Thursday, July 26, 2012


Formatting on my rulebook is almost completed. Most of it was done by myself, so don't expect anything too fancy.

Still, I managed to get some nice illustrations for it. For instance, I negotiated with a concept artist the right to use one of his pictures as my front page.

Here is the cover art for my Rulebook:

*End of Transmission*

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My Dice & Tokens

Slotkarman from the SI's Soldiers blog asked me about what tokens I use on Pax Stellarum, so I thought it would be nice to share with anyone out there who may also happen to be interested on my homebrew.

Keep in mind that I'm probably a token addict, so bear with me here...

First, Space Mines.

I use either Corsecs mine tokens or Litko's. The first can be found here, the second, here. Corsec's has the advantage of having a dock for a small D6. This is useful if you want to keep track of the number of mines you placed on that same spot. As I don't have such smal D6's, I simply pile those markers in.

Litko's advantage is that they come in different colors, so you can easily know which player deployed each mine. This is important as a mine will only explode if an enemy ship approaches.

On Pax Stellarum, ships may travel on 3 thrust modes: Adrift, Low Thrust and High Thrust. Thus, each unit (squadron or individual ship) must have a token indicating its current thrust mode. Litko has got perfect solutions for this. Here you can find the Adrift token.

As I tend to leave my ships mostly on low thrust, I just use tokens in case they are on high thrust or adrift, as this reduces the number of markers on the table. The High Thrust tokens I use were custom made with this option from Litko. I just chosed the shape, color and text I wanted on my set of 10 tokens. Very handy!

I also use some Move tokens to show the direction each terrain piece is moving to. I place a D6 next to each of these tokens to indicate the speed of movement.

Tractor Beam tokens are also very useful, to connect the ship using the beam to the ship targeted by it.

Next, the Critical Hits tokens. There are 11 different critical systems that can be damaged, and the best solution I found for this was Litko's custom 20. Of course, that won't give you an equal number of tokens for each system, so what I did was purchased 2 of these sets, so I had 40 tokens in total. That allowed me to have at least 3 of each - and 4 of some.

Here again, you can choose the shape, color and text of each token. I kept the shape the same for them all (the burst shape), as it represents an explosion, and makes sense to the purpose I'm using them.

Other tokens I find useful are those for Cloak, Energy and Alert. No particular use for the last 2, but they are handy in some cases, to indicate that the ship is under a Special Order or something.

Also handy are the artillery markers, to represent surface batteries on planets, and the activated tokens, as it can become hard to keep track by memory of which units have already been activated when you're playing big battles.

And now we arrive to dice. Well, Pax Stellarum uses lots of dice. You're mainly going to need different colored D10 and D6, as those are the dice used by the game's mechanics. Other dice are useful to keep track of some ship stats, as we're going to see ahead.

Different colors for your D10 are needed because all weapons from the same unit fire at the same time, so different weapons should roll different D10. This speeds up game play a lot.

D6's are used basically for Shields rolls. I like to have blue dice for anything related to Shields...

... That's why I also use blue D10's to keep track of the level of Shields each ship is currently on. Shields Rating may vary between 0 and 15, but only huge ships have Shields above 10, so a D10 will do for most cases. A couple D20's for your really big ships would be nice, though.

I use D12's and D20's to keep track of Hull points. For this, I tend to use grey dice. To illustrate, a Corvette has about 2 hull points, while a Battleship may have more than 20, so both small and big dice are needed here.

I use D6's next to fighter wings to indicate the number of fighters that wing has still got. Fighters also need to keep track of number of payloads they still have to spend before having to go back to bay to rearm, but to avoid using another token for each wing, I simply use different colored D6 for each level of payload. 

So, 3 payloads use blue D6, 2 payloads use orange D6 and 1 payload use red D6. Fighters with no more payloads use black D6. Very intuitive and easy to differentiate on the table.

 And last, but not least, I use a circular protractor for 2 things. For one, I need it to determine each fire arc for those ships that are not based on hexagonal flight stands. This is what the white markings at every 60º are for on the pic below. I simply place the protractor over the ship, with the central hole alligned with the ship's flight peg, and each fire arc then becomes apparent.

Second, I use the protractor to turn my ships, using the blue markings you can see there. Ships can turn 30°, 45°, 60° or 90°, so I marked my protractor on each of those degrees, on both sides of the 90° mark.

It goes without saying that I also use a measuring tape to check distances and ranges.

And that's it! Although it may seem a lot of stuff, most of times, I only need a token on the table once a ship stat changes from its original level. That means I don't have shields and hull dice placed next to every single ship on the table. 

