B5 Space Combat - Some Thoughts - and Comments?

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B5 Space Combat - Some Thoughts - and Comments?

Postby MongooseMatt » Sun May 30, 2004 11:28 am

Hi guys,

I thought I would take the time to update you on the new B5 Space Combat game (A Call to Arms), let you know where things are headed at the moment and give you a chance to make a few comments of your own.

First off, a big thank you to everyone who sent in a word of support for a range of B5 ship miniatures. My inbox did indeed break under the strain (well, nearly. . .) and we were glad to see support for such games was still strong. We have had a word to the powers that be (Warner Brothers) and so, come October, you will start seeing Fleet box sets in your local stores.

Now for the bad news - at least, for a lot of you. And, please, let me explain the reasons why this is so :)

A Call to Arms functions as a stand alone game, allowing you to fight B5 battles in space to your heart's content. It will also have links to the RPG, so if your players have moved into positions of great responsibility, they will be able to lead entire fleets to war. That is the first point - A Call to Arms is a fleet game, concentrating on the manoeuvring of ships across thousands of miles of space. With these rules you can (we certainly have!) re-enact the Battle of Corianna VI, Babylon 5's secession, even the Battle of the Line. Hex grids are gone, leaving free-form movement over a 4x4' or, better a 6x4' board.

Right from the box, you can use large scale or Fleet Action scale miniatures - it makes no difference to the rules and you could even (in theory) have one fleet made of one scale and your opponent's of the other. Though, granted, that will look a bit weird when things get up close and personal! The scale of the counters included in the box (which will include all ships covered in the game - nearly 100 of them) will likely be of the large scale. The reason for this? You can see it coming. . .

The miniatures we produce in support of this game will be large scale. We looked long and hard at both sets of ships but having played many games of Battlefleet Gothic in the past, we could just not get past the sheer dominance and presence of the large scale models - these things look _good_. Also, freed from the constraints of a hex gridded sheet, there is no need for one ship to be the size of a hex (or nearasdamnit). In short, we are going for large scale because this is a miniatures game and miniatures should be impressive.

The two main arguments against this (and many of you did put it to me in your mails!) are a) you already have large FA fleets and b) larger models cost more. The second point is easier for us to deal with - we will be chopping the price of almost the entire large scale range by at least $1 a piece, and likely more. In addition, the fleet box sets we bring out will not only feature a rulebook with lots of variant ships, but with the miniatures alone are likely to represent a 30-40% Dollar saving over the original prices.

The fleet box sets may well be the only thing we send to retail stores (we are already asking retailers to accept quite a few comprehensive blister ranges on several other lines). Everything else will be done via mail order on our web site. This means you will be able to order individual ships (or even individual parts of individual ships) and maybe, just maybe, we will release a range of Fleet Action scale miniatures as well, thus taking care of argument A above. We'll have to see how everything pans out, but this is the intention right now.

So, about the game itself. . . Well, it doesn't matter whether you use large scale, FA scale or counters - no conversion between them is necessary. About 95% of all large scale ships AoG did miniatures for are playable right out of the box. Plus the Excalibur/Victory-class (if you want this ship, BTW, make sure you are at the Mongoose stand at Origins and Gen Con this year - it will go on general release, but not until much, much later). Play is fast and the core rules are relatively simple (you will pick the game up in 10 minutes or so from playing), but everything is focussed on the Babylon 5 atmosphere. For example, the tactics used by Sheridan to liberate Proxima 3 by multiple Jump Point entries can be used in this game (though you better have Minbari or better Jump Engines, or you may miss your target by a fair margin!). If you are the Captain of the Churchill, or any other ship that is crippled, on fire and in desperate straits, then you may be able to convince your crew to make the ultimate sacrifice. Alternatively, if you pound an enemy ship repeatedly, you may well be able to force it to surrender, regardless of what its player wishes! There are quite a few of these 'Special Actions' that players can attempt that owe everything to the TV show and hammer home that you are not playing just another space combat game but one that is intrinsically Babylon 5 in origin. No matter what fleets you are using.

