Apologies for the long silence – Things here have been difficult. As we noted when it happened, the head of Cage Free contracted Covid back in 2021. Unfortunately, they are still suffering from Long Covid, and it has impacted their ability to work or make progress on many things. So what does this mean for Cage Free Games?
Well, we’re not closing shop, that’s for sure! Tammy Phasertech is still hard at work, and our patreon subscribers have gained access to new STL files for printable miniatures recently (including the Broadside Cruiser just uploaded today). In addition, while the Admirals Engine is currently on design hiatus, a more traditional minis game engine is on the way: Array & Battery, the Cinematic Space Battles wargame. Inspired by Games Workshop’s still-popular Battlefleet Gothic, and modernized with lessons learned by game designers since that game’s release over 2 decades ago, Tam is nearing a public beta stage of this exciting new game. Once the Beta is released, she’ll need your support and feedback to tune it from core concepts to a full release (no good tabletop game is a one-person feat!)
In addition, Cage Free Games is expanding our physical products outside of game materials into game fashion! In addition to minis and various game tools, we’ve been 3d printing game-inspired fashion accessories and are beginning to design our own unique Cage Free Games inspired STLs. Not only will we be selling these accessories through our Etsy store, but many of the STLs themselves will be made available to our patrons just as we’ve started doing with our miniatures. As fashion allows more creative liberty than functional game pieces, this gives Tam the ability to channel her creativity in another direction to help clear designer’s block for both miniatures design and rules writing.
For those who might be worried that the accessories would pull from designs for Array & Battery, worry not – the game is Minis Agnostic, and we’ll be highlighting other sculptors in the community whose minis we use ourselves. In addition, if you were a fan of the games Star Wars Armada or Battlefleet Gothic, you’ll easily be able to use your existing miniatures for Array & Battery.
Welcome back to another Future Friday! This week, we’re taking a quick look at how Operation Command: Sol 3’s combat system works, with the Republic Artemius War Destroyer as a lens. First though, to address an issue – we’ve had some delays this week on Star Strike production due to some technical difficulties re: Adobe. The Weapons cards and August Commander Expansion will release together next week as a result. For now – its time to talk about Operation Command!
The primary combat mechanics of operation command operate around a two-step attack process. First, the attacker rolls dice equal to the Firepower (FP) of the weapon they are using (multiples of a weapon may be rolled together, as we’ll discuss below). For each die that rolls equal to or under the Weapon’s Strength Rating (SR), the Attack’s Impact is increased by the weapon’s Damage Points (DP).
Once the attacker’s Roll has been made and Impact is determined, one of two different defense rolls are made, depending on the type of piece that is defending. For today, we’re going to focus on Large Pieces, who make a single die Shield Roll, adding the Impact to the die result. If the total is equal to or below the sum of the Defender’s Shield Hardness (SH) and Shield Power (SP), the attack has been blocked and the attack sequence ends. However, if the total exceeds the SH+SP of the defender, the attack Succeeds. If the defender has an SP of more than 0, its SP is reduced by 1. If the defender has an SP of 0 however, a successful attack reduces the defender’s Hit Points (HP) by the attack’s Impact.
So, assuming our attacker is an Artemius War Destroyer, and our defender is a Paladin Heavy Cruiser (with SH and initial SP of 3, and 7 Hit Points), let’s examine an attack approach, starting with our longest range weapons and moving inward:
24″ may seem short to some wargames players, but while it is the longest effective range in OCS3, you can take shots from up to 6″ further away. At up to 3″ extra, your Strength is reduced by 1, and at up to 6″ extra, your Strength is reduced by 2. The same goes for the other end of a weapon’s range, meaning these Gladiors can attack targets as far away as 30″, and as close as 6″.
For now, let’s assume our passive Paladin Heavy Cruiser is within about 24″ range. Gladiors are of the Cannon weapon type, which increases the weapon’s Strength by 1 when attacking Capital Vessels (like our target). As a result, to attack, we’re rolling 2 dice (ex. results: 2,4), and increasing our Impact by 3 for each result equal to or below 5 (ex. results: 6 Impact). A massive shot like our example is already equal to the Paladin’s SH+SP (3+3), so any defense roll will automatically fail, reducing its SP to 2.
