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Star Trek: Attack Wing» Forums » Variants

Subject: What if ... STAW was less customizable? rss

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David Griffin
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If we put on our thematic hat for a minute, then some upgrades are believable and some are less so. It's believable for Tom Paris to be on just about any ship (at least in the next generation). But it might not be very likely that Enhanced Hull Plating is on the Enterprise D.

Most games (and this may be a plus or a minus depending on your point of view) which let you play ship vs. ship battles in the ST universe don't give you the level of customization that this one does. There are advantages -- a Constitution class ship is pretty much a known quantity. Yes the crew matters, but the technology and weapons are pretty much standard. That makes it easier to game with a set of known quantity ships on one side of the battle rather than a collection of crazy different ships. Plus it's hard to imagine the various Constitutions being THAT different from each other. The disadvantage is that the build system in STAW really opens up the tactics in a way that previous games did not (at the expense of plausibility).

Suppose as a design exercise we try to turn STAW into a "normal" game. That is we "FIX" the weapon and tech upgrades, and maybe also allow generics to use the same perk as the non generic version of the ship (or any of his choice if there is more than one named version). Now we still have Captain and crew and talent upgrades, but these reduce the build choices.

If we decided to do that, we'd have to DECIDE what the weapon and techs on each ship class were, and they would have to be "thematic" (because most games emphasize this).

You could go further than that and actually fix the captains and the crews to match what we saw on screen. That would necessitate building some "basic" captain and crew cards into the generics perhaps.

It seems to me the end of this path would be the "tournament" ship. That is, a page (say 8.5 x 11 color) with cards on it comprising the complete build for a ship which amounts to some fixed number of points. These tournament ships could be duplicated and used for a tournament in order to measure how well someone could take a respectable ship build at or near a fixed point total and play it to the best outcome possible. In effect, the winner would be the best tactician in play, though not necessarily the best builder.

I have a sneaky feeling that you would make the game feel pretty sterile if you played these same builds all the time, but I wonder if this wouldn't be fun to do once?

I'll just note that in some cases, the thematic choices would be bad -- Janeway on Voyager for instance, but it would certainly make the game more accessible to someone new to the game. STAW as it exists now seems pretty overwhelming to a new player.
 
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It sounds like you may need to give "Ship Pure" and "Era Pure" a shot.
 
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Bob Estabrook
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carbon_dragon wrote:
STAW as it exists now seems pretty overwhelming to a new player.


This is important. OPs are a rough way for new people to come in unless theyhave a mentor helping with their first build, and that may still mean some harsh "on the job" training. And fill-in-the-blank-pure doesn't address it because coming into a competitive environment means high barriers to entry--your local environment may vary.

Back to original post: I completely agree that the level of flexibility in fleet building is a double-edged sword. All the options eventually made Wizkids' pirates (the constructable card game) un-fun as well, because the simple play rules got weighed down by exceptions and inconsistencies. Much more robust rule systems with much less specialness have bogged down in details, and as WizKids gets more expansion material out there, it's going to be too much at some point.

On the plus side, we can choose to play however we want, and simplified/streamlined/back-to-basics/whatever you want to call it will always be a good option, regardless of what WORF or anyone else may do.
 
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Justin Hare
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CavLtBob wrote:
carbon_dragon wrote:
STAW as it exists now seems pretty overwhelming to a new player.


This is important. OPs are a rough way for new people to come in unless theyhave a mentor helping with their first build, and that may still mean some harsh "on the job" training. And fill-in-the-blank-pure doesn't address it because coming into a competitive environment means high barriers to entry--your local environment may vary.

Back to original post: I completely agree that the level of flexibility in fleet building is a double-edged sword. All the options eventually made Wizkids' pirates (the constructable card game) un-fun as well, because the simple play rules got weighed down by exceptions and inconsistencies. Much more robust rule systems with much less specialness have bogged down in details, and as WizKids gets more expansion material out there, it's going to be too much at some point.

On the plus side, we can choose to play however we want, and simplified/streamlined/back-to-basics/whatever you want to call it will always be a good option, regardless of what WORF or anyone else may do.


The most recommended alternate rulesets I encourage are ENT/TOS/TMP only and ship pure. TMP and earlier really limits powerful captains and ridiculous ships.

If you want to make Armada less customizable, try removing the upgrade slot from every unique ship that is lost in the corresponding generic version. Most ships don't really suffer, but I think a few Fed and Dom ships get shafted. Alternatively, limit ships to XX unique cards. Set it to two at first, so a captain and admiral burn up both unique slots. I don't know how this would pan out for balance. I think Borg come out ahead with the Tactical Drones though. There are a lot of things you could try.
 
