Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Recent Games Company Cull (Part 2)

In my last wall of text, I related my personal experiences as a gamer/customer in trying to support a Spartan Games product.  In this post, I'll go through some of the pitfalls that Spartan both could have avoided as well as those that were out of their control; if Monday morning arm chair quarterbacking isn't your thing then it might be best to skip this post. 

Halo, being a big licensed IP, was likely quite expensive to acquire as well as maintain.  Additionally, to my knowledge, the Halo Fleet Battles product line was the first to feature outsourced styrene plastic models instead of the traditional resin in house manufactured models in their wholly owned game lines which likely also required a significant initial cost.  That large amount of money needed upfront likely way over and above what Spartan was accustomed to made me wonder why they chose to do a space battle game as their initial foray.  The Halo games absolutely feature some impressive space battle set pieces (one or two of which were playable in fighters) but the game focuses on small unit combat with special characters.  Even in the multiplayer, the largest battle typically seen in most of the games was big team battle wtih 16 v 16.  In a universe that seems to be tailor made for 28mm skirmish combat on the tabletop expandable to the occasional vehicle, Spartan instead chose to do yet another space battle game.  Now I'm a fan of the genre who played my fair share of those types of games from FASA Star Trek (my first ever tabletop hobby game) to Babylon 5 (Wars and Fleet Action) to Full Thrust and even X-wing (albeit that last one is fighter centric and not capital ship focused).  I had tried Firestorm Armada a couple of times and didn't find the bucket o' dice mechanics to my liking nor the resin brick models either.  I was excited that the Halo line would include ship designs that I actually liked in a better IMO material but I always wondered despite my own bias why they decided to not only go with the obvious to me skirmish genre choice but also to cannabalize their own Firestorm Armada sales with a second space ship combat game.

Additionally, I was worried that Spartan's well established reputation of only focusing on one game at a time and switching focus before it was properly taken care of would continue.  I hoped that they would not do this with such an expensive licensed IP but that sadly did not appear to be the case.  The rules had issues that remained unaddressed for months and previewed follow up ships took months to arrive and when they did had serious casting issues that the company tried intially to dismiss.  Without even a proper and critical look at the rules as well as the release of already shown ships, Spartan announced in less than 6 months the next Halo game in yet another genre (15mm mass battle) that wasn't well suited to the IP and yet again competed with another of their existing product lines (the 10mm Firestorm Planetfall) released a couple years earlier.  Worse yet, the Halo Ground Battles products were deemed overly expensive by many gamers compared with other 15mm offerings with sales likely suffering along with perception.  This of course was in addition to their Steampunk Dystopian Wars ground and naval ship game lines that had been languishing for a while seemingly at the time.  Simply put... Spartan Games were seemingly living up to their reputation as a games company that couldn't properly focus on and support their existing lines before adding more to their plate.  Additionally, both genres had increased competition throughout the industry with games like Dropzone and Dropfleet Commander as well as other new kickstarted IPs in both genres as well as the first inklings from GW that specialist games like BFG and Epic might be making a return as well. 

On top of the issues above of their own making, it appears from the announcement that the owner, Neil, had some sort of serious health issue that precluded him from being as active in the company and it doesn't appear that anyone either was allowed and/or capable of acting in his stead so that the work flow suffered.  Additionally, their big and expensive Halo IP had actually become less popular in terms of raw sales with the buggy Masterchief Collection and followup Halo 5 significantly underselling compared with previous titles overall on top of the overall decline of the xbox as a platform due to poor choices with Xbox One marketing and design.  As I mentioned before, the expected (by me as well as my local store owner) local interest in the game simply never materialized and the poor choices by Spartan quickly eroded support that did come in.  Since my departure in 2016 from regular Spartan community contact, they've hit the reset button again on their other two lines via Kickstarter.  Dystopian World funded last year but was only partially delivered at the time of Spartan's closure.  Firestorm Armada which had just gotten its 2nd edition in late 2014 a couple months prior to the Halo Fleet Battles announcement was getting a third revamp in the ongoing Galaxy Kickstarter when the closure was annouced.  I'm not sure if any of their other lines got revamps as well in the meantime but I think that in the span of less than 3 years (late 2014 to mid 2017) that coming out with two completely new IPs and revamping two existing ones is quite a lot to do for a medium sized gaming company especially when those games directly compete with each other for the same gaming dollars.  Finally, the sudden closure of *everything* Spartan literally overnight meant that fans were yet again left in a lurch as years worth of fan made and even official but optional rules and scenarios disappeared along with many hobby blogs hosted on the official forums with no backups.  My own Halo hobby work here was simultaneously cross posted there and would be gone forever with no notice if I didn't also have a google blog. 

