Warcosm Review From Issue 1

•March 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

If you are looking for a fast play set of rules for fleet based combat Warcosm is a great choice. From the description “WARCOSM is an easy-to-learn and quick-paced tabletop game that simulates fleet-based space battles using either miniatures or flat counters.”

I picked up Warcosm[i] from Drivethru RPG to try and play some fleet battles for our own new Science Fiction universe Phoenix Star Cluster. I wanted a fast play set of rules that I could teach quickly and finish in a couple of hours. It had to have a Ship building system that was simple so I could create the various ships for the different powers easily. Warcosm fit the bill on all counts.

Warcosm is a 21 page booklet that you can purchase in PDF format for $6.95 or the printed retail version for $14.95. The PDF version that I own is nicely illustrated and is simple to use and prints well using a black and white printer. If you print it in color I am sure it is even better. I only printed it in Black and White to save money. I cannot say how the retail version looks as I have not purchased it in that format. If it is like other Precis Intermedia retail products I own I am sure it is a sturdy booklet. The retail book includes a hexmap and counters so you can start playing right away. If you buy the PDF version creating your own ships and using a hexmap or a tabletop is easy enough.

Rules: The rules are well written and clearly laid out with numerous examples of play and illustrations. The turn is divided into four phases.

  1. 1. Reaction Phase
  2. 2. Movement Phase
  3. 3. Attack Phase
  4. 4. Damage Control Phase.

The movement system is alternation ships with a reaction phase that determines who moves first. The first player moves his fastest ship and then the next player moves his fastest ship. This process is repeated until all ships have moved.  Then firing is conducted in the same order. Fire is NOT simultaneous so any damage you take effects how well you may fire when it is your turn to do so.

The reaction phase is crucial in this game as all combat is worked out after movement in the order in which the ships moved. Since combat is not simultaneous this can be crtitical. In many game I would surrender the intiative to move last. That is not always the case when I am playing Warcosm. You may wish to ensure you get the chance to fire first.

The Combat system is very streamlined with range determining the base to hit number and the weapon system modifying the roll as well as other modifiers. Different weapons have different distances in hexes for short, medium, long and extreme range. The weapon ranges are listed on a separate table and then the hit table below is used.

Once a hit is determined damage is applied. Weapon damage is applied differently depending on the weapon. For example; A laser does not damage shield but instead hits the armor or frame directly. Other weapons damage the shield first. The target also may have point defense systems that work versus various weapons. After all ships have fired and damage is applied the Attack phase is over.

Damage Control:

During this phase you may recharge you shields if they are still functioning. If they are functioning you may remove one box of damage from them in this phase. If you have a repair bot it may repair certain subsystems. It may not repair your shield, plating(Armor) or frame. If you have lost all of your shields in the attack phase you must announce to your opponent that your shields are down. Similarly if you have taken any frame damage you must announce that an explosive decompression has occurred. You must also announce if a chain reaction has occurred and massive explosions are taking place. I really like this phase of the game. It is critical to pay attention to what is happening to your opponents’ ships.

There is a separate section of the rules that deals with fighters and drones and how to integrate them into the game. I will not go into any great detail here except to say the rules work seamlessly with the rest of the combat system.

Warcosm Shipyard

The Ship construction rules are gem. No matter what universe or setting you are playing in the construction rules allow you to build ships that accurately reflect them. The best part is that they are EASY to master. What is even better is that you can buy a program called the Warcosm Shipyard for $4.95 and the work part of it is done for you and it will print out your ship charts or export them.

I purchased the shipyard and used it to design the ships in the scenario “Hell over Herndon”. I cannot recommend picking this up with the game itself strongly enough.

The picture below is an example of the Shipyard at work.


Game Play

I covered how the game works on paper in the section on rules and will try not to repeat myself. Each ship has a chart that has all the necessary information on it to play the game and a damage track. You can print several ships on the same sheet of paper and if you like laminate it or use a sheet protector. Since I have the Warcosm Shipyard I don’t do this as it is simple enough to print a new one for each scenario and I can change them around easily enough. The game is designed for use on a hexmap but is easily modified to use without one. I have a starmap with hexes on it that I use as no conversion is necessary that way. I have played it without the hexmap to test the modifications. Using the hexmap is easier but certainly not necessary as the modifications are not difficult to make to play without one.

The game is fast and bloody. The charts needed fit on one side of a sheet of paper and another sheet will hold your fleet. Once you have played the game once or twice you will rarely have to look at the rules. The only other things you need are dice and miniatures or counters to play. Turns are quick and simple with none of the math work required by many space combat games.

I have been using the rules to resolve fights in a campaign game. The first battle taught us that fast and bloody is good but you need to know when to run. My Capital fleet won the first battle but was so badly damaged that it took a long time before I risked it in another engagement. Excellent rules to use to play a campaign game or a one off game as well.

The only thing I am not yet completely happy with is the attack phase. I have mixed feelings on this. I like the non simultaneous aspect of combat but at the same time I am not sure that the most powerful ships (the large slow ones) should be the last to fire. I have played it making fire simultaneous and am not sure which method I like best yet. The system certainly favors a large fleet of fast maneuverable ships verses a Capital ship fleet. This is something I am going to need to work out of a more extended period of time. I do think that the rules are flexible enough that you can make combat simultaneous without ruining the flavor of the game. I cannot say that it doesn’t matter as point costs for ships vary and I have yet to determine how making this change affects the balance of play.

Summary:

Warcosm is a must have for any space combat fan. It is so inexpensive for the variety you receive and the shipyard itself is worth the price of the entire system.

I am currently using this for the “Phoenix Star Cluster” Space campaign. I am enjoying it immensely and will report back In the next issue how things have gone.  I am enjoying it immensely and will report back In the next issue how things have gone. I heartily recommend this game to all. It is a great game for veteran Captains or green Ensigns alike. Grab some dice, fire up your engines and


Now go get your game on.


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Stacking Limit Magazine

•March 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Stacking Limit Magazine goes to press 2/15/2010