So. Much. Awesome. And all for £95.00. Which, as much as I hate to admit it, I’d actually pay for this bad boy.
And as a bonus here’s the Deimos Vindicator too. A blast from my Epic past…
So. Much. Awesome. And all for £95.00. Which, as much as I hate to admit it, I’d actually pay for this bad boy.
And as a bonus here’s the Deimos Vindicator too. A blast from my Epic past…
Almost a year ago I reviewed a starter set for the Studio Sparta game Firestorm Invasion: Planetfall. I enthused about what had the potential to expand on the Firestorm Armada universe and finally break the company out of their habit of overly abstracted rules, shit writing and horrendous amounts of pointless bold copy.
At the time I had a chat with the people in the know at Spartan and they said that the Directorate and the Sorylians would be hot on the heels of the initial Dindrenzi & Terran Alliance starter sets. Well…they weren’t wrong. Almost a full 12 months later they’re finally releasing those two factions. And the indications are that they’ll be a proper boxset and some proper rules on the way too.
It’s been a hugely frustrating 12 months watching Spartan devolve into an early version of Games Workshop with rising prices, a scattergun release schedule with things like Spartan Scenics popping up despite no 28mm games actually being out yet from Spartan. Which is all part of the longer term plan for Firestorm Invasion. Which is why it’s odd that they’d release all that stuff so early.
I promise this isn’t sour grapes. I just don’t get it. The erratic releases, the supplements that push an abstract game system to its absolute limit and taking a year to roll something out that they’ve outwardly ignored. I have no problem with a company taking time to develop, or raising capitol to develop. Credit where credit’s due, they haven’t done a kickstarter. But I do feel that if Spartan had spent less time and money developing some of the iffy supplements they could have properly developed Firestorm Invasion rather than lose all momentum by taking a year.
Anyway, this is what Spartan had to say about Firestorm Invasion – and there’s some sexy shots of the Terran vehicles. I’ve also included all the stuff about the Sorylians and Directorate.
As I say, I really want this game to be good and successful. And I really want Spartan to regain its focus and get back to doing cool stuff rather than bodging, improvising and generally messing with a mechanic that was too precise to allow for it…
It has long been a part of the plans for the FA Galaxy that your space fleets could fight their way to planets and star systems ready to deploy ground forces with which to capture or destroy vital strategic objectives. Having watched our community of 10mm scale gamers grow, and beavered away in the background on new models and enhanced rules, it is a pleasure to tell you that all of the six major races will be coming to a tabletop soon.
Having listened to feedback and read your Wishlists, Firestorm Planetfall has taken shape and will be rolled out to as follows:
• All six major races
• Boxed Sets designed to make army building easy and cost-effective
• Hardback Rulebook
• Alliance Books
• Range of high quality scenery – from bunker complexes to entire cityscapes
For those players who already own Terrans and Dindrenzi we have not left you out. An entire set of new, highly detailed models have been created to complement your existing forces. From brand new tanks and aircraft to gigantic Prime Movers capable of transporting entire units of infantry across the gaming table, we’ve worked on it all.
So to end, please have a look at concept art for some of the new Terran models. Over the next few weeks our web pages will be changed to reflect the enhancements to our spaceships and ground forces, and we’ll keep detailing the new models across the range. Check back soon to see images of the Sorylians, Relthoza, Aquans and Directorate at the ground scale!
What you can see here are concepts for just three of the Sorylian models: the Medium Walker (think Main Battle Tank quantity wise on a tabletop, the FA version of a Sherman), the Heavy Walker and a Small Strike Drone. But there is a myriad other models for this race, from the Small Flyer right up to machines that block the sunlight on a battlefield.
Chris added: “Their fundamental characteristics were to be resilient legged tanks that would lumber across the battlefield with less haste and more of a juggernaut archetype. With this in mind I started to think of the silhouette and sense of the weight of these mighty mechanical mechs piloted by a lizard-like race. Their centre of gravity would be extremely low to help them feel sturdy and immovable and I drew reference from the body language of various reptiles and similar creatures to create a leg setup that was appropriate. Having arrived at these wonderfully mechanical dinosaurs of war I am very pleased with the outcome. They feel technologically advanced yet prehistoric in their physical presence.”
The fighting vehicles of the Sorylian Collective are primarily comprised of bulky, resilient walkers. Slow and ponderous, but very well protected from all forms of incoming ordnance, these stoic vehicles shrug off enemy attacks whilst their return fire punctures hulls with ease.
