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Starship! and FT, from the author

From: Brad Carlson <7sg@l...>
Date: Tue, 05 Sep 2000 17:04:36 -0700
Subject: Starship! and FT, from the author


My name is Brad Carlson, and I am the primary author of the Starship!
rules (by that I mean that my business partners did a LOT of the work on
the game, but I get  the blame if something is wrong!).

Since the following comments have made it to my inbox, I thought I would
answer them here:

     While I was at ConQuest 2000 this past weekend, in the
     dealer's room, there
     was a guy from Flagship Games who was pushing a new set of
     space combat
     rules called Starship!  It boasted a 3D movement system.  It
     appeared to me,
     however, that it wasn't a true 3D system in space.  The ships
     were mounted
     on telescoping car radio antennae.  Sure this adds another
     dimension, but it
     resembled an air combat game which is more like 2.5D.  If you
     had a truly 3D
     system, you could have 3 ships moving off in 3 different
     directions.  I would think that would get unwieldy after a
     while.  Ships on
     opposite ends of a table might be 8 feet apart, but being 8
     feet apart in
     the vertical direction would be a pain.

All very true. When you are designing a game, you have a lot of
decisions to make, and you are usually only allowed to pick one of the
available options, otherwise a prolifferation of "optional rules"  cause
the game to explode.

When faced with these situations, our primary criteria for deciding was:
"which way is more fun to play".

The 3D situation was one of those, we could (and originally did) have a
more "realistic" 3D model. But as playtesting and feedback came in, we
trimmed it back to make it more fun. A second criteria for making
"realism" vs "fun" decisions is that, in my observation, the players of
sci-fi games are VERY willing and able to add complexity/realism as
desired. Any gamer who wants true 3D, with x^2+y^2=z^2 calculations, and
a "map" that scrolls in three dimensions, is usually very able to add
these elements him/herself.

We also had verticle velocity and 3D firing arcs. Both of which the
overwhelming majority of players found cumbersome.

But try writing coherent rules for all of this that the "average" gamer
can handle.

So far, I have gotten roughly equal comments that the game is too
complex, and too simplistic. Sigh. Can't win. :)

     The part I found really funny was when he asked me what system
     I play.  I
     told him I played Full Thrust.  He said that's okay as long as
     you stay in
     the universe they provide, but it doesn't let you create your
     own races.
     Obviously, he doesn't know Full Thrust, nor does he know about
     cross-over battles with Federation Cruisers, Babylon 5 ships,
     and Battlestar
     Gallactica just to name a few.  I didn't want to waste my
     energy arguing
     with him, so I just asked if he was selling any of the
     miniatures for
     Starship!	He said he didn't bring any for sale, so I thanked
     him and moved
     Now, maybe he has a great game.  I didn't check out the rules.

     But he obviously hasn't played Full Thrust.  :)

I HAVE played full thrust. According to the books I have (Full Thrust,
More Thrust), the allowed races are:
    "Standard" whatever that is

And I don't see any chapter anywhere on creating your own race, with its
own special abilities and unique weapons.
Yes, the system is open enough to give you some flexability, but with
the limited weapon choices, it does not seem to me like you can really
capture the flavor of your favorite race. Just my opinion -- y.m.m.v.

You CAN do that with Starship! In fact, you have to -- there are no
"standard" races.

Have I missed something? Or were these Federation, B5, and Gallactica
ships created "outside" the rules.

And, we did not have individual ships available for sale, but we did
have starter sets.

     I bought the rules, and the game is very much a 2.5D system.
     While the
     ships can move to higher and lower levels they remain level
     relative to the
     table at all times.  In firing arcs there is only a minimal
     for the third dimension.  I've get a feeling that they use 3D
     only for how
     it looks.

"How it looks" should, I think, be a major part of a miniatures game,
otherwise you might as well be playing a hex-and-chit game.
That said, the third dimension has a very large affect on the game,
making it much more fluid and dynamic. I have seen a LOT of FT games
where a battle line of ships was too long to go arround, and no way to
go over or under. Am I the only one who finds this strange?

	  Having read most of the rules, but not played them, I can
     offer a few
     comments.	First off the stated intention of Starship! is:
     "The world of Starship is not one of hard-science, instead
     portraying the
     sci-fi genres we have come to know and love as portrayed on
     television and
     the movies.  We have given the laws of physics and space a
     cursory nod, but
     eventually left them behind for the more enticing subjects of
     fun and
		     And is what they have done.  As to whether
     this game is fun
     play or not, I'll reserve judgement until I've had a chance to
     it.  Unfortunatly, I missed the demo since it was on Friday
     night and
     I didn't arrive at the con untill Saturday morning :-(
     At least they give a passing nod to Newton.  The ships have a
     thrust rating
     and can only adjust their speed by up to that rating.  So
     movement is more
     or less like cinematic movement in Full Thrust.  Changing
     altitude is simply
     that a ship can change one Flight Band, their measurment of
     altitude, for
     evey 20 cm (they measure in cm's) the ship moves.
     Other things in the rules include firing arcs that are
     multiples of 22.5
     degrees, weapon recharging times, damage done to armor until a
     is done after which critical internal hits occur, four arcs on
     ships, five
     sizes of ships, fighters, missiles, torpedoes, mecha, boarding
     craft, and a
     long list of weapons, including Mass Driver, Photonic Mortar,
     Inferno, and the Vortex Blaster.
     The rule book is reasonably laid out, though no index.  The
     cover has nice
     two color artwork, which the interior art is black and white
     of fair
     interest.	The rules are 94 pages long (12 of which are record
     sheets and
     charts) costing $30.00 which seems a bit high to me.  I have
     not reached the
     campaign rules yet, but they are included in the book.
		     The ships I saw at the con are nice.  I have
     no idea of the
     Drawings of them, which gives a sense of what some of them are
     can be found at Flagships web site

Thanks for the review!
The ships will be priced at approximately $3 per ship size (SS).
SS1 = one inch long
SS5 =  five inches long (roughly).

Since they are resin, they are lighter and "bulkier" then most lead
figs. At $15  for our largest, it is less then 1/2 the price of the
equivalent GW ships, which are some of the few that come close in size.

Feel free to post this to the FT newsgroup, if you wish.


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