As it happens I have a few model reviews for Spartan in the pipeline and they’ll be released as I get time. But first the techno-badasses from Spartan Games‘ Dystopian Wars.
I know the Covenant are hardly a new release but a recent preview of a heavy flyer for them touched me right in the hobby place. Majorly. The police were called and everything. And to the point where I simply had to buy a starter fleet…and a dreadnought.
So where to begin… Well I suppose with the rather natty, beautifully presented, full colour A5 rule booklet that comes with the starter fleet. Because the Covenant of Antarctica are, well, awesome, they get to bend an awful lot of rules and this means that the special rules cover 8 pages of the booklet. That’s not to say there are dozens of rules but the rules require some explaining. I have no problem with the rules as it’s my opponents who’ll be on the receiving end. But I think it’s fair to say that you’ll have to keep the booklet very close by for the first few games as the CoA’s main advantages over the other fleets are its special rules. This highlights, in my opinion, the need for ships to be equipped with actual weapons with varying values rather than numbers of shots as the only way to mix things up is with special rules, which you have to remember. But this is just a preference thing and the direction Project Awesome will be going in and should in no way put you off using the CoA. You certainly won’t hear me complain about the shield piercing ammunition or the fact that my Battleship can partially submerge making it faster and harder to hit. That’s freaking awesome. It’s also massively handy having the entire army list in a single book with the special rules listed rather than having lots of cards spread across a table…with the special rules printed on the back.
The first half of the book expands on the Covenant’s background massively and makes for an entertaining read. I’ve already speculated in previous posts that Spartan may choose to do this will all their starter fleets as iterations or rules and models get re-released and I sincerely hope they do because, as I keep banging on about, background makes a game and I feel even more psyched about my fleet now I understand them better. And without fluff you’re just pushing some sexy bits of resin/metal/plastic around a board with no real connection to them.
Now on to the models themselves. Were this a one word review (you should be so lucky) they’d be summed up as such: Awesome. That wasn’t much of a revelation was it? I could bang on for ages about how much I love the design of the CoA ships. So I will.
The CoA ships are special. I mean really special. I love all the Dystopian Wars models because Spartan gets the balance bang on between the steam and the science. The FSAs clockwork gun turrets are inspired. The FSA dreadnought is bonkers (more on that another time). But the Covenant models are just amazing. And it’s not because their dripping in detail as the sleek yet industrial design means there isn’t White House style windows or crisply laid deck planks but that’s the beauty of them. It’s a minimalist design in a ostentacious, brash, crude, clunky, mechanical world.
The contrast is epic. Similarly, the wonderful contrast between heavy girders, crude copper conduits and smooth hulls tells a story of the two worlds that the Covenant of Antarctica inhabit, and despite the science made available to them they’re still massively limited by their understanding the technologies available to implement it. The beauty of the Covenant ships is the little things. The curving armour plates which are far too organic for the age and the hull design that’s vaguely reminiscent of modern warships. The Star Wars-esque energy turrets that look like mini Death Stars (which is unassailably cool), and the fact that broadside batteries are little gun blisters which reminds me of cult sci-fi like War of the Worlds. The Covenant ships are an homage to the very best of science fiction over the last 120 years.
Obviously the casting is of a very high standard as I’ve come to expect from Spartan and the ships required next to no cleaning prior to building. In fact I got the starter fleet and the Dreadnought built whilst the wife watched Gok. But the stand out plus point of any Spartan models is the intelligence with which they’re designed as resin isn’t the most versatile and can’t be laid on frames. But it does produce some beautiful models. The mold lines are few and the parts fit together nicely. And the fact that the Battleship comes with a clear perspex silhouette you can slot the bridge component into is such a nice touch. All The Chaps were very impressed when I showed them, and rightly so. It’s stuff like that, that makes a great model epic and beats the arse clean off a submerged counter.