the Lexington, and another couple of shuttles. In the End Phase Klingon Labs acquired three quarters of the information points they needed to about the planet. It looked as though the Emperor would be well pleased by this mission.

Turn 4 saw the Federation again take the Initiative, Hood reloading her photon torpedoes, while Lexington and Constitution boosted their shields. I elected to distract the Federation from attacking the main body of my fleet, and swung the slightly damaged D6 Silver around the planet as a decoy, and E4 Green to perform the same duty. Both were lost, but they did the job. In the End Phase the remaining Klingon ships managed to boost knowledge of the planet 20% higher than required, so all they needed to do was stay alive one more turn to win. In turn 5 the Klingons won the Initiative, and all bar the remaining E4 ordered Maximum Warp Now! This would see them depart in the End Phase, and the game end in victory for the Klingons. Every Federation ship boosted shield power again, the captains wary of suffering Enterprise's fate. A fierce gunnery battle ensued, resulting in the crippling of D6 Pale Grey, but by the end of the turn no Klingon ships had been destroyed, allowing them all to escape.

We shook hands, and I realised that I should have been recording Information Points for each ship, not for the fleet as a whole. D'oh! Still, we had a good game, and it was interesting to compare the  different fighting and movement styles of the two fleets. Federation ships tend to have weaponry that has boundaries at 0 and 180 and 90 and 270 degrees, whereas Klingons use 45 and 225 and 135 and 315 degrees as their boundaries. This is a bit of a change to get used to, and my first attempts with Klingons, trying to fly them the same way as Federation ships, didn't go well, as their flank and rear weaponry tended not to find a target. This time I was able to deploy ships so that they could bring to bear weapons on ships in different arcs, and I have a cinematic image of how the Klingons should operate en masse in my head. They barrel toward the enemy, reliant on heavy forward shielding to protect them, blasting away with all guns. Once past the enemy they use superior agility to turn and get on their enemies' tails, using their flank weaponry as they make the necessary turns. We should see that soon.

Saturday 24 November 2012

The swift and the masterful

Today's lot is an FD7 Fast Cruiser, and a pair of D7 Battlecruisers. The former struck me as rather odd-looking at first, as its bridge is quite unlike other Klingon cruiser bridge designs, resembling more a back-to-front F5 Frigate bridge. However, its elongated warp nacelles and general appearance have rather grown on me. It really does seem like a fast ship. The D7s are solid warships, worth about as much in points as the Federation's Constitution-class Heavy Cruiser, and with an optional upgrade that turns them into very vicious command ships. These models will do double-duty, as they can also serve as Romulan KRC Command Cruisers. It is rather a neat facet of the rules - intentional or no - that the Romulans have four different Klingon hull designs: the F5 Frigate, the D6 Cruiser, the D7 Battlecruiser, and the C8 Dreadnought, allowing gamers who want to play film Klingons (i.e. with cloaking devices) to do so, at the expense of losing Disruptors for Plasma Torpedoes. Apologies for the seemingly glaring highlights in these photographs. I cannot seem to work out a happy compromise between photographs which are too dark and those which are rather bleached by the flash.

Thursday 22 November 2012

David and Goliath

The largest Klingon ships today: a C8 Dreadnought and a pair of C7 Heavy Battlecruisers, and then to round things off a dozen shuttles. These heavy ships won't see a lot of use, but my brother and I have had a couple of occasions when we would have been glad of more Suicide Shuttles. They only move slowly, but a swarm of them can be pretty nasty. Moreover, the concept is rather amusing-cum-baffling. Do they really represent Kamikaze pilots or are they really being controlled from the mothership, or does the pilot pop himself into a tiny escape pod just before impact? I lean toward the remote-control option, but I really don't have a handle on the comprehensive background of the Star Fleet universe. I am reliant on lovely old episodes of ST:TOS, and it would be a rare instance then when Kirk would allow an ensign to ram himself and some tubs of antimatter into an enemy!

