Thursday 31 October 2013

SoBH: Night of the Witches!


A little while ago, I wrote that I had started on a new gaming project: to paint 2 suitable warbands for a Halloween game of Song of Blades and Heroes (here).  Well, last night I took the results of this obsession along to the Helensburgh Games Club and set it in front of 5 of the members.Here's how it went (and yes, I know that it wasn't actually played on Halloween, but Tuesday was the closest club night to the 31st and therefore it had to be played then)...

The Scenario

Normally, I would have created some interesting story and goals for a game.  However, since this was to be the first time I'd ever played SoBH, I thought that I'd better keep it simple.  We ended up with a straightforward pitched battle, with each warband entering the table from opposite edges and the winner being determined solely by who could drive off their enemies.

The Forces

The 3 Witches had the following figures:
  • 3 witches (Black Agnes, Agatha, Meg): Q3+, C2, Magic User, Flying, Leader
  • 1 Ghost: Q4+, C2, Terror, Undead, Flying, Free Disengage
  • 3 Hellhounds: Q4+, C3, Animal, Savage [note that I've decided since the game that I might upgrade these to C4]
  • 5 Ghouls: Q4+, C2, Poison, Savage
  • 6 Giant Rats: Q4+, C1, Animal, Gregarious, Stealth
As can be seen, I really went to town on the attributes for this force!  Perhaps a bit more than necessary, in hindsight?

The Witch Hunters force was composed of:
  • John Sterne, Witch Hunter: Q3+, C3, Fearless, Hero, Lethal vs witches, Shooter(S)
  • Brother Matthew, the mad monk: Q3+, C2, Fearless, Cleric
  • Sir Jasper, the magistrate: Q3+, C3, Leader, Dashing
  • Colonel Brandon: Q3+, C2, Mounted, Long Move, Leader, Shooter(S)
  • Major Fairfax: Q3+, C3, Leader, Shooter(S)
  • Sergeant Stone: Q4+, C2, Heavy Armour
  • 6 Musketeers: Q4+, C2, Shooter(L)
  • 4 Soldiers (swords, spears or halberds): Q4+, C2
I've not included a points value for either force.  Partly this is because I realise that I calculated some of them incorrectly, which is embarrassing.  It also reflects the fact that neither warband is technically legal: both have greatly more points in Personalities than the 1/3 permitted by the rules.  However, a rough figure would be about 600 points (to the nearest 100) for either side - that's about double the amount for a "normal" game.  I was aiming for a large, multi-player event, though...

The Game

Note Sergeant Stone in the centre background, skulking in ambush
Initially, the southernmost soldiers and the ghouls advanced towards each other.  A perennial issue for the troopers was that while the squaddies themselves would move forward on command, the players didn't advance the officers at the same time.  This left them without leadership for some critical moments.

Colonel Brandon and his bodyguard moved up to join the sergeant in the alley.  Seeing this, the evil players immediately surrounded them with giant rats.  The ghouls moved up to the other end to block off any escape route.

Only 1 rat had enough activations to make an attack.  Even though the Colonel was at a disadvantage, his horse managed to kick the rodent away.  It was immediately replaced by another animal, though.

In his next turn, Colonel Brandon rolled 3 dice for activation (in SoBH, a figure can choose to roll 1, 2 or 3 dice against their Quality and receive an action for each success.  However, if 2 failures are rolled then your side's turn is over).  He made all 3 and used his Free Disengage (because he was mounted against non-mounted opponents) to flee through a narrow gap by the wall of the house.  With 3 actions and the Long Move attribute, he went right out of the village and half way across the fields...

Meanwhile, Sergeant Stone and the soldier double-teamed the nearest ghoul and slew it.

Their triumph was short-lived, though.  Surrounded by rats and a ghoul, the troopers had little chance of escaping.  First, Sergeant Stone was knocked to the ground.  Although he managed to pick himself up again, a fierce attack from the rats achieved a gruesome kill against him, despite his armour (it's probably best not to think about how this might have happened).  Once on his own, the other soldier didn't survive for long.

Seeing 2 more soldiers out in the open, the rat/ghoul pack moved on.  They achieved another gruesome kill against the first human, but the second lad was plucky (or desperate!) and fought back valiantly.  He killed 1 ghoul and floored another...