The main box set is likely to be priced at $49.95, but for that you get a 64 page rulebook, a 128 page ship recognition guide, a bundle full of colour counters to get your fleets underway, and one or two other bits and pieces we have not finalised speccing yet.

So, that is what we are doing with the game and why. I acknowledge now that we are not going to pleased everyone with this take, but there are two things you can take comfort in.

1. Even if you are one of the people who took the time and trouble (thanks for that!) to write and tell me that if it were not FA scale, you would go nowhere near it, remember that the game itself supports FA and the chances are that you will still be able to buy the miniatures you want.

2. A Call to Arms need not be the last word in B5 space combat games. Not by a long shot. If all goes well, I for one would like to see a more complex ship-scale game (this would work very well for an RPG supplement we have planned next year) and then perhaps a fighter-scale game.

You never know!

Anyway, thank you for reading this far. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to shout out here or drop me a line. Even FA scale hate mail is welcomed :)

Incidentally, we have two playtesting slots open for A Call to Arms. Now, I am expecting to be flooded by requests to join, so make sure any mail to me on this subject is better than anyone else's! You will have to sign an NDA and you will have to keep your trap shut about what you see - but you will get a fair crack at the whip of making this game what _you_ want it to be.

Be seeing you. . .
Matthew Sprange

Mongoose Publishing
http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
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Postby ronbogard » Sun May 30, 2004 12:27 pm

Well I for one can not wait for the game to come out. :D Thats for the update. To bad I dont live in the UK or I would try to be a playtester. :cry:
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Postby Jal » Sun May 30, 2004 12:54 pm

greatly appreciate the update. :D


sounds like it`s going to be a good game, now i have to start putting a few quid into my piggy bank for it.

thanks again. :D
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Postby zombied00d » Sun May 30, 2004 1:27 pm

W00T!

8)

When can we expect to see a release date for this, and will it "Cannon" or "Game Balance" be the primary theme behind the design for the ships?
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Postby ShadowScout » Sun May 30, 2004 2:20 pm

msprange wrote:The miniatures we produce in support of this game will be large scale.
YES!!!
The two main arguments against this (and many of you did put it to me in your mails!) are
a) you already have large FA fleets
But not as large as my full scale fleet!
and b) larger models cost more.
So what - as long as the minis are in production it'll just take me a bit longer to save the cash for the fleets I need.
Alternatively, if you pound an enemy ship repeatedly, you may well be able to force it to surrender, regardless of what its player wishes!
GOOD!
That's one rule I missed in most of the games around... I always found it silly if the NPC's/squads/tanks/mechs/ships fought until the bitter end, when realistically they should long before that point have tried to disengage or if they couldn't do that, tried to surrender.
Of course, it also depends on the races involved - gaim wouldn't surrender for anything unless ordered by their commanders, and few would have tried to surrender to the Dilgar after word got out about what they did with their prisoners... et cetera.
You never know!
And that's one to remember for all the FA scale enthusiastics out there! If this line goes very well, and you keep poking mongoose with FA scale requests, they may do it.
However, if you only keep to a negative PoV and say "No, I won't touch anything that isn't FA" they are not very likely to get together the profit to invest in a mini range as expansion for their game...


I for one am going to celebrate now. And start awaiting release of their minis to check them out...

Soo... anything more you could tell us about these minis? How are they going to compare to the AoG FS minis? Will you be redoing their minis or recreating the whole line (maybe taking the extra effort to do better versions of the few they didn't do as well as they might have...)?
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Re: B5 Space Combat - Some Thoughts - and Comments?

