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Friday, 29 November 2013

Fleet Manuals and Stat Cards are out for v2 of FSA!

Fleet manuals for the six core races are now available for download from the Spartan Games website, everyone...rejoice! Here they are;

As well as this little treat, I've finalised the v2.0 stat cards I've been working on as well. These were adapted from the original ones I created about a year ago, with v2.0 in mind. I've rearranged the stats based on the new turn sequence in FSA, so the wings are first, together with command distance, as they are used at the beginning of the activation. Then you have movement, turn limit and mines.

Next is the diagrammatic representation of the ship, with weapon range bands, types and stats. After that, you're into defence - shields, PD and the DR/CR of the model. The final block of stats is for hull points, crew points and assaulters. Where two or more numbers exist separated by a stroke "/", this represents possible alternative values available from hardpoints and upgrades - you simply strike the one that's not relevant.

As for MARs, Hardpoints and Upgrades, all are shown on the right side of the card, with a check box so you can see what you've bought. You can also see what other ships can accompany the ship (if any).

I'm thinking of laminating mine and then I can just wipe off after use for next time...

Anyway, this time I've divided them into handy fleet PDFs, just like the Fleet Manuals from Spartan. You lucky people! :-) Enjoy! (and if you do find any errors, let me know!)

Directorate Stat Cards
Terran Stat Cards
Aquan Stat Cards
Sorylian Stat Cards
Relthoza Stat Cards
Dindrenzi Stat Cards

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Video play guide to v2.0 coming soon...

Today on the Spartan Games community several people received their brand-new v2.0 rulebooks. Some time ago I'd promised to do a video play guide when the new rules were out, as the only ones generally available for FSA date way back to the original release. As I charged the battery on the digital camcorder last night, it's now time to get going!

I'm going to try to incorporate as many of the rules as possible, but this will be slightly down to chance as the game progresses. Oscar and I will incorporate ships from all factions to try to show a little bit of everything as well. See you soon!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


I mentioned in my Reading Warfare blog post that I was impressed with the GZG 15mm figures I saw, and I picked up a starter pack of Crusties, their District-9 inspired alien race. You get an awful lot of figures for £36, which presents the first challenge - how to prime them? After a wash in soapy water to remove any mould release agent, a water rinse to remove any soap residue, and a spell on tissue to dry them, I tacked them to a plank of wood with a tiny bit of superglue. This way I could prime the entire set without them falling over and getting paint-stuck to the wood, each other and generally causing an horrific mess!

These are just the infantry! The walkers I didn't tack down, but primed them in their componetn parts so they couldn't fall over etc. It meant a bit more fiddling around turning parts after they were dry, but was still very quick.

So now I had a bunch of white-primed figures, and as you can see above, it's difficult to see any detail (especially in flash-washed photos). The answer to this, of course, is to use a wash (like those cooked up from my last blog post) to pull out all the detail. I was a bit time-lmited for this, as I knew I was only going to be able to go a single squad, so I used diluted Vallejo ink in this case;

Much better! Using this wash as a pre-shade, I can now use a very thin paint to essentially "stain" the figure, and still retain shading. I'll see how this works out - I'll also paint some in base colours and wash them to see which is easier. The benefit of doing it this way is that the detail is much easier to see for painting.

The next thing I'm going to be after are some squad bases (possibly magnetic) and then a decent ruleset to use them with. Suggestions, anyone?

Monday, 25 November 2013


I was on the Spartan Games Community last week and someone was talking about being nervous on washing white. I posted about how I'd successfully washed The Destroying Angel, but it got me thinking about washes and how many people are beholden to ready-made washes from the likes of GW. Now some of these are, of course, very good, but people tend not to mess with them, using them as is or not at all.

