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How could Battlefleet Gothic be supported in the future?


Brother Tyler
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Battlefleet Gothic was the game of "Spaceship Battles in the 41st Millennium" and was part of the old Specialist Games range from Games Workshop. First published in 1999, the game was considerably different from its predecessor, Space Fleet, which was released in 1991. When Games Workshop decided to close up shop on the Specialist Games range, the availability of models dropped off until they were discontinued altogether in 2013. Players can still find the rules and various articles for the game at sites like Specialist Arms and Yaktribe, but you'll either have to pay exhorbitant prices on eBay, use 3D printing files, or other low tech substitutes (Legos or paper standees work) if you don't have the models. Alternately, players can resort to fleet battle games in other IP settings such as A Call to Arms: Babylon 5 Space Combat, Firestorm Armada, Star Wars: Armada, Dropfleet Commander, and others.

Battlefleet Gothic was a fun and different game from Games Workshop, one that filled a niche that made sense in the setting. The discontinuation of support for the game (despite the ongoing unofficial support via fans) was a great loss to the community and the setting. Though there is a very fun electronic version of the game (be careful with that link - my virus protection throws up a warning when I follow it) that players can enjoy online, and digital mediums such as Tabletop Simulator provide a way to play the game, both of these options, while very enjoyable in their own way, don't scratch the itch that genuine tabletop wargaming provides.

The game was essentially a set of naval tabletop wargaming rules set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The initial presentation of the game via the boxed set was an historical campaign - the Gothic War (Abaddon the Despoiler's 12th Black Crusade). The scenarios were based on key engagements during that event and pitted the forces of the Imperium versus the ships of Chaos. Subsequent releases expanded the range of ships and factions in the game, expanding it from the more strict confines of the Gothic War to the broader range of starship combat in the WH40K setting. There were even experimental rules such as those for the Demiurg (the Squats reimagined).

In recent years, Games Workshop has brought back many older beloved games. The 3rd edition of Space Hulk was released in 2009, with a 4th edition released in 2014; Adeptus Titanicus and Necromunda were brought back in 2018 (both of which continue to enjoy support); Lost Patrol was re-released in 2016; Aeronautica Imperialis was brought back in 2019. This raises the question as to whether or not Games Workshop might revisit Battlefleet Gothic, either resurrecting the 1999 game en toto or revisiting the concept in some other setting. While the default assumption for a revisited version is something in the modern Warhammer 40,000 era, the Great Crusade/Horus Heresy setting presents a viable alternative.

The Battlefleet Gothic game allowed for the complete range of conflict in the Warhammer 40,000 setting to be explored, providing the possibility of playing battles in different games to represent the full scale of a battle. A campaign might start with Battlefleet Gothic games - an invading fleet assaulting an enemy-held world. That operation might then continue with the war in the air via Aeronautica Imperialis, as well as the war on the ground via Warhammer 40,000 (the expansions provided a decent way of representing key points in a campaign such as the planetary assault, sieges on fortifications, and armor battles). Small scale action might be played out using Kill Team, while large scale action might be played out using Epic Armageddon (another victim of GW's amputation of Specialist Games) and Apocalypse. Enterprising players might even adapt some of the boardgames to fill out alternative looks at warfare during the campaign - the new Risk: Warhammer 40,000 is a good choice, but many of the boardgames from Fantasy Flight Games could also be adapted.

Personally, I'd like to see both settings explored. I'd like to see the mainstream game set in the current era. This would allow most of the range to be used (assuming the masters still exist). GW could repackage a lot of the scenarios, rearranging them to fit the narrative of some modern (or recent) campaign. The initial boxed set would necessarily feature two factions, and in this I favor the Imperium versus Chaos. Additional factions could be introduced via additional campaigns, similar to the manner in which the new Aeronautica Imperialis is expanding that range. The Great Crusade/Horus Heresy, meanwhile, could be supported by Forge World. There would even be the possibility of taking some of the ships from that setting and using them in the modern setting. For example, the flagship/fortress monastery of the Black Templars, the Eternal Crusader, would be represented by a Gloriana class ship from the Horus Heresy setting. Overall, I'd like to see a potential new Battlefleet Gothic to be largely similar to its 1999 predecessor - with some updates and tweaks to make it better, but without overhauling the game or changing it drastically (e.g., without changing to a hex-based system such as they did to Aeronautica Imperialis).

