Is Star Fleet Battles officially dead?

Discussion in 'Trek Gaming' started by ChallengerHK, May 6, 2019.

  1. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Commander Red Shirt

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    SFB is a game about which I was fanatic in the 80s and early 90s. I finally gave it up because life became too busy and Cole became more and more of an ass, but I still play a game when I can find someone to play (which mostly means me teaching people to play), and on occasion I read the discussion board to see what's happening. Today, I came across this comment there:

    "In its heyday, SFB[Online] would have like, Platinum Hat, 2 RATs, Masters, and World League, so like 5 organized tourney events. These days, to be honest I’d be happy with 3, that would be enough for me. In 2018, we had no Platinum Hat. No World League. One RAT, which took until Mar 2019 to complete, and Masters, which as of Apr 2019 is still stuck in the second round. I’ll generously call it 1 1/3 events in 2018."

    As far as I can tell, the online community at SFBOL were the last people playing. I've already watched it disappearing from cons, and they certainly haven't been publishing much for it recently, preferring to repurpose existing material for SFB Lite/Fed Commander. Is Star Fleet Battles finally dead? With little support from the publisher and no one playing, I think we maybe have to call it.
     
  2. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  3. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Commander Red Shirt

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    OK, they have a web site; that's where I pulled the quote from. But with the lack of new material, and people playing at conventions, what is the evidence that this is a living game?
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
  4. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Some folks do still play it, I'm sure. During the 1980's it had (by comparison to other similar games) a fairly large base of players. The forums are still active though, there's a lot of discussion about A Call to Arms and other systems.

    The big issue that kinda choked SFB was it's ridiculous complexity. The manuals reached a point where you might think you were reading "War and Peace" instead of a game manual. So many standard or advanced or optional rules...

    There's a reason why I don't play anymore!
     
  5. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Commander Red Shirt

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    Tehre are some people still playing the game, yes. While my thread title is admittedly somewhat dramatic, here's what I see:
    • Back in the day, I used to run tournaments. Every game con I attended had something for SFB. Now, as far as I can tell, it's one con in Schenetady and Gen Con.
    • There used to be at least 3-4 major product releases in a year. Now, maybe 1. As I mentioned, they're repurposing everything for SFB Lite (which is roughly like taking Avalon Hill's Bismarck and re-releasing it as Milton Bradley's Battleship), and the rest of their efforts go into miniatures.
    • As the poster I quoted mentioned, the online replacement for FtF gaming has pretty much died out.
    • It used to be that I couldn't keep up with the web site discussion board when I'd go to find out what was new. Now, many of the previously hot threads have died off, and others have a post maybe every few days.
    I largely agree with you on the ridiculous level of complexity, and I would add that after a while I think they were adding complexity for the sake of complexity. Still, some degree of complexity is what I loved about the game. This was not something like a Euro game that required no understanding of strategy, where the luck of the draw from a card deck could reverse everything you had built. I've described it to some people as chess cubed, and while that level of complexity is off-putting to some, I loved it, at least as it was when I played regularly.

    I could go into all sorts of additional reasons why it has apparently died, but my question still remains "Has it died?"
     
  6. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Oh yes - I did love SFB when I first found it (back in the early 80's - little shop in Waco's Richland Mall). Bought the early mini-game books and then the first boxed edition.

    At first, the complexity was there but, manageable and the game could be tons o' fun. Then came the errata and then the new editions and then they got too fat and then came the Arabs...wait...? That's not right!
     
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  7. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Commander Red Shirt

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    Sounds like our experiences were similar.

    I was discussing this on Facebook recently as well. Someone mentioned that he'd like to get the original box set rules and the three expansions and just use those. I'm not thrilled about going that far, but in general I like the idea of pulling out a ton of rules and junking them.

    That having been said, I've put up notices looking for players in probably half a dozen local gamme shops in the Washington DC area, and I got one response.
     
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  8. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It was very, very complex. But I play and enjoy Civilization at higher difficulty levels - I'm not scared of complexity. What got me back when my gaming group played it a few times was how completely crunchy it was, with seemingly no room for fluff or roleplay. I remember one game where there was a Space McGuffin - some sort of powerful tech on a derelict alien ship - that we were all supposed to want. We had three teams: Klingons, Romulans, Federation, I think. I know I was in a Starfleet vessel, teamed with two other more experienced players. "Why are we doing this?" "To get the tech." "Well, should we hail the other teams and see if we can work something out?" "No, we're just going to fight it out." "That doesn't seem in keeping with Starfleet principles..." "Doesn't matter."

    My two teammates left the room at one point because one of them had to smoke, and when they came back, we all ganged up and blew the crap out of them (they refused to surrender). Because while they were gone, I negotiated an arrangement where we would just share the tech with the other players, and as soon as the two players began shooting at anyone again, they were rogue hostiles and criminals under Federation law.

