While Adventure Games Plus (or just AGP) catered to all gaming interests, there was very strong miniature gaming clique who'd meet on Tuesdays and weekends to play. There was a group that played Star Fleet Battles each Sunday, and being a fan of old-school Trek, I jumped at the chance to learn. I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. I thought SFB was going to be this fast-paced game of space combat. What I got instead were hours of energy allocation accounting and slogging across a hex map. My young ADD-addled mind rebelled at the codified dullness of the rules and the dichotomy of how could something that looked so cool could be so boring. After a game where a single impulse took four hours to resolve, I had all but given up on miniature gaming. Then I found out about a little game called Full Thrust.
Full Thrust was everything I was looking for in a space combat game. It was fast and easy to learn, you could field large fleets of ships, and it was generic enough to be used for just about any science fiction setting: Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, and many others. Tuesday nights became the night of the week I lived for. It was the night that I would meet with my growing group of friends with our fleets of miniature ships and pit them against each other in white-hot science fiction battle. This was the time I started to learn to paint figures, where I started to learn basic tactics, and
I was in college at the time (circa 1994) and one of my professors mentioned the existence of this strange new computer technology called "the Internet" and the "World Wide Web." Discovering an online community of FT fans on an e-mail discussion group, I started to make connections with players across the planet, including the game's author, Jon Tuffley of Ground Zero Games. I soon discovered how easy it was to create your own web pages, and using a basic HTML reference and a share of server space on the University of Milwaukee--Wisconsin I started an online resource for players. Thus, The Unofficial Full Thrust WWW Page (i.e. UFTWWWP) was born.
About that time, I met Gina, a girl who seemed interested in my strange and esoteric interests and we struck up a relationship. I was able to convince her to play FT and despite not knowing anything about tactics she always beat me. (No, I didn't let her win!) She and I attended my first Gen Con together when I found out there was going to be a large group of FT players running events. Back then, Gen Con was run in Milwaukee so attending only entailed a 20-minute drive into town. Even better, Jon Tuffley was flying in from Great Britain to attend. Gina said I was like a kid in a candy store, and after a whole day of gaming, I vowed to make keep making the annual pilgrimage and run game of my own.
After that, I started running convention games. Being the mid-90s, my sci-fi media obsession was Babylon 5 and I nearly swooned when Agents of Gaming came out with their Babylon 5 Wars line of miniatures. For one of my favorite con games, I got ahold of the Monogram model of the Babylon 5 station itself along with several Omega Class Destroyers and Hyperion Class Heavy Cruisers and created a scenario based on the epic battle in the B5 episode "Severed Dreams." It was always a sellout game.
|Full Thrust Ship System Diagram|
Sadly, local interest in FT began to wane by the late 90s, especially when the official "Fleet Books" series was released. Gina dumped me about a year-and-a-half and I haven't found a gamer girlfriend (or any other for that matter) since. While I found the brand new ship construction rules to be open up new possibilities, my friends found them too constraining. Eventually, my friends moved on to other games. Full Thrust became something I could only play at Gen Con. The final blow was the fateful day when it was announced that Gen Con would move from Milwaukee to distant Indianapolis. Being an impoverished nerd, working a series of low-paying office jobs, even a weekend in a cheap hotel was a cost I couldn't bear. I haven't played Full Thrust since around 2004.
Science fiction was moving on too, as many TV space operas began to finish their series and science fiction was moving to less expensive, SFX-lite conspiracy dramas. I lost the password to the UFTWWP and owners of the homegame.org server aren't answering my e-mails, I've been unable to update the page since 2005. I've often thought of moving it to a new site, but there was something always comes up to distract me.
However, I sometimes hear the siren song of my favorite miniature game. I still collect and paint starship miniatures. The rules are still available for free from Ground Zero Games website. There is still an active Full Thrust fan community online. The only thing I lack are people willing to play. Maybe it's time to dust off the figs and make an effort to bring the game back to life.