Friday, September 02, 2011

Fleet Captain: a key mechanic

You know how Kirk and others after him are always blurting out orders about diverting power to the forward shields?  This serves as the inspiration for the central mechanical conceit of Star Fleet Battles.  In SFB each engine generates X points of energy, which you then distribute among phasers, shields, torpedoes, movement, life support, recharging batteries, tractor beams and I don't know what else.  It's a great concept with an over-complicated execution.  Each turns becomes hella bogged down by everyone plotting out their energy allocations on these worksheets you have to have in front of you in addition to your ship sheet.

Fleet Captain tries to keep the basic concept but trims it down.  And in the case of fleet elements not commanded personally, the allocation is automated.  Here's how it works: every ship is rated in three dice.  A small escort ship might be rated d4/d6/d8.  A cruiser gets d6/d8/d10.  Your flagship and other big kickass vessels get d8/d10/d12.  Each turn you get to decide which die powers your shields, which die goes to weapons systems and which one goes to movement.  The other captains stinking up your fleet decide via a d6 roll:


Do you loathe these other captains yet?  If not, don't worry; you will.

We don't want our capital ships to be ridiculously fast compared their destroyer escorts, so each size vessel has a Slowness Factor.  For small, fast ships that's a 1.  Medium ships have a Slowness of 2.  Big fat ships have a Slowness of 3 or 4.  The Slowness Factor is how many pips it costs to move a hex.

Example: A smuggler flying a corvette is trying to escape some imperialistic douchebags in a big ol' wedge-shaped cruiser.  Both max out their Move die this turn.  The corvette uses a d8 and roll an 8.  The douchebags get a d10 and also rolls an 8.  It looks like a push but it's not.  The corvette has a Slowness Factor of 1, so it moves 8 hexes the hell away from the cruiser.  The cruiser has a Slowness of 2, so it pursues only 4 hexes in the direction of the corvette.  The space between the two vessels has just grown by 4 hexes, much to the relief of the smuggler.