Saturday, October 18, 2014

New Rules for my Starfighter Campaign

I've been thinking about adding maneuvers to my Starfighters rules but have been undecided how to go about it. Today I played a short combat from my Space Templars campaign when inspiration struck me. I could use the same rules for my Starfighters campaign.

For RPG sessions, I've been using variants of my Kevin's Krawl rules. The basic mechanic is simple - a roll on 2D6s of 7 or more is good but less than 7 is bad. I realized I could use that same mechanic for my starfighters.

There are 2 phases:
  1. Maneuver - each of the player's fighters rolls 2D6.
    • 2-6 means that the enemy has a shot at the player's fighter
    • 7-9 means that fighter can shoot at an enemy
    • 10+ means that they player's fighter has managed to tail an enemy (shooting bonus)
  2. Shooting - once again each shooter rolls 2D6.
    • 2-6 misses
    • 7-9 causes 1 hit
    • 10+ causes 2 hits
There are modifier's to each roll for pilot quality, damage, etc. In addition, I added a little bit of decision-making from my original starfighter rules. Each combat round, a pilot can kick in the afterburners. This gives an advantage to the maneuver roll but makes it more difficult to hit anything in the shooting round. The player then can choose to improve maneuvering, albeit at the expense of accuracy.

I ran a short mission with Gunn and Rowe on patrol. Their mission was largely uneventful, although they encountered 3 enemy craft (which fled after being damaged - I remembered to roll for break off after each round).

Friday, October 17, 2014

What to do?

My Space Templar RPG game has been on hiatus for a few months, primarily because I don't know where to take it next. After accomplishing their mission of retrieving some crucial scientific research, my two heroes were caught in an Imperial tractor beam. I pretty much decided that they were captured. How would they escape an Imperial cruiser? I had no clue so I haven't played out the next chapter.

I've been in a sci-fi mood lately, so my thoughts have turned back to my heroes. I've still been struggling to come up with a plot idea, when a post on the Stronghold Rebuilt sparked my imagination. Recently, Kaptain Kobold has posted a series about Roman gladiator games. Now I'm thinking that my heroes will be sold as gladiator slaves on an alien planet.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


I've been thinking a lot about my starfighter Eindekker variant. In Eindekker, turn management is crucial because you have only 10 turns to complete the mission and return to base before your fuel runs out. I tried a similar rule with my starfighter rules but it just doesn't seem to fit. I just think that -starfighters would have more than enough fuel for their missions so that running out is not a concern. However, if I remove the fuel restrictions, I will essentially remove all decision making by the player. Instead, the game will become a dice-rolling exercise (combat is simply opposed die rolls). While I don't mind rolling dice, I would like to have some tactical decision making.

So what is the solution to my quandary? I'm thinking of adding maneuvers to the combat. For example, perhaps I could add maneuver cards a la Down in Flames. The player would have a hand of cards; he would then play one for each of his starfighters in the turn. I would probably simply program the enemy responses. Adding cards would add more physical components to the game, making it harder to play on a virtual board.

Another idea is to make combat into a multiple round die rolling game (kind of like Yahtzee in space). The player would roll, then choose which dice to keep.

Anyway, I'm kind of stuck on this problem now. I'll need some more thinking.

I've been toying around with some different quick play sports games.

I created a simple dice-rolling football game. Each team gets 2 "possessions" per quarter, rolling 2D6 per possession (modified by Offensive and Defensive ratings). Results are as follows:

2-3 Turnover
4-6 Punt or end of possession
7-8 Field goal
9-12 Touchdown

I have since added additional rules. A roll of 2 or 4 give a +1 to the opponent's next roll (they gained good field position). One can opt to eschew the field goal and go for it (roll again with a -1 mod). I even have 2-point conversions.

Star League has also been getting my attention. I am in the middle of season 3. I created a spreadsheet to track the League's history but it made me want to finish seasons even quicker. I experimented with a game where each team rolls 1 die to determine the number of goals scored per half. I created a spreadsheet that can actually play an entire season in a second. OK, that's a little too fast. I'm now thinking of creating a new league. I would control one team; its games would be played using the Star League rules. Games for the other teams would use the season in a second rules. The only problem is that season in a second results in a higher score than Star League. I haven't progressed any further.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Following the defeat of the Aquian attack, the Federation fleet launched a counter designed to end the Aquian threat. The 501st Starfighter Squadron (the Blue Genies) were selected to spearhead the attack.

