So I had three guys at my demo. One was completely new to the Star Fleet Universe family of games and kept asking, "what's a Gorn??" One plays Star Fleet Battles fairly regularly. The third has a garage full of Star Fleet Battles stuff and played heavily back in the day.
I had one player take a Romulan KR Cruiser and a Romulan War Eagle. The other two teamed up playing a Gorn Light Cruiser and a Gorn Battle Cruiser.
I demonstrated the to-hit, penetration, and damage rolls... then reviewed the various weapon traits in play on the ships... and then taught the sorta-kinda Newtonian type movement of the basic game. We were ready to roll in about ten minutes or so.
The Romulans Cloaked on the first turn. The Gorns moved forward a couple of hexes. The Gorns had no idea where the Romulans could be-- the hidden movement is the default cloaking rule in Romulan Armada!
Turn two, the Romulans remained cloaked while the Gorns continued to move forward. The Gorns got to check for detection for each ship. The Gorns managed to detect the War Eagle! Only the BC was in range. Her captain decided to hold plasma torpedoes for the next turn and just fired phaser-1's. One hit penetrated the shields damaging a fairly useless phaser-3.
Turn three... the Gorns knew where at least one of the ships were. The closed in on where they thought he would end up. The Romulan captain decided to come out of cloak-- he'd lost the element of surprise and things could only get worse if he stayed cloaked. The movement orders were executed and...
Bad news for the Romulans! The KR could only fire a measly plasma-S at the Gorn CL-- the rest of the weapons were completely out of arc! Meanwhile... the Gorns could fire phaser-1's at short range and triple their ROF. All of the Gorn's plasma torps could be fired at enemy ships.
Many, many d6's were rolled. The Gorn CL took 14 hits and was vaporized due to the large number of hull hits. The Romulan KR took 21 hits and lost *all* of its weapons. The Romulan WE took 7 hits-- two hull, five engine, one shield, and one weapon hit. Boom!
Turn 4, the Romulans went back under cloak to try to regroup. The KR simply accelerated off the map. The WE began to jocky for position. The Gorn BC went forward 2.
Turn 5... the Romulans remained cloaked and the Gorns failed to detect them.... The Gorn BC went forward 4 and then did a U-turn.
Turn 6... the Romulan captain carefully pondered his move...
The Gorn Captain simply stopped. He needed to roll 2 or less on a d6 to detect the War Eagle... and he did it! The bird was a mere three hexes away....
The Gorn unloaded on the exposed War Eagle. He did 2 points of damage with the plasma-F carronade, 1 point of damage with a phaser-3, and 4 points of damage with phaser-1's. Five of those seven hits were hull hits, so the War Eagle exploded!
It took under two hours to play the game-- that includes the teaching time. Although the game can slow down when there's lots of weapons to roll for, the fact that ships can die quickly makes up for it. The fact that several turns can be played out while the Romulan cloaks and looks for an opening is a real plus.
Throughout the game, the new player would ask questions and the other players would generally jump in with the SFB answer. ("There's no way that the WE should have better shields than the CL!") The way the rules in Romulan Armada are set up, though, you just won't see the the same kind of Tractor Beam action and seeking weapon shell games that you would in the older game. On the other hand, I imagine that many of the concerns raised by the players could be addressed by the many optional rules available in Starmada: The Admiralty Edition, but I didn't think we needed to try to take on all of that in a first-time session.
Though Romulan Armada doesn't do the exact sort of simulation that Star Fleet Battles manages to pull off... it is fast playing and easy to learn. While it is not suitable for solitaire play because of the secret movement plotting guessing games, it is extremely well suited to play-by-email, monster fleet battles, and large campaigns.
Note: It probably would have been possible to have a couple more ships on the board on each side. Also, the "regulation" set up rule in the Starmada Basic Rules has enemy ships starting at about 15 to 18 hexes apart. I think this is too close when there are ships that have weapons with a range of 18! (The WE ships should get one good chance at setting up a range 16-18 shot where their opponents can't fire back!)
Great report! Sounds like you all had a good time.