Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Launching of the Dreadnought

Welcome to Super Galactic Dreadnought!  I've been a science fiction fan since before the first Star Wars movie came out (back then, of course, it was just Star Wars--we had no idea there would be sequels!) and a wargamer since my teens. 

One of the attractions of Star Wars was the concept of massive space battles between fleets of starships hurling beams of energy at each other, an idea that echoed the space battles of E.E. "Doc" Smith and A.E. Van Vought in the ancient library books I would bring home.  One day, I was looking through a magazine (I think it must have been Boys Life) and saw an ad with a picture of several different spaceship miniatures evocative of Imperial Star Destroyers, along with an address for a catalog.  I sent the dollar and the self-addressed stamped envelope, and a few weeks later I received pages and pages of product listings.  There were boardgames, miniatures games, and roleplaying games.  The names of the products were evocative: Dungeons & Dragons, Warp War, Traveller--and Starfleet Wars.

There was the source of the picture I had seen in the magazine: starships of the Terran Federation, along with additional pictures depicting the other four powers in this game (Aquarians, Avarians, Entomalians, and Carnivorans) in what the manufacture said was 1:1200 to 1:9600 scale!  Not only that; there were lists of every ship class for every species, with evocative designations such as Starfighter, Starbomber, Stellar Cruiser, Galactic Transport, Galactic Attack Carrier, and Super Galactic Dreadnought.

Not only that; the sheet also offered "Galactic Armor Models" in 1:285 scale.  They had MAATAC Corps for each of the five powers as well (MAATAC = "Multifunctional Armor and Armoured Tactical Attack Commputer"), with light, medium, and heavy Galactic War Machines.  There was even a set of rules (the eponymous MAATAC).

Unfortunately, as a youngster, I never had the cash flow to purchase any of these product via mail order.  Still the imagery and the concepts struck a chord with me, and I hung onto those catalog pages for years, before they disappeared in the mists of time.  It would be decades before I reclaimed that lost part of my youth.


maxmike said...

Starfleet Wars! I can pretty much attest that that the combination of Starfleet Wars and Traveller are soley responsible for starting my now 30+ year career as a professional game designer. Traveler showed up in my local game store just about the time SFW did--I ran home with both boxed sets and proceeded to try and hammer together a game based roughly around Poul Anderson's Terran Empire, only to find so many gaping holes in the original Traveler rules that I immediately set out to write my own. The result was Imperial Star, which, after I stumbled on some anime books in the local used store a week later, severely mutated into what would become MEKTON.

The SFW rules, on the other hand, were so smooth that I never did have to rewrite them. And I still have my SFW fleet--no, make that FLEETS--I have all of them with the exception of the Aquarians, which my wife bought. We recently resurrected what had been a nearly 15 year long campaign that involved friends from all over the U.S.. this time merging it with MAATAAC and RAFM Traveler miniatures to represent the 5 races. Our campaign ranges from huge orbital battles over distant worlds, to ground MAATAAC city assaults and finally savage house to house battles with 15mm figures. There's even a roleplaying component. Yep, even now, a good Starfleet Wars game can bring a tear to my eye--and a pang in my wallet.

Good times. Good times.

Mike Pondsmith
R.Talsorian Games

Desert Scribe said...

Welcome aboard the Dreadnought, Mike! Sorry to take so long to respond, but for some reason (maybe the URL in your message) blogger sent your comment to moderation and I just noticed it this evening.

I'm glad you came across my blog. I started SGD because I had been trawling the 'Net off and on for months, looking for fan pages--or anything really--about Starfleet Wars. I couldn't find very much out there, so I decided to create something featuring the game myself.

So you've played SFW recently? I've never actually played the game, but your campaign sounds like a fun.

It's interesting that you describe the game as smooth. Maybe because I never played it, it seems a little intimidating. However, I recently started going over the Starfleet Wars rules again, and I plan on blogging about the game in more detail in the near future, so stay tuned.

Thanks for dropping by. By the way, if you have pics of your painted Starfleet Wars or MAATAC minis, I'd be happy to post them.