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 Post subject: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 11:54 am 
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Originally posted here:
http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/10021

Disclaimer: I am a fan of Knight Hawks and this post that follows is not intended as a knock on SFKH.

In 2000/2001 a former Star Fleet Battles author named Ken Burnside started work on a game called Delta-V.
Delta-V was intended to be an updated vector-movement style space combat game that fixed as a glaring set of math holes found in previous vector movement games regarding ship position displacement during thrusts. His paper vms-vs-dv.pdf is out there and rather pointedly illustrates the problem.

Delta-V morphed into Attack Vector: Tactical (AV:T) which is a play-aid driven 3D space combat game of military-grade fusion torchships in combat across 10 colony world systems after all contact with Earth is lost.

Attack Vector is a fantastic game and the extremely cleverly designed play aids allow you to have 3D shooty spaceship goodness without tons of nasty slow math.

However, the rules and designs of Attack Vector are very closely tied to the underlying science assumptions which means ship construction requires a massive spreadsheet and tons of calculus... which is not optimal for a general public consumption game.

Bowing to public pressure, Ken reworked the ship design and rules engines into a game called Squadron Strike (SS) which gets *most* of what was going on with Attack Vector able to be used with ships of your own imagination.

I've been re-gathering Attack Vector: Tactical in brain as part of spinning up a local AV:T game group in Houston... but as I go I cannot help the recurring thought that Star Frontiers could/should be a setting for Squadron Strike, allowing for UPF, Sathar, Pirates, Corporate, and independent ship fleets to all do battle in 3D.

The core Squadron Strike set is a bit pricey, but with good reason - it comes with a large number of play aids like hexmaps, plastic tilt blocks and altitude tiles, laminated cards used to track the ship attitude (using dry erase markers) in lieu of doing 3D math etc.

There are also starter kits and PDFs for the rules, setting, and default ship books, as well as some extras like print-and-fold tilt blocks box minis. The main thing you miss out on going the PDF only route is the Ship Design spreadsheet.

So my recommendation is that at least one person in each gaming group have the deluxe set with registration code to get access to that sheet... or become one of Ken's patreon supporters to get access to the spreadsheet when it is updated quarterly through that channel.

Back to the point, however:
If there are other Squadron Strike fans here on the boards, I would be happy to help out in a group project to adapt Star Frontiers Knight Hawks ships to the Squadron Strike rules engine.
I am not able to do all of the conversion work on my own due to time and other distractions like reality, family and working with on-call shifts.

But, I could help with a group conversion effort since I have a registered copy of the boardgame, which nets me the ship design spreadsheets, and I am also a Patreon supporter of the author which nets me some extras like how to do spacefighter combat which would help round out a complete conversion.

Some of the conversion tasks include:
Artwork needed to render onto the box miniatures as six views (top, bottom, nose, aft, port, starboard) - someone with the various original miniatures sets could probably do this with photos?

Adapting the movement rules between Knight Hawks values and Squadron Strike units - existing SFKH vector movement adaptations might help here.

Creating each ship weapon and defense within the Squadron Strike capabiltiies list - and the endless debate to get them "right" with respect to each other when something has to be made up to fill in a gap.

Creating each ship systems display (SSD) sheet representing the relative fuel, armor, and systems of a Star Frontiers vessel - the Squadron Strike ship design sheet helps with this as it includes a cool output to PDF setup that makes homebrew sheets look as nice as the originally published ones. But there would be more debate here regarding fuel units and expenditures, and damage allocation and tracking boxes I think.

Converting the Second Sathar War strategic game over to something like the Attack Vector: High Command map.

Scenario writeup - probably starting with converting the tactical book engagements into Squadron Strike engagements.

Scenario generator - why not take it up a notch? AV:T and Squadron Strike 1 both had Patrol and scenario generators which may lend themselves to adaptation to SF.

Playtesting - this is one of the roughest and most time consuming parts - but also where a lot of fun could be... testing the ship maneuver, weapon, armor, and damage in the various scenarios to see how they really work and adjusting them accordingly. This means good recordkeeping and after-action reports...

It also means everything developed as a document needs version control because they get revised a lot and everyone needs to keep them current from a shared repository.

This site, or a share from my dropbox could work ...

As a project, I think converting two commonly fought ships or one scenario would be the place to start - publish that on the site and in the fanzines - then regularly work out couple of other ships and scenario to highlight them and publish those separately. Over time, build up the library of how to do it, as well as expand the ships able to be played with the conversion.

So... after that terrible pitch... are there any interested folks out there with the game interested in trying to adapt SF to it?

