A: Two (or more) dedicated players.
For many people, tactical games eventually conjure the dream of a campaign game. A kind of "super" tactical game where the consequences of one fight are seen in further fights. ASL has long had a good answer to this dream in it's various HASL modules.
Star Fleet Battles has a number of small campaign games. I have yet to try any of them, though some are certainly interesting. But, to the point of this post, there are some very good campaigns that have extensive AARs posted over on the ADB forums, that I recommend looking at, if you have a good amount of time to spare.
The first is "The Day of the Eagle comes early", it's a modified version of the Admiral's Game from Advanced Missions played between two good players, and obviously good friends, Jeremy Gray and Dale McKee. At first they were farming battles out to other people, but now they fly every one themselves—when they have time, which has been short lately. There's still a lot of good fighting reported in those archives.
Much of the reason they're busy is the other campaign game: "The Farthest Stars Campaign", Dale is running this campaign, and Jeremy is playing the Tholians. This one has several 'admirals', each running one empire, and battles are farmed out with the expectation that players will report in as to what's happening. Lots of interesting reading in that one too.
Both campaigns use a concept from the SFB Campaign Designer's Handbook: Flexible command rating. The idea is similar to the 'command rating' introduced in F&E and used in the normal SFB S8.0 rules: You declare one ship the flagship, and the rest of your fleet is limited to what it can command. However the 'flexible' system tries to encourage the use of smaller ships by making them 'cost' less. In addition, both of these campaigns use lower flagship values, so that a 'full fleet' is around 5-6 ships instead of 10-12, making the fights much more manageable.
And while I'm on the subject, I'll point out there's a long tradition of posting reports on F&E games at the ADB forum. Some of them don't get a lot of reporting, but just stick to the higher post counts in the Active Scenarios folder, and you'll find some war stories worth reading.
(Note that all these links don't give the normal view of the forum, you're missing a left panel where all the login controls are kept, but you can't direct link anywhere and keep that window. )
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