18 Oct 2017

Aotrs Shipyards Oct 2017 Release: More Aotrs vehicles

Aotrs Shipyards is a webstore on Shapeways.com, a 3D print house which had production and shipping facilities located in the USA and the Netherlands.

(Second time lucky…!)

This month, we have the final releases for the Aotrs ground army (which I am particularly pleased to have completed[1]) at 144th.

Storm Cleaver Assault Strider

Storm Cleaver Assault Strider


The Storm Cleaver is a front line battle walker. In concert with the Gloombat Multirole Attack Craft, it was designed to replace the outdated Fleshburner main battle tank. It sports considerable agility and speed for a vehicle of its size. The arm-mounted weapon pods have had extensive reinforcement, allowing them to take non-typical stresses on the barrels and permitting the Storm Cleaver to use them as levers to assist it in difficult close terrain or if it becomes stuck.
The Storm Cleaver's weapon pods contain three weapons systems. Each pod contains a Class 14 Coldbeam to provide the main weapons, while an underslung missile pod provides some additional firepower. These are typically loaded with a pair of Skull warheads, though as typical for Aotrs warhead technology, other munitions are not unknown. Above the Coldbeams is a pair of heavy support Coldbeams for use against infantry or soft targets.

The Coldbeam cannons also they serve a secondary purpose as Frost Bomb launchers. At the top of the weapon array is a magazine that feeds through the rear mechanics of the support coldbeam to the main cannon, containing twenty Frost Bomb cartridges. The Frost Bomb system was newly developed for the Storm Cleaver, using technology derived from Coldbeam technology. A single Frost Bomb cartridge creates an area of freezing, thick mist on impact. Aside from blocking non-sensor targeting locks, the mist freezes liquids and is harmful to most living creatures. In enough concentration, the mist will kill infantry and even vehicle crews with the sheer, unnatural cold. This is the first application of such an effect that does not require magical assistance. The Frost Bombs freeze will freeze water sufficiently solidly that the Storm Cleaver can use them to make crossings of small bodies of water more expediently, instead of the more laborious method of sustained Coldbeam fire.

Early versions of the Storm Cleaver mounted a single support Coldbeam in a top turret for point-defence and anti-infantry operations; more recent refits have seen this replaced with the more substantial twin Coldbeam turret used on both later versions of the Devil Storm and Reign of Anger.

As a combat walker, the Storm Cleaver requires only a single pilot, rather than a full tank crew. It was hoped that, as the Gloombat was in a similar position, that this would free up more vehicle crews for more vehicles, after retraining (something the Aotrs almost uniquely could afford to do).

In practise, while both the Gloombat and Storm Cleaver were powerful vehicles in their own rights, the Aotrs found that both vehicles were, ultimately, just too tall to fill the MBT role. While offensive and defensively in terms of weapons, agility, shields and armour, both vehicles were every bit the equal of any MBT, their taller shape was no substitute for the low profile of a more traditional main battle tank, requiring them to be exposed to more fire than necessary and making defensive deployment more difficult. Work began barely a few months after the Storm Cleaver was first fielded in combat operations and the result of that was eventually the Revenant Spear. Storm Cleavers are still a common site in the Aotrs ground forces, but now are more appropriately used in urban areas and dense terrain (where they and the Enragers make a deadly combination) or as supplementary support for the new MBTs.

Drop Infantry

Drop Infantry


Drop Troops are from Army branch of the Aotrs – the ground forces. The Drop Troops are so-called because it is their primary role to be dropped in from orbit and act as strike troops, in the same way paratroopers operate. Like such, they are usually better organised and more skilled than the already skilled Line Infantry. Their armour is heavier, as it must to withstand the drops required.

Drop Troops are equipped with Heavy Body Armour. It is not quite Powered Armour, but comes very close – technically only in that the armour itself is not equipped with the strength-enhancing exoframe. Like the Medium Body Armour, Heavy Body Armour is made of synthetic plasteel plates and is fully sealed. It has reinforced plating outside, and a large backpack module. This contains a pair of decent engines, a limited shield generator and steering vanes. The steering vanes are used to help control the drop when the Drop Troops are orbitally inserted. The descent engines' primary job is to slow the drop from orbit to a survivable level, and so they are optimised for a long duration slow-burn usage, rather a short, sharp thrust like a jetpack. Nevertheless, the Drop Troops, by tweaking the output settings, can use them as impromptu jump packs. This is not entirely without risk, as it requires firing the engines at a high level of thrust rather close to the trooper's legs. True flight is not really possible without significant modifications – though those modifications are not unheard of among these elite troops.

