If you’ve waded through our archives, you might notice that I’ve got a real fondness for the Specialist Game range and Battlefleet Gothic. The joys of spending four turns carefully maneuvering your fleet into position for that glorious moment where you storm into the heart of the enemy formation, firing double broadsides is hard to explain. Rest assured, it’s iconic and awesome.
The key reason for the longevity of the Specialist Games (despite a lack of love from the overlords) is the sense of ownership amongst the fans. This all grew from a period in which GW collaborated with the fans to refine and improve their rule sets. The 2002 Annual provided the inspiration for a lot of what followed. This level of cooperation gradually died as the likes of Andy Chambers left and the main drivers of the game systems within the company drifted away. The last joint product was the 2007 Battlefleet Gothic FAQ. But the fan committees still kept chugging away, producing multiple edition of the Blood Living Rulebooks among others.
For those of you still playing Battlefleet Gothic, there’s a little known FAQ which follows the 2007 FAQ. The survivors of the old Battlefleet Gothic rules group have produced an excellent 2010 FAQ which really cleans up some issues and generally improves the game. It can be found here.
As a brief taster, I’ll run through some of the changes from the box rules and their impact on the game.The goal of both FAQs was to move the game away from the carrier-fest it had become and back towards the Broadsides in Space game we all liked.
The 2007 FAQ revised the ordnance weapons rules and this continues into the 2010 version. the change is simple, ordnance does not run out. But to counteract the ability to spam bombers and fighters, you may only have as many squadrons in the air as you have launch bays in your fleet. This is calculated on a fleet wide basis, not by individual ship. This means that if you have functioning carriers, you have air (space?) cover.
The fighters/bombers/etc are represented by square markers and must take up as little space as possible. This eliminates the ability to fill vast amounts of board spaces with a handful of tiny, tiny ships. Likewise, torpedoes are three wide to prevent unholy seas of torpedoes from forming. This also reduces the amount of scrabbling in the box to find the right sized torpedo marker.
The torpedo volleys can now only be split when the total strength is seven or higher, to prevent people from using single torpedos to remove fighters on CAP and so on. They also cannot be split into more than two waves.
You can combine turrets which means ships can band together to create better AA screens. But the flipside is that the blast damage is more likely affect several ships. You can make the cost/benefit calculations yourself.
Brace For Impact
They resolved a key omission in the regular rules. If you fail a Brace for Impact roll against one strike, you can still attempt it against further attacks. This prevents the phenomenon where the only ship to fail to brace magically began to receive all the incoming fire.
The blast markers have also been changed. Rather than being placed by the opposing player to best suit his needs, they are placed on the base and count as impacting on anything touching that base. An elegant solution that better represents the chewed up bit of space around a shielded target under fire.
Some of you may remember this guy from old-school Warhammer Fantasy, the player whose ability to judge distances was so developed that cannons became sniper rifles. In Battlefleet Gothic, even a poor player (over two or more turns) could fire one ranging shot, remember the measurement and easily drop nova cannon shots on the enemy from then on. To prevent this, they are no longer a guess range weapon, they scatter like blast weapons.
Solar flares only happen once per game. Rejoice, put-upon Eldar players. Similarly, only one radiation burst can occur in a given turn. If more than one of the above is rolled during set-up, you still roll that number of dice each turn but only one success is counted.
The points cost of the Apocalypse battleship, Retribution battleship, Oberon battleship, Overlord battlecruiser, Armageddon battlecruiser, Endeavor light cruiser, Endurance light cruiser and Defiant light cruiser are reduced. The Emperor battleship bucks the trend by taking a slight points increase.
No more than two each of the Endurance and Defiant classes can be taken in a list.
Bombardment cannons now fire at the same time as weapons batteries and are resolved simultaneously. This lets you use the weapon batteries to strip shields before pounding their hulls with the more destructive cannons. It also means that the blast markers produced by the shield impacts don’t interfere with the cannons.
The points cost of the Retaliator grand cruiser and Styx heavy cruiser have been reduced. Simple balancing changes here.
The points cost of the Hellebore and Aconite frigates are dropped. The Craftworld Eldar hero also sees his points cost slashed and some new rules added. The Craftworld Eldar generally seem to benefit from the new rules.
The Torture cruiser sees a major points hike and the mimic engines get a major debuff. This is clearly intended to prevent the Dark Eldar tactic of remaining cloaked and spraying torpedoes everywhere. They are now revealed as hostile when their ordnance hits the enemy. This is a very good thing.
All ork ships can now buy additional turrets to give them a fighting chance against bombers. The Deathdeala, Slamblasta and Kroolboy battleships can now carry torpedo bommas. The Hammer battle kroozer also gets the upgrade.
The Savage gunship, Ravager attack ship and Onslaught attack ship see their points cost drop and the Grunt assault ship is added to the fleet list. It’s a modification of the Brute class intended as a boarding vessel.
The interaction between Brace For Impact and the Necron reactive hull is detailed. In essence, Necron players cannot claim both the reactive hull and BFI save simultaneously.
Surprisingly, no points increase for the Necrons. They remain one of the more powerful fleets and the bane of Eldar players.
In a bid to prevent hiveship spam lists, Tyranids fleets must now buy a certain amount of escorts, at least six for each hiveship. These can be bought in addition to the original 6-12 escorts per hiveship. This stacks well with the new rules allowing a percentage of escorts to act as sacrificial fire ships.
Tyranid ordnance gain an exemptions to the new ordance rules, they can have twice as many squadrons in play as they have launch bays.
The Merchant class starship gets a discount. Kroot warspheres now lose boarding strength as bits are blown off the vessel.
There’s also a few new fleets in the 2010 compendium which we’ll review at a later date. Just to be clear, this post was just a taster, there are plenty of changes not documented above.