Friday, May 8, 2015

Quick Star Wars space fighter game using Starhound derivative

Introduction
May the fourth.  Star Wars day.  Not a fanatical fan but do like the movies (well at least 4, 5, and 6). On Sunday, I thought – “hang on, I have some Star Wars Micromachines and I have a few Space fighter rules that I played in the early 80’s.  Maybe put the two together for a quick game?”  So on Sunday I dug up Starhound (go here for a look at the reference sheets), a ruleset I played a few times in the early 80’s.  I seem to remember it was fun, but looking at it now it seems to be a longer game that it could be, and it uses d100.  I also dug out the other space fighter boardgame I had played – Yaquinto's Shooting Stars. [update 10 May 2015: an older version of this post referred in error to  Yaquinto's Starfall instead of Shooting Stars].  Shooting Stars is a long game and quite detailed, so while I remember it been a good game, not for me at the moment when all I want to do it put a few fighters on the table and push them around for a one-off game.  I would have liked to play Star Wars: Star Warriors as it looks like it would fit right in, but I do not have it :-)  And I have resisted so far getting Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game, or I think I would have been playing that!



Rediscovered rules
But what should be in the Shooting Stars box but a few sheets of space fighter rules I wrote based on a whole bunch of different rulesets at the time.  And the Starhound book had a printed version of some of it.  So I was writing rules 30 years ago!  I did not remember doing this at all – they have remained there for 30 years, just waiting for this moment.    They are mostly based on Starhound but moving from d100 to d6.  It also uses facing for hit location.  And goes to the Shooting Stars 16 impulse movement system similar to Starfire/Star Fleet Battles.

I decide to use these rules.  But rather than the impulse movement sequence, I go back to Starhound (similar to full Thrust but with more and greater turns).  It reality, the game is much like StarHound but not using d100, less to hit modifiers and a slightly more detailed hit location chart.  I photocopied the typed up page and scribbled changes over it for about 10 minutes and that became the playsheet.  It is only for this game - I would have typed it up if I was playing a few more games.

My scribbled playsheet.  The typed part is 30 years old.
Quick Starhound overview
Starhound movement is based on thrust points that equal movement about 10-15.  The number of engines also allow you to turn, mostly up to 4 60 degree turns.  Movement is pre-plotted per player turn with the plotted turns happening evenly during the turn i.e. if you were going 3 turns, it is turn, move one-third, turn, move one-third, turn, move one-third.  firing is at the end of turn, with about half the normal chance to hit if the target was not in the forward arc the entire turn.  Light weapons
have a range of about 45, heavier weapons 90.  for my game, I quartered everything and played in inches with thrust about 4, light weapons range 12 (using a d6 to hit), heavy weapons range 24 (using a d12). There are no shield rules. After playing once after 30 years, I still found them to be a fun game.

Units
I do not have many space fighters in the Micro Machines but do have two X-wings and 2 tie interceptors so will go with that.  Nice and simple.  I have a quick look at the Star Wars wikia to figure out weapons and engines.  I drop the torpedoes and missiles as they would involve the advanced rules and more rules that I do not have time to think about.

So, here are the ships stats, that look very much like Starhound stats:

X-wing
Single seater
4 engines X X X X
4 lasers X X X X
10 hull XXXXX XXXXX
Speed: 4
Turns: 4

Tie interceptor
Single seater
2 engines X X
2 disruptors X X
5 hull XXXXX
Speed: 5
Turns: 3

Lasers are light weapons and have a range of 12; disruptors are heavy with a range of 24.
Turns are the number of 60 degree turns per player turn.

Scenario
The battle is on between the fleets of the Rebels and the empire.  The fighters are send out from each side to engage.  This is the story of the meeting engagement between two X-wings and two tie interceptors.

The two X-wings are veteran Sam with novice Anne.

Rebels (Micromachines)


The two Tie Interceptors are veteran Catty with novice Frosty.

Empire (Micromachines).  Yes, I know Catty is really a tie bomber and Frosty is Vader's Tie Fighter.
(Names are from my children's teddy bears).
The game is played on an Ikea table as that is all I have at short notice.

Game
I set them up on opposite sides of the table.

The Ikea battleground.
Rebel plan: Try and go on one flank, go in fast and try and shorten the range (the X-wing weapons have a maximum range of 12").  This sort of worked but in reality the Tie Interceptors came too close anyway.

Empire plan: go slow and keep the distance open (weapon range is 24").  due to my mismanagement and poor visualisation of distances, the Tie Interceptors ended up closing the range and losing the weapon range advantage.

The first two turns see the two forces rushing up to each other, increasing their velocity.

