This is an old FGU classic, which could easily find its way back in the days of PDF's... as the board is a hexmap with a starbase in the middle, and a combat track, turn track, charts and tables down the side. FGU has done a number of their games through DTRPG, and with some prompting, might be willing to send this one up.
So what is it about?
You are Commanding a Space Fleet Service cruiser, and have various missions to accomplish. Same with the other players. Each mission is worth victory points. Most Victory points wins; turn limit is 20 turns.
It's very trek-like. But it clearly makes no concessions to being Star Trek. Some would say it feels like a parody of Classic Trek, and to some degree, it is.
So, what do you get in the box?
4 sets of player counters, representing a ship and crew units.
a handful of aggressor ships
a handful of mission markers
a handful of space hazard markers.
total: 266 counters
a d20 (1cm) and 2d6 (1cm). They were the FGU-standard 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-0 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-0 D20's; I colored mine red for +ten, black for +zero... I think my cats have eaten all my FGU d20's except the one which died in the wash...
A pad of ship sheets
A map. The map, as mentioned above, is easily replaceable. One obnoxious bit: it's green, not black nor white. for the base color of the hexes. Black lines on medium green.
THe game itself
Randomly allocate the planets. This is the worst bit of the whole game: 1d6+5 along the hexlines from the starbase. No mention of moving them off the hexrow. 4 planets. Which radial is random as well.
Assign "Primary Missions" worth 15 VP (the most possible), 1 for each player, to planets. Preferably randomly.
As a note, advanced players may use more planets.
Assign stats to your ship. You get the following:
Engines: 6 (Max Speed)
Teleporters: 6 (Max teams to a planet for missions)
Missile Weapon Section: 1
Beams Weapon Section: 1
Crew: 25 teams
Energy (Fuel) 100
Bonus points: 5 (each BP is 25 Ar or 25 fuel, or 1 of any other rating)
This is actually part of winning or losing the game; if your ship matches your playstyle, life is a lot easier.
Next you allocate your crew units into the 10 types.
It is important to note that you will have trouble getting more fuel.... therefore, for starting players, I recommend spending the 1st 4 bonus points on fuel (total 200) and the last on Armor (totaling 125)
FGU reccomends 1 extra engine, 2 extra teleporters, 1 extra shield, 1 extra beam.
Lowest VP's goes first. Ties broken by roll-off, high roll goes first.
The lowest VP rule is a nudge to play-balance; it gives the low man the chance to "get there first".
Players must choose whether to move or to act on planet.
Each player acts in initiative sequence, either moving or doing planetary actions.
Cost in energy is equal to (speed x2)-1. So, efficiency wise, 1 hex per turn is 1E=1hx. 2HPT puts 1.5E=1h, 3 HPT=1.666E:1H, etc... so either go max speed, or speed 1.
No turn modes, just pay for movement and do it. Each hex, however, has a 1/6th chance of a random encounter. Many are hostile, some are friendly, others are useful but expensive...
If an encounter is hostile, you may have ship to ship combat. Which see below. You can choose to run (see below), you can choose to parley/bribe, or even attack. Note that failed running, failed parley, or a decision to attack all result in the same result: combat!
When you get to a planet, you find out what type of world it is by die roll. This really should be recorded for consistency.
Each type of world has different encounter table. Examine it, and figure out what kinds of crew team you should send. In general, more of the correct type is better, up to 3 or so.
Then, determine the 2-3 random encounters. 3 random encounters is normal, but only two random ones if you have a "Mission" on that planet. Use the correct table for the encounters by the type of planet.
Now, from only the teams sent, determine the assignments of teams to encounters. You may also assign military or Engineer teams to prosect for fuel as a fourth Encounter, but that is optional.
Each encounter is resolved by rolls upon the correct table, with modifiers for types of team. There are rolls to see if you earned the VP's, and rolls for teams lost...
If you succeeded, you gain the relevant VP's (3-21). If you give up an encounter, you lose the relevant VP. Failing is not, itself, a VP loss. Failing and assigning no teams next turn is withdrawing.
New encounters are not generated until all three have been dealt with, and all ships have left.
Multiple players may attempt the same planet and/or encounters; all perform the same mission (first one to succeed wins it, others do NOT lose VP for having given up on a now accomplished mission). Players generate separate encounters for the world, but the same terrain is used.
Return trips will generate new encounters, but not a new world type, or so we inferred from the rules.
