Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Zenithian War Rocket: Review & Tutorial: What is Cooler than a Car with Fins?

Answer: A Spaceship with Fins! 

If you read Saga of the Missing Package, then you know I spent a good month eagerly awaiting some spaceships from Hydra Miniatures.  Last night I could wait no longer. After several hours pinning some very tiny fiddly minis and needing time for some green stuff to set, I opened up the bags containing my Zenithian fleet.  Shown above: 1 Zenithian Squadron (9 Class I & 3 Class II) and a single Class III & Class IV. 

At the moment there are four different fleets available for the War Rocket line, each with Rockets designated as Class I, II, III & IV. The fifth fleet, Space Pirates, was previewed recently on TGN and are gorgeous. 

Upon opening the bags of miniatures, this is what you find:
Taking a peek at the other fleet I purchased, the Imperial Fleet, these might be the most trouble free for assembly. The Imperial Class III & IV have several pieces to assemble while these have only a separate gun for the III & IV Class, and the I & II are single casting.  As you can see the III & IV are resin while the I & II are white metal. 
One thing I thought was very clever, is that in addition to the size of the ships being used to distinguish the Class, they also have a corresponding number of fins for it's class:  The Class I Rocket has one fin, and on up to the Class IV with four fins.  So in the depths of space if your scanners fail you and you're uncertain if the ship is large, or merely close: count the fins! 

I was greatly impressed with the quality of casting.  
There was a minimum of flash and mold lines.  One of the Class I rockets had a small section of its fin that seemed to be incomplete: perhaps it broke in shipping, perhaps a casting flaw. It was the only example of this, and was not very significant.  I'm handy with green stuff, so I just completed the fin myself.  The resin was also very smooth.  I saw no flaws at all with the Class III and only a few small bubbles along the edge of the rim on the Class IV: very easy to fill.  

   Close up of the top & bottom of a Class I Zenithian Rocket.  Very little clean up work required.  Beautiful.

First small problem I found was the flight stands.  Plastic flight stands are notorious for breaking; snapping inside the connection of metal models. And as you can see the connection stub of the flight stand is far too thin for the connection hole.  I first drilled one for this, and quickly realized it was a great waste of time for something that would only snap in due time.  So I decided on this:
Clip the stub off the flight stand. It is then only a little smaller than the hole.  Reinforce the bond with a touch of green stuff, glue with super glue and you're set.  Not much Tutorial needed here:  the design is simple and trouble-free.  I did substitute a few flight stands of different heights, just to add some variety in mine. 

Note:  Do take care to line up the Rocket so that it faces forward with a flat edge of the hex base, not a point.  If you plan to use them to play War Rocket this will be required.  

The Class III & IV have metal flight stands and are a closer fit.  The Class III is a little looser. Since flight stands tapers I clipped about an 1/8 of an inch off the top of the flight stand, making sure this wouldn't interfere when the ships are close: it doesn't: the larger class rockets are situated higher than the others.  

Here is a completed Class I Zenithian Rocket. Simple & Stylish. 

A sense of scale: Front Left: Class I.  Front Right: Class II.  Back Left: Class IV.   Back Right: Class III

The fleet nearly assembled: just waiting for the Class III & IV to get their heavy front arc weapons. 
The finished picture is at the top of this article. 

I'm already thinking I should have got 2 Class III Rockets for each fleet. 

I didn't know much yet about the War Rocket rules.  What motivated me most was the appeal of the miniatures:  I am a big fan of spaceship miniatures, and figured if the rules turned out to not be for me, then I'd still have nice miniatures for use in other systems.  I haven't finished reading the rules fully, but have given a casual look through and an in-depth look at the mechanics of the various fleets to see what my two fleets are in the scheme of things in this game and setting.  I chose the Zenithian and Imperial for form, with no concept of their function.  

The first thing that caught my attention is how distinct each fleet is within a very simple game mechanic by the clever system of different movement types. Each fleet has its own movement technology, and so functions very differently from the others in-game.  

The Zenithians are the inscrutable enemy of mankind. Very little is known about them and their technology is arguably the highest in the known galaxy.  In game terms, this means they are the most maneuverable (even if not the flat-out fastest) of the fleets.  The mechanic the rules use to represent saucer shaped spaceships is elegant and simple brilliance.  They look like they'll be a lot of fun to field.  They are also a bit on the brittle side, so if you enjoy, as I do, 'finesse'  fleets, then you'll likely enjoy these! 

The rule book looks very well done, nicely organized and though only black & white inside, the art is suitably retro and the black and white illustrations add to this, rather than detract.  In the future I'll do a Review & Tutorial for the Imperial Fleet as well, and eventually a review of the game, when I get a chance to play it.  

So how do I rate the Zenithian Fleet?

Casting: 9/10
Cleverness of Design: 10/10
Aesthetics:  10/10

I'll be looking forward to painting these! 


Pete said...

Just got into War Rocket myself, and it was this same fleet that pushed me over the edge (but somehow I ended up painting Valkeeri rockets instead... go figure). I hemmed and hawed over the flight stands for a long time before coming to the same conclusion you did. Looking forward to seeing them painted!

Dan J said...

Fantastic - I just saw these for the first time yesterday, and have been looking for reviews. The UFO's are great, but I absolutely love the pirates - they're a must buy for me now.

Have you played the game at all? Any chance of a general review of the game itself?

DanJ said...

Ugh, apologies... I accidently posted the 'excitement before I re-read the entire post' version of a reply. I look forward to hearing more about what you have to say about the system in the future...

Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks guys!
I'm looking forward to having time to paint these.. shouldn't be very difficult, just a matter of finding the time.

Dan: I know what you mean: seeing the pictures of the pirates I thought "there's another fleet I'll have to get'.. they're just so very cool.

When I get a chance to play the game I'll do a review for sure.

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