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Little Ships

Today's entries are a pair of Texas-class Light Cruisers, and a pair of Callahan-class Police Cutters. Both of these immediately struck me as odd as they don't conform to the standard saucer section design of Federation ships. Indeed, the Callahans both evoke Flash Gordon rocket ships to my mind - which is doubtless as intentional as calling a Police Cutter a Callahan. They are diminutive little things, which wouldn't last long in a fight with big ships, unless they were persistently ignored in favour of bigger things. I am not sure that in just a duo they would be too handy, but I can see a quartet of them sneaking about unnoticed in a large fleet game and making a distracting racket behind the enemy fleet's battleline. The Texas-class Cruisers don't really strike my imagination as ships. They seem solid, workmanlike little things, which is doubtless the idea. Again, in a squadron of several like ships they could be pretty handy. As I already owned one, this pair brings me up to a little trio which is probably the ideal size of force for such ships in larger battles. Apologies for the absence of a rear shot of the Texases, but bizarrely I could not manage - with a camera on a tripod and the models on a flat surface - to get a shot that wasn't blurred! That's it for today, folks, and tomorrow look forward to some Klingons for a change.

Monday 19 November 2012

Big Ships

A few photographs today of the largest ships currently available to the Federation (though the Mars-class Battleship should be out soon), one Federation-class Dreadnought and two Kirov-class Battlecruisers. Names for these are up in the air, as I will probably go with whatever is on the sheet of transfers. The Dreadnought is a very powerful ship, bedecked with all sorts of weapon emplacements, and because of the odd structure of Mongoose's boxes, I now have three of them! I think each fleet in the Federation runs to one of these as a flagship, so I can theoretically represent half the Federation's Dreadnought force! As I've mentioned before, historical naval actions seem a good place to go looking for inspiration, so expect some multi-Dreadnought action in the future. In the immediate future, however, expect some ships from the other end of the scales of technology and size tomorrow.

Sunday 18 November 2012

Treasure Hunting

As Christmas approaches, our thoughts turn to presents for our loved ones. A friend of mine in America has a small online business selling her own handmade jewelry. It's rather pretty, and as I have seen from my stats that I have many American readers, I thought I would mention this to you folks. Why not take a look and see if there's anything that catches your fancy? Here's one of her pieces, a necklace and pair of earrings.

Friday 16 November 2012

Star Fleet: some Klingons complete

I fancied the idea of using all my Constitutions together, as they really epitomise Star Trek for me, and because it's easier to keep the books on four identical ships (well, the Lexington is slightly different, but not too much). So I then needed to get a force of equivalent points ready for the Klingons. The Lexington and three Constitutions will be facing off against four D6s and 2 E4s. As I already had a pair of D6s (one Klingon and one Romulan), I realised I needed to start marking them or I'd lose track. So various ships are sporting small patches of different colours. I shall temporarily have to do something similar with the Federation ships, as I have decided to recoat some areas to facilitate transfers. This'll be the largest game my brother and I have played thus far, as I think we're starting to get a grip on the rules at last. Here's what I have painted up, two D6s, two E4s and a lone F5 that wandered in by mistake. As well as those fellas, I was poking about in some old boxes, and turned up a TIE Interceptor model from yonks ago, which seems to be the selfsame scale as the X-Wing miniatures game. In short, if I pick up the Interceptor expansion pack come Christmas time, then I'll have two Squint models. Good news!

Thursday 15 November 2012

The Incredible Truths of Tomorrow!

This is more of a general status update than a post in which I wave a tattered or fresh banner, demanding your attention. Half a dozen planetoids are awaiting a spot of paint, and consideration of my recent pictures has me repainting eleven Mongoose Star Fleet models to my current standards. I shudder to think what this might mean in a year's time. I am toying with a return to Warhammer Historical's Great War rules in the next month or two, as I feel my Rosbifs and Jerries haven't really been used to their full potential. I feel an urge both to prepare them for 2014 and to acquire some 15mm or 6mm miniatures in order to have a go at Great War Spearhead. Is there a wargamer who has no thought of the 2014 centenary in his or her head? Aye, there are starships before me, wee cavalrymen to my right, and wee infantrymen above my head, not to mention a score or so of cavalrymen in a drawer to my right. Well, I hope you're all doing well today, anyway!

