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Customer Newsletter for 07/31/2022
The world's largest wargame download store
I got to thinking about maybe having a theme again for this installment of the newsletter, but what theme should it be? So I took a look at the recent best selling titles and I noticed a lot of Sci-Fi rule sets near the top of the list. Must be something to that I thought. And there is!
Each of the titles featured here are either miniatures agnostic or include the counters needed to play, you don't need a lot of units per side and they are play fast games. Plus, like, it's future space combat! Dig out some minis or print some off, throw down some terrain and get to playing!
Till next time, good gaming to everyone, and watch your flanks!
5150 Star Army Total War
5150 Star Army Total War - the updated 2022 edition
"It's not a job; it's an adventure!"
What: Wargame rules for Sci-Fi.
Scale: Man to man combat. 1 figure equals 1 man or creature.
Your Role: Players can command from one squad to a platoon of infantry.
Playability: Designed for solo, same side and head to head play.
5150 STAR ARMY can be played in a variety of ways:
• You can play as a Squad Leader with a full squad.
• You can play as a Squad Leader with less than a full squad.
• You can play large games with multiple squads.
• Designed to be played solo or cooperatively as well as head-to-head.
The bottom line is you can play it any way you want; with any figures or counters you like.
Inside you’ll find:
• Includes color counters, tunnels, and Battle Bords.
• Rules for infantry combat with a variety of troop types and weapons.
• Seven armies to choose from, Humans and Aliens.
• Two ways to play – traditional Tabletop and Battle Board
• RPG Lite rules for when you are “Off Campaign” and go on some R&R.
• A minimal bookkeeping Campaign System that gives meaning to every game as the results of one will affect the outcome of the next.
Shoot People in Space
Shoot People in Space (from here on, SPEIS) is 94 pages of wargaming goodness, offering rules for building and fighting with science fiction miniatures.
The game is intended for head-to-head play and perfectly suited to multi-player chaos but can also be played solo or with two players teaming up against the bad guys.
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The typical gaming army size is from 8 to maybe 15 figures, making the game easy to collect and build for. If you already have armies for games like Renegade Scout or enemy squads painted up for Five Parsecs you can probably sit down and play right away.
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Gameplay is heavily inspired by early sci-fi games like Laserburn, Combat 3000 and Spacefarers in spirit, though not in exact mechanics.
Battles are fought in phases with alternating activations: In the action phase your figures take turns carrying out one action (moving, firing, doing something else) while in the firefight phase most figures can fire (potentially shooting a second time).
Combat uses a simple 2D6 table with several unexpected factors built in: Firers can fumble or inflict critical hits and the use of a separate Threat die can cause surprise reactions such as the targets diving for cover or firing back. Gun battles plays out quickly and chaotically.
The rules also provide an additional element of liveliness by troops occasionally going out of control: As a result of combat, they may be running away, holding a position or rushing at the enemy and will continue to do so until they are brought under control.
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The usual slew of extra options are included including things like blowing up terrain and blasting through doors.
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Troop types include 3 figure teams of infantry, single characters and bikes (including “drifter” hover bikes) with additional rules included for combat robots, random giant monsters and more. You can select from 11 species taken from the Unified Space game setting and preconfigured load-outs are available to make army building time be as fast as possible. A points system is included to allow pick-up games.
The game can be played with any single-mounted scifi figures you have and works in both 15mm and 28mm.
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SPEIS is intended for head-to-head play with 10 scenario objectives to pick from, but we also offer tools for non player forces and a random unit generator. These are great for solo play or to have a third party force show up mid battle if you like.
Options are provided for persistent play: This allows you to build a roster of units and when you use them in battle, they will be able to level up (or die). This allows you to experience a degree of progression even if you are primarily playing pick up games against random forces or in a club setting with multiple players. The “Mercenary mode” focuses things by restricting players to a single force that they have to use over multiple games while trying to achieve bounties.
Finally 5 pages of Game Mastering advice is provided for players who want to experience sci-fi miniatures gaming the way it was back in the day.
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SPEIS is a perfect middle ground between the man-to-man campaigns of Five Parsecs and the much larger battlefields of Renegade Scout / Clash on the Fringe and is adaptable to almost any style of gameplay from pick-up games with prebuilt armies to Game-mastered campaigns to solo action.
Insurgent Earth is a tabletop miniatures war game set on post-alien invasion Earth where determined survivors fight to survive, thrive, and ultimately overcome the alien occupation.
Made for solo and cooperative games, Insurgent Earth is a low model count, open miniature rule set that combines quick, intuitive combat resolution with narrative elements like character customization and advancement.
Players can vary their abilities and skills, upgrade their equipment, and manage their Resistance cell's resources to run vicious, one-shot games, or fight the long war with an easy campaign system.
Another fast-play game for busy gamers, Insurgent Earth is from the author of Zona Alfa, Kontraband, Exploit Zero, and Nightwatch.
