Some design goals:
Speed of play. I want players to be able to manage fleets of a respectable size (15-20 ships) without getting too bogged down in bookkeeping and minutia.
Simplicity of mechanics. Anyone should be able to pick up the basics of movement and combat within 5 minutes. No turn templates!
Deadly combat. Two ships of the same size class should be able to ruin one another with a full volley and destroy eachother with two or three volleys. Luck of course will play its part, but I'm not interested in two battleships engaged in a 12-round slugfest.
Get away from 6-sided dice. I went with the unloved 8-sider.
On with the AARs!
The first scenario was supposed to be a two-player simple kill-the-other-guy game but Junior wanted to control his own faction so it turned into a three-player kill-the-other-guy game. Ziggy and I each had two destroyers and four frigates. Junior had four frigate-class ships and two medium cruisers because I forgot how strong his ships were. Good thing his ships were a long way off at the start of the game! There were two gravity wells in play so I could test those rules out.
My forces (orange) and Ziggy's (red) get into it right from the start. Junior has a long slog ahead of him, threading the needle between two gravity wells.
My ships have a nice range advantage over Ziggy's and arranged my frigates to keep the range extended. While doing so, one gets snagged by one of the gravity wells. Feh. I fully expected my kid to screw that up first.
Zig's leading elements finish off one of my destroyers. The rest of my ships group together and prepare to blow up some Reds. As it turned out, the frigate managed to escape the gravity well and continue fighting.
Now you see 'em, now you don't! I take out a frigate and a destroyer. Actually, the crew of the destroyer failed a morale test after their ship had gotten sufficiently damaged.
Just as I'm really working over Ziggy's forces, the damned third wheel shows up.
Knowing we don't stand a chance individually, we make a quick pact against the party crashers. Junior's ships are just plain "better" than ours and we're in big trouble.
I get a gunline set up for the cruisers while Zig's superior short-range firepower is responsible for the heavy interceptors flying through our formation.
And that's a wrap! Junior trashes our combined "fleet" and we call the game there.
We quickly set the table up for game two. It's a bigger scenario this time with some bigger ships for Zig and I.
I've got a convoy trying to get through the area. My goal is to exit ships from the far table edge. Zig and Junior are trying to kill as much of my stuff as they can. Zig controlled the Reds again, while Junior took four Privateer Cutters. The yellow arrow indicates my actual flight path. The asteroid field dominating the center of the board would be too dangerous for me to barrel through.
The pirates, ehrm, privateers wait in ambush just inside the asteroid field.
The vanguard of my fleet heads down the right corridor.
A blurry shot of my rear elements turning about to slow down the pursuers.
The destroyer is lost in short order.
The main part of my fleet sets upon the Privateers and gives them a good thrashing. I should have just kept moving at full speed after working them over.
But I can't resist unloading the big guns of my cruiser into the filthy Red swine chasing my fleet!
Not a great idea as it turns out because it takes a while to spin about and get going the proper direction again, and the Reds destroy my cruiser in short order.
The remains of my fleet hit the gas pedal! the four lead frigates would make it off the board easily.
But the destroyer is caught, one move away from the edge and finished off!
Ziggy's forces were pretty screwed in the second game by having next to nothing on the right side to block my path but it turned out pretty well for him anyway. I'm happy with the way the special equipment and terrain rules worked.
The game is very good. Granted, I wrote the book, but Christian and Ziggy didn't and they were not asking questions after the first turn. Once I make the few adjustments we talked about I'll have to unleash this thing on the rest of my gaming crew.