One note: Geologic encounters do not have a "success" criteria listed... so we used "Geologic encounters add to the value of other successful encounters on that world."
This is one of the most poorly worded sections, and I make it out much as follows:
1) assign Damage Control Teams to either Hull Repair or Critical Repair
2) Roll 1d6+(Hull Repair Assigned DCT's), quantity x 10. THis is the maximum repair to armor allowed this turn. Each 2 points of armor repaired will cost 1 fuel/energy point. You do not need to use any nor all of your capacity. Only pay for what you need AND want.
3) assign critical repair DCT's to specific damaged systems. You may double up, ignore certain ones, etc.
4) for each assigned dct, roll one die. If it's a 1-3, the critical is removed.
Starbase (only if you started turn here)
- Field Repair, but at no energy cost for hull/armor repairs
- 1 critical gets repaired
- 1 crew team may be added.
- 25 fuel may be added.
Action Relatied stuff
It's a simple but somewhat fun minigame.
The "Combat Board" is 10 spaces long.
Each combat round, the player first raises shields, arms beams, and arms missiles, at one point per unit of each he wishes to use this round; as an alternative (albeit expensive in Fuel and VP), you can run. Then the enemy is moved 1 space towards the player, represented by the end of the track. The player then has the option of closing range, and moving the counter 1 space closer still.
The track has the to hits by beam and missile. Both get better with closing range. Beams can hit all the way to the far end of the chart, missiles only to range 5. Firing any one of them costs a point of fuel/energy, ber section fired. Badguys always get to fire everything every round.
Beams do 2d6x3 damage, missiles do 2d6 x 5. If the dice rolled 2,3,11, or 12, (6,9,33,36 beam damage, 10,15,55, or 60 missile damage), a critical hit is also done, destroying a component (1 rating point is lost from a table roll determined ship system). On natural rolls of 7 or 8, crew is damaged. and one crew team may be killed or out of action for a up to 6 turns.
Shields stop 10 points per unit powered.
Surrender and retreat are not acceptable. Surrender is an auto-loss. Retreat without having taken 75% structure is considered cowardice, and costs VP. NPC ships which hit 75% will automatically escape that round, unless killed outright.
Player ships, however must resolve their escape with a dice roll. This can also be used to avoid combat with pirates or Zangids. Worded simpler than their wording:
Pick an "Escape Number" between 2 and 12.
Spend as many Fuel/Energy as your escape number.
Throw 2d+for the escape number or less. If you did, you've escaped, and pay VP. if you fail, combat continues/begins with you doing nothing (else) that round.... On a roll of 2 or 12, you take engine crits: 1d6 of them!
If you ran before engaging, lose 25VP, 1 round lose 20, 2rounds 15, etc, 5 or more rounds, there is no VP for leaving.
Turn End after all players have had their turn, the turn ends. one tally is applied to the note of turns lost by crew units, and if it equals the number of turns they're lost for, they are returned to play for use the following turn. Note that the rules don't explicitly state this cogently, but turns out of actiomn are mentioned everywhere.
There are, surprisingly enough, rules for campaign play. They are simple, elegant, and give a VERY strong edge.
What I'd change
1: The map colors. White, not green! or Black with white lettering. (The game was probably set on a linotype, and thus the black background was more expensive, as it would have meant negative imaging.)
2: add a die roll of 1d6 hexes in a random direction from the initial point.
3: Allow a 3rd Turn Action choice: Regenerate fuel/Energy. Each engineer team generates 1 point of energy, to a maximum equal to your Engines. Roll for 1 encounter. (This is to mesh better with the RPG universe... and prevents the "Stranded in deep space" possibility. I've lost by that more than once...)
4: Alter combat:
- Allow forcing back without disengaging in combat, IE, Holding range. (So you get to move the enemy 1 closer or further, or not at all.
- Enemy Tactics:
. - If they have fewer missiles than you have missiles, have still have beams, move towards range 7, not 1
. - if they have no weapons left, run.
. - add videni kamikazes to the mix. In such cases Videni either replace totally, or are an even mix.
5: Allow playing Zangids and/or Videni.
6: Change the order of planet setup: assign the missions, then locate the planet. Just makes more sense that way.
7: Add minor planets. They total 10-Major Plantes (20-major planets if using 2base + 2 per player option I suggested). Minor planets can only be used for fuel prospecting. Use Column A for success chances, and Column C for loss chances. (That's the worst of each.) Change 20 to be 1d6 Armor and 1 critical hit.
