Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Starfleet Wars scale part 3: discrepancy

Can you see the problem with this picture?
In Part 1 of this series, we confirmed the "official" scale for Starfleet Wars starship miniatures is 1:9600.  In Part 2, we discovered the "official" scale for the SfW star fighters is 1:1200.  In this post, we learn how the two scales collide with the background material and the miniatures themselves.

I begin by noting the description of a couple of super galactic dreadnoughts in the Observer's Directory & Identification Manual.  The Aquarian Typhoon-class SGDN carries "Twenty attack craft [fighters], one positioned in a ready launch in the bow at all times."  Likewise, the entry for the Entomalian Swarm-class super galactic dreadnought notes "Fifteen 'Mosquito' attack craft are carried ..., one in the ready position on the 'Balist' apparatus in the bow."  There you have it: official word that a couple of the largest ships in this series carry fighters attached to their exteriors.

Sure enough, the manual's illustration of the Typhoon depicts a Pike fighter at the back of what resembles an aircraft carrier's launch catapult, although the drawing of the Swarm does not.  Although I don't own a Typhoon model, a look at the underside of my Swarm confirms the ODIM: there's a Mosquito fighter affixed to the front of the starship, as the photos below indicate:

Can you see it now?

How about now?

Here's the problem (which someone pointed out on the Galactic Knights mailing list some time ago): at 1:9600 scale, a model of the 22-meter Mosquito star fighter would be just a hair over 2 millimeters big.  As is obvious in the photos, the attack craft sculpted as part of the super galactic dreadnought is as large as a regular fighter miniature.  So either the SGDN is really at 1:1200 scale, or the fighter is really at 1:9600 scale.  So which is it????

Scale discrepancies always bothered me as a kid; I wouldn't play with my army men and my Hot Wheels at the same time because it was obvious the plastic green guy was too big to fit into the car that came up to his knees.  So how do we resolve this one?  It's one thing to have fighters on separate stands at a larger scale than the capital ships; that can be handwaved as an artifact of the game's representational system.  But a fighter that's a part of the mini is more difficult to explain.  After all, if an actual Swarm is 1400 meters long, at 1:9600, the fighter sculpted into it would be 172 meters in length!

Luckily, I think I've found an answer to this problem:  I'll repeat to myself, "It's just a game."  I should really just relax.


 Ashley said...

Yes I agree this would bug me too. My solution would be to forget the scale completely and handwave it away. The alternative is to ignore it, or go mad.

Porky said...

That's what it's all about. A great series of thoughtful posts.

I'm with accepting it's just a game, and Ashley's approach. I think we can ignore without forgetting.

maxmike said...

I tended to ignore the stuff in the ID manual because NOTHING ever added up. However, there IS a way to look at this than can resolve the fighter/ship scale issue.

If the Swarm is 172m (550ft)long, that's a huge fighter, yes. But if it's a small space WARSHIP similar to the LACs of the Honorverse (about the size of a 747 according to descriptions) or a system Defense Boat in Traveler (up to 5000 tons!)then it all adds up. "Fighters" basically become insystem PT boats with crews around 15, SAPs and Starbombers are still larger Frigate equivalents with crews around 60-100, and then we're up to destroyers and transports. And that's how we generally play it; fighters are system defense boat/LAC analogs designed to kill destroyer level pirates and so on.