With enough interest and hands witht he game to spread the work out, it could be doable and the result would be a great companion/alternative to 2D SFKH.

It's something to think about and now at least I've got it out of my brain and into the Void to see where it lands.

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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:25 pm 
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In the Ad Astra Games facebook group, Mike Zebrowski posted some initial conversion thoughts:

Michael Zebrowskii 20180301 Found my books and reread them. Here are my thoughts.

Note: Any conversion of stats are simply meant to be the starting point, a baseline if you will.

Movement Mode:

Definitely Mode 1 movement. The only major disconnect between Squadron Strike and Knight Hawks is slowing down.

Looking at the ADF and MR stats in KH, I would simply convert as follows:
Move = ADF + 2
Pivot = MR + 1
Roll = MR

While Knight Hawks has 3 different types of drives, they all act the same in combat. The differences between the drives is mostly seen at the strategic level with fuel consummation being the prime difference. In ship design, the type of drive determines the ADF of the ship.

In Squadron Strike terms, Tactial and FTL fuel is not used.

Now that I know the KH scale, having an upper bound on speed doesn't make sense. In KH, a ship needs to travel at 180 hexes per turn to jump to the void. It takes ships a long time to accelerate to jump speed.

Of course, it is possible to use a moving frame of reference to do intercepts as ships are trying to escape, but that is scenario design and not ship design.

Hull Size:
Knight Hawk Hull Size lines up nicely with Squadron Strike's SI system.

More later....

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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:37 pm 
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On a tear, Mike has added some more...

Ranges:

I would double all of the ranges listed in KH. Ranges below 5 don't work well in Squadron Strike.

Firing arcs:

KH has 2 arcs: Forward Firing and 360.

Forward Firing can either be depicted as a 1 window spinal mount or the front 9 windows. This would have to be playtested. Spinal mount weapons are hard to aim and if the payoff isn't worth the effort, players get frustrated.

360 arcs have to go. They are boring in Squadron Strike. I would double the number of weapons on a ship and give each one a generous 2-span firing arc.

Electron, Proton, and Disruptor weapons.
These should be combined into particle weapons. There really isn't any difference between the weapons except for the game of rock-paper-scissor with the Electron and Proton Screens.

Defenses
Defenses in KH act similar to Armor Class in D&D, they modify the to-hit chance instead of blocking damage. Some defenses in Squadron Strike reduce damage, while others reduce the chance to-hit.

Defenses in KH are annoyingly specific. It is a game of rock-paper-scissor. Most of the effects can be duplicated, but some of the downsides need to be ignored unless house-rules are added.

Reflective Hull and Particle Screens can all be modeled with Super Science Defenses.

Masking Screen can be modeled with Deflector Burst Shields. They will not have the limitation of the Masking Screen in KH, except for limit uses, and will work against all weapons, but they are the best fit.

Laser can have the trait 1/2 vs Shields, while other weapon can have Ignore Shields and/or Ignore Deflection.

Stasis Screen is a tough one. It is a rather limited defense against particle weapons and attracts missiles. I'd just ignore it and treat any Stasis Screens as particle screens.

ICM is straight up modelled by repulsors.

Weapons

Laser Cannons and Batteries are simply beam weapons with the trait 1/2 vs Shields and Laser.

Proton/Electron/Disruptor should be renamed Particle Weapons. Traits should include Ignore Deflection, Ignore Shields, Particle, Continuous and Drilling.

Torpedo is simply a Squadron Strike Missile with the Ignore Deflection and Bursting traits

Assault Rocket and Rocket Battery are also Squadron Strike Missiles with the Ignore Deflection,Bursting, and Avoidable traits. The only difference between the two systems is size and damage.

Seeker Missile is a Squadron Strike Mode 1 Torpedo with thrust 2 and endurance 4. It is best to ignore the lack of IFF systems on it. It should have the traits Ignore Deflection and Bursting

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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:12 pm 
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... and more from Mike Z.

KH ships are not armored nor do they use general purpose shields. This means that unless a ship has one of the rock-paper-scissor defenses, it will be hit alot.

Civilian ships can be modeled as "Fragile". PanGal and other corporate ships, can be "Normal" while UPF and Sathar ships can be "Durable".

Military ships can also use lots of component armor.

For the universe settings, I'd start with "Simple Baseline" and turn on the Super Science Defenses

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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:53 pm 
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MikeZ continues on his merry way and has uploaded a set of weapon stat blocks for Knight Hawks weapons in PDF form to the facebook group.
I've attached his PDF here as well for those who don't facebook.


