Will there be another Call to Arms?

Discuss Mongoose miniatures game here, including Mighty Armies, Gangs of Mega-City One, and Battlefield Evolution.
steelbrok
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby steelbrok » Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:43 pm

Cheers
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Rick » Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:04 pm

I agree with pretty much all of what AdrianH has said - but that is not all there is to it. There are rulesets out there that have no franchise tie-ins and do well, that people will keep coming back to because of the quality of the game. I think that ACTA is that sort of a game and will stand on its' own merits - it has a good set of mechanics and works well. Also, given that ACTA has been around for about 10 years now, the name is well known and attracts buyers who have played previous versions.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Bellicose » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:57 am

Rick, while that all may be true, look at games like Full Thrust and Starmada. They are popular because of good game dynamics, true, but they also have a design system. They are not dependent on the popularity of a tv show that went off the air 15 years ago, or on an obscure rpg. They are self perpetuating because they are flexible enough to port any background into. I liked Babylon 5. I watched it in high school. Most of my friends the same age were never aware it existed. Noble Armada, while a very cool background, is even more obscure. Unless acta is to ride Star Trek's coat tails forever, it needs a way to stay relevant (since Babylon 5 & Noble Armada are not sold or supported anymore). This can either happen by buying the rights to another background, or by developing a design system. Clearly, a design system would be cheaper and more inclusive to more people, thus being a a more profitable way to go. Full Thrust has its own background, and then a design system. ACTA could use Traveler, and then a design system.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby locarno24 » Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:43 am

AdrianH wrote:Generic ACTA might not even have a background, so good luck getting much interest in that. On the other hand, it wouldn't have miniatures associated with it either. The rulebook could be produced as PDF only. Production costs would then be 0. Just sit back and let the money come in. Players could use whatever miniatures they have. It could be customised (unofficially, of course :)) to fit B5, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica or whatever other background players like. We could finally have ACTA: In The Pirkinning. :lol:
At the same time, an open design system doesn't leave too many places to go; depending on how you do it. Full thrust published the rulebook, then the second book, then the human fleets, and the alien fleets, about 14 years ago, and I'm not aware of anything significant coming out for it since.
Added to the fact that they're free downloads, so they're not seeing any money come in from that.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see ACTA continue, and a generic rule-set, with a mongoose-generated 'generic background' for something to hang things off, is a nice way to see that it continues.

Things like fighters, boarding actions, etc, are interesting and combine with the scale that ACTA supports to give the game the edge over X-wing and similar games in the number of ships you can field. A genuine 'fleet game' has its place - as opposed to even 'epic play' where you've got one capital ship and half a dozen escorts, or Attack Wing with two, maybe three ships that mostly win via crew skills and special abilities rather than 'proper' manouvring.

The problem with an open design system is balancing it; sizes of ships and 'hardpoints' onto which you can bolt weapons, systems and wargear reminds me of nothing so much as the ACTA B5 2E station design rules. Which had, lets be fair, a few issues - nothing that trial and error couldn't sort out, but the more options you throw in, the easier balance is to control. Which is an argument, in my mind, for slowly building it up rather than trying to throw a completed game system out as a fait accompli when balance wont-cant-be completely there across every combination of ship. That was one of the failings of the B5 game - with...what? a hundred plus ships to look at at each major revision, even mongoose's playtesters can only devote a little effort to each individual ship, and rarely working through a "what if I took an entire fleet of X" because they needed to try every ship at least once.

I think that's one thing that FFG can be acknowledged for in their handling of X-wing; building up the number of craft, special rules, etc, slowly in successive 'waves', which gives you a regular drumbeat of new shiny things, and also a regular opportunity to introduce anti-broken-thing technologies to counter the latest loophole the tournament gimboids have figured out. By comparison, you only have to look at two or three ships and a similar number of upgrades at a time for balance.

The same can be done with a design system, I guess - unlocking new 'modules' and base hulls with subsequent updates - so the basic rules might be a very cheap and simple rule set which doesn't include fighters, and with more or less generic weapons batteries that (regardless of what you describe them as) don't carry many traits (of which ACTA has no shortage). Subsquent updates might include a 'carrier operations' set of modules - hangar decks, fleet carrier, different fighter types, and area flak, or whatever. Another might include 'ancient technology' with suitably wierd super-weapons, self-repair modules, etc, etc. Boarding actions are an odd one in that you could get a supplement out of it but at least some of the rules would need to be 'hard-wired' into the basic rule set. For that matter, a 'celestial phenomena' one might be quite cool.

Throw in a few example ships and scenarios in each one - maybe even a 3-5 mission mini-campaign (I did like things like Masked Malice and Malice Revealed) - and you can sort of build a universe storyline as it goes along.

