Saturday, December 7, 2013

Taking it to the Enemy: Campaigning with Star Navy 5150

    The mood at Spacer's Rest, the dive favored by spacers and naval personnel on on Delta-Zukhona Three, was celebratory. The place was packed with the majority of officers and crew from  the GPSN Wombat, Pantheer, and Jaguar. Ferdinand Branson, Captain, Gaea Prime Star Navy had made good his promise, and three rounds of Confucian Brandy had been quite rapidly downed, to the delight of the proprietor, a shady character who went by the name of Vladimir Roshenko. Captain Branson was schmoozing (and boozing)with the officers and men, bestowing praise upon the men and women of all three ships, and making a special effort to recognize the contributions of the Wombat and her, uh thin skinned Moltulian Captain. The celebration was mixed with measure of sadness for the many crew of Branson's flagship, the Jaguar, who had perished in the last, desperate battle of their Patrol mission. Repairs to "the Jag", as her crew and captain fondly referred to her, were nearing completion, but they had had to draft a sizable number of new recruits and  down-on-their-luck spacers to fill her out to a full complement. It would be some time before the ship would be able to regain her status at the top of the performance ratings for Task Force 95... although not too long, if Branson had anything to say about it.... and he intended to have a LOT to say about it!

    The assembled Naval personnel were rapidly becoming happy drunks. Naval tradition held that the Brandy got it's name from the way it "confused you" and really "hit you up the yin-yang"; beyond doubt it was potent stuff. Like the rest of the crowd, Branson was feeling the effects of his draughts, when a very sober (and on duty) Commander Ishiaharra strode into the room, carrying a sealed leather valise emblazoned with the emblem of the GPSN - an old fashioned ship's anchor flanked by 2 comets - rendered in gold. It was a rather silly throwback to centuries of naval tradition, but it was reserved for the conveyance of certain formal GPSN documents. The loud chatter filling Spacer's Rest settled down quickly, as the Commander sought out his Captain.

"What is it, Ishy? Feeling left out of the party" Branson asked, his voice just slightly slurred.

    "No, sir. This just came in by Courier Drone, and I was instructed to bring it to you immediately, and open it here, publicly."  At this, and excited murmur went up from the assembled personnel, and Ishiaharra opened the seal and set the valise on a table. It opened it self and a holographic image of rear Admiral Wendy Espinoza, Branson's immediate superior, appeared.

    "Captain Branson, Admiral Toerjold asked me to convey his personal greetings. Sector command is very pleased with your handling of the Delta Zukhona affair thus far. Your squadron has destroyed a Hishen Patroller, a Slaver, and 2 Mother Ships without losing any of your own. By his command, you are hereby promoted to acting Commodore, GPSN. In addition, I have been directed to detach the GPSN battleship Rakshasa, under Captain Donal Wright, to act as your flagship. Congratulations, Ferdy!"

    The Spacer's Rest erupted in cheering. Branson was a successful and popular officer. What was more, Naval tradition required that he buy a round of Brandy for all present. "Thjis is going to be a *very* expensive day", thought Branson to himself, as he motioned to Roshenko to honor tradition.

    "Further", Admiral Espinoza's image continued, "Admiral Toerjold has directed that I convey to you that as soon as the Rakshasa arrives, you are to commence your next mission. The exodus of the Hishen from the system has resulted in an influx of pirates; you are requested and required to Hunt them down and clear the system of them, *Commodore* Branson. That is all."

    The Rest filled with more cheers; Hunting pirates was a popular duty. Their ships seldom posed a real threat to those of the GPSN, and spacers universally hated pirates. It looked to be good opportunity to shake down the new ship and personnel joining the Squadron.

    At the conclusion of each battle within a given Mission, the player's ships must all roll on the After the Battle table to see if damage is repaired and when; occasionally a damaged ship is destroyed/scrapped. Barry rolled well each time (the Rep of 5 for his ships helped there), so they were all repaired promptly. A failed Engine Damage test in the last battle resulted in the Rep of the Jaguar decreasing from 5 to 4. 

