Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Russian Grenadiers - St. Petersburg Inspection

Another regiment of Grenadiers finished. This time, accompanied by some elements in skirmish order, to represent mixed formation of line + skirmish screen.


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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Russian Grenadiers - Schilisselburg

First unit of russian grenadiers done. Zvezda kits are always a joy to work with, plenty of command figures to add to the regiment, including a beautifully sculpted flag.


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Friday, April 7, 2017

Pax Stellarum 2.0 - Released

I've finally finished the revision of Pax Stellarum version 2.0. This has been a major endeavor, which took me the best part of 2016 to complete, but I'm definitely satisfied with this version of the rules.

For those of you readers of this blog that don't know of, Pax Stellarum is my own homebrew set of rules to play spaceship wargames. 

Starships are one of my greatest passions in this hobby, but I've never found a set of rules I was completely happy with. Every ruleset out there had some elements I liked, but lacked others. Additionally, none of them felt universal enough to allow me to play on several different scifi settings (Star Trek, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Battlestar Gallactica, Stargate, etc.), and having to learn a number of different rulesets in order to play each universe with a different one was out of question for me.

Because of that, I started working on my own rules a few years ago, came up with a first version of the system, which felt good enough, and since then I've been taking notes of things I could improve, which culminates with this thoroughly revised version we have here.

You can find a link to the Pax Stellarum GoogleDrive files on the left column of this blog, half way down.




From the start, the guiding directives behind Pax Stellarum were clearly set in my head: 

 - To confortly accomodate about a dozen or more ships per side
 - Fast gameplay
 - No book-keeping required (few things to keep track of, and even this could be done with tokens on the table)
 - Universal rules to play any scifi setting, including a broad range of weapon and special abilities options
 - Design Rules with a point system, so that I could create stats for all ships I'd like to play with
 - Options of actions in play (beyond just move ahead and shoot)

These objectives have always guided my efforts and tweaking of the rules. Still, what I usually lack is the time to playtest all the inovations I had in mind to better address those topics. This has been duly dealt with this last december, though. I had several weeks of vacation and used most of my time to test over and over again the rules I'd like to add/change, and see what worked and what didn't.

This version of the rules presents the result of this recent playtesting. For those already acquainted with the previous version of the rules, here are the fundamental changes you'll find in this edition:

- New Shields mechanics
- New Fighter and torpedo mechanics
- Detailed Rules for several different types of terrain
- Additional weapon and ship traits, allowing further customization


A brief introduction to PAX STELLARUM

A fundamental aspect of the game is Technology. Players must select a Tech level for their ships (usually the same for their entire fleet). This will determine what systems are available for it in the design spreadsheet.




As you can see, a number of examples are provided for each Tech level, to help players better categorize their own chosen faction in order to design their ships. These examples are obviously suggestions, and players are free to choose the tech level they feel better represents their race of choice. 
Tech determines everything on a spaceship. How much it can purchase on Engines Rating, how powerful their weapons are, what traits those weapons may have, what special systems the ship may install, how powerful are its Shields, Sensors, etc.

Everything is costed in points (including Tech!), and a .xls spreadsheet has been develop to do all the math automatically. You just need to select what options you'd like to add, and the spreadsheet will calculate cost/mass requisite and tell you if any of your selections violate a design rule (usually related to tech requisites).

The design spreadsheet also has a number of ready-to-use ship stat displays, from Star Trek, Star Wars and Babylon 5, so players willing to give the game a try may do so without needing to first go through the design rules. Over the months, I'll be adding more and more ship designs of my own, and will be uploading the new ones here on the blog as I go.




In terms of gameplay, players can expect to find in Pax a ruleset aimed at larger engagements, as I mentioned, but that still does well on small skirmishing actions. The game turn is divided in a number of phases, with both players acting on each of them, in alternated activations:

- Initiative Phase
- Movement Phase
- Shooting Phase
- Ordnance Phase
- End Phase

Initiative determines who gets to choose which player acts first on each phase. Usually, players will prefer to let the opponent start activating on the movement phase, and start themselves activating on the shooting phase. The number and level of Command ships on each fleet has a major impact on the rolls to determine initiave each turn.

Movement is based on a ship's chosen level of thrust (adrift, low or High), and this can only be changed at the end of a ship's activating, which means it'll only impact next turn's movement. Thus, players are required to plan in advance how they intend to move on the following turn.
During a ship's activation on this Phase, it also has the opportunity of trying to take on a special order. There are 11 Special Orders available, and they involve pushing your engines harder to move farther, diverting power to shields, improving you accuracy by locking weapons on a target, etc.

Shooting involves the use of D10, and the concept of Quality. This is a ship stat that determines not only how well a ship shoots, but also how likely it is to pass a command check to take on a special order, among other things. 

The ordnance phase is where fighters and torpedoes move and attack, and this has been one of the areas where I've implemented the greatest number of changes, aiming at simpliying and speeding up game play.

On the end phase, players get the chance to repair critical damage, as well as restore their Shields Rating a bit. Additionally, at this stage, a fleet that has already lost half their total of hull points need to take a Morale Check to remain in battle.

Failing a fleet morale check is the standard condition of ending a game. That means that the fleet will leave the battlefield, with the opposite fleet claiming the victory. However, rules for calculating victory points are also provided, so that players may use them in their own scenarios, if they so will.

The rulebook is divided in two main chapters: Basic and Advanced Rules. I encourage any of you readers that enjoy a good ol' space battle to take a read at the basic rules, have a game or two with the ship designs provided in the design spreadsheet and see if this is a ruleset for you.

Pax Stellarum is and will always be a ruleset free-of-charge, it has been developed to suit my own taste for space wargames, but I'm glad to share it with any fellow gamer, as I know that, like myself, there are a lot of other ruleset-enthusiasts out there.