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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:38 pm 
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Mike Zebrowski's fan-made adaptation of Star Frontiers Knight Hawks weapons with Assault Scout SSD (attached)


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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:20 pm 
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Mike Z unloads more conversion goodness:
Weapon Design Notes

Ranges
These are simply the KH ranges doubles.

Range Diffusion
Laser and Particle weapons have a lower chance to hit at further ranges in KH. I modeled this in Squadron Strike by worsening the accuracy and penetration as the range increase. This also gives incentive to close the distance.

Base Accuracy
I based the ACC on the to-hit change against "No Defense" in KH.

Damage Values
This is a more of a guess and will likely be subject to much tweaking. I tried to keep the damage potentials between weapons mostly the same. For example, Laser Cannons do roughly twice the damage as Laser Cannons.

Masking Screens
Masking Screen are modeled in Squadron Strike with Burst Deflector Shields. This is an imperfect way to model them, but it is the closest that Squadron Strike gets without house rules.

In Squadron Strike, all weapons will interact with Masking screens; however, all non-laser weapons will have the "Ignores Deflection" trait which will greatly reduce their effectiveness.

Non-energy weapons
As non-energy weapons do more surface damage than energy weapons (as indicated by the negative modifier to rolling on the damage chart), the trait "Bursting" has been added to all such weapons. Bursting will damage 2 boxes per group of boxes before moving deeper in the ship. This generally results in more damage near the beginning of each hit location and less SI damage.

Laser Cannon
This is the simplest weapon to design as laser weapons are the baseline weapon in KH. It has the trait "Laser" as that will interact with the super science defense being used to modeled Reflective Hulls.

Laser Battery
Also fairly simple to design. It does roughly 1/2 the damage of a Laser Cannon and also has the "Laser" trait. In KH it also does 1/2 damage when it hits a Masking Screen. As the Masking Screen will be modeled by using burst shield, the Laser Battery does 1/2 damage vs shields.

I gave the Laser Battery a Rate of Fire of 2 on a whim. In the next design round, I'll likely drop it back to 1. While designing the Assault Scout, the Laser Battery was too large to fit into a mount without having a cooldown. Dropping the RoF to x1 should make it small enough to fit in an Assault Scout without needing a cooldown.

Particle Beam
This is the Electron/Proton Beam. I might split this into two weapon systems as Electron Beams have slightly shorter range and Proton beams have slightly longer range. Otherwise, they are identical.

As Particle weapons strike deeper into ships in KH (as indicated by the positive bonus to rolling on the damage chart), I gave the weapons the Continuous and Drilling traits. If a particle weapon rolls 8+ on the attack, it can attack again and damage continues from where it left off instead of rolling for a new location if it meets some obvious conditions listed in the rules.

Particle beams also have the "Particle" trait to interact with the Super Science defense being used to model the Electron and Proton Screens.

Disruptor Cannon

This is simply a more powerful Particle Beam and shares the same traits. It also has the "Piercing" trait as Electron/Proton screens are not as effective at blocking it.

Torpedo
This is simply a high damage missile in Squadron Strike terms. As indicated in the general notes above, it has the traits "Ignores Deflection" and "Bursting".

Assault Rockets
This is a medium damage missile in Squadron Strike terms. As indicated in the general notes above, it has the traits "Ignores Deflection" and "Bursting". As these weapons are unguided, I also included the "Avoidable" trait.

Fighter Assault Rockets
These are identical to Assault Rockets except that the trait "Ammo[3]" has been added. This is how ammo is indicated for Fighters in Squadron Strike.

Rocket Battery
When compared to Assault Rockets, a Rocket Battery does slightly less damage and has a slightly shorter range. Like the Laser Battery, I gave it a RoF of 2. This might be reduced to 1 in the next iteration.

Mines
Mines can be modeled with the Torpedo rules. The traits, "Interialess Launch", "Operator Guided", and "Retargeting", simulate the behavior of mines.

Interialess Launch means that a mine layer can place a mine in a particular hex without the mine inheriting any of the speed of the mine layer.

Operator Guided and Retargeting allow a mine to switch targets. I'm not sure if both traits are needed or if it only needs Retargeting.

A Mine has a thrust of 4 and endurance of 1. This means that it can only thrust once and move 4 hexes to hit it target. Mines need to be a bit more mobile in Squadron Strike than in KH to be useful due to the 3D environment.

By making the Mine a Mode 2 Torpedo, it will be able to attack in any direction as long as it was launch 2+ turns earlier.

Seeker Missile
This is simply a Squadron Strike Mode 1 Torpedo with Thrust 4 and 2 turns of endurance. I might increase the endurance to 3 turns. Right now, it is very easy to shoot down. Might need to increase the armor and toughness.

