Monday, April 18, 2011

Campaign wishes

I want to run a campaign with battles like this on a regular basis.
Part of what makes spaceship combat gaming interesting to me is the backstories of the forces involved and the setting background.  That's why I like running scenarios--it gives me a chance to flex my creativity, and a story gets players more involved in the game than your typical equal-points-start-on-opposite-sides-of-the-map game.

I'd like to take that a step further and run a starship campaign--two or more players who not only have to make tactical decisions during a battle, but also must implement strategic choices amid a larger arena.  Deciding to hold your fire or release all your missiles at the start of the game is one decision point that can draw a player in.  Having to decide where to send your forces (and whether to split them up) to accomplish possibly mutually exclusive goals with incomplete information (if I were my opponent, where would I send my ships?) would also prove challenging.

I'd like to run a campaign where each player starts off with one small ship and can serve as a privateer, pirate, or patroller.  Players would make strategic moves on the sector map, and when two forces meet, they would play it out on the ol' hex mat.  As the GM, I would run "non-player characters" such as merchant ships or enemy space patrols.  Damage would carry over from game to game, making players possibly more cautious with their assets.  On the other hand, the possibility of loot, or capturing ships as prizes, would bring out the risk-takers.  This would necessitate a lot of bookkeeping, but I still think it would be fun.

I'm sure others have thought of this as well, so I'd like to ask readers their thoughts on a starship combat campaign.  Have you tried something like this before?  How'd it work out?  Any suggestions, examples, warnings?  I await your replies.


Don M said...

We've done many campaigns using a very streamlined Starfleet Battles as the basis,this was of course before my group discovered Full Thrust. Sadly most of that group
has moved on (army town that happens) however there are a few of us left here,and I'm the one with all the minis....) We did a star sector map game where you had
to garrison your systems, and kept two or so battle fleets at one of your star bases.This had the effect of giving the attacker a slight initial advantage but, unless they were very successful the home fleets would arrive and usually drive them off (if they won).It was very realistic...We also did landing operations to include a 15mm mock up of Deep Space 9, made for some great boarding actions. After we got into GZGs we did a combined campaign using Full Thrust for
the fleet action, Stargrunt for the commandotype pre-assault followed up by Dirtside for planetary main force landings....worked out

Your idea sounds very Traveller - like, and I think with elements of role play incorporated in it that it just might work! I need to think a bit more on it...)

Desert Scribe said...

Thanks, Don. Your combined arms campaign sounds like something I'd like to play in as well.

Regarding my idea, I kind of have a role-playing element in mind; I think if players have a "character" (in this case a ship and its crew) to identify with, it increases their interest in the game. It also makes them play a little more cautiously if they know any damage/casualties will affect them in the foreseeable future.

GypsyComet said...

There are campaign systems out there, or games that can become campaign systems. SFB has its immensely complex campaign system that is also a game itself: Federation & Empire. Several of the old Metagaming micros, such as Warpwar and Holy War, and their larger Godsfire and Stellar Conquest, can all function as campaign games. Starfire also has a campaign system.

More recently you could even use something like Starfarers of Catan.

Traveller's "Trillion Credit Squadron" also works.

Don M said...

Had a few ideas how to go about this that I wanted to run by you.
I must admit up front to being a big Firefly fan, so here goes.

Place the planetary system in-between two rival powers with a civil war ongoing backed covertly by the two powers. This is where your players come in.You give your players each a Corvette classed ship (second line) and they have to be the gun runners one of the sides in the conflict. They
would have to pick up the weapons transport them back to the planet, moon,space station or faction ship. All the while avoiding both the small planetary defense forces of the other faction and patrol ships of the other major power.

This campaign can be run by you separately and then folded into my bigger campaign this summer...more on that to follow.

HarmlessHamster said...

In concerns to the individual ship idea I think Eve Online has pulled many people interested in that type of gameplay from table top gaming (sadly). When they get tired of the bullying that happens in Eve Online they will come around eventually, remembering how much fun they had with miniatures on a space mat beautifully created as yours.

maxmike said...

I ran a Starfleet Wars campaign like this many years ago. Each player took a fleet (I was Terrans) and sent moves in via joint email to a separate joint email account. The Game master then "opened" the account and told the group what encounters occurred. Battles were played out based in order of turn date. You not only played using Starships, but also had the option of moving and dropping MAATAC tank units if you gained control of an objedctive planet. When the play group expanded beyond the initial 5 fleets, we added Pirates by using Star Frontiers and Stan Johansen ships.