Faultie: Voyage of the Astro Queen – Part II

A Drop[fleet/zone] Commander Project Log

A cruise so great it’s out of this world!

Hey folks, Faultie here!  When last we left our intrepid adventurers, the survivors aboard the Astro Queen had decided to become privateers in the service of the Post Human Republic.  Since then, I’ve spent a few nights getting my Dropzone Commander Resistance forces converted, magnetized, and assembled.  I also spent a bit of time writing a backstory for these guys, utilizing the isotope Handwavium-451 to explain away how Mad Max’s pals suddenly have a bunch of new vehicles.

Conversion

These Resistance vehicles (for backstory reasons, seen below) are fresh, new vehicles that haven’t suffered the ravages of time and 160 years of war.  To reinforce this backstory theme, I decided to convert each model painstakingly (and I really do mean pain, given the sharpness of the X-Acto blades I needed), reliving them of metal plates, rivets, repairs, and other hodgepodgery.  I cut, filed and sanded of all the extraneous elements so that the vehicles would look new and not worn and overworked.  It may not look like much, but looking through the Resistance gallery on the Hawk Wargames website should help give you an idea of what I had to remove.

I-dentify target!

To keep a cohesive look to the army, I’m also limiting (as much as possible) the more feral and primitive vehicles in the force, confining them to “allied Resistance” or “auxiliary” forces. Technical, Gun Wagons, etc. will be in the minority (and I imagine I’ll have a heck of a time making a semi-competitive list limiting myself thusly, but we’ll get to that later).  I considered snagging the civilian vehicle pack and just mounting weapons on those, so that even the Technicals and Battle Buses look snazzy, but in the end I didn’t feel like that would match the theme of the army.  If new vehicles could be made, why would they use that build capacity on trucks and buses?  At the same time, that 18-wheeler model is enticing, and somebody has to drive the materials around, right?  I’m still on the fence here.

In the end, a formerly ramshackle army of barely-running vehicles now looks pristine and ready for deployment.  Reliability is the name of the game when you’re a corsair force supplementing an advance, highly-mechanized military force like the PHR.  Also necessary: mobility and airpower.

Vector, locked in.

Magnetizing

One of my favorite design elements in Hawk Wargames’ line is the syncing of unit rules and models.  Sure, almost every game out there has the correct weapons on a model to match the weapons profile (looking at you Infinity), but few games go so far as to ensure that just about every model rule or element is actually modeled onto a unit.  Enhanced sensors, countermeasures, artificial gravity, engines, etc.?  They’re on there.  The Dropfleet Commander rulebook does a great job of pointing out where each of these things are located on the starships.  Even further, if a model can carry another model, or deploy a thing, that thing or model (except for infantry bases) can physically fit on the model carrying it.  A Kraken hovercraft has rules for carrying 3x Gun Wagons, and those Gun Wagons physically fit onto the Kraken.  The game’s dropships work similarly, and Hawk even models the mountings/couplings/etc. that a vehicle would have to allow it to be picked up by a dropship.  Knowing this, it was about impossible for me to not magnetize the models in such a way that dropships could carry their cargo.

Utilizing 1/16″ magnets from K&J Magnets, I carefully (mostly) drilled out out a hole in each of the mounting slots for a magnet, being constantly careful to ensure that the proper side was facing up.  I tested the carrying capacity using only a single magnet, and although it was sufficient it ended up altering the look of only one mounting, so I drilled out both.  Each APC, MBT, and super-heavy tank now fits nice and snug under a Lifthawk.

In the pipe, five by five.

While I had the drill and magnets out, I used the same size magnets to add some flexibility to list building.  Hawk does a good job of using a single chassis with variable weapon mounts to represent different units you can field.  I believe that they now include multiple weapon options in a single blister, but my models are older and don’t have that.  However, I can just swap turrets and weapon systems to represent different units, and magnets help make that possible.  In this case, the Hannibal/Zhukov/Mehmed chassis were all magnetized to fit any turret, letting me mix up a list while carrying minimal extra models.  Similarly, the turrets on Lifthawks, [Weapon] Wagons, and even Leviathans are all interchangeable, so I magnetized each of these so that I have a pool of weapon and turret types to mix between them.  I also magnetized the turret for the Alexander super heavy tank as well as its side-guns (for no real reason except it I had magnets and a model).

Job’s finished.

Lastly, I did some magnetizing on the aircraft, for aesthetics, ease of transport, and list variability.  For aesthetics, I magnetized the engines on the Lifthawks so that they could actually spin around for that nice VTOL look.  The helicopter blades on my Cyclones also got magnetized, so that it would be easier to transport them (if I had the new Cyclone/Typhoon pack I would also have magnetized the weapons, but I don’t).  And lastly, I magnetized the wing-mounted hardpoints on the Hellhog so that it will accept either the extra-ammo/fuel canisters or the air-to-air missiles, depending on how I’m fielding it in a list.  I also assembled the Hellhog without gluing the engines in place so that they could move downward into its VTOL hover mode.  The Hellhog model seems to have been designed specifically to allow this, as the engines hold well in place in either configuration.

