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A Call To Arms: Starfleet - Playtest report
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:18 am    Post subject: A Call To Arms: Starfleet - Playtest report Reply with quote

Let the deluge begin...
Wink
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Battlegroup Murfreesboro completed it's first playtest session yesterday.
It was a blast.

in oirder to keep things simple... we played Federation versus Klignon. Two games, with player switching sides between Game #1 and Game #2.

The fleets were:
Federation CA, NCA, CL, and NCL
Klingon D7, D6, D5, and D5W
Based on the currently playtest point values, these fleets are only 5 points apart.

As luck would have it, the Federaiton forces won both games.
Game one was kind of a toss out, as we were still a bit unsure of the rules and made several mistakes.

The big thing we noticed was that even with the constant stopping of the game to verify a rule or to double check the results of a particualr die roll... we still completed game #1 in just over 2 hours.
We di however misread the rules on seekign weapons. The lack of complete understanding had us convinced that drones had become the new SFU wonder weapon... Shocked
More ships died to drone fire than every other weapon combined. Confused

Game two was much more evnly fought. The Federation players won, but by less of a margin, and only because the Klignon player played the D5w in an unorthodox manner to enable us to try some actions that will probably never come up in a real game.

We already have the next session planned and will probably make this a weekly affair.
With practice [and a better knowledge of the game], we believe it may eventually be possible to do Calvary Charge in just a few hours.
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing that everyone is going to ask:
Yes. Photons are still the one-shot, wonder weapons they are in SFB and Fed Comm.
We had instances where they were usedto good effect and pummeled the enemy into submission...
And we had one occurence where the Federation player rushed in, used the "Overload" special action, fired all four photons at point blank range... and missed with all 4. Razz

Fortunately, I was the Klignon player at that point!!! Cool
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silent bob
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cool. tbh photons are slightly overpowered at the moment and also have too much range IMO as nobody in FC ever fires them that far as for FC its 1/6 to hit.
i'm also not keen on seeking weapons rules but as its going to be bigger fleets we cannot use counters as board would be really cluttered. will have another look at drones and see what suggestions can come up with.
welcome to the playtest btw
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Bob.
I agree. As is, the Photons seem way overpowered. I want to play a few more games before I begin suggesting possible fixes.
Seeking weapons:
I understand the need to play them as is to prevent board clutter and game slow down. With all the rules in place, they seem a bit too powerful. I have a thought - but as with the photons - I want to try a few more sessions before I begin to harp about them. Mainly, a game with Kzinti in it... that'll tell the tale.
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Clanger
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the record I am primarily an ACTA player.

Playtested a game of Gorn vs Feds. It was a "small" game 6 ships a side.

Interesting with all the Plasma being thrown around the table. One ship had at least 6 plasma torps on it. It can get a bit messy with the tracking of said torps.

The board did get messy with a lot of Drones, Suicide Shuttles and Torps being thrown around. A lot to keep track of even in a small game. On the Gorn side alone I had 12 Shuttles and 12 Plasma Torps to keep track of in 1 turn.

Though the rules are getting updated and tweaked all the time.
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Much ado has been made on the BBS and the Mongoose forum about exploding ships:

Matthew Sprange (the designer of ACTA) wrote about a playtest session he participated in at ClaudiaCon this past weekend:
Matthew Sprange wrote:
Got a few games in with the latest version of the rules and I was really quite happy with the way they held together.

The game is quick (needs to be a trifle quicker, but working on that) but, more importantly, it has a very good feel to it - Dilithium Chambers spiraling out of control due to damage and the crew desperately trying to bring them back to operation before they blow. Ships with fires on all decks trying to retreat so they can repair and come back into the fight.

Awesome stuff

This generated some intense concerns from eteran SFB players who remember the abuses caused by exploding starships under SFB Commander's Edition rules.

here is my long-winded post on the Mongoose forum as well:
scoutdad wrote:
did get a chance to run our first playtest session this past weekend, and much enjoyment was had by all.
The next session is scheduled for this coming weekend. There will be more participants present, more games played, and more enjoyment had...

Coming from a long history (29 years) of SFB and no history of ACTA [I found the B5 version just as the license was pulled, so I didn't get into it] - I had no preconceivd notions about what to expect.

