Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Starfleet Wars: Avarian Ships Part 1

Somewhere around 1975, ALNAVCO released the Superior "Starfleet Wars" rules and ships. There were five different races; the Terrans (whose ships look suspiciously like those of the Empire in Star Wars), the Avarians (birdlike creatures), Entomalians (inumerable isectoid race), Carnivorans (a Feline related race - think Kzin), and the Aquarians (water breathing life forms), These were very nice  models, and the introductory rules came with one of the small ships for each race. My original wargaming group got hooked on them, and we began collecting fleets - Chuck took the Entomalians, Paul the Terrans, Charlie the Aquarians, and I took the Avarians, plus the Carnivorans for good measure (as I always usually painted and out purchased the rest of the guys combined when it came to any of our projects) .

The fliers that came out with the original release of the ships showed all of them painted white with minimal details in other colors, sort of a la "Star Wars". We didn't care for that, and devised our own general paint schemes for the five races - Entomalians in browns with yellow, orange, and dark green highlights, Terrans in white and silver, Aquarians in medium blue, greens, and gold, Avarians in dark blue, Carnivorans in black and red. We kicked around various ideas for a space campaign with our fleets, but it never got beyond the planning stages. Recently, Mack has been reviewing the original Starfleet Wars rules on his Super Galactic Dreadnought blog, as well as collecting and painting ships of the various factions, recently re-released under the Galactic Knights brand, and with brand new Galactic Knights rules, which are not the subject of these posts. There is a review of the new GK rules on Board Game Geek here.

Last week on his blog, Mack proposed a campaign modeled on the WW2 hunt for the Bismark, the details of which can be found at:

Named "The Chancellor Campaign", he called for volunteers as strategic and (local) tactical players. I volunteered for the former, and am now the proud(?) admiral in charge of the powerful Avarian Homeworlds fleet. Together with two fellow Avarian players, we must hunt down and neutralize the massive Terran Super Galactic Dreadnought "Chancellor", and its Galactic Battleship escort, before they can do too much damage to our shipping, which is focused upon bolstering the defenses of one of our star systems where we anticipate a future Terran assault.

I've been threatening to post pictures of my own Starfleet Wars ships for quite some time, and this campaign provides me with an excuse to so so. Never fear, I am still painting Napoleonic troops, and posts on topics Napoleonic will continue to be prominent here.  So, let's start with some pictures of the first batches of Avarian star ships.

"Hawk" class Stellar Destroyers (SD)

The Stellar Destroyers were the smallest class of ships in the original SFW rules, and the boxed starter set came with one SD each from each of the five factions... just to whet your appetite!

The stats for the "Hawk" Class SD are as follows:
Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
    31             2                     3                16%               none                2                  6

By way of explanation, in SFW, beams and shields, and engines must be powered; it costs the SQUARE of the desired factor in power units to enable it; thus a beam factor of 2 costs 4 units, while a shield factor of 3 costs 9 power units, and a move factor of 5 would cost 25. Standard ships are capable of a maximum speed of 5 (movement is 3" x the move factor) Each turn the player must specify what he is powering. As a ship takes hist, its power factors are reduced, with zero reducing the ship to immobility. It is readily apparent that, even undamaged, no ships will be capable of powering their max speed, shields and beams. Thus, there are always choices to be made.

The CIDS factor is the % chance to hit fighter craft - each ship has 10 rolls per turn (when in range), with bigger and better ships having higher CIDS factors. As a ship takes damage, its number of CIDS shots is reduced proportionate to the damage suffered.  Finally, Particle Weapons (PW - think torpedoes) require no energy to fire for their first shot, but thereafter 5 power units per factor fired are expended. They ignore shields of the target, and can cause special (critical) damage as well. They are the principal weapon of the smaller ships, but the number of reloads is finite and their range is less. Never the less, they can be deadly, even to large ships, IF they get close enough. Tractors can also be powered from the same pools, and there are "boarding" rules as well.

The stats for each factions ships of the same class are all subtly different, reflecting the differing tactical doctrines of their creators. These distinctions could easily be further differentiated with minimal rules tinkering. 

"Screech Owl"  class Stellar Destroyer Leaders (SDL)

This class was a rather late addition to the SFW ships, coming out after several other new ships and ship types had been released by Superior. Note that I give each ship a "facing color" of its own (above red, yellow, green and orange) - you can see my Napoleonic background there, obviously! For the Avarians, the first ship of a class always has red, then the second yellow, the third green, etc. This makes the ships readily distinguishable on the tabletop without needing labels. 

Here are the stats for the Avarian "Screech Owl" class SDL's:
Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
  36                 2                    4                 22%             none               3                   9

Thus it can be seen these slightly larger ships pack a bit of extra punch above the run of the mill SD! 

"Falcon" class Stellar Cruisers (SC)

Here's a squadron of  Falcon class SC's; it is now easier to see the overall paint scheme I have used for the Avarian ships - dark blue hulls, black "necks", white superstructures, light blue layers below those where applicable, and gun metal colored levels below that. The major laser mounts are metallic blue with silver barrels, and the small laser turrets (representing CIDS mounts) are silver. 

The stats for the "Falcon" class SC's are:
Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
    65             6                   7                54%                none                2                   6 


"Squadron - Flank Speed!"

Thus, these Cruisers take more than twice as much damage as the Destroyers, and can certainly power higher factors, especially when traveling at the faster speeds. They ae also much better at fending off the attacks of fighter craft. 

