Stars & Lasers playtesting Leviathans…

Well it’s not been a great couple of weeks for gaming or hobby activities as family issues took over somewhat, and it has been a bit of a sad time for us all.

But I did get a chance to sit and go through the latest update for Stars & Lasers, most of which is done, I am just going through playtesting and adjusting the odd rule or the odd point value, this part of the rule writing process does take up a huge amount of time.

But it also gives me a chance to get some ships on the table and to roll some dice…

Last night I had another run through with one of the new ships in the supplement, this is a real big ship! The Leviathan is a relic from the past, from a time when resources were plentiful and the ship yards could build big ships, these monstrous ships are bigger than most space stations!! They are manned by thousands of crew and bristling with weapons.

The was a basic meeting engagement, with the Leviathan being attacked by 1,000 points worth of ships, the ships were as follows –

1 Heavy Cruiser

1 Fighter Carrier ( with 3 fighters and 3 fighter bombers )

2 Light Cruisers

2 Frigates

This list would give the attackers a lot of missiles and firepower to use against the big ship each turn, and those fighter bombers were going to cause the Leviathan real problems if they managed to in close.

Like most big ships in Stars & Lasers the Leviathan was going to suffer fighting lots of little ships, but I was not sure how it would manage against a normal solid force like this.

Turn one saw the Leviathan go first it just powered forward and dropped off the first two of its fighter stands ( bombers ) which left it two normal fighters ready to launch next turn.

The attacking fleet moved forward at full speed and the carrier dropped off its first two fighter stands.

Turn two saw the attackers continue forward, again the carrier dropped off two more fighters, the Leviathan fired off a spread of missiles which were mainly meant to split the attacking ships up ( my main plan with the Leviathan was to get in between the attacking ships and open up with all its weapons and see what is left on the table after that )

Turn three saw the attackers send forward the two frigates and one of the light cruisers, firstly to try and get rid of the first missiles and second to send in a spread of their own missiles.

The Leviathan returned the favour and sent in three more missiles at these closer ships.

At the end of that turn after the Leviathan had fired and its bombers had finished their bombing runs and the missiles hit home, all three of the attacking ships spun off as dead lifeless hulks…

The Leviathan can really put out a lot of pain when it gets close, it will still suffer from missile strikes or from fighter bombers, but it can take a lot of normal punishment with its banks of shields and its extra armour.

Turn four saw the heavy cruiser and the fighter carrier ( now that it had launched all its fighters ) came in for some close shooting, and of course those damn missiles!

The attacker’s bombers were now within range and ready to strike, the first flight was vapourised by the Leviathans point defence systems before they could fire, but that still left two more flights and with nothing left this turn to defend against them they moved in and ouch!!

They stripped away the last of the extra armour and took massive chunks from the Leviathans hull, but luckily no critical hits, so its crew breathed a sigh of relief and waited for its banks of weapons to recharge…

Turn five, and the heavy cruiser and the fighter carrier were having trouble with their shields the engineers on board just could not get them back up which meant they were defenseless for this turn.

And the Leviathan saw this on its scanners and turned back around and prepared to fire everything it had…

Note: for the record I must point out that I rolled probably the best set of dice I have ever rolled in a game, ever! Of all the dice I rolled for shooting this turn I only missed two, I also got three critical hits!!

The first attacking ship to die was the heavy cruiser, it only had one shield available for this turn and as it was already damaged the huge ship split in two as the heavy lasers from the Leviathan ripped through it.

Next on the list was the carrier, with no shields it took huge damage and I managed to get two critical hits, one taking out its comms and one setting off huge explosions on board which took it out of the battle.

Finally, the light cruiser had its shields stripped away and half of its hull torn away causing a critical hit which finished her off, not destroyed but certainly not able to survive another turn against the Leviathan.

So that was that, the Leviathan is certainly deadly if it gets in close, not much will survive against it, but it is like most big ships it will have a problem against massed missiles or fighter bombers, its four flights of fighters help, but as in this game they sometimes can’t stop everything coming at the big ship.

