It has been a busy few months with lots of random progress.
I’ve been focusing the most on Dropzone Commander recently. I’ve finished my Scourge, except for some of the new units, and am making steady progress on the PHR. Up next is the UCM. Hawk Wargames continues to impress with their releases. Related items:
- The Frontline Gaming Hi-Tech Mat is very nice.
- 4Ground continues with its great 10mm releases. The latest District 1 Hab block units are much quicker to assemble than the District XII units that take a good 5-10 hours to complete. The new District 1 units do not have any window frames or headers with which to fiddle.
- Craig Gallant on one of the recent D6 Generation podcasts mentioned N-Scale Kato buildings from Japan. Well sure enough Amazon has a bunch of them with free shipping. They are perfect for Dropzone Commander. N scale is 12mm but because DzC units generally represent larger sized vehciles they fit just fine. Moreover the larger N-scale buildings are also quite passable for 15mm gaming. What is amazing about these things is they are priced the same or cheaper than 4Ground but come completely assembled and painted (well colored) — literally ready to go in minutes from the box! They are not weathered in any way and are mostly colored plastic not painted so they have a different look from the Hawk and 4Ground stuff. But they still mix in just fine and those wanting to spend some time on weathering will be well rewarded.
Speaking of 10mm games, Spartan Games’ Firestorm Planetfall miniatures are starting to become generally available including the new Leviathans. Compared to Dropzone Commander the miniatures are probably lacking but the comparison may not necessarily be fair. Spartan has gone for a simpler, chunkier look and the models generally have much more mass than Hawk’s. The surface detail is amazing but they opted for simpler models so you do not get the overall complexity of shape or ultra-fine detail as you do with Hawk. The Planetfall infantry are quite nice and have a unique basing design. But they also seem closer to 12mm but one can argue they are in powered armor so should be larger. Yet there is no doubt they look quite nice and give further uses for those now collecting 10mm terrain.
I got distracted by some of the very nice 15mm sci-fi miniatures being done by Khurasan Miniatures. Specifically the new Zantin Reconquest line and the new units for the Nova Respublik Crimson Army. The GOTA line replaces the NAC as my favorite sci-fi 15mm infantry (with the Arc Fleet Heavy Infantry from Critical Mass Games a close second). Also new was the Kickstarter from ACP Games with their new Vanir dropship. They also included a good deal on their existing line of units along with a new Humvee-esque vehicle. Looks like our Gruntz rules will see some action soon.
28mm Sci-Fi and Modern
Not to be left out, I’ve at least been looking at my Deadzone Enforcers sittting on my table needing paint. I’ve made some progress on assembling the new hard plastic Enforcers as well. These are light years better than the restic stuff but still mix in just fine. The Anvil Industry Kickstarter has still not arrived so I was spared that distraction only to have the Beasts of War show off some 28mm modern vehicles from Empress Miniatures. These look really amazing. That motivated me to finish up an old 28mm Antenociti APC that is unfortunately no longer available. Squirrel!
Star Wars: Armada
Last but not least Fantasy Flight Games released Star Wars: Armada after an extended delay due to dock strikes. The game was worth the wait and offers a fun but fast starship combat game. It won’t replace Firestorm Armada but for those who love Star Wars or simply do not want to paint it is certainly a great option. Speaking of painting, while the capital ships in the game come painted just as nicely as the X-Wing miniatures the small fighters are just colored plastic. After seeing Steven MacLauchlan and other folks paint theirs I had to take a crack as well. In just a few hours you have some nicely painted fighters that reward the effort.
Spartan Games is on a real tear this month with new releases and a ton of announcements. To launch it all they completely redesigned their website with a very attractive design that showcases their products well.
First off are the release of the first Dystopian Wars ground forces. Each of the major factions get an Armoured Battle Group plus each unit type is available as separate platoon packs as well. On the naval side new support ships released for each faction such as the Prussian Stolz Class Destroyer. We even got our hands on the big boys with each faction receiving a new Dreadnought class ship. The DNs are truly huge and are about 50% larger than even the impressive battleships. Our favorite of course is the Prussian Blucher class DN. If all of that was not enough Spartan announced the imminent release of the ‘specials’ for each faction including the Prussian Metzger Robot (including both submerged and walking versions), Britannia Vanguard submarine (including both submerged and surface versions), Blazing Sun Ika Class Mechanical Squid (including both submerged and surface versions), and FSA John Henry Class Robot.
But by far the biggest announcement that sent every Dystopian Wars fan into a frenzy was that of the forthcoming Covenant of Antarctica forces. Spartan pulled out all the stops and is releasing a full Naval Battle Group, Drone Fleet Carrier and the Armoured Battle Group all at once. The Antartican design is very sci-fi and fits well with their fluff as the most technologically advanced of all the factions in the game. To top it all off the Naval Battle Group box also ships with a 40-page army guide that includes all of the background, rules and stats for the Covenant of Antarctica forces (also available for separate purchase). And there is even more Antarctican goodness to follow!