Filling the sky around these walkers are swarms of much smaller aircraft. Incredibly agile, they dart around the larger vehicles, knocking out enemy aircraft attempting to strike at the walkers from above, or driving off light vehicles trying to outflank their charges. In this way the Sorylian ‘Sphere’ formations grind across the battlefield, maintaining their defensive stance whilst they roll over objectives and crush enemy wrecks beneath their giant metal feet.
In the next blog we’ll delve into the ideas behind the Directorate ground forces. Sleek, fast, deadly – I know it sounds clichéd, but it’s the ideal way to sum this force up.
As the most technologically advanced race in the known galaxy (in their own minds at least!), we felt that the Directorate in Planetfall needed to capture that sleek Hi-Tech sci-fi look, whilst still feeling like working military vehicles that can take a beating and dish out some brutality in return.
After an exciting design meeting with lots of reference pictures (and sci-fi gun noises) an eager Chris Peacey set about bringing to life the Directorate ground forces, and the units he came out with are some of the most stunning Planetfall models yet.
Chris Peacey explains: “The Directorate have the best gear, the best resources and the most advanced technology of all the races in the Storm Zone, so it was only fitting for their ground and air vehicles to have an air of elitism about them. Superior offensive and defensive technologies manifest themselves in the form of plasma weapons and ablative armour, cyber-attack capabilities and intimidating air support. Ground units are swift and employ first-strike tactics. It is rare that a Directorate force is ever cornered or taken by surprise. In this unlikely event, air support is devastating for the opposing forces as large and impressively armoured gunships can promptly deliver a barrage of suppressive fire.”
Pictured above are three concepts for Directorate vehicles: a particularly mean looking Battle Tank with reinforced armour cladding and a giant plasma weapon, an aggressive Gunship that perfectly hits the balance between functional military and sophisticated design and my personal favourite – a sleek cyberwarfare vehicle that screams speed, stealth and advanced tech.
Chris Peacey explains: “The Cyber Warfare tank is the personification of the Directorate’s slick approach to conflict. Its smooth lines and hexagonal cladding give an appropriate feel to a vehicle that changes what is necessary to secure victory over enemy forces. You can expect future Directorate units to share this striking aesthetic. In contrast, the main battle vehicle and heavy gunship have a contemporary science fiction feel; armed to the teeth and equally armoured. These vehicles built for pure offence are the true fist of the Directorate military.
I hope that Directorate players of Firestorm Armada are looking forward to seeing these vehicles realised as 10mm scale miniatures as much as I am!!”
On the battlefield, the ground forces of the Directorate take a ‘right tool for the job’ approach. VTOL craft of varying sizes provide manoeuvrability and heavy firepower, Tank Destroyers and automated gun platforms deadly fire support and Battle Tanks occupy the enemy’s attention, shrugging off their shots with high-tech armour systems.
Meanwhile elite infantry and powerful augmented mechs perform a crucial “special forces” role, supporting the larger vehicles, clearing ground and seizing objectives. Across the board, the Directorate supplement their arms and armour with unmatched cyber-tech. Capitalising on their supremacy in this arena, they shut down defences, overload systems and sow havoc and discord throughout their inferior enemy.
I don’t know. I say nothing about Spartan Games for months and now they’re practically all I talk about. Well, not really but still.
The Ryushi are on their way and my goodness me they look a little bit lovely. They’re a Kurak Alliance fleet so most likely what you see is all you’ll get but they’ll make an extremely pretty addition to most fleets. Like mine…
Battle Carrier Set – £30
The prices of Spartan’s stuff is starting to creep up a bit. To get both sets it’ll set you back £75 which isn’t cheap. Off puttingly so I’d say. But either way, they’re released on August 21st and below is some fluff from the site.
Ryushi military doctrine focuses on large, durable craft; combining unequalled defensive technology with powerful weapons systems. Huge versatility is offered by their heavily armed Onnisha Carriers, whose Flights can swiftly be tailored to offensive or defensive situations and kept operating at full capacity by highly trained deck crews. Torpedoes and enemy craft are swatted aside by matchless point defence systems, whilst the Carrier’s heavy-grade primary weapons and guided torpedoes tackle the toughest of long-range targets. The Ryushi are one of the more prominent members of the Kurak Alliance.
I love Megalith. I love them because they created Godslayer and I love them because they’re releasing some truly awesome stuff…
First up – Sons of War. They’re by all accounts warriors without peer, which I’m kinda getting the impression of from the render below. I think it’s safe to assume they’re going to exhibit Spartan levels of badassery. That’s the ancient Spartans, not the ones from Halo.