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Star Fleet: You're flying INTO an asteroid field?! Terrain tutorial

A bit of a marker today. This will be post #400, so I realised I had better mark it with something special! So here's a terrain article for you. The asteroid fields of ACTA: Star Fleet game are just like those in The Empire Strikes Back: fly into one and you're liable to get smacked by a hunk of something. So following on from my terrain tutorial on constructing wee moons from Christmas decorations, here is another article. You'll need the following items: a big hunk of polystyrene foam, sand, PVA glue, balsa wood, some filler, water, paintbrushes, paints, wooden barbecue skewers, suitable basing materials and a hot glue gun. Start off by tearing the polystyrene into lumps. Remember this will be a messy business! Next cut some skewers to appropriate lengths, and stab them into the lumps of polystyrene. I advise gluing them in place. After that mix up some filler, sand, water and PVA glue, and daub it all over the the lumps of polystyrene. The filler is very useful, as dilute PVA on its own simply runs off large bits of the polystyrene. Depending what you will leave the polystyrene on, you might want to leave one side bare, and cover it when the rest of the mixture has dried.

Once everything has dried, you will probably find a few bare spots. Apply sand and PVA to these, and when everything has dried, secure the sand with a dilute coat of PVA. As before, it would probably be a good idea to leave one part dry (-ish) so that it won't get stuck to whatever you are leaving the asteroids on to dry. Once everything has dried, Get some black paint and apply it all over the asteroids. Since they have barbecue skewers sticking out of them, you can use these as handles. Normally, I would suggest spraypaint, but this will melt polystyrene, so if you have left any gaps at all, you could end up with asteroids with intriguing internal crevices.

Once you have undercoated the asteroids black, then you just have to drybrush them with whatever colours you like: reds and oranges will nicely represent an iron-rich asteroid, greys and tans will work for the stonier kinds. If you want to liven them up a bit, you could add a splash of a pure metallic colour, gold or silver, representing a particularly thick vein of some element such as iridium or gold. Next paint the cocktail skewers completely black, and, with the hot glue gun, secure some pieces of balsa wood to the bases. I advise you not to pack the asteroids too closely, lest you inadvertently make a terrain piece that is beautiful yet impractical. Remember that you will be moving models onto these asteroid fields! Next paint the bases black, and then drive the skewers into the balsa wood bases, gluing them in place. Once you have touched up any details, you will have a great collection of asteroids for your sci-fi space gaming.

I made these primarily with Star Fleet in mind, but expect to see them in a forthcoming game of X-Wing, too! Needless to say, you'll need a box to keep all this stuff in, and happily one came from Wayland, bearing the Klingon and Federation fleets and the X-Wing game. Ah, isn't recycling wonderful? Here follow the pictures, and at the foot the box and a shot of all the game-ready terrain, with USS Enterprise for scale. The section of the table on which the asteroids, dust clouds, moons and planets sit is about 4' by 4'. So here are the pics.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Star Fleet: The sky full of Klingons

The Feds are coming along nicely. I have finished off the Strike Cruiser, the Fast Cruiser and the two Heavy Cruisers, and the two Ramius Destroyers and the Burke Frigates. Note that none bear markings, as I will be picking up a sheet of decals next time I order from Mongoose, and then redoing my already-named ships. I have two Callahans, a pair of Battlecruisers, and a dozen shuttles close to completion. The new Dreadnought is undercoated, but that's it. The Klingons are coming on nicely, although I decided to redo the small ships from the other day: those white spots were just annoying me. Without further ado, here are the finished Fed ships and the PIP Klingons. Aside from individual models, this will probably constitute the majority of my purchases for these fleets. But who knows what the future may hold?

Monday 12 November 2012

An apology and clarification

Today I blogged about the need to remember the fallen more than just once a year. But I screwed up. I managed to word it in such a way that it sounded as though I was suggesting we mope all year round, and that anyone who didn't was dishonouring them. That wasn't what I meant. I apologise to any of you I offended by my clumsiness.

Requiescant in pace

Some years ago a chap I know online demonstrated the distaste he felt for Remembrance Sunday. You may have read that and assumed that he was some "deranged peacenik" and that he held a violent contempt for soldiers, sailors and airmen. No. He is a serving officer, and of an Army family, so he's neither wholly pacific nor filled with loathing for the people he serves with every day. He was annoyed because he feels that every year on the eleventh day of the eleventh month everyone remembers the fallen, and for the other three hundred and sixty-four or five days nobody so much as thinks of the dead and their sacrifices. Yesterday at eleven o'clock we all paused for a minute to recall the fallen. Will we all pause at eleven o'clock today?