Even the boys from the D6 Generation get in on the act and interview Neil Fawcett about Spartan activities and also give a look at how the Dystopian Wars ground forces play goes. Neil makes a surprise announcement that the long awaited Republique of France (RoF) Magenta Class Battleship will be available (in both waterline and flying versions) in limited quantities at Gen Con 2011 and available for all later this year. Craig surprises everyone by revealing that he is now working for Spartan Games as a freelance writer and that he was responsible for all of the great Firestorm Armada fluff on the Spartan site and is now working on more goodies. See Episode 83 and fast forward to 3hr 3min to get right to it.
Spartan has not forgotten Firestorm Armada either. First off we got the new Xelocian ships. The Hantari Cruiser does not have colored ‘power rods’. They are the same clear plastic rods used for the flying stands. The advantage of course is now you can ink them your preferred color.
Then Spartan stopped playing around and decided to simply dump all available resin into one model and previewed the upcoming 9″ Perditor Leviathan model. But I guess the mold overflowed a bit so they decided to release Dreadnoughts for all six fleets as well! They also previewed the Directorate Persecution Class DN.
As mentioned, Craig worked on some FA fluff so we would guess we could expect some more of the same and possibly even a new FA book of some kind — Perhaps the previously hinted at Alliance army book? Maybe Russ and Raef can get some info out of him with Neil safely overseas ensconced in his island fortress!
If all of that was not enough to deplete your wallet then Neil gave some hints that the new FA-era ground combat game, Invasion, may be released in late 2011 or early 2012.
Spartan Games announced a slew of new Firestorm Armada ships and released 3D rendered previews. These are the first we have seen since Neil’s announcement that Spartan will be releasing 40 new FA ships in 2011 along with a new book. The ships are from new ‘Alliance’ fleets. The new book will cover these new races. We are not certain but we believe these will be races that can be played as allies alongside any of the other major races in the game. But whether there are set alliances with particular races we do not know yet.
Many of the new designs are quite radical and certainly push the sci-fi ship miniature hobby a step forward in detail and complexity. It will be interesting to see how some of the designs do as actual production models. The Ba’Kash Varnak Class Heavy Cruiser is certainly one of the most complex models we have seen and the slightly smaller Sharnak Class Cruiser has both an ‘open’ and ‘closed’ version. The Xelocian ships feature an ‘orange power rod’. We imagine this may be similar to the clear colored plastic rods that come with Game Workshop’s Necron Warriors. Our favorites of the batch are the Rense System Navy (RSN) ships. The Banshee Class Dreadnought and smaller Phoenix Class DD and Siren Class Escort are a very nice trio of ships.
Spartan now has preview rules for the ships and races.
Also the previously announced Kurak ships should be hitting the stores soon.
James Tubbs has released a nice little app for Android devices. The Firestorm Armada Stat Viewer presents the stat cards for all the ships currently available for Firestorm Armada. It is a simple straightforward app but very handy with a nice presentation. Best of all, it is free. If you play FA and have an Android device check it out.
The D6 Generation has a great follow-up to their excellent Dystopian Wars review. They have an engaging interview with Neil Fawcett, owner of Spartan Games. Unfortunately, Neil has a cold and his audio is not very good for the interview but it is well worth the effort to listen. The D6G gang get Neil to spill the beans on a wide range of topics including the production process for the creation of the fantastic Spartan Games’ miniatures as well as news on upcoming products. Neil mentions, among other things:
- That there will be 40 new ship miniatures for Firestorm Armada in 2011 along with a host of new alliance races.
- They have 168 miniatures already designed for their upcoming Invasion ground combat game — but gave no release date.
- He said that they have a full 2011 release plan already in place for Dystopian Wars and if you like what you’ve seen so far you’ll be ecstatic about what they will have later in the year.
- Spartan will also release new tank combat rules for DW as a free download.
- Lastly, he even mentions they have scaled down some Firestorm Armada minis to about 50% their normal size for testing with a large fleet level combat game.
Forward to 1:30 into the show to get right to the interview.
On a different note, the guys from The D6 Generation also announced they will be producing ‘less for more’ soon. This is a great idea they have to produce additional paid content downloads in between their normal shows. The new downloads will be shorter segments at a cost of just .99 cents. These guys do a great job and deserve some financial support so hopefully folks will grab these even just as a token of appreciation to the guys for all of their hard work. The main show will remain free.
Spartan Games released a preview of the Kurak, a new race for Firestorm Armada, who are located in and around the planetary systems of Fathoms Reach. It is unknown if this will be a complete seventh race or more of an alliance fleet for use with other fleets. The two ships previewed look really nice. The Ganak Class BB is certainly Tau inspired from the Battlefleet Gothic days. We really like the Sulan Cruiser. Spartan also announced they will be releasing 40 new ships for FA in 2011 along with some expansion books. Looks like it will be a good year for sci-fi ship combat fans.
Spartan Games has released a number of new ships for Firestorm Armada. Each race gets a new specialty ship and a new faction, the Marauder Fleet, is available now (but no rules/stats yet). There are stats for the other new ships.
The new ships are the first to come from Spartan’s new tooling where they have reduced the parts count for each ship. Most are now single piece castings or only two or three pieces at most. The large Marauder ship, the Buccaneer, is resin with a metal ring and the small Corvettes are all metal. The other ships are all single piece resin. They are all extremely well cast, very detailed and are basically the best sci-fi ship miniatures currently available.
Also see Firestorm Armada Kurak Alliance.