At time of writing I have yet to play a game but have read the rules a number of times. I have played a number of spaceship games, my favourites being full thrust and colonial battlefleet. For space battles in books i like C J Cherryh and for films itis Star Wars. I mention this just so you know my preferances so you will be aware of bias.
The style and layout is excellent. Clear well writen rules with easy to understand diagrams and no clutter on the pages such as an annoying water mark. The art is i think computer generated. This has produced spaceship scenes that I personaly find very plasing even though they are not in the gritty, smell the oil style that i usually prefer. I feel that the background races have fared less well from this style. I did find the positioning of the ship descriptions in the middle of the book odd as they are between two psrts of the actual gameplay rules.
The rules themselves (not scenarios, ship stats etc) take up only about 5 pages. This is a huge for me as I find it increasingly difficult to remmember lots of rules across different games. I also believe that good rules should be almost invisible during a game so one can concentrate on the tactics/moves etc.
The desine is clearly stated as trying to create a fast moving game allowing many shipsto be used. It succeeds very well at this aim in my opinion.
Style is cinematic so ships have a max speed, again I like this in a spaceship game as it makes things playable on my table.
Each turn players secretly give each of thier ships and missiles a speed which can be faster or slower than previous speed by as much as the acceleration. This is done with chits. Next players dice for initiative. Initiative player picks one ship or missile at a time and the owning player resolves its attacks and movement before the next ship is chosen. This looks like it will speed up play compared to order writing systems such as full thrust or star fleet battles si i would be prepared to try bigger battles than i usually do.
There is a good number of weapon systems and each faction has two types of fighter. Weapons use ammo tracking and flights of four fighters separately tack ammo for each fighter but the cards for each ship are very clear so this looks like it won't take up to much time and I like the added tactical consideration of when to fire (though there are no range modifiers and ships do not block line of sight do you want to waste that ammo on the destroyer?). Whilst on the topic of fighters, the imperial carrier has 6 flights and the battleships type have 4 so they probably won't be dominant if that is your thing. I could easily be wrong but the fighter stats dont look that powerfull either. All weapon systems can target fighters. I am not keen on this but ought to prevent the fighter spam that riuns Full thrust.
All characteristics have a value (good poor etc) when ships shoot at each other, try to get missle lock, weapon hit try to penetrate armour etc. these stats are compared on a table to find the resukt required. This is an elegant system that i like but I feel that the writer has been to wedded to this system so it has been utilised everywhere even when it is slightly unsuitable. Weapon damage and armour are effectivly a number but this is hidden by the assigning of a rating. I now have to remmember the rating and idealy also the number. This also aplies to ship speed. A small quible I admit.
Weapons cause damge that destroy hull points. All hull points gone = dead ship. Critical hits (1 on a d10) move damage up one grade.
There are no ship generation rules or point or tonnage costs. This is coupled with each faction having a single class of heavy cruiser, light cruiser, carrier etc. I would defiantly buy an expansion with more ship classes but wish they had been included. I would like a CL to be an ECM ship, a small ship killer or the flagship of a destroyer squadren. This is not currently possible here but as a limited game it would be possible to become skilled (know the ships) with a small time investment. This is an advantage to some.
The counters for the ships are great and possibly worth the cost of the game. For miniature enthusiasts it would be very simple to just replace them with ships with only one extra rule (were to measure arcs from). The game provides anumber of individualy named ship counters for each ship class for each faction which is excellent.Each named ship has an acompanying card showing its weapons, ammo and hull points, all very well done and should make game play very fast.
There are a whopping 10 scenarios!
I am wanting the ship design variety I can get from Colonial Battle fleet or Full Thrust but am loving the play speed and the number of ships it can handle. I think the writer has missed the opportunity to make this game realy appeal to the wide audience it deserves because he focused very much on making it appropriate to his background. This could be addressed by making your own shops. I am very happy with my purchase and think this has a definate place for my gaming, primarily with my friends who like a lighter game and will be using my ships at my house.
I would love the writer to add in a ship point, designe system buy you should buy it now anyway as the price is great.
[4 of 5 Stars!]