Friday 9 November 2012

Star Fleet: cheap planets

As many a wargamer has remarked ere now, it is a good idea to check out pound shops and the like. I popped down to my local one the other day and found boxes of Christmas decorations for sale. I have blogged in the past about making small moons or asteroids from baubles for Christmas trees, so I was very pleased to see over-sized baubles in these boxes. The ACTA rulebook offers three categories for planets: Lifeless Rock (up to 3" in diameter), Earth-like world (4"-9") and Gas or Ice Giant (10" or more. These baubles are about 3.75", so fit nicely into the (presumably accidental) gap between the small and medium categories. In a word, they're good for either. I have a couple of larger planets (a globe and some item of plumbing), and lots of smaller moons (those normal-sized Christmas baubles), so these half-dozen will serve as good intermediates. Since the opportunities for orbiting planets and swinging around them make for rather interesting and risky games, I am tempted to knock up a little scenario with several planets or planetoids, and see what happens. For those of you looking for these, I picked them up from Family Bargains for £3.99, as you can probably make out in the picture, but I should imagine you can find them in any such shop.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Star Fleet: small Klingon ships

As well as working hard on the Feds, these little fellas have had a basic, rather slapdash first application of paint. There are about one million spot I need to clear up, and I already regret using white as the undercoat. I think for the rest of the Klingons black will do much better. There are two kinds of Klingon ship in the photograph below, and I maintain it's very tricky to tell which one's which, as Klingon ships are smaller or larger versions of the same design to a far more confusing degree than is the case with the Feds!

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Star Fleet: Feds coming together

I have a bit of a production line going with the Federation ships here. The main colours are blocked in, and I have high hopes of getting them finished before the weekend. However, that does not mean I'll be getting in a large game this weekend. I am off to Scotland on Friday to see my friend Rahul, who lives far too far away! Long-time readers of this blog may recall that without his assistance, you might not be reading anything now! My Lord, that's the least flattering photograph of me I have ever seen. Still, at least my voice isn't too terrible, even if I do say "um" far too much! It's handy having medical mates! Er, anyway, yes, I'm wandering away from the wargaming here. This is how the Federation ships look at the minute - painting is in progress.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

A True Wargamer?

I espied this over at Big Lee's Blog, and couldn't help myself!
EDIT: I don't know what the heck I did to the formatting last night when putting this up! I seem incapable of fixing it. Ugh, technology!
To genuinely call yourself a Wargamer, then you must have done most or all of the following:
* Spent at least £500 on figures / tanks - and you get extra kudos for every £500 you've spent
I remember totting up spending just on tanks for 40K back in the early 2000s, and even at that point I had expended between £1,000 and £1,500. Let's pretend I haven't spent more than another £500!  (3 points)
* Pricked your finger or thumb on a pike block - several times
Goblin and Empire Halberdiers back in the early '90s, and more recently Great War BEF lancers. A definite yes! (1 point)
* Tried at least 10 different rule sets and vowed never to play half of them ever again
No glory for me here. Most of the sets I've bought I haven't even tried, lacking opponents! Those I have tried I am always up for a game with. (0 Points)
* Bought an army off EBay
Like Big Lee, I have never bought a whole army on eBay, but I have picked up the odd bargain or two. (0 Points)
* Sold an army on EBay
Perhaps a million tanks (a few scratchbuilt, and many converted somehow) have made their way to other loving arms, yes. (1 Points)
* spent months painting an army - then used it in anger once
Again, like Big Lee, I am going to add "or never" here. (1 Point)
* tried several different periods and genres
Oh, yes! The Great War with infantry on the one hand, and on the other battleships! Napoleonics, GW Fantasy, &c, &c, &c. (1 Point)
* dropped a box of figures on the floor from a great height
I winced in pain. I tend to find that it is less a question of dropping than of inadvertent brushing with a sleeve. (1 Point)
* lost a battle on the last throw of the dice
I don't know about this one. I tend to screw up pretty comprehensively! (0 Points)
* made at least one enemy for life
I don't think so. (0 Points)
* had a proper, stand up argument over a wargamers table
I had an inadvertent demi-argument about whether one could turn an immobilised Leman Russ, under rules from ten years ago. Nowadays I'd regard my former self as a frightful rules-lawyer! (1/2 Point)
* thrown a dice across a room
Merely growled at them wrathfully. (0 Points)
* rebased an army for a different rule set
Never. Though I admit to dabbling with the thought at one point. (0 points)
* inflicted a whopping defeat on an opponent
More than once, but since I tend to make up for it by crashing and burning, no harm is done! (1 Point)
* suffered an embarrassing defeat due to a stupid tactical decision
This is my regular style of play! (1 Point)
* joined a wargamers' club
Back at uni I was even Treasurer of our Club. (1 Point)
* bought a ton of lead that remains unpainted
II can even offer up items that Dad must have acquired - and he isn't even a wargamer! (1 Point)
* been to a wargamers' show
I have not, in main part because until the other February strangers scared the kerjigger out of me! (0 Points)
* have more dice than is logical or necessary to own - and have used most of them
  Er, yeah, definitely! (1 Point)
* have taken boxes of troops down to a club just to show them off to your mates
I, ooh, the question is vague . . . yeah, definitely! (1 Point)