    At the conclusion of an entire Mission, both sides roll on the After the Mission table; the comparative results determine whether your Campaign Morale increases, decreases, or stays the same, as well as the effect upon the Campaign Morale of your opponent. When one side reaches a Campaign Morale of zero, the other side has won. Barry rolled the best possible result, and therefore the Star Navy's Morale rose from 4 to 5, while that of the Hishen fell from 4 to three. 

    Also at the end of a Mission, each of the player's ships roll to see if their Rep increases or decreases. The results are influenced by the starting Rep of the individual ship, and sometimes by whether it received or inflicted damage during the course of the Mission. Barry's Rep 5 ships cannot go above Rep 5 (the best), and he failed to roll well enough to increase the Rep of the Jaguar back up from 4 to 5. 

    Finally, a test is made versus your current Campaign Morale to see if an additional ship is added to your command, and if so, what size it is. Barry rolled well, adding a ship, and a second roll determined that it was a Class 5 ship (He needed to roll a "6" on a D6 for that). Another roll determined that the new GPSN ship was a Rep 4 Battleship!

    Following these determinations, the player's next mission must be determined, Star Navy 5150 uses the following simple but clever table for that:

(1-4)  Hunt
(1-4)  Defend
(5-6)  Attack
(5-6)  Convoy
(1-4)  Attack
(1-4)  Patrol
(5-6)  Hunt
(5-6)  Defend
(1-4)  Patrol
(1-4)  Defend
(5-6)  Hunt
(5-6)  Convoy
(1-4)  Hunt
(1-4)  Patrol
(5-6)  Attack
(5-6)  Convoy
(1-4)  Patrol
(1-4)  Defend
(5-6)  Hunt
(5-6)  Convoy

Branson's first mission, now completed, was it will be recalled, PATROL (as is the case for all "by the book" random Star Navy 5150 campaigns, although obviously there is nothing really to prevent you from starting with a different mission). As you can se, had the mission been a failure, the D6 roll would give a 2/3 chance of the next mission being DEFEND, and a 1/3 chance of the next mission being CONVOY. However, Branson's PATROL mission was a success, and thus there was 2/3 chance the next mission would be HUNT,and 1/3 chance it would be ATTACK. 

For a DEFEND mission, the player must prevent his planet from being bombarded; for ATTACK, the player must bombard the enemy planet. Bombarding is completed if a Class 5 (Big - ships range from Class 3 to Class 6, with Class 6 being huge and not usually encountered) or 6 ship spends 3 map moves in the Planet square. for a CONVOY mission, the player must escort six merchant ships from the planet to the farthest corner of the system and back. For Hunt, the player must resolve all PEF's against forces that are usually weaker and of lower quality - it certainly seems the easiest of all the missions. As it turns out, Barry rolled low, so HUNT it was!

    Commodore Branson felt oddly out of place on the bridge of the Rakshasa. He was used to commanding a *ship*, dammit! Higher command was downright boring much of the time without the day to day affairs of running a ship as distractions. He missed sitting in the Captain's chair. Even more, he missed the old Jag, where every officer and almost every spacer were known to him. The personnel on his new flagship were all competent, but he barely knew anything much about any of them beyond what was in their personnel files. It didn't help that his flag captain was a man that Branson couldn't relate to at all, and it seemed that it worked both ways. Captain Wright came form the old Nobility of Gaea Prime, and owed his captaincy far more to his family name and influence, rather than any military abilities that Branson could see. Worse, Wright had been senior to him on the captain's list, and thus resented serving under a man that had been promoted ahead of his place, as well as one whom he considered his social inferior. It certainly made for very strictly formal, sullen interactions on the bridge to the Rakshasa. Therefore Branson preferred to spend most of the time in his Squadron Command Center, and limit his time on the bridge. That seemed to suit Captain Wright just fine as well. 

   With a sigh of resignation Ferdy left the bridge and took the lift to his personal quarters. They were, to his mind, rather ostentatious for an officer on a warship, but he wasn't asked for his input on these maters. He used his cortical implant to call for his Flag Lieutenant, a promising young woman named Nadine Jacova. 