Our group read through the rules several times before hand, discussed a few points here and there, and then set-up Sunday to play. To keep it simple for our first game, we only played Klingons versus Federation; 4 ships per side (2 ships per player).

As has previously mentioned by others - our big concern was the exploding ship rule. Having been present during the use and abuse of the Commanders Edition SFB explosion rules, we were concerned about this one rule more than anything. Nothing spoils the fun of a good game as quickly as the abuses seen during that era. But we also understand that explosions have been part and parcel of ACTA since B5: 1st Edition.

With that in mind, we set out to actually abuse the rule and intentionally blow up a ship while it was in close proximty to the rest ofhte fleet. As has also been previously mentioned; ACTA: SF does not have a "Golden BB". There is no single hit that can cause a lucky shot to blow up a ship. Now, can a ship be blown up in a single turn? Yes, it can and we did it. But doing so takes a massive amount of damage... usually much more than cna be generated by a single ship. Now, sue to the you fire-I fire-you fire-etc nature of ACTA, one can use follow-up fire to destroy a ship. It takes a minimum of 6 points of damage (in a single volley) above and beyond that needed to destroy the ship to even have a chance at causeing it to explode. 9 points extra gives you a 50:50 shot and 13 points extra guarantees an explosion. Even with the multihit wepaons available to the average Federation Cruiser - this is a massive amount of damage to cause in a single volley.

What we found was that you could cause ships to blow up, but it took so much damge that you actaully caused more effective damage by firing enough at your primary victim to kill him and then directing the rest of the damage at other vessels. A very accurate phaser is much more likely to cause damage to ship #2 than is an expolding ship which only hits 50% of the time.

Now bear in mind that this is data from a whopping total of two playtest games, YMMV. We do intend to play many more games and we do intend to keep an eye on this. The last thing we want is a game system that will allow the Federation player to tergat all overloaded photons on a single enemy ship, blow it up, cause an explosion that damages every other enemy ship, possibly to the point were one of them explodes, causing more damage to every other enemy ship, and so on...


I intend to spend the next few playtest sessions intentionally attempting to break the system to insure that abuses of this type are not possible. Wink
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Clanger
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With the new rules / damage for CTA: NA / CTA:SF. It is a very rare occurance that the ship explodes. In 1st / 2nd Ed you could 1 shot BOOM if you were lucky. In Noble Armada / Starfleet much less so.

Also once 1 ship has shot at a target and it is 0 or - damage score. Another ship cannot fire at it to give it more damage (just to mention to those who have not played CTA before).

Explosions I do not see as a big deal in CTA. They very rarely happen and when they do it adds to the fun Smile.

Primarily that is what the game is about ... Fun.

Also to note that so far as an CTA player the game takes too long with all the tracking of Suicide Shuttles, Plasma Torps and Drones. Especially in a standard 750 point game. Try it with the Gorn and Kzinti 750 points each and see the Plasma Torps and Drones clutter up the board.
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clanger,
That is the point I was getting at.
It is possible to blow up a ship, but it's unlikely to happen.

You need to deal a massive (almost 50%) overkill in a single volley.
Imagine doing 200+ points in a single volley in Fed Comm. It's roughly the same as overkilling a ship by 150%.

And as Clanger pointed out, once a ships fire has reduced the target to 0 points remaining - it is no longer a valid target for the other units.

All in all, ACTA: SF plays faster than Fed Comm and; so far at least, has given similar results.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Latest playtest session in full swing as I type.
6 players, 2 full on games...

Romulans versus Klingons (Of course, plasmaboy is playing the Romulans!)

Federation ambushing a Klingon patrol.

Firste round of each game completed and players are switching sides and going again.

more as it develops!!!! Cool
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Savedfromwhat
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds exciting Scoutdad, I am eagerly anticipating your report on the Romulans.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is the After Action Report:

Battlegroup Murfreesboro once again played several games of A Call to Arms: Star Fleet this weekend.
One of the games played was the Ambush scenario.
In this scenario, a small force ambushes a force twice it's size. With the element of surprise woirking work it, the attacker has to score damage rapidly and then attmept to survive long enough to escape.

