Kurak Alliance Fleet Guide – A Review

firestorm-select copyContinuing on from looking at the second edition rules, it seemed only right to take a look at one of the Fleet Guides released by Spartan in answer to the recurring grumble that there were no defined army lists or background.

Never let it be said that Spartan don’t listen. Whilst not the cheapest of books, it’s a nice touch that they opted to divide the books by allegiances rather than individual fleets. This does mean there’s a strong chance you’ll get a fair chunk of book you don’t need or may even not read, and it’s debatable how cost-effective that is to get the full picture. Or at least the full picture of half the story.

FARB05-2 copyIt’s a very pretty book. I really dig the minimal cover and it feels very premium throughout. Some of the models in the photography could have been better painted but that’s not the fault of the book.

So the book is divided up into the various powers that make up the Kurak Alliance. Simple enough. Each with its own brief history and fleet lists. There’s a little bit of repeated content from the rulebook but fortunately the writing is better. It’s still not as polished as it should be and Spartan still have a flair for sucking the gravity out of a dire situation. But hey-ho. It’s getting better and that’s something.

The fleet lists in the Guide are nicely laid out, a huge improvement on the fleet cards which always irritated me for having important information on the reverse and thus almost always got forgotten. The improvements around the ship upgrades – weapons, hardpoints etc – pretty much require a proper fleet roster but it’s a good thing, it makes the game feel more thought out. It recognises that the array of ships on both sides of the conflict should be more than a swap of a statistic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still the case, but the options and the new fleet structure really makes a big difference.

And it’s actually kinda fun pouring over the options, rather than a chore or a functional step between you and rolling huge piles of dice. And we know how much fun that can be. It’s a bit of a shame that the different classes of ship types have all been lumped together but again it comes back to swapping round columns but some special rules could have done the job just as well. Bit of a shame but there we are.

One of my stand out favourite bits of the Fleet Guide are the example colour schemes and fluff about the various fleets. It goes a really long way to flesh out the conflict and gives gamers the option to apply some narrative to their fleets which is something that is always quite lacking in non-Games Workshop games. What can I say? They just get that stuff nailed down.

From a hobby point of view having some example paint jobs in the Fleet Guide is a huge boon. The Spartan gallery only has a couple of examples at most – that’s not a criticism just how it is – so it’s good to get a better flavour of how they see the fleets looking. And of course it makes it much easier for hobbyists to come up with their own having that solid jumping off point.

The big downer for me in the book was the lack of race specific special rules. Heck even fleet specific rules would have been cool. Other than the tactical bonus and command distance and the upgrade variations there’s nothing that really adds some narrative to the game. Something like Preferred Enemy or some for the Dindrenzi against Terrans for example, or a regeneration rule for the Aquans would have been way cool.

I do appreciate that there are differences on a ship level but that’s true of any unit in any game. It’s a bit of a missed opportunity considering all the effort that Spartan has gone to improve the writing, rules and flesh out the fleet lists in the Second Edition rules and Fleet Guides.

The Fleet Guides are a good idea. I like the fact that you get all the good guy fleets and all the bad guy fleets in one place because the game does encourage taking allies be they from the major races or the Alliance members. I’m not wild about how much background is left out of the rulebook so you’re almost compelled to buy both Fleet Guides if you want the whole story. It makes for quite an expensive outlay when you’ll read them through once and then one fleet list repeatedly.

But to take the Kurak Alliance Fleet Guide on its own it’s a nice book. It looks great, reads well and it’s so good to have the ships laid out sensibly with all the options and MARs in one place. The background is still a bit woolly and there’s a couple of typos that tarnish an otherwise professionally produced book but that aside it’s a worthy investment.

The Kurak Alliance Fleet Guide is available from Firestorm Games priced £18.00.

It’s all for the Greater Good

We are coming up to my anniversary. That’s right its been nearly a year since my re-insertion into the hobby. Which I imagine to be a bit like being reinserted into the Matrix but a lot less sinister and somewhat more enjoyable. 

A lot has happened in the last 12 months and a great deal of that has been in the last 3 – 4 months if I’m honest. You may recall I had played a couple of games of Mordheim which I’m sad to say didn’t reach any higher than a couple. But there have been other distractions and lately I have found myself less in love with my warband than I was before. I was never 100% taken with them. I suspect a combination of rushing to get something together on the cheap, which meant using models I didn’t like and being so rusty with my painting that I made a hash of a couple of them. This following on from a mishap with a can of basecoat (people it is really important to shake the can well and make sure it’s not cold). With no inspiration for a colour scheme or the background the other guys had behind themMonty’s Bastards have languished in one of my now numerous carry cases. Until last week when the poor perverted sociopath has found the dust being brushed off his unpainted shoulders and being put straight on eBay. He and his merry band of mentalists are being replaced with a warband I’ve wanted to do since before my departure from the hobby a decade ago. A heavily themed Beastmen force. I won’t go into too much detail now but I am genuinely excited at the prospect of fielding some hairy stinky Beastmen, with a slight humorous twist, and I get to have an Avatars of War Minotaur because frankly they are awesome. 

