Federation Commander: Briefing #1 — Review
Federation Commander: Briefing #1 is Amarillo Design Bureau’s latest expansion to their Federation Commander starship combat games. Briefing #1 is basically a scenario set with some miscellaneous material thrown in. It is a 64-page black and white book with color card stock cover. The layout is typical FedCom.
Briefing #1 includes a hodgepodge of FedCom material. First is an official scenario designers guide. This is four pages of guidelines to create official FedCom scenarios. Obviously ADB hopes you will submit your designs so that there can be a Briefing #2 at some point.
There is a master ship chart — The chart is a four page table that includes all the current ships and what product has their ship card and miniature. Point values are also listed. The problem with this sort of thing is it becomes incomplete with the next product release and would be better as a free pdf download on the FedCom Website.
Also included is a three-page tactics article that has some mildly useful content. It is a not entirely successful adaptation of air combat principles to FedCom.
Perhaps most useful is the rules update (a tidy two pages) that includes all errata to date for FedCom. But a note states it is for the Revision-4 rulebook and that if you have Revision-3 or earlier you should contact ADB to get the v4 rules for a small charge. Presumably the revision number of the rulebook is listed on the cover (mine all say ‘First Edition’).
Briefing #1 also includes six new starships, one for each of the current major races. There is the Federation New Drone Cruiser, Klingon Drone-Armed War Cruiser, Romulan SparrowHawk-M Escort Cruiser, Kzinti Medium Drone Cruiser, Gorn Light Escort Cruiser, and the Tholian Patrol Corvette. The usual squadron and fleet displays are included but without any color. They are part of the book and thus will have to be photocopied first to be used. Presumably these ships will show up as full-color versions in later expansions or perhaps a Communique.
A scenario index is also included that lists all FedCom scenarios by product and title. There is also a list of SFB converted scenarios ordered, more usefully, by type. Why the other scenarios are not listed by type or size is odd. I am not sure how useful the list by scenario title is but perhaps some may have a need for it. Again, this sort of thing is better done as an updated pdf on the Website.
Lastly is the real meat of Federation Commander: Briefing #1, the new scenarios. In fact the scenarios are probably the only real reason to purchase this product. You get 24 new scenarios that cover all current races, across all types of combat, and from small to large battles. There are some very good missions in the set. The first scenario, Sabotage!, is a good example. It is a simple Federation and Klingon ship duel but in this case the Federation ship has been sabotaged and the player must split his engineer and science officer resources between fixing the engines and the photon torpedo tubes while fending off his Klingon attacker. A very simple twist that adds great fun to the basic duel scenario.
Overall if you are looking for new mission challenges or new ideas to spur your own scenario designs then Briefing #1 is a must get. Just do not expect much more than the scenarios.