Thursday, December 6, 2012

Space Battles in a Flash! A Few Test Games of War Rocket

On Friday we had some open gaming, as the Empire of the Dead season has wound down and the new Victorian Science Fiction campaign, this time on the Moon, is still in it's preparing forces & locations phase.

So I brought some War Rocket fleets and tried it out with a friend. He'd never played it, and it'd been a long time since I'd tried out the rules, so we played a few games with small fleets.

I gave him his choice of fleets, and he chose the Zenithians, with their stunningly agile saucers.
I countered with the Imperials: far less maneuverable, but much more sturdy.
Mostly I chose them because they're my favorite I've painted just based on the looks.

Click for larger:

To play a game of War Rocket you'll need a few counters or tokens.  What I found works well is to have a "been hit" token, for this I used little acrylic fire pieces from Litko. I have a few sizes, so a medium could stand for 3 hits, large 5, etc. This is because you delegate all your hits before testing to see the effect.

One effect from being hit is a stun.  So I also brought many red & yellow glass beads to record stun.
The first turn a rocket is stunned it has a red token, then at the start of the next turn it shifts to yellow, it is still stunned, but it will clear the next turn.  A rocket that is stunned twice is destroyed, in which case you just remove the rocket. The red & yellow system makes sure you remember when to clear off a stun.

In Game 1 we tested out the rules with four Class I rockets each. The Z's smashed the Imperials soundly.
I then realized we'd used the first line of the hit results chart for both fleets.  I'd mistakenly looked at the four tiers as Classes of ships..but not so! Even a Class I Imperial ship has a sturdiness of 2, so is harder to damage.  But we'd hammered out the activation system and hit allocation and were ready to have at again.

Game 2

We upped the fleets to four rockets each: two Class I rockets and two Class II rockets.

The crafty Z's set up to engulf the steadfast Imperials.
Movement is done from slowest to fastest: it gives the faster rockets the edge in placing their rockets.
My Class II's knew they'd never be allowed to fire so they rocketed past the Z's, leaving the Class I's to cover them and shoot in retribution, hoping the sturdiness of the Imperial design would see them safe.
Both of the Imperial Class II took heavy fire: 4 hits to one, 2 to the other.  The Imperial Class I's fired twice at the nearest Class II Saucer.
Both sides lost a Class II in this fight. The Imperial did it's best to swing around, drawing them back to his escorts, which held their action- a ship may declare a 'delayed action' doing nothing that turn so that it can make a complete preemptive turn before the enemy ships in the following turn. This worked well as they weathered the Saucer fire and destroyed the other Class II saucer. A victory for the Imperials.

Game 3

We tried the next higher class of Rocket: the Class III


We kept the fleets small for speed of play. A Class III & two Class II.  This time I played Galacteer, though I continued to use the Imperial ships just because I like how they look and enjoyed having the chance to play them.

The Galacteer rockets are not as sturdy as the Imperials, but they are twice as agile: they can make a turn every 2" of straight movement, compared to 4" for Imperial.

Things went well for the Z's at first: first time in range they destroyed a Class II, and then the other!
But using delayed actions and some lucky (for me) damage result rolls saw the Galacteer Class III destroy the Z III and a II and the remaining saucer fled the zone.

Assessment: 

What a fun game!  This is a very fast & light space combat game.
If Spaceship games where you need datafax cards and penciling in boxed damage, then erasing them as systems repair, keeping track of ammunition and number of crew wear you down then this is likely a good game for you.  With stun carry-over it has enough 'lasting effects' to feel realistic without requiring a lot of record keeping. It would also be very easy to run large fleets with this system.

For play style I have to think I'd enjoy the Zenithian the most.  They are very fast and can change direction at any point without needing to spend movement to turn, so the only time you need to turn is to bring weapons to bare. This means they can zoom past a foe, then spend movement to turn 2 or 3 times to get in firing arc and hit the enemy without fear of retaliation.  This advantage is going to be lessened in larger fleet games, with their enemy keeping ships in reserve to cover such possibilities, but it still means they will receive less shots than they dish out, but then- they are much more fragile, a Class III saucer has a durability of 2, same as a Class I Imperial (!), so it balances back again.   The delayed action option is a fun one, and can be quite the tactical fencing to make it work.

One thought occurred to me, this rule set would make a great option for playing Battlestar Galactica fighter combat. With Cylons using the Zenithian Class I profile and Colonial Vypers using the Galacteer Class I. 

9 comments:

Scott said...

Very cool looking game. Those Rocketships have a very 'FlashGordon' look to them!

Der Feldmarschall said...

Ditto what Scott said. Very cool and well painted minis.

Jason

The Angry Lurker said...

"Flash Gordon's alive!", very cool Ferret.

Clint said...

I have looked at War rocket before. Drawn to the game because of the minis but did not know what it would play like, so thank you for the insight.

M R Lee said...

Very cool indeed. And just saw Flash Gordon so I can relate to this style now! Also I really like the board that your playing on as well.. very cool.

Anne said...

Now this is super cool and looks like a blast to play. I need more money and some friends!

Brummie said...

This is one great looking game especially on that starfield mat

Michael Awdry said...

Oh that just look the business; absolutely stunning.

battybattybats said...

It's such a massively fun game it's hard to just play once on a given day, it's nice and fast so that its often easy to get multiple games done in the time it takes to play most other games anyway.

Great pics by the way, love how you edited out the stands!

I've been finding the Imperials seem to work better with at least one of the bigger rockets in their force (for those precious side fire arcs), but i wonder how the Zenithians get the most from their class 3s and 4s, which have lots of potent firepower but are oh-so-fragile and while faster than the other class 3s and 4s will need to be protected from the speedy class 1s and 2s.

And thats part of the awesomeness of the game, from its simple rules arises plenty of strategic depth for those wanting that, or it can be played as swift mindless fun too.

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