EMPIRES AFLAME: A Federation Commander Campaign Game
This is a set of campaign rules for playing wars between multiple star-faring empires from the Federation Commander game. These rules handle the strategic and economic elements that tie the tactical combats together in a light story-based framework. The rules have been kept simplistic, yet allow for a depth of strategic options and a touch of role-playing flavor.
The game is played for a set number of strategic turns (a campaign) determined by the players at the beginning. A recommended minimum is 10 turns which should give enough time to experience many, though unlikely all, of the things that can happen in a campaign. At the conclusion, all victory points are counted and the empire with the highest victory point total wins the campaign.
The game is played using “fleet” scale schematics to speed the tactical encounters.
There is no strategic map used to display the position of star systems, everyone can reach everyone else’s border.
In a game with 3 or more players, each empire begins with 10 border systems, 5 core systems, 1 home system, and 1,500 commerce points with which to build their beginning ships. In a two player war the players begin with 5 border systems, 2 core systems, 1 home system, and 750 commerce points with which to build their beginning ships. In both cases, left over points are lost.
All star systems and ships must be named by the controlling player. Example: The Gorn Empire sends the Heavy Cruiser Thunder Lizard and the Destroyer Skink to the Oberon system on the Federation border and encounters the Heavy Cruiser Enterprise and the Light Cruiser Reliant. That sure sounds better than saying “I send two ships over there”, and we know if they encounter anything because we know where they went. (If you’re like me and have trouble coming up with names, Google a horse racing site and look through the tons of horse name listings. You’ll be surprised how handy that can be. Of course you could also use band names. Example: Klingon battle cruiser Black Sabbath.)
Buying Beginning Ships
Because of the need to cover large swaths of space and because no empire can afford to buy enough of their largest ships to be everywhere, the following purchasing limits are in place for beginning ships to better represent what actual force dispositions might be like.
No more than 10% of starting ships may be valued in the 100 and above commerce point range, no more than 30% of starting ships may be valued in the 70 to 99 commerce point range, and up to 70% of starting ships may be valued under 70 commerce points.
Some races may have few ship types to choose from and may be lacking ships that have a flag bridge. To compensate, any race may spend 2 additional commerce points at the time of building the vessel to make it a command ship.
At the start of the game there are no base stations, battle stations, or starbases. Empires may buy them the same way they buy ships. Bases are assigned to a system and never move from that location.
Placing Starting Ships
At start of game empires have a border fleet, core fleet, and a home fleet. The ships assigned to a fleet may defend systems or undertake other duties specific to the fleet assignment they are given.
Ships above 99 commerce point value may not be assigned to Exploration, Patrol, or Raids.
Border Fleet: defend border systems, invade enemy border systems, conduct commerce raids against enemies, or conduct deep strikes against enemy core systems.
Up to 6 ships may be assigned to commerce raids against other empires. Each ship raids alone. Ships assigned to raids may not be used for reserve forces. Raiding ships may form a fleet to conduct a Deep Strike.
Core Fleet: defend core systems, or patrol to try to intercept raiders.
Up to 6 ships may be assigned to Patrol against commerce raids. Each Patrol ship patrols alone. Patrol ships may be called upon as reserve forces against attacks on Core systems, but this removes them from their patrol duty that turn.
Home Fleet: defend home system, or explore.
Up to 6 ships may be assigned to Exploration. Ships on exploration duty may not be called upon as reserve forces.
To Explore, roll 1die, result of 1 indicates finding a system; result of 6 indicates an Event.
Events include things such as encountering hostile alien ships to monsters like the Planet Killer. Hostile alien ships won’t follow you home, but a monster will turn up next turn in a random border system of the empire that discovers it unless they stop it. Then its moves are again randomized if not stopped and it can go to another border system of the same empire, or another empire’s border system, and on until stopped. Exploring has rewards, and likewise has risks.
Newly discovered systems become new border systems and are worth 10 commerce points each per turn.
Building Ships and Bases
All new ships built begin play either at the Home system or at a Starbase should one exist in another system. New bases may be built in any system controlled by an empire.
Repairing Damaged Ships and Bases
Bases are assumed to be repairable at the location they occupy using in-system resources.
Ships are also able to repair on the move with the following exception: Frame damage. A ship damaged so badly that it took frame damage must report to either a starbase or Home system and remain there for one strategic turn before it can be used in battle again. If it is out on the border and has to transfer back to Home system for repair it will effectively be out of combat for at least the next 3 turns. (1 to get to core, 1 more to get to Home, and a 3rd for repair)
Damaged ships count against Command Capability and cannot be counted as raiding, on patrol, or exploring.
