Inire, Orion and I had a three-way Full Thrust free-for-all tonight. I’ve been wanting to give the game a play for a while now, and I was not disappointed. (Well, okay, maybe a little. Most of my ships got blown up. Heavy cruisers are good.)
My biggest complaint, just to get it out of the way, is that the rules are pretty spread-out over all of the books published to date. There’s the main rulebook, which has the cinematic movement rules, basic weapons, and an early build system. Then an out of print supplement More Thrust which introduces a number of additional rules. Then Fleet Book 1 for a complete overhaul of much of the game – but not all, so you probably still need the original rules – including a different classification system for beams, much more powerful fighters, and a vector-based movement system. There’s also a Fleet Book 2 as well….
But the rules themselves (once you’ve decided what subset to use) are really quite simple. It’s all d6-based. For the basic beam weapons that are the backbone of the original game rules, to-hit and damage rolls are combined, and the rating of the weapon determines how many dice you roll. There are very elegant mechanics for range and for energy shields layered on top of that. Point-defense systems and fighters work in much the same way. Fighters, by the way, are nasty. They have lots and lots of range and mobility, and a bay full of fighters has more short-range firepower than most dreadnoughts – and are probably harder to kill, to boot.
If there’s any bad point of the basic game, I think it’d be the critical hit mechanic. Damage is tracked by a series of boxes. At certain points, you reach a threshold, and you must roll 1d6 for each system on your ship to determine whether it blows up. On a big ship, that’s a lot of tedious rolling. (I think one of the supplements might have a more streamlined system; but as written, it’s a little obnoxious.)
I’m definitely planning on taking a closer look at all of the optional rules (torpedos! missiles! the wave motion gun!). Hopefully I can convince the guys that they want another go at me.