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Subject: Pimping fleets the "easy" way rss

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Phil Shimmin
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In common with many other players, I've looked at the custom fleets of Antti Autio and Timothée Licitri with envious eyes. However one of the things I learned years ago during a Warhammer phase is that I just don't have either the patience or the aptitude for modding. I decided to look for alternative models I could use for dreadnoughts that would complement unmodified versions of the em4 plastic ships those guys used (very attractively priced at the bottom of this page for anyone that hasn't seen them).

After some searching I found the Full Thrust range from Ground Zero Games, which has a good variety of ships to allow fleet matching. Once I started looking, I realised that I could bridge thematic gaps in the em4 minis by making whole fleets out of the Full Thrust models, and if I shot for replacing 3 fleets I'd have enough em4 miniatures to put together draft fleets for the expansion. What can I say, once I get an idea, I get carried away easily...

I learned other lessons from my Warhammer phase all those years ago. One was that you should wait until well into a relationship before discussing your hobby. More relevant was the value of rapidly blocking out all of your models. I used to spend hours and hours getting single models perfect and they looked great. Then I'd go into battle with my one or two awesome minis in an army of primed or "raw" models against a guy who had very basically painted his whole army. Guess which looked better on the table?

So once I had primed and glued the fleets, my objective was to get all of the ships painted quickly. This meant simple drybrushing on the upper side of the ship only where I could get away with it. This was not easy for me as I wanted to pull out some of the great details of the ships, but I was working on a timetable as I'm moving to NZ in a few weeks and wanted to get the new fleets to the table as soon as possible. I will be going back to refine the drybrushing, apply washes and pick out details later when things calm down.

Anyway, enough jibber-jabber. On to the results. The new lesson I've learned from this phase of model painting is that I don't have a glittering career in miniatures photography ahead of me, but you'll get an idea of what I'm doing (at least once the pictures are approved - until then you're going to have to use some imagination!)

Descendants of Draco



Straight away and I've taken liberties with the colours. I saw the dreadnought ship on the Ground Zero/Full Thrust website and thought immediately of Destiny from SG:U, which I tenuously linked to the descendants as they're kind of related to the "Ancients", so it had to be a bronze colour I always associate with the Stargate ancients. The colour hasn't come out so well in the photo, but it clear enough IRL that I'll use the yellow counters for now until the "natural" ones in the expansion. I wasn't going to use the "cylon" em4 minis for the descendants, but they matched so well I replanned.

The starbase is a placeholder made from two tile spacers glued together until I can come up with something better. I've got these on a couple of my fleets.

Planta



This was the first thematic gap I wanted to fill with an all Full Thrust fleet because I wanted bio ships. The
interceptors, cruisers and dreadnoughts are all from Ground Zero's Sa'Vasku fleet of bio ships. The starbase is a stone from a variety of apricot called a doughnut apricot, which by happy coincidence my wife brought home for the first time the day after my minis arrived.

Orion Hegemony



Squat business like ships required here. Unmodified em4 models for the smaller ships but the dreadnoughts involved just about the only bit of modification I did as the Full Thrust base models came with chin balls I didn't like and snipped off (chin balls - was that South Park?) Anyway, this is my black fleet and they look darker in real life, but when I'd already painted the smaller ships I realised that they were possibly not dark enough so I may have to revisit these. Happy with these dreads though.

Hydran Progress



I love a Science race in 4X games, so I wanted the Hydrans to have ships that looked a bit different and went with a Full Thrust fleet (links to models used for interceptors, cruisers and dreadnoughts. Hydrans are blue, look a bit squidy and are called the Hydrans, so I took the hint and went for ships that look as though they come from a race with an aquatic background. The starbase is a plastic bead from a hobby shop - very happy with it though I wish it was slightly larger.

From the comments I've had back, this is the least popular fleet. It was a very personal choice but that's part of the point of customising - if you don't like it, do something else!

Mechanema



Right, this is my second liberty with colours and my third wholly Full Thrust fleet (links to interceptors, cruisers and dreadnoughts). The ships are lighter in colour than they look in the picture and I'll use white until I get the grey tokens in the expansion. When I think machine hybrid, I naturally think of the Borg, my second favourite assimilting race in Science Fiction (thanks for asking - the Amnion from Stephen Donaldson's excellent Gap Cycle). For me, this means function over form, which was where I always thought the Borg cubes were a bit weird because they'd have to build right up into the corners just for the sake of it and that didn't seem very "Borgy". I reckon they'd build all the components of a ship that they needed and then just stop building, and that is what these ships looked like to me. They are silver because why would the Borg Mechanema bother adding colour?

