Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A quick play session of Starmada

As I wrote in the previous post, I got to play some Starmada: Admiralty Edition. As the authors state, Starmada is like a big toolbox with a set of core of rules and a lot of options. At this point I'm using only the basic rules that take 24 pages of the main rule book, with the addition of the "Sequential Movement" option (essentially removing the secret plotting of move orders) in order to simplify solo play. I also picked up some ideas found in the Starmada forum: giving a material advantage to my opposition, and using cards to randomly select the next ship to move for each side. I used the sample ship data cards that you can download from the Majestic 12 Games site (check the file.)

In this playtest battle, I used a single Volhard-class cruiser and two Anval-class frigates against a similar opposing force, with the addition of a Swiftsure-class destroyer (a force roughly 1/3 stronger than mine.) The first side to obtain at least 130 victory points wins. Therefore, I decided that I would try to destroy one enemy frigate and one destroyer, while the opposing forces would concentrate on taking down my cruiser. On the first turn, the ships maneuvered around towards the intended targets but no ship was in range for combat.

On the second turn, things became interesting. The two enemy frigates moved into close range of my cruiser, causing some damage. However, both were decimated by the cruiser's missiles and railguns. My two frigates lined up against the enemy destroyer and fired all of their railguns, causing it to blow up. However, since combat is simultaneous, the destroyer managed to hit my cruiser and one of my frigates. Lastly, the enemy cruiser fired a barrage of long range missiles against one of my frigates, nearly destroying it.

The destruction of two frigates and the destroyer gave me 200 points, resulting in a victory at the end of the second game turn. This match made me aware of the importance of shields. Even at close range, shields can avoid a lot of damage as they allow "saving throws" for each hit. Positioning is also very important. For instance, the Anval-class frigates have powerful engines but they should be used to move around and pick targets carefully.

I enjoyed the basic Starmada game. The rules are consistent and easy to grasp. The combat rules do call for a lot of rolls (something that seems scheduled to change in the next edition) and I can see how they might slow down larger battles, especially when a ship chooses to fire at multiple targets. Ship construction seems very solid although, as the authors put it, "the help of a sturdy calculator will be invaluable." One point to be aware of is that a data card is necessary for each ship in play, as there are many stats to be tracked during the game. If you use a tablet or laptop while gaming, a spreadsheet might replace these; otherwise you might need to print these sheets before each game.


Parduz said...

I "hate" this game as much as i can :)

After 10 years of fun, epic and furious battles using Silent Death, our group wanted to change "scale", from fighters to big ships.... so i bought S:AE and his sourcebooks, print them all, and called all friends to bring any spaceship miniature they could have.
We started with big espectations a 4 player/2 teams game... we liked the movement rules, then took us 15 minutes to resolve ONE attack from one ship to another, while the other two player we chatting with other friends.

I know from BGG that someone like to have all that rolls 'cause the feel of "big scale" they give.... to me, the game is broken and unplayable.

Ricardo said...

Hi Parduz, I also like the movement system of S:AE more than its combat resolution. I can imagine that a large ship possibly firing at multiple targets will take a while to complete.