* You have reference books on each period / army you play (I must have ten samurai books now)
Hell, yes! (1 Point)
* Having played so many different games you confidently quote rules for a totally different period, scale or ruleset to the one you're playing at that moment
Er, repeatedly. Granted, a lot of this is down to GW changing their 40K rules every few years. I play so seldom that I have no idea what's going on! (1 Point)
* You have lied to your partner / spouse about how much you've spent on the hobby
I'd be happier if I were saying yes to this! (0 Points)
* You get genuinely excited when a package arrives in the post
Every single time. (1 point)
* You have joined a re-enactment society (5 points for this one!)
No, but I have a number of mates involved in 'em, and once worked under a lawyer whose recreational activity was to fire a Springfield musket into his obsolete law books! (0 Points)
* You have played in an unsuitable venue 
  Ooh, is there really an unsuitable venue? Er, maybe that kitchen, with everyone going in and out all the time. OK, yeah! (1 Point) 
* You continue to search for the perfect Napoleonic / WW2 / Ancients / ACW etc. rule set (knowing that it doesn't actually exist).
I know I shouldn't! (1 Point)
* For that reason you have developed your own house rules for certain periods.  And think them far superior to the original author's efforts.
Nope. (0 Points)
* You have returned from a wargames show and sneaked upstairs to hide the stash.
Ah, having never been to a show... (0 Points)
* You have an irrational aversion to some genres and vow never to play them regardless of how much fun they look.
I have a mild aversion to Ancients, but not so strong as it'd put me off playing a game. (0 points)
* You have made your own wargames scenery.
So much of it that I am tempted to give myself 4 points, but I'll be parsimonious and stick to 2, given 1's the maximum. (2 Points)
* You have reached a painting 'wall' 
Perennially. (1 Point)
* You have lost - and regained - your wargaming mojo.
Perennially! (1 Point)
* You have the occasional (and short lived) sense of guilt with your wife/children when complaining to them about the money spent in clothes, shoes or toys/Xbox games when you have £200 of unpainted metal stuffed in an upstairs drawer.
I am not ignorant of this experience! (1 Point)
* You have done armies in different scales for the same period 
ACW in 6mm and 15mm, Napoleonics in 1/72 and 6mm, and surely others abound! (1 Point)
* You have jealously coveted someone else's troops.
Indubitably! (1 Point)
* You have laughed (secretly or otherwise) at someone else's paint job 
I have but raised an eyebrow! (0 Points)
* You have provided a piece of useless trivia relating to the troops on the table to show off your wargaming knowledge. 
Yes, and more than once! (1 point)
* You have contradicted someone else's trivia - demonstrating your superior knowledge and giving you a warm glow inside.
Glorious Evil! (1 Point)
* You have caused a major disaster on a wargames table (spilling a pint, collapsing the table, dropped someone else's figures on the floor). 
In a sense you could say that I set up a game so dreadfully that everyone was screwed over by it! (1 Point)
* You have cheered when an opponent's dice lets them down at a critical point (I have literally danced in front of someone when he failed a morale roll) 
Who has not? (1 point)
* You have lied to your partner about going gaming.  "Mother's not very well - just popping around to see her.  I'll be back in about - oh - seven hours".
Deplorable honesty is my forté! (0 Points)
* You have lied to an attractive woman (man) about your hobby.  
Uuuuuuum, yeah. Is there a way to avoid this? (1 Point)
* You have made an opponent cry.  It doesn't count if they are under 8 years old though.
No. (0 Points)
* You have painted the same army in the same scale more than once (Monty, you dawg!)  
No. (0 Points)
* You have reference books on armies you haven't even got.
This is so! (1 Point)
* You have bought figures for a period you have never and will never play - because they were cheap.
We're all guilty of that, aren't we? (1 Point)
* You have inflicted grievous bodily harm on a dice that has let you down. 
No, no, no! (0 Points)
* You blog or have a web-page about your Wargaming activities
Indubitably! (1 Point)
* Your book collection is almost all war and wargames related
Er, no. Sizeable amounts thereof, yes! Almost all? By no means! I include Dad's collection among mine (lots of trains), Mum's (genealogical stuff), my brother's (Garfield and some Japanese things). (0 Points)
* You critique 'war' movies (especially Hollywood war movies) for historical accuracy.
Forever! (1 Point)
* You spend car / train journeys checking out the lie of the land - considering which way you would attack from and whether it would make good wargaming terrain.
This accounts for my whole childhood! (1 Point)