I am also now the proud owner of a small Sorylian fleet for Firestorm Armada all thanks to my wife being very generous, and not too judgemental, on my birthday. Although have you ever tried to explain to your other half why a Dreadnought (space shotgun) made from resin is so damned expensive? No? Well I have and she still doesn’t get it. Much like many of my other models: the fleet is currently sitting in a carry case in a very much unpainted and un-played with state, but I am slowly adding to it and I know my colour scheme so it’s just a matter of getting round to it and I look forward to seeing how the Sorylians do in a game. 

Now those other distractions I mentioned, are primarily the Star Wars X-Wing Miniature Game by Fantasy Flight Games. If you didn’t know already Phil and I have a massive hard on for this game, which does border on the slightly unsavoury side from time to time. I run the Imperials and Phil as you may be aware is fielding the Rebel scum. I have to say I didn’t take much convincing to pick this one up, I had been looking at it but didn’t know how to take the plunge. Phil, being the enabler that he is,saw to that. I am now the proud owner of a small but growing Imperial fleet which includes 5 TIE Fighters 1 Tie Advanced and recently Slave 1 (you may have seen my rather gushy review). We have yet to get down to pitting Slave 1 against the Falcon but I am very much hoping it’s soon as I have a bit of a score to settle and honestly it would be nice to maybe win a game. [Never! – Ed.] This new love affair has kicked off many thought processes that revolve around Star Wars but again these are things that will I’m hoping become more apparent in the not to distant future. 

Dreadball… okay so I have dabbled here a little bit and while I’m not as hot for it as Neil, I do still love it. I never really got on with Blood Bowl but Dreadball is everything Blood Bowl wasn’t which is good, fun and fast, (all opinions expressed in this article are purely my own and are just that only an opinion). Now I haven’t actually played a straight game of Dreadball just yet, but I have played Ultimate against 3 other opponents and it was brilliant, I was slightly concerned as I have a Judwan team (yes I field the pacifists in space). Despite the fact they only have strikers and can’t perform any physical attacks they performed really well. Except against the Maruader player who decided he wanted to squish everything on the board and Judwan are particularly squishy. But I enjoyed my game so much I have actually started to paint my team, and after a couple of pointers from the painting guru that is Lee, I have to say I’m rather happy with the results. I am yet to finish them but so far so good. 

Before I get onto the subject that this article was named for, I have a few other bits I want to mention. Firstly being I now own a copies of Dreadball & Sedition Wars, rule sets for Battlefleet Gothic, Necromunda, Adeptus Titanicus 2 and I’m now on the look out for Epic Armageddon rules… So a busy boy, I know. Having recently played a game of Battlefleet Gothic (battle report with spangly pictures coming soon) with my Necrons (God are they broken) I have once again got the bug to sail the warp and blow the shit out of Imperials, BUT not with my Necrons. And Phil gave me a copy GCT Studio’s game Bushido to read and review too! I’ve always been into Japanese culture, and this mixes plenty of that with some great looking models and so far decent looking rules.

I have also got ever so slightly further with scratch building my Chaos Titans but that’s a completely separate article. 

So onto the matter of the Greater Good. Some of you may recall last year I started talking about a Space Marine project using Codex Space Wolves, based on Celtic culture and mythology. They never really got named although Moon Dragons was an option, especially for Nate of ODAM fame. I built up a fair few blokes including some Horus Heresy stuff from Forge World. I wrote a background and devised a colour scheme. Now due to the fact they were Celtic themed, they were going to be rather up close and personal and through discussions with Lee & Phil I realised just how badly dicked on they were going to get in the process. And so my Tau allies were born. And this is where it all changed. 

I really wanted my Space Marines to look the tits and I was looking at a mixture of Forge World and Scibor miniatures for the main force. Now this is a lovely idea but it’s just so expensive. I was also concerned that my painting skills would never really do them justice and so it would be a project that would limp on and on and never be finished. So I made the decision this week to sell my Marines and concentrate on the Tau force that had grown beyond a small allied force because, basically, I was psyched by them. 

All this was due to the following: 1. The Space Marine project was prohibitively expensive. 2. One army per system is enough for any man (well at the moment), 3. FOCUS. This is in capitals because that’s the text I get from Phil two or three times a week when I start talking about something cool I’ve seen and how it’s given me a great idea. And 4. It’s all for the greater good. That is to say: Tau are my jam.