I'll end this 2nd part the same way that I started the first.  I wish the employees and owners of Spartan the best in the upcoming trying times as well as hope that their games and the fans that supported them land on their feet as well.  Regardless of my thoughts on how the company was seemingly run (I can only go off of speculation, common sense, and my own experiences.. no insider info here!), there were likely dozens of folks living their dream jobs in the industry and thousands more enjoying the fruits of their work that will now be affected in some way or the other.  I've toyed with the idea of selling my painted fleets but I think I'll keep them for use in some potential future game system or even a return to the agnostic Full Thrust rules that I previously enjoyed.  Thanks to any potential readers out there for bearing with me on this likey typo ridden wall of text as I put down my thoughts on the subject. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Recent Games Company Cull (Part 1)

Ashley over at the Paint it Pink Blog posted an article about the closure of Spartan Games last week and I figured I'd add my own thoughts (likely a two part series) on the subject as well given that I had (unsuccessfully) supported the Spartan Games' Halo Fleet Battles line in the past on this blog.   Before getting into the specifics on my experience with Spartan, I'd like to also add that it's been a particularly bad week for mid to small sized games companies with the closure of Tor Gaming last week as well as the prior closure of On the Lamb games as well that wasn't publicized as much.  I had never ordered from either company as their niche products didn't really scratch any of my own hobby itches but I have interacted with one of the owners of OTL on dakka in the past as was sad to hear about the closure.  In any case, the following will probably be a semi-stream of consciousness wall of text so consider yourselves warned.   The following blog posts/thoughts/guesses are my opinions going largely off of my own (occasionally flawed and admittedly biased) memory and experiences as well as publicly available information as I have zero insider knowledge of the behind the scenes happenings at Spartan.  I'd normally quote more sources to back up some of my comments but all hands (including the official news blog and forums) went down suddenly with the Spartan ship last week with no backup on waybackmachine.  In this first part, I'll start off with my own personal experiences and then later in the second post go over what I suspect lead to that downfall.

First off, I'll say that regardless of my thoughts that I'm never happy to see fellow gamers leaving the dream so to speak lose their job (some probably permanently in the industry).  There were indeed some talented and dedicated folks at Spartan games and I wish them well in their future endeavors.  That said... I fully believe that a large part of the failure of Spartan Games falls squarely on the shoulders on its leadership.  When I first considered getting into Halo Fleet Battles shortly after its announcement, these are some of the responses in the dakka thread that greeted me from their current and former customers:

"Spartan Games is branching into yet another game?"

"They will only drop it six months down the line. Give the license to a company who will support it."
"Maybe they'll have a special clause in the contract stating they should at least show some effort and give it a full year?"

"I'm not surprised... but I do think it means they'll spread themselves even thinner right when Planetfall needs (and deserves) full-time nurturing to get it established."

"This announcement does leave me with mixed feelings, as I want to like what Spartan has done recently in improving themselves, but I'm doubtful they could support a 5th game/3rd universe already. Time will tell."
 
"I am looking forward to Halo 2.0 (which will really be the 4th iteration of the same book and the 25th iteration of the same ruleset) in 18 months' time."

 "I believe the sentiment is more about Spartan's somewhat lack of attention span when it comes to their rules. Their first few years were a never ending cycle of revisions and half measures and starting up new games only to neglect them or other games. The new 2.0 rules mark a change where they've finally sorted out the problems and more or less established their 'core' products. "


Dakka has a rep for being a bunch of grumpy grognards (largely amongst unscrupulous small companies and their white knights) but I've found that alot of truth is found in posts on independent forums since other locations like facebook and company specific forums truly give companies a pass (and clamp down on anything else) too often despite objectively consumer unfriendly moves.  Obviously given the above comments (and this was NOT the first time I had heard about Spartan's reputation regarding long term support for their games), I can't claim to have gone into Halo with anything but my eyes open.  I simply hoped that with such a likely expensive IP that they would treat it right.  I was a bit surprised that they decided to take a video game that was almost exclusively about skirmish level combat focused on special characters and lead with a ship battle game but my own interest in the genre made me hope that it would be a success.  Unfortunately, I was wrong on both accounts.

