Marvin asked me to run a survey...

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Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby Cralis on Wed 22 Nov 2017 15:22

Marvin asked me to ask all of you a few questions. One thing that we have talked about on this forum, that Marvin and I have talked about, and other players have suggested in the past is a simplified version of the more recent strategy rules.

So consider the possibility of a "Quick Start" style of strategy rules. Let's call it the "Quick Start Strategic Rules"... through the following questions, Marvin is trying to get an idea of what ya'll think rules like this should look and play like.

So, first, his questions. There are only a couple.

1. When you think of Solar Starfire, Ultra Starfire, or whatever version of the strategy rules you have played: what parts of the rules do you consider essential to the strategy rules. What parts of the rules do you feel cannot be left out? Why?

2. Considering the same, what rules do you think should be removed completely? Why?

3. And the last consideration of those rules, what rules do you think would be better as optional rules? Both rules that should be entirely optional, or should have a very simplified version and an optional more complex version?

One additional question:

4. Do you feel that system generation is particularly complex and should be simplified?

And I have one question:

5. What technologies do you think are essential to Starfire?
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby eoghantodd on Wed 22 Nov 2017 22:14

1. Solar, for me. I think ship design as far as picking systems, engines, armor, shields and so forth, and then ordering them are essential. Surveying as well, and sensors and such.

2. For a simple strategic system, some sort of simpler economics that involves points that are smaller integers. So maybe ships up to a certain size cost a quarter point, then half a point, and so forth. So you aren't doing lots of calculations that can be intimidating. I haven't thought it all out but research maybe being based on facilities that provide a point towards a goal, and x number of points to get a technology.

3. I'd really like to see a less granular economics to let people design ships, explore, colonize and get into the game without being confronted with so much spreadsheeting and such. Also an easier way to handle groups of ships moving in a system and sensing and encountering each other. A simpler fleet system basically.

4. System generation is pretty simple if you use the universe app. Otherwise it is complicated but I've never tried to do it by hand otherwise. So yeah, plus new science shows that different sorts of planets show up in different places than just our system.

5. I think Engines, Shields, Armor, Missiles, Defenses, Sensors and the other weapons are what make it feel like Starfire.
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby VX-134 on Thu 23 Nov 2017 02:03

I'm a little unclear on what is being proposed. Are the Quick Start Strategic Rules meant to be used in tandem with the existing Quick Start Tactical Rules (similar to how the tactical and strategic rules were packaged separately in the first three editions)? If that is the case than the bare minimum of the tactical rules to be included has been determined and we just need to consider what, of what was left out, is really necessary to make a set of strategic rules work (for example the QSR ship construction rules omit costs).

I’m not conversant enough with Solar Starfire to answer the questions posed in this topic with great precision (I prefer 2nd edition because of its relative simplicity) but I would say this: if the Quick Start Tactical Rules are equivalent to the old Starfire I/II modules I would say that Quick Start Strategic Rules should be about as complex as Starfire III: Empires. Any “optional” or “advanced” rules should be separate modules. Otherwise you risk creating a game that may seem simple compared to Solar Starfire but is still way too complex to be accessible to new players.

Also it should be possible to play the game to a conclusion in a reasonable amount of time within a modestly sized playing space. That means minimizing the number of things you have to juggle (ships, maps, bookkeeping). I don't think you should count on new players using any apps or electronic assistance more complex than a calculator. This is supposed to be a tabletop game, not a computer game. I think omitting the system level of play in favor of having just strategic and tactical scales would be helpful.
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby nukesnipe on Thu 23 Nov 2017 13:56

Here are my two cents:

1. Essential: Economy, R&D, Shipbuilding, Exploration. Truthfully, I think the games cover it all, but it's too complex. If the rules as written were converted into a computer game, it'd rock. But, as someone mentioned, it's a tabletop game that seems like more work than fun.

The shipbuilding rules of Starfire are its heart, in my opinion. I like those rules as they are.

The system generation rules are fun, but time consuming. Instead of rolling each system individually, perhaps having a stable of 6 pre-generated systems for each star? That way, you could generate a system with two die rolls: one for the star and one for everything else.