8: Starbase: Pick "Repair" (1 crit PLUS field repair at no cost) or Recruit or Replenish.
9: release as a PDF.
10: Limit missiles.
Number of players
While the game is intended for 2-4 players, the only difference in single player is playing against a set VP total needed in the 20 turns. Solitaire playability is high, and it's not bad.
Some notes on the companion game, Starships and Spacemen
Wile S&S is a Role Playing Game, this game is obviously linked inextricably to it by the shared universe, and Jeff Dee Cover art.
It can be used quite well as a tool for the RPG, for generating mission types. Likewise, S&S could be used to provide some alternate ship designs. The default is a BC, but there also could be a DD, CR, and DN...
This is a good introductory "Complex" game. By that, I mean that it is simple to play, and is a good first step up from games like Carcasonne, RKnizia's Shogun, and monopoly. It's simple, and it does play well. Sadly enough, most of my play has been solitaire, as the cover art can be a turn-off, and many Trek-fans are put off by the "pseudo-trek" feel. It's mostly and homage, not a parody, but does have elements of both. Just as many trek fans would find it enjoyable, if they can get over the "It Ain't Trek" bit.
The product is physically quite enduring. I bought mine in '84 and the box has held up. The map is on good 30-40# low acid, and the print is somewhat small, but clear, sans serif. The counters are in bold colors: Red, Light Blue (but not sky), yellow, Green, and Black& white.
I've played it several times with up to 6 friends (For 6 we used SFB counters for the extra players's ships. We forwent the use of team markers for crew, using pencil and paper.) It plays the same EXCEPT for the race for the missions.
The rules are actually very straightforward (A surprise from FGU), but there is much hidden complexity. In general, budgeting power for several turns is vital. Once you've figured out what teams you need, if you can do it with fewer than you have capacity for, mine for fuel...
- [+] Dice rolls
- Leonard Kanterman(lhkant)United States
Thank you for your kind review of this game, I am the designer and remember its time fondly.
I think the issue of Star Trek "homage vs parody" is quite amusing. I will let you all know the truth of the situation. I designed both Starships and Spacemen and Star Explorer as (Classic) Star Trek games, but the royalties to use the name "Star Trek" were too high for the publisher, Fantasy Games Unlimited. Of course, if we had purchased the rights to the name, the sales of the game would have been higher! So I changed enough "to protect the innocent" (?guilty) and avoided any direct Star Trek references. The Zangids and Videni are thinly-veiled versions of the Klingons and Romulans respectively.
I will be gald to sign any one's copy of this game, just mail me the rule book with return postage.
- [+] Dice rolls
I am honored... Thanks for the insight, Dr. K!
It's always a pleasant surprise to post a review which causes "warm fuzzies" posts from the designer. Even better when it's a favorite game.
Having been thinking about this one, and what variants I'd put it for years... My purple text above is clarification based upon numerous plays. I really do hope this goes to e-reprint. Or maybe a new Ebook edition, revised and expanded. (I'd be willing to work on it in my spare time.)
- [+] Dice rolls
- Michael Debije(mi_de)Netherlands
- I was going to do a review myself, but I see you've done an awesome job already. I have played the game solo, and it was quite an adventure my ship had! Some work, and requires some imagination to make the simple descriptions come alive, but it was a good trek through the stars.
- [+] Dice rolls
- Leonard Kanterman(lhkant)United States
As designer of this game, I give you my permission to make the above changes "official". Many of your ideas are excellent, and just things I hadn't thought of (such as the random d6 placement of systems after the initial roll).
I am of two minds about the power generation option by engineers. The current rules force you to pay very close attention to power reserves to avoid getting stranded. And where would you find extra dilithium crystals in the middle of space?!? (Although, in classic Trek, the dilithium crystals always seemed to burn out when they were somewhere they could be replenished, as long as the crew could solve some on-planet dilemma.) Then again, every time Kirk said "we need more power, Scotty", they did seem to jury-rig something to get them by...
- [+] Dice rolls
Given that the drives in the RPG seem to be some form of ZPE extractor... Seriously, though, being able to generate some power in space is a nicety.
Perhaps the use of engineering teams to generate power should come at a cost...
< Power generated: take hull damage equal to die roll
≥ Power generated: no effect.
- [+] Dice rolls