The first two games were Klingon attackers raiding a Federation force,
Approximately 600 points of Federaiton ships set up in the central deployment areas, facing one of the short edges of the map.
The Klingon player then placed a 300 point raiding force in one of the long edge deployment areas and the fun began.

As the attacker, the Klingons automatically won initiative for the first turn. They eleceted to allow the Federation player first move.
Due to surprise, the Federaiton ships each had to pass a crew quality check to act, or else they were limited to a 6" straight move and no action in the attack phase.
As luck would have it, not a single Fed ship passed its crew quality check.

The Klingons bore down on the largest Federation ship. Two Klingons were able to get within range to utilize the "Overload Weapons" special action. The combined weapons fire from these two vessels plus drones from all three ships completely

destroyed the Federaiton heavy cruiser while it's Captrain and crew were blissfully unaware that a situation even existed. The third Klingon vessel put a major hurt on a Federation frigate. After that, it degenerated into a furball as the Federation ships atttempted to avenge their crewmates and the Klignons hoped to simply survive to ambush another day. The Federation FF damaged earlier and one other frigate failed to survive the melee. The Klingon D5 died in a huge fireball (which incidentally was within the blast radius ofthe other two Klingon ships, but nothing beyond a bit of shield damage occured to either of them).

The next go round we swapped sides and played again. This time, 2 Federation ships managed to react to the initial surprise and they combined their fire to cripple a Klignon F5 during the first turn. This enabled all the Federaiton ships to survive, although 3 of them got offf the map crippled. The damaged F5 was subsequently destroyed, and the D5 was damaged. although not to the point of being crippled.

We also played this game twice with Federation forces ambushing a Klingon patrol. This one was much more fun as during game one, the Federation player was able to get all three ships into "Overload Weapons" range and the D7 died an immediate death.

The drones from the Federation ships pushed the damage toll over the top and caused an explosion which damaged 3 other Klingon ships... but none more than a few shield hits. The Klingons did manage to cripple a Federation frigate before applying the "Maximum Warp Now!" special action and escaping.

Then they swapped sides. Nothing went well for the Federation player this game. The Klignon player managed to activate 4! ships in time to respond to the sneak attack. Every single one of the photon torpedoes fired by the Federation player during turn one (and during turn 3) missed!! The Klingon player managed to bag and tag all three attackers within 3 turns during this game. Even with the bad rolls, it was a fun game to watch. The expressions on Kenneths face as he rolled 1s and 2s after 1s and 2s was priceless.

The big game of the day was Merl as his favorites (Klingons) versus Plasmaboy as (you guessed it...), the Romulans. 600 point battle on a 4 x 4 play surface. It was out first attempt at Cloaks and Plasma Torpedoes both, so make what you will of the results.
Merls fleet for both games was a C8, a D7,and and F5.
During game one, Mark flew a Condor, a Battlehawk, and 2 Snipes.

Game one showed a couple turns of closing at slow speeds then on turn 3, the action began. At range 12 inches, the Condor opened up on the C8 nad the C8 returned the favor.
The Condor hit the C8 with most of it's phasers and the three ships combined put a grand total of 19 Attack Dice of Plasma Torpedoes on the C8. In it's defense, the C8 did use the "Increase Defensive Fire" special action.
The C8 on the other hand hit the Condor with all disruptors and many phasers. The other two ships fired phasers / disruptors at one Snipe and all three fired drones at the second Snipe.
Phasers from the D7 and the F5 that could not bear on the Snipe were used to whittle away the incoming Plasma Torpedo damage.
Snipe #1 died a horrid death from multiple phasers and disruptors (but not enough to blow up), and the Condor took a pounding.
During the End Phase, the phaser threes of the C8 (along with a few phaser 1 used defensively) reduced the incoming fire even more.
The end result was 14 points of damage scored on the C8.

Turn 4 saw the Condor use the "Engage Cloak" special action. All three Klingons moved to intercept and used the "Overload All Weapons" special action. Even with the Stealth +4 bonus from cloaking, the Condor received enough damage to explode immediately. The resulting 20 Attack Dice of damage hit all three Klingon ships and none of the other Romulan vessels. The C8, having been nearly stripped of shielding by this point, took quite a few hull hits... including some critical damage. The F5 lost the
rest of it's shielding and the D7 took a few shield hits. all in all, not too bad for a Romulan Dreadnought blowing up at point-blank range.

