Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Red Dog Rebellion

Scratchbuilt spaceships based on asteroids
The Red Dog Rebels
Left To Right: Fair Go, Eureka Stockade, Such Is Life,
Night Shifter and Ship With No Beer
Once again I have been playtesting 'Void and Stars'. I have tried a couple of odd, short games over the weekend, mostly to try out mechanisms and concepts, but this afternoon I played a full 750pt game. I used the recently released v1.4 playtest version of the rules.

The games was played on a 2' x 2' area, using half-sized measuring sticks. the ships were all scratchbuilt from card, lentils and cork tile. You will also notice that I have acquired, on loan it has to be said, a suitable gaming cloth. Space is no longer a sandy brown in this house.


With the cost of the conflict with the LLAR escalating, the Oceanic Union looked to its citizens for further funding. A tax on revenues from the lucrative asteroid mining operations on the western rim of the Oceanic Union proved too much however. The miners of the Red Dog System rebelled, and declared independence from the Union. A flotilla from the OUDF was sent to bring them back into line.

But the miners were resourceful. Living on the fringes of the Union had taught them to look to their own defence, and when the OUDF ships arrived they found that the miners had an unusual flotilla of their own ...

The Fleets
The OUDF were equipped with two Town Class cruisers (Mittagong and Emu Plains) and three Island Class Destroyers (Pukapuka, Savai'i and Norfolk). The stats for the cruisers can be seen here. The destroyers are as follows:

Island Class Destroyer - Escort, CV: 3, Range: S, Speed: M, Hardened Armour,Point Defence Support: S, Point Defence, Escort Support
Systems Cost: 24 Actual Cost 96

All ships were Quality 3
The Red Dog Miners' fleet was cobbled together from whatever ships they had available, plus their other main resource - asteroids. Their force consisted of two hollowed-out rocks, with engines and weapons systems installed, plus three converted mining support vessels operating as a carrier, a gunship and a missile launcher.

Asteroid 'Eureka Stockade' - Capital, CV: 6, Range: M, Speed: S, Indirect: 5, Shield Generator, Hardened Armour, Fighter Bays: 4, Capacity Battery, Repair Drones, Leviathan
System Cost: 85, Actual Cost: 255

Asteroid 'Such Is Life' - Capital, CV: 5, Range: M, Speed: S, Indirect: 5, Shield Generator, Hardened Armour, Heavy Ion Cannon, Leviathan
System Cost 65, Actual Cost: 195

Support Vessel 'Fair Go' - Escort, CV: 4, Range: S, Speed: M, Light Fighter Hangar: 3, Hardened Armour, Rapid Fire Escort Support, Escort Support
System Cost 33, Actual Cost 99

Support Vessel 'Night Shifter' - Escort, CV: 4, Range: M, Speed: M, Repeater Weapon, Hardened Armour, Escort Support
System Cost 33, Actual Cost 99

Support Vessel 'Ship With No Beer' - Escort, CV: 4, Range: S, Speed: M, Indirect: 2, External Ordinance: 1, Hardened Armour
System Cost 33, Actual Cost 99

All ships were Quality 4
Left to Right: Eureka Stockade, Such Is Life and Night Shifter

The Eureka Stockade - a hollowed-out asteroid converted to a warship.
The white counter shows that it has active shields.
The Battle

The Miners defended and, by a stroke of fortune, rolled three asteroid fields as the terrain. The scenario was a straight stand-up fight.

The OUDF advanced quickly, pushing the destroyers Norfolk and Pukapuka around an asteroid field to try and flank the miners' ships. meanwhile the miners advanced slowly, limited by the Leviathan special on their capitals. They concentrated on the third OUDF destroyer, the Savai'i, launching missiles and fighters at it, and hitting it with a slow, steady barrage of direct fire. It didn't last long, and before the fleets had really got to grips was blown up by a shot from the Such Is Life. The Miner's fighters switched to the other destroyers.

The early part of the game belonged to the Miners. Some bad activations by the OUDF meant that they inflicted very little damage as they moved across the board.