So my Tau force grows, which is funny when I think about it, and has been a long time coming. When I first started to drift away from the hobby the Tau had only just been released. So a decade or so. And in my odd drifts back into the fold I have picked up various iterations of the codex but have never got around to acquiring any models. had a massive thing for Fire Warrior on my PS2: who remembers that? [No one because it was shit. – Ed.] And the bit where you come face to face with a Chaos Space Marine… shoot and run, shoot and ruuuuuun. But more recently since coming back to the warm loving folds of plastic crack addiction, Phil was giving away some of his goodies to The Chaps and the Tau Codex was amongst them. Clearly it was fate.

Now I’m not only pulling together a decent force with a colour scheme I’m happy with, and actually have some painted models, but I’m looking at creating a Pathfinder Kill Team and looking at cool conversions I can do too [FOCUS! – Ed.]. I’m currently liking the idea of sculpting cloaks for them and giving them some samurai swords to act as their Ta’lissera bonding knife. Kromlech do some nice Sci-fKatanas that would work really well for this.  

do have to admit I’m not a huge fan of the Kroot or Vespids so they will be left out of my Tau force. I know this may not be the best idea but, frankly, I just don’t care. I’m also not a big fan of the vehicles but that said I’ve never been a massive fan of vehicles in any army and always preferred to go down the infantry route. However after a few conversations with The Chaps I will likely end up with at least one Devil Fish and possibly a Hammerhead. Okay, three. As I realise the need for these and that vehicles have become a much bigger focus since my days of 40K. I also love the look of the Forge World Pathfinder Tetras but that’s going on the possible list as I like the idea of my Pathfinders being sneaky stealth bastards. 

So currently I’m sitting at 3 Fire Warrior Squads, 3 XV15’s, 6 XV25’s with Drones, 1 Small Pathfinder Team, 1 Commander in Crisis Battle Suit, another 2 Crisis Battle Suits as body guards and a hand full of Drones.

Tau have slightly taken over my life as I also currently find myself reading Fire Warrior by Simon Spurrier the book based on the aforementioned game, it’s a great if not wholly accurate look into Tau culture. 

So my addiction continues and is culminating/climaxing* in a trip to Salute in a couple of weeks, which I no doubt will have to write about my splurging of monumental amounts of cash. And hopefully I will get to meet some of you guys there. 

So until next time…

Oooh I nearly forgot Firefly: The Game is AWESOME. 

*delete as appropriate

How to Breach Hulls and Influence People

The other week Spartan Games released new free PDF downloads of the Six core Fleet Manuals for version 2.0 of Firestorm Armada. Having had a look through the new files, I’m quite impressed, and there are clearly a lot of new ideas in the new version of the game.

So far, we only have Fleet Manuals for the six core factions (Aquans, Terrans, Sorylians, Directorate, Dindrenzi and Relthoza), but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the Alliance of Kurak and the Zenian League (not to mention other factions like the Syndicate) get their own treatment. These free downloads contain the key rules for choosing a fleet and the ship stats and options. For background material or shiny artwork however you will have to wait (and pay for) the shiny printed versions to be released in early 2014. It will be interesting to see how this pairing of premium book and free bare-bones download works out for both Spartan and the players. Certainly it means not having to lug a heavy book around when you can just look up stats on a phone/tablet; or carry around a printout and not get your nice book all scuffed.

The fact that the downloads are intended to be ‘living documents’ which will be updated as rules errata come up or new ships are released. This is undoubtedly a good thing, though I can imagine a few people being narked about having to download an updated PDF every so often.  I have to wonder how people with the hard copy versions will be updated. Whether Spartan will take the GW route of releasing updated manuals every so often or the Privateer Press route of releasing periodic anthologies with new toys for all factions. [Or downloadable paragraphs that you can glue over the redundant paragraphs. -Ed.]

Looking at the Manuals themselves, it’s clear that the fleet selection rules have been expanded and refined. Ships are now chosen from one of three Tiers, with minimum and maximum selections for each. Tiers group ships roughly according to size and the what falls within a particular Tier changes based on the size of the game, so large ships are heavily restricted in small games but are more widely available in larger games. The minimum and maximum choice restrictions for each size Tier both also scale with the size of game so fleets should have a reasonable balance of small, medium and large ships at all game sizes. That said, the gap between the minimum and maximum choices at each tier is quite narrow and I would not be entirely surprised if some players ran out of slots before they ran out of points.

Most importantly to some players, it is no longer possible to build a fleet with a token single squadron each of small or medium ships and spend the rest of your points on dreadnoughts.

The rules covering Alliance Fleets in the Fleet Manuals are clear and straightforward. While Alliance fleets do face some penalties in terms of Tactical ratings and access to cards, this is presumably to balance out the fact that including allies can be used to offset the perceived weaknesses of a particular fleet. Interestingly, each core fleet now has a ‘Natural Ally’, a minor faction whose ships can be taken in greater proportion and with slightly reduced penalties, for example Terrans with Hawker or Dindrenzi with RSN. This is a nice touch as it is evocative of the background and helps encourage players to vary their collection without having to take too great a wallop  from the nerf bat.