One thing I might recommend; as with full thrust and B5 wars - some nice counter sheets in the back of a .pdf version. For that matter, some decent printed counters on nice plasticard or cardstock might be good generally, but I'd imagine people can manage that themselves these days. Would stick with non-artwork "sensor contact blip" counters rather than pictures - it feels more right for space combat and would allow you to put counters into a BSG, B5, ST, SW or any other setting without the artwork looking wierd. Put in a few counters for dust clouds and asteroids as appropriate, too.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Ben2 » Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:40 pm

I think locarno24 is very close to the issue with Noble Armada. Because you buy a fleet box, a cruiser, a dreadnought and maybe a couple of blisters and then that's all the fleet you'll ever need, unless people keep collecting fleets then there isn't much scope for sales growth.

And I had five Noble Armada and 4 ACTA:SFU fleet.

So while it may seem cold hearted, it could be that coming up with the marketing strategy for the product (why would people buy it rather than Firestorm armada or X-wing or Full Thrust or ADB:Acta) might be a good first step.

I remember when B5W was ending, and before my daughter was born and I spent about a year offline, I came out with some things both to develop the B5W timeline further as well as a potential new B5W engine setting that was licence free. This was as a fan project and me spending a year offline pretty much killed both.

What might be needed is for Matt to have a very clear idea of what he wants the next step to be with Acta, and it will very likely involve miniatures because that is where the money in gaming is made (though what material they are made from, who manufactures them and where would be things to be discussed, as I've been very impressed with the Dreamforge and Malifaux stuff from Wargames Factory as well as the Deadzone stuff from Mantic) but Matt needs to decide whether Mongoose have the resources this year to start development and what lines might be attached to it (Space game, 10mm wargame, RPG, what?).

Or it could be that Matt is open to suggestions. VaS has mini support, but it doesn't mean that other games would, or even necessarily be distributed in any way other than electronically.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby pasuuli » Thu Jul 17, 2014 3:30 pm

locarno24 wrote:Things I really liked from the various versions of ACTA [...]
and
...the basic rules [is a] simple rule set which doesn't include fighters, and with more or less generic weapons batteries that ... don't carry many traits... Subsequent updates might include [more stuff] ... [Some of the rules for] Boarding actions ... would need to be 'hard-wired' into the basic rule set. [...]

Throw in a few example ships and scenarios in each [supplement] ... and you can sort of build a universe storyline as it goes along.
another person wrote:So it's already been done and it can be done again. As for background, Traveller seems to be the logical choice. Mongoose already owns it, and the Fifth Frontier War should provide a suitable backdrop to nice big fleet games. Or they could invent a whole new background, and maybe create a RPG (or set of Traveller sourcebooks) to tie in with it.
Settingless and Basic. I suggest a variant, perhaps based on Noble Armada or B5, with elements listed below (which may or may not be imported from the other variants). I suggest the rules be basic, as locarno stated (e.g. no fighters), and generic enough to emulate Traveller, but isn't Traveller. Expansion packs then follow.

Most of the concepts in Traveller are generic space opera (armor, turrets, bays, spines...), and implementable any way you like without infringing on a trademark. Consider how close FASA's Leviathan resembles Traveller. At a high enough level, the details often reduce to nomenclature. (I think that, except for nomenclature, most of ACTA for B5 can work for Traveller on the fleet level). Then release a Traveller pack which talks about jump drives and black globes and so on, if there's a market for it. Really the only difference between a Tigress-class dreadnought and some non-Traveller dreadnought at the wargame level is probably the NAME (and perhaps SIZE) of the FTL drive.

Rules. Preferences, distilled from locarno24:

SF=Star Fleet
NA=Noble Armada
B5=Babylon 5, of course
VS=Victory at Sea

CRITICAL HITS

Use: Critical Hits (SF) plus criticals due to beating armour value - simple way to make popguns unable to cause criticals, etc. (VS)
Do Not Use: 'Instant death' or 'unrepairable' Criticals (B5)

LIKES

"Big Fleet Engagement" feel (i.e. a couple dozen ships/units per side)
"Turn Rating" (SF)
Arcs of fire (SF)
Focus on broadside and turret weapons (NA)
Simplified Fleet Selection (B5)
Attack Dice/Damage Dice allowing simple variations in 'gun calibre' (VS)
"Torpedoes incoming" marker mechanic (VS)
Fleet admirals (i.e. leaders) (B5)

DISLIKES

Drones (SF)
Reload weapons (SF)
Ability of ships to 'reverse gear' or 'stop' spontaneously (SF)
Crew score (B5)
Boresight weapons (and especially their interaction with initiative) (B5)
Balance in fleet selection (B5)

DEFERRED

Use: Boarding Actions (NA)
Use: Fighter Rules (NA), but they're tricky, e.g. balancing 'gun deck' ships and carriers.
Needs Work: How fighters are specifically balanced against/with other ships (in B5)
Last edited by pasuuli on Thu Jul 17, 2014 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby pasuuli » Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:03 pm

I just glanced over the sample Victory at Sea PDF, and I'm left wondering what else is needed for a basic fleet battle game, be it WW2, Traveller, B5, FS, or lateen-rigged galleys of late antiquity.