After buying into the game with the core set and later some ship add ons, I found out that no one else bought anything from the line at my store including the friend of mine who initially was supposed to be buying his own core set and splitting the contents with me (with one of us getting the humans and the other the aliens).  That small initial shipment the owner ordered sat there on the shelf untouched until the store closed down the next year.  When the local Spartan game demo reps showed up the month after the release of the game, I came to the store hoping to get in a demo as my own minis were as of yet mostly unassembled.  The two company reps (two brothers) basically responded quite unprofessionally and angrily that they had zero interest in the game.  They were firmly fans of the existing OTHER Spartan games spaceship game (Firestorm Armada) and had no plans to demo, support, or even try the game when I offered to bring in my own minis.  They backtracked a bit later that evening with some more diplomatic "clarifications" of their earlier statements but their true feelings were quite obvious and were another warning sign for me.

Still mostly undaunted, I finished painting and assembling my minis now for both fleets as I fully expected that I'd have to bring both painted to realistically get anyone to try the game.  I found the actual minis to be of high quality and very intuitive to assemble.  I did have some issues with the packing leading to some damaged ship pieces and Spartan was VERY generous in replacing the damaged parts.  I had expected them to send me just the damaged individual pieces but instead they sent the entire sprues.  During the time it took me to build and paint my minis, I was active on the Spartan forums and kept hoping for more new ships to come out and both bolster my fleets as well as more importantly add some variant playstyles.  Unfortunately, the half dozen upcoming ships previewed both at the pre-release Salute convention as well as at the big GenCon premiere (hinted as future plastic releases) mostly didn't materialize in that first key 6 months.  Instead. the same three ships for each faction fromthe starter set were repackaged a myriad of times in different quanities and combinations with occasionally some minimally variant rules.

Finally around Christmas post release, the first of the ships previewed earlier finally came out in resin (instead of rumored plastic) and unfortunately had serious QA issues.  The large ships were obviously 3D printed and Spartan hadn't even bothered to clean up any the 3D printing lines on the ships so they showed very obvious stepping from the prototyping process.  When complaints were raised about those $85 (55 GBP) large centerpiece ships, the intial response on the forums and social media was to delete the complaints instead of addressing them.  Obviously that did not go over well with folks who paid so much for those products and the complaints increased.  Forum white knights started berating their fellow customers with the usual buck passing responses only further fanning the flames but eventually Spartan did the right thing and said they would address the situation.  Ultimately, they were very generous in their resolution again just shipping full new replacement ships to customers who complained but the damage was already done.  Folks like myself who witnessed the quality issues had already decided to wait and see what future ships would look like in person (or at least on the web post release) before ever ordering any of their resin products.

Over the next couple months, more ships were previewed but actual new releases were still a trickle (and strangely NOT the ships previewed almost 6 months earlier).  Issues with the rules were largely ignored until they started dominating the conversation about the game at which point they'd get a quick one line fix for that single issue.  Youtube channels that had covered the game previously either fell silent or announced they were dropping coverage of the game.  At that point, I sold most of my remaining unbuilt ships leaving myself with only the damaged parts sprues that I had gotten replacements for as well as those I had painted and I put my follow up fighter/bomber stands project on hold (I had hoped to replace the tokens with tiny miniatures instead).  This was in part a response to the worsening general tone of the conversation surrounding the game as well as my own personal inability to convince even a single person to just try the game when bringing two painted fleets to the FLGS.  More resin ships were finally making some progress in the pipeline to arrive early next year when Spartan made the annoucement that mostly killed my remaining enthusiasm for the game and proved the dakka grognards correct... after 6 months and only two flawed and expensive new followup product releases, Spartan was pleased to announce the release of the NEXT Halo game... the 15mm Halo Ground Combat.  At that point, I largely said my goodbyes on the official forums (and I certainly wasn't the first) but kept my painted ships just in case I had a future use for them in a generic ship combat game.  Over the next couple of months, I saw some news about them finally releasing the ships previewed the year before as well as announcing a Second Edition of the game rules less than a year after the release of the game (another bulleye for the dakka crowd).

With the next blog post, I'll go over some of the issues that I think contributed to the failure of both the above Halo Fleet Battles game as well as that of the company that made it.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

And the Winged Hussar arrived!

Apologies but after I found out about that song and the youtube meme it spawned, I had to incorporate it into the blog somehow!  Hopefully the first test paint job won't turn anyone off.  I've historically been a competent tabletop quality painter and don't have the skill nor the patience to learn the advanced techniques necessary to get to that next tier.  In any case, here is the first test model painted up (but not based):

898033_sm-Primaris%2C%20Winged%20Hussar.