As the ships in our example close in, both move a standard 4″ move directly towards each other (no pieces move faster than 4″ in a single Battle Round). We’re now at roughly 16″ apart, putting our mid-range weapon pair in range. Also a Cannon, these Plasma weapons can cause additional damage after causing a target to lose HP. Unfortunately, our Target still has 2 power left in their Shields, so we need to knock those down first.
After a second Strength 5 Gladior Salvo (Ex. result: 3,6) the Paladin (SH3+SP2) narrowly blocked (Ex. Result: 2+3 Impact = Blocked), our Plasma Bolt Cannons (Strength 4, ex. Results 1,3) hit for an Impact of 4, and our target’s luck doesn’t hold (rolling a 3), bringing its SP down to 1.
One turn later, and we’re now 8″ apart – allowing us to fire every weapon in the Artemius’ forward arc. Our newly available weapon, a Plasma Beam Cannon, is nearly guaranteed to deal damage, even though its out of effective range, thanks to the Cannon bonus.
With lower output on the Gladiors at this distance (now taking -2 to Strength, to SR3), our attack only comes through with 3 Impact, but that’s enough to force the target to need a die result of 1 to avoid losing its last Shield Point. A lucky shot with the Plasma Bolt Cannons (die rolls of 2 and 3 resulting in Impact 4) not only makes it impossible for the target to avoid damage (losing 4 of its HP), but rolling for the Plasma Fire rule removes one more HP. Our Beam Cannon hits, but the target makes lucky roll of 1, its Shields barely containing the torrent of superheated particles.
As the ships pull alongside each other, the Artemius reveals its final card for dealing with troublesome targets – a Firestorm Missile Bank, in its Broadsides arc. While its Launcher type won’t help it here (buffing attacks made against Support Craft such as our War Destroyer here), its still rolling a whopping 6 dice at a high Strength Rating. As the attacks come crashing in (ex. results: 1,2,3,4,5,6), the Artemius scores an Impact 4 hit. Unable to defend itself, the Paladin Heavy Cruiser loses its remaining HP and is Destroyed.
Of course, in a full game, the Paladin not only would fight back – it very likely would avoid engaging with Artemius destroyers, using Guardian Frigates to draw fire and relying on the rest of its Squadron to remove dangerous Capital Ship hunters like the Artemius. Learning to maneuver around the ranges of both you and your opponents weapons is a key aspect of Operation Command, and as you’re commanding multiple squadrons of starships, sometimes balancing Squadron coherency with various weapon ranges can be a puzzle. Next week, we’ll talk about Movement in OCS3, so stay tuned!
While the future of Grandis is home to Starships with technology whose capabilities may as well be magic to us, the technology of the Gate Wars era of Grandis has its own unique look and feel. Battles take place at close range, as longer ranges allow even the largest of starships time to react to incoming fire, even from the fastest of weapons. As a result, battles in the Gate Wars era are brutal, cinematic slugfests, with starships trading massive blows while starsuits fight for control of starbases (from weapons platforms to Gate terminals). Today we’re going to take a look at 2 starships from the Gate Wars era, one each from 2 factions: The zealous United Republic of Sol, and the hopeful Democratic Association of Colonies.
Artemius War Destroyer
Designed late during the first Gate War with the Frontier Rebel Coalition, the Artemius was a testbed for Plasma weapon technology, and was one of several War Destroyer designs proposed to the Republic Navy. After the Cesar class’ catastrophic test flight, the Artemius was selected (despite her higher material cost), and entered full production shortly thereafter.
The Artemius sports a whopping 5 forward weapon mounts, with Firestorm plasma missile broadsides for close-in power. At long range, it uses its oversized Gladior coilcannons, forcing enemies to close in to avoid heavy damage. However, at medium ranges, the Artemius engages with Plasma Bolt Cannons, and at close range, its Plasma Beam Cannon is a reliable anti-starship weapon.
Republic ships often mount a massive weapon on the end of their neck, which is commonly equipped with missile broadsides. Barring the smallest of vessels, most Republic ships mount a set of Combat Wings at the aft of their neck, mounting either a pair of heavy cannons or, on Carrier vessels, large Carrier Bays built into the wing. As with the Artemius’s Plasma Bolt Cannons, many of these wings also integrate smaller weaponry into the Combat Wing, often near Engines for ease of power delivery.
