Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Return to the Orbital Shipyards

It will probably not come as a surprise to many who know me that I have a relatively astonishing number of miniatures about the house, both painted and less-than-painted. Last winter I resolved to take some action about the unpainted ones and obtained a full new set of paints. But then spring came, and things got busy and my epic procrastination skills kicked into high gear and besides that, Fallout 4 wasn't going to play itself now, was it?

But a couple of things happened as the autumn approached: the first was a fortuitous trade between myself and our old mate (and oft-published RPG author!) Colin as he passed through on his way to Cold Lake in the September. He had been given a number of model starships by Mongoose Publishing in exchange for additional work he had done, and which he had confessed were never going to be painted. He generously accepted a trade of my copy of Tannhauser, a wonderful game that ranks among the best looking I've ever bought, but which hasn't seen play in perhaps 5 years.

The second was the cooling of the weather, when a middle-aged man thinks of hobbying. These two items prompted a revisiting of the game A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Battles, and I called Admiral Earl to arrange our first proper 1000 point game. Prior to this we had played group games at G&G and a couple of 2-on-2 matchups, but in truth, the game is made for fleet engagements. Earl expressed some concern at his inability to multitask, but like a game fish, he rose to the challenge and picked up the proffered gauntlet. Early in October we gathered with 5 ships apiece, including a dreadnought on each side, to do battle around a nameless planet and its nearby asteroid belt.

The dreadnoughts USS Endeavour and IKV Sword of Kahless square off.
It took us a while to get set-up, and a little longer to re-familiarize ourselves with the rules, but in the end we were far more conversant with them than when we started, and we had a great time to boot.

Admiral Woods lines up a shot on my flagship.

My Klingons drove his Federation lapdogs from the quadrant without the loss of a single ship (but that is certain to come back and bite me in the hinder, especially since we found out afterwards that the rule which made his DN so difficult to use effectively has been removed from the game!) but to his credit, Earl did not let that stop him from accepting my offer of a rematch, this time in an even larger engagement -1500 points. I gave him a half-dozen Federation craft from the windfall I had received from Colin and we agreed to meet in a months' time.

And so it was, at last, time to paint once more.

It's all coming back to me now...I used to do this!

I elected to start small in a fairly literal sense, beginning with the shuttlecraft which we had just begun using in the game. Armed with a small container of antimatter and remotely piloted from a launching ship, these suicide shuttle can be a weapon of last resort, but they can also be used to move crew or cargo between ships, or serve as objective markers. They have very little detail to speak of, thankfully, but are mercilessly tiny, each one sitting on a base slightly smaller than a dime.

Space taxis galore! Not exciting, but useful.

I have a couple of Enterprise-style heavy cruisers on hand already and intend to have a small Federation fleet at some point, so I did two of them in Galileo-ish livery and the other five as Klingons. That should be more than enough for the nonce.

Moving on to capital ships was a harder choice in some ways; unlike the Federation designs, which move the nacelles and secondary hulls around willy-nilly to add some variety to their silhouettes, the Klingons are essentially all variations on the classic D7 battlecruiser design. Since this is one of the best-looking spaceship design ever as far as I am concerned, this isn't too much of a problem, but it can make differentiating between friendly ships a bit of a tactical challenge.

In the end I elected to use the rules for scout ships, which would mean using two different D5 variants, but giving me a good excuse to vary up their colour schemes a little bit. I overbuilt as well, giving me some assembled and primed ships ready to work on whenever the mood should strike me.
One set basecoated, the next ready for priming.
It felt good to get out the files and clippers and superglue again after a long absence. The D5S and D5WD went together like a charm, the 'wings' holding the nacelles almost clicking into place. I don't know how their construction differs from the other cruisers I built, but the subsequent wings felt like trying to glue together two pieces of paper...edge to edge. In the end, an excessive amount of glue and a few squirts of cyanoacrylate accellerant to hold it place won the day. They may not be pretty but at least they should hold together, as the Klingon engineers like to say. At least the tiny frigates were single piece castings!

Sadly, this construction spree has meant the end of my last bottle of Dark Angel Green spray paint, something not available in Canada now for over a decade. Ah well, at least these final six ships will be up and running a little faster because of it.

Like most armchair admirals, I like a relatively high degree of uniformity amongst the vessels in my command, for esthetic as well as practical reasons. I kept the green basecoat from the rest of Task Force Karn'j, but painted the striated panels on the wings purple instead of blue to make the scout ships stand out, as they have slightly different rules.

The escort frigates Katar and Kukri
At the risk of making them less imposing to the point of cuteness, I also went a couple of shades lighter on the smallest ships, the E4 frigates.

The D5S Scout cruiser is a slightly smaller version of the ubiquitous D7, but in all honesty I quite like the look of the D5WD Drone Cruiser with its third nacelle.

The D5S scout cruiser Revenant and D5WD new drone cruiser T'khondroga

I'm also unsure about the glossy varnish I used this time around, and may end up dusting them with dullcote in order to make them less shiny. What I am sure about, however, is that I am glad to have them done, and cannot wait to get them on the tabletop! The two cruisers and one of the Frigates gives me the needed 500 points, and I have enough primed now to take me all the way up to 2000 (at some point).

It feels great to have finished a painting project for the first time in a long time, despite how punishing it was to my eyes sometimes. (I'm squinting at you, tiny shuttlecraft!)

1 comment:

  1. No more lumbering for my dreadnought! Thank goodness. I still need to assemble and paint my new Federation ships...better get on that.