Interestingly, in very large games, you now assemble your force out of multiple separate battlegroups which are considered independent for a lot of rules purposes. Again this has a nice evocative feel of distinct formations coming together in common cause, but it also appears to be another way of including allies without the same penalties you incur when you are simply lumping allied ships in with a single detachment.

Looking at the ship rules themselves, the most obvious change is that virtually everything bigger than an escort now has at least a few options. I’m sure this will please anyone who has ever felt that playing Firestorm Armada felt a bit samey after a while and longed for the chance to make their personal armada just that little bit more theirs. The options seem to be thematically consistent throughout each fleet list and combined with the fact that ship weapons are now broken down by type (scatter weapons, beam weapons etc) means that each fleet has a lot more personality now. The only question is how to represent these options on the model as most FSA ships lack any kind of options in the kit. Players may find themselves having to concentrate very hard to keep track of which squadron of cruisers has the overcharged engines and which has the juiced up guns.

Coupled to this is the fact that in most, but not all cases ships of the same type (for example the Terran Razorthorn and Apollo battleships, but not the Tyrant battleship) have been rolled together and are  covered by a single profile and options list. This is slightly disappointing as it seems like they have missed of on a way of introducing more opportunities to vary and/or theme your force. Most of the ships affected by this are the MK1 and Mk2 cruisers, carriers and battleships so perhaps there is some reason for similar capabilities, but to potentially have them running with entirely identical stats – and even identical upgrades – seems a bit of a shame. I can appreciate that you can in principle use, for example, Sentinel and Hermes class cruisers to represent cruisers upgraded to different capabilities, but I can imagine unscrupulous players keeping their opponents guess about what they are facing, maybe luring the enemy into a trap with a ‘humble’ mk 1 cruiser.

Overall these are pretty impressive documents. All the more so given that they are being offered free to download. I’ve not had a chance to read the version 2.0 rules yet but what we see hints of in these PDFs suggests big changes and a lot more investment in making the game more diverse and characterful. I think FSA players have a lot to look forward to.

Firestorm Invading at Last?

Almost a year ago I reviewed a starter set for the Studio Sparta game Firestorm Invasion: Planetfall. I enthused about what had the potential to expand on the Firestorm Armada universe and finally break the company out of their habit of overly abstracted rules, shit writing and horrendous amounts of pointless bold copy.

At the time I had a chat with the people in the know at Spartan and they said that the Directorate and the Sorylians would be hot on the heels of the initial Dindrenzi & Terran Alliance starter sets. Well…they weren’t wrong. Almost a full 12 months later they’re finally releasing those two factions. And the indications are that they’ll be a proper boxset and some proper rules on the way too.

It’s been a hugely frustrating 12 months watching Spartan devolve into an early version of Games Workshop with rising prices, a scattergun release schedule with things like Spartan Scenics popping up despite no 28mm games actually being out yet from Spartan. Which is all part of the longer term plan for Firestorm Invasion. Which is why it’s odd that they’d release all that stuff so early.

I promise this isn’t sour grapes. I just don’t get it. The erratic releases, the supplements that push an abstract game system to its absolute limit and taking a year to roll something out that they’ve outwardly ignored. I have no problem with a company taking time to develop, or raising capitol to develop. Credit where credit’s due, they haven’t done a kickstarter. But I do feel that if Spartan had spent less time and money developing some of the iffy supplements they could have properly developed Firestorm Invasion rather than lose all momentum by taking a year.

Anyway, this is what Spartan had to say about Firestorm Invasion – and there’s some sexy shots of the Terran vehicles. I’ve also included all the stuff about the Sorylians and Directorate.

As I say, I really want this game to be good and successful. And I really want Spartan to regain its focus and get back to doing cool stuff rather than bodging, improvising and generally messing with a mechanic that was too precise to allow for it…

Spartan Games…

It has long been a part of the plans for the FA Galaxy that your space fleets could fight their way to planets and star systems ready to deploy ground forces with which to capture or destroy vital strategic objectives. Having watched our community of 10mm scale gamers grow, and beavered away in the background on new models and enhanced rules, it is a pleasure to tell you that all of the six major races will be coming to a tabletop soon.

Having listened to feedback and read your Wishlists, Firestorm Planetfall has taken shape and will be rolled out to as follows:

• All six major races
• Boxed Sets designed to make army building easy and cost-effective
• Hardback Rulebook
• Alliance Books
• Range of high quality scenery – from bunker complexes to entire cityscapes

For those players who already own Terrans and Dindrenzi we have not left you out. An entire set of new, highly detailed models have been created to complement your existing forces. From brand new tanks and aircraft to gigantic Prime Movers capable of transporting entire units of infantry across the gaming table, we’ve worked on it all.

