Thursday, December 14, 2017

Minor Update on Winged Hussar Captain

Just a minor update with an animated gif and group shots of the primed/painted models. I tweaked the new captain model of the Lt character by adding a second skin under the other armpit shield as that side was looking a bit bare along with a few other minor things (like repositioning the model on the base for better balance). I'm hoping to use this model in both poses as my RPG character if I ever restart 40k roleplaying. Next step should be painting!

Monday, December 11, 2017

To bling.. or not to bling... Winged Hussar Assault Lieutenant

I worked on correcting the ugly gap filling job on the Honor Guard Lancer this weekend along with assembling another primaris Lieutenant model (this time with a jump pack).  For the former, I just corrected/filled down the flag wrap around that I did when connecting the pennant to the spear.  The latter was a bit more work.  With my previous just finished Lt from the same pose, I was worried about how the whole thing would come together when assembling my first two models and didn't want to overdo the Hussar theme.  When it turned out well thanks to help here, I was a bit emboldened to try again and go full hussar this time.  I decided to try and incoporate armor details that I skipped the first time around like the pennant on a spear (instead of the sabre), the crest on the top of the helmet, and the leopard skin pelt. 

The pennant went easily enough with some test fitting as I was using the much less troublesome right arm spear this time around.  I temporarily entertained the idea of wrapping the flag around the spear but my troubles with the other model dissuaded me from doing so.  For the crest, I tested the method out first on my remaining Ancient head and I think it worked out well in the end.  The leopard skin was definitely the biggest issue this time around.  While the glue was drying (and redrying as I changed course mid assembly and had to reglue several things), I decided to try out a homemade painted pelt out of a tiny bit of fabric.  I'm not sure of the results though and would definitely like some advice about whether adding the fabric (from the left armpit down to the right waist) to the model would constitute "too much" crap and whether the plastic paw bit I glued on is enough to convey that aspect of the model.

I decided to go with a Sanguinary Guard style Mk IV jump pack as it allowed me to attach the wings much better than a traditional modern jump pack would.  I realize the typical go to choice for the model should theoretically be on a bike as it's supposed to be heavy cavalry but I didn't actually have a bike handy and, more importantly, I wanted to keep the rest of the model primaris style intact and wouldn't have been able to do so with cutting the legs off to fit onto a bike.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Winged Hussar Lieutenant Update and Honor Guard Test

I went back and forth trying to run ideas past folks about how to improve the model specifically with regards to the aquilla.  I vacillated back and forth between keeping the white one on this model or switching back to the gold/brass version but that latter option would necessitate some other change to not overload the torso with gold.  I made some digital swaps to better illustrate the options both to myself as well as others.

John Prins at dakka suggested that I changed the gorget to red and brighten/vary up the wings a bit among other things and I decided on just that after testing it out virtually.  I tried to bright up and differentiate the white a bit as it looked dull after the appropriately named dull coat varnish as well as changed the gorget to red. 

Over the past week, I've also slowly been working on converting my first power lance armed honor guard.  These guys should be a midway point between the standard marines and the more ornate officers.  I wanted to keep the tabard for officers (and somehow incorporate a leopard print sash for a future captain) but veterans will still get a single wing on their back.  I'm still mulling over the paint job for these as well regarding the aquilla.  I'll definitely add the red gorget though to chapter standard paint scheme especially as they'll be missing the red previously on the tabard.  I'm not happy with my multiple cut/pin/glue/gap fill job on the Grey Knight power lance when incorporating the pennant but it's hard to tell how it'll look prior to the primer.  I basically had to mangle the power lance to get the pennant as well as have it on the left hand.  It's a converted two handed spear where I got rid of the second hand (filling the gap) as well as had to cut and reposition the blade's edge at a different angle as well as extend the gap to fit the pennant.

edit: I have primed the honor guard and it doesn't look too bad on the staff after some filing down prior to priming. After seeing the pennant, I'm debating though whether to continue with that model immediately or do a second pose of the same lieutenant I just finished but with a different loadout. I really like the model (it's probably my favorite 40k sculpt since the release of the 3rd edition Space Hulk board game in 2008ish) and I'm curious how a jet pack and lance with pennant variant would look. I have both regular jet packs, original Rogue Trader ones, and a Sanguinary Guard pack to choose from. I wasn't entirely confident how my conversion would go so I actually got two of my favorite pose just in case.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Winged Hussar update.. finally!

