OK I see that no one has reviewed this game yet, so I will give it a shot. Please bear in mind that I no longer have the game, so some of the specific details might be a bit off. But I think in general this should give people a pretty accurate basic idea of the game.
It's been a long time since I played, but this is what I can remember: It has a lot of good ideas, but in a nutshell the bookkeeping and the movement system are quite cumbersome. One has to remember that this game came out right when the very first personal computers where entering the marketplace: the Apple ll, the Commodore PET. Atari game-consoles were all the rage, with low-rez games like Pong and Space Invaders. The board-gaming industry still hadn't realized yet what was about to hit it. So it might not come as a surprise that essentially DeltaVee aspires to do everything that you would now expect from a good 2D space-dogfight computer game. But back then, to get that same type of "experience", you needed to do it by hand.
The game board is just a large black hex grid, with the hexsides in a sort of glowing red color. The counters come in the same red hue and also in glowing green as well. The scale, if I remember correctly, is about 20,000km/hex. So an earth-sized planet is a lot smaller than 1 hex. Thus, any planets or spatial objects are just placed on the board as single-hex counters. Some people nowadays will look at the board and say "uugghhh", but as a young teenager who had never used a computer yet, when the game was set up I always thought the color scheme was reminiscent of a glowing combat command computer display (remember that GREEN monochrome monitors and oscilloscopes were par for the course when this game came out). Think computer graphics like we see in the landing sequence of the movie "Alien" or the attack diagnostic against the Death Star in "Star Wars, Episode IV" and you will get the picture of what people thought futuristic computer graphics would look like back then. Heck, even nowadays you still see red and green blips being used on Command and Control Center displays, thinking about the newer "Battlestar Galactica" for example.
The Spaceships in DeltaVee are composed of "Hulls" that are outfitted with inter-changeable "Pods". The hulls have characteristics predetermined by the game designer: Maneuverability, Fuel Capacity, Fuel Burn Rate, maximum Acceleration, Armor, Shields, and maximum Pod Capacity. There are about 7 civilian types and 3 military class hull stats included with the game. Pods also come in civilian and military flavors. Civilian pod-types include your basic Crew, Cargo, Passenger, Jump, Light Weapon, Reserve Fuel, etc. While military pod-types include names like Heavy Weapon, Battle Communications, Arsenal, Augmented Jump, Hunter, Tractor Beam, and so on.
Each ship's stats are recorded on a separate sheet (requires about 1/2 page per ship - very bulky). You keep track of the damage and fuel expenditures on these sheets as well. Ship design within the given game system is limited to outfitting any of the preset hull designs with any combination of pods up to that hull's allowable limit.
There are two basic types of weapon systems in the game: Lasers/Particles and Missiles/Rockets. Lasers and Particles are your basic energy weapons, but one is more accurate while the other has longer range. Rockets are essentially treated as dumb Missiles. The Missiles come in 3 types: Guided (controlled from the launching spaceship's battle-comm pod), Intelligent (completely autonomous control), and a multi-warhead Intelligent variety (MIMS).
The game uses vector movement. A chit with a number is placed next to a ship counter on the board to indicate its current speed. All turns and maneuvers and accelerations/decelerations require the expenditure of fuel. Some of the larger spaceship hull-types burn through fuel at an alarming rate, so the battles in the game have a very finite length: when your ship is out of fuel you can no longer maneuver.
Once they are launched, individual missiles are placed on the board with their own speed indicator and they are moved exactly like a space ship. You even keep track of the fuel for the missiles! Rockets continuously accelerate in a straight path till they hit something or leave the board. You can maneuver the missiles till they run out of fuel, then they drift in a straight path as well.
Interception (i.e. "Hitting Something") is handled by comparing the speeds and directions of the ships involved and coming up with a relative velocity "To Hit" value.
As far as game-play goes, it is a game of maneuver and evasion, all the while keeping your eye on the fuel. I don't remember the exact specifics anymore, but the turn structure is some kind of hybrid between IGOUGO and simultaneous movement, with a reaction phase for changing direction I think. The whole trick is to get your ship lined up in the same relative direction and speed as the target so that you have the best chances of hitting with lasers or bursters. This sounds a lot easier that it actually is, and I don't think most gamers today will have the patience to fight out a whole space battle using this particular vector movement system. Effective range of missiles is point-blank, because with the vector-movement being what it is, it is essentially impossible to get a long-range missile shot to intercept a dodging target intent on evasion, let alone rolling successfully on the "To Hit" table.
Of course Delta Vee was developed for SPI's sci-fi roleplaying game Universe. Thus I imagine the entire combat system intentionaly left a lot of room for player character buffs to increase various aspects of ship performance. This would tend to explain the relative difficulty in destroying enemy ships, as you wouldn't want your PC to die unexpectedly after only a few shots being fired.
There are a half-dozen scenarios included with the game, including a duel between military hulls, a space-pirate waylaying civilians, a smuggler escaping a planetary patrol to make an FTL-jump, a collection of pirates vs. a lone Spear-class cruiser, etc.
In a subsequent Ares issue, there was also an article listing the stats for 2 new military hull types: a heavy-cruiser class ...a massive hull with about 30 pods; and a sort of super-carrier that transported its own contingent of Spear-class cruisers. The stats for 3 types of experimental alien ship types are also listed.
I played the game a few times, but lost interest because it was just too much work. Everything that DeltaVee offers, a computer game does better, which is probably why this particular boardgame has completely fallen off the radar. If you are curious, maybe try a 1-on-1 duel to see how the game mechanics work. But then let it Rest in Peace where it belongs.
Trivia note 1: All the same hull types and pods available in DeltaVee are also found in the game Star Trader, although in that game ship-to-ship combat is more abstract and resolved with a single die roll. Now here's a scary thought; after many years not having touched either game, I can still name them all; Corco Beta, Corco Gamma, Corco Iota, Corco Mu, Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet, Dagger, Sword, Spear, Terwickler X, Terwickler 5000
Trivia note 2: The scenario-editor for the Mac computer game Escape Velocity (released by Ambrosia Software in 1996) was called - you guessed it - DeltaVee. So I imagine the program designer of EV must have owned a copy of DV and used it for inspiration. In fact, playing EV allowed you to fight most of the same types of space combats as DV, without all the bookkeeping headache.
Hope this helps anybody who is curious about the game...
* Edited a few typos and added a few extra comments. Much later added the graphics.
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- David Witzany(fuldhim)United States
- I played a fair bit of DeltaVee and Star Trader when I got them in my subscription to Ares magazine. They were a good change-of-pace from my usual diet of SPI quads. I have all of them stored in a box somewhere...
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- Mark Humphries(Mark_WH)Philippines
>essentially DeltaVee aspires to do everything that you would now expect from a good 2D space-dogfight computer game
Apples and oranges. Does it do everything you'd expect from a good 2D space-dogfight boardgame?
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- Was George Orwell an Optimist?(Sphere)United States
OregonPastoralia - George Saunders
DeltaVee was the tactical module for space ship action in Outside the Scope of BGG.
It worked well in that capacity.
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