So to end, please have a look at concept art for some of the new Terran models. Over the next few weeks our web pages will be changed to reflect the enhancements to our spaceships and ground forces, and we’ll keep detailing the new models across the range. Check back soon to see images of the Sorylians, Relthoza, Aquans and Directorate at the ground scale!

Terran Concept Artwork - MBT (Main Battle Tank)

Terran Concept Artwork - Heavy Tank

Terran Concept Artwork - Prime Mover Troop Carrier

Sorylian Collective

Sorylian Collective

What you can see here are concepts for just three of the Sorylian models: the Medium Walker (think Main Battle Tank quantity wise on a tabletop, the FA version of a Sherman), the Heavy Walker and a Small Strike Drone. But there is a myriad other models for this race, from the Small Flyer right up to machines that block the sunlight on a battlefield.

Chris added: “Their fundamental characteristics were to be resilient legged tanks that would lumber across the battlefield with less haste and more of a juggernaut archetype. With this in mind I started to think of the silhouette and sense of the weight of these mighty mechanical mechs piloted by a lizard-like race. Their centre of gravity would be extremely low to help them feel sturdy and immovable and I drew reference from the body language of various reptiles and similar creatures to create a leg setup that was appropriate. Having arrived at these wonderfully mechanical dinosaurs of war I am very pleased with the outcome. They feel technologically advanced yet prehistoric in their physical presence.”

The fighting vehicles of the Sorylian Collective are primarily comprised of bulky, resilient walkers. Slow and ponderous, but very well protected from all forms of incoming ordnance, these stoic vehicles shrug off enemy attacks whilst their return fire punctures hulls with ease.

Sorylian Collective

Sorylian Collective

Sorylian Collective

Filling the sky around these walkers are swarms of much smaller aircraft. Incredibly agile, they dart around the larger vehicles, knocking out enemy aircraft attempting to strike at the walkers from above, or driving off light vehicles trying to outflank their charges. In this way the Sorylian ‘Sphere’ formations grind across the battlefield, maintaining their defensive stance whilst they roll over objectives and crush enemy wrecks beneath their giant metal feet.

In the next blog we’ll delve into the ideas behind the Directorate ground forces. Sleek, fast, deadly – I know it sounds clichéd, but it’s the ideal way to sum this force up.

As the most technologically advanced race in the known galaxy (in their own minds at least!), we felt that the Directorate in Planetfall needed to capture that sleek Hi-Tech sci-fi look, whilst still feeling like working military vehicles that can take a beating and dish out some brutality in return.

After an exciting design meeting with lots of reference pictures (and sci-fi gun noises) an eager Chris Peacey set about bringing to life the Directorate ground forces, and the units he came out with are some of the most stunning Planetfall models yet.

Chris Peacey explains: “The Directorate have the best gear, the best resources and the most advanced technology of all the races in the Storm Zone, so it was only fitting for their ground and air vehicles to have an air of elitism about them. Superior offensive and defensive technologies manifest themselves in the form of plasma weapons and ablative armour, cyber-attack capabilities and intimidating air support. Ground units are swift and employ first-strike tactics. It is rare that a Directorate force is ever cornered or taken by surprise. In this unlikely event, air support is devastating for the opposing forces as large and impressively armoured gunships can promptly deliver a barrage of suppressive fire.”

The Directorate

Pictured above are three concepts for Directorate vehicles: a particularly mean looking Battle Tank with reinforced armour cladding and a giant plasma weapon, an aggressive Gunship that perfectly hits the balance between functional military and sophisticated design and my personal favourite – a sleek cyberwarfare vehicle that screams speed, stealth and advanced tech.

Chris Peacey explains: “The Cyber Warfare tank is the personification of the Directorate’s slick approach to conflict. Its smooth lines and hexagonal cladding give an appropriate feel to a vehicle that changes what is necessary to secure victory over enemy forces. You can expect future Directorate units to share this striking aesthetic. In contrast, the main battle vehicle and heavy gunship have a contemporary science fiction feel; armed to the teeth and equally armoured. These vehicles built for pure offence are the true fist of the Directorate military.

I hope that Directorate players of Firestorm Armada are looking forward to seeing these vehicles realised as 10mm scale miniatures as much as I am!!”

The Directorate - Battle Tank

The Directorate - Gunship

The Directorate - Cyber Warfare Tank

On the battlefield, the ground forces of the Directorate take a ‘right tool for the job’ approach. VTOL craft of varying sizes provide manoeuvrability and heavy firepower, Tank Destroyers and automated gun platforms deadly fire support and Battle Tanks occupy the enemy’s attention, shrugging off their shots with high-tech armour systems.

Meanwhile elite infantry and powerful augmented mechs perform a crucial “special forces” role, supporting the larger vehicles, clearing ground and seizing objectives. Across the board, the Directorate supplement their arms and armour with unmatched cyber-tech. Capitalising on their supremacy in this arena, they shut down defences, overload systems and sow havoc and discord throughout their inferior enemy.