For those of you that are either fans of the game or who may be interested in it, would you like to see Games Workshop revisit it some day? If so, what would you like to see in a new version of the game?

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As a proud owner of an Imperial and Astartes fleet I am hoping to see this game make a comeback. Similarly I like a lot of the core rules of the 1999 version of the game, so I would like the new version to retain most of them. The rules do need a rethinking on some fronts though, for example the Eldar corsair fleet being pretty much immune to 2 of the 3 basic weapon types is something that would need to be rethinked and the attack craft were something that I don't think the system ever managed to make balanced (the way my expensive Astartes escorts melted when they were hit by assault craft just felt bad every time).

 

As to the setting I did like the way all fleets felt really distinctive in how they operated with the Tau fleet with their drone-controlled torpedoes being completely distinct from the random variance inherent in the orkish weapon batteries that was completely different compared to the physics- and rules-breaking monstrosity that was the Necron fleet (and don't get me started with the Tyranid fleet and their instinctive behaviours). Then again, asking for GW to commit to making all of these different product lines might be a bit of a stretch (I mean we still don't have anything besides loyalists / traitors in AT, and even they share models 100% currently), so I would also be happy with the game just set in the giant fleet battles of Horus Heresy. Let me re-enact Calth or Paramar or the major fleet engagements of the Thramas campaign and you have me on board day 1. If it is successful enough, add the xenos in later while transitioning the fleet to the more modern times.

Edited by Brother-Captain Gilead
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Desperately want BFG to come back, whether or not it's in the original era. We'd get some spectacular models with modern technology. Hoping that they choose not to do "Battlefleet Heresy" because I feel that a BFG reboot would be far more adversely affected by a narrow lineup than other games (e.g. Adeptus Titanicus) have been, but I'd buy in either way.

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Desperately want BFG to come back, whether or not it's in the original era. We'd get some spectacular models with modern technology. Hoping that they choose not to do "Battlefleet Heresy" because I feel that a BFG reboot would be far more adversely affected by a narrow lineup than other games (e.g. Adeptus Titanicus) have been, but I'd buy in either way.

 

Their logic is probably that the vast majority of people would play Imperial fleets anyway - be that Navy or Marines. I can see the logic of them testing the waters with a single, shared line and then potentially adding Xenos/Daemonic corruption later. Of course there's zero sign we're getting Xenos for Titanicus either, so I guess it's entirely possible for it to be a smashing success and still having nothing but Heresy-era Imperial vessels forever.

 

On the other hand, Aeronautica Imperialis was set in 40k but the questionable 'success' of that game might cause 'em to recoil and fall back on the Heresy anyway.

Edited by Lord Marshal
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Whilst the Horus Heresy setting comes with some great background, I fear it may be a mistake, as it removes a lot of the potential for incorporating non-human races (and therefore interest in the game from primarily-xenos players), as well as the ability to tie in with other systems in a campaign.  Of course, GW could make the core game rules, and have "Heresy" and "Indomitus" as fleet/campaign packs, but that means maintaining two model lines at the same time, which is not something I see "Current GW" doing, given the number of models which seem to come and go. :sad.:

 

I do really like the idea of combining Battlefleet with Epic, Warhammer 40,000, and Kill Team into a large-scale campaign (this seems like a better idea now that there's a re-focussing of 40K on smaller-scale platoon-sized-ish actions, rather than the more company-sized Apocalypse-type of games which were getting common).  Certainly, GW ran a few articles in WD doing BFG-to-40K campaigns, and they always looked interesting. :smile.:

 

In terms of rules, I think GW could probably run with the BFG: Remastered rules - I don't think there's that much which needs altering.  Whilst I'm sure re-imagined, modern, models would look great, I'm not so sure I'd like to find out how well my original models had(n't) aged :laugh.::blush.:

 

Though there is a very fun electronic version of the game (be careful with that link - my virus protection throws up a warning when I follow it) that players can enjoy online

What AV are you using?  VirusTotal (an Alphabet service which basically runs all the AV softwares on it) gives it a clean bill of health.