    "At your service, Commodore", the crisply uniformed Lieutenant announced, entering his quarters. For a man who had been far too long without a female partner, she was entirely too attractive. Hormones aside, that was irrelevant as she was within his chain of command. Despite his reputation as a womanizer, Ferdy had no intention of getting into any amorous relations that violated GPSN guidelines; that was one set of guidelines that was all to rational! 

"Lt. Jacova, I'd appreciate it if you'd give me your impression of the mission's progress so far. You have my permission to speak candidly."

" Aye-aye, Sir. Well, Sir, it has been a good opportunity for the ships of the squadron to work on learning to maneuver together, and to break in some of the new recruits and replacements. The only bogey we've run down just turned out to be an outdated freight hauling bulk cargo that hadn't bothered to update their transponder codes for far too long. Of course we searched it over good, but there were no signs of any pirate or smuggling activity, so we let it go with a citation and a minor fine. All the other bogeys seem to hover at the fringes of the system, and dart out of scanner range at the first opportunity. That's keeping us from breaking in any of the new personnel with some actual combat experience. The simulations we've been running have helped some, but there's no substitute for the real thing, is there, Sir?"

"You have that right, Lieutenant!" Branson observed with conviction. "I think the Rakshasa may be scaring off the bad guys. It's an awfully big ship for a Pirate hunting force!"Speaking off of the record, have you formed any impression of her Captain?"

"Well Sir, Captain Wright isn't an easy man to get to know. I can tell you he isn't terribly well liked by many of his crew... and what's worse is that he isn't very well respected either. Below decks, the hands refer to him as "Do no Right!", she offered nervously.

"Thank you for you candor, Lieutenant. Let us hope that he is a better fighting captain than he is a diplomat, then, shall we?". 

"Of course, Sir. As there are no more sensor bogeys, shall I signal to Captain Ishiaharra and the rest of the Squadron to set course for home base at Delta-Zukhona Three?"

Branson smiled at the the sound of his former XO's name. Of course, technically, it was acting Captain Ishiaharra, but he had little doubt that Sector Command would approve his strong recommendation to make the promotion permanent. "Yes, Lieutenant. Let it be done. Dismissed!"

This proved to be a short mission; only one PEF was contacted, and nothing was found. The other 2 PEF's, according the the PEF movement table, skittered off the edge of  system space, as did a fourth (new) PEF generated as part of the Campaign (System) Movement process. Rolling on the After the Mission Tables, Barry again rolled very well, and the GPSN Campaign Morale increased to 6, while that of the Hishen dropped to "2".  Since no combat took place, no ships could increase their Rep, and the end of Mission rolls resulted in all existing ships being retained. Barry rolled well on the table for new ships, and another Class 5 ship was added; this proved to be a Rep 4 Fast Attack Carrier.

Commodore Branson welcomed Tobias Gefalt to the meeting of Squadron Brass. "Good to to have you and the  Zephyr join the squadron, Tobias. We can really use the support of your fighters, both on the offense and defense."

"Thank you, Commodore. She 's a good ship with experienced pilots, but the support teams for the flight bays are pretty green - Sector Command commandeered cost of my veterans to replace the men it lost in that butt f$#@ in the Gowlima Nebula; FOUR new carriers crippled!  I wouldn't want to be in the boots of the 1st Space Lord when he tries to explain how THAT happened to the Gaea Prime Senate!"

"Well, Captain, it looks like we'll have a chance for plenty of combat drills, at least. Sector Command didn't seem convinced by my report that there was almost no pirate or enemy activity here in Delta-Zukhona Three system, and has ordered us to 'use due diligence to scour the spaceways for exactly what we found none of earlier this month. Maybe that debacle has made them overly cautious?  Regardless, it's the same old Star Navy... 'Ours is not to question why', and all that, you know!"

"All too well, Commodore; all too well." replied Captain Gefalt, with rather more emotion than the time worn phrase seemed to call for.

