|The OUDF 'Pa class' Dreadnought, Aotearoa (center) flanked by two escorting destroyers, Kea and Flying Fox|
One of my few concessions to non-historical wargaming is Full Thrust, a game for starship combat. The rules and fleet books, along with a pile of other Full Thrust resources are available online via Ground Zero Games for free. The game works with any space ship model you want of course but they game has a number of pre-designed ships divided into many nation based groups. One group is the New Anglian Confederation (NAC), a merging of US and British power into one organization. Another mixes Italian and Spanish (FSE) whilst there are also dedicated fleets for the Germanic nations (NSL), Russia and China (ESU), Japan, Isreal, the Islamic states and so on. There are several Alien races too each with some very different weapon systems to the human fleets. There is nothing to stop you for inventing your own nation and fleet of course, go nuts!
One of the fleets that appealed to me was the Oceanic Union Defence Force (OUDF). This is based upon the merger of Antipodean nations into one organization and fleet. I have built a small battle group using the Ground Zero Games models and one from the Spartan Games 'Firestorm Armada' range Each of the ships has been given and Aboriginal or Maori name to fit in with the fleet ethos and a paint job to match. The Pa Class Dreadnought above has been given a Maori inspired design along with two smaller pieces of Maori cultural iconography over the engines The name, Aotearoa, comes from one of the Maori Pa's, or fortifications, built throughout New Zealand. To my mind something like a Dreadnought should be named after a powerful fortification, hence the class name. The Destroyers, Kea and Flying Fox, are named after Australian and New Zealand animals and given a generally Aboriginal hull design.
The rest of my small fleet is made up of a Battle Cruiser, the Tasmania, again with a generally Aboriginal inspired design and three Heavy Cruisers; each named for a Aboriginal or Maori tribe and given a hull design based upon that tribes art and culture; Eora, Warlpiri and Ta Rarawa.
|The Battle Cruiser, Tasmania (top), and a flotilla of Heavy Cruisers, the Eora, Warlpiri and Ta Rawara|
The Ta Rarawa has a Maori inspired 'Tiki' face although in the picture it will look upside down, the red tongue is sticking out towards the enemy to the ship's front. The designs came about simply because I had no idea what to use as a uniform fleet colour scheme, and then I thought why bother?... just paint each ship as an individual. The idea of painting a design associated with a particular tribe became obvious as I started to research cultural design motif and iconography. My painting isn't top notch so such free flowing designs worked in my favour too.
And now the important wargamey bit....given the design options for ship weaponry and systems in the rules each published fleet is built around a particular ethos. The FSE, for example, build larger ships than most and fit them out with multiple missile systems, The NSL forgo Star Trek style defence screens in favour of hull armour, and so on. The OUDF, following the Ground Zero Games fleet histories and doctrines data, have small ship yards and not much money. The ships have to be built around a standardised design concept and make use of a unique feature, changeable weapon bays. Each bay can hold just 8 mass points of systems, which is not a lot in game terms. The idea is that there are a number of such bay modules that the fleet can choose from and fit depending upon the role that ship is needed for at the time; fair enough and quite economically sensible. The bigger the ship the more bays it has, although some do have a number of weapons and other systems mounted directly in their hulls they all use these modules.
The principle weapon in Full Thrust is the Beam type weapon, Star Trek Phasers for example. The game designers have made these work in range and power blocks, a class one beam has a range of just 12 inches and will roll one dice. A class two beam will roll two dice at 12 inches and one at 24 inches, a class three will roll three dice at 12, two at 24 and one at 36...and so on. You could conceivably build a class ten beam but the designers have given everything a cost in mass as well as points. These means that you have to design a ship of a certain size to carry systems of no more than that size. A ship of 80 mass cannot be fitted with 81 mass of systems and the points system stop you from going mad a building a ship of daft proportions etc. This is where the OUDF ships come into their own, at least that is what I think. With a bay only taking 8 mass you need to think carefully about what you put in it
A class three beam will give you range and three dice at close range, all well and good, but it will cost you six points of mass; a class two beam will cost just two points of mass. Ok, it wont have the range of a class three but you can fit three of them for the same mass.....this means that at close range, within 12 inches, you will roll six dice rather than just three! The OUDF module bays are packed with nice cheap class two beams, and at close range they can be lethal, the new Aotearoa will roll a devastating fifty six dice! Imagine what would happen to anything unfortunate enough to find itself in front of that ship at close range.
The Aotearoa as yet to be used in anger, the first time will be at the club on the 24th July, ready for the game we are running at the Sci Fi fair in Sittingbourne on the 28th. It should be fun...I better buy some more dice, just in case.