Postby DKeith2011 » Sun May 30, 2004 3:10 pm

msprange wrote:A Call to Arms functions as a stand alone game, allowing you to fight B5 battles in space to your heart's content. It will also have links to the RPG, so if your players have moved into positions of great responsibility, they will be able to lead entire fleets to war. That is the first point - A Call to Arms is a fleet game, concentrating on the manoeuvring of ships across thousands of miles of space. With these rules you can (we certainly have!) re-enact the Battle of Corianna VI, Babylon 5's secession, even the Battle of the Line. Hex grids are gone, leaving free-form movement over a 4x4' or, better a 6x4' board..
I can live with that, hexless wouldnt have been my first choice but it does have some perks.
Right from the box, you can use large scale or Fleet Action scale miniatures - it makes no difference to the rules and you could even (in theory) have one fleet made of one scale and your opponent's of the other. Though, granted, that will look a bit weird when things get up close and personal! The scale of the counters included in the box (which will include all ships covered in the game - nearly 100 of them) will likely be of the large scale. The reason for this? You can see it coming. . .
Thats good for those unfortunate souls who spent way too much on unplayable minis.
The miniatures we produce in support of this game will be large scale. We looked long and hard at both sets of ships but having played many games of Battlefleet Gothic in the past, we could just not get past the sheer dominance and presence of the large scale models - these things look _good_. Also, freed from the constraints of a hex gridded sheet, there is no need for one ship to be the size of a hex (or nearasdamnit). In short, we are going for large scale because this is a miniatures game and miniatures should be impressive.
So we wil have a fleet game with minis that are too large and awkward to put a fleet on the table. That was always the biggest strike against the AOG line and will be so against Mongoose now.
The two main arguments against this (and many of you did put it to me in your mails!) are a) you already have large FA fleets and b) larger models cost more. The second point is easier for us to deal with - we will be chopping the price of almost the entire large scale range by at least $1 a piece, and likely more. In addition, the fleet box sets we bring out will not only feature a rulebook with lots of variant ships, but with the miniatures alone are likely to represent a 30-40% Dollar saving over the original prices.
Thereby making a single ship cost $8-$9 where 3+ FA scale would run about $10, I certainly wont be buying them. And if I have to buy a box of overpriced minis to get the variants of the basic ship types I wont be buying the game at all.
The fleet box sets may well be the only thing we send to retail stores (we are already asking retailers to accept quite a few comprehensive blister ranges on several other lines). Everything else will be done via mail order on our web site. This means you will be able to order individual ships (or even individual parts of individual ships) and maybe, just maybe, we will release a range of Fleet Action scale miniatures as well, thus taking care of argument A above. We'll have to see how everything pans out, but this is the intention right now.
Nice idea except for those who live in other countries and would have to pay ridiculous international shipping charges. If the line would be available from other online retailers I could get behind this idea.
So, about the game itself. . . Well, it doesn't matter whether you use large scale, FA scale or counters - no conversion between them is necessary. About 95% of all large scale ships AoG did miniatures for are playable right out of the box. Plus the Excalibur/Victory-class (if you want this ship, BTW, make sure you are at the Mongoose stand at Origins and Gen Con this year - it will go on general release, but not until much, much later). Play is fast and the core rules are relatively simple (you will pick the game up in 10 minutes or so from playing), but everything is focussed on the Babylon 5 atmosphere. For example, the tactics used by Sheridan to liberate Proxima 3 by multiple Jump Point entries can be used in this game (though you better have Minbari or better Jump Engines, or you may miss your target by a fair margin!). If you are the Captain of the Churchill, or any other ship that is crippled, on fire and in desperate straits, then you may be able to convince your crew to make the ultimate sacrifice. Alternatively, if you pound an enemy ship repeatedly, you may well be able to force it to surrender, regardless of what its player wishes! There are quite a few of these 'Special Actions' that players can attempt that owe everything to the TV show and hammer home that you are not playing just another space combat game but one that is intrinsically Babylon 5 in origin. No matter what fleets you are using.
Good, I never likes that players could fight to the bitter end when a reasonable captain would know when to call it a day and keep his ship and crew alive.
The main box set is likely to be priced at $49.95, but for that you get a 64 page rulebook, a 128 page ship recognition guide, a bundle full of colour counters to get your fleets underway, and one or two other bits and pieces we have not finalised speccing yet.
Noy a bad price point, pretty average this kind of box.
So, that is what we are doing with the game and why. I acknowledge now that we are not going to pleased everyone with this take, but there are two things you can take comfort in.

1. Even if you are one of the people who took the time and trouble (thanks for that!) to write and tell me that if it were not FA scale, you would go nowhere near it, remember that the game itself supports FA and the chances are that you will still be able to buy the miniatures you want.