This  also proved to be a short mission; no PEF's were even contacted; all 2 PEF's beat an a hasty retreat off the edge of  system space, leaving Bransons forces klittle to do but combat simulations before they returned to base.  Rolling on the After the Mission Tables, Barry didn't roll quite as well, and the GPSN Campaign Morale styayesd at 6, while that of the Hishen dropped to a bare minimum value of "1".  If the Hishen Morale drops any lower, the Campaign will be over! Once again, the End of Mission rolls resulted in all existing ships being retained. Barry rolled less well on the table for new ships this time, so only a lowly Class 3 Destroyer of Rep 4 was added. Barry commented that these HUNTS felt like "hollow victories, there having been no combat. It seemed to us that a simple adjustment to the PEF movement table whereby PEF's at the edge of the system (which squares compromise 14/33 possible) that score 2 successes only flee the system if there is a player force within 1 square.

"Attention all ships! Commodore Branson's gig has arrived on the Rakshasa. Prepare for hyper transit to Alpha-Zukhona Seven system."

"This is Commodore Ferdinand Branson. In accordance with our new orders from Sector Command, we're finally going to take the fight to the damned Heshees, and attempt to cripple their local base of operations, thus permanently easing the pressure on Delta-Zukhona Three. On my mark... Let it be done!"

Emerging from the disorientation that even the most grizzled spacers experienced during hyper transit, Branson struggled to attune his cortical implant properly to the Squadron's sensor net. "Lieutenant Jacova, status report, please?"

"Aye Aye, sir; CVL Zephyr, CA Jaguar and Panther, CL Wombat, and the Rakshasa all report uneventful transits aside from the usual scattered cases of space sickness. Captain Nefix reports minor damage to the DD Mongoose's missile tubes; estimated repair time - less than 2 hours. Sensors show Four bogeys, all likely to represent Hishen Naval forces. They don't seem to have detected us yet, Sir, but that can't last long, unless they're all engaged in 'pleasuring' their poor slaves. Their forces are clustered near the planet.

"Thank you, Nadine."

"Commodore to Squadron", Branson beamed through his implant, "The Heshees may not have noticed our arrival yet, so we'll pause briefly while the Mongoose repairs some minor transit damage. All ships to adopt Stealth Mode until further notice. Let it be done!"

"Alien Ships!  You have violated the Space of the Hishen Empire. Lower your shields immediately, heave to, and prepare to be boarded. This is your only warning! Acknowledge!"

"Squadron, Battle Plan Omega-2. Execute!" transmitted Branson. "By the way" he muttered, "That's GPSN for 'Acknowledged', you Heshee bastards!"

    Lieutenant Jacova followed the action on the holographic battle tank of the Flag Command post. Battle Plan Omega-2 called for the three cruisers, with their heavy complement of AA batteries, to form a screen between the two huge Capital ships and the enemy, while the fragile Destroyer held back with them for some close in support (and hoped that she would seem so insignificant that the enemy wouldn't waste shots targeting her).  The Star Navy was facing a strong Hishen squadron consisting of a Class 3 Monitor, a Class 4 Overseer and a Class 4 Saver, and a Class 5 Capitol Ship. The relatively weak shields of the Slaver made it the target of choice, with all the guns of the fleet targeting her. The  Jaguar and the Panther each scored moderate damage. Half of the massive guns of the Rakshasha experienced a targeting malfunction, and their shots went well wide of the target. The one that did hit the Slaver, however, ripped through multiple decks and ruptured her Fusion bottle, the ship disappearing in a blaze of light. "I believe the odds just improved, Commodore", she observed needlessly.

"Captain Gefalt, where is my fighter cover? There should be three flights of our fighters out there, and I see.... nothing!:" Branson demanded angrily.

"Yes Sir. Sorry, Sir! It seems that the the Launch bay crew forgot to disengage the Hangar safety protocols.... bays are coming on line..... NOW!"

"Commodore, the Hishen ships are giving targeting priority the Zephyr; she has  sustained mild damage so far.

"Just doing as I would do in their place", replied Branson. "They can't really hurt us in the Rakshasa unless they knock out some of our shields with missiles, but they can damage the Zephyr. They don't even have to destroy her - just knock out her Hangar Bays and she might just as well be out of the fight."