Guardian Class Frigate
Designed to maintain the integrity of the Colonial Fleet’s starsuits during combat, the Guardian Frigate is one of the newest colonial starships to enter service. Exceptionally maneuverable for its size and shape, this durable Frigate defends larger vessels and provides a platform for Starsuits to support its close range firepower.
Relatively lightly armed on its own, the Guardian carries a Starspear Torpedo Launcher and Class 5 Hardlight Cannon, both highly advanced weapons, on its primary hull. Mounted to the vessel’s small Sensor Pallet is a single Autocannon turret, providing defensive fire at close range.
Colonial Vessels are often equipped with a mixture of highly advanced weapons and an array of Autocannon turrets and emplacements. Their primary hulls resemble a cross between modern day submarines and naval vessels, while their defining features are their circular Sensor Pallets, commonly mounted at the front of the vessel. These pallets contain an advanced array of detection and EM warfare tools that connect directly to the Command Network.
You can look forward to these models and more coming soon! STIl files will be made available via our Patreon, and if you’d like your models professionally printed, you’ll also be able to order them directly from Shapeways.
As we wrap up production on the Weapons Cards and Scenario Book for Admirals 2nd edition, Cage Free Games has been casting our attentions towards a second game engine, and a second major part of the Grandis setting…
We’re excited to announce the Operation Command game engine and the Sol 3 setting, a precursor to Star Strike taking place in the early Grandis galaxy!
Designed from the ground up to be an approachable large-scale wargame focused around multiple theaters of combat, the Operation Command core engine focuses on maneuvering your larger pieces (such as Starships or Vehicles) to put pressure on your opponents, while your smaller pieces (such as space-mobile Mecha or Infantry) do the work of securing and holding key locations.
You may have noticed that both of our examples include space based and ground based units. That’s because we have 2 major games planned for Operation Command. The first, OC: Sol 3, is a space-based game where fleets battle for control of Starbases of various types (including valuable Jumpgates that allow inter-system travel), while led by experimental transforming mecha with powerful coordination abilities. The second game, OC: Star Strike, will be a ground-based game set much later in the Grandis timeline, pitting various landing parties from multiple Starships against each other in a mad scramble to take and control ground-based installations (including ancient Psiarian and Olympian technology!).
Sol 3 will be developed alongside Admirals: Star Strike Season 2, Operation Command: Star Strike Season 3 will follow the conclusion of Season 2, shifting the focus of the Star Strike setting to the hunt for technology (and the invasion of planets in a new era of Grandis).
Note that Admirals is not getting left behind, and in addition to the continued development of new content for Admirals: Star Strike, new auxiliary vessels (freighters, unarmed troop transports, and more) will give you new ways to battle in Grandis!
So what’s all this about a precursor to Star Strike, and transforming Mecha? Longtime fans of our lead developer’s work may recognize Sol 3, a setting where the stars are Pilots with their brains neurally linked to their powerful, transforming Multi-Mode Starfighters. These spacecraft function off the Pilot’s mental connection through a method not fully understood, and can shift between swift Flight modes and powerful limbed Combat modes. Larger than the average Starfighter or Starsuit of their day, these Multi-Mode vessels stream the targeting and defensive data of their assigned fleets through the Pilot’s mind, giving them the ability to coordinate and enhance their Squadrons.
We’ll be talking more about Sol 3 all this week, so tune in if you’re interested in learning more about the setting, seeing some early Miniature sculpts, or getting a crash course on how this exciting new miniature game will play on your tabletop. If you’re more interested in current goings-on of Grandis, more Star Strike story and releases are also coming later this week, so stay tuned!
Welcome Back Cadets! This week, we have a new Star Strike digital release available for all patrons: Commanders! These powerful cards lead your Open Play fleets or upgrade your Constructed Play pieces, and represent famous leaders in the Grandis Galaxy. One of these new Commanders may look slightly familiar: our anxious and angry Bird Overlord makes her first appearance in the Star Strike universe!
