Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Celebrating National Games Week

I purchased the Traveller Classic Games book this year and I’ve finally started getting some games out of it.  I’ve started off with Mayday, a classic “Series 120” game from GDW that came out in the late 70’s.  It’s a realistic tactical high-G space game with rules that reflect actual physics.  It’s also the first game in the Traveller board game series and expands on the space combat rules from the first three classic “Little Black Books.”

In order to celebrate National Games week, I lassoed an acquaintance and forced him to play a few turns with me.  We had just 30 minutes to play, so it was just a quick run through of the rules followed by a single battle pass.

Mayday is counter intuitive in a couple of ways….  Ships just don’t go where you want them to as fast as you’d like them to.  And if you are going fast, you’ll move right along even after you don’t want to anymore.  Also, because standard homing missiles move towards the enemy’s present position counter instead of the future position counter, it takes longer for them to contact than you expect.

My friend (who’s never played tabletop war games) said Mayday was like a computer program– without the computer.  He was intrigued by the way the design was all out in the open compared to how computers just hide how everything works.  He insisted that we get together again next week and have a real battle now that we know the rules.

The Classic Games are available here:

http://www.warehouse23.com/item.cgi?FFE005

http://www.farfuture.net/ffe/n9000.html

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11 responses to “Celebrating National Games Week

  1. Mark Smart June 9, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Hi Jeffro. I came across this old blog entry of yours while searching for info about GDW’s “Mayday”. I’m just now learning to play it and wondered if you had any insight…it says in the instructions (and in your post) that a homing missile always tracks the target’s present position counter instead of its future position counter. This seemed weird to me and I thought it should aim for the future position counter (it seems reasonable to assume the missile can see your current speed and direction and calculate where you’ll be in the next movement phase). It looked to me like if you followed the instructions, a homing missile would never hit its target unless the target was standing still or moving directly toward it. Is that right? If you’ve played it a lot I would like any insight you have about that part of the game or others…or if it hasn’t been too many years ago. :) I like this game a lot but am confused about that point. Let me know, thanks.

  2. jeffro June 10, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    That does indeed appear to be how a strict reading of the homing missiles works.

    A guided missile could be maneuvered toward the future position counter as you describe.

    I played a few more games of Mayday after posting this, but have been surprised that later Traveller starship games are mostly unplayable messes.

    Don’t underestimate Mayday!

    It’s more of a simulation than a game, though… not at all like something someone bred on Star Fleet Battles would expect.

  3. Mark Smart June 10, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Yeah, I’m liking the game. I had the box version many years ago, but never actually played it against anyone. Then a couple of weeks ago I discovered that someone had made a CyberBoard “Gamebox” for it:

    http://www.hobsala.com/CB/

    So you can play it over email. I’ve been playing a game with a friend, let me know if you are up for one. :) I made a few new counters for it. CyberBoard is very cool.

  4. Mark Smart July 7, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Hi again.
    I am curious how you handled return fire when you were playing Mayday. In the instructions it is not obvious what happens when multiple ships shoot at the same ship in a turn. Does the target get to return laser fire at every ship that shot at him, or only one?

    If a ship receives laser fire and is intercepted by a missile in the same turn, does it get to do both laser return fire and anti-missile fire during the following return fire phase?

  5. jeffro July 9, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    A strict reading of the rules: as long as you have the Return Fire program running, you can fire lasers back at *any and all ships* that fired at you. Same thing with the Anti-Missile program.

    The turns are relatively long (100 minutes!) so there’s plenty of time to do a lot of different things with the lasers. The computer software is the limiting factor– not the weapons.

  6. Mark Smart July 9, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    That makes sense. So far, I’ve just been using the “Simplified Computer Rule”, so I guess that means you can shoot back at everyone.

    In other news, I am doing some experiments with making the game 3D. From Darell Phillips here I stole the idea of using LEGO blocks to adjust the height of counters to represent the Z coordinate:

    http://boardgamegeek.com/image/86753

    Looks like he’s using Duplo blocks to hold up the miniatures. I got some LEGO 2×2 tiles (no bumps) and stuck Mayday counter labels on them. You can take these and stick them on top of a stack of regular black 2×2 LEGO blocks to represent height. It only makes the game slightly more complicated: when calculating distance between counters, you just add the difference in the number of height blocks to the distance in hexes on the board. Pretty cool, you can have one ship diving down at the other one, etc. Has more of a space feel to it. I have yet to play this way with other live humans, but it worked great for solitaire. Maybe I’ll post some pictures of what the board looks like.

  7. jeffro July 10, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Wow… nice work on the web page! (Also… I played jazz in college… and my first computer was a Commodore 64.) Your Lego stacks look really sweet. Nice job on the counters, too. (I laminated a print-out of a scan of the original sheet and they looked terrible.)

  8. Mark Smart July 10, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Thanks, glad you like the stuff. I’m happy with how it turned out.

  9. Bernie December 12, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    By pairing deals, you’re in a position to attempt new services at little if any expense.

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