Category Archives: New Player Articles

Entry Level Fleets on a Budget: The Relthoza

Hi all,

Welcome to the third instalment in our Entry Level Fleets on a Budget series. This time round we’re looking at the Relthoza, the vigorous and intimidating arachnoid race that sided with the Zenian League.

If you’ve not see parts 1 and 2 of this series, then hit these links for the Dindrenzi and Directorate.

Firstly, who are the Relthoza? To the outside they appear exceptionally intimidating, brutal creatures but the truth is far more complex; bound to a surprisingly complicated caste based structure they are nevertheless individual creatures with the capacity for self-will and expression; no extra-galactic, faceless hive minding going on here! The best way to describe a Relthozan would be as an arachnoid-like centaur; 4 limbs to move around on with a vertical thorax capped with a hunched over neck and head giving them a sinister aspect. They have a further 4 upper limbs ending in highly capable tendrils, allowing them a surprising amount of dexterity and agility for creatures of their size and imposing nature. They’re visage is one of human nightmares made manifest, ten eyes, six lidless orbs clustered at the front of the head with four larger ones for peripheral vision around the edge. They have a natural ability to magnify what they are looking at which, when combined with their dexterous appendages, allows them incredible skill at miniaturisation and nanotechnology. This horrific-looking creature is capped off with a set of imposing jaws, a mass of piercing and cutting implements capable of liquefying and consuming anything in it’s path. The great irony of this evolution into something which looks like the brain child of H R Giger and H P Lovecraft’s combined nightmares is that the Relthozan’s are vegetarians by choice unless absolutely necessary… yeah….

The Relthoza are one of the most original and interesting races in the FS:A universe and I highly recommend reading through their backstory in the Zenian League Fleet Guide, it’s well worth the time and I don’t want to spoil much more of the story. Suffice to say it consists of war, some “interesting” diplomatic customs and a greater explanation into their castes structure and way of life and fighting.

So, onto the list! I wanted to try and capture the essence of the Relthozan Fleet as an ambush force. Almost everything has either Stealth, Cloaking or System Network to take advantage of the Capital Ships protection. For those unfamiliar with these rules Stealth Systems means that any attack at 20″ or greater must re-roll all successful hit rolls BEFORE rolling for exploding dice, PD, shields etc. giving the ship great early game survivability, particularly against armies that need to pile on an Alpha Strike such as the Dindrenzi.

Cloaking Fields allow ships to mask their presence from the enemy, becoming difficult to find and therefore hit. During the Command Segment, a model with Cloaking must state if it is active or inactive. If it is active any Direct Weapon Attacks made against the model automatically count as Impeded unless it would otherwise be blocked. I.e. the attacker halves the attack dice in the pool to shoot at you. The downside to this is that in order to maintain the Cloaking Field the power draw is such that your attacks are also reduced to half dice.  Finally, System Network, and I’ll quote the book here as it’s far easier: If a model with Systems Network is within the Command Distance of one or more friendly models which have active Cloaking Fields and also have Systems Network, this model automatically gains the Stealth Systems MAR. For reference, this means that if you have any of your ships within command distance of a T1 ship with it’s cloak active it gains the Stealth Systems MAR – even if that ship is another T1!!! Put a carrier and a battleship in command range of each other and activate both their cloaks and suddenly they both have Stealth… for free… pretty awesome right?!

I wanted the list to take maximum advantage of this little quirk of the Relthoza while giving a solid base from which to expand into higher points. A decent mix of tiers with some SRS support in both offensive and defensive capacities was a requirement and it shouldn’t break the bank.

Nexus Class Battleship

  • +2 AP x2 (+4 total)
  • +2 Command Distance
  • Biohazard Primaries
  • 3 Interceptor Wings

Theridion Class Carrier

  • Shunt Matrix
  • +1 Command Distance
  • Self Repair
  • 6 Bomber Wings
  • 2 Interceptor Wings

Assassin Class Cruiser Group w/ 2 Ships plus Huntsman Class Heavy Cruiser

  • Corrosive Primaries on all ships

Widow Class Frigate Squadron w/ 4 Ships

Widow Class Frigate Squadron w/ 4 Ships

During the early game the fleet acts as a single swarm, keeping in tight and making the most of the Systems Network to limit the amount of incoming damage on all ships. This frees up your deployment a little bit as you are less reliant on terrain to get that long range protection meaning you can be a bit more aggressive with your ship placement. This does mean that you won’t be putting out a huge number of dice in attack early on but your ships have their optimum band at the 8-16″ bracket so you want to be coming in close with as many ships in tact as possible to put the maximum number of dice you can on the table.