Some variants have additional sensor equipment built it, including additional sensor pods. The backpack modules are also configurable. The helmets have the same HUD and computer system as the Medium Body Armour.

Drop Troops frequently have to, by dint of their frequent insertion method, travel lighter than Line Infantry. While they typically use the same coldbeam rifles (Mark 14E or Mark 18) and support weapons, they do not typically carry Snake Launchers. Instead, they are more reliant on the squad's spellcasting capabilities for anti-armour attacks (Lightning Bolt being the most common.)

Some Drop Troops, however, have sought to improve their offensive firepower in other ways. The power generator used by the Heavy Body Armour is the same version as used on the full Heavy Powered Armour (HPA) suit. The lighter draw means it has additional power spare, even when using the internal systems. It was discovered by the ever-enterprising Aotrs soldiers that, if the steering vanes are removed, the same mounting used for the sensor pods can be used to lock-in shoulder-mounted weapons – the shoulder-mounted plasma-pulse cannon equipped to the War Droids is a perfect fit. (Not entirely co-incidentally, given the similar ergonomics.) Suits so equipped lose a fair amount of mobility on the ground and flight stability, but for the most skilled and hardened of Drop Troops, this is considered a minimal loss for the additional firepower gain.

Tomb Guardian Engineering Vehicle


The Tomb Guardian is the replacement of the older Death's Ward engineering vehicle. The Tomb Guardian is built on the hull of the older Fleshburner Main Battle Tank.

The Fleshburner was at best a mediocre vehicle. The initial concept was sound enough – take of one the powerful Coldbeam Point-Defence turrets in use by the Aotrs navy and emplace it on a grav platform, to create a high-track weapons platform. In some ways, it achieved that. The Flashburner's main Coldbeam cannon was the most powerful AFV-based weapon at the time of its inception, and considerably more powerful than the Black Lance MBT it replaced. It shared over 90% of the components with its naval PD equivalent, which reduced the drain on maintenance requirements and tooling. The addition of the missile pod on the rear of the turret further added to this firepower. The Fleshburner was one of the first Aotrs ground vehicles to have full shields, and was bleeding-edge technology at the time.

However, in practise, it was plagued by small problems that prevented it from living up to expectations. The Fleshburner was never popular with its crews, who found it uncomfortable and sometimes-counter-intuitive to operate. The first problem was that, to accommodate the high-track turret's full rotation, the turret had to be mounted quite high above the hull and thus was overly tall. To compensate, the hull had been made flatter. The turret was itself difficult to access, since the gunner and commander had to essentially scramble inside and there was no quick escape hatch. The fact that not an insignificant number of Fleshburner crews used Gate or teleportation spells to enter their own vehicle was indicative. The 10% of parts the turret did not share with the PD emplacements were the ones which turned out to be the parts that wore out the fastest, and the Fleshburner had a higher-than average maintenance cycle. In truth, this was as much due to the new technology's early teething problems, but the general perception of those issues did not help the already unpopular vehicle. On top of everything else, the Fleshburner was considered an unlovely vehicle to look at, at once seeming both too flat and to wide, with the skull-turret perched ungracefully above the hull. The twin scythe-blade electroblaster arrays did not help it at all. The most widely-quoted description was that it looked like a fat scorpion.

Despite this negative press, the Fleshburner was not a terrible vehicle. Actual performance in the field was adequate, if uninspired. While it required more than its share of maintenance, the new technology worked well.

It was with not a little relief from the crews, however, when the Fleshburner was finally retired.

As the ground forces received upgrade and enhancement, the Death's Ward engineering vehicle was examined. It was determined that, rather than implement more upgrades, the aging tracked vehicle would be retired and replaced with a more robust and mobile grav vehicle. As it often the case with older MBTs, the numerous Fleshburner hulls were converted to create the Tomb Guardian.

