Saturday, July 22, 2017

Star Fleet Battles Fleets: Kzintis

As our general war campaign will start with the Lyrans and Kzintis, I figured that I should make some progress on the respective fleets.  So I placed an order with ADB for the core of a Kzinti fleet, a battle station, and a couple Lyran ships.

Adding the Kzinti BC and FF that I already had waiting for paint, and the CM and FF that I already finished, this yields a fleet of 14 vessels.  Additionally, I completed about 30 fighters, using models from GZG.  Here are a few pix:

The entire Kzinti fleet.
Close-up of the Tug and a strike carrier.
Battle cruisers, CVE, and medium cruiser.
Some of the GZG fighters.

The painting is done, but decals will have to wait, as I'm semi-broke for the time being.  I'll need bolster the Lyran fleet also, before getting decals, so probably going to October or there abouts, before decals get ordered.

I haven't settled completely on the bases for the ships, as those included with the ADB ships have posts that are too small to fit the holes in the bottom of most of the ship models.  Most of the bases shown above are from my 1980s castings.  I will probably use the ADB bases with appropriately sized brass posts replacing the plastic pins for the smaller ships, and use my own resin cast bases (like the white one in the foreground of the top photo) for the larger ships, as it has a slightly larger footprint, than the ADB bases.  I intend to paint all of the bases black to match the fighters.

Another unresolved issue, is how to label the bases.  I am currently hoping to use either small stickers or press apply type letters and numbers to identify the ships by class.  Currently, I am still searching for the option requiring the least work.

While I think the fighters are small enough to convey a reasonable and obvious indication of their role, the models are probably about ten to twenty times too larger for the 1/3788 scale of the ships.  These were about the smallest size (generally not more than 3/8ths of an inch in their largest dimension) models that I thought manageable as individually based fighters.  ADB does make some fighters for most of the empires, but don't have enough different models to represent the variety of fighter types that we want to use in the campaign.  GZG's models are nice, priced right, and provide the variety that we need.

In time I hope to add patrol gunboats or pseudo-fighters (PFs) as we're not supposed to call them. I noticed that ADB now offer Klingon G1s through Shapeways, and I am hoping that by the time we reach the introduction date of PFs, that ADB will offer PFs for more of the empires.  If not, I'll just scratch-build them.  I'm expecting these to be in yet another scale placing them between the ship and fighter scales, and resulting in models bigger than fighters, and smaller than frigates.

Next up are the few Lyrans that I have, and updating my old Romulans (until I can afford to order more Lyrans).

Friday, July 7, 2017

Klingon D7 Battlecruisers for Star Fleet Battles

I completed three Klingon D7 battlecruisers for use in Star Fleet Battles.  These are the Lou Zocchi models, conveniently cast in a single piece.  I used Vallejo 964 Field Blue as the base hull color and painted them according to my old Starline 2200 instruction sheets.  The Decals are from Jupiter IV, are very nice quality and easy to use, but unfortunately that dark hull color dulls them down considerably.

In addition to the D7s, I finish some F5 frigates from Amarillo Design Bureau.

This gives me eleven Klingon ships, plus I have 24 fighters in process.  My Klingon fleet is expanding, but still needs some help.

I have a CV on the paint table, but my old Klingon (and Kzinti) miniatures which I stripped the paint off of have some lead rot, and appear to be a lost cause.  It is odd, as the miniatures were purchased years apart, but only the Klingons and Kzintis suffer from the problem.  The Feds, Gorn, Orion, and Lyran ships bought over the same span do not have it. A shame as the two C8s, Tug, 3 D7s, and F5 would have gone a long way to bolster my Klingons.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

SFB - The General War: More Preparations

Well we got together over the holiday weekend, hashed out most of the details of our campaign rules, and generally got all of our ducks lined up for war.  The campaign rules are pretty simple, basically governing fleet construction, simple economics in association with construction, and whatever loose ends that we could think of.

When we did this in the mid-1980s, we didn't use a historical timeline, we just started the war full blown with all races ready to go and with technology set at about Y180.  This time we are sticking to a more historical timeline, starting with the Lyran and Kzinti empires in Y168.  Rules for fighters, PFs, evolving drone technology, etc will phase in as time passes in the game.

We rolled dice to decide who played what races, and I will be the bad guys, playing the Lyran/Klingon/Romulan/Orion Pirate fleets.  Craig will run the Hydran/Kzinit/Federation/Gorn forces.  We are old school SFB players, and decided to go with our early 1980s roots for STB, so no ISC, or other "newcomers" in this war.

I expect that we will start lighting up space in September.

Games will be played with miniatures, when we can, and counters, when we don't have the miniatures. 

Also, I will set up a Star Fleet Battles page on my blog soon, which will contain a chronological list of updates following the progress of the war. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Painting Star Trek: The Original Series Federation Starships

Even before my first experience with Star Fleet Battles, I wanted to play the game with miniatures.  Thirty-five years later, I've finally gotten serious about doing so, and one of the first questions to be answered was what color to paint the Enterprise and the Federation fleet.

My earliest memories of the original run of Star Trek are in various shades of gray.  It wasn't until the early 1970s, when we got a color television, that I discovered the colorful universe in which the Enterprise journeyed.

