Of the many space combat games I've owned and played Stars & Lasers is great addition to my collection.
The rules are neat and tidy, with crisp and clear text/layout, in colour but not overwhelmed by said colour.
A selection of full colour missile, fighter, strike fighter and turn templates are provided, along with a large array of full colour pre-prepared ship record sheets ready for printing and laminating, allowing for instant gameplay, which was nice.
- Initiative is handled very neatly (all sides use different coloured dice/tokens, these are placed into a dice bag and then randomly drawn - the side whose coloured dice/token is drawn gets to activate 1 of its ships, once the activation is finished the dice/token is placed by the now activated ship to show its been activated) and another dice/token is drawn.
- Ranged combat = roll 1d20, get equal to/greater than range in inches (rounded up) to hit. Shields stop laser hits 1 for 1 but then collapse until restored. Each hit that penetrates any shields then strikes any armour. Once armour is gone the ships hull takes damage 1 for 1. Each 1 hull damage gives a chance for a critical hit effect (some of which can cause moer hull damage and further critical rolls ...)
- Missiles are on-table markers/counters. Missiles that contact ships detonate and cause damage, ignoring shields. However, missiles can be shot down by the ships points defenses before they impact a ship.
- Fighters and Strike Fighters (bombers) are useful and able units without being vastly overpowered.
Theres a good selection of scenarios included, and the advanced rules allow for some modification of ship weaponry.
There are a few minor of issues:
- You cannot design your own ships yet - the writer is preparing supplemental material to cover this.
- There's a minor omission in the rules concerning Damage Control/Repairs - it's easy to work out what was intended though and behave accordingly.
- The sample fleets provided and generic in that my BB will be the same as your BB - not really an issue for me but some might dislike it.
The writer provides his contact details at the back, allowing players to email queries directly. I did so and received a very quick and helpful reply, which was nice. Friendly too =)
As I said, the writer is currently working on a supplement to cover minor gaps, provide new ship types and scenarios - I'm looking forwards to it.
Stars & Lasers is a good little ruleset that provides what it says on the tin - a quick, easy and enjoyably fun game.