Playing A Call to Arms: Star Fleet is good. Taking part in a campaign adds a whole new dimension, however.
In a campaign, you will forge temporary alliances, break truces, build deadly rivalries, and see your fleet expand to dominate your corner of the universe – or be smashed apart by a ruthless enemy! The campaign system for A Call to Arms: Star Fleet is designed to be quick and easy to get to grips with (no counting out Resource Points or following supply lines to each portion of your fleet!), allowing you to dive right into the action. Campaigns can easily build a narrative for your fleet, so it becomes more than just a collection of models. You will be able to recount (to anyone willing to listen!) how the brave crew of the USS Phoenix fought bravely, outnumbered, against a squadron of Klingon frigates while several decks raged with fire!
From top to bottom, A Call to Arms: Star Fleet was built for epic battles across the stars, where dice rolls and tactical choices would combine into a narrative that describes great and terrible deeds in a fight for supremacy.
However, A Call to Arms: Star Fleet is also as much your game as it is ours and while the campaign rules included in the rulebook contain enough to keep you fighting for months on end, variety is also the spice of life (and war). Here, we will look at some subtle changes you can make to the campaign rules in order to change the whole tone of a war.
We left this quite vague in the book, stating that campaign fleets can be pretty much as large as you like. However, we are guessing that many people will stick to 2,000 points as the default. There is absolutely no need to do this!
We already suggest that you can go larger for a longer, more in-depth campaign, but what about going smaller? A campaign where everyone starts off with just 1,000 points could represent small forces dispatched to a newly discovered world full of riches many light years from reinforcement. Players will likely be very cautious during the initial clashes as one large battle could see the complete destruction of their entire fleet and loss of the campaign!
You can also play around with variable starting forces, similar to the way points values in scenarios can change. Every player rolls a dice; on a 1, they have 20% less points, on a 2 they have 10% less points. On a 3-4, they will have the campaign ‘default’ number of points, but on a 5 they get 10% more, and on a 6 they get 20% more. This may seem a little unfair and it is a brave fleet that starts at -20% and starts to punch above its own weight. However, the campaign system in A Call to Arms: Star Fleet is robust enough to handle this disparity (remember, it can already handle a player dropping out for a few weeks and then returning with no one the worse off) and, anyway, war is never fair! There is also something rather appealing about starting as the underdog and eventually triumphing.
To take this idea a step further, you could ‘set’ the points bvalues for each fleet before the campaign starts. For example, you might decide the story behind the campaign is that the Klingon Empire is working on a new type of technology that could see them become undefeatable in battle. Both the Romulans and the Federation send forces into Empire space to stop them. Because the Klingons are on home ground, they may be awarded a 20% bonus to the points value of their campaign fleet, while the Romulans and Federation both start with a -10% penalty. If a fourth player joins in as Orions, who are just there for an good opportunities that arise rather than full scale invasion, they might have -20% of the fleet value.
There are a number of scenarios that do not appear on the table for campaigns, mainly because we wanted to keep the default campaign rules fairly generic. However, you need not be bound by this! By creating your own scenario table, you can feature scenarios suitable to, say, pirate attacks and raids, rather than full blown battles, or perhaps scenarios based in unusual areas of space (such as the Gravity Well scenario).
You can also change the random point value of scenarios, either by actually changing the values in the table to allow for smaller or larger fights, or changing the table completely and making it based on 2D6, so fights tend to be weighted around a central range of points with only a few very small or very large battles. This will make things more predictable, but you can also make sure such a table is weighted towards the high or low end, maybe doing the latter to reflect a campaign centred on pirates or ‘spoiling” forces trying to tweak the tail of a much larger enemy.
Skills & Refits
You can have a tremendous amount of fun creating your own tables of Skills & Refits, including specific technologies and personalities that are central to your campaign narrative. For example, you need not just have a Skilled Captain – you might get Admiral Cunningham, Hero of Tarsus IV and renowned expert in the overloaded photon strike (with appropriate special rules to demonstrate this). In the Klingon campaign mentioned above, ships might start appearing with the new technology on board, further altering the balance of power in the war.
You can, of course, go one step further – have a seperate Skills & Refits table for each fleet. The Klingon table might concentrate on extra Transporters, Shuttles and Marines, while the Federation table might focus on crew benefits. If you come up with any good ideas for this, be sure to post them on our forums – the best may make it into the forthcoming supplement so everyone can witness your genius!
Winning the Campaign
Another area obvious for fiddling with is the victory conditions of the campaign. The default setting concentrates on Prestige Points to achieve victory, with players varying the number required to make for a long or short campaign. No reason for you to stick with that, however!
You might decide to build victory conditions around the narrative behind the campaign. If you are fighting for territory, the first player to win 5 Space Superiority missions might be the winner. Maybe the first to win a number of Explore a Strange New World, if you are in an unexplored area of space. It could be the utter destruction of a specific fleet or, in small point value campaigns, perhaps the destruction of a specific enemy ship (obviously the Admiral’s long term nemesis from the previous campaign!) would grant victory or, at least, a bonus number of Prestige Points. The really ambitious may run a campaign with a set number of ‘turns’ but give every fleet a different objective. You might end up with more than one winner – or none!
I hope that has given you some ideas to use in your own games or, at the very least, has lit a spark that makes you want to start a campaign. It really is the best way to get to know your fleet and I would even recommend a small campaign for brand new players to the game. By the time the campaign is complete, win or lose, you will be something of an expert in the game!
We’ll be delving into other areas of A Call to Arms: Star Fleet in the future, as well as taking a few sneak peeks at what is coming up. Meanwhile, here is a new ship, the Klingon E5 Battle Corvette – weird!