New Ships Hove Into View

We have a double treat today, as brand new ships for both Noble Armada and Star Fleet have just come back from our painter, looking resplendant in their fleets’ colours!

First up, two new ships for the Church fleet in Noble Armada…

Lextius-class Cruiser

This bad boy is bedecked with heavy heat blasters – 12 of them, in fact! This weapon literally cooks crews inside enemy vessels, bestowing an automatic critical hit to the Crew location with every normal critical hit caused. If that weren’t enough, it is also a Multihit 3 weapon, backed up by 5 light heat blasters on each broadside. Still want more? Well, help yourself to four fighters carried on board too, all for just 400 points.

Zorothion-class Destroyer

Escorting the Lextius into battle will no doubt be a squadron of Zorothion destroyers. Fast and agile, the Zorothion carries a healthy complement of troops, with half of them being Marauders, guaranteeing you will overwhelm your enemies when things get up close and personal.

Kzinti Fast Cruiser

Sporting a slightly new look and an all new paint job is the Fast Cruiser for Kzinti fleets. Each Kzinti ship is painted in a fashion mirroring the fur patterns of its captain, and this ship is adept at sprinting behind enemy lines to flank and destroy ships before they can retaliate against the rest of the fleet.

Kzinti Medium Cruiser

A mainstay of the Kzinti fleet, the Medium Cruiser can not only dish it out, it can take it as well, as evidenced by the ADD fittings, three Disruptors and, of course, a healthy amount of drones. Plenty of shielding ensures this ship can mix it up with heavy cruisers and still hold its own.

 

All these ships are available for pre-order on our web site right now, and will start shipping in August.

 

Star Fleet Reference Cards

The Star Fleet Reference Cards Pack (perhaps we should say Pack #1, as no doubt there will be more in the future to cover new ships that come along) is due to go off to print in a few days, so now seems the right time to give you all a sneak peek at them.

This is a 90 card deck and, as the more observant of you will immediatly spot, that is more cards than ships in A Call to Arms: Star Fleet. So, the first question to be answered is that yes, there will be duplicates of the more common ships in the game, meaning for many games a single deck will be all you need (unless you start fielding unusual fleets, or are a confirmed five Kirov man!).

Each card is double-sided, with the Ship’s details on one side, together with a picture of the ship for ready identification;

Federation Dreadnought

And it’s ‘game boxes’ on the other. With a white board-style marker, you can cross off important details such as hits on Shields, the hull, and critical hits;

Reverse Side

This means you can lay your entire fleet of cards on your sideline during play, and simply cross off damage and other features as they come in!

We have included not only the core hull designs, but also the variants, with each variant having its own card for ease of use. On top of that, each fleet is colour-coded, allowing you to readily identify which ships are yours in the deck.

Klingon C8

C8 Reverse

If these cards prove popular, we will release new deck packs as new ships and supplements are released, with the first following the Battle Groups supplement later this year.

Taking the Pepsi Challenge

As many of you will know, we are making a change to the range of Star Fleet models by casting many in metal (the larger models, such as the C8 and Condor Dreadnoughts, and the various bases – the first of which will be previewed very soon). Of course, many wanted to know whether the models would retain their crisp level of detail by changing medium.  We can assure you they will, as the same masters have been used for both metal and resin – however, we had a Federation Battlecruiser quickly painted up to match the existing ships in our studio fleet, so you can play spot the difference!

Can you tell the metal one out of these three (yes, there is one cheating way to do this that will no doubt be revealed on our forums, but try to do it without peeking!)?

Campaign Variations

Playing A Call to Arms: Star Fleet is good. Taking part in a campaign adds a whole new dimension, however.

In a campaign, you will forge temporary alliances, break truces, build deadly rivalries, and see your fleet expand to dominate your corner of the universe – or be smashed apart by a ruthless enemy! The campaign system for A Call to Arms: Star Fleet is designed to be quick and easy to get to grips with (no counting out Resource Points or following supply lines to each portion of your fleet!), allowing you to dive right into the action. Campaigns can easily build a narrative for your fleet, so it becomes more than just a collection of models.  You will be able to recount (to anyone willing to listen!) how the brave crew of the USS Phoenix fought bravely, outnumbered, against a squadron of Klingon frigates while several decks raged with fire!

A small Federation force, spoiling for trouble!

