Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Visiting an Old Friend...or Two

A few weeks ago, I had opportunity to visit an old gaming buddy, and re-visit  one of our favorite games from days long gone.

Back in the good old days, when the Cold War was raging, and I had hair on top of my head, I had the good fortune to game with a fantastic group of guys in Canton, Ohio.   For several years, we gamed almost daily, refighting WWII, battling in a Cold War hot,  or Vietnam, Medieval England, etc and brought war to the far corners of the galaxy with Star Fleet Battles.

Yes, Star Fleet Battles, rules upon rules, old rules, new rules, changed rules, and old rules again.  For awhile, keeping up with the rules was trying to keep up with tax law.  But we loved the game.  To go where no man had gone before, and blow it up!!  Eventually Task Force Games fixed the constantly changing and growing rules with the Captain's Edition rulebooks.  Three books of rules in a binder that challenged Empire in tonnage of paper.

For me, the game started with the boxed version circa 1982 and 32 page (wasn't it?) rule book, and hit its peak with the addition of the three soft pack expansions.  The various additions offered by Nexus, the Starletter, and eventually the Captain's log,SFB Supplements, etc never really added much to the game for me.  But one step that I always wanted to make was to game SFB with miniatures.  A couple of us began buying the Starline 2200 miniatures, but there were never enough ship types available to do much in the way of games, at least as far as we were concerned.  The problem was that we were so fluent with the game that 30-50 ships was typical with their compliments of fighters and psuedo-fighters.  It was easy to have 20 or more different ship classes on the table at any given time.

I remember playing only two games with the miniatures, despite our having 60-70 ship models.  Both scenarios were quite small, and not very dynamic.  But the seed had been planted and several of us looked forward to the day that we would line the table (Craig (some of you might know him as Craig of Gaming Models)had a 7'x16' table at one point) with fleets of ships and their accompanying fighters and shuttles.  In time the Captain's rulebooks took a little spark out of SFB for us, the SFB games diminished, and the group broke up as members got married or graduated from college and moved away to new jobs and  lives.

Twenty-four years after our last Star Fleet game with the old group, Craig and I sat down at his table, dusted off  the SFB rules, and tried to remember how to arm disrupters and fusion beams.  We had a grand battle, a couple dozen vessels of the Lyran empire trying to rid the universe of the that nasty infestation known as Hydrans (ugly little tripedal creatures that thrive in a methane rich environment).  A minor miscalculation or seven (got to remember to power up those silly ESG generators next time) and the battle ended it mutually kabloomed annihilation.  I think there were more Hydrans floating in space than Lyrans, but its tough to count, while trying to dodge all of those chuncks of the Lyran fleet.

Anyway, where this is all going, is to miniatures.  Back in the day, I accumulated maybe 40 ships; some built, some painted, some not.  Over the years, I continued to pick up the occasional pack of ships, as they became Starline 2300, and then 2400 miniatures.  

After arriving home from the game a few weeks back, I decided it was time to start working on the long shelved hope to put fleets on the table.   I broke out the boxes of unfinished lead, grabbed a couple of packs and began painting my first miniatures in at least three months and first SFB ships since probably 1985. 

I figured that working with a few ships at a time would result in my not feeling overwhelmed by facing all fifty or so ships at once.  I started with two Kzinti ships, a Medium cruiser and a frigate, and two Klingon, a D-5 cruiser and an F-5 frigate.  The Kzinti are below:

These newer castings had the outrigger drone launchers cast on to the hull, a vast improvement over the old Starline 2200 that had them as separate parts.  And now the first of my Klingon fleet:

I'm still debating whether to paint markings on the models or create decals.  The ships above are pictured on the old Starline 2200 hex paper.

The next batch is four Lyran ships , two DDs, a war destroyer, and a light cruiser.  For the time being, my games will have to be solitaire, unless I can get my daughter into SFB, but eventually after building the fleets a bit, I will get the ships up to Craig's, and we can play SFB as a proper miniatures game. 


  1. Oh the memories. Like you, it was the boxed set and the 3 ring binders SFB rules for me and the gaming group too. Played it many a time in the 80's. Still have wads of the rules and SSDs in storage. I am not sure I could still play it! But this edition is the one I know and would play if I got back into SFB. A friend abot 10 years ago suggested we should have a game, but we have never go around to it. I was usually the Lyrans but always had a soft spot for the Klingon D5.

  2. Funny you should post about this, I was just looking at the partnership between Mongoose Publishing and ADB for Star Fleet: A Call to Arms. It's triggered my wayback machine, as SFB was my first wargame & I read & reread the phonebook sized rules binder I had. A Call to Arms is much simpler, and I enjoyed the Babylon 5: A Call to Arms, so I'm looking forward to this new version. Plus, Starline 2500, new minis!