Full ThrustFull Thrust from GZG that I simply want to play more of. While I've played it a few times I don't think it's enough to form a firm opinion on how the system really works. It's a little clunky with all the order writing, but on the other hand I really like the kind of thinking ahead it forces you to do. In many ways it feels like the game you compare other games to - it has that kind of grandfather feel to it. In a good way! Sometime in the future we'll hopefully see a proper second edition of Full Thrust, but I know how busy Jon is and even though he wants to there is simply no time right now.
As for models, well... you've seen my UNSC and FSE fleets. I really like the GZG models in general and would love to expand my UNSC fleet. Unfortunately they're still out of production and waiting for new moulds to be made. In the meantime I've been thinking about getting some more ships for my FSE instead, or perhaps make a small pirate fleet and of course you can never have too many civilian/support vessels!
Lightning StrikeLightning Strike from DP9. While you can still buy the models and the books there is no active support of the game from DP9 at this time. I really love the setting of Jovian Chronicles and the rules are interesting as well. The real stars of the show are the EXO armours that are supported by a small number of ships, however I think the system is stable enough to play without the mechs as well if that's more your thing. I would like to try it both ways, although my selection of models is very limited. I like the submarines in space vibe you get from the game and the fact that ECM plays a large part.
Right now I have a handful of Jovian and CEGA EXOs but no ships. Some of my favourite ship designs are made by DP9 though and I'm have no idea why I still haven't ordered a Valiant-class strike carrier - it's such a beautiful design! While the ships aren't to expensive, getting enough EXO's in your fleet can get a bit pricey since they're relatively cheap in points but not in dollars. Now, if only I could find some more great eBay bargains...
StarmadaStarmada from Majestic 12 Games. Whenever you see a thread on TMP or SCN where someone asks what system to go with Starmada is one of two titles that always come up (the other being Full Thrust). From what I understand it has a pretty much unbreakable ship creation system which sounds cool! It's (primarily) hex based but I don't have a problem with that nowadays. I probably would have discounted the game for this reason alone when I was younger but now I actually see it as a plus. Sure the mat won't look quite as pretty, but neither will you have to do all that measuring and careful turning of models. In any case it's nice to have it as an alternative (double-sided mat anyone?)! The picture above is from Mike Wikan's excellent blog The Redoubt. See the rest of the pictures here!
MJ12 is coming out with a new edition of Starmada soon and I've been reading some of the designer's notes on the forums (Attack Dice, Vector Movement, Defense & Damage) and so far I like what I see. It seems like Dan is going for a more streamlined version with more "built-in" dice rolls but without sacrificing granularity (which is what I think is missing from Firestorm: Armada). I will certainly pick up the new edition when it's released in... February(?) but I think I will get the current edition as well to compare. Besides it's cheap from DriveThru RPG!
There are no specific models for use with Starmada and I'll probably use my Full Thrust minis for it. I did also order a few Deisho ships from Chris at Ravenstar which will hopefully be the start of a new fleet so there are those as well. Really love the Deisho design! There is a clear Sulaco vibe to the ships and they simply look sleek and brutal at the same time. Starmada also lends itself exceedingly well to stating out ships from your favourite fictional universes, and if I ever manage to dig up some proper Babylon 5 miniatures I might use them with this game.
AV:T, Squadron Strike and VoidstrikerAttack Vector: Tactical and Squadron Strike, both from Ken Burnside at Ad Astra games as well as Voidstriker from Irrational Designs. Of the three AV:T seems to be the more complex one so I'm thinking Squadron Strike might be better as an introduction as they are of a similar design but Squadron Strike allows for a few more ships in play. It also allows to choose how many of Newtons rules you want to obey when it comes to movement. Versatility! There is a demo available for Voidstriker and it seems to be the least complex, eschewing 3D movement for ease of play for example. Like Starmada it's hex based which is nice. In the end I think I would like to try all three of them, starting with the Voidstriker demo.
There are miniatures available for all three of these games and I must say they are all great looking! Going from very realistic (AV:T) to fairly realistic but with "extra flair" (Voidstriker). They're all fleet scale so bit smaller and more delicate than my Full Thrust minis. The Ad Astra miniatures are fairly pricey and anything from Shapeways is as well, so getting specific fleets for any of these games is not a priority. However, I really do love the belters for Voidstriker and the British for Squadron Strike. Hmm...
There are many more games out there than this of course, I've heard good things about Babylon 5: A Call to Arms, but it's out of print these days. Might hunt it down on eBay though. I also haven't mentioned Victory by any Means (VBAM) which is a spaceship combat campaign system that has been applied to several different game systems and settings (including Jovian Chronicles and Starmada!). I haven't delved deeper into it but from what I've heard it's good! Definitely on the list of stuff to investigate further.
Gaming MatsHotz (the regular, not the enhanced) and it's decent looking but to be honest I thought it would look better than it did. There are also mats available from Terrain Mats and Monday Knight Productions. I don't really like the look of the one from Terrain Mats. The mat from Monday Knight looks better, although a bit plain, but I would like to see more pictures of it. It's the cheapest of the bunch though, so there is that!
CorSec Engineering (who also make really good flight stands that you can disassemble). My personal favourite is the Blue Stars mat as it's still fairly dark and "spacey". The CorSec mats are also made from fabric instead of felt which most other mats are made from. This should make them more resistant to damage in the long run which is a nice bonus. However, they are also the most expensive which of course is a factor in deciding what to get. User neghvar on the SCN forums made an interesting post on the prices of different space mats as a price per inch chart. Check it out!
Right now I'm leaning towards getting a double sided enhanced mat from Hotz. It's not the best looking and the hexes that are printed on one side look like they might be a bit brittle, but it does look nice and the price is affordable. I would like to get a CorSec mat later on though.
I'm sure there are many of my readers who have other games to recommend or more nice miniatures or mats that I haven't mentioned (I'm especially curious about Colonial Battlefleet). Let me know in the comments! :)