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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 7:58 pm 
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Mike Z continues to burn up the charts...
His latest kitbashing in Squadron Strike resulted in a PDF with 6 ships and a weapons sheet defined.
Presumably these are all UPF, set around the F.Y.61 era that includes Dramune Run.

In the PDF are:
The Assault Scout
Frigate
Destroyer
Light Cruiser
Heavy Cruiser
Battleship

There are 10 weapons defined in the weapons sheet:
Laser Cannon
Laser Battery
Particle Beam
Disruptor Cannon
Torpedo
Assault Rockets
Rocket Battery
Mine
Seeker Missile
Fighter Assault Rockets


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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:57 pm 
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Michael Zebrowski Revised and consolidated design notes

Note: Any conversion of stats are simply meant to be the starting point, a baseline if you will.

Movement Mode:
Mode 1 movement.
Converting from KH to SS:
Move = ADF + 2
Pivot = MR + 1
Roll = MR

While Knight Hawks has 3 different types of drives, they all act the same in combat. The differences between the drives is mostly seen at the strategic level with fuel consummation being the prime difference. In ship design, the type of drive determines the ADF of the ship.

In Squadron Strike terms, Tactial and FTL fuel is not used.

Hull Size:
Knight Hawk Hull Size lines up nicely with Squadron Strike's SI system.
Weapon Design Notes

Electron, Proton, and Disruptor weapons.
These should be combined into particle weapons. There really isn't any difference between the weapons except for the game of rock-paper-scissor with the Electron and Proton Screens.

Defenses

Masking Screens
Masking Screen are modeled in Squadron Strike with Level 3 Ebon Globes. This gives Armor 3 to all sides. By giving laser weapons 1/2 Damage vs Armor, shooting laser weapons as Ebon Globes becomes a very bad idea. (A 9 point laser strike become 2 points of internal damage.)

Ebon Globes are rated for how many turns that they can by used by 10 turns, so it effectively matches the number of times that a Masking Screen can be used.

Like Masking Screen, Ebon Globes prevent ships from maneuvering and attacking. Unlike Masking Screens, Ebon Globes are effective against all weapons; however, the low armor value shouldn't have too high of an impact.

Reflective Hulls
This is modeled with a Super Science defense: Laser Negator. Any weapon with the trait Laser has a chance of its strike being completely negated. Unlike the Reflective Hull in KH, the Laser Negator will take damage over time and have its effectiveness reduced.

Electron/Proton Screens
As mentioned earlier, Electron and Proton weapons have been combined into "Particle Weapons". This means that the Electron/Proton Screen has been renamed "Particle Screen". The Particle Screen is modeled with a Super Science Defense: Particle Screen. Any weapon with the trait Particle will have the amount of damage it does reduced.

ICM
These are modeled with Repulsors in Squadron Strike. As Repulsors do not use ammo, the number of Repulsors per ship might need to be reduced.

Weapons

Ranges
These are simply the KH ranges doubles.

Range Diffusion
Laser and Particle weapons have a lower chance to hit at further ranges in KH. I modeled this in Squadron Strike by worsening the accuracy and penetration as the range increase. This also gives incentive to close the distance.

Base Accuracy
I based the ACC on the to-hit change against "No Defense" in KH.

Damage Values
This is a more of a guess and will likely be subject to much tweaking. I tried to keep the damage potentials between weapons mostly the same. For example, Laser Cannons do roughly twice the damage as Laser Batteries.

Non-energy weapons
As non-energy weapons do more surface damage than energy weapons (as indicated by the negative modifier to rolling on the damage chart), the trait "Bursting" has been added to all such weapons. Bursting will damage 2 boxes per group of boxes before moving deeper in the ship. This generally results in more damage near the beginning of each hit location and less SI damage.

Laser Cannon
This is the simplest weapon to design as laser weapons are the baseline weapon in KH. It has the trait "Laser" and 1/2 Damage vs Armor for reasons outlined in the section on Masking Screens and Reflective Hulls.

Laser Battery
Also fairly simple to design. It does roughly 1/2 the damage of a Laser Cannon and has the same traits.

Particle Beam
This is the Electron/Proton Beam. I might split this into two weapon systems as Electron Beams have slightly shorter range and Proton beams have slightly longer range. Otherwise, they are identical.

As Particle weapons strike deeper into ships in KH (as indicated by the positive bonus to rolling on the damage chart), I gave the weapons the Continuous and Drilling traits. If a particle weapon rolls 8+ on the attack, it can attack again and damage continues from where it left off instead of rolling for a new location if it meets some obvious conditions listed in the rules.