As always, feedback is deeply appreciated, since this is a system at constant evolution, and we could say that the release of version 2.0 coincides with the beginning of the work on version 3.0 (!)




Monday, March 20, 2017

Federation Fleet

I've finally finished my Federation fleet. A project I've been working on for quite some time now. This is the last fleet I needed to complete my project of the Dominion War, and now I have fleets for all powers involved in the conflict.

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The ships in this collection come from a couple sources. The defiant-class ships are Studio Bergstrom's, the first models I purchased for this fleet. The Galaxy-class, Akira-Class and Excelsior Class are Attack Wing's, while the Sovereign Class is actually a key ring accessory, a gift from a friend that happened to match the scale of the rest of the fleet perfectly!

Speaking of scale, this is the reason this fleet took so long to complete. My entire collection of star trek ships are in scale to each other. Exact scale in most cases, close enough in others. When it comes to the Federation, I had to wait for Wizkids to release some classes of ships that were in scale with the fleets I already had (something around 1/9000), particularly the Galaxy-class, which I definitely wanted in the fleet.

They had already released a Galaxy, the Enterprise itself, in the Starter Set, but I needed at least 3 or 4, and wasn't going to purchase that many starter sets, when the only thing I needed on each was a single ship. So I had to wait for Wizkids to make the Galaxy available by itself, and it happened recently, in the form of the USS Venture. Together with the Akiras and the Excelsiors, I then had enough variation of classes to come up with a proper fleet. (their Nebula-class is also in scale, but I figured 4-5 classes of ships was enough, without being too much).

Once I had all models I wanted to build the fleet, I gave them a paint job to make them look uniform enough, a proper fleet (even though in-universe, different classes of Federation ships have all kinds of shades of grey).

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The Peregrin-class attack ships above are an example of close-enough scale. They should actually be considerably smaller than the Defiants next to them, but there are no such models available for these ships that I'm aware of, so these will have to do. They're sufficiently small to represent the fact that they are tiny attack ships, so that's good enough, I suppose.

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Monday, March 13, 2017

State of the army: Celts - An update

I've already displayed my celt army here before, but since then I've added a full division of 4 warbands + skirmishers, so I thought it'd be only fair to let them parade again in full updated strength.


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In total, I now have 15 warbands, 4 small units of skirmishers, 7 command bases and 4 units of cavalry.

In the future, I'll be adding chariots to the army, so I can play them as british celts as well. But this is probably going to wait until next year, as I'll be focusing on my napoleonic russians for the remainder of 2017.


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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A battle on the Klingon-Cardassian War

Here's a brief Battle Report of a game of Pax Stellarum we recently played at our club, featuring some of the main races of the Star Trek universe.


The Klingons invaded Cardassian territory on 2372, under the assumption that the Dominion was infiltrating the Alpha Quadrant with the support of the Cardassian Union.

By the beginning of year 2373, the Klingons had advanced far into enemy territory, putting the Cardassian military into complete disarray. Just when ultimate victory seemed to be only months away, the invaders were suprised by the disclosure of the Dominion-Cardassian Alliance, and the major power of the Gama Quadrant quickly joined in the war effort, pushing back the all-conquering fleets of the Klingon Empire.

This game we played represent one of those battles where the combined Cardassian-Dominion forces engage the Klingons, currently occupying large portions of cardassian space.

I controlled the cardassians/jem'hadar, while my friend Rafael Soar, also a Star Trek enthusiast, controlled the klingons.


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A view of the battlefield from the dominion/cardassian deployment (there is another squadron of Galors, on the far right of the table, visible on the pic below)



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The Klingon Deployment


The Klingon flagship Negh' Var, commanded by Chancellor Gowron, was present to this battle, giving this ship a Command Rating 7.

I also had a command ship - one of the jem'hadar battlecruisers - but mine had a Command Rating 6, only (we can assume it had a high-ranking Vorta aboard). Still, good rolls granted me Initiative on most turns, including the Initiative of Deployment.

That being, I chose my opponent to deploy first, and seeing that his klingon fleet was somewhat concentrating in the centre of their deployment zone, I chose to attempt to flank his forces with my galor squadrons, leaving the jem'hadar to deal with the bulk of the enemy forces in the middle.

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The Galor squadrons quickly advanced to flank the enemy on both sides. On the right of the klingon deployment, a squadron of Vorchas engaged the cardassians, but were overran after a couple turns. On their left, the klingons had no elements selected to intercept the cardassians, so they made their way to the rear of their formations without trouble.

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In the middle of the battlefield, the fleets exchanged fire at close range, inflicting severe damage on each other. My flagship was blown apart, and the klingon flagship almost had the same fate.

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The sole Vorcha still left on the right flank of the klingon formation, severely damaged and with a number of systems down, tries to turn away from the onslaught of the enemy advance. Such dishonored ship wouldn't last much longer, though.


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The battered jem'hadar battlecruisers accelerate past the klingon lines, to avoid their powerful forward arcs of fire, leaving the fighting to the flanking Galors to their right, while they attempt to maneuver into position to fire at the enemy from their rear.

The agile Birds of Prey quickly pivot to face the jem'hadar, putting the enemy Shields under constant pressure.


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The flanking tactics pay off, and the confused klingon ships find themselves surrounded and engaged on several fronts, what forces them to maneuver to face one flank, turning their back to the other.

After 6 turns, played over 3h, we agreeded that the klingon forces were in no shape to continue fighting, and in order to preserve their crippled flagship, they chose to jump into warp and release their hold on yet another cardassian system!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Expanding my warbands

A couple extra warbands and a unit of slingers completed. Another 2 warbands to go and I'll have a full additional division for my celt army.

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