Then there’s the Banebrood Cyclops which is big, ugly and looks like he’s robbed Granny’s favourite ornament…
And finally here’s some videos of the Mortan’s Cataclysm Catapult. In a word…WANT!
It’s been a long time since I had anything to say about Spartan Games. I almost put fingers to keyboard when I saw them releasing a range of HDF scenery for 28mm sci-fi games when they don’t have a 28mm sci-fi game. It’s yet another knee-jerk, ‘hey wouldn’t it be cool if’ idea from a company that is becoming increasingly scattergun and increasingly expensive. That’s not to say it isn’t cool, but sets for Dystopian Legions is perhaps a more logical way to go, I would have thought.
But moving on to something more positive. Coming out at the end of July are two new factions for Firestorm Armada. The Hawker Industries fleet and Works Raptor fleet. Both say Alliance on them but I’m not sure whether that means Terran Alliance, Alliance of Kurak or the Zenian League, although Hawker Industries definitely fall into one of the first two. But I tell you what; I don’t care because they look amazing. It’s the first time since I got my Terran Alliance fleet at Christmas that I’ve really felt drawn to anything from Spartan. The £45 price tag is a little steep mind considering 18 months ago starter fleets were £33. Although, providing they don’t go up any more, I’ll not rant too much about it.
Anyway, feast your eyes on these…
Hawker Industries Alliance Fleet
As conflict in the Storm Zone intensifies, Hawker Industries readies its famously reliable vessels for front-line service once again. From the mighty Excelsior to the hardy Endeavour, these tenacious hulls are now outfitted with new shielding technology, state-of-the-art sensor arrays and devastating weapons systems. Emerging from space-docks across the galaxy, they stand ready to remind the Zenian foe that Hawker is still a name to be feared.
Works Raptor Alliance Fleet
The name Works Raptor has long been synonymous with arms design and manufacture. Single-minded in their pursuit of the science of war, the vessels of the Works Raptor fleet are uncompromisingly lethal. Utilising unmatched stealth systems and powerful drive engines the Attrition Class Assault Carrier will always deliver its payload of Space Craft Wings, deadly torpedoes and elite, genetically engineered boarding marines into the enemy’s heart. In turn the Interdictor Cruisers and Tyranny Corvettes sow chaos through their fleet, dissecting their prey whilst evading retaliation with ease.
Over on the Megalith Games website they’re previewing some of the Godslayer gorgeousness but I thought I’d share it here too…
First up a WIP of a big scary Dwarf bloke for the Nordgaard…
And next up is a warlord model for the Wyldfolk…
And here’s what Megalith had to say about him…
This is the Fiannor Farfarer, who he is the warlord of the Fiannor subfaction, scheduled for release in around 4-8 weeks, immediately following the Scabhta Hunters.
The Farfarer is the best archer in the game so far and he has tactics to enhance shooty units, enabling them to shoot more frequently and with greater accuracy.
This great sculpt captures his lethal accuracy and “scouty” nature.
With my review done and a rare blossom of excitement for a new game swelling in my chest I thought I’d take a look at some of the Season 2 concepts that are floating around the interwebs and it’s all looking rather groovy. Although Mantic are brave to rip off Transformers. Hasbro tend to sue people more readily than GW…
The Robots can…ahem…transform to take on different roles. The Zzor are bred to play in their position, which is a neat idea. The Judwan are…grey and the Sirens have boobs.
And as an added bonus stuff that’s allegedly being lined up for season 3…
Another month, another hacked off employee taking snaps on their mobile of the upcoming White Dwarf. Specifically the Dark Angel releases.
I’ve got to say, my feelings are mixed. The new Deathwing Terminators look pretty cool and have lots of conversion potential for other Chapters. The Ravenwing ‘Black Knights’ are a reboxing of the standard Ravenwing bikers with a few more baubles. And yes they all have plasma weapons. The air superiority flyer rumours were clearly true. And it looks pretty cool. The landspeeders on the other hand… They’re certainly bigger and meaner than they use to be but they have all the aerodynamics of a brick.
Yes, that’s right, another DL preview post. But in my defence there’s a lot going on in Spartan towers at the moment.
For a start the quickplay rules are now available to download. Click here to get them.
In other news there’s some more Kingdom of Britannia previews…
“It was a bit of a sticky wicket. The Suns had us on the ropes. If we broke, the road to Burma was open. But then we heard the bugles. The men of the 15th dropped into the enemy ranks behind a great sheet of flame and steam and scattered the Suns like wheat chaff in a gale. I knew then that we were saved.”
