Note: Ideas and starships from this project have now been incorporated into the Starmada conversion of Warfleet.
Warfleet: New Era has been my ongoing board-game hobby project for quite a few years now. I'm not actually convinced it's ever going to be complete. I'm on the 4th revision of the rulebook, the combat/damage system has been redesigned three times, movement and scale has been redone twice, etc. etc. Although every time I do a re-write the game becomes more and more playable, there's some fundamental issues with it:
- The game is based on a hex grid. While I designed it this way from the outset, it imposes certain limitation on the mechanics of the game I've had to work around. More than once I've considered moving it away from a hex grid but I think it loses a lot of the "feel" I was going for in doing so.
- It's complicated. Dear God is it complicated. Revision 4 of the "basic" manual chimes in at 41 pages, including diagrams. While I personally have nothing against complex games (I love Star Fleet Battles), it makes revising and playtesting an incredible chore. Currently I've tested less than half of the "rules" in the manual with only 4 -out of more than 40- types of starships for the game.
- Since the game essentially uses 3D counters, there's no comparison of size differences on the board. When I originally started the game I had a vision of the large ships being three times bigger than the smaller ones. In practice this doesn't work so well on a hex grid.
- It's hard to tweak. The more complex a game becomes, the more likely you are to break something else when you start messing with the rules.
- Needlessly complex? This is one I'm not 100% sure about. I have a feeling I have a lot of rules in the manual that don't actually need to be in there (heck, revision 4 cut down something like 20 pages of rules while actually implementing a more complex damage system).
So what does all this have to do with "L2" (and what IS "L2" anyway)? "L2" is a concept that started when I was building more ships for Warfleet. I use a program called MLCAD to construct the LEGO models of the starships, and I just started playing around for fun and ended up building a ship with a completely different design philosophy than those used in Warfleet. I rather enjoyed it so I ended up building a few more. Before I knew it I had a small group of ships from two or three distinct fleets built around the same framework.
In my mind, this said "board game". The problem was I had nothing to use them for. They didn't fit into my Warfleet fiction and I had no other space games on the go. Hence "L2" was born.
At the time I was in the middle of studying Renegade Legion: Leviathan. Leviathan had some cool features I liked -particularly the damage model. So I thought I'd shamelessly borrow some ideas from Leviathan and create a new game.
"L2" is a tabletop game, free of a hex grid, that borrows mechanics from a few different games (Leviathan chief among them) to create a more simple, faster game than Warfleet. The movement mechanics are different, the damage allocation is different, the models are different -it really is a different game. At this point I have enough made for it that I could throw together a playtest version to try out the basic mechanics. Unfortunately it still lacks one thing I really, really need: a background. Warfleet isn't set in the most complex universe out there but it has enough details to make it interesting and give context to battles. Currently no such thing exists for "L2", and until some divine inspiration strikes me and I manage to write up a few dozen pages of background stories and information, I don't think "L2" is going to progress very far. Still, it's a good concept and I'd like to at least get it to a playable state.
"Ok, cool... why is it called 'L2'"? Well, that's a reference to my hard drive. The new LEGO models were saved in a directory called "LEGO2" (for 2nd game based on LEGO, the first being Warfleet). Hence "L2". Of course, "L" could also be a homage to Leviathan ;).
One of the new ships. This one was simply dubbed "old cruiser 2", and represents an older, outdated design in the L2 universe. Design features of these models is the placement of every single weapon on the model itself. In this case, we can see five turrets as well as a ventral 'old-style' heavy cannon. The large engines at the back of the ship are the 'system drives', and in fact are not used for orbital -or combat- maneuvering. The models are larger than the ones constructed for Warfleet which allows the placement of more details.
Recently added are these two pictures below, which include all of the currently completed ships for "L2". These are not renders like the picture above but they give an idea what the ships look like. Truth be told, this game is actually at a playtestable (sp?) state.