Our gaming getaway concluded on Sunday, and I’m thinking it was a good thing. Our room was located in a high-traffic area of the hotel, so we were roused frequently by late night gamer carousing — especially Beloved Wife, who is a light sleeper. Needless to say, we all were pretty tired.
NatureBoy and I were scheduled to play just one game, Star Trek Fleet Action from 10 am to 2 PM. After breakfast, packing and checking out, we headed to the dealer room where we picked up two D&D 3.5 books at 50% off: the Fiend Folio and Monster Manual III complete our monster sourcebooks collection. BW and NB also each got an oversized die. One dealer had some fun t-shirts, but we resisted the call to spend.
Star Trek Fleet Action was a mixed bag. It was a huge tactical miniatures game, with at least ten players controlling several spaceships each. All the players except one hadn’t played the game from which this homebrew rules set had been derived. The GM has lost his voice from running many games already, and the noisy room made it next to impossible to hear. And even though the players unanimously opted to go with his simplified rules, we still each received a 10-page (or so) booklet of the rules and reference charts. (I should have known when I saw that the GM had provided calculators.)
On the positive side, everyone was really friendly, and we all helped each other understand the ways the rules worked. It was fun to be a part of a large group of independent “captains.” And there were minis of lots of Star Trek ships. How cool is that?! Here’s a close view of NatureBoy’s Klingon heavy cruisers.
Of course we played Klingons! Here, NatureBoy is assessing his strategy, engaging the Federation forces’ flank. You can just see my two light cruisers ready to get stomped by some Excelsior class vessels.
It was a good experience to play this game, because it used some familiar mechanics and some new ones. Vessels have rates of acceleration and deceleration, rather than just movement. So it takes a while to speed up, slow down, and to turn.
Damage was tracked by filling in little boxes on a worksheet. Enough damage to one location could knock out engines or torpedos, for example. In this way, it was quite similar to BattleTech.
With the large number and variety of weapons, resolving the firing phase of each round took a long time, especially considering the number of ships involved.
For example, here the main Klingon force bears down on the Federation Starbase. Several Intrepid class starships will prove an inadequate initial defense.
It often took more than fifteen minutes to resolve individual rounds, which meant that those of us who were still just moving our ships had to do lots of waiting. That took its toll, and was compounded by the time slot (right through lunch). We decided to bow out early, which got us home a little earlier than planned.
I think that the game could be fun, maybe with fewer people, more sleep, and some clearer understanding of the rules. Maybe there’s a simpler rules set out there for starship combat. It was, however, a good exercise in learning a game on the fly.
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