Edited by Firedrake Cordova
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I’m so keen for GW to bring back BFG. I never got into the original version but I would love the chance to get into it this time around. What could be cooler than flying cathedrals with massive guns in space.

 

The timeline is an interesting issue - personally I would be happy with either setting as my main interest is in the imperium. If it’s not set in 30k, the exact timeframe will be interesting - what’s the status of the Gothic sector in M42? Can you set BFG anywhere other than the gothic sector and still call it BFG?

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I think its a safe bet to bring back BFG initially just in the HH era and expanding it later on. I was hoping aeronautica was going to be in HH, wold love to paint mini stormbirds, thunderhawks, primaris lightnings etc. Then you could tie Titanicus, aeronautica, BFG and 30k in an awesome linked campaign system, so many people could participate even with the different systems. You get the younger players in with the other 3 as a lower cost entry, the old vets then are honey potting in new recruits with their fully painted and based 30k armies. Running that in an LGS or GW store would be like a legal drug house lol

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The timeline is an interesting issue - personally I would be happy with either setting as my main interest is in the imperium. If it’s not set in 30k, the exact timeframe will be interesting - what’s the status of the Gothic sector in M42? Can you set BFG anywhere other than the gothic sector and still call it BFG?

The original game was set during Abaddon's invasion of the Gothic Sector (later retconned as the 12th Black Crusade). This meant it covered his attempts to seize the Blackstone Fortresses (later retconned as ancient Eldar/First One weapons). That was just the setting. There is nothing intrinsic to the game that would prevent you from fighting in other sectors or other time periods.

 

My Imperial fleet was painted up as part of Battlefleet Solar as I liked the old red, grey and gold colour scheme from Space Fleet.

 

It was a great game, I particularly liked how various factors such as shields, shooting and speed were linked to blast markers. It provided a very intuitive way to see which ships were under heaviest fire and what penalties they would suffer as a result. There were balance issues of course such as Eldar being a bit overpowered and ordnanace being at first overpowered and then underpowered but that is hardly unique to one game. :wink: Overall it was a great game and I would love to see it make a comeback.

 

The difficulty is that most of the ships were metal. Only the core Imperial and Chaos cruisers were plastic. All the Xenos factions, escorts, battleships and ordnance was metal. If GW was to re-release it, they would undoubtedly want all plastic which means we would probably be looking at a situation like Adeptus Titanicus with mirror factions. I would love to see Epic make a full comeback but that is another story. :smile.:

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I 3D printed and almost finished painting fleets for Black Legion and Thousand Sons this summer along with stripping/priming my plastic Imperial fleet. I basically have enough for 3 or 4 people to play, I just need to print tokens and make sure I have a 6x4 space mat. And no global pandemics.

 

It was a really fun game and I’m curious how the game would look if it were redone. There’s something to be said for switching to a hex based system like AI, it’d make movement easier for sure.

Edited by Fajita Fan
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I think there was some fairly blunt stuff from someone in SG about BFG being 'the one' they want to bring back so I can't see them not building on previous practices. The question then becomes do they take the Adeptus Titanicus model (large detailed minis, limited range, crunchy rules) or the Aeronautica Imperialis model (smaller less customisable minis, multiple factions, closer to a board game setup in how its sold). Or rather what aspects do they feel they can comfortably take from either.