Sergeant Roger Coker, 6th Cumberland, describing the intervention of the 15th Hussars at the Second Battle of Taiping
Horse-mounted cavalry has all but vanished from the Britannian army’s order of battle since the flood of technology from the Covenant of Antarctica began to change the world in the late 1850s.
The cavalry regiments, however, did not disappear but instead radically altered their training regimes and equipment. Like the more heavily-armed garrison troops of the Land, Air and Naval Armadas, they are equipped with the sturdy Sturgicite-fuelled Brunel-Fosdyke Rocket Assisted Transit personal flying machine – nicknamed the ‘Ratpack’.
Britannia’s Hussar Regiments retain their role as daring, fast-moving assault troops. Many a hard-pressed regular platoon has had reason to thank a timely intervention by a Sky Hussar squadron at the key moment.
They are nicknamed ‘Flaming Angels’ by the Britannian press, thanks to their main armament – Ricardo MkII Flamebelchers, pistol-sized weapons capable of spewing great sheets of fire over opponents and sending them scrambling away in blind panic. These weapons are relatively new, being issued alongside more conventional arms and giving the Sky Hussars an exceptional edge in the shock assaults they favour.
The Sky Hussars have a much more glamorous reputation than the line infantry, second only to the pilots of the Air Armada’s fighter squadrons. Much of this stems from the risks that they are required to take in the execution of their duties. Their battlefield role is that much more rigorous, often involving fighting at perilously close quarters.
Hussar specialists, like the regular infantry, carry Ricardo flamethrowers to give them the edge over superior numbers of enemy troops. The combination of these weapons and the standard Flamebelchers make Hussar assaults even more terrifying for those on the receiving end of them, as well as acting as a great morale boost for other Britannian soldiers.
The Hussar squadrons prefer not to get involved in grinding combats of attrition if they can avoid it, specialising in fast and hard strikes at key points in the enemy line, before jetting back out of reach of retaliation and regrouping for their next assault.
The Sky Hussars can be a little tricky to use right, but once you know how to get the most from them they are a game-winning asset for any Britannian Commander.
Sky Hussars can put out a great deal of damage at close range, going to close quarters and burning the enemy down at point blank range. If it is totally essential, they can draw their sabres and go in with the old cold steel.
However, this comes at a cost in terms of protection. Sky Hussars go into battle in nothing more than their perfectly tailored uniforms and a pair of good riding boots. They most definitely cannot take as much punishment as they can dish out!
But to compensate, the Sky Hussars have their ‘Ratpacks‘, gifting them with the power to move like lightning across the table. Their skill makes them difficult to hit with gunfire at range.
When paired up with a Line Infantry Section, Sky Hussars excel. Let the Line Infantry whittle the enemy down as they move forward, then let loose the Hussars to send whatever remains of them to oblivion.
Alternatively, they can advance with the line and play their Special Game Card, Firestorm, at the opportune moment. This will flush the enemy out of hiding just in time for the entire line to open up on them. This tactic can make for a fearsome outflanking gambit against a defended position.
“Fall back now? No, no, no! Look at them…on the verge of shattering like glass, I tell you! To me, lads! Let’s show ‘em how Britannians fight! Hurrah!”
Although the bulk of Britannia’s aerial strength falls under the remit of the Aerial Armada and the Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, the Kingdom’s regular army retains its own small integral aerial force, known as the Royal Flying Corps. Although they only operate conventional aeroplanes, as opposed to the great Sturginium Age flying engines of the Air Armada, the RFC is proud of its traditions.
These date back to Wellington’s great victory over the Prussians at Waterloo, when Royal Flying Corps’ pilots, manning perilously fragile Masaulle V biplanes contributed to the defeat of Emperor Heinrich Otto’s armies.
RFC officers are often attached to Britannian infantry formations. As well as being pilots and liaising with local air support, they are also fully-trained infantry officers in their own right.
Captain Gilbert ‘Bertie’ Smethington II, Distinguished Flying Cross, is undoubtedly the most famous of the RFC’s officer class. The scion of a noted aristocratic family – his father, Lieutenant-General Baronet Gilbert Smethington I, served with the army in southern Africa – Bertie saw action in the Far East before being transferred back to Britannia to take part in the Kingdom’s offensive operations against the Prussian Empire.