I like the system exploration rules, but not the gazillion types of warp points, especially the sizes. I like the Open, Hidden, Secret, etc, warp points, but differentiating them by the amount of hull spaces they can pass is unnecessarily time consuming. It's probably realistic, but I don't see where it brings much fun to the game.

I like the tech trees and the R&D rules.

I think the economic rules are fine on principle, but I feel there is too much money generated allowing for fleets that are so large as to be unmanageable. My big gripe with the 3rd edition was the size of the scenarios; they were almost impossible to play, let alone enjoy. Ultra and Solar are that on steroids.

I know speaking about other games is taboo, but I've often felt that a blending of the strategic game of Victory By Any Means and the tactical game of Starfire would be a great game.

2. Rules to remove: Commerce raiding and espionage. Never use them, not sure they add much to the game.
Ditch all of the warp point size rules; too much complexity for the game play return. Land combat. My recommendation is to make land combat a separate but compatible game. Truthfully, once you control the high orbitals you can pound the planet into submission.

3. Optional rules: Anything that adds unnecessary complexity: warp point sizes, different ship drives (I, Jc, etc).

One additional question:

4. Do you feel that system generation is particularly complex and should be simplified? See my response above.

And I have one question:

5. Essential technologies: For brevity, I'd say those in 2nd edition along with those necessary to support system exploration. Those systems that add "realism" while making the game more complex should be reconsidered. For instance, there used to be rules for cargo handling systems. While realistic, they added unnecessary complexity.
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby Cralis on Fri 24 Nov 2017 03:17

I'm trying to not influence the answers, but I think my fifth question needs some clarity. Maybe I should have phrased it like this:

In Starfire, what technologies (or combination of technologies) are part of the identity of the game? What technologies do you think MUST be present for the game to feel like Starfire?

Let me give you an example that we should all recognize: when someone starts talking about phasers and photon torpedoes, what game are they usually talking about?
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby VoidStalker_WoE on Fri 24 Nov 2017 15:24

I don't have thoughts on all of these, but I'll share the following...

Cralis wrote:Marvin asked me to ask all of you a few questions. One thing that we have talked about on this forum, that Marvin and I have talked about, and other players have suggested in the past is a simplified version of the more recent strategy rules.

So consider the possibility of a "Quick Start" style of strategy rules. Let's call it the "Quick Start Strategic Rules"... through the following questions, Marvin is trying to get an idea of what ya'll think rules like this should look and play like.

So, first, his questions. There are only a couple.

1. When you think of Solar Starfire, Ultra Starfire, or whatever version of the strategy rules you have played: what parts of the rules do you consider essential to the strategy rules. What parts of the rules do you feel cannot be left out? Why?
For me, the next logical step up from tactical level of play, is where players should be introduced to just the simple basics of paying for ships, be it building ships, designing ships, repairing ships, refitting ships, and completely rebuilding ships. So abstract the heck out of everything, and just provide a flexible and scaling framework within which each player has either a set amount of resources per turn, or just in total, for the whole (short) game. The single best campaign might be in a single solar system, so system generation is a one and done part, and you might just want to provide, at the simplest level, say 20 or so starting systems, all premade and ready to go. I would then have some quick rules for how to scale up from a one system game, to more and more star systems, with recommendations and warnings about how much more complexity, and time, is likely to be needed with larger and larger galaxies.

Cralis wrote:2. Considering the same, what rules do you think should be removed completely? Why?
No thoughts here, really, as I would never be able to get a "full on" game going in the first place, so the vast amount of rules are not going to get into any game of mine anyway. Simple = good, easy, fun and quick to teach/learn, which in turn means more and more player's available to kick my ass, lol. Add complexity, loose players.

Cralis wrote:3. And the last consideration of those rules, what rules do you think would be better as optional rules? Both rules that should be entirely optional, or should have a very simplified version and an optional more complex version?
Everything not needed at the absolutely simplest level of strategic play falls into the optional rules, for those that just have to have more complexity in their games.