The advance
The Savai'i has already been destroyed, and missiles and fighters are closing on the Pukapuka to the left of the picture
The Miners switched their attention to the Pukapuka, and that was so badly damaged that it warped to safety. The OUDF were already two ships down, and fighters were now closing on the Norfolk. The Miners had still suffered no significant damage. However as it moved into the rear of the Miner's flotilla the Norfolk fended of a several waves of fighter attacks, and emerged relatively unscathed.

At this point the fleets had closed right up, and were exchanging fire at close range. Activation failures on the part of the Miners meant that their fire was weak, whilst the two OUDF cruisers started to damage the Ship With No Beer. The initiative remained with the OUDF as the flotillas passed each other, and the Mittagong and Emu Plains swung round into the rear of the Eureka Stockade and started to pound it with a deadly fire. Within a couple of turns it was so badly damaged that it had to test morale, and it quickly fled. 

The Eureka Stockade comes under a deadly fire
from the OUDF cruisers Mittagong and Emu Plains
Ignoring the Such Is Life, the cruisers switched their attentions to the Fair Go, destroying it in a volley of fire. The Norfolk duelled with the Ship With No Beer, badly damaging it, leaving it easy meat for the Emu Plains to finish off. However the Night Shifter put in some accurate shots on the Norfolk, forcing it to flee the battle.

Both fleets now had to test morale. The OUDF passed with little problem, as did the Such Is Life, but the Night Shifter decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and fled.

It was now the two cruisers against the Such Is Life. after a round of fire it was obvious the asteroid stood no chance against he well-drilled OUDF crews, and the Miners conceded the game.

The Such Is Life discovers that ... such is life
The Miners had lost the Fair Go and the Ship With No Beer destroyed, whilst the Night Shifter and the mighty Eureka Stockade had fled. The OUDF lost the Savai'i, with the Norfolk and Pukapuka fleeing.


This was a fairly close fight. I thought that the Miners would be let down by their low Quality, but a conservative use of activation dice, limiting most ships to one roll in the early part of the turn, allowed them to keep up a steady fire on the approaching OUDF ships. The OUDF trusted to their superior quality early on, needing to out-manoeuvre the Miners, but failed a couple of activations. A Quality 4 force can survive without a Fleet Command Centre so long as its ships aren't designed such that they require multiple actions; low quality fleets require simple, no-nonsense designs, possibly with decent passive defences in order to survive those turns when activations mostly fail. Once the action hotted up the Quality 3 of the OUDF allowed them to move faster and more often, running rings around the Leviathans.

The new firing modifiers made direct fire more deadly and decisive, which was good. This was despite all ships having Hardened Armour. This was the first game I've played with reasonable numbers of fighters, and they seemed to work well; not as instantly deadly as missiles, but a sustained annoyance.

There did seem to be a small flaw with the morale rules - a force has to test morale when it has lost 50% of its ships. Escorts are easier to take out than capital ships, so the game developed into a fight to eliminate enemy escorts, forcing the capitals to test morale. I wonder if a force's morale value should be calculated based on 2pts for a capital and 1pt for an escort, with 50% of that total forcing a test. That way, for example, neither force in this game would have tested morale if all of its escorts had been lost; you would have to eliminate a capital ship.

Top Terrain Tip: I use areas of felt to mark asteroid fields. A field has a strength of 4-6, so I put the appropriate number of rock on each felt shape to show he strength in-game. So a Strength 5 field will have five rocks on it. I just need a way to show pulsar strength now.


  1. I've just not had the time to even think about playtesting. I've been painting commissions all week. I've just got three more figures to do. The money is great but it does mean anything of mine gets put to the bottom of the pile...

  2. Good report. Hoping to get a game with the 1.4a rules this week. And your "asteroid" ships are totally cool!!

    1. Thanks. The asteroids is a concept I've had floating around in my head for years now, but this burst of scratch-building, plus a set of rules that made them easy to create has finally seen them realised. The militant Aussie miners theme is a new addition, however - I enjoyed naming those ships :)

  3. Great report as always! I'll work with Steve and look at your idea on Morale.



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