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PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2004 10:54 pm 
Wizened Witch

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From Mahttew Sprange on the Mongoose boards:

Hi guys,

I thought I would take the time to update you on the new B5 Space Combat game (A Call to Arms), let you know where things are headed at the moment and give you a chance to make a few comments of your own.

First off, a big thank you to everyone who sent in a word of support for a range of B5 ship miniatures. My inbox did indeed break under the strain (well, nearly. . .) and we were glad to see support for such games was still strong. We have had a word to the powers that be (Warner Brothers) and so, come October, you will start seeing Fleet box sets in your local stores.

Now for the bad news - at least, for a lot of you. And, please, let me explain the reasons why this is so

A Call to Arms functions as a stand alone game, allowing you to fight B5 battles in space to your heart's content. It will also have links to the RPG, so if your players have moved into positions of great responsibility, they will be able to lead entire fleets to war. That is the first point - A Call to Arms is a fleet game, concentrating on the manoeuvring of ships across thousands of miles of space. With these rules you can (we certainly have!) re-enact the Battle of Corianna VI, Babylon 5's secession, even the Battle of the Line. Hex grids are gone, leaving free-form movement over a 4x4' or, better a 6x4' board.

Right from the box, you can use large scale or Fleet Action scale miniatures - it makes no difference to the rules and you could even (in theory) have one fleet made of one scale and your opponent's of the other. Though, granted, that will look a bit weird when things get up close and personal! The scale of the counters included in the box (which will include all ships covered in the game - nearly 100 of them) will likely be of the large scale. The reason for this? You can see it coming. . .

The miniatures we produce in support of this game will be large scale. We looked long and hard at both sets of ships but having played many games of Battlefleet Gothic in the past, we could just not get past the sheer dominance and presence of the large scale models - these things look _good_. Also, freed from the constraints of a hex gridded sheet, there is no need for one ship to be the size of a hex (or nearasdamnit). In short, we are going for large scale because this is a miniatures game and miniatures should be impressive.

The two main arguments against this (and many of you did put it to me in your mails!) are a) you already have large FA fleets and b) larger models cost more. The second point is easier for us to deal with - we will be chopping the price of almost the entire large scale range by at least $1 a piece, and likely more. In addition, the fleet box sets we bring out will not only feature a rulebook with lots of variant ships, but with the miniatures alone are likely to represent a 30-40% Dollar saving over the original prices.

The fleet box sets may well be the only thing we send to retail stores (we are already asking retailers to accept quite a few comprehensive blister ranges on several other lines). Everything else will be done via mail order on our web site. This means you will be able to order individual ships (or even individual parts of individual ships) and maybe, just maybe, we will release a range of Fleet Action scale miniatures as well, thus taking care of argument A above. We'll have to see how everything pans out, but this is the intention right now.

So, about the game itself. . . Well, it doesn't matter whether you use large scale, FA scale or counters - no conversion between them is necessary. About 95% of all large scale ships AoG did miniatures for are playable right out of the box. Plus the Excalibur/Victory-class (if you want this ship, BTW, make sure you are at the Mongoose stand at Origins and Gen Con this year - it will go on general release, but not until much, much later). Play is fast and the core rules are relatively simple (you will pick the game up in 10 minutes or so from playing), but everything is focussed on the Babylon 5 atmosphere. For example, the tactics used by Sheridan to liberate Proxima 3 by multiple Jump Point entries can be used in this game (though you better have Minbari or better Jump Engines, or you may miss your target by a fair margin!). If you are the Captain of the Churchill, or any other ship that is crippled, on fire and in desperate straits, then you may be able to convince your crew to make the ultimate sacrifice. Alternatively, if you pound an enemy ship repeatedly, you may well be able to force it to surrender, regardless of what its player wishes! There are quite a few of these 'Special Actions' that players can attempt that owe everything to the TV show and hammer home that you are not playing just another space combat game but one that is intrinsically Babylon 5 in origin. No matter what fleets you are using.

The main box set is likely to be priced at $49.95, but for that you get a 64 page rulebook, a 128 page ship recognition guide, a bundle full of colour counters to get your fleets underway, and one or two other bits and pieces we have not finalised speccing yet.