Encased in an Armor Rig of her own design, Natuu’u hovers around her command center, nervously looking over the shoulders of her subordinates. Her Command Trait, “Abide In Caution”, allows her to re-roll failed Ore Hull saves and improves her Armor Attribute(s) while in any terrain hex. Whether you use her on a Battle Cruiser in Constructed Play to improve its survivability, or take her as your overall Commander in Open Play to bring a durable Dathian fleet to the table, her caution will protect your ships and keep you in the fight longer!
You can find the Nervous Schemer and 7 other Commanders in the newest file for download via our Patreon!
Welcome back, Cadets! This weekend, we have a local event and a small new release for Patrons. Strap in, because with these comes the first update to Star Strike 2nd edition.
Open Play at Webway Games
Our second FLGS (and closest to home for us!), Webway Games has agreed to let us run an Open Play format event this Saturday! We’ll be there from 3pm to 8pm giving away custom print and play sets of Admirals: Star Strike and teaching players the new Open Play format. One or more lucky players (based on attendance) will go home with a 1st edition playmat of their choice, and anyone interested will get to build their own Open Play Fleet from one of the four major factions in the game. But what is this new Open Play format? Well…
Commanders and Open Play
Admirals: Star Strike 2.1 introduces Open Play alongside Commander Cards, characters from the setting that can give powerful bonuses to your Starships! Open Play is a simplified, fast-play version of Admirals, cutting out the Planning Phase altogether and largely doing away with Orders. In their place, each player brings a Commander to the table, giving a buff to all their non-Escort pieces. The full rules for Open Play can be found in the updated Rules Reference, where the new additions (including incorporating Commanders into your Constructed Play fleets) are all marked in red text.
Patrons can expect a set of 8 Commanders early next week (A certain Bird Overlord will be making her first appearance in the Star Strike setting), and attendees at tomorrow’s event will have a chance to pick from 4 of these. Living battering ram Ghroth Thickfin (shown above) will be available for prospective Selourian commanders tomorrow, as well as his nemesis Kyre Rockwen of the Dathian Coalition.
Next week will also see the release of several remastered Weapons Cards and a handful of remastered Ship Cards along with their new tokens. As always, signing up for our Patreon will grant you access to every digital release.
For our local fans, we hope to see you at Webway Games tomorrow. Otherwise, have a great weekend, and happy gaming!
Season 2 of Star Strike Development finally begins to drop today, with the release of Admirals: Star Strike 2nd Edition! This new edition fixes a number of issues found during the life of First Edition, and is compatible with all First Edition cards and tokens. Without further ado, lets answer some quick questions about the game and its new edition:
What is Admirals: Star Strike?
Admirals: Star Strike (or A:ST for short) is a Tactical Space Combat game where you take on the role of an Admiral in a hyper-futuristic mega-galaxy. Players assign Orders to their ships to improve their abilities, designate long-range Strikes against distant targets, and get into the thick of deadly close-range boarding Skirmishes to control territory and devastate enemy vessels.
Designed from the ground-up to be played with either professionally printed materials or personalized home-printed sets, A:ST delivers a compact tactical wargaming experience to your local game store or your dining room table.
What is the Star Strike setting?
In a far, far distant future, a group of immortal beings known as the “Followers of Zeus” used an artifact called the Olympus Key to reforge the universe into a singular, massive galaxy. Called Grandis by its inhabitants, the majority of life in this galaxy was wiped out during the moment of its creation.
Now, as the survivors of Grandis come to understand the truth behind the existence of their galaxy, the Selourian Warlords are waging a campaign of extermination, searching for an artifact to destroy all life in the universe with a single psionic impulse. Myla Jerrik and the crew of the ASV Ranger believe this artifact to be the Olympus Key itself, now holding the psionic essence of an immortal gone mad.
Will Season 3 bring Third Edition? Why Second Edition now?
Heavens, I hope not! The decision to jump to a Second Edition was the result of two major influences.
First, a number of interactions in First Edition didn’t have the intended effect, and caused many edge case problems where players lacked an answer to “What could I have done differently?”. Some of these problems had already been addressed in beta rules or rules introduced in the 1.2 Merridia version of First Edition. These tests allowed us to better understand some of the interactions inherent to our system, and a complete overhaul of the rules allowed us to better tune certain rules for fun, flavor, and decision value.