A ship with frame damage that lacks power to move must be towed. Empires may chose to scuttle a badly damaged ship if they feel it is too burdensome to repair it. Scuttling a ship destroys it.
Transferring ships between fleets
Ships may transfer from a fleet to the next fleet in order in a given strategic turn. Example: a heavy cruiser in Core fleet may transfer to Home or Border fleets in 1 turn. A ship in Home or Border has to transfer to Core first, and then on the following turn may proceed to the other fleet.
Encounters of any type (ship combats, some monster combats, etc) are played on “location” maps. To create a location map place an upside-down counter or other marker in a central hex at the start of the game. The map may “float” within 50 hexes of the marker. Floating the map may not be used to try and force someone else out of the battle, if your movement would cause the map to float past another vessel’s position, the map stops at their position and your vessel risks disengaging. Alternate map set-ups will sometimes occur with monster encounters.
Disengaging from battle is as simple as escaping the side of the map. Ships that leave the map may not return to that encounter and are considered to have left the contested area until completion of combat.
Each convoy consists of a large freighter and a small freighter. Roll 1d6 to determine which patrol ship (if any) is protecting the convoy. If no patrol ship is protecting the convoy, the defending empire loses 20 commerce points from those collected. Example: Robert’s Empire decides to raid William’s Empire. Robert assigned 1 ship and rolls 1 die. William has 3 ships assigned to patrol. William assigns a CL as #1, a DD as #2 and a FF as #3, leaving 4, 5 and 6 as no coverage. Robert’s assigned raider is a DD. He rolls and gets a 1 as the result meaning he’ll be up against the toughest of the 3 patrol ships. The battle is conducted and he decides to hit and run, trying to do as much internal cargo damage as he can as quickly as he can against the small freighter in the convoy. He then makes a run for it. After the battle the internal cargo damage is counted and William’s empire loses that many commerce points from those collected. Capturing a freighter results in being awarded double the value of its remaining internal cargo spaces as victory points. The defending empire suffers a reduction of collected commerce points by that amount. These battles also result in the award of victory points like any normal battle, but non-intercepted raids do not award victory points.
Empires bid each turn to hire Pirates to raid other empires. Pirate raids take place after raids by the ships of empires. Pirates automatically find a convoy and the confrontation is played out regardless of the availability of a patrol vessel. Half of the commerce value lost by the defending empire is given to the empire that hired the Pirates. An empire may never earn or lose more commerce points than are being collected that turn.
Assigning fleet resources
Example: Sheila’s empire has 12 ships in her border fleet. She has 10 border systems. She could try a couple of different approaches to guarding her border. She could spread her ships out as evenly as possible or leave some systems undefended while others are heavily defended. She decides to place 3 ships each on systems 2, 4, and 7, and one ship each on systems 1, 6, and 8, leaving systems 3, 5, 9, and 10 undefended. She is hoping nobody attacks an undefended system until she can build more ships, and in the meantime she’ll hope the Reserve Forces Rule will help her sufficiently cover the weaker defended systems.
A system with less than the Maximum Force of ships present is invaded. If they have enough Command Capability available IN that system, they may summon additional ships from other non-engaged systems. Those additional forces will arrive in a random amount of turns determined by rolling 1 die. Example: Sheila had placed only 1 ship, a CL, in system 1 and Marcus invades that border system with 2 FF. Sheila calls for reserves. In system 2 Sheila has 3 ships which luckily nobody invaded so she sends 2 of those ships. She rolls a 3 on the die indicating that the CL has to hold on for 3 turns before the reserves arrive to help.
The maximum number of ships able to take part in a battle is 3. The Maximum Force to 5 ships if a ship with a flag bridge is present.
Empires may consolidate raiders into a fleet inside enemy territory and use them to invade an enemy core system. This may only be done once per turn per enemy, so it is not possible for one empire to conduct multiple deep strikes into one enemy. They may conduct deep strikes against more than one foe, however having only a maximum of 6 raider ships available limits how many enemies you can do this to in a given turn unless you are spreading the ships very thin.
Home systems cannot be attacked until all core systems have been converted to border systems. It may then be attacked in the manner of a deep strike.