 

Personally I'd be surprised if the AT2018/"Battlefleet Heresy" model wasn't the one GW/SG takes, more or less using that conservative/risk-avoidance logic Lord Marshal mentions. Taking the idea of a starter kit with a basemat from AI seems likely, with terrain being less of a big deal. They'd want to push the detail on the minis so something like... titans=capital ships, knights=escorts? Might not match exactly, I recall there usually being more cruisers on a BFG table than titans on an AT2018 one.

 

If you were doing a modernised range of plastic ships along those lines, how would you do it? The entire AT non-terrain model range is ten kits, likely to be eleven or more soon enough. That's enough for an imperial fleet easily. Could you do an imperial fleet and an ork/chaos/necron whoever fleet in roughly that many kits?

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10 kits seems feasible. The original Imperial and Chaos cruisers that formed the core of most fleets were really just one ship each side with module weapons loadout. If you allow 10 kits, you could easily exceed that. Maybe give each faction 1 basic hull of each following configuration.

 

Escort

Light Cruiser

Cruiser

Heavy/Grand/Battle Cruiser

Battleship

 

Then provide variation with modular weapon options. Thus your Escorts could be built as Torpedo boats, frigates with batteries or Destroyers with Lances just by swapping the weapon modules around.

 

Ordnance was always a problem with the old system but I think the "A Call to Arms" system would be a much better option. Carrier ships provide a fixed number of fighter/bomber squadrons that you must husband the use of through the battle. Torpedoes (or missiles in BFG) are just a regular type of weapon that trade the hitting power of some heavier guns for long range.

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There are like 4 classes of Chaos/Imperial cruiser and 3 or 4 battle cruisers that all share the same hulls, the battleships could likewise share hulls with different prow options. That means four kits could build 20+ classes of ships. Escorts could work similarly with destroyers and frigates sitting in one box each (or even clamshells). Light cruisers/heavy frigates like the Dauntless could run in clampacks and it wouldn’t be hard for GW to invent a few others in that range to balance out weapon options. Grand cruisers could be cruiser bodies with a heavier prow or vice versa.

 

Personally I don’t think you even need to worry about HH/40k settings because Chaos 40k ships came from the HH era, that’d be flexible enough to allow players to make the 30k era Marine fleet they want. Throw in Eldar or Orks and it’s not like they’ve changed much in 10k years, they would be equally at home in a HH or 40k setting.

 

40k Marine ships is a question, they’re post-heresy designs and would require at least two boxes (battle barge, strike cruiser) with either an all inclusive box of escorts or clampacks.

 

That said I may go ahead and just print another Chaos fleet to make a HH Wolf fleet or maybe Sons of Horus. The models are easy to paint except all the gun batteries and I started using metallic sharpies in the trim.

Edited by Fajita Fan
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I wonder if the weapon options would be a limiting factor though. AT for example has two reaver boxes, two warlord boxes, and looks like it's going to have two nemesis warbringer boxes. Part of that is down to how GW cautiously rolled out the game and partially it's down to sprue design but ultimately these variant boxes have big, visibly different weapons which limited how many 'builds' you could pack into a single box. And then some additional options go to resin.

 

How big a deal would that be for BFG? Swapping out launch bays vs weapons batteries could be easy but how big would the difference be between e.g. a Lunar and a Dominator cruiser? Or similar for battleships.

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The differences between Imperial/chaos cruisers is just the configuration/combination of carrier bays, lance guns, and weapons batteries on the sides and prow guns/torps. Battle cruisers are similar combos with dorsal lance turrets but the the models are mostly the same except for different prows like the Voss pattern. The same applies for different classes of battleships. It would be a silly packaging decision to box the carrier bays in one SKU, the lances in another and the weapons batteries in yet another. I know GW wants you to buy different boxes to get different options (and end up with more ships) but the old cruiser sprues were already laid out to make every option except the different pattern prows.

 

I just hope they don’t make the ships half again bigger crammed with more details - I can barely paint new models as it is. My eyes and hands can’t keep up with GW’s nanometer details :lol:

Edited by Fajita Fan
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Regardless of the setting GW chooses, I think the starter box will be an Imperium vs. Chaos affair. I think that the rules are pretty good, though I think that the system would benefit from the use of keywords such as are used in WH40K and Kill Team.