Now if you were to use neat GW wash on a white model, it would definately be too strong. Here are four white primed Guardian escorts to show the effects of the wash - neat, diluted half, one-third and one-quarter strength;

So clearly at 100% the wash is staining the primer quite heavily, 50% reduces this effect and 33.3% removes it almost entirely. Going to a 1 in 4 dilution reduces the contrast considerably, however. The other thing I'm not keen about GW washes is they can get quite "gritty" and inconsistent

Here's the same thing done with Vallejo black ink;

The Vallejo ink has a much more even tone than the GW wash, and dilutes with better contrast (difference between the stained inlays and the flat areas which should remain as they were). Even the 25% dilution is useable here, especially if you were going to be using it on a ligth surface (like white or light grey). 

Now some time ago I read about Paynes Grey, which is much better for using on light colours, and tends to not have the "muddying" effect black washes can have. Artists use it a lot, and I bought a tube of soft body acrylic Paynes Grey some time ago - it costs about £5 for 2 US fluid Oz (~59ml);

A tube of this will probably last for many years - I've used hardly any of mine in almost 2 years. So to test how dilute you need this, we need a few bits and pieces - some white-primed Pilgrims, and a paletteto start with....

Now to stop the gloss effect you sometimes get with washes (like the GW ones), you need some of this stuff;

You probably won't ever use all of this! -250ml costs around £7 in the UK. You need some diluent, in this case water, and also something to break up the surface tension - you could use a solvent like IPA (though I wouldn't necessarily recommend that as use to much and you can lift you paint), a detergent (regular liquid soap, though this can foam) or PVA glue, which I'm using here (available anywhere for very little - I'm just using the stuff I use around the house anyway.

These 3 mixed in equal proportions give us our dliuent - very hard to see in this photo but the mixing tray does contain these mixed together.

Of course you can't just use the Paynes Grey straight from the tube, and if you try diluting it too quickly you'll end up with lumps, so the first thing to do is mix it 1:1:1 with Matt medium and PVA;

This gloopy mix can then be used with the diluent to make a series of dilutions, which I then used to wash a white-primed Pilgrim;

So you can see the most useful shades here are below 1:36, beyond that the effect is really too subtle. So, another set of dilutions giving a bit more insight into the 5-20 range;

So this produces some similar results to the 1-3 dilution of Vallejo in terms of the density of pigment and the staining of the flat surfaces. I'd say the useable range here was 10-20.

Now Paynes' Grey works really well for a wide range of colours, but some it doesn't work so well on, because it does haev a blue-grey cast. No problem, enter Transparent Burnt Umber;

This works well on browns, but mixed 1:1 with Paynes grey;

This gives almost equivalence to a "standard" wash like the GW or Vallejo washes above. The one on the end is a 1:40 dilution - you can see having the two colours together provide good contrast even at high dilutions.

So hopefully this will inspire you to try this yourself - spending just over £15 on these items will provide everything you ever need for your washes indefinately, and allows you to tailor your washes to what you need. Hopefully that will keep you popping the detail on your models for many a year to come!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Ryushi Support Fleet Unboxing

Following hot on the heels of the unboxing of the Ryushi Battlecarrier, here is the Alliance Fleet. Once more the Carrier and other ships are contained within the sturdy cardboard box wrapped in a glossy card sleeve, showing Spartan's studio fleet painted up very nicely. They look great.

On the back is a plan view of the three ship types, and a bit of fluff/spiel about the Ryushi.

Inside you might think you've been short-changed, as the contents don't seem all that much in the bags;

Get into the bags, however, and this impression quickly disappears as you realise one of the bag contains four cruisers alone! The initial thoughts of "is something missing?" go away when you realise that it's because the Ryushi ships are so elegant (and in the case of the frigate, small!), they pack very stark contrast to the Kedorians.

The Onnisha is much simpler than the Battle Carrier, consisting of just two resin pieces - a hull and an engine block. Nevertheless, she's still a fair size, about as long as a Manta (the engine block being identical to that on the Shautrai).

Unlike the BattleCarrier, the Onnisha hull is a solid affair, with some great detail. As I mentioned in the other Ryushi unboxing, the cruisers are single-piece resin castings, and are elegant looking ships. Here they are - the same shot I showed previously;

The Akkarai corvettes are single-piece metal castings, and are diddy! 

Taking a closer look at the Carrier, the ship has some lovely detail, and marries with the large engine block in the same way as the Shautrai, covering both pouring vents.

