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mpanko14 Oct 2018 2:58 p.m. PST

Red Alert Hurricon 18
The following is an overview of the Red Alert gaming which ran during Hurricon 18 in Orlando Florida. The scenarios were set in the old TSR Star Frontiers universe based on an adapted version of the Knight Hawks campaign of the 2d Sathar War.

The scenarios and Fleet compositions are scaled up versions of those in the KH Campaign where 1 ship in KH = 1 squadron of 3-4 ships in Red Alert. Capital Ships for both sides were almost a 1 to 1 translation. Additionally the ship classes / types were translated from the KH to fit within the Red Alert gaming system to preclude confusion amongst the Red Alert gamers.

Differences: In the TSR Campaign itself the detail of conflict reflects the low unit counts for the game with each KH ship type having multiple Hull Points, Weapons, and Defenses etc. Red Alert is a streamlined system designed to handle a Task Force level game of 10-15 squadrons (30-40 ships) within a 1-1.5 hour window for decisive game completion. The KH game does not scale well and anything beyond 9 or so ships per side really bogged the game down. Additionally the KH game has status tracking across various ship attributes as the game progresses requiring each player to have his own note pad to track things on.

The 2d Sathar War Campaign
The KH Campaign was very open ended and allowed for a lot of player options in the decisions for both the defense of the Federation and the Invasion. It was great fun doing the planning for either side after studying the Federation Deployment Map – which in its original form was a horrible product crammed onto a fold out map that you needed to redraw on other paper to make sense of what was going on.

Once the Attacker studies the FDM and evaluates different ways to proceed with the invasion the resulting initial battles could be very one sided and not worth gaming as the only composition restrictions for the Sathar are that they could not have less than two fleets. These fleets are built from a list of all available ship types in the game. This meant that 2 very large fleets could be deployed and based on a couple Federation decisions could have the first couple of games seeing the Sathar destroying all that they face. Eventually larger games would be played but a lot of FDM maneuvering would go on before ‘decisive' battles occurred. Even when I was younger and had all the time in the world to pursue this open ended campaigning my gaming group never completed the campaign without resorting to a GM narrative on battles to help drive everything to a conclusion.

So the Hurricon 18 adaptation was based on the premise that the campaign was the framework in which to drive playable games – big games mostly with 8 players. The KH campaign mechanics itself, while interesting, were not be used verbatim but were the basis of mapping the most likely decisions and setups for battles. To get to the heart of the campaign the system had to set the conditions for big battles. This was achieved by what I call going for the ‘Fast Failure' option by the Sathar; attack star systems that will yield decisive results and minimize a Federation ability to shift forces in response to the Sathar jumping into Federation space. This required to the Sathar to attack at least two Star Systems which would have a unified Federation defense. The third invasion route would be a supporting attack intending to force the Federation to defend. This makes for 3 Initial battles that would shape the rest of the campaign. All three games would need to be played to move to the follow on battles.

Hurricon 18
Red Alert (RA) Space Fleet Warfare Synopsis
The HMGS South Hurricon 18 convention that ran 27-30 SEP had many sessions of RA run throughout the CON. HMGS South leadership and staff were very accommodating to our requests and were really supportive of the multiple Red Alert sessions. Although not as big a venue as some of the HMGS conventions up north the HMGS South CONs are always great and have a very broad mix of historical and other game types to meet anyone's gaming preferences.

Engagement. There was a thread a few weeks back about what overall is best during a game and the answer was player engagement. Reflecting on why I have found my ‘happy place' with the Command and Colors gaming system I would have to say overall the C&C games provide a robust sense of engagement during play. Red Alert is based comfortably on that foundation and it was great to see new players and our Playtest Grognards mix over the weekend during these games.

Along with the new players we had many youth participate at this convention. Parents (including me) brought our budding gamers to the CON and a middle school gaming club from GA also was there. My favorite moment of the convention was watching those kids genuinely have a sense of excitement at games that were not running on smart phones or tablets. I was very happy to be part of that.

The success of the games (everyone had fun!) was also due in large part to Richard's help (you know R.Borg the guy who made all this great stuff!) as well as Jim Riley who was an enormous help coaching the youngest of our players (very enthusiastic middle school gamers). René Hoevenberg, our renowned expert modeler and Epic sized GM, not only helped out as well but was able to join in several sessions in addition to running his own massive WW2 game. Without their assistance I would have had the ability to pull this off….so yes running a table top game at a convention is a team sport!

