Federation Commander Summary, by Steve Cole,updated 15 Sept 05.

I've been asked to provide some more info on this future product. Here's what I can tell you at this point. Most of this has been posted in various groups previously so I apologize to those who find this repetitive.

RELEASE DATE: We currently plan to ship to wholesalers on 7 November and to Mail Orders on 14 Nov.

WHERE CAN I SEE IT: We have asked every current customer to take their copy to their local game store on the Friday after Thanksgiving for our massive Federation Commander Demo event.

WHAT IT IS: It is not really fair to call it "Star Fleet Battles Lite" as it is a separate game with some similar aspects. It is designed to be a starship combat game that is easier to learn and faster to play. Those who like more complex games can simply use bigger fleets.

PHYSICAL COMPONENTS: The die cut counters will be one inch square and full color. The rulebook will be about 48 pages. This will of course be a boxed game. There will be 16 laminated full color 8x5 ship cards and two full color laminated play aide cards.

STARSHIPS: Current plans are 16 ships, each with a Ship Diagram printed on a 5x8 laminated card with the Squadron Scale (same as SFB) on one side and the Fleet Scale (about half of that size) on the other side. For really low-impact gaming, use one Fleet Scale ship on each side. For really intense gaming, use 10 Squadron Scale ships on each side. For more rational gaming, use 3 Squadron or 6 fleet scale ships per side.

GAME MECHANICS follow the general outline of SFB but with a lot less grit and grime, and you don't need degrees in physics and engineering to play FC (as you do in SFB). Each ship has a Ship Diagram with a small box for each weapon, each point of warp power, each transporter, each tractor, etc. Warp engines may have 4-16 boxes (depending on ship size), impulses engines 1-6 boxes, shields anywhere from 5-36 boxes, each box being a point of power (well, shields don't produce power) and a point of damage.

PAY AS YOU GO ENERGY: At the start of the turn, you'll count how many points of power your ship has (combat damage reducing it of course) and get that many Energy Tokens. You then select a baseline speed (8, 16, or 24) and pay that many tokens for it (smaller ships cost less than bigger ships to go the same speed, but have less power to start with). As you go through your turn, you'll pay from the remaining pile for whatever you do (move faster, shoot weapons, tractor a target, use a transporter). At the end of your turn, you can keep unspent power equal to your batteries but the rest is just lost. The tokens might be cards, counters, bus tokens, beads, tiddlywinks, or something else. You can easily keep such a record on scratch paper (since you need only one running total). The ship diagrams will have a column of numbers down one side and you could mark these off with a grease pencil or you could slide a paperclip up the side.

FASTER, SHORTER: There will be eight impulses (to cut down on the number of agonizing decisions) with movement of up to four hexes per impulse. (You will pay at the start for a "baseline speed" of 0, 1, 2, or 3 per impulse. During each impulse, you will have the option to pay for extra speed during that impulse.) Weapon ranges will be the same as SFB. Damage will be done by a system where you roll one die to pick which of six charts you use. That chart then lists 10 damage points (and an alternate for each one). If you don't have the primary or alternate you just don't count it, but will have to make up the skipped point at the end. This means one die roll for ten damage points, not two for each one. An awful lot of bizarrely complex rules from SFB won't be in FC, such as stasis field generators, electronic warfare (other than a +1 modifier for some terrain), 27 kinds of drones, 19 kinds of plasma, energy balance due to damage, legendary officers, crew quality, and well you can guess the rest. We won't include fighters or PFs in the first products and may never include them. We just haven't decided yet and don't have to decide now. We may try to avoid having a historical timeline with refits and new weapons technologies.

SSDs: The game will work nicely with both standard SFB SSDs and with the half-size "fleet scale" ones. The sixteen ships in the game will have (back to back) both SSDs.

TARGET MARKET: We're not stupid. We already have the SFB players and we want the rest of the market, the ones without masters degrees in engineering, accounting, and physics. We're going to make sure that Fed Commander stays where we put it so that the Fed Commander gamer base doesn't fragment between those who want to use advanced rules and those who do not. So we want... 1. Everybody who ever played any game and watched trek on TV. 2. All those Ex-SFB players who thought SFB was too tough (or thought it was fine but couldn't find an opponent who didn't think it was too tough). 3. Players of other space combat games such as Full Thrust, Silent Death, Battlefleet Gothic. 4. SFB players who want to play huge fleet battles in an evening (maybe four hours for the biggest ones). 5. F&E players who want a really extreme combat system. 6. SFB players who want to use it to recruit and train new opponents, or who simply want to get their girlfriend to play something that includes a spaceship and some dice, or who simply cannot find anyone willing to play SFB. 7. RPGers who want a space combat system that's not as "intense" as SFB.

EVEN FASTER: While I want to avoid the rules layering of SFB (cadet, basic, advanced, commander, optional, whatever) there is a faster quickstart subset of rules (intended for the fleet scale game but available to those in a hurry). Damage is just marked where you want it instead of die rolling, for example; you are assumed to be moving speed 16 so you have fewer decisions to make and fewer tokens to count up, and you skip seeking weapons.

PLAYTESTING: This is being limited to invited groups and is almost over. We're not taking new playtesters at this point.

PUBLIC FORUM DEVELOPMENT: We have recently begun doing this at so go there, look for "new product development" and in that folder look for "current" projects and in that folder look for "federation commander" and you'll find lots of stuff including sample color SSDs.

PRODUCT RELEASES: The overall title "Federation Commander" reinforced by the "something border" makes it pretty clear what the game is about without using the words "star fleet" since store owners who hear those two words leap to the conclusion that the game is just as big and complicated as SFB. There is a vague concept that each boxed set will include one new monster, one new base, one new civilian ship, and one new terrain type.


Copyright 2004-2005 Amarillo Design Bureau, All Rights Reserved

Updated 10 October 2005