James Fung(fusag)United States
I'm not a bits man. I prefer great game mechanics with okay components to okay mechanics with great bits. That said, lately I've been thinking a lot about getting a space combat game with miniatures. As a kid, I liked A New Hope and Return of the Jedi because they had those imagination searing space battles at the end. The fascination has been stoked over the years by those huge battles in Star Trek: DS9 and Babylon 5 and various other media. (I'm also tempted to get Battletech Introductory Box Set because I grew up watching Macross/Robotech.)
I've been shopping around spaceship miniatures for a while, I'm currently torn between getting Battleship Galaxies: The Saturn Offensive Game Set or Full Thrust.
Battleship Galaxies: Things BG has in its favor:
1) It's cheap: For $40-some from online retailers, you get 20 plastic minis plus a load of other stuff.
2) Expansions: The game is designed with the ability to expand, so maybe in a year we'll see some more ships coming out.
Things against it:
3) Gameplay: Reviews of gameplay are a bit mixed. It's definitely on the simpler end of the spectrum, which is fine, because I don't have opponents who want to spend 4-hours plotting out a one-on-one battle (I'm looking at you, Attack Vector: Tactical). However, the most damning criticism seems to be the lack of maneuver, which I feel is crucial for the mental image of space combat.
Bottom line is that I probably won't play the game as printed. For instance, I'll probably borrow a notation/mechanic from the space game I'm designing: if a shield peg is on one side of the hex, it means shields are concentrated on that side. That facing and the two adjacent have double shield rating while all others have none. If a marker is placed at a vertex, the shields are concentrated on the adjacent faces. Having shields being weaker in some areas will encourage ships to maneuver for a better shot.
1) Emphasis on fun: FT has quick movement and a variety of weapons and systems in a pretty rules light package. As I said, I don't want a 4-hour game of bookkeeping.
2) Miniature round-up: FT is miniature-independent, so I've been window shopping miniatures. For dirt cheap, see the bottom of this page: 2.55 GBP for 12 minis of various sizes and styles.
However, I'm tempted to get this. For 30GBP (about $48, rising to $55 after shipping), you can get 2 different fleets of 8 ships of varying size. Actually, I made an external blog post here. While more expensive, they will be bigger than the above cheap ones, but probably not as big as the largest BG ships.
3) Miniature gaming?: I've never played a miniature game. Something in the back of my head balks at having to bring out a ruler to move my units or measure range or measure angles accurately. FT only allows course changes in increments of 30 degrees, so why not just put it on a hex-grid?
Of course, what I could do is get BG for the cheap minis and hex-map and mod the rules until I'm happy, even using them to play FT if I wanted. But the FT miniatures look pretty awesome too.