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STARFORCE COMMANDER PREVIEW

NOTE: THIS IS A FREE PREVIEW OF STARFORCE COMMANDER.

THIS IS NOT A THE ACTUAL GAME: Please download this free document and look it over to help you decide if StarForce Commander is the game you are looking for. If you like what you see, you can purchase the complete game download for $20. Click the link below to purchase the complete StarForce Commander game.

Check Out our first instructional video on YouTube. THis video covers Basic Maneuvering, or search for "StarForce Commander Mariner Games"

https://youtu.be/iT6T6sQeBak

StarForce Commander - Mariner Games | Wargame Vault

"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.

PLAYERS: 2-4

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.

IMPORTANT CONCEPTS

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.

GAME PIECES

We will have a game component pack available beginning mid-September for purchase that includes 16 dice (4 of each color), a counter sheet, turn templates, and a damage deck. The counters and turn templates are laser-cut MDF boards, making them a little more durable than cardboard. There are ten 1.5-inch ship counters. One side has a ship silhouette; the other has the firing and shield arcs without the ship silhouette so that you can set your own miniatures on them without needing to put new bases on your miniatures. The intent is that SFC is compatible with most miniatures as long as the base can sit on a 1.5-inch base. The damage deck is 56 cards and full color.

I know there will be a small time investment to get your components up and running in the print and play version. Please take heart; the time invested will be worth it because these components offer streamlined gameplay.

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.

RESOURCE ALLOCATION

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.

MOVEMENT

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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Patrick D August 23, 2022 1:40 am UTC
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