So, that is what we are doing with the game and why. I acknowledge now that we are not going to pleased everyone with this take, but there are two things you can take comfort in.

1. Even if you are one of the people who took the time and trouble (thanks for that!) to write and tell me that if it were not FA scale, you would go nowhere near it, remember that the game itself supports FA and the chances are that you will still be able to buy the miniatures you want.

2. A Call to Arms need not be the last word in B5 space combat games. Not by a long shot. If all goes well, I for one would like to see a more complex ship-scale game (this would work very well for an RPG supplement we have planned next year) and then perhaps a fighter-scale game.

You never know!

Anyway, thank you for reading this far. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to shout out here or drop me a line. Even FA scale hate mail is welcomed

Be seeing you. . .



I am petty stoked. New minis, playable fleet scale rules, and hexless movement. Can't wait.



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PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 2:17 pm 
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I kind of get the feeling that this will end up like that the last game. Call me a little negative, but I may pass on this one at first.

Also, I am looking to see what the new Silhouette fleet scales will be. They have been streamlined and should be pretty impressive.

Jonathan


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PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 10:56 pm 
Wizened Witch

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Just like I'll pass on any upcoming Silhouette game.



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2004 5:43 am 
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Count Zero wrote:
They have been streamlined and should be pretty impressive.

Jonathan


I thought streamlining was for pussies ! 8)

C



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2004 6:47 am 
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Nice! Having played both hex-based and non-hex based space combat, I prefer the non-hex-based type myself. Works well for naval battles as well. I'm looking forward to this.

Chris



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2004 7:26 am 
Wizened Witch

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Me too. The morale rules sound cool as well. Advantages for attacking through multiple jump points (though requiring Mimbari jump drives or better) will be covered too.



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2004 11:32 am 
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BlanchPrez wrote:
Nice! Having played both hex-based and non-hex based space combat, I prefer the non-hex-based type myself. Works well for naval battles as well. I'm looking forward to this.

Chris


I prefer non-hex based as a whole. If you are going to have hexes you might as well just have a board.

Jonathan


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2004 11:36 am 
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Lowly Uhlan wrote:
Me too. The morale rules sound cool as well. Advantages for attacking through multiple jump points (though requiring Mimbari jump drives or better) will be covered too.


I will wait to see the execution of it. While I enjoyed the original B5 game I found it rather ponderus. I really dislike battletech/SFB style games which the original B5 was. There were some neat concepts in the game but as a whole I found the execution of it a little off. Like I said... I will judge it after I play the new version, but it seems like it will be heavily influenced by the old one.

Jonathan


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2004 11:36 am 
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Lowly Uhlan wrote:
Just like I'll pass on any upcoming Silhouette game.


By the way... I still have your CEF miniatures if you every want to play Heavy Gear again. They are yours if you want them.

Jonathan


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2004 1:21 pm 
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Lowly Uhlan wrote:
A Call to Arms functions as a stand alone game, allowing you to fight B5 battles in space to your heart's content. It will also have links to the RPG, so if your players have moved into positions of great responsibility, they will be able to lead entire fleets to war. That is the first point - A Call to Arms is a fleet game, concentrating on the manoeuvring of ships across thousands of miles of space. With these rules you can (we certainly have!) re-enact the Battle of Corianna VI, Babylon 5's secession, even the Battle of the Line. Hex grids are gone, leaving free-form movement over a 4x4' or, better a 6x4' board.


Well this should be interesting. There were hundreds if not throusands of ships in these battles. Not to mention that Battle of the Line would be really boring to reproduce. It would be very one sided :)

Now, Coriana 6, that would be extremely interesting to try and reproduce and see what happens when you play it to the end instead of the big time out from Lorian.



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2004 10:24 pm 
Wizened Witch

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Count Zero wrote:
[quote:05ab3dd710="Lowly Uhlan"]Me too. The morale rules sound cool as well. Advantages for attacking through multiple jump points (though requiring Mimbari jump drives or better) will be covered too.


I will wait to see the execution of it. While I enjoyed the original B5 game I found it rather ponderus. I really dislike battletech/SFB style games which the original B5 was. There were some neat concepts in the game but as a whole I found the execution of it a little off. Like I said... I will judge it after I play the new version, but it seems like it will be heavily influenced by the old one.