From top to bottom, A Call to Arms: Star Fleet was built for epic battles across the stars, where dice rolls and tactical choices would combine into a narrative that describes great and terrible deeds in a fight for supremacy.

However, A Call to Arms: Star Fleet is also as much your game as it is ours and while the campaign rules included in the rulebook contain enough to keep you fighting for months on end, variety is also the spice of life (and war).  Here, we will look at some subtle changes you can make to the campaign rules in order to change the whole tone of a war.

Starting Forces
We left this quite vague in the book, stating that campaign fleets can be pretty much as large as you like. However, we are guessing that many people will stick to 2,000 points as the default. There is absolutely no need to do this!

We already suggest that you can go larger for a longer, more in-depth campaign, but what about going smaller? A campaign where everyone starts off with just 1,000 points could represent small forces dispatched to a newly discovered world full of riches many light years from reinforcement. Players will likely be very cautious during the initial clashes as one large battle could see the complete destruction of their entire fleet and loss of the campaign!

You can also play around with variable starting forces, similar to the way points values in scenarios can change. Every player rolls a dice; on a 1, they have 20% less points, on a 2 they have 10% less points.  On a 3-4, they will have the campaign ‘default’ number of points, but on a 5 they get 10% more, and on a 6 they get 20% more. This may seem a little unfair and it is a brave fleet that starts at -20% and starts to punch above its own weight.  However, the campaign system in A Call to Arms: Star Fleet is robust enough to handle this disparity (remember, it can already handle a player dropping out for a few weeks and then returning with no one the worse off) and, anyway, war is never fair!  There is also something rather appealing about starting as the underdog and eventually triumphing.

To take this idea a step further, you could ‘set’ the points bvalues for each fleet before the campaign starts.  For example, you might decide the story behind the campaign is that the Klingon Empire is working on a new type of technology that could see them become undefeatable in battle.  Both the Romulans and the Federation send forces into Empire space to stop them. Because the Klingons are on home ground, they may be awarded a 20% bonus to the points value of their campaign fleet, while the Romulans and Federation both start with a -10% penalty. If a fourth player joins in as Orions, who are just there for an good opportunities that arise rather than full scale invasion, they might have -20% of the fleet value.

Scenarios
There are a number of scenarios that do not appear on the table for campaigns, mainly because we wanted to keep the default campaign rules fairly generic. However, you need not be bound by this! By creating your own scenario table, you can feature scenarios suitable to, say, pirate attacks and raids, rather than full blown battles, or perhaps scenarios based in unusual areas of space (such as the Gravity Well scenario).

You can also change the random point value of scenarios, either by actually changing the values in the table to allow for smaller or larger fights, or changing the table completely and making it based on 2D6, so fights tend to be weighted around a central range of points with only a few very small or very large battles. This will make things more predictable, but you can also make sure such a table is weighted towards the high or low end, maybe doing the latter to reflect a campaign centred on pirates or ‘spoiling” forces trying to tweak the tail of a much larger enemy.

Skills & Refits
You can have a tremendous amount of fun creating your own tables of Skills & Refits, including specific technologies and personalities that are central to your campaign narrative. For example, you need not just have a Skilled Captain – you might get Admiral Cunningham, Hero of Tarsus IV and renowned expert in the overloaded photon strike (with appropriate special rules to demonstrate this). In the Klingon campaign mentioned above, ships might start appearing with the new technology on board, further altering the balance of power in the war.

You can, of course, go one step further – have a seperate Skills & Refits table for each fleet. The Klingon table might concentrate on extra Transporters, Shuttles and Marines, while the Federation table might focus on crew benefits. If you come up with any good ideas for this, be sure to post them on our forums – the best may make it into the forthcoming supplement so everyone can witness your genius!

Winning the Campaign
Another area obvious for fiddling with is the victory conditions of the campaign. The default setting concentrates on Prestige Points to achieve victory, with players varying the number required to make for a long or short campaign. No reason for you to stick with that, however!

You might decide to build victory conditions around the narrative behind the campaign. If you are fighting for territory, the first player to win 5 Space Superiority missions might be the winner. Maybe the first to win a number of Explore a Strange New World, if you are in an unexplored area of space. It could be the utter destruction of a specific fleet or, in small point value campaigns, perhaps the destruction of a specific enemy ship (obviously the Admiral’s long term nemesis from the previous campaign!) would grant victory or, at least, a bonus number of Prestige Points. The really ambitious may run a campaign with a set number of ‘turns’ but give every fleet a different objective. You might end up with more than one winner – or none!