I tooled up the Nexus to be a capable assault carrier as well as a ship of the line in order to give it a little bit of late game punch. Put some biohazard markers down on a ship to strip crew points and use precision shots and the bomber wings on the carrier to do some targeted damage to key systems then launch a 10 AD boarding assault. It is worth keeping in mind that a boarding assault can be launched from a Cloaked vessel without halving the AD too as it is not a direct weapon attack giving you some much needed protection, particularly against those nasty Sorylian broadsides with weapon shielding!

The Carrier is a second line support ship but she packs a hell of a punch. With cloaking and stealth in the early game to reduce incoming damage she should be making it into her best range without too many lost hull points and with a 9 dice broadside she can hold her own. In addition to that she carries 6 bombers and 2 interceptors meaning that she can put the hurt on large ships, outright destroy or cripple tier 2s and gains protection from boarding and torpedoes. The shunt matrix is there as a two fold item; firstly, it allows her to get the jump on the enemy, disappearing from one arc and appearing in another, the rear for example to further reduce incoming fire and give your own a boost. Secondly, it’s a decent get out of jail card in case something is getting too close and you need a quick escape! Also, because it is a secondary movement you can launch a bomber attack in your first phase then boost away once they’ve returned to base!

The cruisers are a solid and capable line filler and come with stealth systems and a cloaking field as standard meaning you can use them a bit more freely than the other ships. Deploy them on a flank or as a second wave without losing those MARs that help keep the other ships in the fleet alive. The corrosive weapons are fantastic, helping to strip away hull points even after you’ve brought them around to a new target. They work well in tandem with the battleship, reducing the PD of a vessel through hull points while the Nexus takes out crew points with the biohazard making an enemy ship an even more profitable boarding target! The Huntsman also has Self Repair to keep it in the fight, don’t forget this as it could be the difference between your opponent gaining 2 battlelog points for half a squadron and him gaining 4 and you losing 2 for the squadron being wiped out; in a Patrol Fleet game that 6 point swing can easily lose you the game.

The frigates are primarily in the list as Tier 1 protection. Keep them within command distance to get the advantages of Stealth as they don’t have cloaking fields of their own. This will admittedly only help in the early stages but every little helps with these guys and going into turns 3-4 with the majority of these squadrons in tact could mean that you can hold your opponents tier 3s at bay rather than them running rampant around the rear of your battleship or carrier. Anyone who has played against or with the Aquans know just how dangerous a 3 frigate squadron can be to a tier 1 if the dice are hot! And don’t even get me started on Sorylian corvettes…

As for cost, this fleet sits at an identical cost to the Dindrenzi at £66.60 if bought from Dark Sphere:

  • Relthoza Patrol Fleet Box – £35.10
  • Carrier Group Box – £18
  • Frigate Group Box – £13.50

Plus P&P as usual or free if done by collection. The alternative is to buy from Spartan direct which would set you back £78.50 for the same ships but does give you the option of getting the Carrier as a single model instead of the squadron box for £18 but seeing as this is the same price as the box set from DS I don’t really see the point.

In terms of expansion from here the first and most obvious thing to do would be to add the escorts from the Carrier box to either the carrier or the battleship, the latter being my preference as they each have 2 AP for that late game assault as well as an additional 1 PD and don’t get left behind if you need to shunt your carrier. You also have the 4 Nidus Class Frigates left over; these ships are particularly interesting as they each come with 1 wing option meaning that for a round 100 points you can put down a 4 ship squadron of difficult targets with Systems Network and the ability to drop a 4 wing SRS token… pretty potent! Don’t forget to deploy near a tier 1 for the first couple turns to take advantage of stealth on them too!

Hopefully any budding Relthozan admirals have found this useful and if any established players have any C&Cs then please comment below! Come back soon for our look into the versatile and solid Terran Alliance!

Until next time!


Entry Level Fleets on a Budget: The Directorate

Hi All,

If you’re just joining the series then you can find Part 1: The Dindrenzi Federation here:

Entry Level Fleets on a Budget: Dindrenzi Federation

Now, once you’ve gone away, read that and come back we’ll dive in!

So, The Directorate; evil, faceless megacorporations who work for nothing but profit and have declared war to further their own ends. The smallest of the major races they are disproportionately powerful considering. Their origin stems back to the earliest days of the Terran expansion when the Charter was required to turn to private funding to keep it’s ships moving and the wormhole gate network built and functioning. All that changed with the discovery of the Fold Space Drive; the Alliance, overly focused on the wormhole network, put the development of the FSD out to tender to smaller firms, allowing the Hark-Williams corporation to win the bid and then relocate out to the distant Fathoms Reach.