Brash, loud and flamboyant, Smethington’s presence is always welcomed by infantry units on the ground, despite – or sometimes because of – his propensity to rub regular infantry officers up the wrong way. His mere presence can inspire ordinary troops to great feats of courage in battle no matter the odds. Apart from his undoubted charisma, the Captain is also noted for having a lucky streak that often seems to land him, and those he leads, on their feet.
Captain Smethington favours a customised automatic pistol as his personal arm, a piece of extraordinary quality and effectiveness made by the prestigious Egg gunmaking house in London. However, ‘Bertie’s Blazer’ as it has become known to troops serving alongside him, has far more significance to Gilbert than just its effectiveness as a weapon.
Bertie acquired the pistol from Captain Ian ‘Spinner’ Spencer, a long time friend and colleague of his from their days of service in India. Spinner lost his life during the first Blazing Sun attack on Burma, when the scout aircraft that he and Bertie were flying was shot down by enemy fighter aeroplanes.
Both men survived the landing, deep behind enemy lines, but despite hauling the badly wounded Spinner more than ten miles along with him, Bertie was unable to save his old friend’s life. Spinner’s last act was to bequeath his pistol to Gilbert, who eventually found his way back to the Britannian stronghold at Georgetown after a gruelling two-week hike. Bertie privately believes the weapon to be the source of his good luck, and has carried it into battle in honour of Spinner ever since.
Captain ‘Bertie’ Smethington the Second DFC may not be the best shot or a boxing champ, but somehow he always appears to end up on top. Though he has fairly average stats for an officer of his rank, he is incredibly Lucky!
Smethington has a finite Pool of Luck Points that must last him the entire game. These can be spent at any time to re-roll dice – every commander’s dream come true when it comes to passing a vital Command Test, pulling off a key Ranged Attack or winning a Duel!
Although this makes the Captain very effective, remember that even Bertie’s good fortune has its limits – good management of your Luck Points is essential. Captain Smethington II is also a very competent leader. He provides plenty of Command Points to the Force’s Pool, and can be relied upon to keep your force in line with his unique Britannian Bulldog Command Ability, using his natural charisma to anchor the forces around him.
Finally, Bertie has his Special Game Card – Come on Chaps!”. This card allows any Sections near to ‘Smeth’ to make a special additional move at any time, perfect for escaping a dastardly Prussian charge!
Man oh man I’m going to be so broke. Damn you Spartan!
Empire of the Blazing Sun
“The lives of your men are a valuable currency, and only by care and prudence will they buy us our rightful place in the world. Use this wealth well, for Her Divine Majesty abhors the spendthrift.”
Tetsuo Kojima, High General of the Crucible Army, ‘Reflections on Military Life’, 1868
The junior officers of the Blazing Sun are well-versed in the combined arms military doctrine of the Empire’s Three Armies. They are well-trained with a combination of traditional battle techniques combined with the latest in military thinking from armies around the world. This has proven to be a particularly deadly combination.
The Empire’s military academies in Edo, Osaka and Niigata turn out classes of officer-graduates trained in these combined philosophies. These new officers then receive additional training from the ‘finishing schools’ of the Sword or Shield Armies, if they are assigned to a Division in one of these institutions.
During this additional period, officers of the Sword Army Divisions frequently receive more specialised tuition in offensive storming tactics. Conversely, Shield Army officers are often given extra training in defensive warfare techniques, such as creating trench-lines and effectively garrisoning fortifications.
Blazing Sun infantry battle plans typically rely on keeping the opposition off-guard with feints and deceptive thrusts. These are aimed at attempting to manipulate the enemy’s actions as much as to marshal the Blazing Sun commander’s own forces. Only when the enemy has been left totally unbalanced does the killing blow fall, the officers leading their troops to strike hard and fast with devastating force at the point of decision.
The field officers of the Blazing Sun are very flexible in their tactics. Blazing Sun infantry frequently adopt looser formations when carrying out general manoeuvres, the better to take advantage of cover and minimise casualties from enemy counter-fire, especially when advancing across open ground.
However, unlike the Americans, who also employ such tactics, Blazing Sun troops who come under attack will often choose to mount a ferocious blitz in response, sweeping aside their enemies with fierce short-ranged firepower and gas attacks.
Blazing Sun field officers are well versed in exhorting their charges onwards with timely forced marches, bringing the full strength of their forces to bear on the enemy’s weak points before a strong defence can be mounted.
Unlike other nations, the appearance of Blazing Sun field officers can vary somewhat. Some more traditionally minded individuals, notably those with samurai connections, go into battle in ancient regalia redolent of an earlier age. However, the majority of newer lieutenants and captains choose to dress in more modern uniform, often with styling modelled upon the fashions of foreign armies – a living embodiment of the Blazing Sun’s determination to secure its future as a great power in the Sturginium Age.