...before the horde closed in and tore him apart (another gruesome kill)!  The only other person nearby was a solitary musketeer who hadn't managed to hit anything all game.  He took one look at the grisly sight and fled in horror!


To the north of the village, John Sterne, Brother Matthew and a very nervous trooper were advancing slowly through the woods.  "There are witches abroad tonight" proclaimed the experienced hunter.  "I can smell their fear!"
He was correct, but Meg and Agatha were hanging back a bit.  Instead, their pack of enormous hell-hounds were in the vanguard.

The 3 beasts made a co-ordinated charge through the trees, with 2 of them concentrating on Brother Matthew and the 3rd facing the witch hunter himself.  John Sterne killed his adversary with contemptuous ease, but the cleric was hard pressed.  Before either of his comrades could aid him, the monk was torn apart (yep, another gruesome kill).  This caused the soldier to run a short way off, but when he realised that he was then alone in the forest at night, he retraced his steps very quickly and stood behind the witch hunter's imposing bulk!

The 2 remaining hell-hounds renewed their assault.  This time the witch hunter tied with one beast; both opponents wary of the other's power.  However, the soldier was immensely lucky and managed to swing his halberd at just the right moment to kill the animal that was attacking him!

From behind a nearby tree, Meg now decided to get involved.  She managed to transfix John Sterne and freeze him in place.  This would have made him very vulnerable indeed, but with a great effort of will, he drew in a breath and shook off the curse before the hell-hound could take advantage of his weakened state.

What of the Colonel?

Colonel Brandon was very experienced in battles, skirmishes and sieges against human foes, but he wasn't used to fighting supernatural terrors.  After galloping out of the village, he started to work his way to the north, trying to join up with John Sterne and seek advice from the witch hunter.  However, in his path there was a ghost!

He tried to calm himself down by thinking of how he'd survived all his fights so far, spurred his horse on and charged straight at the apparition.  When the Colonel opened his eyes again, he was alone; the spectre had dissipated and vanished.  "Huh, that wasn't so bad" he thought to himself as he pressed on.

Hearing the noise of a scuffle ahead of him, the Colonel galloped his horse up the hill, just in time to bowl over the last hell-hound.  Agatha, the 3rd crone, tried to hex the witch hunter, but he saw her preparations in plenty of time and managed to dodge the spell.

The hell hound picked itself up and backed away, just as Meg approached to support her sister.  The 2 sides eyed each other without attempting to disguise their hatred, but no-one was prepared to make the first move.


Back on the southern outskirts of the village, Sir Jasper came huffing and puffing up to see how his troopers were doing.  The scene was grisly, with rats and ghouls gnawing on the carcases of the fallen soldiers while Black Agnes watched on.  Sir Jasper wasn't having any of that!  The stout fellow summoned up all his younger memories of fencing and lunged at the foul, black-clad hag.

With an eerie screech, the witch fell down, dead!  At the sound, the minions of darkness looked up and saw the magistrate standing over the body of their leader.  Almost all of them turned and fled in panic, leaving Sir Jasper facing just a single, nervous foe.

At this point, we had to pack up since our 2 hour slot in the room was over.  Neither side had driven the other off, so there was much discussion about who had won.  Opinions varied...


Well, that was fun!  I've not played Song of Blades and Heroes before, so here are my first reactions:
  • I made some mistakes when preparing my quick-reference cards for the various characters.  This was annoying, but I managed to work around it on the night.  I'll have to redo several cards, though.  Bother!
  • It's not obvious from just reading the rules, but a step in Quality is worth a lot.  The Q3+ characters were much more active than the Q4+ troopers or minions.
  • The witches easily over-ran the soldiers in the village by using a single leader (Black Agnes) to give sensible group moves.  However, in the forest they seemed to be overawed by the reputation of John Sterne, the witch hunter.  I think they could have swarmed him and his sidekick with hell-hounds and the ghost, with 2 witches providing fire support.  Instead, they hung back and were reluctant to engage until it was too late and Colonel Brandon arrived.
  • The humans were all over the place.  Their soldiers and musketeers were scattered in small groups and most of these never even saw an enemy (remember Major Fairfax from the order of battle.  He didn't do anything useful).  However, a handful of active people saved the day for them, with Colonel Brandon dispatching the ghost and Sir Jasper slaying a witch.
  • On points, it looks as if the humans won.  Although the witches slew more foes, their kills were typically ordinary troopers, whereas the witch hunters felled fewer, but higher value, enemies.  I'm not sure which way it would have gone had we continued, though!
  • This was a much bigger game than the recommended 300 points.  Additionally, it had a far greater proportion of Personalities than is technically permitted.  I don't think that either of these modifications hurt the game at all; I'd be very happy to play at this level again!

