First Contact War Playtesting


Yep! While this scenario book is based off of “historical” battles IE ones that actually took place in my campaign, the honest truth is that my record keeping for this wasn’t exactly the best. This was far back enough that I was using running totals and paper for everything. Yes, I was running a Starfire campaign on pen and paper. I actually have my earliest turn sheets bolted together and shelved (they won’t even fit in a 3″ binder). As well, these battles were all fought with the original 4th edition ruleset (even before ULTRA was a thing), so there’s no guarantee that the balance then is the same as in SOLAR.

What this all means is that I don’t have an exact ship count for either side to fall back on, and that actual ingame meta may have changed with the versions. The latter isn’t probably a factor (all these battles are pretty low tech; not much has changed there), but not having the exact ship counts means I have to do some reverse engineering. My… fiction (and that’s a term that’s being generous) gave me a few ideas, but it wasn’t what I would call totally accurate.

I went through all my records and notes, and worked out roughly what was where and when. And I think I was pretty close overall. But close isn’t good enough. I have to go and validate my research to see if it plays like it should. The answer? Kind of.

Initial Results

There’s four scenarios in total here, and the first one was the initial surprise attack. The reconstruction here was definitely the most off out of all of the scenarios so far. In every playtest of the original spec, the defenders won. A few times it was close, but right when the tide was turning the attackers simply ran out of ships. This one was also the one that was the fuzziest from all of my notes, and frankly I was expecting something like this. Historically it wasn’t quite a crushing victory for the Sintillans, but it was a fairly solid one. I’ve got a few ideas on how to “rebalance” it so it’s more accurate to what happened, so I expect to do a little retesting soon enough.

deWulf and Sintillan ships in a close engagement, with chits
A few Sintillan ships close in on the remains of the defensive deWulf flotilla.

The second scenario went a lot better. I had some harder numbers, and the result was about what I expected. It was supposed to be a total victory for the deWulf, and that’s exactly what I got. The actual damage dealt was a little on the lighter side however, so I think I may have been missing a few Sintillan ships in the order of battle. Still, it was a lot closer than the first scenario.

The third scenario is pretty much on the mark. It’s a hard fight for the attackers, with a very poor force mix for the job (that’s what you get when you’re fielding frigates when the other guys have destroyers!). But with a bit of good planning, the attackers can get quite a few kills before they are either destroyed or break off. It’s a long way to the planet, so they have some maneuver room (and the possibility of organizing a bit of defeat in detail if the defender makes it possible).

Picture of the start of Scenario 3, with Sintillan ships arrayed and some deWulf ships visible in the distance
It’s a long par 5 to the planet! Sintillan forces array themselves for the attack.

What’s next?

I still have to do testing for scenario 4, though that’s also the first one where I have a full fleet TOE for both sides. It should go with a win for the deWulf, but as I recall it was a fairly close fight.

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