Two for the price of one

With the most recent release, everything in the latest expansion "Seas Aflame" is now out (well, except they do not have flyers for Kingdoms of Men - I know Mantic is not planning on making ships for this faction (using the Black Seas ships from Warlord), but I don't expect Warlord to actually make flyers for them.  This would just be one blister after all).  Yes, that means the Northern Alliance / Varangur have arrived.

This is an interesting release, as they use the same ships, but have different fleet rules and upgrades.  So lets take a look!

Of course the starter box has the fleet rules.  The cards that the fleets share have both symbols in the upper right, and cards for only one fleet (like fleet upgrades) only have the one symbol

They also include upgrade tokens for both fleets.  So you get two sets of cards for the price of one!

The ships (except for the named XL ship) are all shared between the fleets.

But each fleet has it's own spell book and unique spell.

As in most previous releases, the resin spruelettes are numbered based on the army (or fleet in this case), model and the spruelette for the model.  I'm not 100% sure what R48 stands for (is this the 48th resin set?), but the snekja is model 024, and had three spruelettes - hull and two sails (and the triangular sail has a catapult on it as well).

Of course as I write this up, I realize I didn't get a picture of the semi-assembled ship (this on just has the catapult glued to it).  I say semi-assembled because you DEFINITELY want to paint the sails separately BEFORE attaching them to the hull.

At Origins and Gencon, starting last year, I have been running Learn to Play: Armada events (to go along with the ones I run for Kings of War and Vanguard).  I try to have as many choices for players as I can, so I decided to do BOTH a Northern Alliance and a Varangur fleet.

Since they use the same ships, it simply meant picking up and painting two starters.  When I did the fleet lists, the starters come to 110 points.  While these two fleets have different fleet rules, I didn't feel like they would give enough difference in play style for new players, so I actually added the unique items (Ice Naiad Ensnarers for the NA, and Sons of Korgaan and Infernal Runes for the Varangur).  This with Glide and Retribution will hopefully make them feel a bit different.

I wanted to paint them similar but different, so I did blue stripes on the sails and roofs, with silver highlights for the NA, and red with brass for the Varangur.  Since it was a long holiday weekend, I pulled out the speed paints and got the two starters painted up.  (Well the bases aren't done, but the next step (adding water effects for the waves) will take about a day to dry.

So even though I don't have the semi-assembled Snekja, I do have two painted ones.

Next is the medium Drakaar.  One thing with this model is it has the 'oars' rule, but the model does NOT have oars on it.  Hmmmm.  Again a hull sprue, and two sails.  The triangular sail also has the figurehead for the bow, though in both my boxes it was broken off the spruelette.  However the two figureheads in the box attach differently (this on on the bottom, for the serpent it is on the back), so it was easy enough to tell the difference.

And assembled and painted

Finally in the starter box is the large ship, as Serpent.  This one has four small sails that go on the sides - similar to what the twilight-kin use. It also has two larger sails

It took me a while to figure out what the 'bow' was on spruelette 06 - and eventually I found that it was horns on a gun that fit into a small notch in the aft of the ship.

I like the design where it has the sea serpent head on the bow, but also the spine and bones on the deck and aft as well.  Gives a bit of the feeling it was made from the bones of a huge sea serpent.

If you actually want to play with either of these fleets, you will of course want the other parts of the release - the first is the Booster box (no, I do not have these painted up yet (they are sitting with the Elf and Salamander fleets, as well as the Dwarf fliers, to be finished when I have the spare time)).

First is the IceBreaker.  This has the Ram(1) rule, which makes sense for a ship designed to break up the ice.  It also has the bone motif going on that the serpent did.  One note - be careful with the spar on the bow - it is a fairly fragile piece and I broke it off unintentionally (but easily glued it back).  The triangular sail will fit in the weak notch, which should strengthen it when assembled though.

Then comes the Skeld - which has the oars rule and actual oars.

Then the Karvi squadrons.  I like to glue one to a base to paint them, the glue the other on afterward.  These do really fill the 30 mm length of the base however, and I'm a little curious how the sails will fit for two on a base.  For other squadrons I have been able to put one slight ahead of the other - but it doesn't look like you can do that here.  I'll just have to see when I actually get these done.

Of course, unless you are playing Twilight Kin, you have an extra-large ship, and most of them include a named unique ship.  The same here - but now we have the cards / parts for unique ships for both fleets.  The Busse is the base XL ship.

The hull is split into two pieces.  This allows for three different bows to fit - from the pictures it looked to me like there where just different figureheads, but the entire bow is different.

Tower and 'building' on the aft of the ship

The bow for the Varangur named ship, The Reaper's Mask[1]

The bow of the normal Busse

And the bow of the Northern Alliance Valellion[1].  This has two spruelettes, the bow, then the figurehead and catapults.  Unfortunately, the dragon figurehead was not just broken off the spruelette, but missing completely in my box.  Mantic customer service is still a bit short staffed, but they are still good about sending out replacement parts for broken or missing ones (though I'm actually assembling this as the Busse, so I don't need it anyway. 

Then the assembled ship (without sails)

Finally are the flyers - an Ice Elemental and Chimera

Of course you get the flyer bases - 30 mm textured bases that fit the flying stand (the circular part of the flying stand is not used).

The Ice Elemental is one piece

The chimera is in three pieces - the body and the wings

I do like when Armada uses versions of the same models from Kings of War (the Orc Winggit, Dragons, and this).  It really helps to tie the games together.

So my fleets are almost set for Gencon in four short weeks.  I am doing 4 Learn to Play: Armada sessions (every day at noon) and all but 1 ticket are already sold.  However I plan to have room for 8 players (not the six listed), so will have space for people with generic tickets if you want to try one of these new (or any of the 10 released fleets).

Because it is all fun and games . . .  


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