The Fleshburner's turret – the primary source of its ills was removed. A new, dull-layer turret was added.
The lower portion of the turret held an array of sixteen Coldbeam cannons in two rows. The Death's Ward's side sponson Coldbeam turrets had very rarely seen use in practise, and they were not truly mobile enough to serve engineering purposes. The Tomb Guardian's array, by comparison, has far greater mobility, being both in a full turret and being high-track mount. Further, each barrel is independently mobile. The Coldbeam emplaced are essentially the core of a Mark 19 Coldbeam Support cannon, configured to low-output, continuous fire. The array is thus optimised for liquid-freezing engineering operations (such as river crossing) or mist-dispersion. Acting in concert and concentrated to a point, the weapons are still able to provide a not-insignificant amount of firepower.

An improved version of the Death's Ward demolitions gun was placed on the side of the turret. While it has an elevation of 10º, if required, the Tomb Guardian can tilt its hull to provide another degree or two.

The left side of the turret mounts the biggest change from the Death's Ward – a large engineering arm. This can rotate separately from the main turret, and extend. At the tip is an extensible and independently rotational tractor beam array, vastly improving on the one the Death's Ward carried. Underslung on arm is an excavator head. This can be removed and replaced in the field in under a minute. In the Tomb Guardian's various engineering supplies is a crane attachment (as a back-up for the tractor beam) which can be mounted on the same fitting.

For the instances when the arm is in place and the extra stability of a ground-mount is needed (to avoid the potential danger of the grav drive "slipping"), four extensible legs were placed on the hull.

The engineering arm has some limitations in that it cannot rotate 360º at lower elevations from the lower turret because of the demolitions gun, but this was considered to a minor issue, since the instances when the main turret would be required to be keeping either of guns on target at the exact same time as the arm was in use (in particular with excavations) was small. The mobility of the tractor array from the arm itself also reduces this problem. However, the demolitions gun can be dismounted with a few minutes even in the field if this mobility is a problem in some situations.

The Fleshburner's two electroblaster scythes were removed. Instead, a mine-plough with variable geometry was emplaced. This had a further new innovation. The sides and top of the blade have a secondary shield-grid, which functions separately to the Tomb Guardian's own shields. The plough-shield projects a screen about five metres from the edge of the blades in either configuration. This not only provides additional protection from weapons fire from the frontal direction, or against mine-shrapnel, but provides a shelter for the engineers for tasks that require them to dismount.

The Fleshburner's internal systems and placing were completely re-worked for the Tomb Guardian. The pilot seat was drastically improved for a much more comfortably position. At the rear, a new crew module was added with hatches for the other crew. While still a little cramped due to the necessity of keeping the compartment below the Coldbeam turret's arc, they are far and away superior to the Fleshburner.
While it still has the older, more rounded hull of the Fleshburner and its generation of Aotrs-made vehicles, and with the addition of the "legs" has not perhaps helped the Tomb Guardian in giving the impression of an overweight insect, the Tomb Guardian is generally held to be "not quite as ugly" as the Fleshburner. And unlike the older MBT, the Tomb Guardian has much more practicality to back-up its slightly ungainly appearance.

Photos are of the WSF versions, but here is some bonuses ones!

The Storm Cleaver prototype, painted (done on the Replicator 2, with the standard turret in WSF)

The Storm Cleaver prototype, painted (done on the Replicator 2, with the standard turret in WSF)

This is our battlefield from the Worlds a couple of weeks ago.

And, finally, a shot of the entire Aotrs ground force!

And, finally, a shot of the entire Aotrs ground force!

Okay, technically, there is one sort of commando infantry best, but they are not best suited to 144th scale games!

Next month, sci-fi releases will be back to starships, with the release of the first batch of Wodef Enclave ships!

Our set of starship rules (a generic build-your-own ships system suitable for any set of models) is also now available of Wargames Vault here:


There is also a free Web Enhancement Pack; this contains the markers and the QR sheet the latter of which is an indicator of the level of the game if you want to have a quick nosey.


Shapeways, Aotrs Shipyards

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