2. A Call to Arms need not be the last word in B5 space combat games. Not by a long shot. If all goes well, I for one would like to see a more complex ship-scale game (this would work very well for an RPG supplement we have planned next year) and then perhaps a fighter-scale game.

You never know!

Anyway, thank you for reading this far. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to shout out here or drop me a line. Even FA scale hate mail is welcomed :)
More material is almost always a good thing.
Incidentally, we have two playtesting slots open for A Call to Arms. Now, I am expecting to be flooded by requests to join, so make sure any mail to me on this subject is better than anyone else's! You will have to sign an NDA and you will have to keep your trap shut about what you see - but you will get a fair crack at the whip of making this game what _you_ want it to be.

Be seeing you. . .
Email is on the way.
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Postby Star Ranger » Sun May 30, 2004 4:32 pm

I don't mind the larger size minis, but what really bugged be about the AOG minis of this size was the lack of scale between minis. A good examples are the massive White Star and Olympus minis compared with the Omega. AOG wanted to scale up the smaller ships to a decent size to get collectors to buy them too, but they lost a lot of sales to gamers who want ships on the table to look good together.

So my suggestion is keep the larger ships at the larger scale, but make the smaller ships an appropriate size so they look right on the table. The Olympus should not be as long at the Hyperion and twice as wide. The don't have to be exactly in scale with each other, but at least use a sliding scale where larger ships have larger minis and smaller ships have smaller minis.
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Postby Traveller-61 » Sun May 30, 2004 5:03 pm

Looking good so far!

I would still have prefered FA scale but at least the hope of future releases is not ruled out.

The game sounds good, again I would have liked hexes but that's life!

The jump point tactics, rules for forcing a surrender etc are great and exactly what a good B5 game needs!

The really bad news is I WANT IT NOW!!!! :twisted:

Anyway thanks for the info and good luck to all involved!

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Postby Vorlon Servant » Mon May 31, 2004 12:59 am

Looks good. I like that it will have links to the RPG (however small) and that minatures will be available.
2. A Call to Arms need not be the last word in B5 space combat games. Not by a long shot. If all goes well, I for one would like to see a more complex ship-scale game (this would work very well for an RPG supplement we have planned next year) and then perhaps a fighter-scale game.
I want to hear more about this. What ever it is, I'm in.
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Postby E Nicely » Mon May 31, 2004 5:20 am

Awesome news. I love playing hexless starship combat. Seems to add a degree of realisim. Playable at fleet level-nice. A "complete" box set-outstanding. NEW MINIS-YOW. I'm really looking forward to this.

That the miniatures will be full scale is totally acceptable. Full scale figs take a paint job much better. What does bother me is that I'll have to mail order some of the ships. But it's not a perfect world, at least I'll have new B5 models. The issue of the AOG full scale ships being out of scale was brought up earlier and I hope it is addressed with the Mongoose line.

So another game that I have to wait months to get. And drop my hard earned cash on. And take the time to teach to others.

Can't wait 8) 8) 8)
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Postby redlaco » Mon May 31, 2004 3:36 pm

Fantastic news! I'm in all the way; it looks like you know what you're doing and it's good to hear that you plan to please everybody in the end (Quite hard, I know). Long live B5 and good luck to all concerned.
Since I missed the B5 Wars boat way back then, I'll start here and finally get my hands dirty with the paint job... 8)
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Glad to have another system seeking to recreate the feel of

Postby Rainwuf » Mon May 31, 2004 11:10 pm

Babylon 5 - especially rules about forcing surrender, multiple jump-point-fu and anything else that would replicate, say, the "dread" factor when an average ship of the Younger Races faces an Ancient! I also hope that material is present on tips about making alien races, well, alien: how to handle the Drazi culture of combat; enabling the Gaim to suicide/ram at will, but if C&C is damaged/destroyed greater than normal penalties are assigned; and anything else that makes the various races something more than different arrays of weapons' platforms. I hope this game/system is well-written, plays well and does well!
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Postby cyberwolf1971 » Tue Jun 01, 2004 10:06 am

Not to sound ungrateful... it's quite exciting to hear about the new game...