Sunday 27 October 2013

Zomtober 2013, Week 4

Week 3 is this way <--

It's the 4th and last week of Zomtober 2013!  Again, I've only just painted my figures in time, so they're a bit of a rushed job.  Still, better finished a bit crudely than never finished at all, right?

Today's duel is between a couple of rather small figures.  For the survivors, we have "Lucy", from Wargames Factory's "Survivors: The Women" kit.  She's just a little girl in her party clothes, but she's lifting up an enormous revolver.  It's got a telescopic sight on it, which seems pretty strange to me!

Facing her is "army zombie".  He's one of the models from Blue Moon Manufacturing's old "Things That Go Bump In The Night" range.  These figures tend to be a little smaller than many other 28mm figures, but even then "army zombie" is rather shorter than most of the other Blue Moon figures.  I'd say he was 26mm from base to eyes.

The Blue moon figures have substantial integral bases, so I've not rebased them (unlike all my other models).  This doesn't help with the height issue when the zombie is short to start with!

So, what's the story?  "Army zombie" is dressed in a rather old-fashioned uniform, so I don't think he's a member of today's military.  Perhaps this is set some 50 years ago, at the time of the Korean War?  Alternatively, maybe he's a WW2 re-enactor.  Given the height issue, I think it probable that he's just a teenager at that.

Lucy's gun is enormous and should easily be able to blow big holes in the zombie.  The real question is: can she lift it high enough and hold it steady enough to aim?  Even if she does shoot then I imagine the recoil will bowl her over, so she'd better make the first bullet count!

It's been fun doing Zomtober this year; I've certainly completed some models that would otherwise have languished for a long time on my workbench.  Thanks to the originators of the idea and to all those of you who have supported me and all the other participants throughout this period.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

TRWNN: Happy Hour in Pike's Crossing


In the small Western town of Pike's Crossing, many people held grudges.  Cowmen hated the sheriff, newcomers hated the established families, whiskey drinkers hated beer drinkers and those who opened their boiled eggs at the pointed end hated those who cracked them at the blunt end.  One hot Saturday evening everything boiled over into a massive brawl...

The Scenario

What do you do when you have 6 kids at the club wanting to play your game, most of whom haven't played "The Rules with No Name" before?  I could have tried to concoct some frighteningly subtle and layered plot with which to entertain.  However on this occasion I chickened out and declared a free-for-all!

Each of the 6 sides would receive one experienced gun-slinger (either Legend or Shootist rank) as well as a not-so-good sidekick (Gunman or Citizen rank).  The winner would be the last man standing.

The Action

Unlike most of my battle reports, this game quickly became very chaotic (no, really?).  Rather than try to give a blow-by-blow account of the action, I'll just mention some of the more memorable moments.

From the start, the 3 players on the left declared a truce; they all charged across the board as fast as they could.  The funny thing is that 2 of them actually seemed to believe that the alliance would hold for the entire game...

Emmett (Legend) shows how it's done by running round the corner of some outcrops and shooting Deputy Rex in the leg, all in the same action!

After Deputy Rex recovers enough to stand up, Old Pete (Gunman) tries the same action.  All he achieves is to jam his own gun.

Jesse (Shootist) shows his strength by charging Deputy Rex and flattening him with a couple of solid punches.

Juan (Citizen) turns on a surprised Kid Shelleen (Citizen) and fires on him.  And fires again.  10 dice of blazing away without any result.  Kid Shelleen then recovers from his bemusement and blazes away in return.  He's slightly more successful: Juan takes a flesh wound, promptly fails a nerve check and spends the rest of the game curled up in a ball beneath the fence, calling out "I'm so sorry, señor - it was an accident.  Please don't shoot me!"

The 3 Legends meet up in a confused fire-fight with much ducking back behind cover.  Sheriff Roberts (top left), after spending the first half of the game in the saloon's outhouse, misses Blondie with his shotgun at a range of 4.5"!