Blazing Sun Commanders place considerable importance in their Lieutenants, as their Ashigaru Sections do not have access to NCOs like their foreign equivalents.
This means that for these Sections to use Command Points to fight to their fullest potential they must stay near to their Officers. For this reason it is a good idea to keep your Lieutenant near your Mainstay Infantry – leading the charge from the front! However, remember to keep them close to their charges, to prevent dishonourable and unscrupulous enemies from picking them off!
Keeping your officers close to their infantry Sections also gives the Ashigaru access to the Lieutenant’sCommand Abilities. The Forced March Command Ability is invaluable when it comes to pressing the advance, whilst the Focus Fire Command Ability makes the Infantry’s weapons even more deadly, allowing them to totally annihilate their enemies at Effective Range!
The Blazing Sun Lieutenant is also a powerful warrior in his own right. Although not able to combat entire Sections by himself, by adding the firepower of his Kappon pistol to a Ranged Attack, or Charging in alongside the Ashigaru, his aid can often tip the balance in the Blazing Sun’s favour. His equipment can also give him the edge in honourable duels with enemy leaders, but be careful not to risk him too often in seeking such glory – his Command Abilities are too valuable!
“Though we command the power of many mighty machines of war in the service of Her Divine Majesty, always remember that it is still the humble Ashigaru who forms the beating heart of the Three Armies. By his skill and courage are battles won, ground held, and enemies kept at bay.”
-Tetsuo Kojima, High General of the Crucible Army, ‘Reflections on Military Life’, 1868
Many years ago, the term ‘Ashigaru’ or ‘Spear Carrier’, denoted a rather humble soldier in the armies of Japan. Not so in the Sturginium Age. The modern Ashigaru infantryman is a tough, highly trained and supremely motivated fighting trooper.
As with their large war engines, the infantry and light armoured forces of the Empire of the Blazing Sun represent a unique combination of an ancient martial traditional paired with some of the most cutting-edge weaponry in service anywhere in the world.
Although not wholly eschewing conventional rifles, most Ashigaru are armed with the Kawachi-Kanpon Type 4 automatic shotgun. Nicknamed the ‘Dragon’s Breath’, this fearsome drum-fed weapon fires a hail of shells filled with incendiary materials developed by the Imperial Alchemical Institute. The ‘Dragon’s Breath’ is very short-ranged compared to conventional rifles. However, within that distance, it is one of the hardest-hitting infantry small arms currently in service anywhere in the world.
The limited range is not normally an issue in the circumstances under which the Ashigaru are most often employed – namely, supporting more heavy armoured units in close terrain or urban areas. The Type 4’s burst fire and destructive projectiles make it very forgiving of being fired from the hip when the soldier is moving. This means it is perfect for the kind of hard-hitting assaults favoured by Blazing Sun military doctrine.
Like the Americans, the Blazing Sun military also favours high mobility warfare, but they prefer a far more aggressive approach. They are not berserkers, however, and attack with a great deal of cunning and foresight, making maximum use of terrain and environmental features to win out over their opponents.
Blazing Sun infantry attacks frequently consist of simultaneous assaults on multiple fronts. Some of these attacks will be feints, intended to draw the enemy’s attention away from the true objective at the key moment, allowing the true attack to break through.
The Ashigaru, like many other Blazing Sun units, also bring the most deadly of the Imperial Alchemical Institute’s offensive weaponry to the fore, in the form of poison gas grenades. Although infantry-issued gas bombs cannot match in any way the terrifying destructive power of massed gas bombardments by heavy artillery, they are certainly capable of causing localised panic amongst opposing infantry, light vehicles and gun crews. The insidious vapours give the Ashigaru a vital edge, especially against well dug-in or heavily armoured enemy troops.
Blazing Sun troops have traditionally fought in many areas where heavy armour has not played a key role. Although increasingly equipped with armour of their own, Ashigaru are taught to face enemy tanks without fear, even when lacking their own armoured support. Ashigaru sections almost always contain specialists trained in the use of the notorious Type 7 Rocket Projector.
Called the ‘Okha’ or ‘Cherry Blossom’, this tubular weapon projects a powerful explosive warhead capable of cracking open a tank or blowing apart a machine gun nest. Combined with the Dragon’s Breath and gas weaponry, this allows well-led Ashigaru to make short work of most opponents.