I won't go over the cruisers again (have a look at the blog before last if you missed them), but move straight on to the corvettes;

Nice little ships, trailing long streamers...none of these presents a particular problem, and are easily snipped off and tidied up. They're an interesting design and carry through the theme of the fleet very well.

The Alliance box set is a set of really lovely ships, and although I was initially slightly worried about having 6 cruisers in total with this and the Shautrai box, having them as accompaniments to the carriers allieviates any fears I migh have had of potentially not fielding them. All I can say is, good job Spartan!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Reading Warfare 2013

So this weekend Oscar and I attended Warfare 2013 at Reading, with the principle purpose of running a few demo games of FSA v2.0 (with SG's permission), and having a bit of fun. We ran a 1200 point game on Saturday after a slightly tardy star due to delays setting off, but Sunday we went for a couple of side-by-side 800 point games - Flamebeast's Relthoza vs Kaptain Krys' Dindrenzi, and Oscar's Aquans vs my Directorate (I should say KK's Dindrenzi weren't played by him, but his brother, as he was whizzing about checking tournament games of BM37k). Here's set up of the forces in progress...

Our game was pretty brutal, Oscar eradicating my Executioners before they'd really done anything, whilst I hosed biohazardous plasma liberally over his fishies. We were playing a "Recover Resources" mission, and Oscar was pretty unlucky with his rolls, lots of Aquans dying to radiation leaks (reducing a Barracuda and a Snapper to 0CP). We both managed to snake-eyes crit a Destroyer each, and Oscar managed a box-car crit on my other destroyer immediately afterwards! However, as it's my blog, here's Oscar's Stingray exploding and critting it's neighbour fo good measure (taking out its weapon systems as it did so....);

We did manage to get a look around the tournaments, other demo games and the trade show, where a few things caught our eye. The first of these were the 15mm figures by Ground Zero Games, which looked quite nice and are pretty reasonably priced - a starter set weighing in at £36 at containing between 60-80 figures plus support stuff - I bought a set of "crusties", some District-9 inspired aliens wich contained 66 figures plus 4 armoured suits very similar to that in the movie - you can see them in the centre of the first picture below. Here's some shots of their stand (I'll do a separate blog entry on the figures I bought another time I think).

As well as the figures are various vehicles at varying tech levels...

Some of the models are not the most refined, but in general they look pretty good, and there are some nice designs in there. They're pretty reasonable, so might be an option in the future - we'll have to see what Spartan come up with for the 15mm Planetfall line to see if there's any mileage here - I imagine some of the stuff will be good as scenary etc even if not for general play use....time will tell!

GZG also do some ships - most of these I've seen online before and not been terribly inspired by, but there are a couple of designs that are quite nice, especially in the civilian line...again, for scenarios and campaigns these could well find a way into our systems....

For me, most of these designs are OK - these being some of the better ones from my POV, but don't really stack up to the FSA ships I'm used to. Of course, having said that, most of the fighters/bombers/interceptors we have are already from these lines!

The civilian lines, however, I quite like - they're what I imagine civvy ships of the future would be like - very functional, no frills where unnecessary. Look at modern day cargo ships, fishermen etc - none of them is going to win the "pretty design" or "cool ship" of the year award!

These ships I do like, however...they look mean!

I also really liked the way GZG had the free figure box (as you can see above) - 15mm figures that failed QC for one reason or another (though no by much, judging by the ones I got), help yourself to try the range. It's a nice departure fom the likes of GW, and shows how business in our industry (IMO) should be done - working WITH your customers, not seeing them as something to be raped of money and left for dead.

Another stand that caught our eye was that of Dark Realm Miniatures - particularly this rather gorgeous drop ship (which is about FSA cruiser size...). Turns out to be from their 6mm Seeds of War game, and it has some interesting minis and scenary.

Some interesting litle ships here, and at reasonable prices - certainly something to bear in mind to add some variety if needed into some future campaigns...

