Prior to the game start, we were free to deploy our inventory of ships in any manner that we like, not being constrained by any published rules in the Star Fleet universe. Thus, fleets consist of whatever we deem necessary from a roster of ships dictated by the original fleet composition outlined in F&E. We also agreed to use the ship construction schedule from F&E, with only minor changes and additions.
After exploring a couple of possibilities for turn and movement mechanisms, we decided that our strategic turn would span one month, and that starship movement was limited to 1 strategic hex per turn. Thus there would be 12 strategic turns each year.
The war traditionally starts with the Lyrans attacking the Kzinti in the year y168, and we agreed to start the game (and presumably, the war) in January of the year. I had suggested that we actually start the game in maybe November of y167, and have a couple of turns of movement leading up to the permitted start of the war. This would allow observation of border activities prior to the war start, such that any buildup along the neutral zone wouldn't be completely undetected.
My thinking was that a complete surprise attack could, but shouldn't be allowed to happen (given sensor ranges), and this would avoid one player putting an entire fleet in one hex and invading, while the other player had a peacetime deployment. Given our strategic movement rules, this would give the opposing player two turns of reactionary movement, before having to fight the first battle, i.e., the attacker would be sensed moving attack fleets into his own border hexes, then sensed entering the neutral zone (first turn of reactionary movement), and then sense moving into the allied hex for the attack (second turn of reactionary movement). But, my opponent wanted to start in January of y168, and I agreed to do that.
As a result, the Lyran initial deployment was made, expecting to invade on the third (March, y168) strategic turn. Pregame deployment involved small, 3-6 ship groups assigned to each border battle-station, and a series of invasion fleet components spaced one hex back from the border and located with hope of being positioned to react to any sort of Kzinti invasion, should the Lyrans be pre-empted.
As it turned out, this was a (more or less) good plan, as the Kzinti began an invasion on the first strategic movment. I'll get a little more into that in a moment.
As we had done away with almost everything else from F&E, prior to game start, we had established that the war had to start between the Lyran and Kzinti empires. After junking the turn structure and other restrictions from F&E, we realized that we needed to come up with a different mechanism to control the introduction of the other empires into the war, hopefully with some similarity to the actual progression outlined in F&E.
I ended up coming up with a cross reference chart, displaying the "defense condition" or "DefCon" of each empire with respect to every other empire. There are five conditions, and as an empire's DefCon climbs, it is permitted to take greater offensive action ranging from neutral zone violations to invasion of opposition space. These conditions are affected by the actions of other empires. For example, the game starts with the Lyran and Kzinti at DefCon "5" with each other, meaning each can invade the other at will. Once the Lyrans invade Kzinti space, the Hydrans (a Kzinti ally) increase their DefCon from a "2" at game start, by two points, to a four, which permits the Hydrans (on the next strategic turn) to enter the neutral zone, occupy any neutral planets, and attack Lyran ships in the neutral zone. Once combat occurs between the Lyans and Hydrans, both raise their defcon to 5, and they are free to invade each other. It is functionally less confusing than the description sounds (well, a little anyway).
Okay, back to strategic turns, movement, and the start of the war.
In the initial deployment, the Kzinti placed a handful of ships in policing positions along the border, and four large battlegroups in the two southern hexes of their border with the Lyrans, roughly two thirds of the their entire roster. While this wasn't a total surprise, the Lyrans were not ideally positioned for this, and it dictated that the Lyran invasion plan would be... adjusted, while they moved some fleet resources around to counter any funny business on the part of the Kzinti.
On the first turn of strategic movement, two Kzinti battle groups moved into a southern hex of the neutral zone, while Lyrans forces move to counter. On the second strategic turn, the two forces invaded Lyran space, and were confronted with two Lyran fleets in opposition. Additionally, another Kzinti battlegroup entered the neutral zone down south, near the split between Lyran and Klingon space.
The neutral zone is indicated by the gray area, with the Lyran (yellow symbols)
to the left, the Kzinti (white markers) to the right, and a corner of Klingon
space and battlestations (grey) bottom right.
The result is two separate battles in the same hex on turn two of our game. Initiative had been taken by the Kzinti, catching the Lyrans somewhat out of position, given their own attack plans. Additionally it modified the Defcon of the Klingons, such that the Klingons were free to move into the neutral zone against the Kzinti, or initiate an expeditionary force into Lyran space. However, since Kzinti space hadn't been violated, the Hydrans are not free to enter the game, not being allowed to commit an offensive act until either their space of their allies space is violated.
Reports of the those two turn one battles will be coming soon.