The Blazing Sun Ashigaru are at their best in a well-defined role: getting up close to the enemy, and letting rip with their mighty “Dragon’s Breath” shotguns!
These weapons, when in Effective Range, are the most deadly of the standard small arms currently employed by any nation’s Mainstay Infantry. However, their raw power is offset by their very short-range.
Therefore the main tactical focus for any commander is to get your Ashigaru into close range fire-fights with the enemy without taking too many casualties on the way in.
Thankfully, the Ashigaru go into battle with the best armour protection of any Mainstay Infantry, making them quite resistant to long range pot-shots by the enemy.
However, no matter how well protected, if a Section of infantry takes fire every turn it will quickly lose potency, and so making effective use of terrain and movement bonuses is vital.
Using their ‘Banzai!’ and ‘Double Time‘ Game Cards, Ashigaru Sections will soon make their way across the Game Board. Such speedy advances will quickly confound opponents who rely too much on hunkering down.
When they have closed to Effective Range, the Ashigaru should blaze away with their shotguns, brutally eradicating exposed targets. However if they find their enemy loitering behind Hard Cover, or a useful combination of Game Cards presents itself, a supported Charge using their Gas Grenades can be decisive.
“They are our hidden blades, invisible until the deathblow falls. They march with us unseen, bringing terror to the enemy, and reminding us of our duty. Honour and fear – they are worthy of both.”
Ashigaru Odo Hanamura to his troops, during the march on Havana, 1871
Wherever the armies of the Blazing Sun march, they are accompanied by teams of deadly Shinobi infiltrators. The guardians of an ancient tradition of stealth, spying and assassination, the Shinobi Houses of today are the personal servants of the Her Serene Majesty the Empress Shinzua, and their loyalty to the throne is absolute.
The Shinobi Houses serve as the Empress’ silent enforcers and secret service, both within the Empire of the Blazing Sun and beyond its borders. That they hold enormous influence is undoubted – one of the seats on the Empress’ Council of Seven is reserved for the de facto representative of the Shinobi Houses, known as the ‘Faceless Lord’.
However, none but the Empress Shinzua herself and her aged great-aunt and predecessor Empress Maya, know just how far this influence and surveillance extends – and this is just as it should be. To emphasise this, the Faceless Lord’s seat is perpetually left empty; a powerful symbol to the Council and visitors to its presence that the Empress’ deadliest servants could be anywhere, or indeed anyone – no one is beyond their scrutiny and, by extension Her Majesty’s knowledge.
The skills of the Shinobi are without a doubt, almost the last word in espionage and infiltration. Virtually no target, no location, no security measures, are beyond their ability to breach. Shinobi agents are even thought to have successfully infiltrated the inner organisations of nothing less than the Covenant of Antarctica.
However, given the extreme secrecy of both the Shinobi themselves and the near-unbroken silence of the Covenant in recent years, the truth about this potentially masterful feat of infiltration and whether or not it continues must remain a matter of conjecture.
Near-invisible and silent as death, Shinobi Strike Teams infiltrate hostile ground ahead of conventional Blazing Sun forces. There they will sow terror and discord, assassinating key personnel, ambushing unwary units and committing acts of sabotage that can cripple enemy forces even before they are brought to battle.
Once full combat is joined, the Shinobi continue their deadly harassment, picking off stragglers, shaping the battlefield with well-placed smokescreens to conceal friendly troop movements and generally creating chaos amidst the enemy’s lines with misdirection and confusion.
Shinobi are lightly equipped, as befitting their role as agile and deadly insurgency troops, armed with the traditional blades and other weapons of their deadly trade. Expert martial artists and unequalled in their ability to stalk targets and evade capture, the Shinobi have a reputation for almost supernatural skill in combat among foreign troops.
No enemy commander can sleep securely, and no sentry can afford a moment’s peace when fighting the forces of the Serene Empress, for the death’s shadow may fall over them in an instant in the form of a Shinobi’s deadly blades.
Shinobi Assassins are one of the most interesting and tactically flexible Sections available to any player in Dystopian Legions.
As you would expect from a ninja, the Shinobi are physically powerful, fast, hard to kill and blessed with an almost supernatural skill-at-arms. They also have some very influential Model Assigned Rules that allow them to manoeuvre around the Game Board with unparalleled ease – virtually invisible to the enemy. All in all, if you can get a band of Shinobi Assassins close enough to charge , don’t expect the enemy to last long!
However, Shinobi are worlds away from a simple blunt combat unit. They can be used in a great multitude of ways. If they want to advance with the Bulk of the force they can – using their Smoke Pellets Model Assigned Rule to support their comrades advance, laying Smoke Screen Markers that will impede the enemy’s fire.