 

I hope that has given you some ideas to use in your own games or, at the very least, has lit a spark that makes you want to start a campaign. It really is the best way to get to know your fleet and I would even recommend a small campaign for brand new players to the game. By the time the campaign is complete, win or lose, you will be something of an expert in the game!

We’ll be delving into other areas of A Call to Arms: Star Fleet in the future, as well as taking a few sneak peeks at what is coming up. Meanwhile, here is a new ship, the Klingon E5 Battle Corvette – weird!

E5 Battle Corvette

The Bigger They Are…

Gamers are a funny lot. No sooner do we start shipping the models for A Call to Arms: Star Fleet than they want to know what we have planned next!

Just about as soon as the rulebook for A Call to Arms: Star Fleet was finished, work started on the first supplement, provisionally entitled Battleships.  You won’t have to think too hard about some of its content, at least!

Anyway, in-between warships from World War II, Sandrine has been working hard on the first range of new ships for the Star Fleet Universe as well, and here you can see the first fruits of her labours.

Federation Battleship

This handsome brute is the Mars-class Battleship of the Federation. Bigger than a Dreadnought, it is the Fed’s last word in warship design.

With 100 points of Damage and 45 Shields, it is probably going to take another battleship to bring it down. It carries a total of ten photon torpedo tubes, two of which point behind so the old trick of getting a smaller but more nimble ship to sit behind and pound away is not going to work against this vessel! Nine drone launchers will be sufficient to bombard, well, an entire enemy fleet if you so wish, and there are massed ranks of phaser upon phaser.

Cruiser & Battleship

As you can see in this size comparison, the Mars-class is shaping up to be an impressive miniature and as soon as it goes through the prototyping process and gets a lick of paint, we’ll be showcasing it on Planet Mongoose.

Over the next few months, you will be hearing a lot about the new edition of Victory at Sea, but keep your eyes peeled as we’ll be slipping in some hints and previews on Battleships.

 

Empires Galore!

Up to now, we have just had a look at the Big Three empires in A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, as we have started calling the Federation, Klingons and Romulans.  However, there are a multitude of empires in the galaxy. More are already covered in the core rulebook, and their ships will be appearing soon.  As a sneak peek though…

Carnosaurus Destroyer

Welcome to the Gorn. These reptilians have ships characterised by being very ugly, very brutal, not particularly agile, but loaded with a devastating amount of firepower! Those sprightly Klingons can dance around Gorn ships all day, it won’t make any difference – they will still face a barrage of plasma and phaser fire!

Take the Carnosaurus Destroyer as an example.  For a mere 115 points, you get a sprinkling of all round phaser banks, but three (count ‘em!) plasma torpedo launchers totalling enough Attack Dice to make a Romulan wince. However, with 16 points of Damage, this ship is considerably tougher than the equivalent Romulan. And being able to just turn inside a Federation Heavy Cruiser, it is positively nimble for a Gorn!

These ships do, of course, come in larger sizes…

Tyrannosaurus-Rex Dreadnought

This ship has so many individual weapon systems, it takes up an entire page all by itself in the rulebook!

Again, the phasers are a sprinkling (by usual Dreadnought standards) across all facings.  But if you are a Gorn player, you are not really going to care about that. You’ll be concentrating on the massive load of plasma torpedoes that total just shy of 20 Attack Dice.  Just think of that for a moment – you could be rolling 20 dice against an enemy ship and be doing that many points of damage.

There isn’t a ship in the game that can stand up to that kind of punishment.

However, there are some issues.  To get those shots off, your opponent will have to be nodding, as you will need to get your Dreadnought pointing straight at him, at 8″ or less. There is nothing subtle about this fleet, and your opponent will see your tactics coming a mile off. This is mitigated somewhat by the fact that not all your plasma torpedoes need fire forward.  Plenty of them can fire to the side, catching those feckless Federation and Klingon ships completely off guard as they prance around you.

As for durability… yup, got plenty of that.  More Gorn Marines than you can shake a dead Orion at too.