"Everything is a tactical tradeoff."
StarForce Commander is a game of tactical starship combat. It uses streamlined and intuitive game mechanics so you can focus on tactical decision-making. You are NOT merely resolving the battle by doing bookkeeping and rolling dice. You have decisions to make, and your decisions matter. There are tactical tradeoffs for every choice. This is an accessible and fun game, whether you are a new cadet or a crusty old spacer. Optional rules let you tailor the complexity to your preferences.
"Welcome aboard, Captain!"
As the Captain, you decide where the ship's emphasis is; weapons, shields, or maneuvering? You will manage individual ships by allocating energy, arming weapons, maintaining shields, using sensors, and deciding how to outmaneuver your opponent. It sounds like a lot, but most ships have 6-8 points of energy to distribute so that you won't need an accounting staff! Your crew works out details.
Strike the right balance between weapons, maneuvering, shields, and sensors to gain an advantage on your enemy. Weapons require power and have firing arcs, so you must maneuver to hit the enemy where they are weak. Your ship has four shields protecting all sides, so maneuvering, repairing, and reinforcing weakened shields are vital to survival. Seven turn templates handle maneuvering for 20-60 degree turns depending on your ship's speed and maneuverability.
Managing a ship is easy enough that with a bit of practice, you can promote yourself to commodore and command 3-4 ships, or even admiral if you want to fight a larger battle. We estimate a game probably takes about 45 minutes per ship on the board, though duels can finish more quickly.
StarForce Commander is a Print and Play game, but we do sell physical game components.
UNITS: Individual Starships
COMBAT SCALE: 1-4 Ships per player is ideal.
MAP: Any surface
CONTENTS: This includes a rules PDF, a Game Component PDF, and a formatted document to print stickers. The component PDF contains ship counters, maneuver templates, damage cards, Captain's reference card, command cards, terrain, and 18 ship forms.
"This looks great, but I need more details."
We plan to continue supporting the StarForce Commander with expansions and new ships. If you want more details about StarForce Commander, please continue reading below. Also, click on links to our website and FaceBook pages for more info and regular updates.
For me, the important thing is that my decisions matter and drive the game's outcome. I have played games where it felt like all I was doing as a player was moving units and rolling dice. For all practical purposes, I was just the person resolving the battle and not making meaningful decisions along the way.
Next, I wanted the game mechanics to be intuitive for easy understanding and streamlined to keep the game moving. I wanted to minimize the necessity for charts to reference.
HOW DOES STARFORCE COMMANDER COMPARE TO OTHER GAMES LIKE IT?
StarForce Commander is the game I've always wished someone would design. I would rate its overall difficulty level as moderate based on the number of rules and tactical options available to the player.
I've played and loved many games like SFB and Federation Commander; I even wrote the Tactics Manual for Fed Com. Fed Com was my favorite for many years. I've also played FASA's starship combat simulator and most of the "fleet" battle games at the other end of the complexity scale. I like them all for different reasons.
I wanted ships to have enough detail that a simple duel between 2 heavy cruisers was fun and tactically interesting. But it was equally important that operating a ship was easy enough that any player could operate 3-4 ships efficiently so that a squadron sized battle can be resolved in a 3-5 hour gaming session. Our best guess is that for every ship on the board, the game takes about 45 minutes.
Some fleet-level games lack enough detail to make small engagements tactically interesting (this is my opinion, I am stating where my personal preference lies). I've had plenty of fun playing the fleet-level games, but I felt there were enough of them in the market already.
I wanted to streamline the process of operating a single ship but retain enough decisions that duels were fun and exciting. From there, people could choose to add as many ships as they could handle.
"QuickStart" rules provide players with just the minimum rules necessary to play. These are just the resource allocation, movement, and shooting rules. If you prefer to play at the fleet level, you might choose to keep the rules at this level. You can add the rest of the Standard rules, such as general ship systems and electronic warfare. Finally, there are optional rules that players can choose to use or not use based on their preference for details. If you are using all the rules, you will have lots of details and options, but it should still play faster than the most complex starship combat games.
Here is an example of the standard and optional rules. In the Standard rules, once all of a ship's structure is damaged, the ship is removed from play. No explosions; simply remove the ship. It's about 1 paragraph of rules. If you want more details (perhaps for a campaign), you can add the optional rules for ship explosions, abandoning ship, rescuing crew in escape pods, and derelict ships. These optional rules add about one and a half pages and only matter if you have set up a campaign. So the detailed rules are there for people who like them, and those who don't need them can ignore them.
SEQUENCE OF PLAY
A round (or game turn) is divided into 5 phases: Resource Allocation Phase, Combat Phase 1, Combat Phase 2, Combat Phase 3, and the Final Activity Phase.
During Resource allocation, players plot their power use and conduct damage control.
During each Combat Phase, players plot their movement orders for the phase on Command Cards, take actions using ship systems, resolve movement based on their plot and finally fire weapons.