Right, I think that adds up to 37.5/57, but since I somehow managed to forget my tally about three times, let's say that's an approximation!

Sunday 4 November 2012

Excursus: pet food

I have intermittently mentioned my joy of cooking and my pets, which have at last been combined. No, no, restrain your screams of horror, as you have the wrong end of the stick. Calmed down? Good, then read on. One of the best ideas when cooking is to use fresh ingredients - which applies not merely to vegetables but also to the herbs. Fresh basil is quite unlike its dried counterpart, for instance. I use basil quite a lot, and one day I realised that wild rabbits would probably eat it. So I checked in our little rabbit-care booklet, which suggested that fresh herbs were an acceptable treat. Thus fortified with the experience of experts, I offered a spare sprig to Spot, and he devoured it ravenously! Bold and Nerva (Nervy), the guinea pigs, were fairly unimpressed by basil, but they have been guzzling down sprigs of thyme lately, and have been finishing off the ends of courgettes for a few weeks now. Spot seems unimpressed by thyme, but he and the guinea pigs both adore fresh mint.

Last night, Mum wondered what their position was on avocado. She failed to find any mention of it, but remarked that guinea pigs are fans of banana peel. Off to the kitchen to get myself a banana, and the guinea pigs the peel. Nyom-nyom-nyom-nyom-nyom-nyom-nyom! They only stopped eating the banana peel when their tiny tummies were full. It's amusing to think we seem to have miniature goats! I jest, of course, but it's certainly better for them to have the peel than for it to fill a bin and contribute to the messing up of the world. Anyway, folks, have a lovely Sunday!

Saturday 3 November 2012

Star Fleet: some envisioned scenarios

First of all, I take no responsibility for determining whether or not these are balanced. I have had some ideas, not necessarily original, mind you, and I'm popping them up here for the benefit (or to the detriment!) of you folks before I have looked at them thoroughly myself. Back in August I had a bit of a think about WWII naval settings, and two battles struck me right away: The River Plate and The Denmark Strait. I grabbed a set of 1890-1945 rules I have, which contain points costs, and I tried to get something to work in ACTA: SF. I reiterate that this is a preliminary, thoroughly untested bit of stuff. OK? Good.

The Battle of the Plate System:
In the Fed corner we have 3 Ortega-class War Destroyers, individually outclassed and out-ranged by their opponent. In the dark grey corner we have a single Klingon D6 Heavy Cruiser. This is the set-up I am most concerned about. The D6 does out-range the smaller Federation vessels, but I suspect that the discrepancy might be insufficient, given the movement speeds in ACTA: SF, and that a D5 War Cruiser or a D7 Battlecruiser might be better choices.