    Yeah, not very nice. But certainly more exciting than the mass quantities of emotionless statistics that had been running (and ruining) the day prior to that. :D

    If the game is dying out, that would be my guess as to why, and honestly, I'm really only surprised it has been around as long as it has given all of the alternate Trek games to play.
     
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  9. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You'd just about have to advertise that you will have a game session running at a Con in the area - and advertise outside of that area for probably two-three months! They're out there but, the survivors are scattered about a bit...

    Might also try posting a new topic on the SFB forums and see if you can get anyone interested. I would suggest focusing on the classic rules or Captain's Edition rather than the later mess.
     
  10. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Commander Red Shirt

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    I gotta tell you, I don't think that will do it. I've talked to a lot of people about this, and I think that not only is the game dead, it's time is passed. Much as I like it, most people are just not into wargames now. Instead, they want simplicity, quickness, and the ability to come back from behind without a lot of thought.

    Agreed on the crunchiness, not so sure about that being the reason for its failure. There is a mentality that goes for wargames, and a mentality that goes for the softer games. I've done both. But the mentality that was attracted to SFB in the first place (as opposed to being dragged in to it) definitely loved the wargame aspect; these were the same people who would play Terrible Swift Sword or War in the West. They did not try to negotiate with Lee or Meade; they sought total victory :-)

    For the record thhough, I created a ruleset for SFB that had a lot of RPG elements to it, although not in the way you describe. I ran it at the last convention where I ran a tournament, and it was a blast.
     
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  11. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I should be taught in the military. So many levels of complexity.
     
  12. Markonian

    Markonian Commodore Commodore

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    Is it very different from the WizKids/Attack Wing tabletop game with models?
     
  13. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Commander Red Shirt

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    I've never played Attack Wing, so take my answer with a grain of salt, but I've watched it at cons. My opinion, it's designed with a very simplistic rules set in order to accommodate fleet actions. The last fleet action I played with SFB used almost every rule available at the time and took three and a half days to play.
     
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  14. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ That sounds about right!

    As to war games in general - they are still very much alive and well. Otherwise, GHQ would be gone, along with Heroics and Ros, Scotia, Rod Langton etc...etc...

    http://www.ghqmodels.com/
    http://www.rodlangton.com/
    http://www.scotiagrendel.com/
    http://www.heroicsandros.co.uk/

    There's a mix of older and younger folks playing some of these and while some are European gamers, there are still a fairly large number of Americans and Canadians (and so forth).

    The Cons for such gamers tend to be focused mostly on such games - and lot of the gamers probably never go to those since they play at home with friends.
     
  15. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    The reason ADB pulled out of ORIGINS is because the convention organizers, if you can call them that, had a terminal case of H.U.A. disease. They moved the con dates up to before Memorial Day in May, before kids were out of school for the summer. Attendance was down across the board, as were sales figures.
     
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  16. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Commander Red Shirt

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    Hey, Garth. I know that that's the official story. It might even be true. My experience with Cole, however, is that he lies the way most people breathe, easily and without thought. Given that I wouldn't be surprised if there's more to the story.

    Even aside from that, though, that answers the question about why there's no presence at Origins. what it doesn't answer is why there's no presence at regional or small conventions. These are not places where ADB would have had a presence, aside from sometimes providing prize support. I used to get 24 people for a tournament at a regional convention. My understanding is that they can no longer get 16 people at GenCon. That's another death knell.
     
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  17. ALF

    ALF Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Back in the early 90s I scored some of the source books at a comic shop and I still love leafing through them. At the time, I asked a few of my buddies who had played the game to let me in on a session. They told me that the game was incredibly long, frustrating at times and on a very steep learning curve, and that I'd have more fun literally playing anything else but that game! :lol:

    I was able to scratch my itch with Interplay's Starfleet Command game, which I've always felt (especially with the hex styles) had a progenitor in SFB. Or at least was heavily influenced by SFB.

    Great to see the games are still available on that website. The card game version looks very interesting:
    http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/sfbf_card_game.shtml
     
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  18. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Commander Red Shirt

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    Starfleet Command was based on SFB, and I do love that game as well. It is a different beast, though, because of the real time aspect. It mimics SFB extremely well, though, all things considered.

    Your friends were probably right. I can tell you that every time I teach someone nowadays, what I hear is "That was OK, but [insert more simple game here] is better." When I ask why, the answer is "It's simpler and faster." And that much is true. We used to joke back in the day that SFB was more of a lifestyle than a game. :-)
     
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  19. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    FASA ship combat you could come in cold. But SFB--you're either REALLY into it, or not at all.
     
  20. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Commander Red Shirt

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    Last year I talked to a store owner about running old wargames. She asked me what I would run, and I said "Star Fleet Battles, Car Wars, Gettysburg or Bismarck." She said "I'd be interested in all of those except Star Fleet Battles" :-)
     
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