Sunday, June 19, 2011

Federation Commander: Distant Kingdoms

About a year-and-a-half ago I wrote about the game Federation CommanderDistant Kingdoms is another expansion for that game, and is the first one to completely "leave the reservation" of the original Star Fleet license.  Where the original game is based on the ships of the original Star Trek series, this expansion uses ships and intergalactic races made up from whole cloth by the game designers.  This expansion introduces the Lyrans, the Hydrans, and the Wyn Star Cluster.

This expansion is important to me solely because it includes the Lyrans.  Back when I played Star Fleet Battles, I quickly settled on the Lyrans as my race to play.  Is it because the weapons and ship systems fit my standard tactics?  Well, no, not really.  Is it because I really liked them in the original TV show?  Well, no, the game designers made them up.  Is it because their unique weapons system is just so gosh darn cool?  Well, no, it's an energy shield that detonates enemy missiles before they hit you, which isn't too exciting.  So why is it?  I love the twin-hull ship designs.
Isn't that just totally sweet looking?  You bet it is.  Lyran ships are the bestest.

Anyway, as far as the game goes, Lyran ships are very similar to Klingon ships.  Phasers and disruptors are the primary weapons, but instead of drones Lyrans have Expanding Sphere Generators (ESG), which create a semi-physical sphere of energy that surrounds a ship.  You can use it to ram another ship (hardly ever done in practice) or as the best drone defense in the game, as when drones hit an ESG, they just explode harmlessly.  This makes Lyrans the best race to use to fight Kzinti, but not so hot against races that don't use drones (like the Romulans or Gorn).

As mentioned above, Distant Kingdoms also includes the Hydrans, which are interesting primarily because they make significant use of small fighter craft.  I don't like playing against Hydran ships because it can be really hard to keep track of all of those pesky little fighters.  They can't take much damage, but they distract you from the mother ship with its hellbore cannons.  Hydran weapons can take down a shield that is facing away from them, which is completely unfair.  Lastly, the Wyn Star Cluster is really just a bunch of ships from the other races that have been mildly customized to have some different weapons.  I can't think of any real reason to play Wyn ships outside of established scenarios that make use of them.

While the Distant Kingdoms expansion isn't in any way important for a casual Federation Commander player, it has my favorite race so I had to get it.  While the new races make for some different games (as you get to figure out how best to use the new ships and weapons systems), I can't say that it significantly changes the game at all.  Since the base game is so fun, though, just minor tweaks are all that is needed.

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