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David Griffin
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I kind of miss a XXXX class ship being a "known" quantity. I understand and enjoy the challenge of doing a build, but the idea that two different ships of the same class would be not only a little different due to modifications to the class during build and crew, but WILDLY different is harder to swallow.

No matter who you put on a WWII heavy cruiser, it's not going to be able to take on the Iowa or Yamato or Bismarck. Yes the crew matters (a lot) and there are minor differences between two sister ships in a class, but ships aren't as wildly customizable (especially by the whim of the Captain) on a day to day basis.

So STAW lets you play a lot of fun games, but in many cases the builds fail the plausiblity test. STAW isn't designed to be a faithful "simulation" of what we see on the Star Trek shows as SFB and FASA are. If you look into the history for mentioned historical battles, there is no sense that you can replicate those in STAW. You can sometimes manage that, but when you do you're going outside the rules of STAW to limit your builds to something vaguely approaching plausible builds. That's OK, but I like fighting out the "historical" battles and it sometimes seems like something is missing.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing STAW, I'm just saying that one thing I particularly enjoy in a Star Trek ship tactical game is tough to do in STAW because no one era is really well covered and you end up being forced to make a lot of exceptions that work against the immersion of the experience.
 
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I find that the modular nature of the game is one of the biggest selling points. It presents challenges for you to approach and think "With all these options at my disposal, how do I deal with this?". This applies as much to missions (a highly underestimated aspect of the game) in addition to the OPs.

The customizability also really allows you to accentuate whatever strategy you want to pursue and really personalize your ships to your own style. These are pluses as well.

I think losing those things would be overall detrimental to the experience.
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Evan
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carbon_dragon wrote:
So STAW lets you play a lot of fun games, but in many cases the builds fail the plausiblity test.


This much is true, but at the same time I actually think that it would be a worse simulation if it weren't the case that two ships of the same class could be wildly different because of their cards. Look at the achievements of the Rotarran or Ning'Tao compared to every other cannon-fodder B'rel, or the Excelsior compared to the Enterprise-B, or the Defiant compared to the Valiant. Heck, Galaxies not named "Enterprise" basically exist just to blow up and demonstrate to us how serious the problem is, right before the Enterprise (or Defiant) saves the day yet again. In fact, the ability of exceptional individuals to beat the odds in exactly this way is in many ways the very essence of Trek.
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Quote:
but in many cases the builds fail the plausiblity test. STAW isn't designed to be a faithful "simulation" of what we see on the Star Trek shows as SFB and FASA are.


I've seen you make this argument in other threads, or at least variants of it. I am not sure I agree, primarily because the shows/movies can't even agree with each other on a consistent standard. If you're talking the Enterprise/Enterprise-D getting constantly pummeled by their adversary, but not destroyed, then yes it doesn't quite match up. But then if you go look at DS9 and watch any of the major battles there, it really does look pretty faithful to that.

I think that ultimately the issue here is that the very notion of going in guns blazing is against the spirit of a show that's told primarily through the viewpoint of Federation ideals. That we're immediately hostile no matter the opponent is what's clearly not Star Trek. That's something you have to suspend though for a battle game based on Star Trek.
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Jesse Catron
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Too bad the designers didn't make a more extensive icon system to easily allow for thematic formats. Era icons, series icons, species icons, and/or crew designations (Engineer, Security, etc.) would all have been welcome editions to allow for alternative formats without changing the normal game. Also it would open up a lot of thematic design space. Oh well.
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K. L.
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Actually, has anybody ever considered bringing it all together into a game without cards?

I mean back to the way other tabletop wargames are done. Each ship would have a sheet, and any custom stuff like wargear goes on the sheet. The sheet has spots for marking effects like disabled. Everything required to reference is in a codex, which details cost and restrictions. Etc. Plenty of room to put the bits of fluff that you can't fit on the cards either.

It would be a lot easier to "balance" the game as a community effort if we could get everything into a singular resource, like a core rulebook and faction or time-period codexes. All we have to do is design a ship sheet around LCARS, and a PDF with an LCARS theme.

It would be a lot easier to proxy the game too. Stardock is convenient as an on-hand reference for cards you don't have, but it's no substitute for something physical.

kobold47 wrote:
the very essence of Trek.

Actually I thought STAW got that fairly well. Both ships have aces up their sleeve for the episode. These flavor what would otherwise be the same sequence every time. They alternate asspulls of various gadgets and abilities until one wins.
 
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