We are just waiting on approval from Noble Armada Masters at Holistic Design, and then the PDF of the first supplement, Fleets of the Fading Suns, will be available to download as a PDF (the printed version will be following soon after, just as soon as we have finished the remaining ship miniatures).
Fleets of the Fading Suns
So, what can you expect to see in Fleets of the Fading Suns? More intrigue, tactics and tools with which to foil your Noble rivals? Of course! Here is the whirlwind tour…
This chapter contains a few nuts and bolts necessary for the new fleets introduced in Fleets of the Fading Suns, as well as a few extras for the existing Noble Houses. Heat Blasters are a new class of weapon used by some of the new fleets, powerful medium-ranged weapons that are both Inaccurate and Slow against shields, but which also increase the Critical Score of enemy crew by one for every critical hit they score – effectively cooking crew inside their own ships!
There are a few new traits added as well, such as Escort and Suicide Fighter, which will allow you to protect valuable craft and plough into enemies respectively. However, we have also added a Raider trait, which will allow all raiders (not just those included in this supplement, but classes found in the core rulebook too) to deploy ahead of the main fleet, hidden within Stellar Debris. When the moment is right, they can leap out to attack an enemy or lend support to a boarding action. Expect some extreme sneakiness! The Scout trait is also amended to allow such ships to deploy ahead of the main fleet but they do not get the other goodies raiders are now capable of.
There are a variety of new upgardes on offer as well, from new types of Marines (such as Gannock Saboteurs, which run amok on an enemy ship inflicting critical hits, and Ukari which work well as Marauder killers), to fighter enhancements. These include Battle Shields, making fighters more durable, and electronic decoys which force incoming attacks onto a single (less valuable) fighter, much to the consternation of the pilot who probably has not been told what he is carrying! There are also new rocket types, allowing you to upgrade weapon systems to carry semi-guided or multiple warhead rockets that enhance their effectiveness, albeit at a cost in range.
There are also three new rules that, from playtesting, we have seen greatly change the nature of the game for the better.
First up, due to many requests from players, you can now include captured ships in your fleet. So, if you want to lord it over the Decados, your Hawkwood nobles can now bring a Grigori into battle. You will be greatly limited in the number of captured ships you can bring to battle (after all, a Hazat fleet should look like a Hazat fleet) but this gives you some new options in your games and means you can give insult to injury to your opponents by having their prized ships painted in your colours!
Second, we have made some tiny, tiny tweaks to all five destroyers in the core book. This will not diminish their raw firepower at all, but will help ensure they are no longer the ‘default’ building block of fleets.
Finally, the really big change… All carriers (and we mean all carriers) now carry a full complement of fighters into battle for free. Only the base fighter of each fleet comes free (the Fitzhugh, for example) and you will have to pay an upgrade cost to change them, but this means fighters and carriers become a lot more viable at all levels of play. A light carrier in any fleet becomes a reasonable choice even in small sub-500 point battles and as for larger games… well, Hazat players, think of the possibilities of a Trafalgar now (especially when you read what else is coming below!). Hawkwood players, that Osprey is now a serious contender to lead your entire fleet.
Before we leapt into the new fleets, we wanted to make sure players of the existing fleets were well taken care of. In doing so, we also wanted to further seperate each fleet, making each unique and distinct from the others. This will be an ongoing process as we continue to develop Noble Armada but, as you will see, we have made great strides already;
Hawkwood players, you will now have access to the only Stealthed fighter in the game, the Aurora. The only sensible defence against this fighter is to field more fighters, as few will waste shots on fleeting readings at the edge of sensor range. You also get the Sawfly Command Frigate – not only has this frigate got the Command trait, allowing you to grab the initiative even in small games, it is the only frigate among the Noble Houses to have a Hull of 5. However, if that is not durable enough for you, may we present the Heracles, an Armoured Cruiser with a Hull 6… Granted, it steers like a cow and does not quite have the firepower of the Vladimir, but for taking hits, few ships are better.
