Original Starfire blew my mind

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Re: Original Starfire blew my mind

Postby LordKron on Sat 09 Apr 2016 17:59

Rather than longer tokens for larger systems, why not stick to the standard 1cm token and use blank dummy tokens to represent the additional HS required? That should also solve the engine size dilemma nicely.
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Re: Original Starfire blew my mind

Postby jbanes on Sat 09 Apr 2016 18:39

LordKron wrote:Rather than longer tokens for larger systems, why not stick to the standard 1cm token and use blank dummy tokens to represent the additional HS required? That should also solve the engine size dilemma nicely.


I had considered the idea. It is a logically correct solution, but it isn't as intuitive to the player as a longer token. Also, I'm struggling a bit with the proliferation of tokens. Adding more is going to exasperate the problem.

Nothing is off the table though, so I'll definitely consider it! Thanks for the feedback LordKron! :)
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Re: Original Starfire blew my mind

Postby LordKron on Sat 09 Apr 2016 19:17

I would use 5x8 cards exclusively. Lay them horizontally and cut some in half. The half size (2 1/2x8) would handle everything up to CA. The full size would be used for larger hulls. Use a differnt color tile (black?) to represent spaces not used on your hull template. A single space in the upper left would have the hull size identifier, while a similar block in the upper right would be a number marker to correspond with counters on the map.
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Re: Original Starfire blew my mind

Postby southwestforests on Sun 10 Apr 2016 18:15

This is interesting, curious to see where the development goes.
Also useful for miniatures are those plastic tackle box inserts with positionable dividers. I've used them in 2 depths for both game miniatures and for model trains.
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Re: Original Starfire blew my mind

Postby jbanes on Sun 10 Apr 2016 18:49

@LordKron - Soubds like we have the same sort of thinking. The left and right corners on the existing cards add up to the markings on the ship counter. Which means there's one card per counter in the game. (Which I'll grant might get a little extreme for later Starfire games!)

The half card idea is very interesting. Reminds me a bit of the command bridges in Fleet Commander. I've got Fleet Commander Genesis on order. I'll be interested to contrast and compare when it gets here.

@southwestforests - Thanks for the tip and the interest!
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Re: Original Starfire blew my mind

Postby Cralis on Sun 10 Apr 2016 21:45

jbanes wrote:
For the pre-designed ships we could build the ship sheets with the counter images, turn modes, etc. all exact and use "destroyed" counters for changes. In other words, your idea there is so cool you've given me ideas for the QSR (and potentially other) rules, especially for the miniatures ;)


The idea of destroyed counters has occurred to me. I agree they could be pretty cool! Of course, double sided counters are harder to prototype and are a lot more fiddly than simply removing the counter. Trade offs. :)


I think you missed what I was saying. For the purposes of doing pre-designed scenarios, I'm thinking that we could build ship cards for specific ships and/or ship classes where the ship systems are printed onto the card into the correct order, and you would use "marker" counters to show when they are destroyed.

It doesn't have the flexibility of the system you have since the cards are pre-designed, but for following the scenarios it would be perfect.

As for the "empty hull" cards to allow players to design their own ships, I'm still thinking about that. While your design has some advantages, the disadvantage of requiring all those system counters (as you point out on your blog, shields and armor specifically) doesn't really scale well when ship sizes increase. Plus, you will run into issues where counters are larger than the remaining row space and have to move down a line, which might be confusing and would leave unused boxes.

As I said, I'm still thinking about this. A very interesting idea.

I'm really glad I was able to provide some inspiration! I hope it's not too sacrilegious, but my own inspiration is along the lines of "Tiny Epic Galaxies meets Starfire". I love the way Scott Almes is able to work the components down to the minimum need yet maintain shockingly good quality. My own gaming group played TEG after Cosmic Encounters and were really impressed at how high the component quality of TEG was compared to CE!


Huh, I never really liked that game :) Of course, I'm looking at the Kickstarter for Small Star Empires (only 30 hours left), as it looks like an interesting short game with simple mechanics...

But I was going to say, on your blog you keep calling Starfire "old" ... I think the issue with table top wargames is that there is a definite shift from abstract game materials and mechanics to more visual. You are replacing the "string of systems" with an actual ship control board ... a purely visual component. We are working on moving from counters to miniatures ... a purely visual component.

While it does make the game more visually appealing, the downside is that it becomes less complex. While many would celebrate that as a good thing, the truth is that the massive campaign system that has allowed players to run hundreds of game months (and in at least one case, THOUSANDS of game months!) is very abstracted.

Something else to work on...
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Re: Original Starfire blew my mind

Postby aramis on Mon 11 Apr 2016 05:37

Sekundar wrote:Well back in the day, I used to just write out the ship codes on 3x5 cards, with new ones for each game. These days when I'm doing something like that I print the lists out, then put the page into a plastic sheet protector. Then you can use a wet-erase marker to cross off damaged systems and such like.