So, to sum up, the Gorn are a slow, heavy fleet that dish out far more than they can take.  The bad news for other fleets is that they can take a great deal and keep on coming.

Maybe the Gorn are not your thing.  Maybe massive firepower and heavy defences are not really your thing (it is possible, I suppose). In which case, let us present the Kzinti.

Kzinti Frigate

It begins here, with the humble Frigate, the smallest of the Kzinti ships in the current line up.  At barely 120 points, it looks quite fragile…

Well, it has a kick, all right.  Just like other Frigates, it is super agile and will run rings even round a Klingon. A couple of phasers and a single disruptor seem to keep most of its firepower up front.  And that is fair enough.

However, the last listed weapon system is a drone launcher.  The Kzinti just love drones.

This tiny little ship packs four of them.  Four drones that can be launched each and every turn.  The Federation needs to field a ship the size of a Battlecruiser to get that kind of salvo going.  In a long ranged drone-duel, this Frigate will own a Federation Heavy Cruiser, and it has the speed and agility to stay ahead of its prey.

Continuing the ‘little and large’ theme we started with the Gorn, this is what a Kzinti Dreadnought looks like.

Kzinti Dreadnought

This photo really does not do the model justice.  The real thing is the longest ship model by far of the entire Star Fleet range, and it looks just plain majestic on the table!

It is not particularly nimble (in fact, it has the Lumbering trait) but with 3 Anti-Drone launchers and a bristling forest of phaser-3s, it is pretty much immune to any but the most determined and concentrated of drone attacks.  And while the enemy is uselessly expending their energy trying to break through those defences, the Dreadnought can kick out a healthy 6 Attack Dice worth of drones every turn.

Not that this ship was built to engage only in stand-off battles.  Far from it.  Six disruptors up front give it some serious punch, especially if they are overloaded, while a healthy spread of phaser banks to the front and sides will finish anything that survives.

Don’t worry about enemies getting into your rear arc.  They will be eating those drones of yours.

 

We’ll be taking another look at the Gorn and Kzinti in the very near future and, in fact, they go on pre-order within the next week or two for delivery just after Christmas. before that, however, we’ll take a gander at the two ‘mini’ fleets included in the rulebook – the famous Tholians and, the pirate’s favourite, the Orions.

To Cloak or not to Cloak…

It really is the question.

Every playtester who tried out A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, without exception, started their games with every ship cloaked when it came to work on the Romulans. They were surprised when they did not just lose, but got absolutely hammered.

Part of it was that their opponents were already used to the fleets they were in charge of (such as the Federation and Klingons).  However, a great deal was that they had read the rules on cloaks, and decided that was the be all and end all of Romulan tactics.

Oh, there is so much more to them than that…

Now you see it...

It should be said that there are times when your entire fleet approaching under cloak is a good idea.  I recently played a game where two Snipes and a Battle Hawk (pretty much the smallest ships in the Romulan fleet) were up against a a Klingon D6 and D7, a mis-match if ever there was one, over a battlefield that had no terrain at all.  There was no way I would cross all that empty space without a cloak!

Oh, and for those wondering, I lost but took out the D6.  Would have got the D7 too, if I had not lost a string of initiative rolls towards the end…

... and now you don't!

On the face of it, cloaks look all kinds of awesome.  For every incoming hit, you roll a die and, on a 2 or more, the hit is completely ignored – it just flies off into empty space! If a hit does make contact, most will just make your shields shudder a little, making you practically invulnerable. You even get to use the Reload Special Action while cloaked, allowing you to bring more of those all important plasma torpedoes on line.

There are downsides, naturally.  And these are what most new Romulan players tend to gloss over! First, you can only move 6″ a turn which means, if you are not careful, your opponent will literally run rings round you, denying the crucial short-ranged plasma shot.  He will keep extending the distance until you get bored, frustrated, do something stupid – decloak and let fly with torpedoes at long range – and then he nails you with every weapon he can bring to bear.

You do, of course, have to decloak in order to fire, which is fine.  If you have popped up in the right place (out of arc ofmost return fire and close enough so your plasma torpedoes do not suffer from Energy Bleed), then your opponent will be panicking, dedicating as many phasers as he can to reducing the strength of your torpedoes, leaving little to fire back at you. The problem comes in the next turn, where you have to make a choice – rely on a handful of phasers while you reload for another attack or try to recloak in which case you don’t get to fire at all and have to weather an absolute storm of firepower with just 4+ Stealth to protect you (it doesn’t – generally speaking, Romulans have great shields but their hulls can take precious little damage).

