Lysander & Hiruko
With Lighters on the way, let’s find out a bit more!
This Friday sees the release of a new class of ship for each faction! The Lighters are small vessels, just a little larger than a Corvette. Each of them is pretty unique though, and fill very different roles in your fleets.
Today we’re going to have a sneak peek at some rules for the UCM Lysander and the Scourge Hiruko, and find out a little more about the design process from Dropfleet master David Lewis!
UCM Lysander Stealth Lighter
The Lysander should be familiar to Dropzone and Dropfleet veteran players, and Hope’s Spark plays a prominent role in Battle for Earth! For more information, over to Dave!
The UCM’s Lysander has been a crucial element of their background since early on – it was the very first named ship class, way back in Reconquest: Phase One. The class was instrumental in the emerging Reconquest and allowed the UCM to explore without immediately getting vaporised, not to mention a hook for good old subterfuge. I’d always pictured them having a place in Dropfleet and this spurred me on to design sub-frigate tonnage ships for every faction that fought differently from corvettes, which already covered their niche.
Intended role in-game always informs my sculpting (and leads most projects), so stealthy capability would be central to the design, though it had to belong with the UCM’s regular ships. I’d always pictured the Lysander as a sleeker strike carrier, so I went for a dagger-like feel. It carries much the same payload as a New Orleans, so needed the familiar in-scale doors to tie those two classes together (I’m regrettably familiar with those, after making and painting 100 of them in 10mm for the Avenger project!) As an infiltration ship, it forgoes the turret amidships – if you’re firing weapons with this, things have probably gone awry!
I usually sculpt the UCM ship first in any new line, creating a scale reference. Lighters needed to be smaller than frigates (generally), but larger than corvettes, with a standard 2 Hull Points (since they can’t be crippled, ships with 3 HP
are often tougher than those with 4!) I went for something slightly more substantial than 2HP would suggest to make the miniature more satisfying and to give me space to work detail – their fragility in-game and background comes from light armour and superstructure, not just from small size.
Thanks Dave! Honestly, he’s been asking to make the Lysander for going on three years now.
But what does it do? Well as a Stealth Lighter, that should be pretty obvious.
Actually, what it doesn’t do is have Stealth! Surprise!
The Lysander indeed doesn’t have the Stealth special rule, but it does have a Signature of 0″ and Full Cloak. That means it’s never getting any Spikes and with 0″ Sig will never need to go on Silent Running. It’s basically always Silent Running!
It’s pretty fast, and as Dave mentioned, comes with 2 Hull. Although as one of the more esoteric ships in the UCMF, it is indeed Rare.
That’s a pretty decent statline for a little ship! It’s got weapons of course, and Dropships too. Plus a little extra that I’m not spoiling for you right now.
Scourge Hiruko Boarding Cutter
This little leech is a real departure for Dropfleet, doing something only really done on a tiny counter basis before: boarding! And it doesn’t take no for an answer. Dave?
We’ve always had a ‘conflicted’ relationship with ramming in Dropfleet – being Sci-fi nuts we love the imagery while knowing in our cold brains how bonkers it is from a physics and accuracy perspective. Every gamer who’s every played with ships wants to shout ‘GIVE ME RAMMING SPEED!’ at some point, even just to purge it (temporarily) from the psyche. As such, we built ramming into the rules late in Dropfleet’s writing, but with a caveat: it isn’t really ramming, but getting close enough for a drive detonation or point-blank fire to do disproportionate damage. Being certifiably insane, it’s restricted to a last-ditch play for a doomed ship wanting to go down in a blaze of glory.
Still, if any faction might design a perfectly healthy ship around the concept, it would have to be the Scourge. The notion wormed its way into my brain (there’s the right metaphor) and refused to crawl out. As a faction with hordes of living killing machines (that aren’t afraid to die for the race), it fits their ethos while conjuring all kinds of Xenomorphically nasty visuals aboard the suddenly treacherous corridors of the doomed victim. So, how would this work? Point defence and hulls meters thick made small boarding craft less likely to make it, and what could be more cinematic that a octopus-like monstrosity latching on and injecting its living payload? With that and the faction’s usual style in mind, an aggressively brutal, unsubtle, front-heavy design quickly fell into place. Looking at it, there’s little doubt on how it does its killing!
Alright, that’s enough from him. Back in the box, Dave! Shoo!
So how exactly does a ship like that attack the enemy?
The Hiruko has a Plasma Torch, which although only Close Action, is always going to get through Point Defence thanks to the Beam special rule. With D3 shots (oh and they come in squads of 1-3 by the way) and a 4+ lock, a squad of these can do a fair amount of damage before they collide.
And the Ramming Ship special rule makes that collision a worthy attack! Acting as a much larger ship for ramming, your opponent will struggle to prioritise targets, especially considering just how many of these little leeches you can afford in your fleet. Disgorging a whole cargo bay full of Eviscerators and other such nasty opponents comes with its own problems too, as all the ramming hits have Corruptor. You can’t fight off those invaders easily! Yes, it’s a one-way trip, but to deal a bunch of damage and rack up those Corruptor hits it’s definitely worth the sacrifice.
So that’s a little info about the brand new Lighters for the UCM and Scourge -we’ll be back with more info on the rest later in the week, and of course all of these rules will be free to access on Friday in the Dropfleet list builder (we’ll also have some fancy looking stat sheets for download too).
