Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Learning the Ropes

Capt's Log - Stardate - In the Beginning...

I was thinking last night that so far I have talked here and there about the games verious details but not a lot on what to actually do. How does one start?

Over the years I have played a heap of ship games... Full Thrust, A Call To Arms: Babylon 5, BattleFleet Gothic, just to name a few off the top of my head. And that is just the space ship games. Have also played sailing ship games... its a particular interest of mine.

And Ship games in general have some of the same charactristics... mainly because even though space is 3D you only really have 2D to simulate it. Some plane games get around by using telescoping bases to denote different height levels. But most space ships games really boil down to sailing ships in space. They move like Age of Sail ships and they tend to fight like them. Cloaking and other abilities not withstanding.

Star Trek is no different. In fact the entirety of star ship combat in trek is modeled after sea vessels. The only time you see 3D used is for dramatic effect... for example Star Trek 2 when Spock tells Kirk that Khan's thinking is decidely 2 Dimensional, and the final episode of TNG All Good Things(part 2) when Riker comes in from under the enemy ship to destroy it. Other than dramatic effect 3D is conveinently overlooked. Babylon 5 and the new Battlestar Galatica did a bit better job but the Bab5 games goes right back to 2D space. Only so much you can do on a table top.

Something to keep in mind is you are limited by the 2D space we are using to simulate the 3D environment.

Anyway.. so you have your starter and maybe a couple extra ships and you are ready to put together a fleet.. so now what?

First I suggest you keep it simple. Add your Capts, maybe a crew or two , and a upgrade. Often this first upgrade is Photon Torpedoes. I do not reccommend going all in and upgrading ships to the max to start as how the cards work is often confusing. remember keep it simple. If you are in luck you have someone to teach you that has already played for a bit and is not in the 'beat them until they learn" camp.

But even with the best cards the name of the game is getting your ships into firing position and keeping them there, while getting hit as little as possible in return.

As I mentioned yesterday make sure to set up a table with a couple obstacles, maybe a planet to fly around. Setting up on a pure open table is okay for a teaching game but tossing in something to fly around helps them learn to maneuver. Again when i am teaching I often allow movement do overs if they make a wrong choice or thought they had made a choice other than what shows on the dial. It does happen. it is actually quite easy to choose the wrong turn direction.

Typically in age of sail games you want to bring the most guns to bear which for those ships was normally a broadside. But for trek that is most often the front first arc. Most of the ships in the game(with some notable exception) have either a 90 degree front firing arc or 180 degrees. The ones with 360 can give you fits. Some ships also have a read firing arc which ifyou forget can make for getting a nasty surprise. I had an opponent forget about a rear arc once only to get forcably reminded when I hit him with a big quanton torpedo shot heh... ouch..

Anyway in general you want to get into either the side arc or rear if the ship doesn't have a rear arc itself. If you can get in there and stay in there you have it made. Of course its never that easy and one of the things I really like about STAW is the fact your moves are chosen first then hidden. You must learn to predict your opponents move. WAY easier said than done. But there is very little that gives more satisfaction of sliding into a position you know they cannot escape from.

For your first couple of games keep it simple, use the time to learn how the ships move.. what the different turns do.

Also DO NOT assume you won't bump if you have two ships together and they make the same move. They might look like they would stay together but the nature of the templates do not actually make that so.

But for your first games concentrate one learning the order of the turn, what to do when. When do take your actions, what the actions do. that sort of thing. Don't even worry so much about winning. Just in figuring out how it works. Once you have a handle on that start looking deeper at the cards and how they interact. The game is quite deep and it is not something that gets learned over night.

As always for the month of August this post is a part of The Blaugus Initiative

Until next time - May you always be in your opponents rear arc.

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