Winning a conflict either by destruction of defenders or retreat of the defenders gives the invader control of the border system and it now becomes a border system of theirs. Winning a conflict during a deep strike has a completely different effect. Prior to the deep strike, there was no way to maintain support and supply lines to this enemy stronghold. Afterward it becomes vulnerable to main enemy units. The core system that was struck is not yet conquered, it remains under the control of the defending empire, but it is now reduced to being a border system. It is reduced in commerce value per turn and can be attacked and conquered during future attacks. Defeating a Home system using a deep strike converts it to a core system in commerce value. It may then be struck again to reduce it to the value of a border system, at which point it is vulnerable to conquest. The only way to completely eliminate an enemy is for all of their systems to be conquered.
Rebuilding Home and Core systems In the event an empire’s home system is conquered, but they still maintain control of at least one border system (either an original border system, a former core system, or a system discovered through exploration) that empire may spend all of their commerce available that turn to convert a border system to a core system. They may then spend all commerce from the following turn or any subsequent turn, to convert that core system into a new Home system. Once a new Home system exist, the empire may begin converting other border systems into core systems (to a maximum of 5 core systems) at the cost of all of a given turn’s available commerce points.
The Referee. All movements, use/collection of commerce, bids for Pirates, etc, are sent to the ref. The ref then alerts empires about what they need to do (meet to resolve conflicts, etc) and the empires then schedule the time/place to play out the events, reporting (copying in each other) the report. This allows for fog of war, and the chance of multiple empires possibly encountering at a system at the same time … that sounds like a fun situation to play out.
Fog of war, limited news reports. Some news always gets out during conflicts, but just what the truth is can only be known by those that were really there, and the referee. The referee will let everyone know of changes that can’t go without notice, and will leak hints of other information. A complete accurate record will be kept for release after the campaign ends so that everyone may enjoy the truth of the bloody details.
Cloaked ships in strategic play. Normally when enemy forces meet, the players reveal their ships to each other at the same time. When an empire using cloaking devices meets an enemy force without cloaking, they may optionally require the non-cloaked enemy forces to be revealed and deployed before placing their cloaked forces, or they may reveal their forces non-cloaked at the same time. Example: The Romulans invade a Federation system. The Federation deploys the defending forces on the board and reveals what ship types and names are defending. The Romulan can choose to deploy a force of already cloaked vessels or disengage before contact which does not constitute a battle and no wins, losses, or victory points are recorded. Alternately if the Romulans are defending they do not reveal defending forces until after the invading force is placed and revealed. If the Romulans choose to disengage from a defensive position it does count as a battle and victory points are awarded.
When strategic moves would result in contact between forces, the referee notifies all involved players of the system in which the contact takes place. The players then respond (using copy all so the ref can keep records) and discuss a date/time to play out the encounter. The players reveal to each other what forces will be involved and decide if they wish to play out the scenario. This also applies to Romulans using cloaking since it simulates the other force detecting the anomalous sensor readings that sometimes indicate the presence of cloaked ships, but does not require the Romulans to reveal the forces, although he does learn what forces the other player has present. (The ref will know because the movement of ships is logged through the ref.)
Cloaked ships in raids. Cloaked raiders are tougher to intercept than normal ships. To reflect this, when the raid roll is made, add 1 to the die roll. Example: (see raid example) Had the raiding force rolled a 6 even with 6 defending patrol ships, they would avoid detection and complete a non-intercepted raid.
Communication and negotiation between empires. Players are encouraged to “roleplay” their empires. They may issue statements meant for all to hear, and they may also negotiate trade agreements or other types of communications. In all cases the referee is to be copied in for record keeping purposes and play enhancement opportunities.
The Referee will play out encounters generated through exploration. Which means things like hostile alien ships and planet killers, Orion Raiders, etc.
If a player knows he or she will be unable to meet to resolve encounters, he must notify the ref and other involved players as early as possible. It is also recommended to try to recruit someone (acceptable to the group) to play the encounters for you that you won’t be able to attend. The referee will try to resolve situations as fairly as possible if a player cannot manage to cover the encounters in a turn. Example: Wayne finds out he’ll be working lots of overtime and won’t be able to play out some of his encounters this month. He recruits someone to play some of them for him (and that person is introduced through the email thread to the ref and other involved players in plenty of time for scheduling). However there is one encounter he won’t be able to work out. The ref then decides that for some unforeseen reason Wayne’s forces avoid the conflict. If it was an offensive move, he calls it off. It might have been a feint, or something else, but it doesn’t take place and the ref either returns the ships to their starting location or if Maximum Force rules would prevent that, the ships go where they have room to go. If it is a defensive situation, Wayne retreats from it because intelligence reports indicated a superior force coming and he wouldn’t have the strength to resist, or he was lured away by trickery. In all cases the other player is awarded the win, but no victory points change hands.
