Monday, May 2, 2011

Starmada, Week 2

We had six players for Starmada this last Saturday after Jared's Paranoia one-shot, but people (namely me) kind of wandered in and out, so none of the games actually had all six playing at once.  Here's the run-down:

Game 1: Matt vs. Jared's Star Control II and Homeworld ships and Tim's Mythic on The Trap.  Rolled up a huge pile of asteroid fields which kind of hemmed Matt in, and he had some bad luck for a close loss (if he'd downed one more ship, he'd've achieved victory, but his Catastrophic weapons were rolling terribly).

Game 2: Jared's SCII and HW and my Eldar vs. Tim's Mythic fighters, Matt's catastrophizers, and a couple of ships Ethan threw together (a 100-point broadside escort and a 400-point carrier) on Planetary Assault (homebrew scenario):

Planetary Assault

Attacker: Your objective is to inflict as much damage as possible to one of the enemy's colony worlds. CRAT Limit: 1500.

Defender: Your colony world is under attack!
CRAT Limit: 1800. However, the defender must spend at least 600 points to purchase 6 planet-side fortifications from the following list:

Type: Fighter Base (101)
Hull: 4 3 2 1
Engines 0
Shields: [TL0] 3 3 2 1
Special Equipment - Equipment Tech Level: 2
Carrier (50) : Armor Plating:
Point Defence:

Type: Beam Base (100)
Hull: 4 3 2 1
Engines 0
Shields: [TL0] 3 3 2 1
Weapons : 1:[V], 2:[V], 3:[V], 4:[V], 5:[V], 6:[]
Battery V: Particle Beam TL2, 1-3/4-6/7-9, 2/4+/2/1
Piercing +1
Special Equipment - Equipment Tech Level: 2
Fire Control : Armor Plating:
Anti-Fighter Batteries (5):

Type: Missile Base (100)
Hull: 4 3 2 1
Engines 0
Shields: [TL0] 3 3 2 1
Weapons : 1:[2V], 2:[2V], 3:[2V], 4:[2V], 5:[2V], 6:[V]
Battery V: ICBMs TL2, 1-6/7-12/13-18, 1/4+/3/1
Special Equipment - Equipment Tech Level: 2
Fire Control : Armor Plating:

First, a planet of size 1d3+1 is placed at the center of the map. Then, 2d3 moons are placed, each between two and four hexes from the planet (attacker and defender alternate placing moons). No two moons may be placed in adjacent hexes. The defender must then place one planetary base on each 'corner' of the hexagonal planet. He and the attacker then alternate placing ships. The defender's ships may be placed anywhere within 6 hexes of the planet, while the attacker's ships may be placed anywhere within 6 hexes of the edge of the map.

The defender scores victory points as normal. However, the attacker scores double victory points for destroyed planetary bases, in addition to standard victory points for destroying the defender's ships. Either side may claim victory when it has scored 800 VP.

Jared and I were defending, and everybody else was attacking.  We had three fighter bases and three missile bases - we used the fighter bases for interceptors for Tim's fighters, and the missile bases for long-range firepower.  They split their fleet into three groups by player; Ethan didn't pre-launch his fighters, and got mauled by a missile base, one of Jared's flotillas, and an Eldar cruiser.  Matt's spent a lot of firepower on one of Jared's ships, and then got toasted by a pile of strikers that Jared had launched and an Eldar torpedo flotilla.  Tim's fighters were probably a real threat, but I put up a minefield in front of them and then ran a flotilla behind them, and they took the bait (went for the flotilla rather than the planet's surface where there were more victory points).  So a resounding win for us, but I think the scenario is definitely winnable for the attacker - don't split forces, do prelaunch fighters, and bring faster ships.

Game 3: Alex and Tim vs. Matt and Ethan on Dreadnought Engagement (another homebrew):

Dreadnought Engagement

Some species have a tendency towards building the biggest, most expensive ships that they possibly can and then trying to field them in wartime – Death Stars, Planet Killers, Command Carriers, the Bismarck, and the like. When these massive ships engage, they become centerpieces of the fleet, and their destruction often leads to a rout. Each side has a combat rating limit of 1500 points; however, each fleet must have a single ship with CRAT between 751 and 800 points.

Setup: Setup as for a normal scenario, except as noted above.

