Entry updated 20 December 2011. Tagged: Game.
BattleFleet Mars is a convincing simulation of a limited conflict between an Earth-based corporation and the rebellious employees who operate its colonies on Mars and in the asteroid belt, presented as part of a realistic Future History of the inner solar system during the twenty-first century. Unusually, most of the spacecraft in the game are civilian vessels hastily adapted for military use, meaning that battles are fought with mining lasers and (once the combatants have had enough time to develop them) improvised missiles and short range "fighter ships". This is one of the few sf games which attempts to model the socio-political aspects of war, using changes in civilian sentiment based on battle results and shifts in the territory controlled by the two sides, in addition to such military features as logistics and actual conflict. As in Godsfire (1976), political effects are represented by the actions of non player entities controlled by the rules, the most important such actor being the government of Earth. Interestingly, it is almost impossible for either side to achieve a purely military victory; players should instead use armed force to improve their command of the political situation. The game is also notable for its tactical system, which features physically accurate movement and combat in space, using two separate maps to represent the positions of spacecraft in three dimensions. Though the gameplay can seem complex, particularly when manually simulating orbital mechanics with map sheets and cardboard counters, BattleFleet Mars remains one of the most ambitious science fiction Wargames ever designed. [NT]
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