The second influence was the structure of the First Edition rules themselves. Designed to walk a player through each step of play rather than lay out a rules system, the First Edition ruleset provided the framework of the game in a friendly matter, but there was no easy way to delineate where or when various interactions may occur (and some terms were not properly defined as a result). Second Edition solves this problem, as it is based around the Rules Reference, a Quality System-Inspired rules document designed to be far more definitive than any “Intro to play” could ever be.
As for Season 3, Second Edition will be sticking around for a while. The next season is largely just framework at the moment, but players can expect the long-anticipated new major Factions to start making their appearances…
This all sounds cool, where can I get it?
The Rules Reference (as well as updated Power Points, or PP, values for Constructed Play) can be found on the updated landing page for the game:
You can also find print and play files of 4 each of 20 different Starships (5 each for 4 Factions) in the new Season 2 formats, plus all Season 1 digital print files, on our Patreon! Subscribing gives you access to every Digital Release from Cage Free Games, and Patron exclusive content such as Tom’s real-time Dev Log on Discord, Star Strike Wallpapers, upcoming Patron-exclusive videos and previews, and more!
So what’s next? Season 2 is just getting started, with a number of updated and upgraded cards, accessories, and new starships coming soon, as well as the Season 1 Story Collection (the first half of which will release on The Game Crafter as an easy and high quality Intro Set). The Grandis story also continues, with more Officer Logs and new Video Logs coming soon.
From both of us at Cage Free Games, and from our playtesting group, we wish you happy gaming and a good weekend!
Psionic Transmission from untraceable location Received at Triton Observatory Olympus Project: T+34 minutes
I never expected to have to send a message like this. Where to start. Oh, what have we done?
The Olympus Key is no more. In its place is a prison that should never be opened. This new universe is vulnerable, I see that now. Unifying all beings could help them escape the end of all life. But it also put all life in one location.
That location may now forever be at the mercy of a man gone mad. My colleague. My friend.
Neptune is now trapped in the Key. He truly wanted to end his existence… he wanted to end it so badly it turned into a psychosis. While we were blinded by ambition, he was suffering. Now he just wants to end all existence, and yet he has become eternally trapped himself.
He took control of the Key as the process completed. Or at least, he merged with it. The first act was Zeus’ sudden and violent end… one can only assume Neptune hated him for granting him immortality. The Unachievable. That’s what he kept saying he was looking for. I guess we can assume he meant death.
He wiped out billions of intelligent races in mere seconds. What we think we were able to save by locking him in the key, are likely the smallest fraction of a percentage of what once was. Heh… I say think, because barely anything is functional here. And with my strength fading…
He changed us all. He sent everyone away in the final moment, so we’d die alone. Stripped of our immortality, so we cannot warn the peoples of this new galaxy of the dangers to come. At least, that’s what he thought.
I managed to cobble this transmitter together. I have just enough psionic energy left to channel it to whichever of my observatories rests closest to the center of this grand new creation. Hopefully that increases the chances of it being found. If you’ve found this recording, please heed my warning.
News came in earlier today, from an old friend. The Selourians have entered the “Silent Forge”. Admiral Rockwen’s hunch was right. She sent me some Coalition documents detailing their archeological history. Something of a hobby of hers, apparently. A group of powerful beings, immortal to the passage of time, are at the center of many of these pieces. The same names have come up in our own records recovered from the coreward area of Grandis. I keep wondering if we’re looking in all the wrong places out here on the rim, but the more we can learn about these Akula, the better.
The culture of the Star Cults seems to reference an “Unspoken”, a force of some sort that exerts its will on the cosmos. While the goals of the Unspoken differ among each local cult, common threads speak of the end of life. Some call the Unspoken “The Final Word”, some “The end of Record”, others “The Unachievable”. That last one gets me the most. All the others speak of endings, likely Death, but “Unacheivable”?
Wait. Death. Unachievable. Immortal. By Kyssh’Harr… <Paused>
There’s a link between Coalition Archeology and the Star Cults. I found a record from one the common figures from Coalition Mythology, Hathor. It says a friend of hers, Neptune, had asked her if he could “truly achieve the unacheivable”. She worried about him. She also wasn’t sure he was talking about the project all these immortal “Followers of Zeus” were working on.
