Covenant of Antarctica 5th Fleet

As I should have had a game of Dystopian Wars with Lee of The Chaps today but instead had to look after my poorly wife and strip wallpaper, I thought I’d share the fluff I’d been dreaming up for my CoA fleet. So I give you the Covenant of Antarctica’s 5th Fleet; the Night Watch.

Commissioned in 1860, the 5th Fleet was charged with patrolling the dark waters surrounding the Covenant’s domain. Initially little more than a task force made up of cruisers and frigates, coordinated by the battleship CSS Stalwart, the fleet was forced to spend prolonged periods of time isolated from one another as they plied the vast stretches of waters surrounding the ice floes for raiders or other threats to the Covenant’s sovereignty.

Before the renowned Commodore Aldus Stone took command, the 5th saw little action beyond clashes with the Kingdom of Britannia’s Falklands units that strayed too close to the Covenant’s borders, but these were little more than pot shots. Stone changed all that. A dour man hailing from the home counties of England he made a living as a game keeper in the employ of the Earl of Wessex. A tracker of superlative skill, a master of the silent kill and lethal with an elephant gun. Working for the Earl man and boy it was believed he was destined for great things. However fate had other ideas when the Earl’s eldest son drunk and in a rage with his father accidentally shot and killed Stone’s wife, the Earl’s housekeeper. Were this great tragedy not enough but the Earl utilising his significant influence had the entire matter swept under the carpet. Stone, realising his true place in Britannian society, was a broken man. Tired with toiling for a man whose sole interest was growing fat on the blood and sweat of the people, Stone made the long and dangerous journey South to the Covenant of Antarctica looking for a life with purpose.

Stone was not idle for long, being drafted into the Covenant armed forces in 1862. To his surprise, Stone was assigned to the navy and the 5th fleet rather than the army. His self-sufficiency and innate ability for the silent kill made him perfect for the dangers of patrolling the Covenant’s waters. Initially assigned to the frigate Too Quiet Stone impressed his superiors with his hit and run defence of the Western ice floes against a FSA raiding party. Although his ship was crippled, and eventually sunk, he delayed the FSA long enough that the rest of the 5th fleet was able to surround the FSA and destroy them utterly.

It didn’t take long for Stone to ascend the ranks and find himself at the head of the 5th fleet off the back of a string of daring actions keeping the Covenant’s borders safe. He achieved the rank of Commodore after he led the 5th fleet into the heart of Port Stanley, the Falkland Islands, on an unauthorised but successful rescue of Covenant POWs without a shot being fired in 1867. His first order was to have the fleet painted raven black to reflect the Night Watch moniker the fleet had earned in their many night sorties and defensive actions.

Although a lonely man with a solitary and single-minded command style that sat ill with the Covenant hierarchy, there was no denying that the 5th was clearly wasted as a patrol force and was pressed into front line service as the Covenant’s warmachine took the fight to the rest of the world in 1869. Under Stone’s command the 5th fleet won a score of victories against the great powers of the world,with more and more assets being assigned to the fleet to extent that Stone’s flag now resides aboard the dreadnought CSS History’s Judgement.

Despite the 5th Fleet’s many victories, Stone’s naturally cold nature combined with his unflinching belief in the Covenant’s cause, has seen several instances of excessive force by the ships under Stone’s command. There have even been reports of executions of enemy sailors stranded at sea. However the fleet seem to reserve their worst brand of violence for the vessels of the Britannic navy. No one knows why this is, not even the crew of the Night Watch itself, but all sailors of the Kingdom of Britannia know that if they spy a black ship on the horizon they should beware. The condemnation of his superiors is never far behind the 5th Fleet but if Commodore Stone cares he gives no sign.

However, Stone’s popularity at home and infamy abroad has made it difficult for any meaningful sanction to be levelled against him or the captains beneath his command. Indeed there are many within the fleet that believe themselves untouchable, and even above the rest of the fleet. To many Stone is a hero. Others see Stone and the 5th as a rogue element that sooner or later will either turn on their own or be brought to task. Which ever the answer be, none can deny that Stone and his fleet of raven black ships are a powerful force both at home and abroad.