 

One thing I'd really like to see in a new edition is more variety in ship types in the starter box. The 1999 version basically gave us 4 similar ships for each side, 4 cruisers each. I'd like to see that changed to 1 battleship/battlecruiser/grand cruiser/heavy cruiser, 2 cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 3 frigates/destroyers/raiders (or something along those lines).

 

I'd also like to see the book switched to a portrait format from the landscape format. The landscape format was an interesting novelty, but it doesn't seem necessary.

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Asymmetric fleets would be neat with one side getting, say, a battlecruiser and four cruisers while the other side gets a battleship, a cruiser, and some escorts. 

 

Asymmetry gets attention - look at the absolutely obscene success Fantasy Flight Games had with their X-Wing game, which started off with clear asymmetry and rode that, well, forever. 

 

Keep things too "same-y" and people don't get excited, because there are no interesting mechanics to play around with. This is the danger of using 30k as a start point, and I think is one of the reasons that while Adeptus Titanicus is successful, it hasn't "exploded" - when everyone is rocking more or less the same stuff, it just isn't exciting to the average person. How often do you hear the refrain concerning the Horus Heresy of it's "just marines"? There needs to be a clear hook to get it off the ground. 

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My biggest problem with “samey” forces is that all lists tend to aggregate towards one clearly better list (i.e. Acastus spam in AT) unless the designers are very careful. Even having a starter set with glass cannons vs slow ‘n steady is a welcome bit of fun instead of just mirrored forces.
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Asymmetry can also be driven by scenarios, however. There are several scenarios in the BFG rulebook that do this, though the models provided in the box don't support those different fleet compositions well. My point with mixing the models up a bit was to allow for asymmetry. With the four cruisers for each side that came in the original box, very little asymmetry was possible for those playing straight out of the box. The simple act of including different model types in the starter box creates considerable room for asymmetry.

 

The main advantage I see with the Imperium vs. Chaos matchup is that one player could use all of the models in a single fleet - an Imperial fleet that includes some older/bespoke vessels or a Chaos fleet that includes newer traitors. With other factions, however, the chance of doing this drops considerably - you don't see vessels of the Imperium in an Aeldari fleet. Sure, there's room for some shenanigans with an Ork fleet (since the greenskins will co-opt anything).

 

Even if GW decides to change the matchup from Imperium vs. Chaos to something else, however, I'd still like to see a variety of vessel types for each of the factions.

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Well there were all these rumours a couple of years ago about Battlefleet Heresy, I guess that's a bit on hold now. 

It was put on hold indefinitely because they didn't have enough staff to make the game without removing everybody from the Necromunda, BB and AT teams. Prior to that though they had already lined up the initial setting ("Sea of Fire"). They've hired more people but this sort of thing has been a problem with FW for 5+ years. As much as I want BFG or BFH to happen, I find it hard to be optimistic and think we're going to be waiting quite a while

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The AT Grandmaster box had 2 warlords and 6 knights, a more asymmetric box would’ve probably helped the launch.

 

I'm not sure the asymmetry was the problem there so much as the immense cost and how folks quickly recognised that it didn't actually set (either of) you up with a decent starter force. It was a weird expensive holdover from AT's troubled development and I doubt SG/GW would be in a hurry to repeat it, even if it sold well.

 

That's not to say asymmetry in box contents or the potential for it would be bad, mind.

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Although somewhat echoing the thoughts of those who've posted before, I'd love this. It's probably one of the few games I'd be happy with them literally just re-releasing the original starter set and going from there. In some ways, that covers the 'Battlefleet Heresy' angle, although perhaps being able to choose whether you wanted two of the same fleet for 'pre-' (or two of the 'post-Heresy' versions...) might be a good option too.

 

It'd be brilliant just to be able to dust off the old fleet and press this into battle: but I think I'd probably be in for any successor game of ship-to-ship space combat. 

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