If they want to go it alone that is an option too. Used with subtlety, they can cross the Board at high-speed to attack the more vulnerable elements of an opposing force. Playing their Special Game Card, Ninjitsu, they can even attempt one of their legendary assassination attempts and potentially take out an enemy Officer!
“He is as inscrutable as a statue, cold as an icy dawn – I doubt that anyone has ever named him a friend. Yet few are deadlier with a blade, and his deft plans and curt orders lead us ever to victory. For these reasons, I march with him gladly.”
Captain Kensuke Sato, on Master Kozo Okinawa
The senior officers of the Blazing Sun land armies are almost invariably Samurai – warriors who owe their loyalty to their superiors in a strong chain of command that reaches right up to the Empress herself.
As fighting men steeped in the traditions of bushido, many Samurai even in the Sturginium Age disdain most conventional modern firearms, preferring instead to take to the field armed with more traditional implements – the katana and wakazashi blades that are their most potent status symbol are also their most common war implements.
Master Kozo Okinawa exemplifies this tradition. The son of an ancient family whose antecedents go back centuries to the dawn of the old Shogunate, Kozo was raised practically from birth to eventually assume the mantle of high military office.
Though he came from considerable wealth, his upbringing was harsh, with virtually every waking moment dedicated to the study of swordplay, military philosophy from inside and outside the empire, and the core tenets of bushido by which he would live.
This intense and rigorous upbringing for such a singular purpose left little time for cultural pleasures or other distractions. While Okinawa’s martial expertise was beyond question even as early as his mid-twenties. He acquired a reputation as a bleak and joyless man, aloof and distant from even his most trusted colleagues. Nonetheless, his skill at arms assured him of rapid success in the field for which he spent so long honing his mind, body and spirit.
Holding the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel of the general staff of the Blazing Sun Sword Army, he is regarded with awe rather than affection by the soldiers under his command. A calculating rather than an inspiring leader, he treats his forces like the cogs of a finely-engineered machine, enacting his complex and subtle battle plans with the detached assurance of a chess grandmaster.
However, when the time is right for the enemy to fall, Okinawa enters the fray himself with the force of a stroke of lightning. A swordsman of fearsome skill, dressed in fine armour of traditional style but thoroughly modern materials, he transforms himself in an instant from shrewd tactician into steel whirlwind, scattering before him any enemy soldiers fortunate enough to avoid his killing blades.
But even those who escape death upon the end of his sword are not safe, for Okinawa, like many of his peers, is adept with the dread poison gas grenades so beloved by the Samurai of the Sturginium Age.
Okinawa is part of the Army of the Sword’s general staff, an adjutant and close ally of High General Uematsu himself, and a former staff officer to the infamous General Oni. He was transferred from the old Wani 3rd Division of the Sword Army only two months before Oni’s fatal mission to Singapore. Since that time, he has spent most of his postings with the Sword Army 5th Division, now based in the occupied Malay Peninsula and heavily engaged in fighting off Britannian counterattacks in the region.
Okinawa has relished testing his skill against the Britannians, and views the widening of the war with perhaps the greatest enthusiasm he has shown for anything in years – soon the whole world shall be an arena, where Kozo Okinawa can measure his skills against the best and brightest of the enemy’s military minds on the fields of honour.
Master Okinawa is quite possibly one of the most physically intimidating characters in Dystopian Legions – a great asset for a Blazing Sun forces, and a deadly opponent for their foes.
Although a superb Commander, he does not have any Command Abilities, though he still contributes to the Force’s Command Point Pool.
Although this may appear to be a disadvantage, it is more than compensated for by his battlefield effectiveness as a fighter. Okinawa is without a doubt one of the most powerful Characters out there for sheer combat ability. Leave the bulk of leadership to your other Officers, and use the Master as the warrior he is. Leading an Ashigaru Section charge, he will rip the enemy apart.
However, the Master is not just a deadly weapon in his own right. Rather than simply hacking up a few common line soldiers this character is a superb duellist. When Master Kozo Okinawa challenges an officer in the midst of a Melee, they have two equality undesirable options. Accept and face the mighty Master, or cower behind their own men, weakening their resolve as they do so.
Okinawa’s Special Game Card is perhaps his greatest asset, however. Playing The Divine Blow gives a great Melee bonus to every Section nearby. Using this card at the right moment can turn a losing battle around, or transform a close victory into an utter enemy rout!