By the end of the game, Deputy Rex had been knocked unconscious, disarmed and tied up.  Deputy Eddie was unconscious with a serious wound and Juan was blubbering like a baby.  2 or 3 other characters had taken wounds, but no one had died!  Of course, this meant that all players claimed a victory, though personally I think that the Deputies' player didn't have a leg to stand on (ha ha...).

Sunday 20 October 2013

Zomtober 2013, Week 3

Week 2 is this way <--.

Well, this is now week 3 of Zomtober.  I'll confess that it nearly caught me out, since I've been concentrating on painting witch hunters for the last week.  Still, I had some appropriate models on my workbench that were largely completed, so I've finished them off quickly.

Today's duel is between "Emma" (codename "M") and "Romero zombie".  Emma is a rookie member of the secretive "Men in Blue" organisation, though obviously women are also recruited.

How do I know that Emma is a rookie?  Well, for starters, she's turned up for the apocalypse in totally unsuitable shoes.  High heels like this are really not very practical for fighting or running ("shoes to die for"?).
Secondly, she seems to have fired low: the zombie has wounds only in the belly and these will not incapacitate it.

The question is this: will Emma retain her composure enough to aim for the head (and will she be steady enough to achieve this)?  If so then her machine pistol will easily have enough fire-power to dispatch the zombie.  However, if she continues to try for the easier body shot then the zombie will only be knocked back and inconvenienced until her ammunition is exhausted!

Emma is from Wargames Factory's "The Women" survivors.  "Romero zombie" is a special edition figure from Studio Miniatures (and could in one sense be described as "patient zero"; the person who started the entire zombie plague).

Week 4 is here -->

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Ooh, Shiney! Witches!

A Chain of Consequences

Exactly one week ago, I ordered a copy of "Songs of Blades and Heroes" from Ganesha Games.  These are a very popular set of wargame rules for  fantasy skirmishes and I had been vaguely thinking about buying them for some time.  However, it was this post on Brummie's Wargaming Blog which finally pushed me over the edge.  After all, it was only $8 (US) to download the PDF and I already have the means to print out such documents.

For the first day or so after this I flipped through the rules, becoming more and more interested as I did so.  I began to wonder which models from my collection might be suitable for a test game, when my eye came to rest on the description of the Lethal attribute.  The very first example given was for a Witch Hunter, who might know exactly how to be lethal to harmless-but-unpleasant old women (my words, not verbatim from the rules!).

Aha, I thought: I've got an old witch hunter figure!  He was part of the "Dogs of War" army from Games Workshop and came with a mad monk as a faithful sidekick.  Mind you, I think that "mad" is probably a necessary qualification for all witch hunters, isn't it?  Hmm, these are models I painted a long time ago - they're slightly too glossy and are on square bases (I prefer circular for skirmish games).  Still, it's a start.

OK, but these two aren't much of a warband on their own, are they?  Let's see - I've got a box of plastic Royalist infantry (English Civil War) lying about somewhere.  These were a freebie I got with a subscription renewal a few years ago (probably Wargames Illustrated, but I cannot remember for certain).  I'd always been planning to sell them since I don't collect ECW models, but now I'm glad I never got round to it.  I should easily be able to make a dozen soldiers with a mixture of muskets and swords or pikes.  Indeed, the command sprue might provide some better-dressed figures - perhaps the local magistrate has been roped in to the witch hunt as well!

Now for the opposition.  Firstly, I've got a few Mantic ghouls and zombies already painted up; all I had to do for these was to separate them from my more usual, modern zombies.  These came with some kind of sampler pack that Mantic sold just before Christmas a few years ago.  They'll do for shock troops.

What about the witches?!  OK, let's see: a while ago I bought a pack of West Wind Production's "GW0007: Storybook witches".  There were 4 hags in this pack, plus a cauldron containing an unfortunate child victim.  I only really wanted the one hag at the time, as the leader for my intended "Wicked Witch of the West" Hordes-of-the-Things army.  That leaves 3 classic witches that I can paint and base.  Excellent!

Hmm, the evil side still seems a bit lightweight.  Somewhere I've got a couple of Games Workshop banshees already painted, I think.  I can use one or both as ghosts or evil spirits of some kind.  Also, while rooting through my box of bases I found an old packet of plastic giant rats, again from Games Workshop.  They're not the greatest of sculpts, but I can paint these up to add some expendables to the witches' force.

