Wendy’s Guide to the Fleets of Earth Sector – Volume 1 Review

This is the latest ‘Wendy’s’ guide to be published by Independence Games for its rapidly-expanding ‘Earth Sector’ setting, an extension of its original Clement Sector background. It follows the familiar format of focussing on (in this case) specific countries and their space naval capabilities. Previous editions for the Clement Sector have looked at the navies on a planetary level, as nations in that sector tend to be more at a planetary level rather than a regional level as in the Earth Sector.

The book (containing 101 pages) is available from Drivethru RPG for $9.99 or for $24.99 for the PDF and print book. This being the first book for the Earth Sector, it looks at the respective navies of the following countries:

Argentina

Austrailia

Brazil

Canada

China

France

Germany

India

Japan

In addition, the full background and specifications for a Chinese Navy spacecraft are included in the book.

The nations that this first edition concentrates on are a good balance between some of the smaller navies (Canada) and more dominant powers of the Earth Sector (Germany, China). The structure of each countries section is broken down in the following way:

One to two pages of background which includes history and notable events in the navies past. Then the uniform is looked at, with the various types employed for commissioned officers and enlisted personnel. The navies ‘doctorine’ is described; this is the attitude taken to piracy, relationships with other countries and tactics in battle.

The next section ‘Fleet Organisation’ gets into the meat of how the navy is made up. This is broken down into more background text (location of major bases, areas of patrol) with tables for the bases and rank order for the command of groups of ships. This is followed by another table describing the hull and command classifications for that nation. The next few pages, depending on the size of the fleet lists the name, ship class (eg. Perth) and ship classification (eg. cruiser). An observation I made, which is not aimed as a criticism but purely thought-provoking, is that I noticed that the majority of the ships are of a ‘fighting’ capability and the numbers of support ships, such as fleet replenishment ships or tankers was very limited. It made me think of the numbers of ships that were involved in the Falklands War and the proportion of support vessels to fighting ships was much greater. I’d be interested to hear if anyone has any views on this; perhaps its a reflection of 24th-century capabilities where refuelling can be sourced from gas giants and replenishing food is more efficient. Or, is it because this is the way that 24th-century fleet engagements are conducted? If a fleet was to undertake a campaign (Falklands War-style) I wondered if the number of fleet support ships would be enough especially if you were combining large numbers of fighting vessels, for an overwhelming assault? I’m certainly no naval expert, the only background to this is from what I have read as someone who reads some military history.

This section covering all the countries mentioned brings us to page 82; the next couple of pages provide some tables with naval rank comparisons for commissioned officers and enlisted ranks for all the countries included in the book.

Page 85 rounds the book off with the ‘Type 035C (Houbei-class) Patrol Enforcement Ship, as operated by the Peoples Liberation Army Navy of China (PLAN). This features the background of the ship, specifications and deck layout, armament and operational duties. Though it is an obselescent type, the Chinese Navy still operates this as it still has value in anti-piracy and patrol duties. The ship is also featured on the cover and back page in colour.

Wendy’s Guide to the Fleets of Earth Sector – Volume 1 is a good solid book and resource for building the background for your Earth Sector Campaign. There is a good selection of colour and monochrome artwork by Bradley Warnes providing the characture illustrations, Ian Stead with the spacecraft (including some very nice isometric views of the Type 035C) and Michael Johnson with the Type 035C deck plans. The author Michael Johnson has written a great introductory start to the first of the Earth Sector ‘Wendy’s’ series and I’m looking forward to reading the next few releases, especially where he takes a look at the UK’s Royal Navy in the 24th century. This is definitely worth investing in for your Earth Sector adventures. I’d like to thank John Watts of Independence Games for kindly sending me a copy to review.

Other News

I wanted to make a note of a few new releases and pieces of news:

Independence Games have announced that their second Subsector Sourcebook: Hecate is available in PDF and print options, via DTRPG and the Independence Games web store. They are also offering a number of ‘deep cut’ promotions on certain books, so it is worth keeping an eye for announcements for these if you are thinking of picking up some of their books.

Stellagama Publishing have released ‘Cepheus Atom’, a post-apocalyptic setting based around the Cepheus Quantum rules set. The Sword of Cepheus print book continues to advance through premedia checking and it is hoped that this will be out very soon.

*Post Update 31st August*

After I posted the question regarding the perceived number of support ships, Michael Johnson sent this response via the comments section. Because of the length of the response and depending on how you read this post not everyone would see the comments at the bottom. So I have included it here as an addendum to the original post everyone can see how fleet ships are resourced in the Earth Sector. Thank you very much Michael for your kind and comprehensive reply! Its useful to see inside the ‘designers eye’ when you’re developing products.

Hi Steve

Just to answer your question regarding replenishment vessels, I gave a lot of thought to this when I started writing the first of the Wendy’s books for Earth Sector and will try and explain some of those thoughts below.