All this firepower - and it can cloak!

What will be interesting will be the different tactics different Romulan players develop over the next few months.  When you spring out of a cloak, you do not get to move normally at all – instead, you can place your ship up to 6″ in any direction with a free turn.  And this has some interesting implications.  If thinngs have become up close and personal, you can completely wrong-foot an enemy, popping up behind him.  Or you can use that 6″ to pop up from behind a thin asteroid field (You thought I was behind the rocks? Ha!).

The goal, however, is to uncloak as close as you can to the enemy (ideally within 8″) so you can unleash the full power of your plasma torpedoes.  Even the humble Snipe carries 7 Attack Dice worth of these weapons – imagine rolling 7 dice against, well, any enemy.  One hit will seriously cripple or annihilate the shields of a heavy cruiser.  A second salvo will likely 0ut it out of the battle, at worst.  This is why I normally use Snipes in pairs…

My favoured tactics is to group Romulan ships in ‘hunting packs’ of 2 or 3 vessels and spread them around the battlefield as they close in to the enemy.  Decloak one pack and let a choice target have it but, crucially, just as it recloaks, uncloak another so instead of the enemy ganging up on the first, he finds he has to divert phasers to fend off another explosion of plasma.  Add, rince, and repeat.

Sometimes this tactic even works!

You’ll develop your own.  There are several playtesters who swear never to try to recloak once engaged, and this is certainly valid.  Romulan ships are very capable vessels with many that can go toe-to-toe with the heaviest Federation or Klingon ships.  For them, Cloak is just another trait, one that can be used as an aid but in no way entirely defines the ship.

In Other Star Fleet News
Our chaps in the casting facility have been working day and night (literally) to meet all your orders.  We are now looking at starting to ship A Call to Arms: Star Fleet on the week of the 12th, though gamers in the US may see the rulebook a week before that.

More Federation and Klingon ships will be up and available on the web site this week.

Work has already started on the first supplement for A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, due for releaee about this time next year, though we will have a couple of ‘mini’ releases before then.

The official UK launch at Dragonmeet on Saturday was a great success – many thanks for all those who took part in the demos, and we hope you enjoy the ships you picked up!

A few lucky mail order customers are going to be receiving a free Pocket Edition of A Call to Arms: Star Fleet.

High Energy Turns

There are several new Special Actions in A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, allowing your ships to engage cloaking devices, overload photon torpedoes or send marines over to an enemy vessel via transporters.

My favourite, however, is probably High Energy Turn.

As has appeared in previous versions of A Call to Arms, this is a way to eke just a little more performance out of your ship, to bring its nose round a little further than is normaly possible, to turn a little tighter and hopefully wrong foot an enemy to bring more weaponry to bear.

Before this was always known as Come About, and upon a successful Crew Quality check (needing a total of 9, meaning an average ship needs to roll 5 or more), you could make one extra 45 degree turn or increase an existing turn by 45 degrees.  Nice, easy, simple.

High Energy Turns are a little bit different- and remember, in A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, you don’t get a choice.  If you want to turn harder, a High Energy Turn is the only way to do it.

Like Come About, it can be done to create a new turn during movement or extend an existing one.  However, you do not just create/increase a turn by 45 degrees.  Oh, no. With a High Energy Turn, you can turn by any amount you wish.  It works like this.

Declare a High Energy Turn during a ship’s movement and, when it comes to the boosted turn, count how many extra 45 degree turns (or part of) you want to make.  For example, a Federation Heavy Cruiser makes a normal 45 degree turn, and then uses a High Energy Turn to make another three 45 degree turns so, in total, it turns round a complete 180 degrees, perhaps to surprise a pursuing Klingon with a salvo of photon torpedoes.

A Crew Quality check is made, but only with a target of 8.  It is easier to do a High Energy Turn than to Come About, with an average ship needing just 4 or more.  And if you make the check, success, the ship swings around, giving you new tactical options.