Sorylian Destroyers – A Review

It’s been a little while since I gave Firestorm Armada some love and as James Wilson of Political Dice (@ChairmanAsheth) got me some Kestros Class Destroyers as a thank you for doing his blog banner it was the perfect opportunity.

I’ve always loved the sleek yet curvy design of the Sorylians I also like the tactical challenge using them presents as they specialise in encircling an enemy and then blowing the shit out of them with broadsides.

The cool thing about the Kestros Class destroyer is it lives up to its type. It’s aggressively geared towards a nose to nose fight. At its best at range band 3, it’s job is there to move ahead, soften up the big ships and generally make a nuisance of themselves before the big buggers open up with broadsides. Which is brave as it’s not the toughest crate in the sky. That said, operating in units of 2 or 3 and they’ll do a lot more than soften up targets. 8 torpedoes and 13 shots at range band 3 is pretty nasty and as a unit can take as much punishment as a battleship.

So it’s a roving pack hunter that, in numbers is bloody horrid. Throw in a gunship and your opponent suddenly finds themselves with a kill unit ploughing ahead of the main force that will tear a whole and cause enough of a headache that may cause enough distraction that the rest of the fleet can surround and destroy the enemy. Which is cool.

The model itself is ace. Sleek, compact and covered in guns and meaner than a fatty on a diet. I kinda wish the cruisers looked a little more like them but it’s easy to say that as the cruisers are a few years old now, but I really dig how everything is so tightly packed with armour plating over the top. It’s a design shift for the Sorylians but still identifiably them which I utterly love. Detail wise it’s mostly up to Spartan’s usual standards, although on my models it gets a little thin towards the back of the ship and there’s a nasty bit of flash on the engines but it’s easily cleaned up. None of it really matters though because it boils down to this; from every angle the Kestros Class looks fantastic. Combined with a genuine and worthwhile tactical advantage that really adds something to the Sorylian fleet they’re fantastic models. Now to order 4 more…

Painting my Sorylians

No, I haven’t been replaced by an imposter, I just have an urge to paint my Sorylians. The problem I have is I don’t know what colour scheme I want to paint them in.

There’s no shortage of colour schemes out there, and I did blog about this a while back with ideas of basing the colour scheme on insects or reptiles. Although those ideas are admirable I don’t have time, or the desire to be honest.

Thus the question is; what colour do I paint them. I’ve seen a couple of schemes I like, either as a concept or something to copy.

But I can’t decide so I throw it open to you, my loyal readers, to help me whittle down the options. Once it’s been decided I’ll write background to it, as one would expect and in keeping with my 5th company Ultramarines and 5th company CoA fleet for Dystopian Wars, this will be the 5th fleet of the Sorylian navy.

Have a vote below and, you never know, I might actually listen to you.

Big Damn Ships

So I got a little treat in the post today in the form of the Dindrenzi & Sorylian Dreadnoughts for Firestorm Armada by Spartan Games.

As you’ve come to expect from me I thought I’d do a little review. The first thing is that they’re bloody massive. Now, I know I said that about the Covenant and FSA Dreadnoughts were massive for Dystopian Wars but these are huge. The Dindrenzi Retribution Class is so big it comes in 3 parts and just about fits in the blister pack.

In isolation they’re absolutely brilliant but, if I’m honest they feel too big when put next to other ships. Playing on a 6ft by 4ft board as I do, my 1,000 point Sorylian Fleet takes up a lot of space. Throw in a Dreadnought and it all gets a bit bonkers. But I suppose that’s always been the driving force behind Firestorm Armada; it’s a very cinematic game. Big fleets, lots of explosions and fecking huge dreadnoughts.

As one would expect from Spartan, the models are lovely. All the detail is there. Actually its there and more. It puts earlier models for those fleets to shame. And it has some lovely little flourishes like the Dindrenzi crests all over the Retribution Class, it which is quite something partly because they’re so incredibly clear on the model. The more eagle-eyed/Dindrenzi players will notice there’s been a slight design shift in the dreadnought (and the new models as a whole) that, coupled with the digital sculpting going on at Spartan towers, means that re-sculpts for the fire wave of ships can’t be far away. It’s an awe-inspiring model and makes the Sorylian dreadnought look a bit weedy. As does its stat lines. And at this point I must have a bit of a grumble. The stats and MARs rules attached to the Dindrenzi dreadnought are mad as bat shit, making it almost impossible to destroy. Coupled with devastating amounts of weapons it feels like the Dindrenzi are the pet favourite fleet of the writers which, to be honest, kind of sucks.