You can see from the pics of my various playtesting games that my table doesn't look cluttered with stuff other than ships. Just enough so it looks nice. And those who don't like tokens on the table can always resort on the old, safe, bookeeping technique.

As the game is intended to be played, the only pen & paper you'll need is to check the number of hull points each fleet still has and their respective Spacefaring level.

*End of Transmission*

Friday, July 20, 2012

Battle Report - Centauri x Narn

Today, I playtested Pax Stellarum again, with 2 of the fleets I recently created stats for: The Centauri and The Narn.

At 1850 points, it was an average/big game, and each side had about a dozen ships, plus multiple fighter wings.

The Centauri were trying to seize control of a Narn solar system. The capital planet was being guarded by 12 Narn Troops, which the Centauri would have to defeat to be victorious.

The Centauri fleet:
1 Octurion Battleship
1 Balvarin Carrier + 5 Sentri Fighter Wings
2 Primus Battlecruisers
3 Vorchan Cruisers
5 Haven Patrol ships

The Narn fleet:
1 Bin' Tak Battleship + 2 Frazi Fighter Wings 
2 G' Quan Heavy Cruisers + 4 Frazi Fighter Wings (2 each)
2 G' Karith Destroyers
2 Var' Nic
4 Sho' Kos Patrol ships

The target planet:

 The opposing fleets spent the first couple turns maneuvering closer to each other, choosing and giving flanks. Meanwhile, those ships with fighters inside began deploying them.

 The Balvarin then directed its wings to the nearest enemy hull, a G' Quan, forcing the enemy squadron to redirect all its wings to intercept the sentri, thus preventing the Frazi fighters from chasing the Centauri ships.

The right flank of the table had the flagships and their respective escorts closing quarters and maneuvering to bear their best arcs against their foes. The Bin' Tak first round of fire was split between a Primus on its Prow arc and the Octurion on its Fore Starboard arc.

The massive Mag guns and lasers of the Narn Battleship crippled the Primus, reducing it to Shields 4 (from initial 6, Hull 7 (initial 11), in addition to 2 criticals: Life Support System and Power Core. That meant the crew on the Centauri ship would start dying from then on, and the ship could blow up at any time, killing anything on the surroundings.

 The flagships finally get their best shooting position at turn 4. The Bin' Tak inflicts severe damage to the Octurion, while sustaining only minor damage in exchange.

The Centauri flagship now has a critical hit on its Port side weapons, as well as on its Shields generator, rendering it utterly defenseless.

Things started to look bad for the Republicans, and the cleary outclassed flagship decides to overload engines to get some extra impulse and move away from the Bin' Tak line of fire as quickly as possible.

 The crippled Primus suddenly explodes, engulfing everything around it in a irresistible ball of fire, which in the end turned out to be a huge benefit for the Centauri (!), as the narns weren't careful enough to keep their distance.

The course set by the Octurion put it in place to perform a boarding attempt on a G' Quan. This was the only real contribution the battleship could still give the fleet, as it was currently critically damage on its Prow, Port and Starboard weapons, aside from still being deprived of Shields.

The Centauri invaders use their "Infiltrate" trait to try damaging a critical system on the narn vessel: their only Target Control System. This would prevent the G' Quan from firing at all, leaving only the Bin' Tak in condition of deliverng heavy fire on the enemy (the other G' Quan had already suffered a critical hit on its TCS...).

The Centauri troops fail their attempt and get almost all killed by narn troops and crew of the G' Quan, who then try to return the favor and invade the Octurion, now that it has got no troops to defend it. Unfortunatelly for the Narn, the crew of the Republican flagship were too numerous to be overcomed by the reduced troops detatchment the G' Quan had available.

On the end of the 5º turn, the Narn had already lost more than 50% of their total hull points, and had to perform a Morale Check to determine if the fleet would keep on fighting or jump into hyperspace, abandoning the system at the mercy of the enemy.

I choose to automatically lose the check, as the Narn were in no shape to go on with that battle, and therefore the game would end after the next turn.

The enemies inflicted some more damage on each other on the last turn, but nothing major, as both were maneuvering to avoid contact by now.

This is how the table looked like at the end of the 6º turn, just prior to the Narn hyperspace jump out:

On the end, it was a Centauri victory, as the fleet was now free to bomb the Narn land troops into surrendering.

 Here we see in how bad shape were the only narn survivors, after the battle. One G' Quan was at Shields 4 (initial 5), Hull 1 (initial 12) and had lost its Target Control System. The other was at Shields 2, Hull 6 and had an Engines and a Bridge critical hits. The Bin' Tak was at Shields 6 (initial 8), Hull 19 (initial 23) and also had a bridge critical hit.