But if you fail…

A failed High Energy Turn means you do not turn any extra amount at all.  Furthermore, your Impulse Drives take an automatic critical hit, gaining a Critical Score equal to the number of extra 45 degree turns you were trying to make.  So, at best, if you did not push things too hard, your drives will take a hit and will need repairing if you want to get full mobility back.  However, you could almost cripple your ship by failing to pull off a truly ambitious turn.

So, is a High Energy Turn usually worth it? Well, yes – so long as you succeed!

New-Style Romulans

Today is a big day for Romulan fans – we unveil (decloak?) the designs for some of their latest warships, the third generation ‘Hawk’ series, intended to stand against any fleet from any other empire on at least equal terms.

SparrowHawk Light Cruiser

The most numerous of the ‘Hawks,’ the SparrowHawk can be found in most Romulan fleets, no matter who they are fighting against.  With 30 points of Damage and 24 Shields, the SparrowHawk could make a serious claim to actually being a Heavy Cruiser.  However, it lacks the phaser weaponry of Heavy Cruisers (though it retains a respectable amount, capable of all-round coverage), and is far, far more agile, able to keep up with many Frigates.

Added to all this, as with every Romulan ship, is the cloaking device and plasma torpedoes – three launchers in all, totalling a very nasty eight Attack Dice at short range. If the SparrowHawk is able to sneak up on an enemy, decloak, and unload with all weapons, you will find it certainly punches like a Heavy Cruiser! All this for a very reasonable 170 points (remember that it cloaks, and you will see this ship is quite the bargain!).

FastHawk Heavy Cruiser

The FastHawk is a development of the FireHawk, which was itself a development of the SparrowHawk above, and you can readily see the design influences.  However, the FastHawk is designed for very different duties to the ‘hold the line’ SparrowHawk.

FastHawk Underside

As one of the ‘fast’ cruisers in the game, it has the Fast trait which allows it to move further than most other ships, especially when it channels all power to its engines.  For 235 points (getting towards Battlecruiser territory), you get 28 Shields, 40 Damage and a very good turning circle (though it is not counted as being Agile). Plenty of phasers are mounted, including all-round coverage by phaser-3, which will prove to be a lifesaver when enemy drones start homing in.  It packs a serious wallop with two massive plasma torpedo launchers, combining at short range for eight searing Attack Dice.

Condor Dreadnought

Couldn’t cover the ‘new style’ Romulans without taking a look at this big ‘un – the Condor Dreadnought, one of the heaviest ships in the Romulan fleet list and a good showcase of what a little more than 300 points buys you in this game.

Condor Underside

Here, we are looking at 36 Shields and 56 Damage, though don’t expect it to turn with the usual Romulan grace (think more along the lines of a space cow, and you’ll be closer).  However, what it lacks in agility, it more than makes up for in hard hitting power.  A total of 14 phasers cover all fire arcs, meaning nothing can approach this ship without being targeted. Four plasma torpedo launchers combine to unleash a withering 12 Attack Dice of plasma nastiness at short range, but the ship designers thought that was just not enough. So, they added a fifth launcher, a truly massive weapon known as the type-R that adds another 7 Attack Dice at short range (it should be pointed out that each one of these Attack Dice carry the Seeking, Multihit D6 and Devastating +1 traits, meaning any hit against a naked hull is going to hurt).

All of this on a vessel that can be invisible most of the time, if you so wish.

So, changing your mind to a Romulan fleet, are you Admiral? :)

Pre-orders for the first wave of A Call to Arms: Star Fleet products will go up on the web site later this week (along with a very special offer that you will not want to miss). Before then we will be previewing other empires such as the Kzinitis and Gorns, as well as a few other ships in the Federation, Klingon and Romulan fleets.

Sub-hunting with Romulans

The Romulan fleet comprises three broad classes of ship.  First, you have the the ‘original’ ships, as seen in The Original Series.  These ships are based on (or actually are) pre-Warp designs that have been retrofitted to make them competitive.  Then, you have the Kestrels, Klingon ships bought and converted by the Romulans.  Finally, there are the latest vessels, often called the ‘Hawk’ series, that are good looking and extremely potent in battle!

All three of these classes appear in A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, and all have various components in common.  All carry plasma toropedoes, for example, seeking weapons that automatically hit the enemy and do vicious amounts of damage (the drawbacks being they are best fired at near point-blank range, and can be neutralised by defensive fire – still, when an enemy gets overwhelmed and plasma smashes through his remaining shields, you will find his hull often boils away to nothing!). And all have the Romulan cloaking device that allows the ships to literally disappear from view.