Cralis wrote:One additional question:

4. Do you feel that system generation is particularly complex and should be simplified?
Of course, if folks even want to generate systems, you could provide multiple levels of complexity for those that want it,

Cralis wrote:And I have one question:

5. What technologies do you think are essential to Starfire?
The tech needed are those found in the original Starfire I game, at tech levels 1-7, at most. ANYTHING beyond that, should be optional and chosen by the folks playing the game at the time.
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby VX-134 on Sat 25 Nov 2017 02:15

Some additional comments:

In regards to #4

The 1st edition of the strategic game was the only edition that didn’t have me generating and recording a bunch of esoteric system data that was unlikely to ever have any impact on the game (planets and moons that will never see a tactical map). Really the only thing you need to know about a (uninhabited) system is whether there is a Type T/ST planet and how many warp points there are. Everything else is flyover country (too expensive to develop for too little gain). Honestly, if you just assume that warp points cluster near the most valuable real estate in a system you could put everything worth recording in a system on a single tactical map (much as they did in the original two pocket games).

In regards to #5:

The basic systems in the earlier editions (shields, armor, laser, guns, missiles) were the same basic systems many sci-fi boardgames had at the time. Some of mid-tech systems (force/energy/primary beams, datalink) might be more unique to starfire but no more iconic than the basic systems. It’s funny that you mention phasers and photon torpedoes because I was surprised, when I first read the tactical QSR, to find that Starfire now had “plasma torpedoes”, something I thought of as iconically Trekish.

Really what is unique about the tactical game is not the specific systems (or what they are called), but how they are represented and arranged as an SSD. Tech levels (or trees) and warp points transits to enter or exit the map are the other iconic elements. On the strategic level what strikes me as iconic is the randomization of warp links (the fact that star systems aren’t connected by geographic proximity). The ever mutating geography of the game, the fact that you never know how an unexplored warp link might rearrange the map or when you might encounter an enemy or ally, made starfire stand out from other empire building games of that era (where you explored a fixed map).
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby grondak on Sat 25 Nov 2017 12:39

Cralis wrote:Marvin asked me to ask all of you a few questions. One thing that we have talked about on this forum, that Marvin and I have talked about, and other players have suggested in the past is a simplified version of the more recent strategy rules.

So consider the possibility of a "Quick Start" style of strategy rules. Let's call it the "Quick Start Strategic Rules"... through the following questions, Marvin is trying to get an idea of what ya'll think rules like this should look and play like.

So, first, his questions. There are only a couple.

1. When you think of Solar Starfire, Ultra Starfire, or whatever version of the strategy rules you have played: what parts of the rules do you consider essential to the strategy rules. What parts of the rules do you feel cannot be left out? Why?


I played Empires back in the TFG days. I liked that the whole game could be expressed in a folio-sized book. The Ultra rules are so large that they intimidate me from playing. (Consider V4.07.2 PDC Reduction Die Roll Results: That's not a game rule! It's a tax form!) I don't have the energy to devote to that complexity.

Cralis wrote:2. Considering the same, what rules do you think should be removed completely? Why?

I'm not qualified to answer this one. :)

Cralis wrote:3. And the last consideration of those rules, what rules do you think would be better as optional rules? Both rules that should be entirely optional, or should have a very simplified version and an optional more complex version?

Very simplified. The base game should be the minimum rules to make 4x go with tactical battles between them. The optional rules could bring all the other flavors. In fact, you could go so far as to make the Campaign Starfire have an abstracted combat system. (I.e. I agree that some people want to play Campaign Starfire and the tactical game wears them out)

Cralis wrote:One additional question:

4. Do you feel that system generation is particularly complex and should be simplified?

Again, not qualified to answer. I just skimmed the rules (Section W)

Cralis wrote:And I have one question:

5. What technologies do you think are essential to Starfire?

X sensors
I engines
G/R
S
A

These made the game and they continue to make it for almost every new player introduced to the game. Note my next response includes these answers.

also
Cralis wrote: In Starfire, what technologies (or combination of technologies) are part of the identity of the game? What technologies do you think MUST be present for the game to feel like Starfire?