Hang on, we’re in for some chop.

At this point, the models are essentially “finished” and ready for priming.  But for that, you’ll have to wait for the next installment.  For now, here’s a photo of the models that required no conversion and very little magnetizing, and a shot of most of the models together.

Rock & Roll!

Backstory

As mentioned above, I developed a short backstory to give a fluff justification for this somewhat unconventional army, and to tie my DZC and DFC forces together in narrative.  I put this section last for two reasons: it contains no fun photos and nobody ever likes my fanfics.  I hinted at this backstory in the advertising poster above, as well as the Gilligan’s Island themed dossier from Part I.  If you didn’t notice, take a look back.  Or don’t, that’s fine too.  Either way, the backstory is below:

The plans of the PHR are mysterious and unpredictable, and their methods equally as cunning.  Their strikes are often swift, sudden, and overwhelming, fading away before retaliation can be mustered.  However, in the Tlalocan theatre they have employed an altogether different approach, directly assaulting Scourge-held worlds and beginning a massive construction effort on two moons.  On Asgard, they coordinated with Resistance groups on the ground to cut-off the system from UCM intervention.  And on Eden Prime, their support for the warlord Salakahn inflicted one of the largest losses suffered by the UCM and Scourge forces.  There are still other, lesser-known PHR-supported groups that make their homes among the stars.  This is the case of the corsair ship known as the Astro Queen.

Launched in 2505, the Astro Queen was barely outfitted for her first voyage when the White Sphere appeared.  Among the most luxurious vessels ever commissioned, those that could afford to book interstellar travel on such a liner were scarcely concerned about whatever fate awaited the common man.  Wars had come before, and these captains of industry had long profited much and suffered little.  However, the Scourge’s war was one of extermination, and the passengers and crew of the Astro Queen escaped that fate only through daring action on behalf of the captain and crew, fleeing to the far rim of Asgard.

With nowhere else to dock and no jump-nodes detected, they cruised at low-power for months before finally arriving at the New Mauna Kea Observatory (NMKO), a remote military station built within a large asteroid in the system’s Far-Kuiper Region.  Destroying the beacon, they brought the station’s crew into their own and established a refuge, waiting for either the Scourge to destroy them or the Shaltari to raid them.  But the attacks never came, and laying low they managed to pass the decades without contact with the outside world.

This paradigm changed when the Asgardian node activated.  Suddenly the system was alive with activity, but in all the tumult it was not fellow humans or vile aliens that they first sought out —it was the waiting battlefleet of the Post-Human Republic.  After more than a century barely scraping by, the Lord Captain decided it was time to take a chance and risked sending a small shuttle to contact with the fleet.  What transpired in this meeting is unknown, but resulted in the Astro Queen and NMKO pledging their support to the PHR.  In exchange for the supplies and technologies of the Republic, they agreed to liaise with other disparate survivor groups, bringing them under the sway of the PHR.  This work ultimately led to the collaboration that undermined the UCM’s invasion in the system and shutting down the jump nodes.

As part of this arrangement, the Astro Queen was rebuilt in her berth as a militarized vessel, formerly elegant lines and opulent accommodations marred by advanced armaments.  With a payload roughly equivalent to a Perseus cruiser, the relaunched Astro Queen  began its grisly work raiding unguarded Scourge supply convoys at the outset of the PHR’s campaign in the system.   As the Scourge scrambled to deploy their forces to combat the PHR in the Asgard and Tlalocan theatres, while reacting to the UCM’s invasion of the other Cradle Worlds, the Astro Queen wreaked havoc wherever the Scourge could ill afford to spare heavy combat vessels.  On a few occasions, the Astro Queen has even been seen in PHR naval formations, although seldom in the heavy center of a fleet.  It is suspected that the Astro Queen also participated in the naval action that ultimately led to the near-total destruction of the UCM forces over Asgard.

In addition to the Astro Queen’s refitting, the PHR have supplied NMKO’s dormant production facilities with raw materials.  The small but still-functional foundry has begun production of the first new military hardware seen in the system for 160 years.  Combined with the pre-war arsenal left at the station, the NMKO has slowly begun to arm several disparate Resistance groups with pre-invasion technologies.  Although the Republic saw fit to militarize the Astro Queen with modern armaments, they have so far refused to provide them with any PHR military units or the means to produce them.

As the Reconquest grinds on, the Astro Queen’s infamy has grown, even earning a place on the UCM’s Priority Kill List.  Whatever the ultimate fate of the Cradle Worlds, the Astro Queen’s future ultimately involves fire, death, and mayhem.

And that’s all we have time for today.  Join me next time for another exciting(ish) adventure in Dropzonery!

FIN

(The end.)

(For now.)