The Battle of the Denmark Nebula:
On the side of the forces of loveliness and sweetness we have a pair of Federation Dreadnoughts. I suspect that it would be worthwhile classifying one as having a poor Crew Quality score. That is no intended impugning of the brave folk on HMS Prince of Wales, but reflects the fact that she hadn't had much of a shakedown when she and the Hood took on Bismarck. On the Klingon side is the pairing of a C8 Dreadnought (standing in for Bismarck) with a D7 Battlecruiser (as Prinz Eugen).

In both of the games above the Klingon forces need to flee their Federation pursuers, and so consideration must be given to table size and which board edge the Klingons must reach. Simply ordering the ship to Warp is an option that must be disallowed. There has to be a balance between the Federation ships trying to catch and kill the enemy, and the fact that the Klingons are outmatched. Abandoning history for a moment, a few scenarios also come to mind from the TV show.

The Ultimate Computer:

When the brilliant Dr Daystrom pops his latest crazy machine on the Enterprise, hilarious hijinks ensue - or the computer attacks other Federation vessels, and kills the crew thereof. On the one side we have Enterprise, and on the other Lexington and a pair of regular Constitution-class vessels. Some situation-specific rules should be employed. First, Enterprise's targeting should be perfect. Her attacks will hit automatically, but roll as normal, a 6 will penetrate shields as usual. Alternatively, apply a +1 modifier to all rolls for Enterprise. Second, during the first turn in which Enterprise opens fire no opposing ships may have raised shields. Finally, from the turn following Enterprise's first attack, roll a D6, adding 1 each subsequent turn. On the roll of a 6+, Kirk and Scotty have successfully disabled the M-5 with a logical paradox or some well-wielded spanners: the game is over. So the objective is for the M-5 to smash as many ships as possible while it remains viable.

Balance of Terror:
The diabolical Romulans, led by Spock's dad, er, by a chap who is played by the actor (Mark Lenard) who later played Spock's dad, have attacked a Federation outpost. The scenario has an optional first half, in which a Romulan War Eagle Cruiser attacks a Federation Mobile Base. In the latter half a Constitution-class cruiser pursues the Romulan vessel as it returns to the Neutral Zone. In order to give Enterprise a chance to shoot down the Romulans, it might be a good idea to have a comet crossing the table, the tail of which has the same impact as a nebula, disabling the Romulans' cloaking device. Given the slow speed of a cloaked vessel, this should be quite a tense game for the Romulan player.

I hope to give a few of these ideas a try ere long. I will report back!

Friday 2 November 2012

Star Fleet: the travails of assembling a fleet

My fingers are a quarter superglue, I have lost several balls of GS, which I shall find in a week, incurably embedded in the carpet, and one of my D6-class Cruisers has lost its port warp engine. Amazingly, the Federation ships have gone together with comparatively little fuss this time, and I'm having real trouble with the Klingons. Perhaps I simply exhausted my patience on the former, and by the time I got to the latter was just wholly unreasonable! Both my D5s have come together well, but one of them has a nasty bit of mis-casting on his right main hull. I'm not sure whether I shall have a go at GSing the damage away or if I'll add some bits and bobs, then paint it up as damaged. I'm far too impatient to send it back! I've undercoated the small Klingon and Federation vessels, and the shuttles. The larger ships take longer to get done as I first superglue them together, then add a protective cuff of GS around any joints.

I actually felt like a modeller when working on the Klingon Dreadnought. They've obviously still got quite a few resin hulls for the big ships left - the Romulan Dreadnought the other week was resin, and so is this Klingon one - except for the warp engines. The neck was quite badly curved downward, so I was able to put to the test the recommendation that I lower it into hot water and then reform it. It worked a charm. The lower hull has lots of small air bubbles. Really, I could leave them, as they'll be invisible when playing, but it has given me an excuse to get out my much unused bottle of Liquid GS. The first coat has got most of these imperfections, but a few deeper ones remain, so a second coat is imminent! Now, where did I put my camera? Ah!

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