Particle beams also have the "Particle" trait for reasons mentioned in the section on Electron/Proton Screens.

Disruptor Cannon

This is simply a more powerful Particle Beam and shares the same traits. It also has the "Piercing" trait as Electron/Proton screens are not as effective at blocking it.

Torpedo
This is simply a high damage missile in Squadron Strike terms. As indicated in the general notes above, it has the trait "Bursting".

Assault Rockets
This is a medium damage missile in Squadron Strike terms. As indicated in the general notes above, it has the trait "Bursting". As these weapons are unguided, I also included the "Avoidable" trait.

Fighter Assault Rockets
These are identical to Assault Rockets except that the trait "Ammo[3]" has been added. This is how ammo is indicated for Fighters in Squadron Strike.

Rocket Battery
When compared to Assault Rockets, a Rocket Battery does slightly less damage and has a slightly shorter range, but is otherwise identical.

Mines
Mines can be modeled with the Torpedo rules. The traits "Interialess Launch" and "Retargeting" simulate the behavior of mines.

Interialess Launch means that a mine layer can place a mine in a particular hex without the mine inheriting any of the speed of the mine layer.

Retargeting allow a mine to switch targets.

A Mine has a thrust of 4 and endurance of 1. This means that it can only thrust once and move 4 hexes to hit it target. Mines need to be a bit more mobile in Squadron Strike than in KH to be useful due to the 3D environment.

By making the Mine a Mode 2 Torpedo, it will be able to attack in any direction as long as it was launch 2+ turns earlier.

Seeker Missile
This is simply a Squadron Strike Mode 1 Torpedo with Thrust 4 and 3 turns of endurance.

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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:47 pm 
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Mike asks:
KH treats fighters as individul units while Squadron Strike groups them into Squadrons for ease of bookkeeping.

How many fighters should be in a squadron?

In KH, an Assault Carrier carries 10 fighters; however, I'm not worried if the number of fighters needs to be adjusted up or down slightly.

Two 5-fighter squadrons?
Three 4-fighter squadrons?
Four 3-fighter squadrons?
Five 2-fighter squadrons?

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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:47 pm 
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It might be possible to use some of Ken's Squadron Strike, Snub Fighters Patreon notes to do the same in KH... i think he posted them around May 2015 there?

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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:02 pm 
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Mike, so, the basic SS recommendation (p99) is one squadron per bridge box. So - why not make it flexible - Assault Carrier has 10 fighters - if it starts with 5 bridge boxes (assuming the ~4 for the SF hull size, plus 1 more for the CAG... means a hullsize 14-17 Assault Carrier would likely default to 5 in all cases, or maybe have HS14-15 with 4 bridge boxes, and HS 16-17 have 5 bridge boxes) - then its up to the commanding player - do they want to launch a squadron of 2-10 fighters as squadron 1... etc. With 5 bridge boxes, they could have 5 operating 2-fighter elements out there... but as bridge is removed, the controlling player has to consolidate them down to a single squadron... Just an idea.

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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:05 pm 
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Mike Z uploaded a new file. Added Fighter, Assault Carrier, and a Hull Size 10 Freighter.


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 Post subject: Re: Squadron Strike: Star Frontiers
PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:15 pm 
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Some ideas on factions which can go to war within the Star Frontiers universe:

The UPF is the primary Frontier military force, specifically engaged in confronting the Sathar and exploring beyond the Frontier.

The Sathar and their allies the Zurraqqor are sort of the "Romulans" and "Klingons" of the setting.

Criminal elements like the Malthar, or White Light pirates have their fleets which are generally modified forms of UPF ships.

Planets have planetary militia fleets.

Frontier corporations have private fleets - so at minimum Pan-Galactic Corporation (PGC) and Streel could have conflicts.

Each of the major spacefaring races could also have different corporate and militia fleets with different capabilities reflective of the race's traits.

Zebulons races could represent a ship expansion - Rim Coalition ships could have different designs and capabilities from the "traditional" UPF fleets.

Private ownerships of ships which could come into conflict also exists, such as the Gullwind from Dramune Run.

Finally, various module aliens such as Eorna, the Mechanons, Mhemne, Clikks, etc can have small sets of ship types.

The existing rulebooks, modules, and Dragon/Ares articles are packed with scenarios galore.

Mike Z. has already laid down a great foundation of UPF ships and a freighter to start off.

With the addition of a couple of Sathar models, most of the scenarios in the original tactical book should become playable.

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