Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/05/review-retrospective-traveller-board.html
I can't really talk about Traveller without mentioning my history with the game, or more to the point, my non-existent history with at least one aspect of the game. The Traveller Boardgames.
I remember reading ads for Traveller in Dragon and White Dwarf Magazines and among the RPG books and very cool looking minis, there were the board games. I remember reading about Azhanti High Lightning in particular. This was a board game and yet it could be used WITH the Traveller RPG. It even included material that could be added to your Traveller RPG OR played completely on its own. Then imagine my surprise that this was not the only one.
Long-time readers will know this was the start of something I call my "Traveller Envy." Even then in the early 80s, I was blown away by the amount of material for this game. RPGs, Boardgames, starship minis. It was enough to make a die-hard D&D player like me jealous. Sure, I had Dungeon! but that is not quite the same is it?
Sadly, and long-time readers know this too, I never got the chance to play any of them.
Fast forward to, well, last week. I picked up three of the board games from DriveThruRPG. These are PDFs, but they are, as far as I can tell, complete. They are PDFs though.
I want to review them, but I really have no context for them save they are, to me, worth everything I paid. Honestly just to see what they are all about was worth it even if I never get to play them.
I picked up three games, Imperium, Mayday, and Azhanti High Lightning. All three share similarities. There is s set of printed rules that are easy to read. There is a board game that really doubles as an awesome map. And there are counters. If anything is the weakest link here it is the counters. I have, with other games, tried printing and gluing to cardstock (gotta wait for the ink to dry), but that is time-consuming. I have been considering a completely futuristic plan. I would use my HDMI projector to project down on a table and use 3D printed starships. I have found a few online and I am 100% certain there are more. It would be far more time-consuming than laser printing and gluing, but it would be 1000x so much cooler. Thankfully the ships would not need to be huge so I could do a few at a time. I wouldn't even need to spend a lot of time painting them, just a solid color the same as the counter.
Azhanti High Lightning (1980)
This is where it all began for me. Well. At least my Traveller Envy began here. This is Traveller Boardgame 3 and it is a companion to the S05 Supplement Lightning Class Cruiser.
This game is personal combat on a starship. This PDF package includes 3 PDFs. The first is the complete game of 118 pages. This includes 40 pages of rules which includes six different sorts of "Incidents" (read Scenarios). The next section (40+ pages) of this PDF is S05 Supplement Lightning Class Cruiser. So if you are looking for this supplement for Classic Traveller, then here it is.
The next 16 or so pages include the counters and the deck plans for the Azhanti. Again these counters are good, but I would like to use minis or something like that.
I have been told this game is a lot of fun. I'll have to endeavor to get it all printed out into a playable shape.
It is hard to give these a proper review since the only proper proof is playing them. One day maybe, but for now I can honestly say my curiosity has been satisfied.