I ended up going with the polish eagle on the tabard as it didn't look like it clashed too much with the aquilla in the end.  Additionally, I felt the model needed a bit of white in the center as well.  I used decal solvent on most of the decals to mixed results.  It worked well enough along with two relief cuts on the shoulder pads although the ravenwing icon kinked a bit on one side (of course facing the front of the model... and I didn't notice it until I was changing the sword on the decal to a sabre!).  The solvent practically disolved the first eagle I put on the tabard literally in front of my eyes to a splotchy dull off white so I had to rinse that one off in pieces; I suppose FOW decals aren't compatible with testors decal solvent although GW ones are.  The air force symbol wouldn't fit properly on the knee cap and was too small to put relief cuts into so I put it diagonally as a diamond instead of the historical square.

I don't expect to change the overall scheme much on the second model although I think I will change the order of painting operations significantly the second time around.  Washing and highlighting the base armor was a PITA after the rest of the models was done so I think I'll do all the steps involved in the silver/chainmail armor itself (base coat, lighter top coat, two washes, cleanup and occasional edge highlighting) before I touch the rest of the parts/colors.  Decalwise, I might switch to the slightly larger sized ravenwing decal for the chapter symbol as there is alot of blank red space on that side as well.

Keeping in mind my slightly better than tabletop quality skill level, I'd love to hear other possible tips that I could use.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Armpit shields at 100%, Captain! (Winged Hussar update)

It took some time but I lucked out in that I got all the bits I needed to finish these two models and did some hobby work finally.   I was able to cut off the Blood Angel specific bits from the rondel shields and I think they fit sizewise well over the axillae.  Since this model will likely be a champion, I added on a relic bolter along with a 1mm craft jewelry chain as a shoulder strap.  I'm curious to know if anyone thinks the model looks a bit too busy with all that added on.  Finally, I did end up switching the wings on my two test models and definitely prefer this combo even if they're slightly less durable overall.  I primed the earlier model already and, at least on that model, my reglues don't look too bad after scraping off any residue nor does my gap filling attempt with the putty look too bad once painted over. 




I've also been putting more thought into my custom chapter symbols and markings.  None of my three attempts to get in contact with Plastic Soldier Company resulting in any response so using the Armoured Hussar logo is out for me as I don't know the appropriate size/measurements.  Using the polish eagle is both a bit on the nose IMO as well as would clash a bit with the aquilla as well but I may use it occasionally as a squad or campaign marking instead but definitely not on every model.  Another option I came up with would be to adapt the ravenwing icon into looking like a winged saber.  This option would be relatively free (I have a decent amount of decals from 2nd ed and up) and easy to accomplish as additional benefits on top of also being thematic.


Next up I'll finally be painting the first model as well as test fitting parts to my two lance armed honor guard models.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Shiva Destroyer...sometimes one is better than two!

Scott Bell-Fleitas has done it again and is working on another cool looking set of starship plans.  This time, however, it's an original design of his.  I was interested in varying the style of ships I've featured and was already working on a single nacelle design of my own when he posted his first WIP shot.  It was obviously leagues better than my own and he let me use his work instead for this sheet.



He's not quite done yet so the link above is to his Amazon storefront instead of to the potential future product.  I like how he expanded on the classic Franz Joseph technical manual Saladin/Hermes ship style and updated it to more modern yet classic TOS asthetics.



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

That was quick... Primaris Sabres have arrived!


Since my last hobby update, I ordered and received the second Lieutenant from the Dark Imperium starter set and finished mostly converting him to a Winged Hussar as well.  I decided that he needed a sword as well and that the original sword wasn't "sabre" enough (it reminded me of a katana) for my liking so I ordered some bits off of an internation ebay seller.  The bits arrived from Europe alot quicker then I expected and I did my best impersonation of an Iron Hand apothecary tonight with some amputations.  I personally like the sharper, thinner look to the weapons as I think they look definitely less kitbashy and more like the sabres that inspired them.  I had to admit though that they are extremely thin resin pieces so both models should definitely be labeled as fragile/handle with care.  I already had to reglue last night a wing just holding a bit too tight while removing the previous mould lines. 


I'm taking my time with this to not make any rash decisions in modeling (something that happened in my previous truescale attempt as I rapidly went from step to step in the same night) but I have to admit I'm still second guessing myself a bit.  I chose the curved wings for the more serious Lt because their shape was sturdier on that model and vice versa but I think I prefer the wings the other way around.  Also, I'm considering adding on a Rondel (or Besagew) to each axilla of the champion Lt (the other model won't accommodate them due to the shape).  I had to look up the name but they're the circular discs that protect the vulnerable armpit in plate armor.




Just like before, these are just quick mockups made from slicing off the tips of left over sprue pegs and not the final bits.   If anyone has any ideas on what parts to use for the rondels or even if they shouldn't be used at all, feel free to comment below.

