Friday, June 12, 2015

Weekend Warrior: SF Knight Hawks

Another too-infrequent game that I got to play with my friend John S. the other weekend: Star Frontiers Knight Hawks, in the open-table miniature format. I'd gotten John to play this once on the hexmap a few years ago, but this was his first time playing with miniatures, ruler, and protractor (effectively a whole new game). Here I'm using my house rules (e.g., point-value setup; turning spaced out evenly throughout a move; assault scouts with 25 hull points; etc.), and custom miniature duplicates to play.

Setup -- For his ships, John picked 3 UPF Assault Scouts (cost: 2 mega-credits each), while I picked 2 Sathar Frigates. We play on a table covered in black vinyl, with rulers, protractors, and ship and game statistics on index cards. John set up his scouts in opposite corners of the table, while I put my frigates together in the center on my side (all traveling the maximum allowed initial speed of 10).

Turn 1 -- John tries to split the board into thirds with his scouts. I respond by sending my frigates together after the left-most scout, firing all weapons systems (including laser batteries, forward-firing laser cannons, rocket batteries, and torpedoes). Even though the scout gets to use evasive maneuvers to try and dodge the torpedoes, I still manage to connect with one, and this blows that first scout to smithereens.

Turn 2 --  John swings his fast-moving scouts around at me, and I slow down (partly to avoid running off the table-edge) and try to aim back at him. This turn we're out of range for any weapons fire.

Turn 3A -- John brings his scouts in two attack. Unfortunately, one of them is traveling a bit too fast and doesn't manage to get lined up for the assault-rocket shot (left-hand side in the picture). I fire defensive ICM's at the other one and avoid getting hit too badly.

Turn 3B --  Continuing to slow down, I swing my frigates around as tightly as possible to return fire. I don't get them lined up with the forward-firing cannons, but nonetheless I'm in range with laser and rocket batteries, and these mage to connect with scout #2. Below, it explodes into smokey debris.

Turn 4 --  At this point I have an overwhelming advantage. John makes one more suicide-run, and this time I can get the laser cannons lined up and take out scout #3. Victory to the Sathar!

Conclusions -- John was at a clear disadvantage here, both learning the game basically for the first time, trying to manage the momentum from movement in space, and also dice-rolls continuing to be skewed wildly in my favor. While I'm accustomed since age 13 at the SFKH movement rules, I can see from a number of new players that it can be very difficult to adjust to this mechanic (John leaned back at the end said, "Trying to manage the movement is very draining", and he's certainly not the first with that sentiment). Also, strategically it's probably not best to split up one's forces as was done with the scouts here; better to have supporting and combined fire when possible.

One other thing is that I was trying to remember most of the rules from memory (I never printed out my house rules, for example), without having played in about a year. In retrospect I glitched one thing up: My recollection was that forward-firing weapons only work in a 10° arc to either side, but looking up the rule in the SFKH Conversion Booklet afterward, it's actually a more generous 30° arc. I'm not sure if that would have changed anything noticeably here, but for next time I should have some key rules points printed out. Also: Might be nice to have a list of ship names so not everything is "Scout 1", "Scout 2", etc.


  1. So cool to see this game still getting play. I still have all my stuff. I remember playing with the asteroid belt rules, I think from Warriors of White Light? Might need to dig my set out and see.

    1. I know, I'm still trying to scratch my itch from not playing enough back in the day! You're totally right -- the Campaign Book has rules for fighting in an asteroid belt, and that totally does get used in the Warriors of White Light Module (assaulting a pirate base, I think).