So with all that said I will move on to the game overview. I intended to do more detailed battle reports but this is the best I can do right now with my current schedule.

Red Alert Space Fleet Warfare: Hurricon 18.
Although we ran all of our games using Red Alert I used the old Star Frontiers setting from TSR to drive a series of games in the Knight Hawks campaign environment. There were adaptations of course aligning the RA games to the TSR campaign but overall it worked great.

So if you didn't follow all my lead in posts running up to Hurricon the campaign overview follows: Set in the Second Sathar War campaign the Sathar (space worm invaders!) marshalled 3 fleets to jump into Federation space with the goal of destroying not only the Federation Space Fleet but most importantly 12 space stations that represent the Federation's ability to repair or produce ships to contest the Sathar ambition.

The entry locations for the Sathar Fleets were based on the idea that in order for the Invasion to be successful the Sathar had to break the Federation ability to shift their fleets along interior Jump lanes. Additionally early victory was needed to prevent the Federation from repairing damage using their construction centers and to prevent Militia ships reinforcements from tilting the engagements in the Federation's favor.

Battle of Prenglar: H Day (Hurricon Day)
FY81. 2d Sathar War. Initial Sathar invasion into the Federation matches forces between the Sathar Yreva Fleet and the UPF 1st Fleet comprised of TF Cassadine and TF Prenglar.

The Sathar pressed their attack across the Prenglar Star system. They found the most success in the Beta sector between the orbits of Morgaine's World and Gran Quivera; the two colonized planets in the system. In the Beta Sector the Sathar concentrated many of their capital ships. Additionally the lone Federation Dreadnought was absent from their defense area due to successful Sathar sabotage from sleeper agents that made the ship unable to join this fight. <okay that is a good backstory but the real reason was that I forgot to put the Dreadnought on the table due to the pre-game chaos and near overwhelming excitement my first gaming group had. So ultimately it was not the GM's fault but all part of a carefully thought-out plan by the Sathar invaders….>

Sathar destroy key capital ships vicinity Gran Quivera to pull out a win!
The game was decided in the final turn with both sides achieving victory conditions at the same time! The Sathar won…but only by the slimmest Of margins. So for the campaign it was decided that the end battle conditions set up a second game pitting the remnants of both fleets against each other.

Battle of Fromeltar. H Day
FY81. 2d Sathar War. Initial Sathar invasion into the Federation matches forces between the Sathar Xagyg Fleet and the UPF 2d Fleet comprised of SF Nova and System Militias from Dramune and Fromeltar. This was actually the final game of the convention. It turned out to be a decisive Sathar victory. This was made even worse as I had overall command of the Federation. I will say in my defense that the Alpha and Beta sectors felt the capable hand of an elite Sathar admiral as they surged ahead turning the battle into a very one sided affair. Yes the name of Sathar Admiral RBorg will go down in infamy in the Federation history books.

Early game shot in the Battle for Fromeltar

Desperate struggle in Gamma sector as the UPF attempt to use the asteroid belt to even the odds against a surprisingly effective Sathar assault.

In the end Fromeltar fell to the Sathar and the remnants of the UPF 2d Fleet jumped back to the Dramune System to attempt a last stand there.

Battle of White Light. H+3
FY81. 2d Sathar War. Initial Sathar invasion into the Federation matches forces between the Sathar White Light Fleet and the newly formed UPF TF Epsilon along with System Militias from White Light and Theseus.
This battle occurred after the initial Battles of Prenglar and Fromeltar. The system is on the right most side of the deployment map and is an intersection of Jump routes. The system's planet, Gollywog, has the Fortress Redoubt in orbit along with a sizeable amount of Militia ships from across the nearby star systems.

Battle of White Light start conditions

Intense struggle with both sides mixing in a chaotic exchange that would see the newly raised TF Epsilon flagship and the opposing Sathar allied battleship squadron destroyed.

A close run thing…UPF averts disaster after fending off a swarm of Sathar fighter runs against the Fortress.

This was probably my favorite game of the convention as it had many great moments and we were able to play the same scenario several times. Ultimately the UPF won 2 out of the 3 games played here.

So ends round one of the Reimagined Second Sathar War. As RL permits I will look to follow on battles to determine the campaign.

clifblkskull Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2018 9:02 p.m. PST

Very cool

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP15 Oct 2018 4:10 a.m. PST

I sincerely hope this is just the start of a regular appearance by Red Alert at both HURRICON and RECON. The games were very well attended and each time I checked on it folks were having a ball!

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