So, does the Leviathan need adjusting?

I don’t know yet, I need to play a few more games before I can say, this game was unusual mainly because of my ridiculously good dice rolling, but even with average dice rolling the attacking ships would have been in a mess.

If the Leviathan meets a force with lots of small ships then it may be much harder for it to survive, when fighting against lots of small ships you need a screen of frigates to keep those missiles and fighters away.

So, for the next game I might have to try lots of smaller ships attacking the Leviathan and see how that goes.

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    Hi Mac,

    Nice battle & pics – I love your use of the Praetorian BB miniature for the Leviathan (it was my favourite Din BB when I played the FSA game).

    I’ve had a few games like that, where the God of Dice smiles on you and you never miss, get all the critical hits you want, then roll the best critical hits on the table … and then there are the days when you’re in the Gods disfavour … all your shots miss … critical hits – what are they? My shields, my shields … why can’t I repair my shields? Aiieee!! … the enemies coming …

    As a suggestion to make the Leviathan more durable & formidable vs bombers and hordes of small ships using missiles (without adding more guns or PDS) simply allow the Leviathan to have the ‘Compacted Titanium’ hull upgrade as standard – the ships are so massive perhaps they need it for hull their integrity and it just so happens to be beneficial against missiles too!


    • Mac

      Hi Vic,

      Yeah my dice were… interesting!

      Good call about the ‘Compacted Titanium’ hull upgrade, I hadn’t thought about that, I might add this to see how it effects the game, I think you are right it might be what is needed just to give the big ship a little staying power, it basically reduces the damage the missiles do… simple, I should have thought of that.


  2. Shaun

    Hi Mac

    Myself and friends have been playing your rules for a while and enjoying them hugely. Just the right balance of complexity and playability. We have tried a lot of games and this one seems to meet nearly all of our needs. Played the hiding scout and cloaking ships scenarios last week – really close games, nicely balanced.

    The only slight issue we have (and its very slight) is how hard it is to cause critical hits. Most of our ships die without taking a critical hit (we have played about scenarios by this point). Just wondered at the rationale for this?

    Looking forward to your reply.


    • Mac

      Hi Shaun,
      It is really good to hear that you and your friends are enjoying playing my rules, I am also glad that you are enjoying the scenarios, although just as a heads-up some of the scenarios are not as balanced as some people like!

      This is intentional as I like to have a challenge and I don’t always like things to be even if you see what I mean, for me it is great fun when you can beat the odds and win a hard scenario.

      The basic game with basic lasers etc. is “not easy” to cause critical hits, needing 20’s to start then going down 19’s and 18’s but… with special weapons the chance of critical hits increases, I managed to get three in my last game two of which caused huge damage, and my opponent got one which took out my Heavy Cruisers shields which let in one laser shot which took its last point of damage!

      It took many months of playtesting to realise that they have to be rare, because when you play that one game in which you lose your Battleship because of that one missile that gets through causing a critical which then causes more critical hit’s and you see you biggest ship vaporized, you will then say “its too easy to get critical hits” which I often have players say.

      You can go many games and not get a critical hit, then have two or three games that there are several, it just happens that way.

      I did start at the beginning with a much lower number needed, but we had far too many critical hits, so after lots and lots of playtesting it ended up as it is now, but if you want to see more then try taking a turret with a Railgun or a turret with a Plasma Cannon, but be warned if your opponent takes one it could really spoil your day! ;O)

      It’s great to hear from you Shaun, I hope my ramblings made sense.

      Happy Gaming,

  3. Shaun condren

    Hi Mac,

    Thanks for the swift reply. Your explanation makes a lot of sense. It could be very frustrating losing your battleship thanks to a lucky critical. It also greatly speeds up gameplay, no threshold checks like a certain game we used to play a lot back in the nineties. Looking forward to leviathan. Just have to find some old spartan games ships…….


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