You certainly made the correct assumption in regards to the ability of any fleet engaged in combat operations within a system held by an enemy being able to refuel more readily than the Falklands Campaign undertaken by the Royal Navy in 1982. With a Zimm Drive’s requirement of 20% of the ship tonnage for a single two parsec transit, the number of tankers needed to supply a fleet with the fuel needed to transit away from the system that force may be investing would be quite high. It is easier to locate the support vessels (including any tankers) at a gas giant or ice body belt with suitable escorts while the main body of the fleet skip transits (in-system FTL) in-system to engage the defenders. Win or lose the fleet can skip transit back to the support vessels to replenish as needed and that would include full refuelling. Every starship carries enough Zimm drive fuel to make a number of skip transits. Please see Ships of Clement Sector – Vulkan Class Attack Boat Tender on page 42 for similar).

There is also the ship size cap of 7500 tonnes (as ships approach that tonnage the chance of the Zimm Drive failing is quite high) in play as well. The largest warships in commission are 5500 tonne battleships and the fleet carriers of the Japanese Space Navy. Many of the larger support ships listed would be around the 5000 tonne displacement.

So I attempted to balance the needs of each nation’s fleet with the number of support vessels that might be in active service at the time. I made the assumption that each nation would have several support vessels laid up in ordinary as well which could be recommissioned if required to provide additional fleet support.

Finally, a number of the larger more Clement Sector invested nations lost a lot of their naval support vessels when the Conduit collapsed. Many of those vessels have yet to be replaced.

By design John Watts of Independence Games has made planetary invasions a formidable if not near on impossible task and that would be no less a thing in Earth Sector. I also note that the last interstellar war in Earth Sector was 150 years before the present time of 2350 (Sino-Indian) as well and there were no large scale planetary invasions during that conflict. Now that certainly does not mean a referee could not tweak the setting to allow this and John’s excellent “Balancing Act” sourcebook provides the tools for that.

I hope that explains a bit about my thought processes when writing the first of the Earth Sector Wendy’s series.

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Cepheus Journal 001 Out Now

Just a quick announcement to say that the first issue of the Cepheus Journal is now available for download!

Featuring nine articles (over forty pages) covering a variety of subjects across the Cepheus Engine genre, it can be downloaded from the Cepheus Journal website:-

https://cepheusjournal.com/downloads/

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The Laserburn Scenarios Part 2 – Sewerville Shootout

Its back to one of the Laserburn Scenarios that I managed to pick up from eBay late last year, ‘Sewerville Shootout’ by Tabletop Games (TTG) which is dated December 1981. Written by Dave Kelly, it is presented in a yellow A4-size-ish card cover with a couple of additional card inserts detailing the sewers themselves. My copy has two copies of the upper first and second level maps, one of which has pencil marks indicating previous use. My players guide has several pencil marks on the mercenaries list, which I may try attempting to rub out. The back of the cover has a map of the lower level, which is clean. In addition, two A5-sized pamphlets are provided, one for the players and one for the umpire.

The players handout (single piece of A4 paper, folded into half as A5, only three sides are used) describes the situation; set in a complex of old sewers, the Android Liberation Front (ALF) has established a base in the partially collapsed tunnels and the Imperial Inquisition wants the problem dealt with. Hence you (the players) as a bunch of mercenaries are being sent to capture ALF members before they launch a predicted attack. Payment is earned by bringing out ALF members and deducted by killing them. There is a brief description of the sewers and what movement restrictions are in place, along with what kit the players can use in the sewers. The remainder of the players information lists the eight pre-generated mercenaries that the players can use if they wish. Upon reading this, a thought did cross my mind why so many mercenaries? What lies below in the sewers….

The umpires handout reveals more on this; there are plenty of hazards to contend with in the sewers; gas pockets of which there are eight to choose from, resulting in various negative effects on the players. These range from uncontrollable vomiting, lung irritants, mustard gas to explosions! There are a good range of random encounters as well; robots, rats, outcasts and things with tentacles. There are a number of tables with stats for the different types of robots encountered and for the groups of outcasts. These are people who ended up in the sewers for various reasons who are out to attack the players and potentially eat them…

Kill! Maim! Be Nasty! (A snapshot of Tony Yates’s artwork from the umpires guide)

Navigating through the sewers isn’t easy either. There are three levels which have to be traversed using the inspection wells, which randomly may not open as easily as the players would want. The sewer ‘sludge’ will impede the players and there is a big risk in them simply drowning. The umpire sets up many of the locations of where the inspections wells are, the location of the ALF base and the random encounter locations.

The last half page describes the outcome to the venture and what the players expect to find if they are successful enough to get this far.

Sewerville Shootout has a simple enough premise; shove enough players into a claustrophobic environment with movement restrictions and plenty of things to get in the way of their objective. On reading what the umpire has to throw at the players, I did wonder if it was balanced too much in favour of the umpire with the huge choice (and large chance) of something killing or disabling several players. I would be very surprised if many (or any) players reached the ALF base reasonably intact.

Artwork is provided from what I can make out, by Tony Yates (signed ‘APY81’) which is in his style of line art, so I’m pretty sure he provided the art. The scenario is presented in typical TTG / Laserburn style; photocopied papers, slightly off-centre layout, the odd typo or spelling mistake here and there. For me though, thats part of its appeal; the ‘rough and ready’ look that doesn’t have lots of glossy production. Its gritty and gets stuck in.

If you’re able to pick up a copy of Sewerville Shootout and intend to play it, I would definitely recommend having plenty of characters to hand, this one might end up as a bit of a ‘meat grinder’ scenario and spit most of them out!

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