Thursday, January 13, 2011

Starfleet Wars Identification Manual

In my recent posts on the scale of Starfleet Wars starships and space fighters, I made frequent reference to the game's Observer's Directory & Identification Manual.  I thought I would go into a little more detail about this publication.  Not every reader will be as familiar with the various SfW products as I am (although I'm sure many readers are better acquainted with the game than I am), and I failed to mention this product in my posts last year on Starfleet Wars and Starfleet Wars Book 2.

Written in the style of a briefing manual by the Office of Galactic Intelligence, the booklet says it was compiled and written by "J.A. Jameson, Rear Admiral, TFSF, Director of Galactic Intelligence" and W.C. Smith, Commodore, TFSF, Chief of Combat Security Systems."  The book lists the illustrators as "R.E. Spicer, Lt. Commander, TFSF, Characteristics and Identification Section" and "S.R. Spicer, Lt., TFSF, CIS."

Bearing a copyright date of 1980, the ODIM is a slim supplement, just 12 (half)-pages sandwiched in between the front and back covers.  But there's a lot of flavor in this sandwich, including background material on each of the five races that inhabit the setting, specs of super galactic dreadnought of each power, fighter information, and drawings of notable warriors of each species: Terran, Aquarian, Avarian, Carnivore, and Entomalian.

That's the main strength of this book--the pictures.  The pen-and-ink illustrations convey a style reminiscent of '70s sci-fi from the pages of Heavy Metal or Epic Illustrated.  They personify the Five Powers of the SfW setting and serve as the basis for large-scale Starfleet Wars metal figures (or vice versa) as well, depicting handheld weapons each species carries into battle.  The starship pictures (all five super galactic dreadnought classes are shown) have breakout illustrations of various weapons systems, as well as sketches of the fighters.

In addition, the descriptions of the various sophonts and their ships offers throwaway bits of background material such as the "Mk 91 Starburster Mount" gun turret on the Terran super galactic dreadnought, and the Avarians' "Thwartyllium armor."

The ID manual offers some crunch in addition to all the fluff: It includes game stats for Superior Models' newest starships, as well as a new to-hit table.  As the reviewer on points out, the new firing table is available only to players that own the supplement.  This offical rules munchkinism predates the actual Munchkin card game by several years.

The Observer's Directory & Identification Manual isn't needed to play Starfleet Wars, or even to enhance play.  It is a lot of fun, however, and provides insight into the sparsely detailed galaxy of the Five Powers.


Porky said...

That was a good read too, and the photos capture more of the magic. I can imagine the happiness of anyone whose memory it jogs. It's a little odd how far back in time 1980 is getting.

Desert Scribe said...

Porky, thanks again for your compliments. The fact that people are responding to my posts encourages me to keep blogging.

This comment has been removed by the author.