Selected for the vanguard, Lts. Gunn and Rowe were among the first starfighters to launch. They experienced a slight delay waiting for the entire squadron to form up, but soon they were rocketing toward the enemy fleet. They were nearing the disputed zone when a swarm of enemy scouts attacked. As one passed, its laser cannons raked Rowe's ship, causing minor damage. The Genies itched for a dogfight but were ordered to press on to the main fleet ASAP. They managed to disengage and continued on their mission.

Entering enemy territory, Aquian scouts again pounced on the Genies. The Genies tried to pass through but the scout attacks would not relent. The starfighters circled through space, looking for a clear shot. Rowe maneuvered himself into position; his blasters annihilated one of the attackers. He then turned and found himself behind another Aquian. Again, his blasters licked out and another enemy was gone. The remaining scouts broke off and ran for their base.

 The Genies neared the expected position of the Aquian fleet but were disappointed to find only a rearguard. The core of the fleet had already retreated from the sector. Still, there were Aquian targets so the Genies rushed to the attack. Enemy scouts swarmed forth to block the Genies. Once again, starfighters arced and curved through space. Once again, Rowe blasted two enemies into oblivion. The way was open! Gunn and Rowe led the attack. They launched torpedoes and then turned for home. Other Federation starfighters and torpedo boats followed. Explosions blossomed from the Aquian destroyers and cruisers. The rearguard was devastated.

The return home was more suspenseful than expected. The Genies few through several patches of space debris, testament to earlier battles. In one patch, Gunn was struck by a large object that knocked out his engines. He was stranded until help could come. Rowe continued home but was ambushed by 3 scouts as he neared the moonbase. He managed to destroy one vessel and elude the rest.

After Action Report:

  • Enemy destroyed: 5 (all by Rowe)
  • Enemy damaged: 0
  • Enemy getting through: N/A
  • Friendly ships lost: 1
  • Friendly ships damaged: 1
  • Torpedo hits: 2
Another victory for Gunn and Rowe.

So far I am enjoying these rules. They allow for quick and simple starfighter actions. I still feel like I need to tweak the rules a bit. I pretty much lifted the rules from Eindekker, but they don't always seem to fit. For example, I am ambivalent about allowing the starfighters to evade the enemy on the outbound leg of an offensive mission. Also, in Eindekker, the planes run out of fuel after 10 turns. This creates some interesting decision points in the game - do I turn for home now or stretch the mission a little longer? In this mission, the Genies were not going to head for home prior to reaching the enemy fleet so that game mechanic seemed irrelevant. I am going to pull out Down in Flames and see if I can steal some ideas from that game.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Star League 3 Update

After 3 weeks in season 3, there are some interesting developments.

In the offseason, both division champions (Canopans and  Geminids) lost their goalies to free agency. Both ended up with inferior tenders for the new season. Meanwhile, the Electrans and Hydrans picked up some new players to bolster their offenses.

Week 1
The Canopans continued their winning ways while the Geminids maintained their mastery over their rivals, the Fomalians. All games were blowouts so their was little suspense this week.

Galactic Division leaders - Canopans and Denebians (1-0)
Stellar Division leaders - Geminids and Hydrans (1-0)

Week 2
Canopans continue to roll. The Electrans and Geminids dueled in the game of the week. For most of the game, the Electrans dominated, but they had trouble scoring. Nevertheless, they were able to stake a 2-0 lead. Then the Geminids came storming back. They scored one goal and then put a lot of pressure on the Electrans. With seconds left in the game, the Geminids found an opening and made a good shot. The Electran keeper dived for a spectacular save to preserve the victory. The Electran win ensured a 4-way tie for first.

Galactic Division leader - Canopans (2-0)
Stellar Division leaders - everyone (1-1)

Week 3
In the Galactic division, the Denebians and Canopans fought through a thrilling match. In the first half, the two teams traded goals. The Denebian goal occurred on a brilliant steal and breakaway. In the second half, the Canopans were driving when the Denebians again stole it, rushed downfield, shot and scored for a 2-1 lead. The Denebian defense then held the rest of the way for the victory. Meanwhile, the former doormats of the Stellar Division both won, leaving the Geminids and Fomalians with losing records.