So, I'm now 7 days into this new venture.  I have to locate some of my models that are in medium-deep storage and, more importantly, I have 13 humans, 3 witches and a large number of rats to paint up.  Also I'll need to print out quick reference sheets and character cards and design a scenario, preferably all before Halloween.  I really didn't need any more projects right now.  WHAT HAVE I DONE?!

Sunday 13 October 2013

Zomtober 2013, Week 2

Week 1's entry is here <--

Right, we're well into Zomtober 2013 now; this is the second week (see here if you don't know what Zomtober is).  Once again, I'm going to present a small duel between a survivor and a zombie.  So, without further ado, here they are:

"Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough!"
Once in a while, any long-term model-maker comes across a figure that is just right.  So it was with "Joan", the survivor with the pipe bomb in her hand.  She's been built from Wargames Factory's "The Women" set, without any conversions or additions.  However, the moment I had selected the parts I wanted and had glued them together, I thought that I had something special.  I've tried to make the painting fit my vision of this survivor and overall I'm very pleased with the way she came out.

Facing her is a very skeletal zombie from Studio Miniatures.  This came as part of my Kickstarter reward a while ago; I think that he (she?) was created especially for that event and isn't generally available.

In my mind, he's a "smartie" zombie, or at least he's retained some level of threat instinct.  He's clearly a bit taken aback by the defiant attitude of the woman and is pausing to consider his next move.

So, who will win this duel?  If Joan can ram her pipe bomb into the zombie's exposed rib cage then it's all over.  However, he may be too cunning to let that happen!

Week 3's entry is here -->

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Full Thrust: How to blow up a planet


The Emperor has discovered the location of a secret Rebel base; it's on a jungle planet in the Draconis system.  At the same time, his latest terror weapon, the starship "Planetary Stabiliser", has just been completed.  He could test the new mega-ship and crush the rebellion mercilessly at the same time.  All his admiral has to do is sail up to Draconis IV and vaporise the planet!


There are limited local defences available on or near the planet.  In addition to that, the defenders are racing reinforcements to the Draconis system - but they will arrive piecemeal.


 Choose a points value for the battle (we used about 1300 NPV).  Then:
  • The attackers must use at least half their points to purchase a really big planet-busting ship (the "Planetary Stabiliser" or equivalent), plus any fighters or parasite ships desired.  The RBPBS must be fitted with a spinal-mount Nova Cannon, but it may use its remaining space for any systems desired - apart from a cloaking device!
    Any remaining points may be spent freely on ships to escort the RBPBS.
  • The defenders may use their fleet points freely to purchase any desired mixture of ships.  These will arrive piecemeal; some of them may not arrive at all.  Choosing a few large ships may result in not having much on the table at all (if the die rolls go badly), while taking a lot of small ships may leave the fleet open to defeat piecemeal.
  • As well as their fleet, the defenders may spend another 1/2 of the agreed points value on local, planetary defences.  This could be any mixture desired of star bases, ground bases, minefields and similar fixed assets, but no ships.  Note that bases may have hangars and therefore be able to launch fighters; this would be very traditional!


  • Place a planet towards one end of the board, near but not quite touching the edge.  The defender then positions all his/her planetary defences.
  • The attackers are placed at the opposite end of the table, ideally about 48" away from the planet.  Their initial speed is 10.
  • At the end of every turn, roll a separate d6 for each defending ship which has not yet arrived.  On a 5 or 6, place it immediately on a random part of a random table edge.  Speed is 12 initially, heading is at the owner's discretion.


  • To blow up the planet, the Planetary Stabiliser must fire its Nova Cannon.  However, there are some additional restrictions over the usual rules for this weapon because planets are more massive targets than usual.  For success:
    • The Planetary Stabiliser must be no closer to the planet than 6", else it would be destroyed itself in the explosion.
    • It must also be no further than 12" from the planet, because the cannon loses power with range.  Planet-busting needs a lot of power.
    • Also, the Planetary Stabiliser must be travelling at a speed of 4 or less at the time of firing, to give the weapon's technicians time to fine-tune it and to select the best aiming point.
  • If the planet is destroyed then the attackers win.
  • If the Planetary Stabiliser is destroyed, captured, driven off or rendered incapable of destroying the planet (for example, its Nova Cannon, manoeuvring engines or all fire controls are damaged beyond repair) then the defenders win.