Covenant of Antarctica Miniature Review

I’ve got a few Spartan reviews in the pipeline but I’m going to stagger them so I don’t spoil you.

First up I’m looking at the Zeno class armoured cruiser and the Pericles class drone carrier for the Covenant of Antarctica from Dystopian Wars.

Zeno Class Armoured Cruiser
The Zeno, or Death Star, class as I have dubbed it is a hefty ship compared to the standard Plato class cruiser. Not only an entirely bigger model but it’s just a much more impressive design.

A prouder looking vessel entirely than the Plato class with a far more solid construction, reflected in the stats. However, the star attraction of the Zeno (Death Star) class is its particle accelerator cannon. Although only a 12 inch range it packs quite a punch with 7 attack dice. Each. Or 13 with linked fire. The word ‘ouch’ springs to mind.

It’ll take some punishment too with a shield generator and 6 HP, although its low DR makes it vulnerable to mass attacks which makes using the particle accelerator a do-or-die weapon. And at 80 points per model you’ll feel the casualties acutely. But mine layers all the Zeno class to extract itself without pursuit so, if it survives its attack run it’ll be able to circle and come in again. Chances are Zeno class won’t survive the game but working together they could easily make back their points before they go boom.

The models live up to Spartan’s usual standard for attention to detail but there’s one little feature, combined with the aforementioned particle accelerator cannon that has earned it my affectionate little nickname. Should you get your hands on a Zeno class have a good look at the bridge. It looks rather a lot like the window of the Emperor’s throne room on the, yes you guessed it, the Death Star.

When you think about the size of the model I’m talking about that’s a mad level of detail. And it still posses that awesome contrast of bearly understood future tech and the crudity of the raw Victorian industrial era. And all the little sci-fi homages that Spartan have used to make the Covenant of Antarctica such a distinctive faction in Dystopian Wars.

Pericles Class Fleet (Drone) Carrier
I’ve always been impressed by the CoA carrier because it applies simple technology to the best effect. In this case, flinging drones into the air using pneumatic catapults. Which is way cool.

However I quickly gave the Pericles class a nickname of its own whilst building it. The House of Cards class named as such because the hull, 6 launchers and the central flight control are all separate parts and therefore is a bit of a pig to build and easy to get the flight control a bit wonky. And prone, whilst the glue sets, to collapsing like a house of cards. Detail and casting quality is good although the flash around the hull meant some of the rivet detail was lost during cleaning. Not a big gripe, just a shame.

As carriers go its massive. The hull itself is easily as big as the CoA battleship. The launchers also give it significant height making it an impressive model to look at and an imposing ship in battle. In addition to its 6 fighter wings (although I only got 5 in my clam pack) it packs quite a punch in its own right. Fore mounted torpedoes, hefty turrets and broadsides make it a battle carrier without peer. And at 130 points excluding the wings but including a shield generator it has an extra layer of resilience on top of the DR5 and HP 7. Plus 6 Ack Ack is just bonkers.

You can plonk the Pericles in the centre of a battle formation and it’ll hold its own competently and be as much a support ship to the main line as it will be a drone launcher. Coupled with the fact that you can be as cavalier as you like with your drones because there’s plenty more where that came from.

For all its slightly faffy design it’s an ace model and proper hard in-game terms. Taking one in a CoA fleet represents a tactical headache for more fleet commanders. Taking two carriers and you opponent can just pack up and go home.