Turns 5 and 6 consisted of the Klingons chasing a crippled Snipe and a fleeing Battlehawk (both cloaked). A lucky shot at the snipe managed to destroy the "cloak" trait and enabled the Klingons to take him out, although his return fire did manage to kill the
pursuing F5. The Battlehawk escaped the map to fight another day.

Game two saw Mark swap the Snipe, Snipe, Battelhawk for a Skyhawk/King Eagle combination.
This game was a very long, very drawn out battle. The Romulans started the battle cloaked and remained cloaked as they approached the Klingons. While this prevented them from firing at the Klinogns, it did not prevent the Klingons from unloading everything they had on the Condor every turn in an attmpt to overcome the Stealth +2 trait previded by cloaking. (If you fire enough multi-hit disruptors, precision phasers, and guided drones at a single target, you will eventually overcome the Stealth rating.)

By turn four, the Condor had taken enough damage to lose the "Cloak" trait. It decloaked facing the C8 at point blank range. In addition, as it started to fade-in, the other two Romulan ships also de-cloaked. The end result was all 6 ships insid the same 6-inch diameter circle.
[edit]The next turn...
The Condor fired everything (even bolted it's entire compliment of Plasmas) at the C8. This reduced the C8 to cippled status.
Next, the D7 fired at the Condor. This caused the Condor to explode on the spot. The resulting 20 Attack dice caused damage to nearly every other ship to one degree or another.
The King Eagle than fired at the C8. This, of course blew up the already crippled C8. The resulting explosion of the C8 further damaged most of the ships in the furball.
The F5 fired at the damaged Skyhawk (the only Romulan ship that had not yet fired) and managed to cripple it.
The return fire from the Skyhawk crippled the F5.

The next turn saw the Romulan "engage Cloak" and attempt to head for the map edge. The D7 and the crippled F5 pursued, but not vigorously. The resulting fire from this turn merely served to spur the disengagement on.
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silent bob
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

end of your romulan game, you cant fire when fading in, even in ACTA so how did that all happen? or did the firing happen on the following turn?
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As requested by SVC, we were specifically looking at the explosion rules from ACTA and how they affect the play of the game.

Several times in each of these games, we intentionally caused much more damage to a specific vessel than was required to killit in an attempt to create an explosion.

Generally speaking, explosions are hard to cause.
In the "Ambush" scenario, we managed to blow-up a lot of ships, but usually there was a one turn delay between damage and explosion. This enabled every other vessel to get out of hte blast rnage before hte explosion occured.
Three times however; we did manage to create an intentional explosion during the same Attack Phase. A total of 12 ships were caught in these three explosion and received a grand total of (IIRC) 6 points of damage spread among the 12 ships. 1 and 2 points at a time.

The Romulan / Klingon game on the other hand was a bit more spectacular. We had larger ships, doing more damage, and creating bigger explosions.
The Romulan Condor "RIS Fireball" was blown-up in both sessions. Durign the first session, it did neglible amounts of damage as the explosion was anticipated, movement was perfomred so as to mitigate the effects, and most of the other ships were undamaged.
Session two was a different story. The ship was forced to under go an involuntary uncloaking, so Plasmaboy placed it in such a way that if the Klingons concentrated fire on it, it would damage all three of their ships in case of explosion... which happened.
Since the other ships were already damaged, the explosion increased the level of damage on several of them. This, combined with the incoming fire of the other units and a couple of other explosions resulted in somewhat of a cascade effect - but if the purpose of the game is to blow up ships and have fun, then we accomplished this.

Do ships blow-up faster than in Federation Commander? Definitely.
Are they extremely powerful? No, not terribly so.
Is there a chance to abuse the issue? Possibly, but I don't think so.
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

silent bob wrote:
end of your romulan game, you cant fire when fading in, even in ACTA so how did that all happen? or did the firing happen on the following turn?

Following turn... sorry for the confusion.
At work, typing this between RL things and got a bit confused.
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