With the rapid uptake of FSD travel, Hark-Williams’ fortunes exploded, allowing them to invest in dedicated ship building facilities putting them outside of Terran control entirely. From there they began to form what would become the Directorate, Hark-Williams offering deals to specialist companies to expand their offering to encompass all the myriad products and services a colonisation expedition would need becoming a one stop shop for all expansionist needs. This eventually allowed them to pull away from Terran control entirely becoming their own entity.

Now what would be the best way to go about collecting a fleet of these money-centric, evil, exploitative, corporate suits? In the same way as with the Dindrenzi, the best place to start is a copy of the Patrol Fleet; a Battleship, set of cruisers and frigates is a good balanced starting point. Plus, a set of tokens, TAC cards, turn template and battle log to round out to a playable battle group. From here I would be looking to expand in the tier 2 and tier 3 slots. The Directorate are great at boarding assaults so this list is going to focus on how to capitalise on that through a combined arms approach. A unit of heavy cruisers with some potent close range fire power from the flanks, shunt them in close with the cloaking fields up and then unleash hell in a rear arc of something powerful. From there, add in some numbers with a squad of Drones to get access to some cyberwarfare toys, one of the specialities of the Directorate.

Eliminator Class Battleship

  • +1 Shield
  • Biohazard Beams
  • Special Forces

Abraxas Class Cruiser Squadron w/ 3 Ships

  • Special Forces

Subjugator Class Heavy Cruiser Squadron w/ 3 Ships

Liquidator Class Frigate Squadron w/ 4 Ships

Hostility Class Drone Squadron w/ 4 Ships

The plan with this fleet is to reserve the Heavy Cruisers for a shunt entry, pick your target for the main boarding assault and target it with the Biohazard Beams and the Cyberwarfare to lower the crew points and put some critical effects on it before launching a linked assault from the special forces Cruisers or the Battleship. Meanwhile, the heavy cruisers put the hurt on something big and unpleasant while the frigates chase down the pesky enemy T3 small ships.

As for cost, this fleet does clock in at a little higher than most of the starter fleets without leaving much for expansion into the 1200 point bracket beyond another Frigate squadron but it does leave you a nice 400 point block to add a Dreadnought with… *evil laugh*. So from Dark Sphere:

  • Directorate Patrol Fleet Box – £35.10
  • Directorate Cruiser Group Box – £19.80
  • Directorate Frigate and Corvette Box – £13.50

This brings us to a grand total of £68.40 for the jump off point plus the same postage/collection options as the Dindrenzi. Alternatively this would bring you to £85 if you bought it solely from Spartan Games, just for comparison.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into a jump off point for the Directorate, check back soon for the introduction to the Relthoza – the brutal and technologically advanced xenos of the Zenian League!

Until next time!

Entry Level Fleets on a Budget: Dindrenzi Federation

Hi All,

I’ve noticed that FS:A is finally getting some attention; at least in my FLGS in the Bournemouth area with 3 of my gaming group now trying to play more regularly, another 3 looking at getting fleets and others who have expressed interest in the game while watching us play. As such, I thought it might be good to put together some basic Patrol Fleets for each of the major races which can be picked up for around the £60-70 mark. Now, obviously you plus your gaming mate could go out and buy the Return of the Overseers or two Patrol Fleet boxes of your chosen factions and call it a day but that’s not necessarily for everyone. With most pick up games being in the 800 to 1200 region having about 5-600 points from your split core set or single boxed set isn’t going to get you very far beyond your first toe-dipping experience and odds are you bought your stuff online unless you happen to live near a particularly well stocked game shop so it’ll help save on postage to buy your first 800 point block in a single go!

A couple of small disclaimers before we go on however; firstly, these lists are not intended to be the base of tournament lists but fun, interesting mixes of the basic ships for each faction to get people into the game in a sound way, introducing the various play styles and options available to the player. Secondly, value for money was a driving aspect of these lists and so are they are mainly build from ships that are going to be coming up a lot in lists of almost any game size rather than dropping £30+ on a Dreadnought in the first 2 weeks of playing. Thirdly, I am not sponsored by or endorsed by any store (web or brick and mortar) in particular but any which I mention during these articles but these are people I’ve bought from before and had good experiences with. So with the boring bit out of the way lets get to the interesting bit!