Statistically Speaking…

Spartan Games have updated a few of their stat cards as well as the MARs for Dystopian Wars. Once again, as I’m all about providing a service I’ve robbed them and put them up here:

Updated Kingdom of Britannia Stat Cards:

Kingdom of Britannia Ruler Class Battleship [PDF, 500KB]
Kingdom of Britannia Tribal Class Cruiser [PDF, 500KB]
Kingdom of Britannia Orion Class Destroyer [PDF, 500KB]
Kingdom of Britannia Hawk Class Scout Rotor [PDF, 325KB]
Kingdom of Britannia Eagle Class War Rotor [PDF, 525KB]
Kingdom of Britannia Vanguard Class Submarine [PDF, 300KB]
Kingdom of Britannia Sovereign Class Land Ship [PDF, 550KB]
Kingdom of Britannia Illustrious Class Sky Fortress [PDF, 525KB]

Updated Prussian Empire Stat Cards:

Prussian Empire Stolz Class Destroyer [PDF, 475KB]
Prussian Empire Metzger Class Robot [PDF, 300KB]
Prussian Empire Gewitterwolke Airship [PDF, 525KB]
Prussian Empire Imperium Sky Fortress [PDF, 300KB]

Updated Federated States of America Stat Cards:

Federated States of America Independence Class Battleship [PDF, 500KB]
Federated States of America Guilford Class Destroyer [PDF, 500KB]
Federated States of America Saratoga Class Fleet Carrier [PDF, 500KB]
Federated States of America Washington Class Land Ship [PDF, 300KB]

Updated Empire of the Blazing Sun Stat Cards:

Empire of the Blazing Sun Ika Class Mechanical Squid [PDF, 325KB]
Empire of the Blazing Sun Inari Class Scout Gyro [PDF, 550KB]
Empire of the Blazing Sun Tenkei Class Sky Fortress [PDF, 550KB]

Updated Covenant of Antarctica Stat Cards:

Covenant of Antarctica Prometheus Class Dreadnought [PDF, 325KB]
Covenant of Antarctica Galen Class Escort [PDF, 300KB]
Covenant of Antarctica Callimachus Class Time Dilation Orb [PDF, 300KB]
Covenant of Antarctica Archimedes Class Heavy Walker [PDF, 300KB]

Updated Model Assigned Rules:

Model Assigned Rules [PDF, 325KB]

Those Dudes at Spartan are Mental

No clever titles, no waffle just the simple fact that the chaps are Spartan Games are utterly, totally and completely mental. Not that it’s a bad thing mind, but just look at their latest brain children in the form of the Herodotus Class Mobile Airfield for the Covenant of Antarctica and the Seydlitz Class Mobile Airfield for the Prussian Empire…

Yeah, okay, they’re awesome…

Dread to Dread

Following on from my review of the Covenant of Antarctica starter fleet by Spartan Games I thought I’d compare the Covenant and FSA Dreadnoughts and do a little bit of a review. Because I can.

I may have got a little gushy about the CoA in my last post but I couldn’t help it, the models are really quite lovely. In no small part to the groovy little details like the particle accelerator that runs around the aft of the ship. Or the recessed Death Star guns along the broadsides. Basically, it’s all a bit gorgeous.

The FSA Dreadnought on the other hand is a wonderful blend of form and function. I’ve always loved the FSA ships and it was those models that drew me to Dystopian Wars in the first place. And it’s little wonder that the FSA Dreadnought had me firmly by the hobby place for quite some time after the visuals were first released. It’s no surprise really I mean; look at it!

I think the thing I love about the FSA Dreadnought is that it’s brash yet refined, industrial yet stately. It’s a massive on contradictions, just like the nation that inspired it. The paddle wheels are crazy big and the stars along the housing so unnecessary but absolutely American. But in the crudity of it lies its beauty. Beneath the bridge massive, piston driven, gears grind the paddles forwards and fore and aft rocket batteries are primed and ready to unleash hell. And the especially cool clock work cannons that make the FSA so deadly in a fight sit surrounded by arched windows and wood decking. And there’s 3 of them… But beyond the obvious stuff there’s a huge amount of detail that really demonstrates the love and care Spartan put into their models. The decking, the stairwells and even the White House style windows. And if you look towards the prow you should be able to see skylights. It’s all a little bit mental and a lot bit awesome.