Friday, July 28, 2017

SHIELDS UP! Unofficial TOS Ship Recognition Manual

It's been over a year since I started making unoffficial stat sheets for the classic FASA game and I decided it was time that I combined some of the fan ships into a themed single download for ease of use.  Since Bill Krause's Sentinel is the ship that got me restarted in my Trek fandom, I couldn't think of a better cover model than her!  Thankfully, Bill was kind enough to let me use his model images again (and as a side note, one of his other fan ships is now in the 2018 Ships of the Line Star Trek Calendar!).


SHIELDS UP! UNOFFICIAL TOS SHIP RECOGNITION MANUAL PDF

Included in the PDF above are eleven TOS era ships (most created by fellow fans) that I've published previously on my blog including one Romulan and one Klingon design as well as the ship counters that I recently put out. Special thanks to all the talented artists who have graciously allowed me to tweak their images (for the worse!) into the FASA style as without them I'd just have some walls of text and a few columns of stats. I'll still be publishing new unofficial fan ship sheets on the blog here in the future (and the TMP and even TOS ones that didn't make it into the first supplement will remain on the blog). If anyone tries out any of the ships on the tabletop or just has any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Thanks and enjoy!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Primaris WInged Hussar Wing Modification

Apologies for the microupdate for a single fig but I received some feedback that the wings made the models look unbalanced (which was literally the case as I had to blutac a foot down because the model kept falling over in one of the pics above).  I tried cutting off the exhaust nozzles on an old space marine backpack and test fitting the wings directly to the side sandwiched between the pack and the nozzle but it frankly looked horrible and wasn't even worth going upstairs to get the camera.  I then thought about revisiting the old idea that I came up with for my 54mm Artemis model of jamming it in between the pack and the torso. The curved wing had an odd number of wings in the kit I bought so I sacrificed the odd man out by clipping the bottom quarter of feathers and thinning out the frame they were attached to.  Since I only have the one piece that I was willing at the moment to carve up, I took two pics with the same wing in both positions and then digitally combined them in MSPaint (no Photoshop in this budget build!).  I definitely prefer this to the back mounting at least for the curved wings.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New Hobby Project... 40k Primaris Winged Hussars!



I've taken a long break from doing actual physical hobby work with about a year's worth of pure house rules on my blog is testament to that.  While I'm not keen on the way the Primaris marines were introduced in the background, I rather do like the basic Intercessor figs themselves.  I've made numerous truescale attempts here in the past from deathwatch to space wolves to even primarchs  so it didn't come as a suprise to me that I liked the IMO better proportioned primaris models.  At first I thought of restarting my old Space Wolf truescale project with the new primaris models but there are folks that I've found that are doing that much better than I'd ever be able to (like this and this).  Additionally, I wanted to try something new as well which only cemented my decision.  Instead, I decided to revisit an idea that I ten years ago regarding making a custom chapter of Winged Hussar space marines.  Winged Hussars were a Renaissance era heavy cavalry unit for the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth named after the prominent feathers attached to frames on their back.  They wore suits of plate armor and were equipped with lances and sabres.


 When I came up with the idea years ago, the only readily available bits in 28mm 40k scale were the Dark Angel Ravenwing bits which were too large for infantry figures (but were a good size for the 54mm Inquisitor Artemis figure that was also a brief resurrection of the idea for me a few years ago).   Since then, 3rd party bits makers like Maxmini and Puppetswar have produced compatible "wings" and other accessories (especially Puppetwar as they're based in Poland) but they were a bit too scifi for the asthetic I was going for.  Recently, I found some smaller scale historical kits from European manufactures that might fit better both asthetically and sizewise.  I picked up two of the sword wielding Primaris Lieutenants with the goal of making a Winged Hussar character.  Working from that basic figure, I swapped out the power sword for a custom built sabre made from a heat curved Grey Knight sword with an old chainsword pommel.  Additionally, I trimmed down a small tabard and added it to the figure.  Regarding the actual wings, the Zvezda kit that I got comes with two types, one straight and one curved.  I blu-tac test fitted both as picture below as I'm not sure which one I'll choose (although I'm leaning towards the straight variety).


The plastic on the wings is definitely different that GW style polystyrene as it is glossy and more brittle and reminds me a bit more of the Robotech RPG Tactics plastic.  I'm test fitting some of the sprue bits with my Testors plastic glue to make sure them work.  Some other (expensive for one fig!) ideas I'm thinking about is getting some of the Puppetwars Hussar sabres and Cossack heads to give the model even more of a customized look.


They do have hussar specific helmets but I'm not sure of the size and not frankly particular to their look either.  Thanks for reading and if anyone has any comments or advice then feel free to share.