Jonathan[/quote:05ab3dd710]

No it won't be heavily influenced by the old one. It doesn't say it will be anywhere in any of the material I've posted. Unless you count them being based on the same show as heavily influenced. No where near as much crunch. Since both games are based on the same show there will be concepts that need to be covered under 2 different rules systems. It won't play like B5W.

B5W and battletech had nothing in common beyond specific hit locations, specific weapons firing. I've played both, the only other similarity is that they are both very involved, B5W took a long time to play. Having different hit locations to pound through is a staple of many SF minis games. Rules that actually simulate something. Try playing some besides the one system that you insist is the best. When it comes to SF minis games, I really don't think you know what you're talking about.

But on the other hand I don't see much of a difference between Heavy Gear and Clicky games, rules lite, no detail, it's just a matter of personal preference.



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2004 11:08 pm 
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Lowly Uhlan wrote:
[quote:6d757705ca="Count Zero"][quote:6d757705ca="Lowly Uhlan"]Me too. The morale rules sound cool as well. Advantages for attacking through multiple jump points (though requiring Mimbari jump drives or better) will be covered too.


I will wait to see the execution of it. While I enjoyed the original B5 game I found it rather ponderus. I really dislike battletech/SFB style games which the original B5 was. There were some neat concepts in the game but as a whole I found the execution of it a little off. Like I said... I will judge it after I play the new version, but it seems like it will be heavily influenced by the old one.

Jonathan[/quote:6d757705ca]

No it won't be heavily influenced by the old one. It doesn't say it will be anywhere in any of the material I've posted. Unless you count them being based on the same show as heavily influenced. No where near as much crunch. Since both games are based on the same show there will be concepts that need to be covered under 2 different rules systems. It won't play like B5W.

B5W and battletech had nothing in common beyond specific hit locations, specific weapons firing. I've played both, the only other similarity is that they are both very involved, B5W took a long time to play. Having different hit locations to pound through is a staple of many SF minis games. Rules that actually simulate something. Try playing some besides the one system that you insist is the best. When it comes to SF minis games, I really don't think you know what you're talking about.

But on the other hand I don't see much of a difference between Heavy Gear and Clicky games, rules lite, no detail, it's just a matter of personal preference.[/quote:6d757705ca]

Clearly I hit a personal sore spot. Chill out a little.

The post I read earlier on their main board seemed to hit at influence from the previous game and from what I had heard, some of the original designers were going to be on the design team. But that may have changed or I could have misunderstood.

My experiences with B5 and my experiences with Star Fleet Battles and Battletech, see similarities. They are detail based games. You know how much armor is melted off, where it hit, and the exact system damaged or whittled away.

As to Heavy Gear and the silhouette games, they are effects based. The basic concept with those is why track how many damage points you have lost when it really has no impact on the performance of the machine. You only worry about damage when you actually effect a system. Generally, an effects based system lends itself to speed of play.

It is more about personal preference. I prefer to have something that is fast and deadly than heavy detail. I really dislike the book keeping of detail based games.

One of the reasons I wasn't a big fan of B5that while I like the electronic warefare aspect of the game and the manuevering, I really hated the hexes and the bookkeeping. I didn't really enjoy the game until we played the game with the different templates that one time. While I hope the game is good, I don't want to get my hopes up. I will wait until I play it.

Besides, you haven't even seen the rules yet... a little soon to defend it... the rules could blow ass at this point for all we know. If I remember correctly, you are on the playtest team.... be sure to be critical. Mongoose makes good RPG books, but their ability to make tactical games could be lacking. This is their first venture into this area. I will have to wait and see.

BTW... when did you start hating Heavy Gear so much?

Jonathan


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 8:11 am 
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Count Zero wrote:
Besides, you haven't even seen the rules yet... a little soon to defend it... the rules could blow ass at this point for all we know. If I remember correctly, you are on the playtest team.... be sure to be critical. Mongoose makes good RPG books, but their ability to make tactical games could be lacking. This is their first venture into this area. I will have to wait and see.


Personally, I can't wait to give a narrativist perspective of the rules on a tactical game. :twisted:



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 8:38 am 
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cczernia wrote:
[quote:28f36c2f50="Count Zero"]Besides, you haven't even seen the rules yet... a little soon to defend it... the rules could blow ass at this point for all we know. If I remember correctly, you are on the playtest team.... be sure to be critical. Mongoose makes good RPG books, but their ability to make tactical games could be lacking. This is their first venture into this area. I will have to wait and see.