In gaming terms these two are actually quite evenly matched. The FSA has range on its side thanks to the rockets and the accuracy of those main guns. But Covenant ships are tough and if they’re equipped with energy turrets they can level a solid amount of fire at a target at any range. Coupled with shield generators, sturginium rounds and a shield disruptor, it’ll be able to close whilst dishing out significant damage before delivering the kill shot with the Particle Accelerator Cannon. That said, if the FSA Dreadnought were to get abeam, its main guns and broadsides would dish out some serious hurt. But its survival is dependent on keeping the CoA at bay, and that’s going to be tricky. But if worse comes to the worst, its iron prow will ugly up Covenant ships real nice…

But as with all games, it’s all about how well you can use them and, as they’re not going to be used in isolation, what the rest of your fleets are up to. Needless to say; the both dreadnoughts are capable of making mincemeat out of small class vessels so the smart thing to do would be to leave them to duke it out on their own but as we all know, a plan never survives contact with the enemy.

That’s no moon…

…it’s a Epicurus Class Sky Fortress. My my Spartan have been ever so kind to me today; releasing captures of their shiny new Covenant of Antarctica sky fortress. The fluff lifted from the website goes a little something like this…

The Covenant of Antarctica rebelled from the paths of other nations, striking out to pursue their own destiny through the application of reason and science. In the barren snow fields of Antarctica this fledgling race has built incredible weapons of war which roll forth to wage war. Machines of stunning ingenuity, the coastal waters are filled with vessels whose craftsmanship is only matched by their capacity for destruction.

The skies are blackened by shadows of monstrous size, the shadows of machines that defy gravity and reason with the same indomitable force that brings life to the nation-state of Antarctica – Technology.

It is with subtle irony that the Epicurus Class Sky Fortress is named for a man devoted to attaining a state free of fear, in peace and tranquility, when this monster sows nothing but death and mayhem. In the end that is the purpose of the Covenant, and this vessel, along with all their machines of war, is but a means to that end. The entire vessel, however, is a unique twist on the carrier concept. Instead of an open deck, the Covenant’s unmanned drone fighters are shot, rather than launched into the fray, from the monstrous turret atop this strange ship, with rows upon rows of spare drones ready to be fed into the barrel. But this isn’t merely a launch vessel, its broadsides and turrets will make quick work of the enemy, and in the event that is not enough, there are plenty of spare drones ready for an all too short flight, their propulsion systems and volatile fuel making for an effective warhead.

And now for the pictures that’ll make you drool like a fat kid in a doughnut shop…

Covenant of Antarctica – The Review

As it happens I have a few model reviews for Spartan in the pipeline and they’ll be released as I get time. But first the techno-badasses from Spartan Games‘ Dystopian Wars.

I know the Covenant are hardly a new release but a recent preview of a heavy flyer for them touched me right in the hobby place. Majorly. The police were called and everything. And to the point where I simply had to buy a starter fleet…and a dreadnought.

So where to begin… Well I suppose with the rather natty, beautifully presented, full colour A5 rule booklet that comes with the starter fleet. Because the Covenant of Antarctica are, well, awesome, they get to bend an awful lot of rules and this means that the special rules cover 8 pages of the booklet. That’s not to say there are dozens of rules but the rules require some explaining. I have no problem with the rules as it’s my opponents who’ll be on the receiving end. But I think it’s fair to say that you’ll have to keep the booklet very close by for the first few games as the CoA’s main advantages over the other fleets are its special rules. This highlights, in my opinion, the need for ships to be equipped with actual weapons with varying values rather than numbers of shots as the only way to mix things up is with special rules, which you have to remember. But this is just a preference thing and the direction Project Awesome will be going in and should in no way put you off using the CoA. You certainly won’t hear me complain about the shield piercing ammunition or the fact that my Battleship can partially submerge making it faster and harder to hit. That’s freaking awesome. It’s also massively handy having the entire army list in a single book with the special rules listed rather than having lots of cards spread across a table…with the special rules printed on the back.