Friday, July 7, 2017

Atlas Class Battleship.. err... I mean Dreadnought!

I came across this design a while back when it was introduced in Star Trek Online game.  I thought the original designer, Hector Ortiz, came up with a very cool use of a faux quad nacelle design and figured it might be a good addition to the FASA lineup as a TOS era battleship (since they don't have dreadnoughts in the FASAverse technically).  Since I haven't gotten the ship in game yet myself, I decided to look for some fan art online that I could possibly use.  Eventually, I found anotherthing's thingiverse page on which he had posted 3d printing files for the ship under CC license!


The parts were split up like legos for each home printing but I was able to put some of them together and then combine the screenshots to a cohesive ship that I was then able to embellish and FASAify.  For the stats, I debated just how powerful I should make this and whether or not I should break the construction rules and/or come up with my own equipment.  In the end, I decided to use the rules exactly as written but introduced the FWF-1 engine three years earlier than stated in the fluff.  To further show the "prototype" nature of the engines, I gave them the less efficient 5/1 movement value instead of the improved 4/1 stats the later Constitution Mk III has.  In the fluff, trinary shields at that point in time are available but unacceptably (for Starfleet at least) unrealiable compared with their less efficient binary counterparts.  There is no "reliability" stat in FASA so I bumped up the superstructure by a few points (which I had been planning to do regardless as a battleship) until the ship was class XII which lowered the max shield value compared with other heavy cruisers that would later use the same system.

In any case, here is the final product that hopefully is worthwhile to use within its own niche.  As always, the PDF link is below the image version of the sheet and feel free to comment.

Friday, June 30, 2017

SHIELDS UP! TOS Ship Counters

Instead of a new ship this week, I've decided instead to publish an unofficial game aid that my fan ships have been lacking for some time.  In order to use official ships in the game, you were supplied with punch out cardboard hex tokens for your ship in the base game and on a special page to copy and print in each of the Ship Recognition Manuals (in addition to the optional miniatures!).  I've decided to take some of my recent TOS themed ship sheets and make printable tokens for them as well.

Initially, I made them 1" hex counters but then I saw they were actually smaller than the official ones by 1/8th of an inch so resized them.  In order to print the images below to scale, just expand the image horizontally to the full size of the page in portrait mode.  For the pdf version linked below, simply printing it out normally should do the trick.  To save folks printer ink, I decided also to do a version of the counters with a white background as well.  Enjoy!




P.S.  For particularly observant readers, you'll see an (as of the time of writing) unknown ship in the sheet in addition to the two destroyed ship markers I included.  Just consider it a sneak preview of the next ship in my TOS series.  :)

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Minuteman Escort Class... ready for action!

She might be small but she packs a heck of a punch...  The Minuteman escort is a revision of one of my earlier published classes called the St. Petersburg.  In that sheet, I used a vessel from the Starfleet Museum site and converted the ship to look more like the Defiant from DS9.  Recently, I came across Peter's work on trekbbs and he actually had a TOS era Defiant design already done!



He's allowed me to use his design and even provided me with a full custom ortho graphic to convert for use on the sheet!  I took the opportunity to update both the overall look of the sheet to be more visually consistent with later efforts as well as tweak the stats to better fit in with the continuum of ships I've put out since.  This version still packs a heck of alot of firepower and is quite maneuverable but isn't as advanced or defensible as my earlier version.


As always, feel free to comment and I'd love to hear any thoughts from folks who have used any of my ships in games.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Shield of the Federation... The mighty Repulse Class Destroyer!

Just on the heels of producing the finished U.S.S. Hood, Tycho Shipyards (a.k.a. modelmaker Bill Krause) pulled triple shifts in order to also complete yet another ship, the Repulse heavy destroyer, in record time.  Bill went from a basic frame to finished model in just over two weeks in order to be able to display the model at the Wonderfest 2017 convention in early June.  You can follow his remarkable progress at the modelling thread linked further below.  Obviously, this puts my own pace at finishing my single Tau broadside and dozen or so Rafm gears to shame.  Here is a pic of the finished product that frankly I suspect many people will think is a CGI 3D model screen cap instead of an LED lit physical one.


This is the first of Bill's models that I've followed since the planning stages and it was nice to see it coming together and the changes made in relative real time with his posts.  He graciously allowed me to use the images for my sheets as with previous models and even gave me some insider info on the dimensions and official stats of the class.  I've tried to follow them as much as I could within the bounds of the FASA rules while still keeping the class distinct from other ships (including another destroyer that I have planned).  Whereas Bill's Sentinel light cruiser is a graceful and advanced rapier, I made the Repulse a dependable and durable heavy destroyer in the stats.  I hope you guys and gals enjoy and as always let me know if you find any mistakes or have any questions/comments/criticisms.
 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pride of the Star Navy... the Romulan V-10 Nighthawk for FASA!

