Marvin asked me to run a survey...

General Starfire discussion, including information about old products and editions.

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

Postby PracticalM on Sun 26 Nov 2017 21:31

Cralis wrote:Marvin asked me to ask all of you a few questions.

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 prefer Ultra Starfire and I consider the following rules to be important to the strategy of the game.
Exploration around WP between systems.
WP defense designs and WP attack designs.
Economic and tech system allowing choices for players to select weapons for their style of play.
Colonization that is profitable in a time horizon where it makes as much sense to build yourself up as to go take systems from others
Simplified NPR interactions

I think Starfire needs to take a look at games like Stellaris on computer, Eclipse, Ascendancy, Space Empires 4X, and Imperial Stars II on board games, and decide what type of game Starfire wants to be for the future. Also take a look at the Expanse because that has WP type of movement between worlds as well.

I loved playing the game as is when I had time and the ability to create and customize and build stories is fascinating, but I don't have time for it and the speed of going from 3rd to 3rdR to GSF to Ultra to Solar means the player base got split along the way. Honestly my Starfire fix is coming from Stellaris right now and with Hyperlanes going to be the default, then at some point a Starfire Mod would make sense.

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

Ground combat, espionage, communication tracking, ship refitting, tech system research (just roll it all up into a single tech system)

Too much complication without as much benefit. Keep it simple to keep the economic game moving so people can sit down and run battles based on the results of 5-15 (max 15) minutes of making decisions on the strategic side.

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?

Optional rules: ground combat, more complex ship design, more complex NPR political system (need to simplify the current version), Simplified economy system with a more complex optional.

Really I think keep the Solar version and then make a simplified version that focuses on quick face to face play. There are times when I'll want to run the complexity of ULTRA (probably not until my kids are out of the house) but right now games need to be simplified to grow.

There are two examples. Advanced Civilization. I love this game. I introduced current board gamers to it and they hated it. Too long, too complicated, trading scheme of calamities was not exciting for them. Yet the simpler versions of Civilization are not all that much fun for me. The closest is Mare Nostrum but I need more of the expansions to make it interesting.
The other is Car Wars. Apparently Steve Jackson is trying to bring it back but it will never be as fun as all the time spent pouring over Uncle Albert's Catalogs trying out new and crazy combinations.


One additional question:
Cralis wrote:4. Do you feel that system generation is particularly complex and should be simplified?


I think it started getting too complex in ULTRA and the complexity is only good for the pbem games.

Cralis wrote:And I have one question:
5. What technologies do you think are essential to Starfire?


Ion Engines, Force Beams, Tractors, Science instruments, Energy Beams, Lasers, Primary, Needle beams, Fighters, Bases, Missiles, Guns, Scanners,
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby Sekundar on Sun 26 Nov 2017 22:25

PracticalM wrote:The other is Car Wars. Apparently Steve Jackson is trying to bring it back but it will never be as fun as all the time spent pouring over Uncle Albert's Catalogs trying out new and crazy combinations.

I hang out on the SJ Games forums too, and they've already said it is going to be closer to X-Wing on wheels, than the old Carfleet Battles system. (paraphrasing).

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


Ion Engines, Force Beams, Tractors, Science instruments, Energy Beams, Lasers, Primary, Needle beams, Fighters, Bases, Missiles, Guns, Scanners,


Also, Point Defense, Data Link & Capital Missiles. I was always a big fan of the W-Gun/Missile Launcher.

I'd like to see a system generation that is kind of in-between Starfire III: Empires and Imperial Starfire. You could make settlement of moons & etc optional, and only generate those bodies if you are using those rules.
F - is the Fire that rains from the skies
U - for Uranium bomb!
N - is for No survivors...
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby VX-134 on Mon 27 Nov 2017 00:35

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.


Some thought should be given as to why Admiral's Challenge was not more successful since it was a prior attempt to create a simplified strategic game. Was it fatally flawed or just poorly marketed?

Until now I hadn't really given Admiral's Challenge much thought because I was never interested in playing a campaign of incremental expansion on a fixed map (sounds dull). But now that I've glanced at the rules I see that it has a lot of interesting ideas on how to simplify exploration, economics, etc. that could be used in a more traditionally structured Starfire Campaign. There's even a "cashless economy" option that allows you to buy stuff without tracking megacredits!

Admiral's Challenge wouldn't be a bad starting point for a simpler set of rules. First I would weed out all the rules that aren't really necessary (like espionage and intelligence gathering) and put them in separate "optional" and "advanced" rules sections. The rules would also need to be rewritten so they stand on their own, eliminating any need to refer to other editions of the strategic rules.
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby Cralis on Mon 27 Nov 2017 01:14

For those who have not played Admiral's Challenge, here is the rub: AC removes a lot of the paperwork of the strategic game. But it replaces that paperwork with a hex map and hundreds of counters. Each hex on the gameboard is a system and you have to not only track where planets are located, where ships and bases are located, but also which hexes are explored, which are conquered, and which are part of another empire. And unfortunately, there is no good way to have a fog of war without every players having his or her own map.

It also changes the move-response system at the strategic level to something more akin to a traditional wargame, where counters are moved and enemy counters are moved in response to your movement, to represent the thrust and counter-thrust of strategic maneuvering.

That is what was a turn-off for anyone not looking for a traditional tabletop strategy game with omnipresent view of the gameboard and hundreds of stacks of counters around the hex map.
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby VoidStalker_WoE on Mon 27 Nov 2017 02:05

On the whole "separate map for each player" thing, I used to cut cork boards into small parts, and each part would have a players star map laid out on a hex field. I would commonly have folks trying to find game note, both mine and the other players, but I don't think any of them ever caught on to the fact that I had a "master map", and only on that map were the players positions all recorded accurately with respect to each other.