Eridani Empire



I don't have a lot of time for the toothy has-beens and I wasn't prepared to spend a lot of time thinking about their fleet, but happily I quickly hit a match that felt right for reasons I can't put my finger on using a Full Thrust Heavy Cruiser for the dread and em4 minis for the other ships. Anyway, onwards.

Synidcate



OK, on to the expansion fleets so there'll be some guesswork from here. I also didn't spend as long painting some of these as I just wanted to draft out what I was planning until I learn more.

From what I understand, the syndicate are fast and don't have any dreadnoughts, so I picked fast looking em4 ships and gave them a matching Full Thrust cruiser as a dreadnought anyway so they could be used as alternate fleet. Having reserved the grey for the Mechanema, these guys will have to be white, but then pirates can be a pretty bling bunch - look at all those gold earrings!

Enlightened



Not much to say - these ships were elegant and worked well together so said "Enlightened" to me. The dreadnought is from Full Thrust and the smaller ships from em4. "Natural" counters are reserved for the Descendants, so these guys will have to be yellow.

Exiles



When I heard these guys were exiled/homeless, I had Battlestar Galactica kicking round in my head, so when I saw the Full Thrust model for the dread this set just fell into place with some em4 minis that felt right. Didn't think I was going to like a purple fleet, but it looks a lot better than I was expecting.

Anyway, I can come back and add details if anyone shows an interest. I'd best get on with some packing, pressure washing and general emigration preparation before my very tolerant wife rapidly becomes a lot less tolerant!

Edit: Edited which Syndicate picture was used as the original was erroneously rejected as a duplicate. If it doesn't show up soon I'll post and link externally.

Edit 27/10/2012: Apologies, I always meant to come back and add more details but my move to New Zealand crept up on me. I've had a few people ask me for more details via geekmail, so apologies to them for my silence! I've gone back and added details of which ships were used. Unfortunately I can't provide any other photos as my fleets are in a crate somewhere back in the UK until we work out whether we're staying here or not.

I've also been asked about the flight stands quite a bit. All of these models come with flight stands, some with a choice of clear or a glossy black. I didn't really like either look for Eclipse, so I got the glossy black and included the flight stands when I sprayed the models with matt primer. Much better look against the Eclipse board in my opinion, but again it's a personal choice.

On the subject of flight stands, some of the Full Thrust ships needed drilling to make or enhance a hole on the bottom. I had a pin vice kicking around from years ago so this wasn't a problem for me, but the metal is so soft that you could probably do it by hand with a drill bit, or even using an actual drill with a steady hand I guess!

Flight stands have a "nub" on the top to fit into the model, but this is notoriously brittle. I found it was a better idea for the heavier, metal dreadnought ships to deliberately break this off and drill/enlarge a hole that would take the full width of the flight stand giving a much more robust join. Some of the smaller ships can also take this too if you have difficulties.
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Phil Shimmin
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Yes, I did have some issues with the flight stands and the larger ships, but my solution to any that snapped was to drill a larger hole in the base that would accommodate the full width of the flight stand rather than just the "pin" at the tops of the flight stand. The big ships can take it and it almost totally removes the point of failure. Same with the apricot stone star bases.

The picture for the Syndicate fleet has been rejected as a duplicate for some reason. Not sure what it can be a duplicate of as it was created by me from scratch a couple of hours ago. It was similar to the Mechanema image 1401863 as it had the same 3 white base set ships in the foreground but 3 different custom ships in the background. Not sure what the etiquette is here - should I resubmit?

Edit: reuploaded the image with a moderator comment explaining why. I'll amend the main article to point to the newer pic.
 
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Fabian L
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Want! Looks great! The spacers are a really good idea for the star bases.
More details please when you can a chance!
 
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Gar Per
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shimmip wrote:
Yes, I did have some issues with the flight stands and the larger ships, but my solution to any that snapped was to drill a larger hole in the base that would accommodate the full width of the flight stand rather than just the "pin" at the tops of the flight stand. The big ships can take it and it almost totally removes the point of failure. Same with the apricot stone star bases.

