Sunday, December 24, 2017

Rogue Stars

Rogue Stars by Osprey Publishing
Image: Osprey Publishing / Amazon
So, if you don't already know, I'm a huge fan of Osprey Wargames.  The rulesets that have come out since they launched the series are all superb.  There are some warts, but by and large they are very solid games.  The best part is that there are a lot of rulesets, and none of them require specific model ranges.  If you're playing Ronin, for instance, the samurai you use can be from any manufacturer.  By the virtue of being rulesets first and foremost, rather than glorified marketing campaigns, they have nearly all secured a place in my molten iron heart.

Rogue Stars is a game set in a vaguely presented sci-fi world, and this kind of thing I like a lot.  It fires the imagination in a lot of ways.  When I read rulesets like this, I find myself dreaming up a lot of cool new scenarios and excuses to pick up yet another set of toy soldiers.  However, I like to switch it up a lot, so I also think about how I can use the rules with the models I already own.  Rogue Stars is one of those rulesets that could see use in almost any sci-fi milieu.

Yet this is not a review of Rogue Stars.  It was released at the end of 2016, so there are plenty of those you can read.  Must Contain Minis and Blood and Spectacles have excellent pieces.  The rules could be challenging, if you aren't familiar with the conventions.  You can watch a battle report from Guerrilla Gaming here.

The reviewers and reporters there touched on some things that are neat about this game, and they are totally right.  I'm not rehashing all that here.  Instead this is about how I want to use this ruleset, and others like it.  You see, I've pretty much gotten to the point that all the miniatures and rules are pretty well interchangeable - and you can have a totally different experience with said ruleset simply by changing the models and narrative around it.

Unlike more public venues, you're going to see a lot of 'non-affiliated' rulesets pop up in Iron Seer campaigns.  I've talked about this at length, in-person and on other blogs, but with the size, length and scope in the new campaign era here I think there's never really been a better time to introduce this.  Rogue Stars will be the first such 'non-affiliated' ruleset to 'go-live' in a campaign as we add it to our ongoing Star Wars campaign.

I call it 'non-affiliated' because although it is not an official "BRAND X" product, the game itself fits it perfectly.  We happen to be playing a "BRAND X" campaign, and I've got this ruleset.  Foolish not to give it a go, out where everyone can take a stab at it and we can put the rules through the ringer.  For this game (and many like it) the setting simply doesn't matter, it's the ruleset that is the prize here.

Rogue Stars itself doesn't really have much of a setting anyway - and that's a good thing.  The absence of any truly specified setting actually seems to make it easier for certain kinds of gamers to "accept" the ruleset in a different milieu.  It's a strange phenomenon, to be sure, but we saw it a few years ago when the club began using Frostgrave as a ruleset for resolving Dungeons & Dragons conflicts in the Forgotten Realms.  However, gamers tend to be more insular than they'd like us to think they are and have a hard time accepting new things.  Osprey's book cost and generally low buy-in on these rulesets have gone a long way to soften that.

In my opinion, we as gamers need to start looking at rulesets outside of the brands we like that we can use in the milieu as we desire.  Diversify your ruleset collection, and play with it.  Most importantly, be open to the experience.  It's a game, and a hobby.  Nothing need be straightjacketed (except WYSIWYG).  In this way, you won't feel divorced from your favorite game / setting when they puke up yet another corporately mandated edition and you decide to retire to the Collector's Bin.

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