Monday, August 27, 2012

Federation Commander

I played Federation Commander the other day for the first time and really liked it -- for the most part. My journey to Federation Commander began many, many, many years ago with the original Star Fleet Battles.  Not sure if I had the first edition pocket game or the boxed game.  All I remember is that plasma torpedoes were handled using a paper cone.  They were deadly, but slow moving and not very effective.  I played a few times through high school (1980s) and early college, then the complexity of the rules became too much and I dropped the game.  It was a fun game, and I liked the impulse movement mechanic, but when the game became a matter of ECM vs. ECCM, it became more work than it's worth.  I kind of feel the same way about Advanced Squad Leader, although I still enjoy that game on a smaller scale.

Original Star Fleet Battles Game
Since then, I've been waiting for a simpler, more streamlined version of the game. They came out with a few easier games over the years, although I can't recall their names. Then I came across Federation Commander.  Eager, I bought the game (Romulan Border -- I'm a Gorn fan -- and Klingon Attack) back in 2008 and after that, let it gather dust on my shelf.  Just didn't have anyone to play with.  Then, I found out someone in my game group is a big Federation Commander (FC) enthusiast and after that it was just a matter of finding the time.  That day came last weekend.

I played the Klingons and was teamed up with Stephen Brasseur (, who played the Lyrans.  Two others played the Federation (Jim D, affectionately known as "Big D") and the Hydrans (Brian).  We played with 2-3 ships of 270-300 points each.  I selected an F5 Frigate and a C7 Battle Cruiser.  My plan was to send the F5 ahead to take out drones and draw some fire as my C7 moved into position around the three Federation frigates. Yeah, that didn't work out so well.

First, the Hydrans came barreling in from their corner to join in the fray while my ally, the Lyrans, pulled a Russia and diddled their way to the front.  As a result, my two ships came under very heavy fire.  While my strategy worked to some extent, I failed to adhere my adversaries pre-game warning about overloaded photon torpedoes.

Federation Commander SSD (Ship System Display), which allows tracking of ship's power, weaponry, damage, and other functions.

I decided to take out the Federation fleet one ship at a time and did some damage to one of the three frigates, which subsequently disengaged.  However, I left both ships vulnerable to a barrage of overloaded photon torpedoes that effectively ended the game.

It was fun and I am looking forward to playing again, although I wonder if I'll ever be able to pick up on all the tips and tricks others have picked up over the years.  I do plan to explore the game more, play some solo games, and many sign up for a three month online subscription.

Having said that, I never try to end a game session without some "lessons learned":

1) When playing against the Federation, stay more than 8 hexes away; use speed and acceleration to do this.
2) Launch drones during impulse 8 of one turn then impulse 1 of the next turn.
3) Always save a few direct fire weapons for opportunistic fire later in the same turn.

I'm sure there were more lessons I should have learned, but that's all I recall.

I liked the game for the most part, but the record keeping was still a bit much.  The game does offer an even easier "fleet" scale that might be easier for new players.

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