"The Zephyr's first three flights of fighters are away , Sir." reported Lieutenant Jacova. "Captain Gefalt reports they'll shadow the enemy until the next group launches."

"Yes, without enough fighters ion the attack, they'll have little chance of penetrating the Hishen AA fire", Branson agreed. "It'\s the Capital  Ship that's the real threat. Captain Weright, target her, and especially see if you can take down some of her shields; until that happens the rest of the Squadron is to concentrate their gun fire on the Slaver."

"Aye-Aye, Sir!" came back at Branson via his implant from all the ships of his squadron.

"The Jaguar took heavy damage from the last Hishen volley, Commodore. Her guns are all still in action, but she's lost 2/3 of her shields and over 50% of her hull integrity," alerted Lt. Jacova. "Rakshasa's fire has weaken the shields on the Capitol ship, though, as well as causing some damage to her hull integrity and primary batteries. "Zephyr is having trouble getting their second group of fighters launched."

"Gefalt, tell those Hangar crews that if those fighters are launched in the next 2 minutes, I am personally seeing that they are assigned to the Radium processing plants on Hephaestus-Nine for the rest of their (likely short) lives. Let it be done!" Branson ordered. "Ishy, you've done your part. Now get the Jag out of here!  We'll meet at the rendezvous point after the battle to regroup."

"Sorry, Commodore. My implant seems to be on the fritz. I couldn't make out that last transmission. We're weakened but with all our guns still operational Jaguar is gonna kick us some Heshee Capitol Ship  butt!" 

"Commodore, Jaguar has knocked out another of the Capitol ship's shield's, and further damaged her hull, but she's down to less than 15% hull integrity, and all her guns were knocked out in the return fire."

"Captain Ishiaharra, get my ship out of here, NOW!" Branson shouted loudly.

"Jaguar engaging hyperdrive as ordered, Commodore...."

"Well, we're both down a ship now, but I like 5;3 odds better than 6:4 anyway.  Continue to give first priority to the enemy Capital Ship for targeting," directed Branson.

"Zephyr reports two hangar bays have raging fires from the heavy enemy fire she has taken; they will be out of commission until repairs can be made. The remaining bay is still operational... barely, according to Captain Gefalt." 

"Captains Quyot and Dhruz, take the Panther and the Wombat in closer and try to draw off some of the Heshee fire from the Zephyr."

"Understood, Commodore".

"We're continuing to whittle away at that Capitol Ship, Commodore. Scans estimate 75% shield loss, and another of her primary guns is off line. The Cruiser's have also their Overseer as well. The Zephyr's shields have failed completely now, and their still having a heck of a time launching fighters from their remaining bay. Hull integrity is down to 50%. Captain Gefalt is requesting permission to hyper out to the rendezvous point, Sir" announced Lt. Javova.

Branson gritted his teeth. "Like heck he will; As long as he has an operational Hangar Bay, Zephyr's gonna hang tough with the rest of us!"

"Captain Quyot reports the Wombat is taking moderate damage from the enemy, Sir; Thrust is down 33%, one shield is down, and Hull integrity is down to 75%." Lt Jacova reported duly.

"The enemy Capitol Ships shield's are down now, Sir!

"All right, people, let's take her out. Target her Engines!" Branson directed.

"So they didn't have the stomach for it , eh?" Branson commented wryly, watching the huge Capitol Ship break off the action and hyper out. "I see Zephyr finally managed to get another flight of fighters off. With that Capitol Ship's AA fire out of the picture, the fighter's should have a good chance against the remaining Overseer and Monitor, which have only minimal AA capability."

"The enemy  Monitor and Overseer have swung around, looking for a shot up our kilt with their missiles, Commodore." remarked Nadine Jacova.

"Captain Nefix, bring the Mongoose around and prepare your missile tubes for firing!", commanded Branson.

"Aye, Aye, Sir", Nefix responded. She was grateful for not being sacrificed earlier in the battle, but now it was time to show that her ship was a worthwhile addition to a Squadron that was fast becoming a Sector legend.

