Harpocrates & Helium

It’s the PHR and Shaltari’s turn for a close up look.

We’re back to have an in depth look at the design process and a little teaser of the rules for the new Lighters, which will be hitting the webstore this Friday!

Lighters are a brand new class of ship, bigger than a Corvette, smaller than a Frigate, and are all unique. We’ve had a look at the stealthy UCM Lysander and a bonkers ramming ship with the Scourge Hiruko, so we already know each is a bit different!

Today we’re heading out to the Abandonists of the Post-Human Republic, and the utterly alien Shaltari.

PHR Harpocrates Guerrilla Lighter

You may recognise the energy plates on these Lighters. They’re a new sort of design for Fleet, but owe their looks to Zone! Here’s designer David Lewis with some more info.

The Erebos strike walker has been a part of Dropzone since Reconquest: Phase One, with electronic warfare always core to the PHR’s feel. I’d imagined its Dropfleet equivalent for some time, most usefully in the form of a small ship with the potential to be massive backside irritant for opponents! As in many wargames, it isn’t always the monstrosities that shape and change the game competitively, but the small, handy units that can easily slot into existing fleets. This makes them a fun challenge for rules writers!

Physically, I wanted large panels distinct from previous PHR structures in Dropfleet, while clearly belonging to the faction and harking back to the Erebos. Since this is the heart and soul of the rules for this ship, I sculpted the whole model around these projector structures. With small ships especially, it’s crucial to suggest a function visually from the other end of the table, so this one’s distinct from regular PHR vessels while being part of the family. Any PHR ship wants to look sleek and advanced – hopefully you’ll agree I’ve held on to that!

Personally this is one of my favourite looking Lighters. The sleek look echoes the PHR Destroyers, and those big energy plates really show its role even from a distance!

The Rules

Yeah yeah, we know what you’re after – you want rules, right? Well you’re not getting the full statline today, or the points (you’ll have to wait for them on the Fleet Builder tomorrow). However, I will show you the biggest draw for the Harpocrates: the weapon.

On first glance a single shot weapon with a 5+ Lock and absolutely zero damage doesn’t look great.

But the EM Sabotage rule. Holy moly! If you want to annoy your opponent, this is the ship to do it with. Forcing an enemy ship onto Silent Running means you’re knocking its maneuverability right down and also crippling its damage output.

Bearing in mind this works on ANY ship (yes, including Dreadnoughts) and suddenly one of the smallest ships in the game becomes one of the biggest threats. Make no mistake: the Harpocrates is to be feared.

Speaking of things to be feared, how about a shiny new yellow and orange Shaltari ship? It might not look scary, but just you wait. What did you do here, Dave?

Early in Dropfleet’s development, we decided to limit the Shaltari’s teleportation tech to their deployment of ground forces (besides the occasional command card and special rule). With the new mechanics of shield tech, this made the faction play differently in Fleet rather than simply being a port of the ground game. This made sense with the background too (the mothership is the end of the chain – there’s no mother-mothership for one to teleport through, not yet anyway!) Still, the tech was there and we made the decision to bring it into Dropfleet in a limited way, for specialised ships. This was a natural and plausible fit for smaller ships, so it found a home in the Lighters project.

Of all factions in Dropfleet, the Shaltari are physically the most eldritch and unknowable – they can take many forms and every structure shouldn’t necessarily ‘say’ what it does in a way that a 2020 human can understand! As with all sculpts, it should be readily identifiable from others, so I went for a new, horseshoe-type superstructure with the intention of suggesting manoeuvrability, lightness, aggression and speed. It certainly belongs to Shaltari, but there’s a new shape there to go with this new and unpredictable tactical option!

The Helium definitely says “aggression” to me! That forward facing look definitely says that you don’t want to be on the wrong side of it (and that’s definitely the front).

Alright, thanks Dave! That was very nice writing, I’ll ask the warden for extra rations for you tonight.

The Rules

This little ship utilises the Voidgate network in a way that we haven’t seen in Dropfleet, and it’s something that Shaltari opponents are probably never going to get used to!

The Helium has fairly standard Shaltari stats, and is super mobile thanks to the Vectored special rule. Almost undetectable with its shields down, it’s hard to hit, and a massive 16″ move will keep it out of harm’s way. However, that’s not all.

The Void Skip special rule means it’s equally good at getting out of combat as it is at getting into it. Moving it all the way down a Voidgate Network means these ships can get all the way across the table easily (and don’t forget you can be more aggressive thanks to the Selenium Heavy Voidgate), and position your ships in the most opportune place to make best use of their short ranged Pulse Blasters. The battlefield is never going to be the same!

So when we said “unique” we really meant it. The Lighters (or Cutters or Voidflyers) were all designed around niche roles in their respective Fleets, bringing ideas together that are worlds apart. They’re only small, but we foresee them having a big impact on your games!

What’s more, they’re going up on the webstore tomorrow! We’ll be back in the morning to have a look at the remaining Seneca Detonator, so if you’re a Resistance player (or want to know what your oppponents are going to be bringing against you), stop back then!

2 Replies to “Harpocrates & Helium”

  1. Excellent! I’m loving the asthetic of the Electronic Warfare package on this Lighter! Now my Calypsos can have a buddy to run around with for the troll-iest battlegroup around ^___^

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