Are you looking forward to adding some stealth to your UCM or some aggression to your Scourge? Let us know what you think of these new ships!
Harpocrates & Helium
It’s the PHR and Shaltari’s turn for a close up look.
We’re back to have an in depth look at the design process and a little teaser of the rules for the new Lighters, which will be hitting the webstore this Friday!
Lighters are a brand new class of ship, bigger than a Corvette, smaller than a Frigate, and are all unique. We’ve had a look at the stealthy UCM Lysander and a bonkers ramming ship with the Scourge Hiruko, so we already know each is a bit different!
Today we’re heading out to the Abandonists of the Post-Human Republic, and the utterly alien Shaltari.
PHR Harpocrates Guerrilla Lighter
You may recognise the energy plates on these Lighters. They’re a new sort of design for Fleet, but owe their looks to Zone! Here’s designer David Lewis with some more info.
The Erebos strike walker has been a part of Dropzone since Reconquest: Phase One, with electronic warfare always core to the PHR’s feel. I’d imagined its Dropfleet equivalent for some time, most usefully in the form of a small ship with the potential to be massive backside irritant for opponents! As in many wargames, it isn’t always the monstrosities that shape and change the game competitively, but the small, handy units that can easily slot into existing fleets. This makes them a fun challenge for rules writers!
Physically, I wanted large panels distinct from previous PHR structures in Dropfleet, while clearly belonging to the faction and harking back to the Erebos. Since this is the heart and soul of the rules for this ship, I sculpted the whole model around these projector structures. With small ships especially, it’s crucial to suggest a function visually from the other end of the table, so this one’s distinct from regular PHR vessels while being part of the family. Any PHR ship wants to look sleek and advanced – hopefully you’ll agree I’ve held on to that!
Personally this is one of my favourite looking Lighters. The sleek look echoes the PHR Destroyers, and those big energy plates really show its role even from a distance!
Yeah yeah, we know what you’re after – you want rules, right? Well you’re not getting the full statline today, or the points (you’ll have to wait for them on the Fleet Builder tomorrow). However, I will show you the biggest draw for the Harpocrates: the weapon.
On first glance a single shot weapon with a 5+ Lock and absolutely zero damage doesn’t look great.
But the EM Sabotage rule. Holy moly! If you want to annoy your opponent, this is the ship to do it with. Forcing an enemy ship onto Silent Running means you’re knocking its maneuverability right down and also crippling its damage output.
Bearing in mind this works on ANY ship (yes, including Dreadnoughts) and suddenly one of the smallest ships in the game becomes one of the biggest threats. Make no mistake: the Harpocrates is to be feared.
Speaking of things to be feared, how about a shiny new yellow and orange Shaltari ship? It might not look scary, but just you wait. What did you do here, Dave?
Early in Dropfleet’s development, we decided to limit the Shaltari’s teleportation tech to their deployment of ground forces (besides the occasional command card and special rule). With the new mechanics of shield tech, this made the faction play differently in Fleet rather than simply being a port of the ground game. This made sense with the background too (the mothership is the end of the chain – there’s no mother-mothership for one to teleport through, not yet anyway!) Still, the tech was there and we made the decision to bring it into Dropfleet in a limited way, for specialised ships. This was a natural and plausible fit for smaller ships, so it found a home in the Lighters project.
Of all factions in Dropfleet, the Shaltari are physically the most eldritch and unknowable – they can take many forms and every structure shouldn’t necessarily ‘say’ what it does in a way that a 2020 human can understand! As with all sculpts, it should be readily identifiable from others, so I went for a new, horseshoe-type superstructure with the intention of suggesting manoeuvrability, lightness, aggression and speed. It certainly belongs to Shaltari, but there’s a new shape there to go with this new and unpredictable tactical option!
The Helium definitely says “aggression” to me! That forward facing look definitely says that you don’t want to be on the wrong side of it (and that’s definitely the front).
Alright, thanks Dave! That was very nice writing, I’ll ask the warden for extra rations for you tonight.
This little ship utilises the Voidgate network in a way that we haven’t seen in Dropfleet, and it’s something that Shaltari opponents are probably never going to get used to!
The Helium has fairly standard Shaltari stats, and is super mobile thanks to the Vectored special rule. Almost undetectable with its shields down, it’s hard to hit, and a massive 16″ move will keep it out of harm’s way. However, that’s not all.
The Void Skip special rule means it’s equally good at getting out of combat as it is at getting into it. Moving it all the way down a Voidgate Network means these ships can get all the way across the table easily (and don’t forget you can be more aggressive thanks to the Selenium Heavy Voidgate), and position your ships in the most opportune place to make best use of their short ranged Pulse Blasters. The battlefield is never going to be the same!
So when we said “unique” we really meant it. The Lighters (or Cutters or Voidflyers) were all designed around niche roles in their respective Fleets, bringing ideas together that are worlds apart. They’re only small, but we foresee them having a big impact on your games!
What’s more, they’re going up on the webstore tomorrow! We’ll be back in the morning to have a look at the remaining Seneca Detonator, so if you’re a Resistance player (or want to know what your oppponents are going to be bringing against you), stop back then!