Ships and Other Things Not Currently Allowed in Campaign
The reason many things are not being used in the campaign is that most of those people expected to play currently own none of the game sets and aren’t expected to suddenly go out and drop a lot of money on getting everything.
Because of the fact that the two people that do currently own some of the game sets cannot reasonably be expected to be available every time someone else is trying to play out an encounter, some things had to be eliminated from consideration.
The following sets are excluded (with some possible unit exceptions) Battleships, Orion Attack, War and Peace, and Borders of Madness. Some individual units are excluded as well. From the Hydran Attack set, the Hydran and Lyran battleships are not permitted.
Players must keep the Referee notified of all information or risk not having things happen as intended.
Allocate Commerce Points
One turn 1 no player will have points available for this phase which means nobody will have funds to bid for pirates or to buy ships or bases during the first turn. However, on following turns players will have commerce points collected from their systems, conquered systems, discovered systems, and any successful pirate raids for which they won the bid. Those points are totaled and then subtracted from those are any points lost to raids, systems lost to conquest, and monster attacks.
Example: At the end of turn 1, Dave has all of his original systems left and has discovered one new system during exploration. So he multiplies his border systems (now 6) times 10 = 60 points, multiplies his core systems (2) times 20 = 40 points, and his Home system (1) times 50 = 50 points, and adds those together (60 + 40 + 50) = 150 points. However he lost 20 points due to a successful raid by the enemy leaving him a total of 130 points to allocate on turn 2.
Dave decides he wants to bid for pirates this turn and puts aside 15 points for the bid. If he loses the bid he keeps those 15 points. If he wins the bid those 15 points are spent, but the potential exists to earn that back and more if the pirates are successful.
Dave also wants to buy 2 more destroyers at 50 points each (=100) and that will leave him with at least 15 points at the end of the turn that will carry over to the turn 3 allocation phase.
Bid For Pirates
In turn 2 the players bid to hire the pirates for a raid on an enemy. Dave had put aside 15 points for this bid and luckily he wins the bid and now the pirates will conduct a raid against his chosen enemy.
Assign Ships & Moves
Players determine where ships are assigned and what their duties are each turn, and report that information to the referee.
Example: Dave writes out his orders beginning with his border fleet. He determines which ships will defend which border systems, which ships will invade enemy border systems, and which ships will raid enemy commerce. Dave then writes out his orders for his core fleet. He decides which ships are defending which systems, and which ships will be on patrol to defend commerce. Dave then determines to have all of his home fleet on exploration duty looking for new systems to add to his empire. He also would report if any ships are moving between fleets and what systems they arrive at. Notify the ref when a ship is moving between fleets. This is important because different tasks can only be done by ships in certain fleets. Only Home fleet ships can explore. Only core fleet ships can patrol, and only border fleet ships can raid or deep strike.
Resolution Of Moves
The referee takes all player moves and assignments info and determines if and where encounters occur. For encounters that require player involvement he contacts the players and presents information and they decide how to proceed. The order for those resolutions is as follows:
Invasions of border, core, and home systems.
Raids and Patrol response.
Launch New Ships & Bases
Newly built ships that were purchased in the allocation phase are now launched either in Home system or a system with a Starbase. These ships then get assigned to their next location during the Assign Ships & Moves phase of the following turn. Starbases are placed in their intended system at that same phase.
Players collect the commerce points for the systems they now control and add to that any points earned from a pirate raid. They then subtract any losses from raids and add the total to any points left over previously.
DiplomacyPlayers may conduct trade deals or work out other deals with one another. For example: Dave might have received a request from another player about trading or selling a ship or ships. Perhaps the other player wants to buy a pair of destroyers. Dave could either ask for commerce points or a ship from the other player or a combination. Or perhaps the other player has been exploring heavily and finding many systems, Dave might offer that player something for one of those discovered systems, like a captured enemy ship and a sum of commerce points. Maybe the other player has a troublesome enemy he needs help against. Dave might offer direct intervention or bring diplomatic pressure, or he might offer a loan of commerce points, or sell some ships, etc. Diplomacy opens the doors for all sorts of strategic maneuvering.