You see, I had decided to offset a player starting system and center it on it's own map. Not much of a difference, you say? I also then rotated the maps orientation, so that 'north' was different on their maps! I had great fun seeing who had been cheating, as they would 'just happen' to try to explore in a straight line to their nearest enemy player empire, in the hopes of getting in a massive first strike.

As I once posted before, I never played warp lines as some randomly rolled against a table type thing, but rather had rules that had WP's connected by distance between systems, according to whatever rules we were using in that particular campaign game, so when a naughty player would get a look at someone else's map board, even if they then went and made a copy of it, they would end up not being able to match that information against the galaxy as they knew it. Muhahahaha.

Back on topic, could we get a series of threads, asking just one question each, and then go from there? It may just help to have everyone responses to each question all in one place.
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby nukesnipe on Mon 27 Nov 2017 09:18

Revisiting your #5....

Starfire II was my first Starfire game; it took me several years to find Starfire I. The systems that were in those two games are what "make" Starfire for me.
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby VX-134 on Mon 27 Nov 2017 19:29

For those who have not played Admiral's Challenge, here is the rub: AC removes a lot of the paperwork of the strategic game. But it replaces that paperwork with a hex map and hundreds of counters. Each hex on the gameboard is a system and you have to not only track where planets are located, where ships and bases are located, but also which hexes are explored, which are conquered, and which are part of another empire.


Admiral's Challenge uses fleet markers which eliminates the need for stacks of counters (on the map anyway).

And unfortunately, there is no good way to have a fog of war without every players having his or her own map.


The fleet markers provide some fog of war since you don't know how many ships are in a given fleet and fleets can merge and divide at will (you could even litter the map with one ship "fleets" to really confuse things). But yes, it is a little silly that you are able to view enemy fleet movements from a god-like vantage point.

Where fog of war is really lacking is the use of the hex map to map systems, though I don't see why you couldn't just ditch the map and use the Admiral's Challenge rules in conjunction with Starfire's traditional strategic mapping conventions.

It also changes the move-response system at the strategic level to something more akin to a traditional wargame, where counters are moved and enemy counters are moved in response to your movement, to represent the thrust and counter-thrust of strategic maneuvering.


At least on paper “reaction movement” seems like a reasonable abstraction of how empires react to enemy movements in a Starfire campaign. I just don't like the fact that, with a single map shared by all players, you can see the enemy coming before they make contact.

That is what was a turn-off for anyone not looking for a traditional tabletop strategy game with omnipresent view of the gameboard and hundreds of stacks of counters around the hex map.


Yes. Might as well be playing Imperium, GodsFire, Stellar Conquest or WarpWar (to name a few of Starfire's early strategic competitors). Though, the big difference is that, unlike those games, battles in Admiral's challenge are still meant to be resolved using the tactical game.
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby Cralis on Mon 27 Nov 2017 21:19

VoidStalker_WoE wrote:Back on topic, could we get a series of threads, asking just one question each, and then go from there? It may just help to have everyone responses to each question all in one place.


Right now I am looking for information from you, the players, and didn't want to muddy or influence that information with discussion. I have only commented where I thought clarification was necessary. But if there is something in particular you really want to discuss, feel free to start a topic!
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby mcb1968 on Mon 27 Nov 2017 23:08

nukesnipe wrote:Revisiting your #5....

Starfire II was my first Starfire game; it took me several years to find Starfire I. The systems that were in those two games are what "make" Starfire for me.


Said better than I could have
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Re: Marvin asked me to run a survey...

Postby aramis on Mon 27 Nov 2017 23:43

1. Strategy rules I've played: SF III Empires and SF New Empires. I've used ISF for supertactical play only.

2. Considering the same, what rules do you think should be removed completely?
Most of the strategic rules entirely. I'm unlikely to ever run a campaign again.
And when I do, I prefer to have the tactical and system levels only. (We always ignored Interception hexes). Knowing that, if I were to get to play, I'd want simplicity on par with SF III for actual play rules, and a decently realistic system gen, and just enough rules to allow for shipyards and repair yards. I honestly think the genius of 1E was simply making populations the key. It's the only edition I've ever run past 10 turns with.

The current supply and abstracted gunboat rules make me think "too much detail, and too much work"

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?

The tactical intelligence rules are a pain. So are the survey rules. detecting Worlds and Stars should be automatic given the sensor sets. only population survey and resource survey should take much effort.
The racial motivations rules in 3E were way to convoluted. 1E (SF III Empires) were too simple.

4. Do you feel that system generation is particularly complex and should be simplified?
It was slow for 3E/ISF. Galactic I never bothered working with; I disliked it upon purchase arrival.

5. What technologies do you think are essential to Starfire?
TL's to HT IX old scale.
Old Notation: A B C D E F G Gc H I L Lh Mx N O P Pb Q R Rc S T V W Wc X Xr Z
Nice introductions: Di Dx Dz Diz Dxz Qs ? ?2 It, i, Ic/ic
Good concepts, but a pain to use as is: Mg, BbS/BbL, S1, A1. Tech progression.
Please not again: J, Jc, @, xR.
Note that B could be rolled into A, with no loss of fidelity, and all the beams (LTFEPN) could use capital variants (Range increases as well as increased damage)

The small craft rules are a bit of a pain. Simplification to half, single, and double sized would be good.

Shields and armor should simply be notated as to which generation (perhaps after the speed)
eg: Zippy (2) SSSSSSAA(I)(I)NXr(I) (6) S2 A2

For me, the 3rd R tactical game was brilliant. Fast and fun. But I'd prefer a streamlined strategic version based upon 1E and 3E crossed, likewise for the strategic elements - most of which I'd use only as part of scenario-based play.

Hell, I'm half willing to draft the conversion...
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