Did that back in the day, but using china markers (a form of wax pencil).
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Re: Original Starfire blew my mind

Postby LordKron on Mon 11 Apr 2016 06:12

Predesigned ship cards/sheets for the QSR rules is easy enough. At that point it becomes an SSD like SFB or SITS uses. You could even extend that concept to the existing ship designs and sell "SSD Books", where players could then print out additional copies as needed.
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Re: Original Starfire blew my mind

Postby southwestforests on Mon 11 Apr 2016 09:05

Cralis wrote:Starfire is definitely a table-top wargame. If you compare it to traditional table-top wargames like Star Fleet Battles, Squad Leader, or anything of that time; Starfire is a relatively simple game. But compared to modern games it's more complicated. Such is the way things work :/
Remember my little brother and I absorbed those rules no sweat in the 1970s; and remember that all those years playing SL had him far ahead of the game after he joined the Army and went through AIT. This year my little brother retired after 28 years as a W4- when did he get old enough to do that???????

That's a thing, for every specific thing you want to do, to represent, there needs to be a rule on how to do so: the more you want to do, the thicker the rules get.

Remember when we introduced Wes' three kids to miniatures gaming; mid-game the youngest one remarked, "You sure have to think about what you are doing in this."
:idea: Bingo!!!! Goal achieved.
This is not reactive gaming, this is proactive gaming.
Think of it as aerobics for the grey matter :D

And now my health is such a mess, and messing with my mind to where I don't know if I even can play this type of game any more: there about 1/3 of the days in a month where I have zero business driving, can't focus enough. And the day after driving 100 or so miles to my parent's place, I often wake up the next morning with my mind too tired to even read; a page of print might as well be a plate of spilled brown rice.

And there is where the token system looks like it might help with that, on the better to upper-marginal days.
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Re: Original Starfire blew my mind

Postby jbanes on Mon 11 Apr 2016 19:40

Cralis wrote:I think you missed what I was saying. For the purposes of doing pre-designed scenarios, I'm thinking that we could build ship cards for specific ships and/or ship classes where the ship systems are printed onto the card into the correct order, and you would use "marker" counters to show when they are destroyed.


You're right. I did misunderstand. My apologies.

It doesn't have the flexibility of the system you have since the cards are pre-designed, but for following the scenarios it would be perfect.


You know, it's funny you mention using damage counters in this fashion. It was the first idea I had and I can't quite pin down why I didn't try it. Maybe I got too excited about the hull space idea? Dunno. It's worth some thought.

As for the "empty hull" cards to allow players to design their own ships, I'm still thinking about that. While your design has some advantages, the disadvantage of requiring all those system counters (as you point out on your blog, shields and armor specifically) doesn't really scale well when ship sizes increase. Plus, you will run into issues where counters are larger than the remaining row space and have to move down a line, which might be confusing and would leave unused boxes.


All very good points. The only real issue is that it does not help with the proliferation of tokens. The game will still need a lot of damage tokens. Though this does homogenize the tokens quite a bit!

In terms of token reduction, I do see shields as an easy win. Since shields are always to the left and can regenerate, I am thinking of making shields a track that uses one token. If the track is vertical, shields would "drop" as damage is taken and "go up" as they regenerate. For regen, there could be a side track for counting turn number.

Huh, I never really liked that game :)


That's ok! :) Like it or not, I really like the ways in which Scott was able to manage his component budget to create the modern Microgame. Since Starfire started life as a Microgame, I'd love figure out ways to continue that tradition.

Of course, I'm looking at the Kickstarter for Small Star Empires (only 30 hours left), as it looks like an interesting short game with simple mechanics...


Better hurry! The campaign is ending in a few hours!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ar ... ar-empires

But I was going to say, on your blog you keep calling Starfire "old" ... I think the issue with table top wargames is that there is a definite shift from abstract game materials and mechanics to more visual. You are replacing the "string of systems" with an actual ship control board ... a purely visual component. We are working on moving from counters to miniatures ... a purely visual component.


I think southwestforests hit the nail on the head here. Miniatures are more tactile which is a nice to have. Player mats and tokens have the advantage of displaying critical rule information in a manner that is easily digestible. These visual aids make the game more accessible to a wider audience. This may not seem like a big deal, but you have to understand that the attention span of the modern gamer is a lot shorter. If the game doesn't provide cues they expect, the likelihood of the player sticking with it drops precipitously.

Keep in mind that old doesn't equal bad. In fact, I love old stuff with a passion! But it does mean that the audience is severely limited. And I think Starfire is way too cool to limit it like that!

While it does make the game more visually appealing, the downside is that it becomes less complex. While many would celebrate that as a good thing, the truth is that the massive campaign system that has allowed players to run hundreds of game months (and in at least one case, THOUSANDS of game months!) is very abstracted.


For what it's worth, I 100% agree with you. I don't ever see the current Starfire going away. (Ultra / Solar / etc.) What I do see happening is that a simpler "gateway drug" could be used to entice players into the game. Those that are interested could upgrade to the full experience while players looking for a casual experience can still enjoy the full universe.

As it stands today, Starfire has been all but wiped from the memories of board gaming enthusiasts. Even those who play modern war games like X-Wing, Warhammer, or the SFB spin-offs don't seem to remember Starfire. Which is really sad when you consider the incredible role it had in founding the genre of space combat. It deserves better as far as I'm concerned. :)

That's my thoughts anyway.
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