A while back I came across the many designs of Atolm over on trekbbs but one of his earlier designs for a Romulan warbird I found elsewhere really caught my eye.



I really like that this was a hybrid style design incorporating the traditional TOS warbird shape but adding the later, more detailed features like decorative hull plating instead of a bird decal.  In the FASA body of work, the Romulans relatively quickly go from light cruisers and scouts of class of class V-VII to heavy cruisers topping the scales at class X-XII with not much inbetween when the actual transition is made.  I decided to make the V-10 Nighthawk the "missing link" in the Romulan Star Navy's arsenal.  This was also my first attempt at STSTCS.com style digital "tracing" of traditional artwork to make it look more like the FASA style used on my previous sheets.  My efforts in MSPaint are crude compared with Bryan's but hopefully they still work well enough.  :)  As always, I wouldn't have anything to post without the art that I'm graciously allowed to use so special thanks to Atolm for letting me use his designs!



Friday, June 9, 2017

O Romeo, Romeo.. The Romeo Class Scout for FASA!

Aridas' 50th Anniversary Star Trek thread received yet another update with a slew of cool ships.  The one that stood out most for me was the Class I Corvette (the U.S.S. Juliet) and I felt that I had to make a FASA sheet for it right away!


I tweaked it visually a little bit  to better mesh with my other ships and statted it out to resemble a TOS FASA Voyager style ship.  It's a bit more well rounded than my previous small to mid sized ship which was meant to be a U.S.S. Defiant style tactical powerhouse at the expense of everything else.  As always, the pdf version link is below the image and I welcome questions or comments about the sheet.  Thanks again to the talented Aridas for yet another cool design and I can't wait to see what see what comes next!

Romeo Class Scout PDF link

Blogger's Note:  The first version of the Romeo Class kept the ad-hoc escort designation.  Upon further consideration, I decided to change it back to the original scout class.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Primaris Marine Coloring Book

Just a quick update.  About a week or so ago, Games Workshop came out with a custom heraldry guide pdf for their new line of Primaris Space Marines for the upcoming 8th edition of Warhammer 40,000.  To make it a bit easier to use for lazy folks like myself, I cleaned it up by making it "watertight" instead of gothic motheaten so that you can just one click fill paint a part in free programs like the Paint app/MSPaint program that comes with windows and not have it bleed through to another.  Enjoy and thanks to GW for coming out with the guide in the first place and BOLS for converting it to the image that I subsequently cleaned up!


Monday, May 29, 2017

Hood Class Battlecruiser commissioned!

After eight months, Bill Krause has finished his next incredible model...namely the U.S.S. Hood battlecruiser!


Bill generously allowed me to use his images for one of my FASA stat sheets last year and I decided to try and update it in honor of the launch of the ship from his Tycho shipyard.  Some minor cosmetic changes were made on the build compared with the initial prototype images I used on my sheet and I wanted to reflect those when possible.  Scott Bell-Fleitas recently put out the official deckplans for Bill's ship through his Starship Dynamics company and also generously allowed me to adapt his updated images of the Hood as well.


While I wasn't able to follow Bill's official fluff and stats now available exactly in my FASA stat sheet, I did revise the sheet from the previous version to better reflect them.  In the FASAverse, the U.S.S. Hood has a storied and tragic history that doesn't extend out of that expanded universe timeline and I instead fit the stats to make sense within that scope.  Without further talk, here is my revised (and hopefully final!) Hood Class stat sheet for the FASA Star Trek Combat game.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Today is a good day to die! FASA Klingon D-22 Cruiser

I recently came across an intriguing link to some 50th anniversary ship files on a forum that I previously wasn't aware of.   Aridas posted a whole group of very nicely done ship designs on that forum in the style of the original Karl Franz Technical Manual art and I knew I had to ask if I could stat them up for FASA.  Luckily for me, aridas sofia was kind enough to let me use the art for my blog and sheets and I am now able to post my first non-Federation design, the D-22 Hidden Dagger light cruiser!