I wonder if this Immortal being was looking to end his existence? Another’s? The context still isn’t clear. According to Kyre, there’s a Planet in the Ur-Dan system also named Neptune. On one of its moons lies a Location known as Athena’s Retreat. If Kyre’s notes are accurate, Hathor’s record was found there. Maybe it’s time to call in a favor.
In a far distant future, the future of all life hangs in the balance…
Admirals: Star Strike is a game of Tactical Space Combat in an artifically created galaxy made up of every star in the universe. Take command of one of four factions and fight for their ideals. Maneuver your pieces, Strike from a distance and pick your close-range Skirmish battles carefully.
Set in the massive Grandis Galaxy, the heroes of the Star Strike story are the ever-curious Kyssh, a humanoid race of peaceful explorers. Armed with an array of electromagnetic weaponry (designed to disable aggressors rather than destroy them), the Kyssh and their allies in the Planetary Accords explore the galaxy, looking for new friends and clues to their existence.
As they expanded their influence, the Accords faced many challenges to their peaceful nature. Each time, they rose to face their enemies, with the hope that one day they might call them friends.
First, they encountered the expansionist Nataran Empire. The primarily insectoid nation had recently been rocked by a deadly Civil War, known internally as the Aranidae rebellions. Having expelled the rebels into the Galactic core, the Empire desired a return to colonizing the Jalguron sector, now occupied by Accords colonists. The Imperial invasion provoked the Accords to drastically ramp up Starship construction to protect their citizens, and the situation in Jalguron quickly turned into a stalemate.
Meanwhile, both the Empire and the Accords became aware of a new power in the Galactic core. A powerful Coalition of mining and industrial powers based on the Dath system was quickly establishing resource operations in space colonized by others. While many operations in Accords space were able to coexist peacefully with their neighbors, some were outright hostile. In the Empire, Dathian operations were considered an illegal breach of territory, and battles between mining fleets and border patrols were common.
The Coalition soon had its hands full, however. The southernmost Dathian sector, Darkwater, suddenly went silent. A small number of survivors, led by Kyre Rockwen, returned to the Coalition warning of a deadly foe capable of obliterating entire Star Systems. Coalition leadership initially dismissed the claim, and Kyre formed the Civilian Defense Force from independent contractors. When Selourian warships pressed further north into the Silent Forge, Kyre Rockwen’s ragtag band of defenders was ready to slow their advance.
Meanwhile, the Accords war with the Empire had drawn most of the Accords Navy to Jalguron. Not anticipating another attack, the Accords were unaware that the Selourian Warlords had territory to their unprotected east. A strike force of Selourian dreadnoughts entered Accords space, heading directly for Merridia. Home to the Merrin, the first race to join the Kyssh in the Accords, Merridia was considered a core world. By the time forces were moved from the Imperial front, it was too late – Merridia had been scoured of life by Selourian plasma Extermination Arrays.
In the aftermath of Merridia’s destruction, the Accords launched the first of a new class of Scout explorers. Captained by veteran officer Myla Jerrik, the ASV Ranger set out to seek out new allies and learn the truth of their galaxy’s existence. In a Star system near the edge of the galaxy, the Ranger and her crew encountered a massive Starbeast named Dread Nova. A member of the ancient Akula race, Dread Nova was part of a plot to destroy all life in the galaxy. The Ranger’s psionics officer, a Merrin named Urielle Sakorra, attempted to learn the details of the plot via a psionic link. Unfortunately, Dread Nova threw himself into a gas giant, crushing his body to deny Urielle access to his memories.
While the link was incomplete, the crew of the Ranger had learned 2 things. First, Grandis was comprised of every star from every galaxy in the universe, though the secrets of its creation remained unknown. Second: the Akula were working with the Selourians to destroy all life in Grandis, all life in the universe. They were looking for, or perhaps working towards, something that the Akula knew could accomplish this goal all at once.
Ordered to return to Kyssh’Harr for a retrofit and new assignment, the ASV Ranger is about to embark on its most dangerous mission yet. Meanwhile, Kyre Rockwen leads a desperate battle to hold off advancing Selourian and Akulan forces in the Silent Forge. Without reinforcement, the sector – and its many secrets – may be lost forever.
The Star Strike story continues in Season 2: Scars of the Past!