It's been a while since I made any progress on this small project for some reasons under my control while others were not.  Regardless, I decided to try and finish my second model (along with a final Tau suit) before the end of the year.  A large part of the reason is because I was lucky enough to win a contest run by a fellow 40k fan who runs the Xeno Vids youtube channel along with his brother Ian (hello!).  I subscribed to him long ago as I admired his Tau army modelling and painting skills as well as enjoyed the battle reports as well.  Getting the actual rulebook for the new edition kickstarted my interest in finishing up some more models from the new Primaris line. 

I decided as mentioned above to try and lighten up the overall look of the model.  I decided to change the aquilla on the chest to white to better mesh with the wings (as well as to not overload the center torso with gold due to the gold armpit shields).  I also skipped my middle step of a darker metallic on top of the primer by just using the brighter corresponding metallic instead for both base coats and post wash highlights (so silver instead of chainmail and gold instead of brass).

The second pic shows the differences between black primer/chainmail, black primer/chainmail base coat/silver highlights, and black primer/silver base coat and highlights (from R to L).  While I like the lighter overall tone (not exactly shown well in flash photography with my camera), I'm not sure about the change of the chest aquilla to white from brass/gold.  It does form a nice connecting line from the wings to the chest to the knee but I liked the look of the previous gold aquilla on the armor and how it related back to the sample Hussar armor I posted in the OP for this thread.  Let me know if anyone else has any preferences in that regard or other thoughts.

Monday, November 20, 2017

SHIELDS UP! FASA Framework Four Pack for Star Trek Adventures RPG

On the heels of my TOS Fanship framework pack, I decided to incorporate a few of the more unique (and some of my favorite) designs from the classic FASA RPG for use with the new licensed game by Modiphius.  Obviously these are my own personal takes using Captshade's expansive collection of classic FASA artwork so completely unofficial but hopefully based on the letter and/or spirit of the old FASA rules. 

I used elements from Modiphius' TOS sheet along with some from the classic FASA ones as well.  Thanks to Modiphius for allowing me to modify their sheets for posting on my blog, CaptShade for the permission to use his artwork, and for the Fasa style templates.  Thanks for looking and enjoy!  As always, comments/questions/criticisms are welcome.

Monday, November 13, 2017

SHIELDS UP! Fanship Framework Four Pack for Star Trek Adventures RPG

Over the past two weeks, I've been working on a set of frameworks for Modiphius' Star Trek Adventures RPG to give TOS fans a bit of variety in the ships they can choose to set their campaigns on beyond just the officially statted out Constitution class.  I decided that I'd combine a few of my favorite fanships from the era into a set similar to what I did with my FASA ships of the same era.  With the permission of various talented artists like Scott Bell-Fleitas, Bill Krause, Chris Freeman, and Masao Okazaki, I've made framework sheets for the Sentinel, Hood, Attucks, and Archer classes for use with Modiphius' new rpg.  Modiphius has also kindly allowed me to modify their official TOS sheets for use on my blog and I've combined them into one easy PDF download as well as linked the individual blog posts below.  Thanks again to all those above for allowing me to use their designs as frankly I don't have any artistic talent of my own.

For those interested in larger images and pdfs of individual ships, just click the tab to the right for my SHIELDS UP! fan rules and you'll find them there.  Let me know if this format works (especially in regards to legible text when printing) in the comments below and thanks for checking it out.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Archer Class Scout Framework for STA

The fourth and final fanship framework in my planned TOS fourpack for STA is the Archer Class.  Designed by Masao Okazaki on the Starfleet Museum and popularized in the Vanguard series of Trek novels, the Archer class was an instant favorite of mine when I got back into Trek expanded lore with my FASA sheets.  It seemed like a great ship to base a fan production or rpg campaign on due to the unique size and role it played compared with normal "hero" ships in Trek.  When Scott Bell-Fleitas of Starship Dynamics came out with his deckplans, I ordered them as soon as possible.  Luckily for me, Masao has allowed me to use his design and Scott his deckplan exterior artwork so I'm able to come out with a framework for this class as well.

