Starships and Spaceman 2e is a revised and generally cleaned up version of the original FGU game from 1978. The original version was essentially Classic Star Trek with names changed to protect the innocent dating from a time before the whole Trek Universe became so top heavy it was pointless, and the second edition hasn't strayed far from its roots in that respect.
Character generation is FAST, 3d6 for 6 characteristics, pick a race, pick a class and your off to selecting your equipment. Skills are simplified down to 4 (Military, Science Technical and Contact) and the skill level depends on your level, class and characteristics. Classes are Military (Yellow Shirt) Science (Blue Shirt) and Technical (Red Shirt) with subclasses - Military for example allows you to specialise in Command, Security, or Ships Weapons with various bonuses. If you take the command Subclass you get a ship to command.
All characters start as Ensigns although there are rules for playing an enlisted crewman and a suggestion of troupe play
Races include a wide selection ranging of both Trekish and Non-Trekish from Taurans (Copper Blooded and highly Logical) and Andromedans (Blue and emotional) to Rigellians (Human offshoot mercenaries) and Hyukhot (Small Frog like aliens) along with some others.
Money just isn't a factor, you get a certain number of points (level + 1 for officers) and use that to determine your equipment issue, with items ranging from Half a point to 5 points. A starting character can usually only manage a communicator, Universal translator and hand Beamer or some variation so it does follow the idea of not overloading shore parties with gear.
Combat is quick and simple, D20 under your Military skill +modifiers to hit, you get a set number of hit points based on class and level, get to zero hit points and you die unless you can be transported back to the ship and cryofrozen for later revival. Also, the best class for combat starts off at level 1 with 1d8 HP and the normal weapons do 2d6 damage...so don't expect long combats
The original game stood out for the elegance and simplicity of its ship combat system and the new version hasn't messed with that. Ships are primarily rated on how much energy they can produce per day and you need to manage that (travel at high speed, or travel slow with shields up? have energy set aside to charge the beam weapons or wing it?) You can go over budget but that damages the engine.
Combat with ships is simple and quick, if you enjoy mapping out ship combats this is probably not for you, On the other hand if you enjoy watching the Captain, the Engineer and the Weapons Guy arguing over how many beam weapons to charge, this is for you.
Its a rough universe with all manner or unmapped astronomical oddities to encounter. Players are given a mission as part of the Confederation Space Fleet and have to travel to planet or place, complete mission and return (or go to next mission) so its fairly episodic. As players level up they will get more hit points, be assigned bigger ships an have access to more equipment.
Unlike more modern Sci Fi where your winning if you live another day, or don't get caught breaking too many laws, or in some military wonderland, this harks back to a simpler time were space was there to be explored. There are hostile aliens and you can run political intrigue, but overall it feels more like your playing Hornblower than Han Solo.
Some of the editing of the rules leaves a little to be desired. The age table was left in unchanged from the original and mentions characteristics that no longer exist and isn't really logical. The Psi rules need a bit more work, but overall the new edition has cleaned up a lot of the problems from the 1978 version
Three thumbs up for speed, setting and elegance!
[5 of 5 Stars!]