"Commodore Branson, those last Heshee missile volleys knocked out our last operational Hangar Bay and the last of our shields. Respectfully request permission for the Zephyr to hyper out and commence repairs, so that we can return soonest and  recover any surviving fighters before their life support windows run out," intoned Captain Gefalt slowly and firmly.

"All right, Tobias, you've earned it now. Let it be done!" Branson responded.

"Four to two now!" he exclaimed. "Hishen Ships, this is Ferdinand Branson, Commodore GPSN. You are hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned. Heave to and we will accept your unconditional surrender."

"My great aunt will be your pleasure slave before that happens, GeePee scum!" came the sneering reply... accompanied by another round of Missiles, this time directed at the Panther.

"Very well," Branson remarked, more to himself than anyone else. It was all but unheard of for Hishen ships to surrender, the the Code of War required he give them the chance. "Fighters, commence final attack runs, all missiles and guns, target and destroy those Hishen blackguards!"

It was never clear which weapons stuck the final blow on each of the remaining two Hishen ships, but it hardly mattered., as both literally ceased to exist shortly thereafter. Every ship in the squadron had taken at least some damage, with the Wombat and Zephyr having been particularly hard hit. "All ships, proceed to the rendezvous point for repairs and fighter recovery operations. After that we have more Heshees to get to before we can destroy their base on Alpha-Zukhona Seven. Let it be done!"


GPSN Forces:

Jaguar, Class 4 Heavy Cruiser, Captain Ishiaharra  Rep 4
Thrust 3    Hull 8    Shields 3    Guns 4    AA 1    

Panther, Class 4 Heavy Cruiser, Captain Dhruz      Rep 5
Thrust 3    Hull 8    Shields 3    Guns 4    AA 1   

Wombat, Class 4 Light Cruiser, Captain Quyat       Rep 5
Thrust 3    Hull 8    Shields 3    Guns 2    AA 3

Rakshasa, Class 5 Battleship, Captain Wright/Commodore Branson (FLAG)  Rep 4
Thrust 2    Hull 12    Shields 4    Guns 6    AA 2

Zephyr, Class 5 Fast Attack Carrier, Capatain Gefalt    Rep 4
Thrust 2    Hull 12    Shields 3    Hangar Bays 3    AA 3

Mongoose, Class 3 Destroyer, Captain Nefix    Rep 4
Thrust 4    Hull 4    Shields 1   Guns 1    Missile 2

Hishen Forces:

Voyeur, Class 3 Monitor
Thrust 4    Hull 4    Shield 1    Guns 1    Missile 2

Submission, Class 4 Slaver          Rep 4
Thrust 3    Hull 8    Shields 2    Guns 2    Missiles 2    AA 2

Dominance, Class 4 Overseer    Rep 5
Thrust 3    Hull 8    Shields 3   Guns 4    AA 1

Master Wang, Class 5 Capitol Ship
Thrust 2    Hull 12    Shield 4    Guns 6    AA 2

The sheet below shows the System Map used for the various Missions, as it stood at the start of this last  engagement; Hishen PEF 4 has been eliminated, and thus three remain. Branson's forces must proceed to the planet with at least one Class 5 ship remaining, and spend 3 turns of Activation in the Planet square for the Mission to be a success. At this point, we stopped play. In addition to playing three tabletop games, we had run more than three missions in 3 hours! The After the Battle rills showed the Lightly damaged Rakshasa would never the less be out of the action until the next mission, but all other ships were fully repaired. Branson's squadron has it's work cut out for it still!


    Once again, Star Navy produced quick enjoyable games that played even faster having been through our earlier games 6 weeks ago, and choosing to print out (mostly) the right sheets needed for reference during the game. Adding more ships only increases playing time incrementally, not exponentially. Thus, it meets its design goals (handle fleet level actions and below in a quick, straightforward manner) exceptionally well. The relatively simple rules using only three weapons systems (Guns, Missiles, Fighters - more may be coming in the future) do lead to relatively limited opportunities for tactical finesse. I suspect the authors routinely played with asteroid fields to provide a more tactical element t the games. Also, the absolute nature of the shield/gun interaction means that a well shielded ship can stand off and shoot at multiple opponents with impunity, with only missiles and/or  as a potential equalizer. These are reasonable abstractions given the scope and design goals. 