It's not a slow game, but it's not fast either -- if each ship has a half dozen weapon emplacements and damage tracking, then it takes time to think through your tactics. Regardless of the rules I don't know about, this game looks sufficient to model Traveller squadron combat for sure.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Apep » Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:52 pm

In my opinion any new ACTA system/setting would really struggle - It would need to develop a background and setting that could hook players, keep them interested for a number of years and evolve during this period.

As for licenses - Most big ticket licenses are tied up in long term deals, B5 / BSG have been of air too long to promote much interest from casual players.

It would also need considerable backing so when it hits the streets it would have enough resources, units, ships etc that players could quickly get involved - Pre-painted mini (e.g. x-wing ) would probably be the quickest way of building a following

So you are talking considerable capital investment in just getting it to a shop and probably 2-3 years before seeing any financial returns and I am not sure the current games market has the capacity.
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JohnDW
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby JohnDW » Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:40 am

You never know when lightning will strike, before FFG launched their x-wing game would anyone have also thought the market is too saturated in miniatures games for another to succeed?
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Apep » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:01 pm

JohnDW wrote:You never know when lightning will strike, before FFG launched their x-wing game would anyone have also thought the market is too saturated in miniatures games for another to succeed?
FFG's Star Wars & WizKids Star Trek both have an amazing fan base and a lot of collectors buy, not to play - but to add to their collection - so you have three to four revenue streams (Players, collectors, casual fans , investors,....) from the one product.

They have a well developed back story that fans love and will spend the pounds, dollars, euros, zen,.. just to have their little bit.

No so much lighting - but a surgical strike at our wallets :lol:
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Bellicose
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Bellicose » Wed Jul 23, 2014 2:12 pm

Realistcally, if the Traveler background should be the obvious one to me. It is sufficiently detailed. I mean, how in depth (or important to its popularity) is Full Thrust or Starmada's? Those games are both popular and their backgrounds are pretty much a non factor. They stand on the excellence of their ruleset.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Captain Jonah » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:07 pm

The problem with anything that needs to be licensed is the risk that the license can be lost. Given past history of this problem killing ACTA lines to be sure of it remaining in action it needs to be something that Mong owns complete.

I know its very much on the back burner but what happened to Blue Shift. It was a fighter game set in a Mongoose created verse based in a small, backwater and all but abandoned sector. That verse has presumably had some fleshing out done, history, factions and the like.

Just because the fighter game only has fighters plus stuff like shuttles and small freighters for when convoy raids arrive, the rest of the verse would have bigger ships and fleets.

The Blue Shift verse is wholly owned, no problems with licensing and its totally controlled by mongoose. The style and nature of the ships, bases, platforms, civilian ships and infrastructure and every other aspect is entirely up to Mongoose to decide for themselves.

Just a thought.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Tolwyn » Tue Sep 02, 2014 2:03 pm

Sad to read that ACTA is going to end.

I always loved Babylon 5 ACTA despite it's balancing problems and Priority Level system. I still play it on occassion with friends.

Perhaps ACTA could resurface as a standalone like Starmada with rules for custom ships and weapons.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Nerroth » Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:32 pm

Tolwyn wrote:Sad to read that ACTA is going to end.
While Mongoose's in-house development of A Call to Arms may be on hiatus, ACtA overall is not done with by any means.

ADB are currently readying "version 1.2" of A Call to Arms: Star Fleet for publication, listing a series of changes to the original version in the just-published Captain's Log #49 - which also includes a preview of the Juggernaut "monster"/faction.

And once that is done, book 2 should hopefully be on the horizon in the not-too-distant future. (And once that is done, there would still be a lot of empires, eras, settings, and technologies to choose from.)
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Alexb83 » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:41 pm

Can Mongoose not get royalties by licensing the ACTA ruleset out to other miniatures companies?

For instance, I play a good deal of Corvus Belli's Infinity these days, and that's a setting begging for a space combat game of some sort.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Bellicose » Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:27 pm

I'm still in shock that a Traveler version or a generic version with a design system was never done.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby bobbyjack60 » Tue Dec 29, 2015 5:57 am

The only option that would get me to dish out mega loads of money is B5. I bought my first miniature in August 2000 and I'm still collecting. I've outlasted 3 companies and now I'm scrounging through eBay to continue my collections.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Bellicose » Fri Feb 12, 2016 12:19 pm

So since there has been no official word about ACTA in over a year I shouldnt get my hopes up about a new version.
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Da Boss » Sat Feb 13, 2016 5:43 pm

Bellicose wrote:So since there has been no official word about ACTA in over a year I shouldnt get my hopes up about a new version.
Sadly I think you are right - I did vaguely start putting together what I thought a 3rd edition would look like but the game only survives now as Star Fleet ?
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Re: Will there be another Call to Arms?

Postby Bellicose » Mon Feb 15, 2016 3:32 am

I would be curious to see what you had come up with. I was putting together my own thoughts/ house rules/ homebrew ship stats. I really enjoy the game. Right now my 12 year old and I play.

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