That’s not to say the Sorylian dreadnought is without teeth. In fact, were an opponent to allow it to close, it is utterly and completely, mind blowingly lethal. And looks way cool. Yes, the Dindrenzi dreadnought is big and junky but its Sorylian counterpart is lethality bound within elegance. I fell in love with the render when I first saw it and having the model in front of me has only solidified that love into something greater and, if I’m honest, slightly troubling.

One of the things I was most looking forward to was the Scatter Cannon. That big bastard mounted on the nose. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was expecting but the rules basically make it an epically big shot-gun. At first I was a bit disappointed by this but the more I thought about it the more I realised that it was actually incredibly in keeping with the Sorylian fleet. They’re an all or nothing force that, once committed, are devastating.

But all that aside, at a most basic level, the models are fantastic. The detail is crisp and nicely done, especially all the little touches and they’re easy to build, more or less, and once built are as impressive as they should be.

The important thing to remember though, before you part with your cash, is that they’re big ships with big points costs and you’ll need a big fleet to bury them in. And because they are so incredibly powerful fleets need to be of sufficient size that their destructive power is comparable to task forces within the fleet. Otherwise games will boil down to fleet verses dreadnoughts on both sides of the board.

All that though, means bugger all because they’re awesome models and if you play Firestorm Armada you need one in your life. Fact.

The Tarakian – A Review

Continuing my batch of Spartan Games reviews I got my hands on a Tarakian Ganak class Battleship and a pack of Sulan Class Cruisers. Because I could really.

Part of the Alliance of Kurak I reasoned that I could always bolt the models on to my Sorylian fleet pushing it ever close to 1,500 points. Not that I need a fleet that big but as I’ll be getting a dreadnought in the near future I may as well go all out.

So anyway, the Tarakians. The thing that really surprised me when I got my hands on the models was that the battleship was fecking massive (a whisker or two longer than the Sorylian Swordbreaker Class) and the Cruisers were, comparatively tiny. The other thing was that they’re really quite lovely.

I love the indomitable slab sided design of the Ganak Class. It kind of takes all the best bits from the ships of Babylon 5 and throws them all together in a hefty lump of awesome. And the engine housings are just the tits. I love the curving, organic, design that clashes with the bulky lump it’s bolted on to the end of.

The weapon systems come in separate pieces, the fun part being you get to play around with the layout a little bit and the detail is there but not overdone just because it doesn’t need it. The lack of detail makes the ship look all the bigger, tougher and stronger. And to be fair, it has the stat line to match.

The Sulan Class Cruisers are a funny contrast.

Don’t get me wrong, they look so very cool but they’ll curves and very groovy segmented armour plates compared to the flying curb stone that is the battleship. Plus they really are dwarfed by the the battleship and even the Sorylian Cruister. They’re bulk, however, will hopefully convey their resilience on the board. And if not…well my opponent will learn a bitter lesson.

The quality of the design and the casting is all there and it’s not until you really look at the models that you see all the detail and the effort that went into them. The models are easy to build and don’t require much in the way of cleaning. Although one of my launch bays on the battleship was every so slightly miscast. The almost sad thing about the Tarakian models being a part of the Kurak Alliance is that there isn’t any more models (that I’m aware of anyway) coming out for them. Each minor race offers what military might they can afford to give and the Tarakian punted their battleships and cruisers.

Of course it does mean that I get to mix and match with the Xelocian and any other races that come out. Plus the Hantari Class Cruiser looks awesome.

A Few of My Favourite Things

I’m at home not feeling very well today. Between that and feeling stressed about work, I’m feeling rather sorry for myself. So, in an effort to cheer myself up I decided to build an Epic Warlord Titan that I managed to blag off a mate in my long-term effort to rebuild my Adeptus Titanicus force that I long ago sold. The silly thing is that although it’s one of my all time favourite models, it’s an absolute bastard to build.

But it got me thinking about my favourite models. It’s a long long list. You can’t play wargames for 22 and a half (the half is important dmmit!) years and not build a long list of toys that was either inspirational, seminal or massively fucking awesome. Or all of the above. So, with a little bit of thought I’ve done a top 10 of my all time favourite models.

There’ll be quite a few Games Workshop models in it because the vast majority of my gaming years have been spent playing their games. And for those that disagree with my choices, bite me, do your own list.

10. Imperial Cruiser – Space Fleet

The first White Dwarf I ever bought at the tender age of 7 years old had Space Fleet on the front cover. At this point I didn’t understand that Games Workshop was more than Hero Quest. I’d seen a previous issue with it on the cover and therefore made the intellectual leap that White Dwarf (seeing as the drawing for the Dwarf was lifted from Hero Quest) was associated.

I was initially really disappointed to find that there was nothing in there about my newly acquired beloved game. But then I got to the bit about Space Fleet and my mind, already dosed on Star Wars, exploded into a realm of galactic possibilities that I’ve never moved away from. I did eventually get Space Fleet which wasn’t the best game ever but I didn’t care because the models, to me, were just epic.

