View Full Version : What type of warships...

15-10-2007, 10:27
... would one expect to find in a Great Crusade/Heresy-era Fleet?

I'm flirting with the idea of getting into Battlefleet Gothic eventually (Damnable Specialist Games being so interesting!) - and as I'm trying to tie all my 40k stuff together; I'm thinking about doing a fleet for my Chrysanthemum Worlds.

I know the Emperor Class battleship is an old pre-Heresy design; but what about Cruisers/Battlecruisers and Escorts?

I'm also looking for any sort of information we may have found on 40k Imperial Naval tactics - not their tabletop implementation, but actual fluff-based tactics. I notice a lot of Imperium warships have huge numbers of broadside cannons like wood and sail ships of the line... so for instance, would "Crossing the T" be a viable tactic?

How did the Imperial Navy operate early in the Imperium's history?

>.< I should rephrase:

Basically - If you went back to M31 - what would the Imperial Navy have looked and fought like?

15-10-2007, 10:40
Well, for a start I would look more at the Chaos BFG fleet for info. And without their armoured prow, and heavy batteries, I imagine them more as a group of sharks that encircle their prey, before darting in for the kill.

15-10-2007, 10:46
Indeed, most of the Chaos fleet are ships that are slightly, but not much, newer than Heresy designs. Supposedly back in the day it was presumed that attack craft would be the new supremacy weapon after the Heresy and the very newest designs were based around attack craft warfare.

15-10-2007, 10:53
Your best bet would be the chaos fleet. If you go by the HH cardgame artwork though (which I wouldn't) it's all imperial, wedge prowed. So, it's up to you - if you want imperial, play imperial rules, if you want chaos, play chaos rules.

If you want space marines, ooh, I daresay use space marine rules ;)

15-10-2007, 12:08
the Despoiler Chaos BB is a Heresy era ship iirc
but not all chaos ships (one escort class is newer) are Heresy era ships
you should be able to tease them out when reading the fluff descriptions in the rule book

15-10-2007, 12:11
Have a look at the horus heresy art books or the CCG cards by Sabre tooth
they have a few pics of the ships of the fleets involved in the time
such and Erebus battel barge and a few others

15-10-2007, 13:25
I heard from my friend that the space ships that the Imperium are building now are actually worse than those built during the early days of the Imperium. Is it true?

15-10-2007, 13:34
I heard from my friend that the space ships that the Imperium are building now are actually worse than those built during the early days of the Imperium. Is it true?

Sad...but true, sad but true

15-10-2007, 13:44
Have a look at the horus heresy art books or the CCG cards by Sabre tooth
they have a few pics of the ships of the fleets involved in the time
such and Erebus battel barge and a few others

Indeed, and as I said, they all have a wedge prow more common in "modern" imperial fleets.

The emperor class predates the heresy, as does the despoiler class (I believe the original 3 were built using schematics from the Terminus Est, which is an ancient ship).

But, otherwise, the ships used in the Heresy are only ever referred to as BattleBarge and Strike cruisers (which are the blankett, cover all term used for all Space marine vessels).

So, I believe, all the ships used in that time have been lost, worn out, driven into auxilliary and reserve fleets or are in the eye of terror under the command of chaos space marines and rarely make sorties into the realms of humanity.

So, do we believe the fleet started with the wedge prow, then got rid of it in favour of the daggers of the now mostly heretical classes, then returned to the armoured prow?

15-10-2007, 14:32
I heard from my friend that the space ships that the Imperium are building now are actually worse than those built during the early days of the Imperium. Is it true?

Not really, just different. Especially the latest Battlecruisers are easily as capable as the old vessels. The Imperium lost some of the tech to make very long range weaponry, and newer ship designs therefore focussed on shorter ranged, line breaking vessels that would use a heavily armoured prow to absorb enemy fire until it was right in the middle of the enemy fleet and then blasted away with powerful broadsides. The Avenger Grand Cruiser is the prime example of this.
Over the centuries these tactics evolved, the armoured prow was heavily reinforced, lances became an important part of the broadsides and with the instalment of torpedoes the Imperial Fleet no longer relied solely on the broadsides. Equipping cruiser sized vessels with nova cannons, the reinstatement of long ranged dorsal mounted lances, as well as the introduction of larger numbers of carriers also means that the current Imperial vessels can easily rival the early vessels in terms of forward facing firepower.
The Imperium still mainly relies on short ranged weaponry for its main cruisers, however it is once again able to produce longer ranged lances and weapon batteries, but they are mostly reserved for Battlecruisers.

So, do we believe the fleet started with the wedge prow, then got rid of it in favour of the daggers of the now mostly heretical classes, then returned to the armoured prow?

