Wargame Wednesday – High Guard Plus

by John Berkey (Courtesy Travellerrpg.com)

Classic Traveller Book 5: High Guard came out in 1980. I find it surprising that after so many years there is actually a paucity of material expanding on the combat system in the book. Indeed, outside of Adventure 5: Trillion Credit Squadron and maybe an article or two in the Journal of the Travellers Aid Society (the Classic Traveller support magazine) I find no other rules. Sure, Power Projection: Fleet tried to be true to High Guard but PPF is in reality a totally different game.

Looking through Traveller materials, especially Mongoose Traveller’s Sector Fleet, several items jumped out at me that made me look at how High Guard did – or didn’t – implement these ideas.

Fighters – I don’t like how High Guard treats each fighter as an individual. I count by squadron or grouping of small craft for initiative and combat.

Screening & Attack Runs – At lower tech levels and with smaller ships, missiles are killers. There are many references in Traveller literature about screening and “getting in close.” In High Guard you set up ships either in the Line or Reserve. I added the “Screen” for fighters or small craft only. Units in the screen can defend against missile strikes or Attack Runs. An Attack Run is done by fighters or small craft. They must penetrate the Screen (dogfight) and then attack ships at Very Close range. If they leave Very Close range they must get through the screen again.

Close Escort – There is a whole “type” of ship in Traveller called the Close Escort. Escorts are designed to “stay close” and “hide behind” their charge. I have added two Close Escort slots for each ship. Each slot can be filled by a squadron of fighters, a group of small craft, or an “escort.” The Close Escort cannot attack the enemy battleline and is presented for combat along with the ship it is charged to protect. It can defend against fighters, small craft, and missiles.

Bomb-Pumped Laser Missiles – Simple really. Roll for To Hit as a missile, but Attack per laser.

I am still experimenting with modifiers and how to (simply) resolve events like the Screen battle. Once I get comfortable I will post them here.

2 thoughts on “Wargame Wednesday – High Guard Plus

  1. I always found High Guard combat disappointing as with more than a few ships it became rock, paper, scissors but with buckets of dice. I have seen some combats written up as brilliant and exciting AARs but on the whole High Guard was, to me, a very disappointing game. Full Thrust plays like High Guard should have played and Power Projection was an attempt to marry High Guard ships onto a Full Thrust combat engine.

    I would be interested to see where you propose to go with High Guard as a wargame.

    1. I too like Power Projection: Fleet and it is my preferred Traveller battle-class ship game system. These days I am “experimenting” with High Guard mostly because it is supposed to be the BCS combat system. I personally am a bit fond of HG; I think GDW at the time was a bunch of non-naval warfare guys trying to figure out how to make a simple large-ship combat system (as background for an RPG) while living in the confines of deterministic combat resolution. What HG literally looks like is War at Sea or Victory in the Pacific (later Task Force or the Fleet Series) in space. Where it got out of hand was the HUGE number of batteries – each which required a die roll. Even PP:F suffers from this problem.
      These days I respect the simplicity of HG; a small fleet battle can be done out literally on paper with just a few charts. I can pass time at an airport with my iPad (a Notes page preloaded with ships and pdf scans of the combat tables) and a die roller. If I really want ship combat I go to PP:F but for a quick battle play HG does fine.

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