about the universe forum commander Shop Now Commanders Circle
Product List FAQs home Links Contact Us

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sticky Situations in ACTASF Book 2: Playtesting, Webs, and WYNing the game.

Guest blogger Tony L. Thomas writes:

A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Book 2 has taken quite a bit longer than expected. I had anticipated a six-to-eight month turn-around time from the release of ACTASF Deluxe edition to the PDF of Book 2. So much for the best laid plans...

I've learned more about the difficulties of game development in the last year than I ever knew existed. We started out with the Book 1.2 playtest staff and high hopes. But some of the staff members' situations had changed. Some lost play groups, some moved away, some became enamored by other games. So a call went out for new playtest groups. In the eight months since we began playtesting in earnest, 23 different playtest groups have received part (or all) of the new rules, not all at the same time, of course. Several of the groups have never once posted a report or comment and have been removed from the list and others added. I try to keep the current list at about six active groups.

This has caused the biggest delay in Book 2 to date. So far, I have received playtest reports from a whopping three groups (out of 23). More keep promising reports "tomorrow," but those have yet to materialize. And only seven of the 23 groups have even commented on the rules posted. But I do now have at least three groups actively playing the game and making reports, so progress has certainly picked up.
And if you'd like to be considered for play testing Book 3, let me know now. Many of the ships and rules for Book 3 are already typed and playtesting will begin the day Book 2 goes to ADB for printing.

The first thing out the gate was the expanded Orion Pirate fleet list. This was a piece of cake. The only new rule required was Optional Weapon mounts, and Matthew Sprange had done a really good job with the first draft of those. A bit of tweaking here and there, and they were ready for the staff to tear apart. The only staff comment was, "Why don't we reorganize them this way" ... and the new suggestion cut the rules to a single page.

Next up was the expanded Tholian fleet list, with the Neo-Tholians and the Seltorian Triubunal. The ship rosters were easy, but the webs caused us no end of grief. We all knew that they would be difficult, but we had no idea how difficult. We've gone through four complete, major revisions of the rules with several minor 0.1 / 0.2 revisions along the way. And unfortunately, we had to make webs work correctly before we could even think about web snares, web casters, web fists, and web breakers. We are finally there though. The Tholian webs version 4.2 should be the final one, and the other systems have been resolved to work with the webs.

Commando ships (including boarding party combat and ship capture) are in the hands of the staff now and should be in their final forms. Scouts and version 3.0 of the scout rules went out this weekend. After that, everything is in the hands of the playtesters, except the last few scenarios. We have seven or eight in playtest now and I'm looking for the staff to submit another six or so. We'll take the best and put an even dozen in the book. I'm also working on an Orion Pirate-based mini-campaign for inclusion in Book 2. It will be a series of (most likely) six linked scenarios that must be played in order to reach the end. And much like the newest board game trend every decision made in each scenario will continue through the remaining scenarios. A good (and lucky) pirate may reach the final scenario with overwhelming numbers and chalk up an easy victory, whereas an unlucky one may reach the end to find himself hopelessly outnumbered and simply hope to get the ship he's on out in one piece.

As of March 17, 2017,  there were 140+ ship rosters in playtest for Book 2. That's too many and some will be held for Book 3. And on that note Book 3 is scheduled to include Hydrans, Lyrans, and the LDR, along with carriers/fighters for everybody. And there will be additional ships for the empires in Books 1.2 and 2. One of those new empires is the WYN Star Cluster.

Situated at the convergence of the Klingon Empire, the Lyran Star Empire, and the Kzinti Hegemony; they are a small (one single hex on the Federation & Empire map) empire completely surrounded by a dangerous (and sometimes fatal) band of radiation. Their ships are a combination of purchased ships from nearby empires, ships stolen by pirates and then given/sold to the WYN, and a few home-built units based on Klingon, Kzinti, and Lyran technology. The only new rule required for them was an optional weapon rule and that was done for Book 2. So, much like the Tholian and Orion Pirate teaser included in Book 1.2 there will be a WYN teaser in Book 2. We will include three (or possibly four) new ships for the WYN Star Cluster, one auxiliary battlecruiser (converted from a generic freighter), one (or two) ships purchased from their neighbors, and one home-built WYN ship.