The Dindrenzi Federation; frontiersmen, colonisers and more recently the mortal enemies of the Terrans after declaring their independence from the Terran Alliance. As a rule the Dindrenzi focus on overwhelming forward facing firepower, with almost every ship featuring a potent rail gun system capable of reach out up to 48″ and touching the enemy (and it isn’t exactly a tickle when they do…). If the concept of strapping engines and armour to a giant rail gun and pointing it at the enemy is something you like the sound of then the Dindrenzi are for you. They often feature auxiliary weapons systems in the form of Gun Racks (rotating turrets that can shoot either Port or Starboard but not both) and some fearsome indirect weaponry through both torpedoes and mines to help lend them some versatility. This is because the Dindrenzi pay for the sheer hull shattering force of putting a steel rod the size of a bus through an opponents ship by the fact that their forward guns are fixed, making manoeuvres and ship placement critical, especially in the early game to put the hurt on enemy ships before they get to you. The sons of Rense are not helpless when the enemy does close ranks, able to protect the aft with their mines and access to fighter/bomber support and the like but they best like to be 12-24″ away from the enemy and pointing straight at them for the most part.

So, where to begin? As with all the major races the best place to start is the Patrol Fleet boxed set. A battleship, 3 cruisers and 6 frigates? Oh go on then. I got into the game when the Storm Zone boxed set was available and started there as I split the cost with a mate but my second purchase was one of these and it was beyond worth it. From there, there are any number of ways you could go: Destroyers, Cruisers, Gunships, Carrier, another Battleship, Battle Cruisers… it can be a little overwhelming. Below is a list which I would say is a good starting point for a budding Dindrenzi Admiral. You’re not going to get full use of all the models at 800 points but that’s ok as you easily have enough models to be able to make a relatively gentle jump up to 1200 when you feel ready.

Nausicaa Class Battleship

  • -1 Turn Limit
  • +2 Mines
  • Remove Ablative Plating
  • Double Mines
  • High Energy Kinetics
  • Split Fire Gun Racks
  • Scatter Upgrade for Gun Racks

Cataphract Class Battlecruiser

  • -1 Turn Limit
  • Double Mines
  • High Energy Kinetics
  • 2 Frigate Escorts

Secutor Class Cruiser Squadron w/ 3 ships

Thraex Class Frigate Squadron w/3 ships

Thraex Class Frigate Squadron w/3 ships

It might seem a bit top heavy with the two tier 1’s accounting for a disproportionate amount of the fleet but the Dindrenzi T1 ships are incredibly good and will really put the pain down on anything they set their sights on. Plus if you buy all this as boxed sets you have a second Battlecruiser just waiting for a Battle Fleet level game and believe me when I say they are brutal when they work as a pair. The Secutor Class is a solid T2 Cruiser but I’ve found that once they start taking damage they just can’t put the dice down that you’d want them to so avoid a second squadron until higher points brackets unless you really want to go for maximum number of activations. The Thraex Class hits well above its weight with 12AD from a full squadron at 12-24″ plus a further 8 torpedoes! That’s near definitely putting a crit on most medium capitals and able to threaten some battleships and carriers!

Mines are your friend with this list. The enemy is going to move past you, you will get broadsided, it will hurt. But just think of all the linked together minefields you’ve been dropping for the 3 turns before that happens! The Nausicaa is dropping either 2 7AD minefields or 1 10AD minefield every time she moves. The Cataphract is hardly slouching with another 2×5 or 1x7AD and the cruisers can each drop a 4AD or combine for a 6 or 8AD depending on the requirement. To put it into context, your battleship is leaving a free range band 3 rail gun shot against anything that goes near her aft. That is not to be sniffed at.

I can hear the question from here: But how much will all that cost?! Good news! Not a lot; if all required boxed sets are bought from Dark Sphere:

  • Dindrenzi Patrol Fleet Box – £35.10
  • Dindrenzi Battlecruiser Box – £18.00
  • Dindrenzi Frigate and Corvette Box – £13.50

This comes to a grand total of £66.60 if you’re able to collect from their store in London (well worth a visit anyway!) or £7.60 additional for postage to a total of £73.20. As an FYI to buy the above direct from Spartan is £83 before postage. This also gives you an additional Battlecruiser, Frigate and 4 Corvettes you can use to bring your list up to 1200 points for when you’re ready too!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first of 6 looks into the entry level of Firestorm Armada on a budget and come back soon for round 2: The Directorate!

Until next time!