Galactic Battlecruisers – Part 6: Drones

by Diego Beltrami


At the beginning of time there were fighters, but fighters were too independent from the flagship to correctly integrate them into the mechanics. So behold! They became drones. Their function is the same, they’ve not changed, but the name change gives sense to their dependency on the Flagship.

Drones provide another way to attack the enemy. The idea behind them is allowing more tactical options during attack. Drones have much better manoeuvrability and can flank the enemy ship, attack weak points and distract the enemy by forcing him to protect different parts of his ship.

Drones come in two shapes, fighters and bombers, and there can only be three deployed in the board at the same time. There is a limited pool of them so losing one means losing it forever.


Their workings were a bit fuzzy in the first iteration. Every player had two fighters orders every turn (this was besides the energy output orders, which didn’t work well).

Drones can be deployed only from the front of the ship. Deployment costs an order. To attack something they have to be in the same tile as the thing they want to attack. That also meant that bombers could only attack the systems that were in that tile.

Fighters had bonuses against bombers and penalizations against capital ship while bombers had bonuses against capital ships and penalizations against fighters. This worked in a semi-rock paper scissors mechanic. Combat was resolved by having each player throw dice when an attack was made, the one with the higher number after modifiers won and the loser had his drones destroyed permanently. There had to be a patch of a +1 to throws for the attacker to make fighter on fighter combat a bit more tactical but overall the system was deeply flawed. It was too random and the two independent orders meant more stuff to track during play. Also fighter on fighter combat broke almost every tactic as they weren’t of much use. Also bombers were the ultimate weapon if one player got space superiority as there wasn’t any way for the player to destroy them,so the player who got its drone control system destroyed was at a great disadvantage.

So there was a rewrite in rules. I kept the rock, paper, scissors mechanic but made it more complete. Fighters destroy bombers, bombers can damage the flagship and the flaghship can only attack fighters. There are details to solve,like how does the flagship attack fighters. For now that’s solved by only being able to attack them with a specific gun at close range.

Another issue is why can’t the flagship attack bombers. One way to solve that might be to allow bombers attack the flagship from outside it’s weapons range but still be vulnerable to weapons fire. This would also allow a defence against bombers in case one player gets space superiority.

What about the attack capabilities? Could a bomber attack ignore shields? Probably not, because it might cause rushing against the CIC a viable tactic.

All of this will be part of the checklist for the next playtest.

but this system at least makes sense. Bomber on bomber or Fighter on fighter combat means that both pieces are removed from play.

Now giving drones orders consume attack orders, so they’re part of the main pool of orders, keeping the order system as the core of the game.

This system amongst the changes to how shields work is what I’m most interested to see in playtesting.