Friday, June 28, 2013

Battlefleet Gothic - Cyclops Cluster Campaign

Cyclops Cluster Campagin

Every year, or nearly every year, my best friend comes to America to visit for about 2 weeks. Each year we try to play as many games as we can and we generally try to theme it around a particular game system. This time its going to be Gamesworkshop's Battlefleet Gothic (BFG). I know Games Workshop isn't always fashionable in historical gaming circles but I will freely admit that two of the greatest games I have ever played have been Mordheim and Battlefleet Gothic.

BFG is a space combat game set in the 40k universe which very closely resembles WW1/WW2 naval combat. All of the usual Warhammer 40k races are represented in the core rules or in various supplements. It has been out of production for nearly a decade but I can still find sufficient models on Ebay to build a couple of fleets. I actually received the original game for Christmas the year it was released and played tons of games against my brother so there is major nostalgia value to be had.

I am usually an Eldar player in the 40k universe (even though I havent played 40k for many years and several editions) and my inclination was to pick Eldar for this campaign. Unfortunately the Eldar are so powerful and so unbalanced that their very use in battle has been labeled a war crime, or at least a crime against fun gaming. I am still planning on building an Eldar fleet although more for the fun of it than any other reason. Its possible that a third party might want to play a game or two in our campaign so Id like to have the ships on hand.

Having ruled out the Eldar I opted to go with the Imperial Fleet. While the good guys is a very relative term in the 40k universe this is as close as it gets. Their models look awesome and the lean towards a combination of gunnery and special weapons particularly torpedos. I actually still have a number of cruisers from the original game I got years ago so it saves me a few bucks on ships as well. My friend opted for Orks, a fleet I have never faced before. They favor high firepower short range weapons in combination with ramming and boarding assaults. Unfortunately we have to start this fleet from scratch but six months ought to be more than enough time to put a fleet together.

We are both big fans of campaigns (from Mordheim) so we decided to run our games as a campaign based on the BFG campaign rules. The campaign is based on a map and controlling various star systems that give you resources. You earn (or lose) resources and renown by fighting for control of these systems. I haven't actually ever played it but it seems like over the course of a campaign you ships will get increasingly veteran (if they survive) but will also become more dilapidated as battle damage is patched and field expedient retrofits lower the ships combat ability. I really love the idea of this as it dissuaded the kind of all or nothing throw everything you have at the enemy style of play. Having a cruiser crippled or destroyed represents a real loss in game terms that will have to be made good with scant resources.

I decided to set the campagin just after the events described in the Battlefleet gothic rulebook and backstory. The Imperium has emerged victorious at horrendous cost. The Orks are taking advantage of the Imperium's weakness to launch an all out invasion of the Cyclops Cluster.

The Cyclops Cluster Campaign

In the months and years following Lord Admiral Ravensburg's great victory at Gethsemane and the shattering of the Despoilers war fleets the Imperial Navy was left to try to pick up the pieces of the Gothic Sector. Despite victory in space the war weary systems of the Sector would not know peace for many years. Rebellions began under the vile banner of the Despoiler continued on dozens of worlds and the scattered remnants of the Chaos war fleets continued to harass Imperial shipping wherever they could. Fortunately for the Imperium Eldar pirate activity decreased markedly following the alliance and their sleek warships were largely absent beyond the occasional siting in the nebulas and other such barren regions of space.

Much less promising was the situation in the Cyclops cluster. Long a hotbed of activity for Ork pirates and raiders these loathsome Xenos had expanded their power during the Gethsemane campaign. In order to win his great victory Lord Admiral Ravensburg had stripped every sector of shipping in order to concentrate his battle fleet. The resulting vacuum allowed the Orks, thus far kept in check by the Cyclopes squadron almost unchallenged mastery of the sector. Ork invasions began on a number of worlds almost immediately and within months a full scale war had erupted.

Fortunately for the beleaguered Imperial guard regiments and thinly stretched Planetary Defense Forces in early M41.151 a large Imperial squadron emerged from the Immaterium to once again contest the space lanes. The surviving ships of the Cyclops squadron had returned to face this new and desperate peril.

Eran Canticus ~ A History of the Gothic War


Star Map of the Cyclops Cluster
 The Map above shows the layout of the Cyclops Cluster. Players fight for control of worlds which provide him with resources to buy fresh unit and repair battle damage to his fleet. Players may attack systems adjacent to them and thus can spread their influence by winning victories.

The Imperials will begin (as the rules state) with defacto control of all systems but in order to represent the Ork Waaaaagh! I will immediately cede control of D3 worlds to the Ork commander to represent worlds that have been overrun before the Imperial counterstrike can arrive. Hive worlds and Forge worlds will be Imperial at the start of the campaign as these worlds would be both populace and heavily defended.

So the stage is set. Over the next few months I will set about painting the fleet and building terrain and hopefully some epic space battles will ensue.

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