Saturday, December 21, 2013

SciFi Saturday – Miniature House Rules

Since I've gotten into assembling & playtesting the Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks miniatures in only the past year, I've developed a small set of house rules that I find it conducive to play by. Some of the normal SFKH rules don't work so well on an open (hexless) play space, or become too fiddly, especially for non-hardcore wargamers (i.e., casual friends and acquaintances). Therefore at the end of a year of testing this is how I run the game these days:
  1. Generally my basic boardgame rules are in effect, in regards to speeds, orbital movement, docking at stations and carriers, and assault scouts having 25 hull points.
  2. Fleets are chosen by my simple point-based method. Each side gets index cards for each ship. Protractors should have the 60° marks highlighted for turning.
  3. Defender chooses a board edge or sets up planets & satellites, as appropriate. Attacker then sets up ships on a board edge, documenting initial speed. Defender then sets up ships, on opposite edge or near planet if any. (This is rationalized by defender sensors informing them of incoming fleet configuration, and allowing them to respond intelligently.) Maximum starting speed is 10 for any ship. Attacker moves first. Roll dice if attacker/defender is not obvious.
  4. Pre-measuring is allowed before any move or fire designation. (Again, this is rationalized by advanced sensors giving full information on distances, and maintains continuity with the hex-based boardgame.)
  5. Measurement is specifically made from front-post to front-post of all ship miniatures. Round to the nearest inch for all measurements (esp. range diffusion: down if under 1/2", up if 1/2" or more). When used, line protractors up on top of ships; usually there's a key bulge that fits into the pen-hole on the protractor.
  6. On movement, player must document (write down) all current speeds first, then make actual movements on the table. No take-backs of the maneuvering are allowed once the ship has moved from its initial position. (Unlike in the hex-based game, unwinding movement to change a decision is simply too difficult.)
  7. Turning is made via my alternate movement rule: divide current speed by the MR and round down; this is the minimum number of inches the ship must travel before each 60°rotation. (This seems more realistic and makes it easier to move ships otherwise in close proximity.) Note that frequently the protractor edge is the only thing needed to measure these short steps (tape measure rarely necessary.)
  8. Defensive fire is taken only against opponent ships' final location in a move. The book rule that permits firing at any closest point on a move is not used. (Trying to mark the closest point in any move versus all opponent ships in open space is much too difficult; and this acceptably simulates constant motion throughout the turn.)
  9. Forward-firing cannons can hit targets within 30° left or right of the nose (as noted in the Conversion Booklet). The Head-On Shot rule is ignored (because it is too fiddly and prone to argumentation on the open tabletop).
  10. No ramming or collisions are allowed. Place ship miniatures as near to each other as space allows on any close movement.
So that's what works pretty well for me at the moment.  Do you have any boardgame house rules that you think are critical that I've overlooked?


  1. Yes! The most important house rule: All ships must be named!

    It adds a bit of fun to the game when your opponent says he's firing at the Days of Future Past instead of just the dreadnought.

    Also, a non-critical house rule is the non-critical hit table--just for some silliness.

    1. I really like those ideas! Next I play I might invoke the "must name" ships rule, and either (1) offer my list of SFKH names, or (2) use it as a Rorschach test to see what people come up with.

      I like the non-critical hit table, more likely to use that when RPG PCs are involved and the laundry room, still, etc., hit closer to home, literally. :-)

    2. Your idea for offering players a list of names to pick from can give subsequent games the feel of a campaign: Ships that get destroyed in one game are crossed off the list, and those names can't be used again. :)

    3. Another excellent idea, keep 'em coming. :-)