Personally, I can't wait to give a narrativist perspective of the rules on a tactical game. :twisted:[/quote:28f36c2f50]

With the sub-plot generation for Heavy Gear you can do that. There are sub-plots like "Love Prevails" where one pilot from each side are lovers or close friends and won't shoot at each other. There is also vendetta where two pilots have a grudge and have to fight one another. You can do quite a bit with Heavy Gear in that vein. Of couse, with good scenario creation, any tactical game can be slightly narrativist.

Eric, I can't remember, did B5 have scenario generation rules or was it mainly just shoot the crap out of one another? Didn't they have books with missions?

Jonathan


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 8:56 am 
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Count Zero wrote:
With the sub-plot generation for Heavy Gear you can do that. There are sub-plots like "Love Prevails" where one pilot from each side are lovers or close friends and won't shoot at each other. There is also vendetta where two pilots have a grudge and have to fight one another. You can do quite a bit with Heavy Gear in that vein. Of couse, with good scenario creation, any tactical game can be slightly narrativist.

Eric, I can't remember, did B5 have scenario generation rules or was it mainly just shoot the crap out of one another? Didn't they have books with missions?


It would be cool if you could convince a captain to stand down during the battles for Earth. Some of that other stuff sounds cool, too. We'll just have to see if the rules are simple enough to keep me awake. Else, we'll just have to rewrite the game... with HERO POINTS :P



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 9:18 am 
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cczernia wrote:

It would be cool if you could convince a captain to stand down during the battles for Earth. Some of that other stuff sounds cool, too. We'll just have to see if the rules are simple enough to keep me awake. Else, we'll just have to rewrite the game... with HERO POINTS :P


The morale aspect sounds really cool. I hope it is very cinematic rather than simulationist. The B5 setting is certainly more cinematic than simulationist. I would love to see ships getting torn to peices and crumbling every turn. Since it does sound like they will be doing fleet stuff, it will most likely be rather cinematic.

And of course.. there are always hero points.

Jonathan


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 9:21 am 
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Count Zero wrote:

Eric, I can't remember, did B5 have scenario generation rules or was it mainly just shoot the crap out of one another? Didn't they have books with missions?

Jonathan


There were a whole lot of published scenarios in the Showdowns supplements.



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 9:22 am 
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Lowly Uhlan wrote:
[quote:533186501b="Count Zero"]

Eric, I can't remember, did B5 have scenario generation rules or was it mainly just shoot the crap out of one another? Didn't they have books with missions?

Jonathan


There were a whole lot of published scenarios in the Showdowns supplements.[/quote:533186501b]

That's what I though... how were they?

Jonathan


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 9:26 am 
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Count Zero wrote:
The morale aspect sounds really cool. I hope it is very cinematic rather than simulationist. The B5 setting is certainly more cinematic than simulationist. I would love to see ships getting torn to peices and crumbling every turn. Since it does sound like they will be doing fleet stuff, it will most likely be rather cinematic.

And of course.. there are always hero points.

Jonathan


It was cinematic but there was certainly a level of tactics involved. JMS wanted to show that they do use military tactics in B5 and they just don't fly at each other and shoot. During the commentary to "Signs and Portents" they talk about the tactics they are using to manipulate the raiders.



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 9:32 am 
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Count Zero wrote:
[quote:96a9b0b236="Lowly Uhlan"][quote:96a9b0b236="Count Zero"]

Eric, I can't remember, did B5 have scenario generation rules or was it mainly just shoot the crap out of one another? Didn't they have books with missions?

Jonathan


There were a whole lot of published scenarios in the Showdowns supplements.[/quote:96a9b0b236]

That's what I though... how were they?

Jonathan[/quote:96a9b0b236]

Pretty good. The big engagements required more than 2 players, so I didn't play too many of those. Loved the hyperspace battles and the missions to attack and defend planets in close orbits. Asrteroid feild scenarios were fucking nasty, especially when playing with hexless movement. Tournaments with no conditions beyond a time limit and equal point value were my favorites though.



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