Federation Commander: The Kids Love It!
May 15, 2014
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The D7 had 20 internals at the end, but the CA took its last frame hit before we were finished marking the disruptor hits…!
So I’d put my son through a drone scenario the weekend before. His space gamer pal had started asking for Star Fleet Battles the week before. Then last night he came back for a second helping, so I put Federation Commander on the table. I used the fleet scale ships for the classic CA/D7 duel. I scrambled to keep the game moving, explain everything, and keep things relatively fair and they were done with their duel in a little more than an hour.
This is not his first choice for game night. (He rather play Settlers.) Nevertheless, when those shields started going down, it started to get tense. These guys made some odd choices every now and then, but they totally get that you want to maneuver such that you can target your heavy weapons through the vulnerable hex sides. And thought I never really taught them the precise rule for which shield takes the damage when a boundary is split, they ended up screaming the expected ruling at each other when it got to where it counted.
It’s eight “impulses” before they got their power back and their weapons cycled. In that time there is some frantic maneuver to achieve some kind of superior position. In the final turn of the game, my son had overshot the Federation ship and worked within the limits of the turn modes and side slip modes to gradually bring his disruptors into arc. It was exciting. This tense dance of destruction is the heart of this game and the thing that sets it apart from other “move and shoot” games. Even 11 and 12 year olds grasp the essence of it in short order, though, and I can’t help but start quoting Star Trek II under my breath.
The kids got introduced to drones in combat this time, though the fact that each ship has one at fleet scale means that they tend to cancel out. My son’s ADD was highly effective in this game, while the Federation ship had to resort to using its tractor to grab one drone that was threatening to go through a down shield. Things got interesting when that tractor beam was destroyed by disruptor fire later on!
The Federation ship exploded half way through turn three while the Klingon was merely bloodied. (He was surprised when he couldn’t eject his warp core to get out of the fix he was in. Sorry man, you’re dead.) My son’s friend was peeved that I refused to explain the shuttle rules in this first duel. He still wants more ships on the board– and at squadron scale to boot. They grasp the basic movement rules, the idea of spending power impulse to impulse to either speed up or slow down slightly, and they definitely get overloads and shield reinforcement. The fact that this is relatively cumbersome and complex compared to the typical euro game is no deterrent to them in any way. They don’t really “see” the rules and the sequence of play so much– they just smell the blood in the water! I think a rematch has a strong chance of coming to pass….