9. The Barbarian – Hero Quest

The model hasn’t aged well. In fact, it’s entirely possible that if a sculptor produced something like that now they’d be sacked. But the fact remains that it was this single solitary model that got me into wargaming. My brother’s best friend had brought his set of Hero Quest over and this was one of the first model I saw and the heroic stance and the massive sword sold me completely.

8. Kurt Helborg – Warhammer Fantasy

The Master of the Reiksguard and a double hard bastard. At first I didn’t like this model but when I really looked at it I saw what a fantastic model it really is and it inspired me to collect a Reiksguard army. Sadly the project was never completed and I had to sell the models once again because I was caught short, but this model was seminal for as it encouraged me to start collecting themed armies. I also think it was quite seminal for Games Workshop as it was around this time that they started to produce some pant tighteningly beautiful character models.

7. Freebooter

A bit of a cheat really as this is an entire range but the Freebooter models have sparked such a love affair for me with my Mordheim Warband, I couldn’t imagine having them any other way. I’ve posted about my warband here so I won’t bang on about them now.

6. FSA Battleship – Dystopian Wars

The FSA Battleship blew me away when I first saw it. It doesn’t get more Steam Punk than an aotmically powered paddle steamer with clock work 9lb cannons. It’s just ace. And even through I’ve sold my FSA fleet in favour of the Covenant of Antarctica I’ll never forget it and the emotions it provoked in me.

5. Sorylian Battleship – Firestorm Armada

This bad boy gets the number 5 slot only because the Spartan Games models are recent additions to my life and I’m yet to develop the attachment that I have with other models but it was this model that totally and completely sold me on giving Spartan Games a try. Weirdly I bought Dystopian Wars first but I think that was entirely because I really wanted to try something new and Steam Punk was totally unexplored territory for me. But the Sorylian Swordbreaker is a fantastic looking ship and fearsome in the game. I never get tired of looking at it.

4. Space Marine Land Raider – Warhammer 40,000

The Space Marine Land Raider was one of my favourite models and I was immensely jealous of my brother for saving up his pocket-money and buying one. I’m two and a half years younger and I was always shit at saving. The sense of achievement I felt saving for a MkI Rhino was utterly destroyed when he came home with what is now known as the Proteus pattern. The first model I bought when I became a Games Workshop member of staff was the new Land Raider. It’s a beast. It’s an incredibly well designed and thought out model, its doors open and everything. And over the years I’ve built 12 of the bloody things. But it just sums up the indomitable will of Space Marines and for that reason I simply love it.

3. Imperial Cruisers – Battlefleet Gothic

I’m massively in love with Space Ships if you couldn’t tell by now. And also Battlefleet Gothic is largely responsible for this. Not only that but the game and these distinctive models blew open the Warhammer 40,000 universe for me. And the two novels – Execution Hour & Shadow Point are epic. But I love these models. I love how versatile the kit is and just how cool they are.

2. Warlord Titan – Epic Armageddon

Not a massive shock really seeing as I’ve been talking about this model recently. It’s just the tits. I mean look at it! A striding building sized weapon of war. I had a Adeptus Titanicus force a few years ago with 3 Warlords in it, each one modified slightly to make them unique. I had to sell the force because it was that or not eat and I often get a pang of regret. It’s my hope I can rebuild the force, starting with the one I’ve just built…

1. Multi-part plastic Space Marines – Warhmmaer 40,000

Unsurprisingly the multipart Space Marines made it to the top spot. I’ve been collecting Space Marines for years and years in one form or another – most recently my Ultramarines. When the multi-part kit came out, replacing those God-awful push together models from Second Edition Warhammer 40,000 I felt like I fell in love with Space Marines all over again. I’ve literally built hundreds of these models and I’ve never ever grown board of doing so, because they look so fucking cool.

So there you go, a few of my favourite things.

We’re Surrounded!

Hot on the heels of the Medusa Dreadnought shots we have snaps of the Terran Alliance Titan Class Dreadnought and the Sorylian Broadsword Class Dreadnought.

As you’ll see from the snaps they’re quite lovely, and quite massive. Fluff on the Titan Class page also pretty much outs Spartan as working on new Terran Alliance models, which I think is wise as those ships have suffered the most with the leaps forward Spartan Games is making with its model design. Plus there was always the intention to release variants of the Terran cruiser which never materialised so, perhaps, now we’ll see models worthy of the Dreadnought that’s coming our way.

The Titan Class alongside the Razorthorn MKI Battleship

The tri-hull design has its heritage rooted in the shield ship. It wouldn’t surprise me if the MKII Terran Alliance ships follow this design from now on.

Not that I’m at all biased but I think the Broadsword looks epic. And I love the fact that’s it’s essentially two Swordbreakers with a massive cannon sandwiched between them…

It looks like it’s got some hefty broadside batteries too.