The Centauri had an unharmed carrier, a (completely) crippled Battleship, with criticals on Prow, Port, Starboard and Shields, aside from being under half its initial hull points, a overall intact Primus (only minor damage to Shields) and 2 Vorchans, one of them also unharmed and the other at 3 hull points (initial 4) and Shields 2 (initial 3).

Overall, it was extremely fun. I'm happy to see that the game is finally ready, no more obvious bugs showing up.

Having the terrain moving around on the table was fun, so I'll keep using this optional rule on every game I play.

The only but is that I didn't design the most effective fighters for this battle. I should had set them as heavy fighters, instead of light, but this is not a design flaw as much as a strategy error on building the fleets.

The rulebook should be completely revised by the end of the month. When this happens, I'll finnaly upload it here on my blog. Until then, expect more batreps soon!

*End of Transmission* 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pax Stellarum - Almost done

Some people have been inquiring me lately about my homebrew and ETA. The news are that the rules are already revised, and the revising of the writing is almost finished, too.

Currently, I'm defining stats for some fleets of the most popular space combat sci fi shows, such as Babylon 5 and Star Trek. This will allow players to test the game without having to go through the design system first.

As for now, my idea is having Centauri and Narn fleets done for B5, and Romulan and Klingon fleets ready for Star Trek.

These would be released with the rulebook, and from then on, I'll be releasing new fleet stats every week, hopefully. My voluntary editor, Tim White, is going to work on some Battlefleet Gothic stats to start with.

Once the rulebook is completely revised, I'll upload it on my GoogleDocs page - there is a link for it on the upper right corner of this blog. 

Next, Tim is going to revise the writing of the Design Rules. Once this is done, I'll be uploading that document, too, so players may be able to build their own ships.

There is also a Design Tool, which I built on Excel to help players create their own ships. This tool calculates everything for you, so you don't have to worry about costs, mass occupancy, etc. All you need to do is select what you want and keep an eye on the validation warnings. These will tell you if anything you're selecting is illegal for that hull size/type of ship.

As a matter of fact, you don't quite need to read the design rules to be able to start building your own ships, as the validation warnings will keep you on the line. That document is simply a reference if you want to understand why the design tool won't let you do this or that.

Now, what can you you expect of Pax Stellarum?

Well, my goal when I started designing my own ruleset was to have a single system to play all my different fleets, from distinct sci fi universes, with high level of game detail and tactics, while being fast. In fact, the motto of my game is "One Ruleset to Play Them All".

I believe I succeeded on the speed of play issue. I don't think there is another system with that much detail that plays that fast.

Pax Stellarum has a unique movement system, a mix of cinematic and inertial based systems. It requires you to think in advance how much do you want each ship to be able to move on the subsequent turn, and proceed to the thrust adjustment right away.

There are lots of special orders that can be issued to your ships, allowing them to perform a multitude of different tasks. 

There are about 10 different weapon types, each with a number of stats that can be customized, so the number of different weapons you can create is virtually infinite. 

You can also design fighters and troops. Each of them may have different abilities (traits), so no 2 units on this game work exactly the same.

There is almost no bookeeping involved. The system is supposed to work with tokens on the table, but those who prefer to keep things on the paper will find it to be rather easy, too.

I'm checking with a buddy about implementing a professional layout to the rulebook. This is his field of work and he believes he can have this done in less than a month once he has the edited rulebook in hands.

As I'm too excited about having my first version of the game released ASAP, I believe I'll leave the upgraded layout version for the second edition. I believe feedback form other players will naturally lead me to change a couple things, so a second edition should not take long.

Concerning the layout, I'm going to need some drawings to ilustrate the rulebook. I have decent drawing skills, so I'll start working on some pics. In case anyone out there have their own ilustrations that would like to contribute with to my rulebook, be my guest!

That's it for now. Hope to have more news soon!

*End of Transmission*

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Aquarians!

My 3º Fleet of Starfleet Wars is done! Check the pics:

The paint scheme for them was:

 - Black spray primer
- 2 layers of medium drybrush with Tamyia Acrylic Metallic Blue X-13
- 1 layer of light drybrush with Vallejo Game Color Magic Blue
- 1 layer of light drybrush with Revell Enamel Light Blue 50
- 1 layer of light drybrush with Vallejo Game Color Jade Green
- Engines on Vallejo Model Color Orange Fluo
- Semi-glow varnish, to give a somewhat moist look

Now there are only 2 fleets to go: the Avarians and the Terrans. While I wait for the birdies to arrive, I'll focus on getting as many ship stats created for Pax Stellarum as I can, so people can play my homebrew right away, without having to go over the design tool.

I already designed and entire Centauri fleet, and now I'm going to work on the Narn to oppose them. 

*End of Transmission*