I like datalinks. I like destructable long-range sensors (Y). The Magazines add a sense of "get this battle over with". Engine rooms are fun because after the first engine in the engine room is gone, the other engines are fodder.

The weapons all turn into "things that cause damage" unless you role-play your battles.




To ME: Starfire is fun because it's simple. I want to be able to get it going in 10 minutes or less and have a tactical battle inside of 2 hours. I'd play the Campaign if it added about 10 more minutes, vis:

Iguana Sunlord Player: "Hi Rats player, let's get started. Let's see, we don't have any battles lined up. Let's play some Campaign Turns until we can fight."

--- and we do , spending 10 minutes 4Xing... ---

Rats player: "En garde! We'll let you try our Wu-Tang style! We are entering your system 56-127. You see a Rat CL turtle its way out of the Warp Point. Got any DDs?"
Sunlord player: "Go fish! It's CAs you are facing!"
--- we spend 10 minutes digging for counters and placing in-system defenses, writing ship forms, and picking which 10-siders will fail us today ---
--- and we gloriously battle for 2 hours ---

Thanks,
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby coldsteel on Sat 25 Nov 2017 14:12

So, first, his questions. There are only a couple.

1. When you think of Solar Starfire, Ultra Starfire, or whatever version of the strategy rules you have played: what parts of the rules do you consider essential to the strategy rules. What parts of the rules do you feel cannot be left out? Why?


Me: Economics, shipbuilding and colonization. They are the core items we need.

2. Considering the same, what rules do you think should be removed completely? Why?

Me: Any form of ground combat, including PCFs and whatever the Ultra version is. Just bogs down the game too much for a noob.

3. And the last consideration of those rules, what rules do you think would be better as optional rules? Both rules that should be entirely optional, or should have a very simplified version and an optional more complex version?

Me: Research and Development and warp point types. An easy version to start then hammer with the full rules later.

4. Do you feel that system generation is particularly complex and should be simplified?

Me: I do and maybe a version similar to Admiral's Challenge would work.

5. What technologies do you think are essential to Starfire?

Force Beams, Rc and cloaks, honestly, talking as a 3rdR player primarily.
TFN: 2 BC, 4 CA, 2 CL, 8 DD
RPSA: 2 CV, 4 CA, 2 CL, 8 DD
civilian: 4 'FTx' (made FT out of 40K Imp Guard flamer tanks)
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby mcb1968 on Sun 26 Nov 2017 11:42

Cralis wrote:Marvin asked me to ask all of you a few questions. One thing that we have talked about on this forum, that Marvin and I have talked about, and other players have suggested in the past is a simplified version of the more recent strategy rules.

So consider the possibility of a "Quick Start" style of strategy rules. Let's call it the "Quick Start Strategic Rules"... through the following questions, Marvin is trying to get an idea of what ya'll think rules like this should look and play like.

So, first, his questions. There are only a couple.

1. When you think of Solar Starfire, Ultra Starfire, or whatever version of the strategy rules you have played: what parts of the rules do you consider essential to the strategy rules. What parts of the rules do you feel cannot be left out? Why?

2. Considering the same, what rules do you think should be removed completely? Why?

3. And the last consideration of those rules, what rules do you think would be better as optional rules? Both rules that should be entirely optional, or should have a very simplified version and an optional more complex version?

One additional question:

4. Do you feel that system generation is particularly complex and should be simplified?

And I have one question:

5. What technologies do you think are essential to Starfire?


1-3 I think that the integration of the tactical and strategic rules into one ruleset creates a rules hurdle that is too steep, especially for new players. I and at least one of my friends (who both play very intense strategy games) have found the current rules to be too cumbersome to be of use.

4. System Generation is too arcane to be useful. A handy conversion of the system to tactical hexes would be very helpful, especially if you are trying to map real-world systems.

5. I think that the missile as the basic LRW is part of what makes the Starfire system unique. Other systems such as rail guns and plasma torpedos feel less like Starfire to me.
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