Initially, only two players signed up for the game, so I assumed this was final and emailed them links to the simple AVT/Squadron Strike introduction flyers on Ad Astra Games' website. They actually read and understood most of it and went to the game prepared. However, right before the game the organizers of the convention sent a couple of extra players my way. When I started explaining the rules, one of the new players, a nice guy I knew from my 40k days, basically ran away. :( To be fair, he wasn't feeling well and couldn't absorb all the information, and don't worry, he did have fun at another table. His son, the other new player, was fine with it all and stayed. So I ended up with three players for my scenario.
The scenario was set in the far off future year of 1985, where a North American Space Command (humans) squadron on patrol made contact with a hostile alien race. The humans had relatively hard SF ships, with two small corvettes based on the Manned Orbital Laboratory design, and a larger Orion drive ship. The aliens had bioships, two smaller corvette-sized vessels and a larger cruiser-sized vessel. The human corvettes each had a beam weapon doing moderate damage up to 15 hexes, with a spherical all-around firing arc. The alien corvettes each had two forward facing short-ranged beam weapons that did around the same amount of damage, but at a shorter range of 9 hexes max. The bigger ships were more heavily armed, with the human Orion ship having two forward facing beam weapons of the same type found on the corvettes, a lighter weapon for point-defense, and a heavy beam doing a lot of damage shooting out of the rear arc. (It was meant to simulate a bomb-pumped laser) The alien ship had a very long range missile launcher with a spherical arc, and two forward beam weapons like the corvettes. All ships used mode 2 movement, i.e. fully Newtonian.
The two alien corvettes.
The two bigger ships, the human Orion ship on top, and the alien cruiser on the bottom.
For the first couple of turns, the players mostly learned about marking ship orientation and horizontal/vertical thrust on the AVID diagrams representing the ships.
He finally decided to switch back to the rear weapon, and managed to do some damage, including structural damage, to the alien cruiser.
At this point though, we were running out of time, and decided to end the game. It was a minor victory for the humans, since the remaining alien ship had taken more damage.
In the end, the players all liked the game, and they all ended up with a decent grasp of the mechanics. The only thing I noticed, as mentioned before, was that when they were unfamiliar with the movement rules, they tended to keep to the 2D plane. I think it was still too early for them to use 3D maneuvers to their advantage, and what little 3D stuff they did only happened at the end.
I was pleasantly surprised that all the (remaining) players were able to learn the rules well enough. Of course, it helped that at least one of the players had played Starfleet Battles before, and couldn't be intimidated by complex rules. :)
Squadron Strike is not a quick Tuesday night game, but it looks to be a good ruleset for a Saturday all day game.