Doubt it. I think the armoured prow series started with the need for carrier battleships, which eventually led to the Oberon Class and its predecessors - the Emperor Class and possibly others. An armoured prow and launch bays on the sides of the ship would make it almost impossible for an enemy ship attacking from the front to target the valuable attack craft within the ship, thus making it a perfect design for a carrier.
This is all speculation, but when after the heresy the demand for Battleships increased, they probably used the basic design of the Oberon and Emperor and replaced the launch bays with lance and weapon batteries, resulting in the Apocalypse and Retribution classes.
These vessels were obviously successful, and the idea of the Armoured prow was probably carried over from the battleships to the next biggest vessels in the fleet, the Grand Cruisers - resulting in classes such as the Vengeance and Avenger.
In the following millenia the armoured prow was obviously widely adopted throughout the fleet, from Battlecruisers (who replaced the Grand Cruisers) to escorts.

16-10-2007, 03:26
Just a small note: the Emperor Class does not have an armoured prow as it carries an array of advanced sensors. It does predate the Great Crusade though. The retribution has an armoured prow, which indicates it was built in the Martian Shipyards. Whether or not these were built with armoured prows at the time of the Crusade is not stated.

However, it is usually assumed in BFG that the majority of the fleet used in the Crusade resembles the make up of the traitor fleets today. With the exception of what ever happened to the Battle Barges of the Traitor Legions, which I don't know the fate of.

16-10-2007, 03:38
The other reason that an armoured prow makes sense is that it's on the approach to a target that a starship is most vulnerable to incoming fire (it's the easiest shot after a static target), so that's what you armour.

16-10-2007, 11:57
Hmm... After reading the rules a bit more; I'm not quite sure I can do what I envisioned without taking some 'newer' ships.

So this being the background section, I have a slightly different question in mind then! >.<

If you have a docking facility that can no longer produce true capital ships (ie: basically its stuck with escorts and maybe once in awhile building a light cruiser) - would it still be feasible for that facility to do refit work on existing vessels?

I'm thinking that, while a bit of a stretch, maybe it'd be simplest if I just gave myself enough lee-way to say that some of the existing ships were modified into other classes later, much in the same way the Imperial Navy created several modifications of existing craft. Granted, that they wound up *identical* to IN vessels is... odd...

But thats seeming to be the simplest idea for me thus-far. Does that sound reasonable? Or too "out there"? (The BFG rulebooks don't give a whole lot of information on when ships were created for the most part - a few are mentioned; but mostly they just tell the stories of a particular warship and its exploits, with relatively little else!)

16-10-2007, 17:52
If I am understanding you correctly, then yes, I would imagine that not being able to construct a vessel from scratch does not necessarily proclude repairing/refitting that class of ship. To construct a ship you need a dry dock, which means specialist facilities; to repair you only need a docking berth large enough (and suitable repair personel/facilities). As Imperium tech is STC standard, theoretically staff at a smaller facility would be able to work out how to manage tech they don't build at their station, although they would be inexperienced with it so might not do as good a job as someone at a construction facility would. I would imagine that refit work in the Imperium is largely repairing battle damage or worn out parts (which could be ordered to the smaller station in your example) or replacing older, poorly-understood tech with newer standards, which again should be doable even in smaller places.

Really though, the Imperium is a big place & if you can imagine it happening then chances are it can 9as long as you don't get too far-fetched!).

16-10-2007, 22:50
I would suspect that alongside the ancient designs (Chaos cruisers as mentioned before, but painted in proper imperial and unmutated), alongside current space marine ships such as strike cruisers in limited numbers and a single battlebarge (command ship) would be the most likely. From what I remember from the fleets in Fulgrim, the primarch's personal vessel was a modified and heavily adorned and armored (and much larger!) battlebarge built at mars, with smaller battlebarges and strike cruisers providing a close in punch in battle while the cruiser classes gave heavy support and carrier capabilities to the fleet.

In my mind, a basic pre-heresy fleet (or a portion of it under a sub commander) would be:
-1 Battlebarge
- 2-3 strike cruisers
- 4-6 carrier/gunships (Devastation class)
- 2 squads of escorts (cobra or storm)

In smaller battles, a strike cruiser would likely be the command ship with 1-2 carriers and 3-4 light cruisers under its discretion, with escorts added as needed.

17-10-2007, 02:13
I've been reading the rulebook way too much recently as I'm just getting started in BFG, without meaning to. Started reading the rulebook for the fluff and now I'm obsessed...

The truth is, the ship type fluff's kind of a mess. Or at least, it's inconsistent with the shape of the ships we get to play with (and are drawn in the books). I can't blame them too much - it was the right move from a game design standpoint for the Imperial and Chaos fleets to look different, I just wish they had written the fluff around that. The best I can figure is that there are different schools of design, like the prowed ships from Mars and the Chaos-style ships. In the past, the Chaos-style design was the dominant one and in the present, the wedged-prow shape is dominant. (When all the pointy ships started defecting, the very geometry of their construction was suspected as a conduit for Chaos.) But they've always coexisted and will continue to do so - and there are doubtlessly other shapes out there.