I have a few ground rules that I've generally kept with my ships and they became more important with this Klingon design.  The old FASA Construction Manual has a good amount of backstory detailing the history of individual Federation components but nothing of the sort for the other factions in the game.  In order not to introduce powerful systems like torpedoes or engines too early in the timeline, I personally limit myself by the earliest introduction seen in the appropriate FASA Recognition Guide.  For example, if the KCC cloaking device was first seen in the guide on a ship introduced on 2/12 in the Klingon Guide, I generally wouldn't put it on a ship introduced before that date.  The exception that I allow myself is that I can introduce a single system one year early per ship (so on 2/11 in the example above).   In the case of the D-22, the KCC cloaking device is the ship component I chose to introduce early and reflected that early inclusion in the backstory.  Without further chit-chat, here is my take on the D-22 Klingon Light Cruiser.

Klingon D-22 Light Cruiser pdf

Editor's note:  I initially called this ship class the D-12 as the designation was not taken in the FASAverse but I've been informed by knowledgeable fans that it's taken by no less than Star Trek movie canon for a Next Generation Bird of Prey variant!   With some searching, it looks like D-22 doesn't conflict with either FASA or movie canon so I've switched it to that.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Anton.. I mean Reliant.. No, Miranda Class!

Here is one fan's completely unofficial take on melding the various official canon (both original and earlier retconned) for the Reliant with that of FASA... and a bit of fanfilm and modelling inspiration added to boot!   The history of this class is even more muddy according to the Trekyards episode on it but I've limited myself to the above sources.  I tried making the fan film Miranda class the "missing link" between FASA and current canon in stats to go along with the looks.  Thanks again to Bill Krause for allowing me to use his images for my sheets.  He originally came up with the 3-view image of the Miranda class for fellow model maker Dave Lewis.



I decided to make the ship somewhere between the Anton and the Enterprise in its respective variants in terms of overall power incorporating systems from both.  Without further chitchat, here is my take on the Miranda Class frigate for the old FASA game.



As always, questions/comments/corrections are welcome. 

Editor's Note:  The intial version of this that I posted was classified as a cruiser but I have reclassified it as a frigate.  Upon further research, one of the original classifications for the Reliant was as an "Avenger Class Heavy Frigate".  I've decided to partially reflect that in the FASA stat sheet as well.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Malibu Jaguars... with new hat!

Yes, I opened up a blog post with a classic Simpsons reference as it seemed appropriate.  Recently, I sold some Heavy Gear Rafm minis to Ashley over at the Paint it Pink blog and she was kind enough to include a Fire Jaguar head in with the lot so that I'd have matching hats/heads for my Jaguar squad.  When I was assembling my RAFM gears last year, I found out that I had a mispack or missing parts rate of one in three sealed blisters.  As a result of that terrible QA back in the 1990's, my Jaguars all had mismatched heads unfortunately (along with a mispacked Hunter backpack as well).  I did the best that I could in trying to get a cohesive look for the small squad of three gears and ended up press moulding a Fire Jaguar head to match the two that I had.



It's far from the prettiest looking Jaguar head with the extra VR-style visor over the typical optics but I thought it conveyed the advanced targeting on the Jaguar somewhat compared with the typical heads on my Grizzlies and Cheetahs.  I had been on the lookout for a third matching head and Ashley came to the rescue recently!



I added a bit of paperclip to represent an antenna as the model is a "thunder" command variant with the satellite uplink modelled around back on the V-engine.  I don't know when or even if I'll paint these up but Ashley's blog is scratching the RAFM painting itch with frequent updates.  With this squad now officially done and her doing updates as well, I'm a bit motivated to try and do the final Hunter squad for this force.  Initially, I stopped as I noticed a few more Hunter mispacks on top of the issues I was having with the Jaguars but I'll have to re-evaluate the situation with them this upcoming weekend.

Friday, February 24, 2017

SHIELDS UP! Unofficial Star Trek FASA House Rules

I've been working on my unofficial FASA house rules for the past year and have accumulated enough articles to deserve it's own fan rules tab on the right.  Over the past year, I've gotten a few requests from folks to publish the stat sheets as PDF files instead of just images and have added PDF links to the individual articles linked below.  I've reorganized some of the individual pages below and cleaned up the image quality on a few of the sheets now that I've gotten a bit more practice in creating the FASA-style look of the old books as well as compiled a dozen or so TOS era ships into one unofficial recognition guide.   As always, thanks to the individual artists who allow me to use their images on the sheets as well as obviously CBS and Paramount for making such a great universe over the past 50 years!

 

Revised Firing Arcs

Sometime in the future, I also plan on adding a post with the tabletop counters to use the ships on a hex map in actual games.  On a final note, I realized when writing this that it is my 100th published post here so Happy Blog Centennial Anniversary as well!  :)  In celebration of that, I've done some minor cosmetic upgrades to a few things.