The Final Activity Phase takes care of boarding actions and disengagement, among other clean-up items.
A ship relies on energy from its reactors to power the following functions: Acceleration/Deceleration, Structural and Inertial Fields, Weapons, Shield Reinforcement, Shield Repair, Sensors, General Ship Systems, Battery Recharge, and FTL Drives if it needs to disengage from the battle.
The Resource allocation is done on each ship form. Players simply fill in bubbles to add power to each function. Most ships have 6-8 points of power to apply to these functions and one battery. You are trying to balance maneuvering, weapons, defenses, and sensors to defeat your opponent.
StarForce Commander does NOT use a hex map which has some advantages and disadvantages that I think most gamers are aware of. The advantage of a hex map is that movement and position are very cut and dry, but you are limited to 60-degree turns, and you generally have to keep track of how many hexes you have moved before being allowed to make another turn.
With StarForce Commander, we try to maximize the advantages of a hex-less movement system.
Players measure movement in inches, so if your ship has a speed of 4, it moves forward 4 inches during each combat phase. Since there are three combat phases, a ship moving at speed four would move 12 inches in a full round. Ships may make speed changes when plotting their movement during each combat phase.
In SFC, you make turns based on a ship's turn rate at a given speed. Different ships have different turn rates at various speeds. Generally, the slower the ship moves, the greater its turn rate, meaning it might use a 35, 40, or 45-degree turn template. The faster a ship moves, the lower its turn rate, often 20, 25, or 30 degrees. The 60-degree turn template is usually used for shuttles or highly maneuverable ships at low speed.
Movement is pre-plotted using Command Cards during each combat phase because starships are not as maneuverable as fighters. More importantly, pre-plotting movement orders speed up the game because once players reveal their Command Cards, all ships are moved based on the movement orders. The other advantage of Command Cards is that players place them next to each ship counter, allowing everyone to see the ship's current speed and jamming, targeting, and tactical scan levels without needing lots of "status" counters to clutter the map.
Players can choose to do maneuvers such as hard turns, snap turns, and emergency turns that cause stress to the ship. Stress tends to cause damage to structure and propulsion systems, so don't overdo the high-stress maneuvers without putting power to your Structural and Inertial Field to dissipate the stress.
In addition, while plotting movement orders for each phase, players adjust their sensors to emphasize targeting, jamming, or shooting first.
If there is demand, we intend to create a setting and rules for Newtonian movement for those who prefer a more realistic depiction of movement in space.
HOW DOES SHOOTING WORK?
First, SFC uses custom six-sided dice to resolve weapon fire. There are four dice colors: Red (usually the most powerful), Yellow, Green, and Blue (the least powerful). Each weapon at a given range will use a particular die (or dice). You will have enough dice if you have four of each die.
For example, if your heavy cruiser is firing anti-matter torpedoes at a target at range 8 (8 inches), you'd look at your ship form to determine what dice to roll at that range. In this case, you'd roll four red dice.
Each die has a different combination of results, but among them, there are five possible outcomes. Not all outcomes are available on each die. First, there is an "S" (Special) result. An "S" result is unique to the specific weapon so the damage can vary. Only Red dice have "S" results. Next, there are "H" (heavy hits) results which allow some damage to leak through the shields (undoubtedly causing a bridge control panel to explode in someone's face even if the shields are still functional). Finally, there are "M" and "L" hits (you guessed it, Medium and Light hits).
The print and play version comes with a chart so that you can use any traditionally numbered 6-sided as a substitute for the custom dice. Additionally, the P&P version comes with a word document that will allow you to print stickers if you choose. You can even resize them if you like.
HOW IS DAMAGE APPLIED?
Properly managing shields is essential to winning. Each ship has forward, left, right, and aft shields. Shields can be repaired and reinforced during the battle. You can repair and reinforce shields as long as your shield generator is functioning. As it takes damage, your ability to repair and reinforce a shield is diminished.
Once a shield is penetrated, additional damage points will damage the ship's internal systems. This process is pretty standard in most starship combat games.
Then, draw a damage card for each damage point inside the shields. Damage cards have primary hits and alternate hits marked on them. If no functional primary hits remain, you apply damage to the alternate hit. If no alternate hits remain, the ship's structure is damaged. Once the structure is gone, remove the ship from the board. There are OPTIONAL rules for ship explosions, derelict ships, and crew evacuations for those who like extra detail, but these are in no way required or necessary.
MAKING YOUR OWN SHIPS
You should feel free to create your own ships and settings for SFC. You can use any program you like to create ship forms. I would recommend you use the included ships as a baseline. Eventually, we hope to release a set of guidelines to help players create ship forms that won't break the game system. To be clear, it won't be a competitive design system like many of the fleet combat games out there, but we hope to have a refined spreadsheet to assist players in balancing the ships in their own settings.
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