My impression of the enterprise was that it was a light bluish to greenish gray, not unlike the plastic used in one of the older model kits of the Enterprise. My older SFB Star Line Federation ships were cast in a light gray plastic that somehow seemed right to me also.  Maybe only from nostalgic memory of those early games. Then there was the white finish of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Perplexed, I started to research the issue.  I watched episodes of the series (both original and CGI enhanced), surprised at how dark the ship's skin appeared in some scenes and at how it morphed from grey to bluish to greenish to an off-white at times, all the time realizing that I had really come to think of Federation ships as being white or near white as depicted in the movies.

Eventually, I decided to go with the Enterprise's color in TOS, and arrived at this page in my search to identified the true color of the chameleon Enterprise.  Readily accepting the discussion presented in Mr. Newitt's article, I now had to match the Walmart Concrete color with something that I could wipe all over starship models without totally obliterating the fine detail on the plastic castings. 

Originally, my hope was to spray the models with a base hull coat, do a little high-lighting with a brush, detail paint and apply decals. I figured that this would be fast and allow for a consistent finish.  After putting forth a significant search for a spray paint, I found some options from Dick Blick art supplies, but had some concern over the thickness of the paint, and my ability to apply it evenly to such small models.

So, I regrouped and decided to go with a brush paint that I could easily get, and matched the Vallejo online color chart to the sample provided by Mr. Newitt.  I ended up settling on Vallejo Model Color 971 Green-Grey as the basic hull color.  To be honest, I felt that it was a little light, and maybe not greenish enough, but I figured that being a touch too light would be fine on such small scale models.  And, I would just have to suck up the lack of greenish.

A side consideration was that I had decided to go with Vallejo 886Grey-Green as the base for my Romulans,  had painted a couple of ships this color already, and wanted the Federation ships to contrast the Romulans, so a little less dark and less green was okay.   Vallejo  971 Green Grey it would be for the Federation.

I assembled my recent acquisitions from Origins Gamefair, sprayed them with gray primer (should have used white, and found that I could in fact spray the little beasts with a pretty even coat), and began to apply my color choice with a brush.  Due to the transparency of the paint, and the gray primer, it required three coats to get pretty solid coverage.  Here are a few of pics of the models with the base hull color applied, detail painted using the restored Enterprise model at the Smithsonian, and a combination of Game Science (DNs and Tug)  and  Jupiter IV Decals (CAs). 

Note the difference in size between the Game Science decals on the Dreadnought
in the foreground, and the Jupiter IV decals on the Heavy Cruiser behind.
Ironically, the hull color appears very light and white here, but is darker and more
grey in person.  I'll have to take some more natural photos a little later,
unfortunately, I'm not set up to do that right now. 

Despite the fact that they are not first class jobs by any stretch of the imagination, I am relatively happy with the effort. 

Particularly when compared with my work from 1982 below.

The old CA from 1982 to the left painted per the Starline 2200 instructions at the
time, and the new one to the right based on TOS.  Again, barely any difference
in the hull color in this photo, but they are in fact notably different.

The next group of Federation ships, frigates and an NCL from Amarillo Design Bureau are on the paint table now.

So that's how my 35 year quest to paint the Federation fleet stands at the moment.

UPDATE:  Here are a couple more photos to better show the hull color of the newly painted models using Vallejo 971 Green Grey acrylic paint:


Once my case of flat spray arrives, I'll give them a blast to better hide those decal edges. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Star Fleet Battles: The General War

A few times a year, I manage to get together with an old friend from my original gaming group and play a game.  During a visit a month ago, we were playing a game of Star Fleet Battles as we had been doing with more frequency in recent visits, and he suggested that we should set up a campaign, rather than just play one off scenarios. It took about a second and a half to talk me into it, and I suggested that we play The General War again.

The General War is a galactic conflict involving all of the major races from the Star Fleet Battles version of the Star Trek universe.  It lasts 18 years, starting in the game timeline of Y168 and ending in Y185 (were "Y" stands for "Year", I don't remember what the corresponding years in "AD" terms is).

We played The General War more than 30 years ago, using our own set of campaign rules and elements of the board game Federation Space.  In that iteration of the war, we had a different player for each race, with the result being that the Klingon Empire fell in the minimum number of turns. 

The fatal blow came at the hands of Kzintis, who built a huge task force with most of their fleet, and bull-rushed the Klingon capitol.  From my perspective as the Romulan player, it was a tremendous letdown, as I was having success along the Federation border, and had a monumental game against the Gorns, where I lost a starbase, but broke the Gorn fleet, which tried a similar tactic as the Kzintis.  In the case of the Gorn, the cost of the taking the starbase was about 35 ships lost. Ahhh, the good old days.

Anyway, back to the present.  So we are going to try it again, this time with only two players.  In this version of the war, we will be using elements of the 2000 version of Federation and Empire for the campaign system.  As last time, we will be using our own campaign system, which we will finish re-creating over the holiday weekend.


Though I've been working on miniatures for SFB over the last year, I expect that the majority of our games will be played using cardboard counters.  Last time that we played, we had a 4' x 8' table covered in hex shaped tiles, this time we will be doing away with hexes, as we realized some years ago, that we just don't really need them to play.  Movement and ranging will be done using inches, instead of the traditional hexes. 

For the battles, mostly we will be using ships and rules from the original boxed version of SFB and the three expansions, with a smattering of newer rules and ships from the Commander's edition rulebooks, Captain's Logs, etc.  To speed up games, we will not be using ECM and ECCM.  Once we have everything set up, we will roll a die to decide which side each of us plays.

I'm not sure if I will post after action reports about each battle, as I find AARs about board games to be infinitely less appealing than for miniatures games, but I will post here about the general progress of the campaign in some form.