So what is 5150 Fighter Command? Well simply put it is "similation" of space battles where your heroes are mostly in cockpit of starfighter - be it Colonial viper, Earth Alliance Starfuries or fighter from your own universes like mine Alliance Ravens. But more then that you can even assume control over Capship only limit is your imagination. Ever played Space combat sim - Wing Commander, Star lancer , Freespace or even Diaspora? You get the idea, you will fly mission, with random effects like encountering enemy ace, Search and Rescue objectives and more.
The fighters and Capships are either stars or grunts.Stars have free will and have few means how to survive battle, either cheating dead, or thanks to larger than life attribute. on other hand grunts are mostly there to flight, maybe taking few other ships down and then die. Imagine that your campaing is one of Syfy series - Stars are main actors like Captain Lee Adama from BSG, Luke Skywalker from SW or Blair from Wing Commander series,while grunts are Redshirts - they usually die first. and what is free will you ask?
Well some situation can call up for reaction test, fighters or Capships entered visual range, you has been fired upon, missle struck you and so on. In these cases gruntz roll on reaction tables - but dont worry they are easy to remeber and you will often use only few of them - namely received fire and countermessures test. but Stars doesnt have too roll dice they just pick the result they want. every ship in game have REP - attribute that shows how good the pilot really is. It is combination of talent, experience and morale. rep 2 are civilian "delivery boys" transport pilots while Rep 6 pilots are the fleet topguns, leading the killcharts.
|GZG Kra´vak Fighters in pursuit of FSA Terran Cruiser|
Game doesnt predetermined number of turns but games continues until you completed the objectives, our your forces leaved the board. Game turn itself is pretty straightforward first is activation roll - both players roll d6 and who rolls less beging with movement. after all movement has been completed his opponent move his ships. after all movement lower side start activating his ships and performing actions (every ship can perform two actions but only one of them is fire, therefore you can perform special maneover and then fire for example) and then the player with higher score started activating his units. However not all units can be activated only those which REP is equal or lower than activation roll of player. Moving of ships is similiar to classic to normal space wargaming ship need move half of its current speed than he can turn up to half of his turn attribute - (most fighters have turn atribute of 3) and rest on end of its movement , ships can perform sideslips or fighters can even engage their afterburnes (but they can run out of fuel for them).
Stars and Grunts also have attributes which gave them certain attributes like exceptional pilot,white knight or even Maverick. this give them "character" and every pilot then is different. there is quiet a number of these attributes, Stars have two attributes (one chosen and other random) grunts have one random.
|Two FSA Terran Frigates are attacking GZG Crusty Battlecruiser. two GZG Crusty fighters providing cover|
Most dogfights and battles will happen in contact range of 5" which is game named contact range here special reaction is called between all fighters (or Capships - fighters rolls againts fighters and Capship vs Capship - no insights between Capships and fighters) here each ship involved rolls number dice equal to their REP with target number 1,2 or 3. then the ship will count his successes and the number is his iniative ratting (there is few modificators) the ship with highest ratting acts first then next highest until all ship act. after combat has been resolved there is various received fire reactions. when ship fire at another he must roll on to hit table needed to score usually 8 , he will roll d6 and add his rep meaning fighters with Rep 5 or 6 will hit the enemy more often than fighters with REP 2 or 3 . Every weapon have target attribute meaning rate of fire - for example weapon with target 3 ratting will roll 3 times to hit. but hitting target isnt enough you then needed to roll on shield penetration with most weapons you will need to roll 2 or less. after you managed to damage fighter you roll which part has been hit - Cockpit,Comms,Guns,Engines,Shields or Hull. When the ships is activated next time he can attempt to repair damaged system. if you has been hit into already damaged area, your fighter is destroyed. every damage affects your ship for example if you have shield system down every hit does damage, if gun system is damaged then you cannot fire your main weapons and if comms your IFF transmitter are not working and friendly Fire and Forget missles can aquire your fighter as enemy.
Speaking of missles they are different beasts there are many types of missles as well from classic fire and forget missles to emp missles disabling Capship shields. when you fire missle enemy must roll countermeasures reaction test, in most time missles will be dealing two points damage meaning roll two times on damage table - so every missle have potential to destroy fighter in single blow. there is also mines and stealth technologies.
|Studio Bergstrom fighters with custom-made Capship and Silent death fighters (Capship build and fighters painted by Michael Wikan)|
PEF,CAPSHIPS, Campaings and missions
main gaming aspect durning mission are PEF standing for Possible Enemy Force. PEF marker respresenting Radar/dradis/sensor contact. as player ships moves near (to 20" to be exact) the contact is resolved - it can be "ghost" siginal or you it can be enemy fighter wing, Capship or even enemy space station! this is resolved on special PEF contact table by using 2d6. This throw very random effect into game as you never know what enemy force you run it , sometimes it is piece of cake, but mostly you will run into opposition which is not easy to triffle with. normally there is three PEF on board, but you can encounter enemy ace in form of random encounters or enemy could get reinforcements.
Other elements before you go on mission is Invesment and Intel level, Investment level is attribute which showing how much support you are getting from Fleet command, you can outfit your fighters with more missles or even upgrade them into better class , for example under certain circumstanes you will be tasked to fly recon mission with light fighters, but since this operation have high priority you can upgrade your fighters to medium fighters. Intel level representing recon and other information you have about enemy movements,strenght and so on. Going with bad intel into mission is really bad and nothing is more bad than discovering your are not facing 3 PEF but 9 PEF, and enemy with really good invesment level. I play such mission once, i run into two enemy cruisers and enemy fighters swarmed before i can blink.
In Campaing you will also have another stat Campaing morale both you and enemy had campaing morale which is raising or lowering in your abilities to complete given missions. your character Rep-5 star will also be giving fame points which is similiar to xp points from different games. you can gain or lost fame points. If you gather 15 points you will gain REP 6, then you will be promoted to 1st Flight leader and then to Squadron leader. but when you lost 15 points your rep will be reduced.
There are 6 missions availible - Patrol mission, then are attack on Capital ships or instalations - either by destruction or in second version by escorting boarding vessels and two remaing are defend missions one is escort mission while other is typical Capship defense againts all out attack.
Originally lot of players has been dissapointed that there is no point cost to create forces for standoff head to head battles but thats been repaired by add-on point cost PDF. There is also another free PDF which contain stats for ships and fighters from famous universes like Battlestar Galactica, Wing Commander or Star Wars
This game is not for everyone, but if you like space fighter combat, enjoying games like Freespace 2 or Battlestar galactica where heroes are fighting againts overwhellming odds. The Mordheim style campaing, and even in solo this game is highly enjoyable. for you then i will highly recommend this game
there is some drawbacks however, i dont quite like rulebook layout and graphics (well I am spoiled by Ambush Alley publications,Grunts and even 40k books),little more missions will be nice too but thats small drawbacks in my book.
|Dogfight between GZG Crusty and Kra´vak fighters|