In an act that I was 97% sure I would regret, I was persuaded into a livestream to celebrate the launch of Stars and Steel last weekend. (Saturday 16th May 2020, 11pm local Singapore time). In general, I think that the hour went well, and while it will never make either myself or Marcin celebrities and I don't expect TMZ to call me up, I am relatively happy with how it went. At least, I don't feel that we totally embarrassed ourselves.
In an ideal world, a launch like this would happen at a convention. We would have a team in official shirts, demoing the game, large banners, minis to give away, etc. However, right now, it is far from an ideal world. And so, with the current international lockin due to the Covid-19 virus, we felt that this was the least worst way to bring the newest Assault Publishing game into the world.
Stars and Steel has been a minor whirlwind. While both Marcin and myself have had other projects that we have been working on for a while (PMC second ed for him, Dark Portents for me) we wanted to get SnS pushed through relatively quickly, released into the wold, and get some feedback - the lockdown also inhibiting playtesting. So, for the last four months, there have been furious discussions, debates and rewrites. We do play to support this game with a number of supplements in the near future, but it is critical to get the core release rules beaten into shape and balanced as best we can. You can't build a grand house until the foundations are secure.
Stars and Steel is a space game. However, unlikely the majority of space games available right now, its a 'grand fleet' game, focusing on squadrons to act within a fleet, rather than ships within a squadron. A game is set by the number of points, as normal, and this can be from a minimum of 3 points, up to around 20. These points are not spent to buy ships, but commanders. Each commander costs a number of points and comes with an option of three or four squadron types. You then choose one of these from the options for each commander, and populate it with individual ships. For example, you might have a two star commander (captain) and then choose his squadron type of 8 Destroyers and 2 Cruisers. Each of the three ship classes then has four variants, so you could end up with four missile destroyers, four frigates, one light carrier and one missile cruiser.
The game is designed to play quickly, and not to get bogged down with data on each individual ship (and also not to cover the table in charts, tokens and spreadsheets). Each squadron nominates a flagship which forms the core of the squadron, and then the commander can form up the ships around it into a formation such as close order. Weapons fire is massed and treated by squadron while fighters are treated as a resource which can be accumulated by carriers and the resource management of these allows a variety of support roles.
As a designer, the game gives me a lot of opportunity to expand in a number of directions. I would love to work on a 'commanders of renoun' supplement, detailing unique characters with special rules and points values, accompanied by specific squadrons of named ships with unique strengths and weaknesses. We have a lot planned for the future of this game, and I hope that you will take a look and join us.
If you really need to see the launch livestream, you can check it out here: Assault Publishing on Facebook
To learn more about the game and to catch up with Assault Publishing, you can visit our official Assault Publishing Studio site: Assault Publishing Studio
And if you wanted to check out the rules, they are available as 'pay what you want' from Wargame Vault here: Assault Publishing at Wargames Vault
The STL files for the miniatures for all current fleets are also available from the same place, under the same 'great price'! All ahead full, and damn the torpedoes!