Galactic Division leader - Antarens, Canopans, and Denebians (2-1)
Stellar Division leaders - Electrans and Hydrans (2-1)

An interesting feature so far has been the increase of offense (2.3 goals per game) and the increased number of blowouts. This seems to be the result of the improved offenses in the Stellar division and the inferior goaltending of the Canopans and Geminids. I've been tempted to tweak the charts a bit to reduce the shots per possession but I've decided to hold off for now. I may allow some mid-season call-ups to improves defenses across the league.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Aquians Attack (Part 3) - The Blitz

Last night, I ran an experiment of my starfighter version of Eindekker (see my earlier post). I randomly rolled a Scramble mission so my pilots were going to be fighting off an attack by the enemy. Fortuitously, this made perfect sense for the campaign I've been playing.

When we last left the pilots of the 501st Squadron (the Blue Genies), they were unable to prevent an enemy torpedo boat from sneaking past and striking their carrier (read about it here). The crippled ship was towed to space dock while the Blue Genies were stationed on Moonbase Alpha. Soon after, alarms sounded. The Aquians were attempting a major attack!

Upon receiving the alarm, Lts. Ray Gunn and Ty Rowe scrambled to their fighters. Fortunately, the alarm was given with plenty of time so they cleared the hangers and were zooming through the Omicron system before the spotted the enemy. Ahead, a flight of torpedo boats was speeding toward the space dock where the Genies' crippled carrier lay. Gunn and Rowe kicked on the afterburners and were on the enemy in no time. Their first pass damaged the two TBs, but they still kept on target. The Genies turned and bore down on the enemy once again. This time, their shots ripped into the enemy. Pieces of ship scattered into space. The damaged TBs turned and ran.

Gunn and Rowe had no time to celebrate; two Aquian scouts pounced upon them, Soon, they were twisting and turning through the system, trying to line up a shot. Rowe struck first and a scout was vaporized. Gunn then hit his target and the scouts were no more.

More blips showed on their heads up display; the Genies accelerated toward their foe. They came up along the rear of two more torpedo boats and rushed to the attack. Their accurate fire destroyed one of the ships. The turret of the other TB opened fire,raking Gunn's ship and damaging the hull. The duo then turned on this foe and blasted it from the sky.

Belatedly, the TBs' escort turned on the Genies. Laser fire slammed into Gunn's ship. He was severely damaged. "Get out of here!" Rowe cried over the comm system. "I'll hold them off!" Unable to continue the fight, Gunn reluctantly complied and accelerated toward the moonbase. Rowe then put on an impressive display of acrobatics, dodging this way and juking that. Although he took a hit, Rowe began to find his mark. One by one, he took out the enemy scouts until no more Aquians remained. Rowe was then able to limp his damaged ship back home.

After Action Report:

  • Enemy destroyed: 6 (2 by Gunn and 4 by Rowe)
  • Enemy damaged: 3
  • Enemy getting through: 0
  • Friendly ships lost: 0
  • Friendly ships damaged: 2 (1 heavily)
Overall, an excellent victory for the Genies.

Starfighters on a Virtual Board

Early in 2013 I posted about a neat little solo WWI air combat game called Eindekker. Later in 2013, I started playing around with a starfighter game. At the time, I considered working up a starfighter version of Eindekker, but I never got beyond pondering.

This week, inspiration suddenly struck and I finally jotted down some rules. I also created a virtual board in PowerPoint so that I could play on my computer.

The virtual board.
I need better graphics for the starfighters.
Like Eindekker, games are 10 turns. Every turn, the player's flight may move 1 zone (tracked on the left). Random tables determine events, including encounters with enemy ships. Combat is based on opposed die-rolls, with the winner inflicting damage on the loser. The virtual board includes tracks for monitoring damage.

There are 3 types of missions available (determined by random roll):

  • Scramble - where the starfighters must defeat waves of attackers
  • Patrol - where the starfighters fly to the disputed zone (DZ) and scout for enemy ships.
  • Offense - where the starfighters fly to the enemy base (EB) zone and attack a target.
I am developing a victory point system to keep track of successes and failures.

I played a game last night and the game has promise.

Zombie Hunter Extraordinaire

Last weekend, Elizabeth and I played a game of Zombies!!! Here is the board at the end of the game:

At the end of the game.
Elizabeth is the blue figure.
 You might notice that there is a large stretch were there are no zombies. Why is that? That's because they are here, in Elizabeth's kill pile.

Elizabeth's kill pile, along with her trusty fire ax and car keys.
She was absolutely phenomenal, mowing down zombies left and right. This is the first time in our plays of Zombies!!! that someone won by killing 25 of the creatures.