    The campaign system was really what drew me to these rules in the first place, however. It is very possible to just play one of the Missions as a game itself, usually leading to 1 - 3 tabletop engagements. I have always found Naval scenarios the hardest kind to generate, and these rules are a great help there. Once you select your forces, the rules handle placement of the enemy forces (PEF's) within the system, PEF movement (different for each scenario type, and often influenced by the Campaign Morale of the faction), enemy force generation (anywhere from nothing to a few ships more or less than yours, with the types and ratings then being generated randomly based upon the largest class ship in your forces. The tactical rules already include provisions for determining the starting distance and attitude (approach angle) of the opposing forces. That's a pretty complete package, folks!

Using the rules for a full scale campaign, the initial Patrol Mission, which is not easy, was straightforward enough. When moving on from there to the next mission, the rules are a bit vague/confusing as far as player force selection. On the one hand, there is this nice system for gradually adding (and sometimes, subtracting!) ships to your core forces from  mission to mission. This is great, as the ships (and with some fluff, such as the above, their officers) gradually gain a history so that you care about what happens to them. On the other hand, for say, the ATTACK mission above, the rules say "Select your forces; we suggest at least a Task Force" A task Force is 3-4 squadrons of ships - there are examples given for each faction, but no indication how or if you are supposed to use them or just use them as a take off point to devise your own. Now, that works fine if this is just a one off Mission, but how does that work in the full Campaign setting?  What's the point of adding ships to your forces, tracking their rep, repair status, etc if you can just pick whatever you want for forces at the start of each Mission? Some examples of this process would have been very useful, especially as the rules provide good and frequent examples of how to do almost everything else. 

I would have a few suggestions for the Campaign Rules, then:

1) Modify the HUNT Mission PEF movement table slightly as already discussed.

2) The player's core forces are carried along from Mission to Mission, and are adjusted as per the existing Campaign rules. These ships MUST be kept together as a single force on the System map. 

3) Additional forces may be assigned to the mission from the faction's Fleet list (either as desired up to the maximum available, either as desired and/or randomly, or possibly added by the Mission specs themselves.  However, ships lost from the Fleet List on earlier Missions are not available for selection for the rest of the Campaign! It may be that that is the way the authors intended this process to work, but neglected to explain it.

Despite these criticisms, I think the overall concept of the Missions and Campaign rules is brilliant, and well worth the price of the entire rules set. I am already thinking about how to adapt them for use with the more tactical Galactic Knights tabletop rules. That shouldn't be terribly difficult.

"Let it be done!"



  1. Thanks for taking the time to do such a detailed commentary. Just to clarify the Task Forces for each Factions should be used but we didn't want to labor that as players may not have all the ships listed.

  2. Thanks, Ed.

    For the edification of the readers, a GPSN Task Force is listed as having the following composition:

    Alpha Squadron
    Fast Attack Carrier
    Light Cruiser
    Light Cruiser

    Beta Squadron
    Heavy Cruiser
    Heavy Cruiser

    Gamma Squadron
    Heavy cruiser

    Delta Squadron
    Light Cruiser

    Epsilon Squadron
    Light Cruiser

  3. You know, I bought this game based on one of your posts, and this reminds me why. I just need the boy to age a little more to appreciate them...

  4. I think these rules would work really well for that purpose... "Captain Mace Dixon was itchin' for a fight... and the Heshees were more than willing to provide him with one..."

    My guess is that he would need to be about age 10 to get them. I have played games of similar complexity with boys that young if they were bright and liked games to begin with.

    That's about the age I was when my dad taught me chess ( I already loved games, both kid's games and contract bridge, by that time). He won the first game... but never won another after that, LOL!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Thanks for such a great writeup, Peter. I'm glad you're able to get such good mileage out of the game.

    1. You're welcome. You and Ed did a good job on them!

  7. Very good report, I like the narrative and game play commentary. Your suggestions sound reasonable. One of the other great things about THW is that you can go to the yahoo group or forum and get answers directly from the authors.

  8. Thanks, Sean. And you're right support via either is readily available.