We were hoping to see some demo games of Dropzone Commander, but sadl there didn't seem to be anyone playing it there, but we did find a stand in the trade are selling 2-player starter sets at a discount...that's one Christmas present sorted!

After this, we did a last round of the trade show to finally find some FSA minis...sadly there were only a few at one stand, residing in the "Now half price" bucket, which was a bit sad. On the other hand, it meant Oscar and I both got new Heavy cruisers for less than a fiver each :-).

Overall, had a good weekend, was a great opportunity to meet some of the FSA community in the flesh, and introduce (in many cases, re-introduce) FSA to the gaming community. Now, when's the next show???

Monday, 18 November 2013

Ryushi Battlecarrier Unboxing

The next unboxing in this series is the Ryushi Battlecarrier and attendant cruisers. It's a shame the Ryushi are on the wrong side of the war, as they make some fine-looking ships, and (as for Hawker) I was slightly gutted that they wouldn't be my guys!

Protecting the Ryushi  Shautrai Class Battle Carrier is the sturdy cardboard box that's become all too familiar in this series, complete with its glossy card sleevethis time showing the imposing Shautrai in a rather nice red colour scheme. As with the Hawker ships, they look enviably pretty.

A quick peek at the rear shows the Shautrai in all its glory, plus a shot of the cruisers. Time to find out how they look in resin form;

Opening the box reveals a slightly lighter haul than some of the other fleet sets, but this is hardly surprising given that this is jus a single ship and her accompaniment of two cruisers. The standard Spartan Games layout is revealed, with bubblewrap bags protecting the resin and plastic bags protecting the bases and blue acrylic pieces.

The Shautrai is comprised of three resin pieces, two hull sections and an engine block - plus a blue acrylic insert and two optional blue acrylic pieces, depending on whether you wish to display it "open" or "closed". Finally, a white metal radar dish/sensor suite thing tops it off. Here's the laid-together parts compared to a Manta;

So as you can see, it's a big ship! The hull pieces are quite large, and due to the cut-out for the acrylic, the front upper section is quite thin compared to the rear of it, and my example was plainly warped - more on this later.
As in the Hawker set, the cruisers are single-piece resin castings, and are elegant looking ships. This shot was actually taken from the Support Fleet (as there are four cruisers in that box), but I thought it silly to take two pictures of the same ship in different quantities;

Taking a look at the parts in more detail, they follow the recent trend in Spartan's castings - finely detailed, well cast and free from flash;

I love the little wing castings on the inside of the bay, a great little detail to add. The only mars on the casting are pouring stubs on the engine block and upper hull, cleverly positioned to be the joining faces, so they just need clipping back so they fit flush together, and you'll never know.

Next up is the cruiser;

The cruiser is a sleek ship, looking fast and efficient, and fitting with the Shautrai very well. Good detail both above and below, no problem with these beasties at all.

So I mentioned my upper Sautrai hull was warped, which is not a huge surprise given the quite slender, open nature of the upper front compared to the relative bulk of the rear. Here you can see how warped - putting the lower hull flush at the front creates a gap of several mm at the rear.

Now, this is not the disaster some of you might expect, as this sort of simple bend is easily sorted. If it had been twisted, that would have been quite a different matter. So, the first thing to do is put the kettle on....for a cup of tea? Well, yes, that'd be nice, but actually what I need is a cup of just-boiled water, into which I plop my bendy hull piece;

After about a minute, I can take it out (being careful not to scald myself!) and, using the lower hull as a template, clamp my now-slightly-flexible upper hull onto it, forcing it to conform to its straight line. I then plunge it straight under a rnning cold-water tap to fix the resin in its new configuration;

As you can see, the two hull pieces now align perfectly...voila!

Altogether the Shautrai is a lovely model, she's a pretty ship despite her size, and the option to make her two different ways is an interesting one (I might see if I can magnetise mine and make her able to do both!). The cruisers are lovely one-piece mouldings, and really show how Spartan has come on in terms of design and casting in just a few short years. Compare a Storm and an Hokita side-by-side and you'll see what I mean. Not that the Storm isn't a nice ship, it's just outclassed by what SG can do today.