"Eagle Class" Galactic Battecruisers (GB)

This particular class is  the pride of the Avarian fleet; it easily outclasses the ships in the same class of any other faction! In addition, the sloping hulls of the Avarian ships are described as being "heavily armored", especially from above. Supposedly the Avarians characteristically fought in a "box-like" formation, hulls to the outside. There is nothing in the rules that encourages or rewards this, however. 

Here are the stats for the impressive "Eagle" class Galactic Battlecruisers:
Power    Max Beam    Max Shield   CIDS Factor    Attack Craft    PW Factor  PW reloads
  156            10                 12              44%                  none                2                 6

I made these "flight stands" years ago from washers, nails, and epoxy, then spray painted black. These models are really quite heavy - too heavy for a single plastic flight stand of the old school to be sure!

A look at a pair of Eagles, engines putting out "full thrust". Note the multiple heavy laser turrets! The star mat is from the old Geohex line... 4 by 6 feet, and without the hex grid!

The SFW wars describe the Avarian Particle Weapons as "Proximity Fused Anti-Matter missiles"; each faction has a different weapon description. This, however, has no effect upon the game according to the rules as written. Once again, no reason that couldn't be changed a bit for more flavor!

Well, I think that's about it for now. Subsequent posts will cover the Galactic Attack Carriers, Galactic Dreadnoughts, and Super Galactic Dreadnoughts of the Avarian fleet, followed by their Transports, Starbombers, Star Armored Pursuit Ships, fighters ("attack craft"), and Space stations.  I'll then cover the Terrans in the same fashion, and, eventually the Carnivorans, Entomalians, and Aquarians.

For those of you who are not fans of Sci-Fi, don't worry, the Napoleonics will be back and soon; my Russian Opolchenie are nearing completion as we march on towards the battle of Borodino at Historicon this July!




  1. Thanks, Andy! I'm looking forward to the campaign, and maybe it will motivate me to get some table time for these excellent starships. Who knows, I might even pick up the Galactic Knights rules and see how they've handled these ships, as the Boardgame Geek review sounded pretty reasonable.

  2. I want a rematch! Star bombers to the front! To out there and beyond!

  3. I've always loved those models. They have the great Star Wars Star destroyer look. I also think the bases are great. Good and sturdy.

    I have a Federated Stats Europe fleet for Full Thrust. I love the FT rules. My FSE ships launch tons of salvo missiles and fighters and then they run like hell!

    How do you like the rules you're using?


    1. Dave,

      The "Chancellor Campaign" will use the original Starfleet Wars rules for the tactical battles. The good thing about them is that they are quite simple and easy to learn. There are some tactical decisions to be made regarding ship management, timing of launching fighters and firing particle weapons, etc. Still we tended to find that we wanted a bit more nuance. We wound up using the standard factors to then give spatial orientation to the the attack and defense factors for each ship(most ships will have higher factors for both to the front), with variations in the distribution patterns by race. Also, we made it so all Particle weapons could only be fired into the front 60 degrees. This now gives more role to maneuver and approach.

      I have Full Thrust, and it looks good but I've never played it. There are a few sites that give Full Thrust style stats to the Superior Starfleet Wars ships, but they seemed a bit bland to me. I may decide to check out the Galactic Knights rules, which are written specifically with these ships in mind.

  4. Very nice, Gonsalvo! I'm always happy to see more gamers post pictures of the Starfleet Wars ships. I especially like the grid pattern you painted on your ships--very distinctive.

    I have to say I'm pretty surprised to see another blogger mention Starfleet Wars. I thought I was about the only person left playing that game (and I just started using these rules a few months ago).

  5. Anyone know about Starfleet Wars Wargaming in Orange County, CA?

    1. Do you have ships, TH?

      Dave is in the LA area, although he doesn't use SFW (yet).


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    1. Nice start to the blog!

      I am just about to order the GK rules; the original rules are definitely simpler - that can be a virtue or not depending upon what you're looking for in a game. Way back when, we found we wanted a bit more tactical subtlety, so we actually devised rules with more restricted/variable arcs of fire, etc, but only used them once or twice before other projects took precedence.

      I am somewhat tempted to Piquet-ize the rules a bit by using variable dice types for the beam and shield factors, but I should probably try the rules as is before making a pile of work and playtesting for myself!

      I can certainly try putting up a basic scenario for SFW, using Terrans and Avarians as the contesting forces as they have been covered on the blog so far. Are you talking about doing a step by step walk-through of the game, such as I did with Die Fighting?

  7. A step walk-though game like you did with Die Fighting, so that I can repeat the steps at home. Start with the basic rules. Then later we can progress to the advanced rules scenario with defensive screens, particle weapons,tractor beams, etc.. I would like to use Desert Scribe's SFW Record Sheet. It looks like a good template to use since I can apply to the Advanced rules later.

    I have the SFW rule books and charts, but I never did much role play gamming. I think having someone go step-by-step with pictures showing the die used etc would be a good tutorial for us novice SFW fans. It doesn't have to be a long battle.

    1. OK, well I can certainly do that; might use one of the introductory scenarios from GK (which I just received today), and do it with both SFW and GK. May not be soon, though!

  8. I eventually would like to get some SFW gaming started in Orange County on my own if I can't find a local group to join. I have all this lead just sitting around with no enemy to blast away.

  9. I admit to relative ignorance of California Geography, having been there only twice, once in 1973 and once again in 1986but I'd think the LA crowd is within range of you. I really enjoy the LA Piquet crowd; see Dave's blog:

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