My buddy Rob has been trying in vain to get me to play Federation Commander for quite some time now. Its a newer, more stream-lined game than its predecessor: Star Fleet Battles. That said, it still looks like accounting disguised as a game. It has 2 scales, one for just 1 v. 1 ship duels, and an even further stripped down (basically ships stats and point costs are halved) version to allow for fleet actions. Finding myself without something to read during lunch last week, I downloaded the quick start rules and gave em a read thru.
Now, for anyone who's read my blog for awhile now, you'll know that I don't understand rules well just by reading them, I need to play the game to really figure it out. Thus my 2 read throughs really didn't accomplish much. It strikes me as a sort of resource management game (that resource being the ship's power), but I have no clue as to build a fleet (if going that route), or if there are options for better skilled crews, etc.. The rules are spread all over hell's half acre which is littered with PDF updates called communiques, scenario packs, websites, and more. To anyone looking to start the game, this alone makes for quite a turnoff.
Another issue is the background of the game. Being geeks, we've all watched Star Trek at some point, right? Right. This game is based on 'The Original Series' which is always referred to as 'TOS'. Of course that's not defined anywhere and required a google search to explain. The confusion just gets worse from there. The designers of Federation Commander don't seem to have bothered with any background fluff of their own that I can see unless its included in the vast array of scenario packs which require purchase.
|Amarillo Design Bureau's minis are kinda mediocre in quality, but cheap which is what I was looking for. Thus a mis-mold became battle damage as can be seen on the saucer section.|
On a whim, I bought the above ship via ebay. $10 with shipping, figuring worst case scenario it'll look good on the shelf. Its listed as the 'New Light Cruiser'. However after several days of Easter-egg hunting I've determines that its a Kearsarge class (link removed as it won't work...). Star Trek's fluff, canon and otherwise is all over the place, incessantly conflicting (frequently on the same website(s)), and as stated, Federation Commander makes little to no effort to even bother with its own fluff at all. It just lists the ship above as the new light cruiser (as does Star Fleet Battles, though that also mentions that there's roughly a dozen variants of the class as well). I did find it listed by name on the cover art of the Romulans attack on Memory Alpha which has most of the canon Star Trek fluff, and found this on another wiki that matches the description, so after a week or two, I can finally confirm just what ship type I bought (aside from its in game, generic stat card).
As an aside, this background fluff exercise has given me a whole new appreciation of just what is freely available for 40k. Star Trek on the other hand seems to spend most of its time contradicting itself. For example read this page on how the Oberth class has appeared in various episodes/movies, and is invariably depicted as entirely different sizes. No to mention the depth of detail in which this has been researched...wtf? Aesthetically though, that's probably my favorite star trek ship type even if the lower hull looks to be entirely inaccessible without a teleporter.
In any case being a gaming geek, there's always a temptation to buy more minis. Even if I don't like the game (and prospects still aren't very good on that). Most likely a blister of 3 Burke class frigates (again, something of a nightmare to figure out what they are named aside from the generic term of 'frigate'). Sadly there's still no fluff that I can find about the ship type capabilites other than physical descriptions. But having 4 ships total would allow me to try the fleet scale, or worst case have a balanced 1 v. 1 frigate duel (training mission anyone?). Plus, all four of the ships with shipping costs included would be about the same as the new SM captain (which I don't want another model of) and would be the entirety of my investment in this little boondoggle.
|I had hoped to apply the decals I made onto this last night, but my crappy printer can't print legibly at that small of a size. So I need to increase them in size a bit and just hope they'll still fit onto the ship...|
I have no interest in the other races' ships, nor the larger ship types as the little ones already look too convoluted, for example take a look at my Kearsarge (fractional power...wut? lol!). All those boxes remind me of the old Epic Imperator Titan damage chart! Besides, they're 1-piece minis, which means I don't have glue together unpinnable heavy saucer sections and engine nacelles via their tiny connecting parts/sections.
So there you have it. I'll give it a shot (no Rob, not this weekend, instead I'll be trying out my new Spess Mahreenz codex), but I'm not hoping for a lot as I'm not expecting a lot. I'll give the quick-start rules another read as well, but sadly I still don't think it'll help all that much in my understanding of the game...