Decados players have by no means been left behind, with the Donatello Gunship bringing very heavy fighters to the battlefield for the first time (for when a Rodrigo just isn’t enough), and the Leonardo Monitor, a frigate-sized ship with a front-mounted light meson cannon. That is a vessel designed to scare a lot of very big ships. Decados also receive a light and heavy cruiser, giving them multiple options in mid to large-sized battles. Those, however, we’ll cover in more depth at a later date.
Hazat players will see their fleets redefined with the addition of three new ships. First up, the Immortal Boarding Shuttle, a large barrel of a fighter that attaches to an enemy ship and throws 2 Troops straight into a boarding action – no trouble, no fuss. In playtests, these scared everybody! Just think what your Trafalgars are capable of now, as Immortals are a mere +5 point upgrade. Of course, they are not especially fast and will come under attack before they reach their targets, which is where the Allat Escort comes in handy, shooting down any incoming fighters before they can get to grips with your shuttles. In larger battles, you may wish to consider the Shamshir Strike Cruiser, a cruiser-sized ship with cruiser-styled firepower, able to bring flights of fighters into battle with it, truly a warship capable of all missions.
So, what of al Malik? Well, they have a modest two additions – but what additions they are! The Rashid Escort Carrier is a galliot-sized ship that, for just 100 points, bring four (now free, remember!) fighters into the battle, forcing your opponent to think about anti-fighter tactics even in small games. However, no doubt your noble pride will be vested in the Wraith Stealth Destroyer. You will no doubt have seen that stealth ships are lovely until they get very close to the enemy which, unfortunately, they often have to do in order to complete their missions. Not this one! The Wraith is quite happy taking a step back, safely hidden by its stealth as it pounds away with rockets and torpedoes!
Finally, Li Halan nobles will be itching to get to grips with their new craft. These include the Honoured Saint Martyr Fighter (suicide fighter to you and I), whose pilots love nothing better than to race towards the enemy and explode, causing crippling damage to even the largest ships! If that is not enough, consider the Naga Grand Cruiser, now with a completely different weapons fit than the preview we displayed last year…
Psychics and Theurgists
Aside from a little tweaking from continued playtesting, these chaps remain largely the same as they were previewed last year, and have become a favourite among regular players (there are some very nasty tricks and combos possible with these – my favourite being a Hazat galliot loaded with Bedlam and Psi Shield).
And, at last, we come to the new fleets.
We have the Church (big on Heat Blasters, big on Brothers Battle to board enemies with), and the Vau (very alien, very frightening, very powerful), both of whom we are currently awaiting miniatures for. Then there are the Kurgan and Vuldrok fleets, which are already available and already previewed. However, these are not the Kurgan and Vuldrok you have become used to, as they have been under continual playtest over the past few months and we have made some changes…
Since they first appeared, the Kurgan have become born again hard, as the saying goes. The amount of damage they can withstand has gone up, the amount of firepower they can lay down has gone up, and their average points costs have gone down. In general, expect to see these ships 10-20% cheaper than they were before, giving a real barbarian ‘horde’ feel to the fleet, backed up with thousands of arrows (rockets) soaring through the sky to tear apart your own ships!
The Vuldrok have their special Armour ability, eschewing shields in favour of being able to increase the number of ‘bulkhead’ hits sustained by incoming attacks, effectively ignoring a larger proportion of damage than other fleets. The Darraor Light Frigate is the weakest of the Vuldrok ships but, in return, it is fast enough to keep up with any other ship in any other fleet, has a respectable amount of firepower, and is extremely cheap for a frigate class ship! From the Hadruk Frigate onwards, however, the Vuldrok ships get progressively tougher, culminating in the Langskip Destroyer and the Slatra Konungr Dreadnought, both of which will be ignoring fully half the hits they sustain, if not attacked with Precise weapons!
The new fleets will certainly be tickling the fancies of Noble Armada players everywhere, though I hope we have also done enough for the existing Noble Houses to make their players comfortable about meeting the new threats in the galaxy.
If you want to dive in with Fleets of the Fading Suns as quickly as possible, grab a pre-order of the book and we will send you a PDF copy as soon as Holistic have given us their approval!
We will also be organising a Noble Armada tournament at Mongoose HQ this summer, so keep your eyes peeled for news!