25 February 2016

StarDust Ground... the First Review

My gaming buddy James has read through and reviewed my recently published Sci Fi rules. Since I value his input as a high-level gaming geek, I wanted to share his POV and publicly answer his questions. My comments are in red.


The game looks real good and I look forward to playing it. I was going to go with Gruntz, but these rules are more flexible. I also like that it doesn't rely on a point system. That said here are a few things that I think you should look into.

Page 2.
“Infantry are generally equipped with variety of weapons.  Most infantry have just one primary weapon listed in their profile. Rarely, some infantry will have multiple weapons listed-when that is the case the player chooses one to use for the current turn.”

The first part of this is confusing. You first state that infantry have variety of weapons, which is true. You then state that rarely infantry will have multiple weapons, which isn't true. Poor editing on my part.You should also look into better way to handle mixed weapon stands, as this is often the standard. A modern fireteam, which is what your stands seem to represent, has 4 soldiers. Three carry a standard weapon, the fourth member almost always carries a support weapon of some type. There may also be additional weapons such as a rifle mounted grenade launchers or LAWs. For example a current U.S. stand would have 3 rifle men armed with M4 carbines and 1 man armed with an M249 SAW. In addition one of the riflemen have a M203 grenade launcher. During a firefight these men would use every weapon they have available at practically the same time. One of my design goals has been simplicity. I'd prefer that any given stand of infantry only have one ranged attack option. A typical squad in SDG will have two standard stands of "line infantry" and a small stand with a special weapon. This combined with the owning player removing casualties keeps things simple and allows the special weapons to stick around if the player desires. A well-equipped and intact squad usually has solid shooting options.

One way to represent this is to allow units with secondary attacks an extra 1 shot using the secondary’s weapon data.

“When playing with 15mm (or larger) miniatures, most weapons do not have an upper range limited and can indeed fire the full length of the tabletop. For smaller miniatures, a max range is stated.”

The weapons chart doesn’t state the max range, but I’ll get into that later. When using smaller miniatures like 6mm, you can use centimeters in place of inches. I indeed have created a 6mm sample weapons chart and a 6mm QRS with appropriate changes. It has never been playtested and I did not feel comfortable making that public.

Page 4.

Vehicles should also be allowed to use overwatch. It’s a common tactic with both infantry and armor units. I agree, but I personally despise overwatch-fests. I hated it in WH40K 2nd edition and still hate it. In a game with alternating activations, it is a lot less useful than you'd think. It does work VERY well on autonomous turrets though!

Also, if you want to shorten the turn time, you can have the players declare which units are on overwatch at the beginning of the turn, like in Force on Force. This way players only have to worry about the moving units. Interrupting the other guy's turn slows the flow of the game and I'm generally against that.

Page 6.
“Weapons without an AV rating cannot affect vehicles in any way.”

You’re forgetting about soft vehicles with no armor. These vehicles can be penetrated by almost any weapon.  I would say that weapons without an AV suffer a -1 on the vehicle hit effects chart when used against soft vehicles. Soft vehicles weren't part of the scope of work so I made no allowances for them. Look for them in 1.1!

Page 10.
The smoke template should be the same size as the HE template if not larger. I would use the smaller template for lighters weapons, such as grenade/rocket launchers, tank guns, and light mortars. Perhaps two adjoining small templates?

Page 11.
Only specialized observation fliers should be able to call artillery.

There are no rules for bomb attacks. Maybe have aircraft that have bombs be able to place them a line along the flight path, then roll to hit. If the bombs miss roll deviation. Resolve as artillery.

Additional Infantry Special Abilities

Body Armor-Unit is equipped with armor or has a though exoskeleton. Units with body armor get an additional -1 on the IHEC roll. -2 if equipped with power armor or a turtle shell.

Self-Destruct-Unit has suicide bombs or acid blood. Infantry units in CC with the unit suffer a hit if the unit is killed.

Aquatic- Unit is made up of frogmen or aliens that are at home in the water. Stand can move through shallow or deep water at normal speed.

Additional Vehicle Special Abilities

Reactive or Specialized armor-Unit receives a +2 to its armor verses rockets and missiles.

Recovery Vehicle-Recovery vehicle that declares a move and shot order may do one of three things to a friendly vehicle within 2”.  1: It can repair an immobilized vehicle on a roll of 8. 2: It can remove 1d4 pins from a vehicles. 3: It can rig the vehicle to be towed. The recovery vehicle must be the same size or larger than the immobilized vehicle. Once rigged the recovery vehicle can move the immobilized vehicle with it at normal speed. Recovery vehicles can only fix/tow one vehicle at a time.

Amphibious- Unit can move through deep water at half normal speed.

Additional Weapon abilities

Single Shot-Stand can only use the weapon once during the game, unless the unit is carrying more than (Like an aircraft may have 4 bombs giving it 4 attacks)

All of the above are good ideas. The RAW were done for models I have in my collection so I didn't make an exhaustive effort to "cover all the bases." All are worthy of future inclusion.

The Weapons chart
The weapons chart is, frankly, a mess. The weapons should be grouped by type. I placed a more organized one with this email. I also included a modified weapons chart with max ranges listed (Just doubled the ranges) and a few extra weapons. It's alphabetical! What could be better? I'm kidding. I don't think I was clear that the weapons chart is list of samples to go by and in no way intended as the definitive way to do things. The chart was designed 100% as a playtesting and game design tool and it really should have been re-formatted. That said, your re-designed chart looks very nice. In practice I don't use the chart. I've made stat cards for the models I play with. Here's an example:

Future add-ons you should consider
Hostile Enviroments: Low or High gravity, Poisonous atmosphere, vacuum, man eating animals.
Electronic Warfare/Computer Hacking
Combat Drugs
Esper Powers
Advanced artillery: Cluster Bombs, Mines, Precision Munitions
Engineering Rules (especially for 6mm)

Chemical Weapons 
Again, all are worthy of inclusion in a later update. Beyond the initial scope of the project.

Thank you very much for your input. Much of my final work was tidying up rules behavior which to me is the important part. Adding in fun stuff will be easy enough and you've given me tons of things to work on. 


  1. Interesting, and I'm very glad for you that all this comment are mostly about "details". Creating your own set of rule must be something difficult at best to balance, and in the same time very personnal with emphasis on what aspect of warfare bother you.

    Strangely, I was thinking it was design to 6mm scale...

    1. I noticed the same and was rather happy about that aspect of it. SDG will play in 6mm - a simple switch to centimeters instead of inches would suffice, although capping weapon ranges at 100cm might also be useful.

  2. Good on you for being brave enough to post this review of the rules.

    I must say that on reading (not having played) I agree with some of the points made by your reviewer. I think any activation game benefits from having an overwatch option. Otherwise you run the risk of "panzer-bushing".
    I also think you should give consideration to the points raised about having single-weapon infantry stands. It just isn't credible in a modern or near-future setting.

    1. I've given some though to the overwatch issue. I'm no fan of interrupting the other guy's turn. It is just messy. On the other hand, it is very useful and "realistic." I'm kicking some ideas around and will address it.

      Multi-weapon infantry stands is easily doable - my listed troop types are what I have and "my vision." If you want a stand to have both rifles and an AT weapon, write up the stats that way.