At first, I had planned on statting it out with some custom rules to go along with the atypical ship.  My idea was to come up with a "medium ship" trait that gave it some of the benefits and penalties of small craft but only to a limited extent.  I decided that the final result might be a bit too much of a lightweight for a campaign setting and that the custom nature of the rules (especially untested) might turn folks off.  Instead, I utilized the normal rules in the ship section along with one unwritten one from the examples.  The Nova class is an official statted out ship that is the TNG equivalent of the Archer and has roughly 4 less system points than the Intrepid that was developed during roughly the same era.  Though it doesn't state that as an official rule, I decided to incorporate that penalty for the Archer as well.  As always (and especially the case in this atypical framework), feedback would be appreciated.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hood Class Framework Sheet for Star Trek Adventures

What if you took a grand heavy cruiser designed as the preeminent multirole exploration vessel and kitted it out instead for combat?  That's what Bill Krause did with his Hood Class Battlecruiser 1/350 scale model shown below and I'm happy that he allowed me to adapt his ships yet again for my sheets.

Obviously his physical model is photoshopped into a digital scene but the original scale model is quite impressive as shown in the link above to his WIP thread.  Also, Scott Bell-Fleitas was kind enough again to allow me to use his art from his deckplans (which I highly recommend as an RPG aid as an owner of two sets).  This ship, while still capable as an exploratory vessel, is statted out as a refitted combat bruiser.  While I suppose simply applying the "refit" rules for a few decades could also have depicted the Hood Class, I thought that the changes were significant enough (both in role and superstructure) to be its own class.  Additionally, the "refits" of the Connie are obviously the TMP era Enterprise and subsequent 1701A so I thought it best to further differentiate it from them.

As always, I appreciate feedback on the sheets as the format is still somewhat evolving.  Finally, thanks to Modiphius for allowing me to adapt their TOS era sheet for my favorite fan ships.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Attucks class, attacks! Star Trek Adventures Framework

For almost a year after seeing some excellent 1/1000 scale model conversions of the TNG Akira to both TMP and TOS versions, I attempted various methods of making a TOS era Akira ship equivalent to no avail.  I tried Neale Davidson's ship toolkits and came up with this:

I also tried converting the Sins of a Solar Empire Trek mod's 3d model of a similar ship into something more FASA like in appearance coming up with this:

Both are excellent resources but I was never really confident in the my efforts on the final FASA style appearance to put it into a sheet.  Luckily for me, I stumbled onto another Trek ship site and found Chris Freeman's much, much better take on the same subject.

Obviously there is a wide gulf in the difference in quality between my own efforts and his so I asked if I could use his decision for both FASA and Star Trek Adventures sheets and he kindly allowed me to.  It turns out that these sheets are a bit quicker to do for STA than the old FASA ones since they don't involve (relatively) labor intensive calculations and fitting them into decades old discontinued fluff so I worked on the STA version first over the weekend. 

I kept the ship true to Chris' own ideas on the class as much as possible (moreso than I'd have been able to with the FASA rules!) keeping the dates and the theme of it being a Trek carrier style ship intact.  Also, I made a few minor tweaks in the appearance and layout as well as added some explanatory text compared with my initial Sentinel prototype version (which I've also updated since) in response to some feedback.  I'm debating whether I should add in more explanatory text as well such as what the talents actually do so feedback would be appreciated. 

Update: I've finally come up with a version of the Attucks class for the FASA game as well that you can find at the link here.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sentinel Class Star Trek Adventures RPG Framework

Hey, folks!  Sorry it's been a while since my last update but alot has been going on in real life since my last update but I'm back and just in time for the release of a new Star Trek rpg.  Modiphius has come out with Star Trek Adventures which includes a section where players build the ship they're serving on.  Naturally, that part piqued my interest and Modiphius was kind enough both to release TOS and TNG era ship sheets and allow me to modify/post them here.  My FASA sheets started with my favorite TOS era ship, the Sentinel Class, and its creator, Bill Krause, was kind enough to let me use his design and images again for a second game system.

As with the FASA sheets, the Star Trek Adventures ship sheet will likely change and adapt in the future as this is my first attempt at the new format.  If I ever run a campaign of the game, I'll definitely try to steer the players towards this ship class as I plan on getting the 1/2500 and/or 1/1000 scale model of it from UGH models upon its release and already have the deck plans from Starship Dynamics!  Anyways... without further comment, here are both the ship sheet pic along with the pdf version linked below.

Blogger's Note: I've updated the above image and PDF to include full color ship images thanks to Scott Bell-Fleitas of Starship Dynamics who has kindly allowed me to once again use his images on my sheets.

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):


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!).


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 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!