But IMHO big scale is the wrong way to go... the biggest hindrance AOG faced were the unplayable big miniatures - they sure looked good, but only from a modelbuilding point of view.

I dropped the info about your plans here in Germany at a con last weekend...

At first everybody was ecited about a revitalized B5 space combat game, but as soon as I mentioned the scale (especially when you condider that you aim a greater battles), excitement faded... and died.

Sure most people will have a look at the rules... but will skip large scale minis.

FA anybody?
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If it is going to be large scale minis...

Postby Nerik » Tue Jun 01, 2004 11:08 am

I second Star Ranger in requesting that they be in scale (but see below), also, please ignore the infamous Tim Earls size charts - they don't match what we see in the show (except, maybe, season 5).

Hmm... with a scale of 1:10000 (1mm = 10m) a 1,320m long Omega (length from Babtech-on-the-web) comes out at 13.2cm (5 3/16 ins.) while a White Star should be about 1.5 cm long.

I would prefer a smaller scale - as I have some FA scale ships (mostly Vorlons & Shadows).

Fighters will need to be to a different scale, I suggest the scale used for Fleet Action fighters would be about right.

Game Mechanics

I second Rainwuf's suggestion - mechanics to make each race distinctive would be a great addition.

I am definately interested in seing how this game works.

Charles
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Postby Vorlon Servant » Thu Jun 03, 2004 5:09 am

please ignore the infamous Tim Earls size charts - they don't match what we see in the show (except, maybe, season 5).
These charts were designed for series five. Why do people have such a problem with this. If Tim Earls, the designer of the warlock computer model say the ship is nearly 2000m long, then it is 2000m long.

I for one would like to see scale, but I think that this is impossible to do. The minatures should have different sizes to give a sense of scale but that's all, anything else will just be to difficult.

I also support different mechanics for each race.
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Postby zombied00d » Thu Jun 03, 2004 5:16 am

Different mechanics to some degree, yes. But not to the point where you need to relearn the game every time you play a different fleet, unlike some games I could name...
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Postby Vorlon Servant » Thu Jun 03, 2004 5:24 am

Clarafication: the original charts were for series 5, the current ones were for Crusade.
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Different mechanics for each race.

Postby Rainwuf » Thu Jun 03, 2004 5:32 am

In B5wars ramming is not allowed except under certain circumstances. The Gaim should be an exception to this as well as with anything negative which affects "morale".

Narn ships might have to make a certain roll in order to retreat from a Centauri force no matter the size.

Abbai ships should almost always be in an "OPEN" (weapons off-line so as to appear nonthreatening) posture when meeting unknowns.

Most ships of Younger Races should have a penalty when fighting ANY Ancients' ship (due to the "AWE" factor) unless they have an elite crew or the like AND make a roll successfully.

Drazi tactics should mostly be close-and-engage in nature and thus you will not see any fancy maneuvering which makes them somewhat predictable..."Get her!? That was your plan, Ray, GET HER?!!!"

Once Minbari get their Battle Rage going - no surrender, no prisoners! Thus they might might less defensively.

etc.
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Postby E Nicely » Thu Jun 03, 2004 7:54 am

The points brought up for different mechanics for each race are all valid. But the designers aren't ignorant of these points and I think through design (and playtesting) theses issues will be represented.
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Cool!

Postby RedShark92 » Mon Jun 07, 2004 6:52 pm

Sounds good.

Word on this game is pretty much the only reason I come to this forum at all so I am glad to finally see something.

First my comments. You producing minis in large vs. fleet scale is of no issue to me. I have sizable fleets in fleet scale already and won't feel a need to buy new models, I don't think.

I tend to prefer smaller scale models as the bang for the buck is better and I've got lots of expensive hobbies so the more I get for every dollar the happier I am. As I said though I already have my fleets so it's all good, really.

My main concerns have to do with the rules.

I'd consider ideal something that was somewhere in between B5Wars and Full Thrust in terms of complexity.

Enough detail to keep things interesting (I love Full Thrust, but it didn't feel right for B5 to me), but not so much that the game bogs down .

Any comments on how the game will work in those terms? Even vague details will be helpful...

Thanks.
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