Tuesday, August 2, 2011

SUNDER THE STARS: 3rd Playtest!

Click on images for bigger picture!

This was the third playtest for SUNDER THE STARS held two weeks ago at Comic Store West with the Army Group York miniature wargaming group. In play were optional terrain items - a large planet, three gas clouds (-1 to hit per hex) and two each of dust clouds (-2 to hit per hex) and asteroid fields (-2 to hit per hex AND a chance of colliding with something unpleasant). Zach had brought some handmade terrain to liven up my rather flat paper terrain with the pertinent rules printed on them to speed play. We had three hours, so the optional shield setting rules were dispensed with as the rules needed to be taught and the game played to conclusion by closing time.

A new group of players had chosen the same old adversaries: the Grand Terran Imperium vs. the League of the Star Wolves. Yes, the Wedgians and the Vikings were at it again! No love for the Buggians?

For the Wedgians ~ 50 points of ships for each player.

Commodore Tony - Battleship, Medium Cruiser and 2 Frigates.

Captain Dieter - Medium Cruiser, 2 Destroyers and 2 Frigates.

For the Vikings ~ 50 points of ships for each player.

Jarl Zach - Battleship, Medium Cruiser and 2 Frigates.

Shipmaster Thomas - Medium Cruiser, 2 Destroyers and 2 Frigates.

The teams rolled off and the Vikings had to set up first. They divided their forces for any eventuality. The Wedgians then deployed their fleet - all to one side and away from the Viking battleship!

By the end of the first turn, the Wedgians had sunk a Viking cruiser and frigate, while Shipmaster Thomas dispatched one Wedgian cruiser, a frigate and damaged another frigate. Both sides attacked then tried to take advantage of available cover. Jarl Zack's forces were too far away to aid his sword-brother.

The Wedgians had dispatched a Viking destroyer and frigate while Shipmaster Thomas sank a Wedgian frigate and had bloodied both of their destroyers and another frigate. Fear not, brave Thomas! Your Jarl had not forsaken you!

Well, maybe there was a little forsaking. With Shipmaster Thomas' last destroyer out of the way, Commodore Tony sent his battleship to deal with the smaller units of Jarl Zack's remaining fleet while the surviving elements of both his and Captain Dieter's forces hunted the Viking battleship - which meant they had to abandon the "Dray Maneuver" and left the cover of the gas clouds for open felt.

VENGEANCE! The Wedgian battleship was sunk and their cruiser heavily damaged in the storm of direct fire and homing weapons from the remains of the Viking fleet! Jarl Zack's flagship withstood withering Wedgian attacks without a scratch! For the sake of Wedgians with delicate constitutions, any further images shall be withheld. The Vikings swept the skies of the remaining enemy vessels.

Two hours and fifteen minutes from setup and teaching the rules to the end of the game, with time left for a leisurely breakdown and after-game kibitzing.

Tony and Dieter took advantage of deploying after their opponents by concentrating their forces against one enemy group and making use of available cover. Thomas had a desperate fight to delay the Wedgians long enough to allow Zack's forces - and his battleship - to get to where the action was. Dieter used the planet to shield one of his destroyers from Zack's ships while getting clear shots at Thomas. Had Zack's battleship been farther away, it would have been a very different game.

Terrain did not slow the game down noticeably and was sufficiently thick in some cases to prevent attacks altogether. The players had to include the terrain effects in their decisions on movement and firing. The weapon ranges seemed to be working, as well. The last thing I wanted is a "push all the figures into the middle of the table and roll lots of dice" or a "just sit there and shoot at everything" game.

Tony has expressed a desire to buy a fleet and has cursed me for it. Zach has instructed me to bring SUNDER THE STARS as backup game when attending Monday nights. I think they liked it. Development shall continue.

The game mat and ships used for the Grand Terran Imperium are from the Terran Federation range, part of the Galactic Knights line produced by Monday Knight Productions.

The ships used for the League of the Star Wolves are available from Ravenstar Studios.

Additional shots of both sets of ships may be seen here: Starship Size Comparison.

Wedgians: 1/2
Buggians: 1/0
Vikings: 1/1

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