3 tenths of an inch

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in News | 0 comments

3 tenths of an inch

I’m not just worried about angering the fans. Even more than designer and publisher, I’m the biggest fan of Battlestations. I would be first in line to tar and feather anybody who was going to ruin Battlestations. Battlestations is my favorite game. I play every week and think about it every day aside from the business aspect of it. It is the flagship game of Gorilla Games and the only boardgame/RPG hybrid of heroic starship adventure. The original game and the revised edition were both published with .7 inch squares because that is what fit on the table. Second edtion will be published with 1 inch squares that fit 28mm miniatures. Is is worth risking it all for 3 tenths of an inch?

In May, I was looking at one of the sweet 15mm miniatures that Jason had made for the original game alongside a meeple and a 28mm mini (from Chaosmos) and there was no comparison. A meeple is just a meeple but it is bigger than a silicoid at 15mm scale and the 28mm mini was cool but it wasn’t from the Battlestations universe. I desperately wanted to make Battlestations up to scale with the industry standard.

The problem is, I’ve tried it. Using the 1.1 rules, the ships just don’t fit on the table. At my local playtest group, we’ve got an awesome space with a huge table and it gets severely taxed when there are more than 2 ships on the table. After a few months we abandoned it but I still looked wistfully back on those times. I’ve also had to field questions from many people as to why we can’t make our game in a scale that is compatible with the industry. They’ve got space marine and jedi miniatures that just don’t fit in our tiny squares.

In order to make the game work at 1 inch, I would have to make the ships have fewer modules and make it quicker, simpler, and easier. Then I realized that all of these things were good things. Even if I didn’t upgrade the size, I was going to implement rule changes that make the game quicker, simpler, and easier.

We already have new starship movement rules that make the ships move faster but that won’t impact the size of the modules. Before, when people would ask me what is different in the new game, I would say, “Ships move their speed every phase and we cleaned up a lot of the special abilities and equipment”. It was really still only a partial new edition. The new rules for ships completes the metamorphosis into the greatest game Battlestations can be.

Here are the nuts and bolts of the newest changes:


Ship size is figured at 1/3 modules.

Ship size is doubled for maneuvers.

The hull rating chart is skewed less in favor of larger ships.

Ships have fewer modules.

You can multi-use ALL modules.

Stations became smaller.

Figuring ship size at 1/3 the modules (a ship with 9 modules is size 3) means that ship size is a smaller number and more easily fits into the simple equations. Ramming rules delivering damage based on speed and size were dealing hellacious damage. Tractoring was nearly impossible because even a small ship makes it so difficult. It was also hard to remember how many modules there were in a ship with the old rules. “Was a size 6 ship 12 or 15 modules?”. Now you know 12 modules is a size 4.

Ship size is doubled for maneuvers. Instead of causing problems, this fixes one. In the old rules going up in ship size was a no-brainer. For an increased difficulty of 1 to maneuver, we got 3 more modules to play with, a greater range of power levels and a significant increase in hull rating. Maneuvering in the new rules provides a penalty of double the ship size so the sizing up penalty is effectively doubled. Since modules can be multi-used, an extra module is still better but not that much better than just using the one you are already in with a used marker on it.

The new hull rating chart gives just a +1 point/size/check level for larger ships. Larger ships are still stronger than their little brothers but they don’t just soak massive damage. This encourages players to use the more nimble ships.

Starships will have fewer modules so the table space will work. This means we’ll have to get more use out of the modules we have. As a side note, I’ve always felt the ships are too massive. If you are 20 squares from where you need to be it might take 3 phases to get there. In a game that lasts usually 20 or 30 phases at most, that means you’re spending 10% of your “Go time” just moving. Bigger squares forces smaller ships which makes for more meaningful movement. Now about getting more use out of the fewer modules.

You can multi-use Engines, Missiles, and Cannons (at +3 difficulty per used marker). This means you won’t need as many of them. It also means you won’t run completely out of power unless you’ve pumped them to the point that you “can’t pump no more”. A cannon in Multibarrel configuration doesn’t get used markers. Missile Bays with a used marker blow up when a bonus launch is failed.

Marines have a reason to drive up their combat skill in the same way the pilots, engineers, and scientists had a reason to drive up their piloting, engineering, and science skill. Marines multi-using the Cannons and Missile Bays are the equivalent of the scientists multi-using the Teleporter, Hyperdrive, and Science Bays. This adds functionality copying systems that are already tested.

We will continue playtesting but the design constraints imposed by the new size regime have actually made Battlestations a better game.

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