Games against Romulan fleets really require you to ‘change gear’ and approach the battle differently than if you were fighting Klingons, Gorns, or anyone else.  We have sometimes referred to these games as ‘sub-hunts,’ where the Romulans are constantly testing defences and seeking holes in an enemy line, popping out briefly to launch a nasty plasma attack, then cloaking and retreating.

Of course, that is just one way of playing with the Romulans, and more experienced players may find it is better to approach an enemy under cloak, pick the right time to uncloak, and then stay visible for the rest of the battle, allowing plasma torpedoes to cycle as quickly as possible.

That said, it can be quite nerve-wracking when you are playing the Federation and you have to scan a planet that you just know has cloaked Romulans in the area, as you have to approach the danger zone on the enemy’s terms!

To round the cloaking rules off, we are producing ‘clear resin’ versions of every Romulan ship, allowing you to replace a painted model with one that is obviously cloaked, so you can see at a glance which ships in your fleet are doing what.  Plus, having clear ships on the table when they are cloaked is just insanely cool!

Anyway, onto today’s preview, and we are going to be taking a look at the ‘classic’ Romulan ships for now, that appeared in The Original Series, and some larger vessels that are based on the same technology.

Battle Hawk

The Battle Hawk is a good, solid ship for a starting Romulan ship.  Cheap as chips at just 120 points, yet carries two good-sized plasma torpedoes (few ships will be able to stop all of the damage from getting through from just one Battle Hawk, and if several gang up it just gets plain nasty), a decent amount of phasers and 24 Shields.  On top of that, of course, it can cloak and avoid everyone while it reloads its torpedoes!

Only paying 120 points, of course, there will be some downsides, principally the damage it can sustain – just 8 points, so if just a few phasers start slipping past the shields, then trouble is not usually far behind. Battle Hawks need to uncloak as a mob, unload on a prime target (think Battlecruiser or Dreadnought, don’t mess around with the smaller escorts) with massed plasma, then get out of Dodge fast, usually by cloaking again.

It is when Romulans try to cloak in the middle of battle that we have found they are the most vulnerable (hence experienced players not doing it too often) as while they are extremely safe while hidden, they spend a turn in transition where they cannot fire any weapons (and we have found drones are a choice weapon here, as the Romulans cannot even use a phaser-3 to stop them) and must take any incoming fire with just ‘half’ a cloak before they can fade from view. The Battle Hawk, at least, is helped in this as it has the Armoured trait, which creates twice as many painless ‘bulkhead hits’ as normal.

If, however, you are looking for a ship even more extreme than the Battle Hawk, try a Snipe – it has only 6 Damage and 20 Shields, but is as agile as a Klingon Frigate, and has an additional plasma torpedo (kicking out 7 Attack Dice in total!).  A real (shielded) eggshell armed with a hammer!

War Eagle

If you are looking for something larger, try the War Eagle. Just 20 points more than the Battle Hawk, it has 50% more Damage on its hull, and one massive plasma torpedo that, alone, matches all three launchers mounted on the Snipe – when that big ball of gas gets launched, not much is going to stop it getting through!  It also means the War Eagle has the ability to engage from range (as plasma torpedoes diminish in strength over distance), whereas ships like the Battle Hawk andm, especially, the Snipe are better off getting up close and personal.

The Romulan fleet will suit the player who likes to be sneaky – there can’t be anything better than a cloaking device for that – and enjoys delivering knockout attacks that can really smack another ship about in a single blow.  However, they also require caution, as all Romulan ships are vulnerable when trying to cloak and if you spend too much time hiding in a cloak, it just gives your enemy time to boost his shields back up to full strength, forcing you to start all over again.

However, a large Romulan fleet in expert hands is something to behold.  Wings of ships fade in, boil a heavy cruiser into space dust, and then fade out again.  As the enemy begins reacting to them and starts firing into empty space, trying for a luck hit, another group of ships decloak at short range, unload, and then disappear themselves.  A canny Romulan admiral will use this ability to keep an enemy off balance, forcing them to react to him, no matter what the Initiative Dice say that turn.

They are going to be a favourite for a great many players, I think – and dreaded by many more!

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