The picture for the Syndicate fleet has been rejected as a duplicate for some reason. Not sure what it can be a duplicate of as it was created by me from scratch a couple of hours ago. It was similar to the Mechanema image 1401863 as it had the same 3 white base set ships in the foreground but 3 different custom ships in the background. Not sure what the etiquette is here - should I resubmit?


If you are just looking to get it in your post, just dump it on imgur and use the "Insert External Image" feature. It is much quicker and easier if you don't care about it getting in the images section or you don't want to wait.
 
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Forrest & Ryan Driskel
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Or, you can just upload to your personal gallery here instead of the boardgame's gallery.
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Bill Kunes
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Stunning. Jealous.

Would love to have these, but I'll take getting this to the table with my group more first.
 
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Jim Richardson

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Not sure what I think of the Apricot pit (ew!) and I don't really like your Hydran ships, but most of them look great. I went on Ground Zero games website and they definitely have a lot of models available. Can you provide a quick list of each ship's model by race, and the overall cost?

It's looking like this is going to get really expensive though. Judging from the prices on the site, it looks like each model is going to have to cost at least 1 pound on average, meaning 18 * 6 = over 100 pounds just to replace the base game ships, or like $200? That's crazy.
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Guillaume Robert
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Nice I might do the same if the models are plastic. I already built the 6 factions but I'm feeling lazy for the expansion.

So are they metal plastic or resin?
 
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Scott Smith
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I see that you have used minis from my two all time favorite space combat games: Full Thrust and Silent Death.

Looks very nice!
 
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Phil Shimmin
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Sorry, not had time to add details yet but I thought I'd upload a photo of a 3P game nearing the end.



I was playing as the Hegemony (Black), with Guts or Glory Ruaidhri (which works better if you know it's pronounced "Rory") playing blue as the Hydran progress and Alan playing "yellow" humans.

The game started slowly as I found very few ancients and we got a strange draw on the techs leaving little for the Hydrans to get their teeth into. Alan's humans struggled to get a balanced economy and lost a lot to trading, but at least they were humans! I pulled off a highly speculative, all or nothing grab for the centre on turn and it worked. I then sat on a big material potential for the rest of the game which worked admirably as a deterrent, although it was tense because I had a fair amount of territory but therefore less influence disks than the others enabling them to take actions after I was done. This lessened a little towards the end when a second quantum grid came out, but was the case until the end of the game.

The last couple of turns saw a traditional "charge of the light brigade" attack on absolutely everyone at the end of the game from Guts n Glory (which ended similarly to its namesake). I took the game with Alan second and Ruaidhri having to withdraw from virtually everything to balance the books and finishing last.
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Salim Khoury
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Love all of this, will you share a link to the exact flight stands you used? Would you use them again?

Thanks!
 
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Phil Shimmin
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Salimo wrote:
Love all of this, will you share a link to the exact flight stands you used? Would you use them again?

Thanks!


In all cases I used the default flight stands that same with the ships - I just sprayed them Matt black. As anyone who has used flight stands will know they can be brittle, but as I said somewhere in the thread, for the bigger metal ships I deliberately snapped off the nub and drilled a bigger hole to put the full stalk of the flight stand into. Worked a lot better!
 
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Charles Zhang
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Hmm, been a while since the last post, but I'm still curious. Where might I find these now? The links in the original post are dead.
 
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Dan Williams
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TheRedComet wrote:
Hmm, been a while since the last post, but I'm still curious. Where might I find these now? The links in the original post are dead.


Hi Charles, the URL for Ground Zero Games changed, but they still sell all the ships. Have a look here. The pages for the individual ships have id numbers, which still match those found in the links above (eg: the Draco dreadnaught has productId=230 which now corresponds to this page).

I've recently bought a set of ships to use for the Planta and Hydrans, and I'm planning to get some more for some of the other races.
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Charles Zhang
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Thanks a ton, man! Now I wish the site had preview pics for all the ships... These are definitely the coolest ship miniatures I've seen (that are the right size). Battlefleet Gothic ships are probably too big, right?
 
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Dan Williams
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No worries

Yeah I know what you mean! It's worth Googling the ships that don't have pictures - there are a few other sites that do have images of some of them.

I can't say I've looked at any Battlefleet Gothic ships though.
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JR Wr
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TheRedComet wrote:
Thanks a ton, man! Now I wish the site had preview pics for all the ships... These are definitely the coolest ship miniatures I've seen (that are the right size). Battlefleet Gothic ships are probably too big, right?


Yeah, theyd be too big.
And FAR FAR too expensive for this.
 
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