Covenant of Antarctica 5th Fleet Reinforcements

As promised, here’s the background for the new additions to the Covenant of Antarctica 5th Fleet which I first chronicled here.

The Department of Time Manipulation and Displacement is the only part of Covenant society that operates with any kind of secrecy in what is an otherwise open and Utopian society. Founded in 1865 whose founders, combined with the knowledge in the great repository,  were fascinated with science fictions writings by the likes of Jules Verne who played around with notions of multi-dimensionalism and the accepted natural order of the world.

Within the year the first Dimensional Transmogrification Emitter was built and tested with mixed results. Professors Pendleton and Kline having pioneered the field of time and space manipulation had attempted to teleport a bowl of fruit 6 metres, from one side of the laboratory to the other. They, instead, teleported the bowl of fruit 6 hours into the future, the bowl reappearing right where it had disappeared in shower of tachyons as Pendleton and Kline stood arguing over who had made the fatal miscalculation.

Further experiments were met with similar results with very little being achieved in way of instantaneous transportation – the military application of which would have granted the Covenant and insurmountable tactical advantage. Despite months of testing and the destruction of their original lab (and the surrounding facility) the professors were forced to admit defeat. Instead they focussed their energies on the areas that had met with some success. Specifically the ability to impact upon the flow of time on an object or objects.

Pendleton and Kline discovered they were able to project and sustain temporal distortion fields that would alter the flow of time, allowing objects to seemingly speed up or slow down depending on the polarity of the field. In essence a time dilation field, as they would become known, could alter the flow of time around an object to allow it to skip ahead or slow down to a stand still.

By the time Jules Verne himself had fled to Antarctica to pursue his life as a writer free from persecution in his native France the art of time dilation had been all but perfected. When Pendleton and Kline heard that Verne was the Covenant’s latest refugee they immediately descended on the writer with bottle of brandy. It was during this raucous, alcohol fuelled, meeting that a break through was made. Verne proposed that the problem was they were trying to move mass through space rather than trying to move space to allow the object to pass through it.

The resulting experiments resulted in success, albeit limited. The power output required to bend the fabric of space was tremendous and meant that the generators were few in number and excessively large for a relatively short-range. It forever laid to rest the hopes of Pendleton and Kline for an effective transportation system beyond supplies being moved more effectively across the Empire of Ice. Militarily Time Dilation Generators could be deployed to allow units to be rapidly redeployed as needed as well as afford nearby ships or armour protection from incoming fire. Although temperamental to the point of fatal, their potential gains were enough for the Antarctica generals to petition the Department of Time Manipulation and Displacement to allow them to deploy the time dilation orbs in theatre of war.

The Department recognised the advantage the generators would provide and so designed an articulated chassis to house the generators for field operations. However, the Department of Time Manipulation and Displacement, which had grown to a staff of hundreds with Pendleton and Kline at its head, shrewdly refused to allow themselves to co-opted into the Covenant military. To this day this has meant that a commanding officer wishing to use a time dilation orb must petition the department in writing who may refuse or recall their assets at any time.

The additions of the CATDO Jules Verne and Thomas Kuhn to the 5th Fleet was as much a surprise to Commodore Stone as it was to his command staff as he had put in his request to the Department of Time Manipulation and Displacement when he was first given command. Something bordering on tradition, most fleet commanders requested a time dilation orb as a matter of course.

So it is with much rancour from Stone’s detractors in fleet command that he was assigned to by the mysterious department. Completely autonomous from the admiralty they were powerless to prevent it and going against the whims of the Department and the last ranking officer to decry them to the Covenant council found himself commander of a fishing scow.

Stone is yet to use the Verne or the Kuhn to their fullest potential, the tactics required forcing a commander to think in 4 dimensions rather than the standard 3 but already he is realising the potential of catapulting his battleships forwards to deliver a hammer blow before teleporting them back to the safety of the line.

To serve aboard a time dilation orb requires the utmost bravery. Aside from being a primary target for the Covenant’s enemies, rending the laws of space and time is a risky affair. Any time a glitch causes a vessel to be trapped in space/time the potential disaster on board a time dilation orb is immense. Crews are fortunate if a catastrophic malfunctions results in the destruction of the orb. If they are unlucky they can be catapulted through space and materialise inside bulkheads, generators or even gun barrels of nearby ships or teleported to unknown point in time never to be seen again.

When the 5th fleet returned to the New Halley docks for repair and resupply, following a successful campaign in the North Pacific against the Russian menace, they found, on the South Halley Aerodrome, the Daedalus Class Apollo and the imposing and revered Epicurus Class Sky Lord commanded by Wing Commander Francois Audet, being repainted in the distinctive 5th fleet colours. An imposing and dour man, Audet was a ruthless fighter pilot in his youth and an intractable and deadly sky captain since fleeing France at the head of an entire air division, every man under his command defecting to the Covenant cause.

