Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Starships: Playtesting 5150: Star Navy

As you've probably gathered from the cryptic hints here at SGDN and over on the Two Hour Wargames blog, Ed the THW Guy is working on a set of rules for large-fleet space battles called 5150: Star Navy.  What you don't know is that I'm helping him write the game. 
I took a force of Free Company mercenaries hired to protect a remote planet.
This is a separate game from 5150: Fringe Space and 5150: Wing Leader.  While those games are aimed at ship-to-ship and fighter operations respectively, Star Navy is meant to be an admiral-level game in which you put dozens of spaceships on the table for your battle and still finish in a couple of hours.  So far it's been fun, bouncing ideas off each other and cutting away the complicated rules we started with to create the game we want to play.
Ed fielded a group of Hishen ships on a so-called "mercy mission."
After a brief playtest the previous week that resulted a little dice rolling followed by a lot of rewriting, and more rolling and revising, etc., this week we decided to complete a game using the rules in their current state.
In the opening round, I got some lucky hits in and destroyed the smallest Hishen ship.
We each took roughly equivalent forces: a Class 3 vessel (destroyer), three Class 4 craft (cruiser), and one Class 5 ship (battleship).  However, we each allocated components (guns, shields, missiles, AA) how we wanted to; the bigger classes have room for more systems.  (There are also rules for hangars and fighters, but we didn't use them in this playtest.)
I then began maneuvering in an attempt to get in the Hishen's blind spot.
Shields protect against guns, but not missiles, while AA stops missiles but not guns. Hits can reduce your number of shields/guns/AA/missiles, or force a reaction test if they hit other systems, like engines, life support, or the bridge.  Passing 0d6 usually takes the ship out of the fight, while passing 1d6 can reduce the spaceship's efficiency.  Also, if a starship takes enough hits to its hull, the ship goes boom.
The two forces ended up mixing it up at close range.
We also rolled randomly for each ship's Rep (here, as in most Two Hour Wargames, this value stands for a figure's quality, morale, toughness, training, or experience).  We don't use vector movement--for that, you want to look at Fringe Space.  At this level of play, movement is best represented by cinematic-type rules, although there is a nod to conservation of momentum. 
When I destroyed another Hishen, one of its companions failed a reaction test and followed it off the table.
Since Star Navy is a big-picture game, players usually won't micromanage their ships' targeting--it's closest ship that hasn't been targeted, reasoning that the captain will want to shoot at the nearest threat.  This also saves time by preventing player dithering over which enemy to attack.  It also means that you don't have complete control over other actions--a ship that takes too much damage or sees its companion destroyed might decide that discretion is the better part of valor.
The Hishen flagship carried on the fight in a brave, but futile effort.
The playtest game went really well, and we were both happy with what we have so far.  The game still needs more tweaking--and more playtesting--so it's far from ready for the market.  We'll continue working on it, and next time we plan to play a game with at least a dozen ships on each side.  As regular readers know, I've got plenty of minis for just that purpose, and I can't wait to use them.


Sean said...

Very cool. I've been following Fringe Space and "Wing Commander" (I've already forgotten what Javier is calling it), but this looks more like what I'm after. I need to have more of a look around your site. The ships look familiar, but I'm not sure what they are.

Desert Scribe said...

Thanks, Sean. If you're new to the Dreadnought, you'll find I have posted the occasional photograph of these starship minis. They were originally produced as the Starfleet Wars line, and are now sold as the Galactic Knights range.

Joe Beutel said...

Looks cool.

Fringe Space will actually include a cinematic movement system as well. Its all about providing a tool box for "space games"-- kinda like a reverse engineered core book for New Beginnings, a scenario/specific setting book. So if a player prefers cinematic or simplified vector movement, they can play it... it might fit their setting better, anyway! If they prefer being put in the pilot's seat, they can use the more detailed vector system.

Maj. Diz Aster said...

Ed's making it hard on the old wallet, 3 starship combat games to look forward to. At least I have time to save up for them. 5150: Star Navy is the "must have" of the 3 games, so be sure to give us the heads up on a possible release date(that is, with Ed's permission).