I <3 Battlefleet Gothic

It’s true, I do. I always have from the moment I played my first game. I’ll admit that initially I struggled with a game being set within a very specific time period as I felt it limited the games scope (which it kinda does) but this doesn’t detract from what an awesome game it is.

As some of you know I was at home today full of plague so I had time on my hands so I decided to finally build the last 4 remaining cruisers for my monster Imperial Fleet. These have been sat on a shelf for literally years. So many years, in fact, that it’s actually embarrassing. And along side them was a Retribution class battleship and a Blackstone Fortress which I’ve still not built.

With this in mind it’s fair to say that, perhaps, I don’t love Gothic. If I did I’d have my 6,600 point fleet not only built but painted. The simple answer is; when you have no one to play against it’s easy to lose passion for a project.

But lately I’ve been inspired. Partly because I’ve gotten into Space-based-wargaming again through Firestorm Armada but also because a new guy at work use to be, like me, a member of staff during the early 2000s when the company put the hobby ahead of sales. Through lunchtime conversations we have reignited one another’s passion for Battlefleet Gothic. It prompted me to finally break the seals on the model boxes and him to build a space station ala the one in the rulebook. Yes, I know, his is a cooler expression of creativity (and a cooler model than shown in the book) but he doesn’t have a blog so he can bite me.

So why do I love Gothic? Well, for one thing, the models are awesome. The Imperial ships especially. I don’t think anything evokes the scale of the Warhammer 40,000 Universe, or the conflict, better than those ships in that game. They’re just epic. They’re also a joy to build with just enough level of customisation to make your fleet varied without sending you insane with an endless list of weapon systems and fiddly model components to stick on. I concluded today that the Imperial Cruiser kit is one of my favourite models ever. And after 22 years of buying, building and (sometimes) painting models that’s quite a statement.

The game itself is a perfect combination of elegance, tactics and old-fashioned naval manoeuvres that make it easy to play, difficult to master. You can always spot a novice playing Gothic a mile off because they lack that utterly focussed and sheer bloody minded approach to combat. This chap at work, Lee, described my tactics in Warhammer 40,000 using my Ultramarines as a hammer blow. A single decisive strike that breaks the back of my opponent. All or nothing, do or die. In Gothic I’m entirely more brutal; my fleet tasked to operate as hunting packs that isolate and dominate the enemy until nothing is left. It requires nerves of steel, a willingness to sacrifice the few so the many take the day, and total faith in the ships and the weapons at your disposal.

I’ve talked about this before both online and with my friends. I’m a lucky person when playing wargames. So much so one friend in particular always thinks twice about playing me. And not because I take beardy armies or anything like that, but because I almost always beat the odds. And I put it down to having total faith in my army/fleet selection, the decisions I’ve made and that those squads/ships will perform admirably. Obviously there’s more to it than that but an iron will is very unnerving in an opponent which has its advantages when you are the opponent.

But I digress. Why do I love Battlefleet Gothic so much? Because it’s a space opera. It’s a delicate dance of monstrous ships of war. It’s steeled nerves and all or nothing gambit. It’s daring broadsides or heroic bombing runs. It’s also a game will excellent models, well written rules and something you can have fun with only 4 ships a side should the mood take you.

If you’ve never  played it or long ago gave up I strongly urge you to embrace what is one of the best games ever made. True fact.