The first half of the book expands on the Covenant’s background massively and makes for an entertaining read. I’ve already speculated in previous posts that Spartan may choose to do this will all their starter fleets as iterations or rules and models get re-released and I sincerely hope they do because, as I keep banging on about, background makes a game and I feel even more psyched about my fleet now I understand them better. And without fluff you’re just pushing some sexy bits of resin/metal/plastic around a board with no real connection to them.

Now on to the models themselves. Were this a one word review (you should be so lucky) they’d be summed up as such: Awesome. That wasn’t much of a revelation was it? I could bang on for ages about how much I love the design of the CoA ships. So I will.
The CoA ships are special. I mean really special. I love all the Dystopian Wars models because Spartan gets the balance bang on between the steam and the science. The FSAs clockwork gun turrets are inspired. The FSA dreadnought is bonkers (more on that another time). But the Covenant models are just amazing. And it’s not because their dripping in detail as the sleek yet industrial design means there isn’t White House style windows or crisply laid deck planks but that’s the beauty of them. It’s a minimalist design in a ostentacious, brash, crude, clunky, mechanical world.

The contrast is epic. Similarly, the wonderful contrast between heavy girders, crude copper conduits and smooth hulls tells a story of the two worlds that the Covenant of Antarctica inhabit, and despite the science made available to them they’re still massively limited by their understanding the technologies available to implement it. The beauty of the Covenant ships is the little things. The curving armour plates which are far too organic for the age and the hull design that’s vaguely reminiscent of modern warships. The Star Wars-esque energy turrets that look like mini Death Stars (which is unassailably cool), and the fact that broadside batteries are little gun blisters which reminds me of cult sci-fi like War of the Worlds. The Covenant ships are an homage to the very best of science fiction over the last 120 years.

Obviously the casting is of a very high standard as I’ve come to expect from Spartan and the ships required next to no cleaning prior to building. In fact I got the starter fleet and the Dreadnought built whilst the wife watched Gok. But the stand out plus point of any Spartan models is the intelligence with which they’re designed as resin isn’t the most versatile and can’t be laid on frames. But it does produce some beautiful models. The mold lines are few and the parts fit together nicely. And the fact that the Battleship comes with a clear perspex silhouette you can slot the bridge component into is such a nice touch. All The Chaps were very impressed when I showed them, and rightly so. It’s stuff like that, that makes a great model epic and beats the arse clean off a submerged counter.

It’s Not Propaganda…

…it’s good advertising…

Spartan Games are working over time at the awesome factory at the moment. And not content with bombarding us with images of the up and coming ships and other contraptions for Firestorm Armada and Dystopian Wars, they’ve penned a few rather funky Propaganda posters.

I think the thing I like most about them, aside from some rather striking design and a great sense of humour, is that Spartan are really getting behind their backgrounds now. A rich universe to game in is a fun universe to game in and I think when the new iteration of Firestorm Armada comes out we’ll see even more fluff than before. I also suspect as fleets are re-released we’ll start to get booklets included in starter boxes like we’ve seen with the Covenant of Antarctica (review for that slice of awesome coming soon) which will dramatically enhance the background and therefore gaming experience. Not to mention the added benefit of not having small cards littering the board with all the handy, need to know, special rules on the back.

But my musings aside, scroll down for some Spartan awesomeness…

Science & Guns

I hadn’t intended on posting this but the more I look at the images the more I realise what a cracking job Spartan Games did with this model.

Behold the Covenant of Antarctica Daedalus Class Dreadnought.

I think what makes it so impressive is that although a weapon of war, that wasn’t the primary thought when it was designed. The Covenant are, after all, scientists and artisans. All great thinkers. And they’ve only gone to war because they had to, not because that’s their business.

I mean look at it! It’s just gorgeous. I’d really resisted the urge to collect a Covenant of Antarctica fleet partly because I didn’t want to jump on the new release band wagon, but mainly because I’d already bought a FSA starter fleet. But looking at these renders I think I’ve changed my mind.

Yes…I think a purchase needs to be made…