Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I've Reached a Turning Point with the Star Fleet Battles Cadet Training Handbook

I have been playing through the Training Module for Star Fleet Battles.  It is a great free product that is designed to teach new players the basics of the game in incremental steps.  The first 5 scenarios are solo training missions that allow the player to master movement, different weapons systems, and energy allocation.  I recently played through scenario #5, which involves a Federation ship having to rescue the crew of a shuttle-craft while Klingon warships attack you.  The game has "robot rules" to govern the actions of the Klingon ships while you fly in to rescue the shuttle crew.

Scenario #5 is a turning point for me in a few ways.  The first is that the next scenario is a two player duel.  Scenarios 1-5 give you all of the basics of the game, and scenario 6 implores you to use these skills against a human opponent.  It is time to step out of the box of solo play and convince a compatriot try out the game.  This means teaching an opponent skills that I learned gradually through 5 lessons.

It is also a turning point in that the print-and-play components of the game are starting to affect the play of the game.  Each scenario adds more counters, and counters sometimes have to stack on top of each other.  This is usually not a problem with cardboard counters, but my cereal box counters are thin and have little weight.  They become easily jostled and sometimes can flip many hexes over from their position during play.

Another turning point is that I feel that I have been introduced to the meat of the Star Fleet Battles rules system.  The game involves ship movement, direct and seeking weapons systems, and energy allocation.  I have browsed through the rest of the rules to see what is coming up.  There are alien races with new weapons, a few new bits to add such as sensors, but I feel that the basic engine of the game has been laid bare.  Every new rule will just build off of this system.  From now on ships will have bigger shields, more weapons, more systems, turns will be longer, but overall I know how the game will run.

The question before me now is, "Is Star Fleet Battles a game that I want to pursue?"  There are still 6 more scenarios that I can try out in the Cadet's Handbook, but is this a game that I want to invest my time and money in?  On the one hand, the game does have a lot of complexity.  On the other hand, now that I have a taste for how the game plays I am curious to see how that complexity works.  The main lesson that I have learned is that if a game offers a free intro version it is definitely worth the time to try it out.