Plug And Early Draft Announcement: Stars at War

Wednesday , 29, April 2015 2 Comments

Stars at War is our in-development universal campaign system for space combat games. The latest draft is up on our Patreon.

Ad Astra LogoAt the “short period orbital space” view, Stars at War is a blend of Calhammer’s Diplomacy or Machiavelli, and a galactic-scale (or local star system) scale link-map, like was used for Starfire or Web & Starship.

Patreon is a subscription service – for $5 a month, you get access to all the archives. Higher contribution levels get greater rewards. If you’re uncertain that there’s enough to be worth your while, I encourage you to pledge for $5 a month, look things over, and if you’re not happy, reduce your pledge before the first of next month. It’s a try-before-you buy option.

Ad Astra Games has been using Patreon as a way to distribute playtest materials to interested players since August of 2014, and all of the old content is still up there. It includes new ships for Squadron Strike and Attack Vector: Tactical, new rule systems and proposals for both of those games and early drafts of new games in development.

I’m looking for people to discuss projects, give feedback and help make these games better by helping me find the things that need fixing now.

I think there’s enough there that you’ll stick around…and as the monthly pledge counts rise, I’ll commit to doing more things. Right now, we’re about $20 a month away from me doing instructional videos.

Stars at War isn’t a strategic game, though strategy is very important.  It’s a campaign game.  In a strategic game, the aim is to ensure that tactical battles are about as one-sided as you can possibly manage.  In a campaign game, the goal is to create interesting tactical battles so that you and your buddies show up every week or every other week to shove minis around the game table.

So, while a lot of people think they’re the same thing, the end goal is different.  In Diplomacy, map constraints create a lot of 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 encounters, which result in bounces or stalemates.  In Stars at War, these constraints result in a lot of 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 tactical battles, which is the desired outcome.  Nobody really enjoys playing Bambi in “MechaGodzilla versus Bambi.”

Another emphasis in Stars at War is streamlined bookkeeping.  If you’ve played Fifth Frontier War or Starfire, you’ve seen the games that start out fun, and turn into death by accounting by the midgame. You see the same problem in computer games like Civilization.  In Stars at War, the units you purchase are Fleets, Bases and Grand Fleets – each can have a unit list for your tactical engine of choice, but you’re never going to worry about building individual destroyers, tracking ammunition, or similar things.

While Stars at War is built around Squadron Strike, it can work with any tactical minis game.  We’ll be posting up an annex for how to use it with Full Thrust next month, and we’re in the very early phases of computerizing it – we’ve got software that generates the data files that create maps, and are working on map displays and automating order processing.

Because people also asked to turn Stars at War into a stand-alone game, we’ve included a rules section that allows players to resolve the tactical battles with dice; they’re what we’ve been playtesting with internally, and it’s a fair bit of fun just as a stand-alone game.

If you’re interested in what’s coming down the pipe, throw $5 at the Patreon and take a gander.

  • Michael says:

    Is this a computerised version of Stars At War, if so I will happily pay $5 dollars.

    • Ken says:

      Michael, while this isn’t a computerized version yet, that’s our ultimate end goal. Before we computerize it, we want people to play the manual version and help us find game play issues – the easiest code to modify is the code you haven’t written yet.

      If that means it’s not far enough along to be worth your $5 at this point, I’ll understand. We will be doing semi-automated playtests at some point in the future, but for now, we need to make sure that the rules work with actual human beings.

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