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"Mayday, by GDW. Any good?" Topic

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Thresher0116 Oct 2021 8:06 p.m. PST

Just curious to see what people think of the Mayday rules by GDW?

Are they playable, replayable, and any good, or difficult to wrap your head around and play?

Are they fun?

Can they be used for multi-player or solo games, as opposed to just two-player ones?

One review said the combat rules were fairly basic, though to be fair, they were designed decades ago, so…….

Any other good small-ship rules that may be better for sci-fi space combat that you can recommend, especially with more than two players looking for those that can handle trading vessels, scout ships, small patrol and military vessels, etc.?

Ideally, something that can be played fairly quickly, but with enough detailing to make the tactical maneuvering, combat, and damage determination interesting. The ability to add on, or ignore RPG details as desired, would be a plus too, depending upon the scenario(s) and number of ships in the game.

stephen m17 Oct 2021 4:49 a.m. PST

I have been keen on these rules for years as well but never did anything but play the movement rules. You can get very far away very fast and if I remember correctly it took more time to get close again. How close or distant you had to be or could be to still have effective combat I do not know. I know the combat rules use the original Traveller starship combat system, but having never played that either…

I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has played the game as to their opinions as well. Thank you.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian17 Oct 2021 6:53 a.m. PST

Fairly simple vector movement. Limited G ratings make maneuver challenging at first.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP17 Oct 2021 10:24 a.m. PST

It's an enjoyable basic game, intended I think as a quick way to resolve Traveller space combat.

It was designed around small space craft (like typical PCs). Later GDW games Brilliant Lances and Battle Rider adapted the movement rules to larger ships.

It works for well for solo and two-player play, and can be adapted to multi-player. As noted above, distances can open up very quickly, which seems realistic, but can cause some headaches for play.

emckinney17 Oct 2021 2:31 p.m. PST

It's fascinating because there's no armor and merchant ships of a given size can easily carry the same armament as warships of the same size. There's a critical computer program sub-game.

However, computers are '70s technology at best and are huge. Warships can use their volume to mount much larger computers. Each program uses a certain amount of space, either in "CPU" or in memory. The various fire control programs and evasion pattern programs get more effective as they require more space. However, you usually have more things that you'd like to do than your computer can accommodate. So you have to swap programs in and out of the CPU, and sometimes unload programs from memory and load new programs.

The way to keep track of this is to make a row of squares for each computer's CPU and memory, then make chits for each program the same size as the number of squares (points of capacity) that they use. Makes it easy and visual to keep track of what's active and what can fit.

Oh, and you always have a budget for computer programs …

stephen m17 Oct 2021 3:46 p.m. PST

I always loved how out of touch Traveller was with computer technology. As I was graduating high school and visiting various Universities while choosing which ones to apply to I visited the University of Waterloo. Think MIT light as far as engineering goes (in '79 anyways). I was proudly shown their brand new Cray supercomputer installed in the dedicated computer building. Three stories high and about 10,000 sq feet of open space. The Cray was one tower, maybe 6 feet high and about 4 feet in diameter. It replaced the 1960s computer that filled the building.

So in my mind I always had the Vilani (? weren't they the ones who won the war with the solomani?) never got beyond 1950s or 1960s computer technology. Just never went any further. Luckily for them their other technologies made up for it. Sort of like the computer in Star Trek TOS. I have the blueprints of the Enterprise and if I remember correctly it occupied about 15% of the saucer section. Probably had only a few terabytes of memory and ran at the same speed as a 2000s pentium.

platypus01au19 Oct 2021 10:25 p.m. PST

i have a copy. Probably the original printing because I bought it some decades ago. Simple vector movement. Very odd computer management where to have to upload and download programs (they would be called Apps now) because your ship had a CPU limit and various programs for manoeuvre, weapons, etc had different sizes depending on their abilities. However what I found was;

1) I always ended up running out of space. Literally. I photocopied the supplied hex sheets but I never had enough.

2) I didn't understand how missiles worked. I still don't. It was never explained how they moved and manoeuvred.


Thresher0120 Oct 2021 1:35 a.m. PST

Thanks for the responses everyone.

From what I've read, it seems that the original Traveller Space Combat rules are very different than that for Mayday, which is a bit surprising. Apparently, the scales of the distances vary by 10X or more between the two rules sets.

Yea, the whole upload/download computer program issue is interesting, and by today's computing standards, a bit nonsensical, but I see why they did that. Trying to make a game within a game, no doubt.

Not sure I would keep that for my games.

Hmmm, interesting comments about space and the missile maneuvering. I haven't heard or read those before.

Does Mayday have rules for ship maneuvering?

If so, perhaps they just assume you'll use the ship maneuvering rules for missiles too.

I know the olde Air War rules used a system like that for "modern" Cold War era aerial combat, and it was released in about the same era as the early Traveller rules sets, e.g. Traveller, Mayday, and Triplanetary.

I suppose another option is they just ignore that altogether and assume they're maneuverable enough to get on target, and to outmaneuver the targeted spacecraft, so perhaps you just need to track the distance between the ship(s) and the missiles.

platypus01au20 Oct 2021 5:04 p.m. PST

Yes, Mayday is a stand alone boardgame. It doesn't use the same abstract system that came with Traveler. Instead there is a bunch of hex sheets, and you manoeuvre your ship (a cardboard chit) on the hexes. To use the vector thrust system (I'm remembering this from decades ago), you had to mark both the previous position of your ship, the current position of the ship, and the _future_ position of your ship, based on your current vector. Then to manoeuvre you applied thrust to the current position in a certain direction, and did some simple trigonometry to work out how it effects the future position.

The thing was you could get up some extraordinary velocities.

As for missiles, yes, I think they were supposed to use the same manoeuvre rules, but IIRC certain attributes of the missiles were missing from the rules so I couldn't work out how. There are seperate missile chits, so they are supposed to be placed on the table, manoeuvre, intercept and detonate.

It was a fun game. Maybe I should get it out again and see if I can work things out, 40 years later….


infojunky21 Oct 2021 10:35 p.m. PST

I have played the heck out of Mayday. You can play it as it stands, or you can use the damage systems and ranges from Traveller Book2 or even use it for fleet actions with Book5 High Guard. The latter is in rule booklet.

Stalkey and Co09 Apr 2023 6:41 p.m. PST

I have not yet played my copy of Mayday but all the comments sound correct. The spaceship combat system in book 2 and in book 5 high guard seem like they are very workable and user friendly.

Triplanetary uses a similar system – SJG re-released it, and it seems very playable.

So far I have had very few game mechanic issues to smooth out – using 1st edition traveler For a few months and several sessions.

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