Audet’s decision to defect was for no love of the Covenant’s way of life. Indeed he finds much of its reckless need for discovery distasteful but not as distasteful as the what the Republique of France had become since Prussian oppression had set in. Sent to bomb civilian targets in Poland Audet instead took his airman South leaving France behind them. Although he knows his decision to be the righteous course of action he carries the burden of condemning those under his command to a lifetime exiled from their families, never able to return home to the country they loved and served.

To add further insult to injury, Audet and his airman are enemies of the French state with great bounties on their heads making the French military fight all the harder whenever he or the other defectors are identified in theatre.

Whereas Stone relishes the opportunity to bring the fight to his former nation, Audet regrets every French life he is forced to take in his duty as a commanding officer and a Wing Commander of the Covenant of Antarctica. This simple ideological difference was enough to make Audet distrust Stone and wary of his growing renowned within the Covenant. It was no accident that Audet and Captain Emile Rodin and their sky ships were assigned to Stone’s command and beyond professional courtesy the two men disliked each other immediately and in the short time serving as part of the 5th Fleet both Audet and Rodin have clashed with Stone on several occasion, usually over his overly aggressive tactics.

Indeed Stone seems quite intent on the destruction of the Apollo and the Sky Lord thrusting them into the thickest fighting but in reality his acute understanding of Covenant technology and the superlative tactics couple with the command ability of his sky captains means that his air elements always win the day, albeit bloodied enough that they much rely on the rest of the fleet to tend to their wounds.

How long this flimsy and fractured relationship will last can only be guessed at but for now, at least, Audet and his airmen are helping win the 5th fleet greater victories and ironically Stone the fame that Audet so deeply detests.

Covenant of Antarctica Flyers – A Review

A few weeks back I wrote an article about my fully painted 5th fleet for the Covenant of Antarctica. In it I made a note about the request made by the fleet’s Commodore for a Daedalus Class large flyer. Well it looks like the Admiralty was feeling generous as they not only assigned the Daedalus, but an Epicurus class sky fortress too.

So let’s kick off with the Daedalus Class.

I looked at the Daedalus when it first came out back in October 2011 and it was this model that convinced me to collect the Covenant in the first place. It’s little wonder, then, that I love this model. I love its elegant galleon-like design and how it clashes with its obviously scientific and industrial construction.

It’s vaguely reminiscent of a paddle steamer with its large, wheel-like, positional thrusters on the sides of what is, ostensibly, a ships hull.

As usual, it’s got lots of lovely detailing, although mine was slightly miss cast so home of the detail around the base of the smoke stack housing is a little vague but once it’s painted black it won’t really matter.

In game terms she’s a bit of a beast. As hard to damage rating as a battleship and a critical rating of an armoured cruiser, she’s a toughie to be sure. Combined with an extra point of speed and the Daedalus is formidable and just fast enough to be a pain in the arse. Armament wise it’s really only at its best once it’s in the thick of the fighting having just forward and aft turrets and broadsides. However 3 shots at range band 4 does mean it can start sniping at smaller vessels right from the word go.

Once it closes to range and gets abeam of something then pain will ensue. At range band 2 it’ll be lobbing 10 dice from the turrets and 6 from the broadsides at you. And then dropping mines on your head. Although I kind of feel this design was intentional by the chaps at Spartan. In my mind’s eye the Daedalus would cut an elegant but threatening shape through the sky, weapons batteries loosing as all around it the sky is filled with flak and exploding shells all the while seafaring vessels below slug it out. Which is all very cool.

In reality you wouldn’t want it to be on its own for long because it would get torn to bits but, hell, it’s certainly make for a dramatic game, the elegant curving hull swooping into view amongst a hail of enemy cannon fire before laying waste to all brave enough to steer too close…

That’s when the Epicurus Class Sky Fortress would rock up and things would get really unpleasant. The Epicurus Class Sky Fortress is an absolute monster of a model. Really huge.

In many ways to relates back to my original review of the Covenant starter fleet when I made the comparison between the energy turrets and the Death Star in Star Wars. Well the Epicurus is the Death Star. It’s big, it’s round, and it has a massive gun bolted to it. Although in the Epicurus’ case it isn’t a planet destroying laser but a launch turret that, if you wonder too close will fire 9 drones at you. Which is just fantastic. It also reminds me of the ‘tripods’ from the 1953 film adaptation of The War of the Worlds. So like other elements of the fleet it’s an homage to science fiction of all stripes.

In the game it is an homage to pain. As tough as a battleship and nearly as well armed, it’s quite the adversary. As with the Daedalus, it’s going to be most effective in a broadside actions but it’s Launch Turret means that if anything strays too close it’s going to get taught a harsh and short lesson. Left to drift alone on in a game I’m sure it’ll make good account of itself but put it at the heart of a flying formation and it all gets a bit unpleasant as it also has 6 tiny flyers too. Throw in your 10 freebies and the fact the drones never run out of fuel and actually you’ve got a pretty horrible formation that has range, lots of guns and enough tiny flyers not keep an exclusion zone around your big stuff. To coin a phrase; I love it when a plan comes together.

Once I’ve got these two monsters painted I shall write an additional fluff post to go with the 5th Fleet explaining their background and how they became attached to the Night Watch.

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…