Choose your weapon - fighter loadouts are customisable
Without any real competition, the aging Silent Death has remained top dog of spacefighter gaming. This might be about to change with Blue Shift from Mongoose Games (ETA Winter 2012/2013).
Set in the remote sector of Nethersky, small corporations try to scratch a living in a system which has been stripped of resources and abandoned by the "big players". Small corporations, miners and prospectors scratch a living from what was left behind. It is a natural breeding ground of mercenaries and pirates. You play as mercenary leader, who, within an integrated campaign, commands a fighter squadron. You can hire and fire pilots and buy and equip fighters. Fighters are highly customizable and players can equip them with a wide range of weapons.
I'm excited about more sources for starfighter miniatures
(..besides Studio Bergstrom and EM4)
The idea of Necromunda-esque campaign for fighters is a certain winner. But in particular this comment from the Mongoose site caught my eye:
"Throughout the development of Blue Shift, we have concentrated on what makes fighter combat different from anything else. Principally, speed. Turns for each fighter are very, very quick to play through, allowing you to see a dogfight unfold as fighters zip across the table, perform breathtaking manoeuvres, and settle on the tail of an enemy before blowing it out of the sky. The rulebook has been specifically designed to aid this, with one page holding all the information you need for every fighter, from its speed and turning ability, to its individual critical hit table. There are no ‘damage points’ to track as, being fighter combat, all we are really interested in is a fighter’s ability to carry on, well, fighting. As with all our miniatures games, the core rules of Blue Shift are extremely easy to get into, but there are a wealth of options and additions to continue breathing new life into your games. Add to that a drop in/drop out campaign system, and you will have everything you need to wage war across Nethersky and get rich in the process…"
Fast turns, no "hit boxes", little record keeping, campaign-based - this sounds good.
From what I can gather of the beta rules so far:
*you can force enemies to move instead of yourself (tailing or recon pods)
*ships have slow, medium and fast movement rates (with different turn rating for each speed)
*damage is simple: roll to hit, then roll damage dice vs armour; if equals = superficial damage; if beats score does heavy damage (on randomly rolled location); a 2nd hit is a critical; if hit again for a heavy = fighter kaput!
*Fighters can dodge incoming fire (ECM, decoys and pilot skill helps)
*Fighter combat is cinematic "Star Wars"-style WW2-in-space, not Newtonian
Spacefighter stats, from what I can see, include armour, agility, speeds (lo-med-hi), turn rates (lo-med-hi); hardpoints, equipment slots; and special "traits." Jamming and EW seem to be included in the rules.
External hardpoints will allow things like recon pods, guided missiles and rocket boosters. Extra armour, range finders and thrusters can be added. These "bitz" can be added to the fighter and several come with the core box set ($39.99) with the rules and 4 fighters - which seems an accessibly cheap "jumping off" point to get into the game.
Spacefighter fanboys, rejoice!