I have to come clean and confess I am not a fan of the Centauri ships all that much, but unfortunately I love the Centauri race portrayed by the brilliant Peter Jurasik as Londo Mollari in the series and in particular his clever political manoeuvrings. Looks aside however, the Centauri have access to a fearsome array of beam weapons and deadly ships that can certainly give any fleet a bad day, in particular their despised mortal enemy, the Narn.
Unlike the Earth Alliance fleet, which is so big it is divided over three era’s, Centauri Admirals get the luxury of choosing from a wide selection of ships from a single fleet list. As I wouldn’t be initially playing with ‘In-Service’ dates for the fleets, I opted to select what I hoped would be a nicely rounded five ‘Raid’ point fleet that would be roughly a fair match against the Narn fleet I took to the Mongoose Halls tournament. At ‘Battle’ level, and to be the flagship of my force I chose a Primus-class Battlecruiser. It might not have a huge selection of secondary weapons at its disposal, but what it lacks for in short ranged brawling, it more than makes up for in its long ranged battle laser primary beam weapons. Supporting the Primus-class is an equally daunting Belvarin Carrier. At only ‘Raid’ level, the Belvarin is an absolute star bringing six flights of Sentri fighters to the fray as well as some pretty handy short-ranged firepower in the form of all-round twin particle arrays. With the two Sentri flights that the Primus also comes with, the fleet gets a very useful eight flights of fighters in total.
Two ships however, do not a fleet make. So, to give some up close support and hopefully draw some of the attention away from my two capitol ships I selected an iconic Vorchan warship, a Maximus-class frigate and a pair of fast-attack Darkners to harass the enemy from behind with their 20″ range beam battle lasers and matter cannons.
Painting the Centauri
One of the things I most disliked about the look of the Centauri fleet, was the hugely gaudy purple and gold palette they were predominately presented in. I wanted to keep the traditional colourscheme, but only if I could find a way to tone it down a bit reduce the intensity of the purple. With that in mind I started with a basecoat of GW Foundation range Hormagaunt Purple into which I added increasing amounts of elf flesh for the highlighting. This gave me a far paler blue-grey colour for the hulls rather than the deep purple you often see. To then bring the traditional colour back out I gave the ships a very thin wash of watered down purple ink. For the metallic trim and wings I started with a basecoat of tin bitz into which I mixed a little brazen brass and dark flesh. Using this as my base mix I then added increasing amounts of more brass and then finally shining gold and chainmail silver to create a weathered look to the metal sections. A thin wash of black and antelope inks helped to enrich the contrast before I gave the edges a final highlight of pure burnished gold to finish.
Primus Class Battlecruiser
The grey central section of the Primus was a simple dry-brush of adeptus battle grey followed by a very light dry-brush of wolf grey to help lighten the overall edges. I then picked out a few of the panel lines with ghost grey before giving the hull a wash of very watered down black to intensify the shading. The main gun batteries, engines and prow detailing were initially painted in boltgun metal and highlighted with chainmail before the black was was applied. The detailing was then re-highlighted in neat mithril silver along with the extreme edges of the main engines.
For the two flights of Sentri fighters, I followed exactly the same approach I did with the Narn fleet and removed the mounting peg from underneath each fighter replacing it with a length of rod cut from a paperclip. These were in turn re-mounted onto a small flying base as opposed to the hex-bases provided. As I mentioned with the Narn fleet, this is not something you need to do and the hex-bases provided are perfectly adequate in my opinion. I simply do not use them as I wanted to keep a uniform look to the bases of all my ships and personally found the fighter bases to be a little distracting.
Despite stating that I am not a fan of the look of the Centauri ships in my introduction, if there were two that I felt were an exception to the rule, it would be the Belvarin-class carrier and the iconic Vorchan warship. There is just something about the Vorchan in particular which reminds me a lot of a cross between a Bird of Prey and Asgaard ship from Stargate SG-1.
Belvarin Carrier and Vorchan Warship
Both the Belvarin and Vorchan were painted using exactly the same approach as I used on the Primus-class on the previous section, so there is little point repeating it here. The yellow markings however on the Vorchan wings and fighters were achieved using flesh tones first as the basecoat, before yellow was applied as the final highlights.
Yellow is not a particularly ‘painter friendly’ colour due to it low opacity when watered down as anyone who has tried to paint it over a dark colour will testify to. The trick with yellow is to give it a basecoat which helps compliment it when applied over the top. I have found over the years that flesh tones such as bronzed flesh, elf flesh and even pale flesh are all ideal for this and will each give a varied richness and depth to the yellow when you apply it over the top. In the case of the fighters I started with a basecoat of a 50/50 mix of bronzed and elf flesh, which I carefully painted the markings onto the Sentri and Razik fighter wings. This was then overpainted with golden yellow to give the finished result you see above. The same was used for the Vorchan, except for a final highlight which was a 50/50 mix of golden yellow and bleached bone which I used to pick out the edges of the banding where it crossed the engines.
The pair of Darkners and the single Maximus-class Frigate were added to give the fleet some much needed initiative sinks as well as some truly nasty skirmish level vessels. The Maximus frigate in particular is often easily overlooked, which can be a fatal mistake for an enemy as its tiny size belies the 10x attack dice of twin-particle arrays it has at its disposal. Likewise the Darkners main battle lasers are only slightly less potent than those found on Centauri capital ships like the Primus, making them equally deadly if ignored. Together they help round the fleet out to a respectable starting value of five ‘Raid’ points worth. To this I will add over time some further capital ships and escorts to give me more campaign flexibility, such as a second Primus, a slew of Vorchan’s, a Dargan-class strike cruiser and escorting Kutai gunships.
There is definately more to come from the Centauri yet, including their ‘Shadow’ allies. Until then though, happy gaming.