Our Game

So, how did it play out for us?  Well, before the game even started properly, the Federation played a Traitor event card.  This enabled them to filch a potentially useful Reinforced Shields card from the Empire's set of cards.  Oddly, the Imperial admiral didn't seem too bothered by this.  Perhaps he simply expected treachery and was relieved that it wasn't worse!

In the first turn, both the Imperial fleet (the "Planetary Stabiliser" and her consort, the battleship "Goliath") launched TIE fighters.  A large group of X- and Y-wing fighters took off from their planetary bases in response.
Reinforcements started to arrive from the Federation fleet.  On the right, a lone destroyer appeared, whilst the unluckiest corvette in the galaxy (USS Zhukov) warped in on the left.  The TIE fighter group immediately pounced on her and attacked.  They were so confident of success that one squadron saved its ammunition and didn't even bother to make a firing pass.  The Zhukov managed to shoot down a single attacking fighter before being torn to shreds.

On the turn after this, vengeful X-wing heavy fighters pounced on the TIEs (the Y-wing bombers wisely stayed out of this fight!).  In an incredibly bloody melee, both sides rolled high and almost all the squadrons on both sides were destroyed.  Only 3 TIEs out of 23 and 4 X-wings out of 24 survived a single round.  One TIE managed to take out 4 X-wings all on its own with a succession of '6's (hmm, I wonder who was piloting that craft?)

While the exhausted remnants of the fighter squadrons continued to dogfight and the Imperial flotilla plodded on doggedly towards the planet, more Federation ships arrived.  A destroyer and a frigate were placed to either side of the Imperial ships, but more significantly the light cruiser Los Angeles and the battlecruiser Invincible manoeuvred behind the Planetary Stabiliser.

The Y-wing bombers made an attack run on the larger enemy ship...

...but they were all shot down without causing any significant damage.  The smaller Federation ships were hammered mercilessly and even the Los Angeles misjudged its approach and ended up as target practice for the port batteries of the Stabiliser.  However, Invincible sat in a blind spot to the rear and began firing torpedo after torpedo into the bigger ship.

This was probably the Federation's finest moment.  Enough damage was caused on the Planetary Stabiliser to trigger a threshold check.  Even though each system would only be knocked out on a '6', the Nova Cannon was hit!  The Federation players were jubilant and immediately played a Plasma Fire event card on the big red craft as well, just to complicate things.

Sadly for the good guys, plentiful damage control parties on the Planetary Stabiliser managed to bring the Nova Cannon back on line and put out the fire immediately.

Now it was the Empire's turn to retaliate.  Although the Planetary Stabiliser couldn't fire on the pesky Federation battlecruiser (and had to console herself by swatting all the little Federation ships instead), her consort could!  The Goliath couldn't bring her full fire-power to bear to her flank, but she still did enough damage on Invincible to cause a threshold check on the Federation vessel.  To add insult to injury, the Empire also played a Design Flaw event card on Invincible: rolling a '6' would have resulted in her instant destruction.  The Federation breathed a collective sigh of relief when they rolled low on this test!

This wasn't the end of the Empire's nefarious plans, however.  At the start of the very next turn they played a Continuity Error event and rolled high (again!) for its effect.

Suddenly the Invincible found itself not behind, but right in front of the Imperial battleship!  The last 2 X-wing fighters attempted to distract Goliath, but didn't achieve any real damage.

 In desperation, the Federation revealed that they had smuggled some Tribbles onto the Planetary Stabiliser.

By now, more Federation cruisers were arriving.  Even as the crew of the pulverised Los Angeles abandoned ship, the Endeavour also approached from the rear, fast.  Sadly, before we could resolve any more attacks (or the Tribbles card), time ran out and we had to pack up.


Who won?  Both sides claimed a victory, of course!  I think that all the players enjoyed the game thoroughly (which is a victory in itself, of sorts!).  However, the Planetary Stabiliser had veered off course in a vain attempt to shake off Invincible.  She'd also taken damage to the Nova Cannon and although it was now repaired, I wouldn't wish to be the weapons technician who certified it as fit for heavy duty use!  On both counts, I think I'd give the Federation a marginal, if somewhat Pyrrhic, win.

Bonus points to any reader who knows the origin of the name Planetary Stabiliser, without Googling it first!