X wings going for the flank.  Empire just charging ahead.
 Turn 3 sees the Rebels do some good manoeuvring and the Empire slowing down and not so good.  The Empire player is very close and lost any range advantage of the longer ranged weapons.  Sam slams Frosty with 3 hits (from 4) but they end up being near misses (three 6's in a row for damage).  The near miss on Frosty means that, as a novice, Frosty has to thrust maximum next turn (a hit does this to a novice as well).
Firing is simultaneous and Frosty fires at Anne - 2 hits, each destroying a weapon.  Unlucky - there is only a 1 in 6 chance of hitting a weapon.  Anne, also a novice, will have to thrust maximum next turn.  Anne is already going 12", so will plot a 16" move next turn!

First blood to both sides.
Next turn is a mess of multiple tuns on both sides.  Anne plots 4 turns and ends up in a good position, fires at Catty and misses.  Catty, that barely moved, fires at Anne for two hull hits who will continue to accelerate next turn due to being hit again. Frosty does some pathetic plotting thinking he was really clever but ended up nowhere. Sam has a line on Frosty and score two hits, destroying an engine and a hull section.  Tie interceptors have only two engines so it now means Frosty has one engine and is limited in speed and turns.

Dancing around each other.
Anne and Frosty, both novices and both accelerating as fast as they can due to being hit, end up in limbo away from the centre.  Not great, but not bad as neither can be fired on.  Catty turns in place and Sam does nifty turns at low speed to see then face off each other at very short range. Catty destroy's one of Sam's four engines, and Sam destroys one of Catty's engines, damages the other and also one Catty's two weapons.  Catty can only thrust at 1" per turn now and no turns. Catty is really out the game as he can be picked off at any time, and is not a threat.

Sam and Catty face off.  Catty loses one engine and the other damaged.
 More plotting that wanted to be clever but wasn't (except Catty, who just moved 1"!).   Moslty is is down to my inexperience with plotted movement - my (limited) experience since 1985 with spaceship gaming has been impulse movement or vector driven.

A turn of downtime to stop doing mandatory actions.  Not intentional but useful.

With Catty out of the game, only Frosty was left.  I plotted Frosty to do some turns and slow down,but read Catty's plot, but for the previous turn and did not move Frosty at all.  You would think with only four pieces, how hard could it be to remember to move them?  Well, obviously it isn't.  With a poor turning anyway (as a novice he gets a poorer turn, and less turns as he only has one engine), the outsome would not be much different.  The range would have been a little longer but he still would have not had any X-wings in his firing arc.

Anne and Sam line up Frosty very well.  Anne is in "the slot" and so gets a bonus to fire.  Anne hits with both shots to stun Frostly (does nothing for one turn) and damages the remaining engine.  Sam scores 3 hits destroying a weapon, a hull and the engine.  Frosty is stunned, no engines and one weapon.  He is also out of the game.  Victory to the Rebels - a yay or a boo depending on your alignment!

Forgot to move Frosty and the X-wings take him down.
Verdict
A hoot.  I could visualise some of action in my head - the swooping and firing of cinematic space fighters as it appears on the big screen was well represented by the Starhound rules.  And I got to use the rule modifications  I wrote 30 years ago but never played.   The game lasted all of 20 minutes over 7 turns, including plotting, note taking and dice rolling.  It took longer to scribble some modifications than it did to play the actual game.  But I had fun the whole time from digging out the old rules and games to reading them, discovering the scribbled rules and the actual play.

10 comments:

  1. Shaun, Yaquinto's Starfall is a 4X strategic level space game, You might be thinking of their star fighter game "Shooting Stars".

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    1. Hi Kent,

      You are absolutely right. I even have the Shooting Stars box right next to me as I type! I will edit the post to correct the mistake. Thanks!

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    2. Demon's Run, also by Yaquinto, uses a subset of the Shooting Stars rules for spaceship racing (and the occasional pot shot).

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    3. Yes, I noticed that when I was reading the boardgamegeek for Shooting Stars. I did not know that before. On the Sunday before May the fourth when I dug out Shooting Stars and read the boardgamegeek entry I looked around to maybe buy Demon's Run as it may be simpler than Shooting Stars. Then I remembered I was only going to play one game, so stopped myself! I remember shipping over buying Demon's Run in the 80's. I had Triplanetary already and could not justify spending my limited money on another game that seemed similar.

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  2. Nice old school goodness. Enjoyed the read.

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    1. Thanks. I do like trying out the old stuff.

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  3. I have happy memories of Starhound. I still have a copy.

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    1. As soon as I thought of playing a space fighter game, Starhound was the first thing to come to mind. My games was really Starhound with a few minor modifications. It is a great set of rules.

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  4. I'm looking for a copy of Starhound to complete my "old memories" collection, if anyone has a scan, I'd love to hear from you! Marcus at marcus@katz-online.co.uk. Thank you!

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    1. There is very little of Starhound on the web - images or even mentions! boargamegeek and a few blogs is about it. Good luck on your quest but prepare for disappointment :-(

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