battlestations!

February 23, 2007 at 9:53 pm (gaming, nonfiction, rant)

so anyone who’s known me more than a day probably knows i’m a gamer.
i frequently end up running the games that i play with my two best friends, but i discovered last year that running games while in school doesn’t really work out.
this saddens me greatly at the moment as i’ve really been wanting to get a game of weapons of the gods going. WotG is a game of overpowered wuxia style action in a fantasy version of ancient china. it’s pretty slick, cool stuff. but nonetheless, running a game just isn’t in the cards right now.fortunately for me and my friends, we have battlestations.battlestations is an excellent, independently designed and published boardgame/rpg hybrid. it has a lighthearted sci-fi theme (think futurama crossed with star wars or star trek) and incredibly nifty mechanics.
while you’ve got the standard starmap with ship counters that you see in games like star fleet battles, or what have you, you’ve also got a modular layout of your players ship, with little standups or minis to represent each crew member. need to turn the ship to avoid crashing into a star? well, get someone to the helm module to do it. need to launch a missile at an enemy ship? someone’s got to be in the missile bay to do it. think an lone asteroid is suspicious and want to scan it? someone has to be in the science bay to run the computer.
in and of itself this might all sound tedious, but it is anything but. in the middle of a starship battle there is always more to do than crew to do it, and when you add to it the fact that with teleporters and boarding missiles (yes, crew can load themselves into a missile and launch themselves at an enemy ship) you might have some of your crew on the enemy ship and enemy crew trying to take over your ship . . . well you have a lot of highly enjoyable chaos.
and this is where the rpg part of the game comes in. by default, one person will referee the game, handling the mission obstacles, doing the rules arbiter thing, and controlling enemy ships, and the other players will each control one crew member a piece, with their own special abilities, alien powers, equipment, skill ratings, etc. characters and their ships will change, grow, and advance as the game goes on.
another nice thing about the game is it’s fairly easy to adjust on the rpg/boardgame spectrum. maybe you’re not into the rpg side – you can easily down play that part and let players control multiple crew members each (in our game the two players both control 2 crew and a couple bots). on the other hand, if you love to ham it up, you can cram all the play acting into the game you want.

of course, i don’t work for gorilla games. i’m not being paid to rant about how awesome the game is. it does have a few problems. for one thing, the books aren’t particularly well laid out. it can sometimes be difficult to find particular rules. they also lack a consistent method for denoting modifiers for die rolls. sometimes penalties are described as adding to the difficulty, sometimes they are described as subtracting from the roll. similarly, bonuses are sometimes described as reducing the difficulty, sometimes as adding to the roll. this is irritated. it would be nice if i could see a minus sign and immediate know – penalty. also, as an independently produced game, the components are somewhat lacking in quality when compared to the price, but this is understandable.
still, these cons are FAR outweighed by the good things about the game. in is an incredibly fun and flexible gaming experience, there is tons of support material out on the web, the designers themselves are readily and quickly reachable via email or the fantastic yahoo group forum.

so if you’re interested in a really cool, different kind of boardgame or rpg experience, buy this game. or come play with me and my friends. we could use a few more players. don’t be scared. we’re nice. :)

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1 Comment

  1. Allanimal said,

    It sounds fun! I’d like to play with all y’all (I haven’t forgotten my Texan…). but I think I live a bit too far away…

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