Victory: Each side receives victory points as normal, and may declare victory when it has scored 750 VP. The only way to accomplish this, however, is to destroy the enemy dreadnought.

Tim fielded two flights of 350-point Defense 5 independent fighters, Alex had a dreadnought, Ethan had a carrier with a bunch of flights of strikers as well as several flights of  Defense 3 fighters, and Matt had a dreadnought with Cata weapons.  We rolled Nebula for the terrain, but it was decided that it would be several localized gas clouds rather than a full-map effect, so there were three nebula patches of sizes 4, 4, and 5.  These were largely avoided.  From what I hear (I had gone to bed by the time the game started), Ethan's fighters managed to keep Tim's pinned down in dogfights, his strikers did significant damage to Alex's dreadnought, and then Matt's catastrophic guns finished it off for a win for Ethan and Matt.  There were several critiques of the scenario in the reports I read, with the general consensus being that "In future, make it 2000 points, 800 have to be the Dreadnought, and you get double VP for destroying the Dreadnought" would be preferable.  So maybe we'll try that next weekend.

Other things of note:
Jared's ship designs were eerily similar to mine - we both brought out gun-flotillas, minelayers, and lots of speed.  I think he'll be an interesting opponent (and he's undefeated so far...).
Also, we've played the Trap twice, and defense has lost both times.  I think it's winnable, but nobody's managed it just yet.  So that might be on the agenda for next time.
There was some discussion of starting a proper campaign.  Options mentioned for system included Simplest Campaign System, VBAM, Sovereign Stars, and Battlefleet Gothic's system.  So we'll see if that pans out.

And the scoreboard for this week:
Alex: 0/0/1
Ethan: 1/0/1
Jared: 2/0/0
John: 1/0/0
Matt: 2/0/1
Tim: 1/0/2

And cumulative:
Alex: 1/1/4
Ethan: 1/0/1
Jared: 3/0/0
John: 4/1/1
Matt: 3/2/2
Tim: 2/2/3


chad said...

Thank you for sharing your scenarios. I've saved them to test some day.

When you say "rolled up a huge pile of asteroid fields," to what table were you referring? I've tried to find random Starmada terrain generators online, but I've had no luck. I'm working on one of my own, but don't really want to reinvent the wheel.

John said...

Thanks! If you do, drop me a playtest report. I believe at the time we were using the terrain table in Harrigan's campaign system, available at

I later wrote my own campaign system based on Battlefleet Gothic's. While the system had its flaws (too random), the terrain was based on Harrigan's and was pretty decent. It's available at

chad said...

Thank you, John. I'd already seen your campaign, but hadn't noticed the terrain rules or Harrigan's campaign system. If I share my version online, I'll be sure to credit the both of you. :)

I was surprised to read that your Starmada group moved towards a long-distance dominance. We don't have quite as many games under our belt, but so far LOS issues have meant that short-range weapons have proved to be the monsters. I'm hoping that a random terrain system will help mix things up to prevent stagnation.

Thanks again, and happy gaming!

John said...

Awesome, thanks. Wasn't much of a campaign either time, to be fair...

As for long range... I think the main contributing factor was the movement rules we used - naval (from Rules Annex) instead of Newtonian. Naval movement meant that ships were slower but less predictable in their movement than Newtonian, which made sitting out at long range very attractive; they're unlikely to be able to make it out of a long-range G arc, but if you're up close, they might do some crazy maneuver that puts them out of your arcs. Likewise, fleets with short-range guns just couldn't close as quickly to get under enemy long-range guns, and even if they did, their opponents might have gotten out of your arcs. There were other things that contributed (the use of Rules Annex anti-shield traits made shields inviable as a defense, which led to the prevalence of Stealth, which is best countered by long-range guns, for example), but I think movement was the biggest factor and one which remained constant throughout our group's run.

chad said...

Thanks for the insights. We're playing without Rules Annex, so things may well turn out different. The game is so modular that I think it's unofficial tagline should be YMMV.

Thanks also for mentioning VBAM. For some reason I'd thought it was specific to the B5 universe, but I clicked through from your page and liked what I saw.

John said...

Good plan, and yeah, it kind of should be.

I'm still holding out for VBAM 2e... One of these years, they'll actually finish it, hopefully.