Actual specs have more clearly changed over time. In the old days, long range (45-60cm) weapons were common. Engines were more powerful. Torpedoes were uncommon. No targeting systems like the Mars' and the Idolator's. I'm just speculating, but I'd say even wedge-prowed ships often had 5+ armor, not 6.

So basically, if you want a Pre-Heresy fleet (is Pre-Heresy really that popular?) you could either use an Imperial fleet and say it was built by a forge world/sector ahead of its time, or use Chaos rules and just claim to be good guys. I'll leave it up to you to go through the rulebook fluff and read which classes didn't exist until after your fleet's scope.

One big thing though - I really gotta disagree that Space Marine vessels are appropriate for a Pre-Heresy fleet. It's in the Armada rulebook fluff. Chaos Space Marines can be found on standard Chaos vessels because back then, that's what they rode around in! The background to Space Marine ships also states pretty clearly they were built in response to the post-Heresy reorganization of the Imperium, which, as you all know, meant to reduce the power that Space Marines had. Fleetwise that banned SM from running Imperial Navy ships and allowed SM Chapters ships of their own so long as they were primarily used as transports and planetary assault vehicles. In the rules that's reflected by their relative weakness except in boarding situations.

17-10-2007, 04:42
(is Pre-Heresy really that popular?)

Well in this case - its not so much that the timeline is intended to be pre-heresy <,< its just that the ships are very old and the sector very isolated since the Heresy.

I think I've figured out what I'll do. I'm going to take an Emperor Battleship as my Flagship; a pair of Strike Cruisers, which I'll consider to be local modifications on existing Cruisers; then 3-4 other cruisers (A couple Lunars, maybe a Grand Cruiser of some type) of more traditional sorts; then escorts.

Thanks all >.< sorry for the meandering nature of this thread! Its much appreciated!

17-10-2007, 06:42
Oh yay, I have the rulebook with me now. Here's what it says about ships' ages.

Emperor: One found in M36 and estimated to be 10k years old at the time. Another laid down at Stygies in Vulcanis system in M30.
Retribution: "...earliest days of the Imperium" - could be pre-Heresy. Martian shipyards.
Overlord: based on Acheron class, I wonder how
Tyrant: recent, end of M38
Sword: around for "thousands of years"
Firestorm: recent, at least in BF Obscuras

Apocalypse: precursor to Retribution
Oberon: early variant of Emperor
Vengeance: yup, dates back to the Great Betrayal
Falchion: first commissioned M41

Despoiler: M36
Desolator: founding of Imperium; most defected by M34
Repulsive: M34
Styx: popular during M32-M33
Murder: mostly built M33-M37
Slaughter: last one laid down M34
Idolator: recent
Infidel: also recent (meant to replace Cobra)
Iconoclast: essentially built all over the galaxy


Anyway, your fleet idea sounds good. Strike Cruisers don't work without some explaining but using the model as something else (Dauntlesses probably) is fine. You'd probably have to do that anyway if you want to use them in your fleet. The grand cruisers, except for the Repulsive, are ideal. And for Escorts it's generally considered a good idea to avoid Firestorms anyway. So you're good. Keep in mind it's common to come across a hulk and rebuild it to modern specifications, if you want some nova cannon cruisers, or Tyrants.

17-10-2007, 08:32
The Imperial Fist have their own special battle barge which they use during the pre-heresy dates till now. What kind of ship is that?

17-10-2007, 11:00
I dunno Curufew - the Phalanx is pretty darn big last I heard anything of it. It'd probably have to be specially designed rules-wise. Technically though, its a BattleBarge.

Marine ships - Battlebarges and Strike Cruisers, are not any one designation; they're basically a broad classification of several types of ships that fit into their particular arena of service >.< So in practical terms, 2 Strike Cruisers could be based on entirely different hulls, and possibly different armaments; though BFG is very broad with a given type of armament. (For example, the Batteries on one ship are a completely different type of weapon than on another - they just have the same effect in-game)

Anyway, I have a plan now!

17-10-2007, 11:07
My understanding is that battlebarges/strike cruisers are catch-all names for designs specifically geared towards planetary assault. Pre heresy these would be standard ship classes with extra boarding torpedos/landing bays, post heresy we see the more specialised vessels in the SM fleet list.

If the Imperial Fist vessel you are refering to is Phalanx, then the only real idea of its tonnage is 'size of a small moon'. If I was to use it in a game, I would probably use a Ramilies starfort as a stand-in. As it can dock ships as large as battlebarges, it would be far too overpowered to appear on the tabletop!