Wednesday, March 16, 2016

One Hour Wargames . . . IN SPAAAACE

If you read this blog regularly you may have noticed that I like using similar game mechanics across genres. Recently I did it for a spaceship battle.

The scenario was part of the Kate and Kip storyline so the game report is on my Tales of the Templars blog. Here is a sample:

The Rules
I revamped my rules for spaceship battles. Here is a summary:

  1. Initiative - rolled at the beginning of the battle.
  2. Activation - Like many of my other rules sets, I use the Song of Blades and Heroes activation system. I think it adds a great fog of war to my solo battles.
  3. Movement - The same as my old spaceship tules.
  4. Combat - I changed this a bit. I'm now using the same mechanics as my skirmish rules:
    • Each ship has an Attack value. Roll this and score 4+ for a hit.
    • The defending ship then rolls its Defense, needing a 4+ to negate a hit.
    • If a ship suffers hits >= its Damage value, it is destroyed.
Ships stats are as follows (Attack/Defense/Damage)

  • Cruisers - 3/2/3
  • Destroyers - 2/1/3
  • Fighter Squadrons - 3/2/2
  • Moon Base - 3//2/3
I found that the new combat rules greatly simplified and streamlined the game. For some reason, it is easier to remember the different number of dice to throw as opposed to having different hit numbers. I did "goof up" and forgot some modifiers that were in my original spaceship rules. Ships firing forward and damaged ships suffered penalties, but I forgot to apply them. Honestly, I don't think  the game really suffered.

The Scenario
Here's where One Hour Wargames came into play. I rolled randomly and came up with Scenario 30 - Last Stand. This is perfect because I envisioned the Frigidair defenders as being outgunned by the Federation.

In this scenario, the defenders only have 3 units. One may be placed in a redoubt on a hill. I replaced the standard setup with a fortified base on a moon. The attackers can recycle any eliminated ships but the defenders can win by holding out for 15 turns.

I randomly determined additional terrain (moonlets that block line of sight and act as cover due to their magnetic fields disrupting sensors) and then set the units on the board.


  • For a long time, I resisted using defense rolls (i.e. saving throws) in my rules. I thought it was pointless to add more dice rolling. Now that I am using them I like them. I think they add more suspense (I'm hit! Can I shake it off?). I think they would be problematic with more units on the board but I've actually come to prefer the smaller-sized games.
  • Using activation rolls with OHW scenarios can be problematic. Thomas'sscenarios don't expect a unit to remain stationary. If a unit misses an activation roll or two, it may not be able to accomplish as much in 15 turns as Thomas envisioned. I thought that might be the case with this scenario. Early on, the Federation moved ponderously. I did not think its ships would make it within range of the moonbase. They began moving later in the game so it was not a problem in the end.


  1. The use of save rolls is quite interesting. I use them for my 1HW variants, but they do give a different result to using the original Neil Thomas 'half hits in cover' approach. If I score 4 hits under the NT rules as they stand then it will always translate to 2 hits. With save rolls it will *average* two hits, but I could end up scoring none. Or I could get lucky and see all four go through. Essentially save rolls make things far less predictable. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. I know there are people who like the predictable casualty infliction of the Neil Thomas rules, because they encourage a particular style of play. Myself I like a bit of randomness :)

  2. Oh, and your comment about the NT rules not working well with activation is a good one as well. I have played some of the scenarios with a PIP-based system, and they've worked OK, but some of the ones which require a rapid movement across the board would be tricky in those circumstances. To be fair NT does often give units a choice between fighting or moving, so the scenarios where units have to get from A to B are often tricky if you;re expected to fight as well. But that's a choice the player can make; failing to activate isn't.

  3. I think more randomness helps make solo games more interesting so I don't mind it even if it makes OHW scenarios more challenging. I have toyed with allowing more turns to compensate but it hasn't been a major issue yet.