I have played lots of space ship combat games.  Two of my favorites are Attack Vector:Tactical and Sqaudron Strike.  A while back, the publisher ask for a sales pitch to tempt a potential customer.  The following is my pitch.  Feel free to share it to promote the games.


Ad Astra publishes two space combat games at the moment: Attack Vector:Tactical (AV:T) and Squadron Strike (SS). All of Ad Astra's games feature 3D movement. SS also allows for 2D games.

The trick to making 3D work as a tactical element is to make ships that are also 3D. Ships in Ad Astra's games have top and bottom sides that can be attacked as well as separate firing arcs. This results in ships that are more nuanced and creates a richer tactical environment with very few additional rules.

For example, if you look at the Klingon D6's in the Axanar Production film "Prelude to Axanar" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1W1_8IV8uhA) you'll notice that they are designed to shoot at planet-side targets with their heavy weapons.

When designing a 3D ship to model this, the designer can have the heavy disruptors have front, front/bottom arcs and not be able shoot into the front/top arc. So, when approaching a D6, it is best to be "above" it so that it can not attack with its heaviest weapons. Of course, the D6 can pitch and roll to brings its weapons to bear, but that is the point of the game: manuvering to get the best shot.

When playing either game, I rarely have to consult the rule-book. The last time that I needed to consult the rulebook for AV:T was when I managed to hit my opponent with a nuke. (Nukes are not insta-death in AV:T, real close though....)

AV:T is a Hard Science game. It is built using real science and extrapolated numbers (with the exception of its FTL drives); however, 99% of the math is hidden in the play-aid and players never need to worry about it. It uses full Newtonian movement rules, which is the source of much of the fun in game as player strive to set up a vector vs their opponents and then pivot like crazy as they fly past each other. AV:T also has a built-in setting: the 10 Worlds.

I liken AV:T to golf in that it is a game that requires practice to play. About half of the game is figuring out how to make your ship do what you want it to do and the other half is responding to what your opponent is doing. Much in the same way that golfers need to figure out how to get the ball into the cup for a given hole while doing it faster than their opponent.

AV:T is also the most SFB-like. It is built on an 8 segment(impulse) turn where ships move proportionally during the turn and each segment is a full decision cycle. It is different from SFB in that energy builds up slowly over the course of a turn, but energy allocation is done on the fly (it is mainly used to fire weapons and power defences).

Squadron Strike is Ad Astra's generic space ship combat game. The heart of SS is an absolutely gigantic spreadsheet that can design a staggering number of different space ships and weapon systems. The folks behind Ad Astra are fans of a large number of SF universes, so support for those universes are built into the system. Currently SS is available in two flavors: Empire-Directorate War and Traveller. The Empire-Directorate setting is the in-house setting developed by AdAstra and Traveller is based on Marc Miller's Traveller RPG. Either setting can be ignored in favor of a custom-made setting of the players own design.

The spread sheet also makes SS's difficulty hard to describe. Ships can be designed to be extremely simple to fly or incredibly complex.

SS's turn is basically, Plot, Move, Shoot, Other Stuff. Everyone plots out their movement (using clever game aids, so it is as simple as drawing a few lines) and then moves their ships. Then everyone plots out their attacks and then roll their shots . Then misc stuff like boarding combat and damage control take place.

SS doesn't use proportional movement. Energy allocation is on the fly and requires a ships be built to use energy allocation. Damage allocation is rather elegant as the ship's SSD doubles as its damage allocation chart.

SS features 3 movement types named after the number of Newton laws that it follows: Mode 0, Mode 1, and Mode 2. SS can be played in either 3D or 2D and the firing arcs on the SSDs change based on the mode.

If AV:T is golf, then SS is a game of cards. Everyone needs to agree on which game of cards to play, but once that it is done, it is pretty easy to get going.