22 January 2017

StarDust - Play Testing the New

Zig and I had a playtest session of StarDust last evening. For those of you not in the know, StarDust is a space ship wargame of my own creation. I self-published it about two and a half years ago and it continues to get attention from me from time to time - adding rules, weapons and even new fleets. Thusfar, the published 1.0 rules haven't been officially updated but I have a lot of systems and a couple of minor rules tweaks in the 1.1 book that just need testing before they're ready for prime-time. Among them are:
      Ion Stream Weapon - works much like a "flamethrower" in space with a template. Those tight formations make juicy targets!
      Inertia Dampener - because sometimes making the other guy stop moving is a lot of fun.
      Minefields, Sweepers and Minelayers - why not, particularly if the system for managing them is easy to deal with?
      Shield Tenders - walls in space!

I've also been working on an entirely new fleet that was playtested this session as well as making the ship data cards more visually appealing. The old cards, while very functional, were ugly to say the least.

Most of the pictures I took came out blurry, so there won't be a very detailed AAR, but here's a recap of the exercise...

The setup. I was driving the new, white fleet while Zig commanded his old standbys, the red. One of the changes I made was the fleet identities - I paired each StarDust "race" with one from StarDust: Ground, to give the two games a bit of an additional link. Of course, the fleets and armies of my creation are simply templates to use as reference as you design your own fleets or armies based on your own collection. With respect to my collections, the red fleet corresponds to the Khans Dog Soldiers in SDG, while the white fleet is that of the Mechans robot army in SDG.

So for this scenario (lifted from a FOW scenario), the table was quartered. I chose a table quarter and the objective (a space station) was set in the opposite quarter. The winner would be whomever has control of the objective after 6 turns. Ziggy had to split his force in the other two quarters and got four minefields to deploy. He completely whiffed on "camping the objective" and chose to meet my fleet in the middle of the table, as you can see from the deployment picture above.

After a couple of turns, I decided the group to my right (upper right side of the picture) was to become a sacrificial unit and pushed left hard with everything I could.

A rare not-blurry picture. A Khans Heavy Cruiser gets up close and personal with my carrier (which in the interest of game balance was without fighters / attack craft). If memory serves, my carrier took 38 points of damage from that volley. She only had 50 damage boxes to start with!

But as you can see by the following picture, the combined firepower of the carrier and my flagship just ahead of it was too much for the cruiser.

I had a couple quicker units work the edges and make flank runs to the objective. Ziggy's decision to fight in the middle, combined with the difficulty of turning a fleet around (an inherent design choice by yours truly) meant I was in a good position to nab the station while the Reds could only chase me.

By the end of turn 6, Zig had managed a couple more major kills - my battleship and a cruiser, but he was in no position to prevent me capturing the station. 

I'm reasonably sure that's the first time I've won a game of StarDust. Granted, I was using an experimental, and as it turns out slightly overpowered fleet, but I'm keeping it. It was a really good playtest session - we decided on a significant rule change mid-game and I discovered that I apparently went gun-crazy when designing the white fleet.

For anyone curious, the rule change has to do with defensive fire against torpedoes. Previously, one could only fire at incoming torpedoes with unfired Particle Cannons. This rule required a bit in the way of mental gymnastics to remember which were unfired.

The new rule is that only Small Particle Cannons can fire at torpedoes, but they may always fire defensively, even if they also fired offensively. This slight change was a nice little shot of WD40 to the proceedings.

The completed 1.1 rules should be ready some time in 2017. Hahaha. Vaporware. BTW, it'll be a free update to anyone who already bought StarDust.


  1. Funnily enough, today I've finally play Stardust for the first time(I bought it the moment it was available...).
    I really like how quick the game is and the suspens when you roll for damage!
    I got some comments (and questions) on the rules and some suggestions, but I like it much more than FSA (seems a common problem for naval and space warfare rules : the more it cost, the less the rules are appealing...)

    1. Major, first I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it - that's really great to hear.

      If you have game questions, send them to stardustgame (at) outlook.com and I'll be happy to field them.

  2. Does this fit into your 6x6 challenge anywhere? I'm not sure based on your games list :)

    1. It would as "Game of my own creation." Thanks. Completely whiffed on that.