Sun & Starship Mechanics (draft)

Combat

Combat is initiated by an active player at a map table moving their Fleet into a sector containing a Hostile Fleet. The Game Master draws Combat Cards until a card is drawn that grants one player a victory.  The number and type of cards drawn up to and including the final Combat Card determine the casualties both sides take, and any damage to the Sector’s Atomic Power or Capital Dice.

The following Combat Cards exist:

  • Win if greater number of Ships (x2)
  • Win if greater number of Tech (x2)
  • Win if double+ number of Ships (x2)
  • Win if double+ number of Tech (x2)
  • Win if Dynasty Faction (x1)
  • Win if Rebel Faction (x1)
  • Win if House Faction (x5 one for each House)
  • Stalemate: no winner, draw again (x1)

I did consider having Fleet types (Raider, Cruiser, Mauler etc) or Stances (Assault, Siege, Defend etc) but I think that just adds unneeded complexity.

If the two Fleets do not have matching Ship or Tech strength, then 10 of the 16 cards will decide the battle on the first card draw.  If the two Fleets have equal strength in Ships and Tech, then only two of the 16 cards can decide the battle, and either side has a 50/50 chance of winning.  If you outnumber an opponent in both Ships and Tech, you have a 56.25% chance of winning the battle on the first card draw, compared to the opposing Fleet’s 6.25% chance.

I’ll have to make sure in the initial setup that Fleets have different Ship/Tech strength values, to avoid the first few battles being like the Somme.

Casualties:

  • Ship card: lose one or two Ship strength (on two Ship loss a Capital Die is destroyed)
  • Tech card: lose one or two Tech strength (on two Tech loss an Atomic Power is destroyed)
  • Faction Card: winner gains one Ship strength from the loser
  • Stalemate: both Fleets lose one Ship and one Tech strength, Sector loses one Atomic Power and one Capital Die

The maximum number of cards that can be drawn is 15, as once there are only two cards remaining, one of those two cards must be a Faction card for one of the Fleets.

A possibility is that as the game develops, the mix of Faction cards could be changed.  For example, if you slowly add in Rebel faction cards, this dramatically increases the chances of a Rebel victory, even when the Imperial Fleets may outnumber them strengthwise.  For example, if you add four Rebel Faction cards to the deck, then five of the 20 cards result in rebel victory (25% chance).

Another possible twist, is to have the Rebel faction card in Imperial battles indicate that one Ship has deserted to the closest Rebel Fleet.

Trade Mechanics

I am leaning away from using something like Civilization trade cards, mainly because of the maths involved.  What I am contemplating instead, is acquiring a large number of coloured tiddlywink counters, or beads.  A few hundred in half-a-dozen colours should be enough.

Trade counters spawn in Map sectors, where they can be harvested by players.  Once harvested they can be traded.  Towards the end of each game turn, the Operations GM will hold a quick auction.  The player with the most of each trade colour can win one auction.  Other players hoard their tokens for future turns.

The auctions are for beanies, special resource cards useful in Map Operations or other parts of the game.

If a trade colour is banned, then it stops spawning on the Maps.  Auctions will continue for it, so prohibited trade tokens become quite valuable.

Sector Economy

Still changing my mind on this frequently.  Sectors have two key resources Atomic Power (ATOM) and Capital Dice (CD).  CD are six sided, with the number on the die indicating its current value.

A sector can have a maximum of six CD and 20 ATOM.  Minimum is zero.

ATOM cannot move.  CD can be moved between adjacent sectors.  Each move reduces the value of the CD by one.

In the interphase, the Map GM will roll all the CD in each sector, “refreshing” their values (effective players will have spent their capital and reduced their CDs down to value 1).

Any CD that has a ‘1’ value after being rolled is removed from the sector.  Note: if a sector has the six CD maximum, it should lose one CD per interphase.  A bout of bad luck with a burst of ‘1’s indicates a local recession or depression.

The total value of the CD is quickly added together.  if greater than the current ATOM in the sector, the sector gains +1 ATOM.  if there are no CD left, the sector loses -1 ATOM.  Then add some trade tokens.  This will need to be done ten times for each Map.

During the game turn:

  • ATOM can be spent to build CD
  • CD can be spent to build Ship and Tech strength for Fleets

This is designed to be a steady state economy.  Barring external disruption, players should be able to maintain their CD and ATOM in sectors, while replacing damage to their Fleets.  Recovering from collateral damage from Fleet battles is hard.  There will be options elsewhere in the game (Trade beanies, Senate Bills) that can boost sectors back up.

Note: ATOM is what Factions score Victory Points for at the end of the game, so they have a strong incentive to maintain that resource (or to burn that which is held by other players).

Raiding

This requires two full player actions.  The first is an attack on the sector.  The second action (assuming the attack was successful) can be to either move the CD out, or to spend the CD.

Jump Keys

I am thinking of giving each player a random Jump Key.  Each Key is tied to one specific sector on one of the three game maps.  The Jump Key can be used once per turn to move a Fleet from anywhere in the game to that sector.  Players can buy and sell their Jump Keys.

Senate

I am now considering making the resource that Treasury controls be the number of Bills that can be submitted by the other Committees, rather than another version/source of Atomic Power.  A limit of ten Bills per turn, at least one must be allocated for each Committee.  if the Budget fails, then each Committee gets only one Bill as the crisis paralyses the Imperial Government.  I’m hoping to find 2-3 useful functions for each of the five Committees:

  • Treasury Committee: Budget
  • Honours Committee: award Status to players, nominate players to Committees
  • Defence: change Fleet commands, Emperor Mandated Offensives (EMOs)
  • Colonial: grants ATOM to sectors, tax sectors, change Sector commands
  • Security: espionage operations, regulate trade, removes players from Committees.
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6 Responses to Sun & Starship Mechanics (draft)

  1. John Morton says:

    Like the combat mechanics. A little concerned about the execution time, but that’s not a problem if battles tend to on the order of 4-5 per turn, per map. Putting the damage done into a chart rather than examining all the cards drawn will help to put a bound on the time cost.

    • texarkana23 says:

      Battles are hard in grand strategy games. Tactical complexity increases time to learn and time to play, but without it, it can be too simple. I wonder if more maps (5 rather than 3) might help there.

  2. John Morton says:

    Sector economics:

    Given that 16% of CD will disappear on average per turn, and ATOM only increase by 1 if the CD value exceeds the current value, the exchange rate ought to be about 1 ATOM per CD to stop the sectors bleeding out CD?

    Then the smart move is to spend ATOM early to push CD in as many sectors as the map queue allows pushing CD to 6, then leave ATOM to grow until CD is depleted.

    The main issue would then be that ATOM growth is random, and hence so are victory points, at least in a peace time economy. Though I guess that gives folks incentive to eat the rich.

  3. John Morton says:

    Sector economics optimisations:

    * Keep the types of dice consistent within sectors and ideally maps ie same size, colour, pips or numbers. Makes them easier to add.

    * Use different coloured dice to represent ATOM, as this makes the comparison with CD total much faster. (Actually, maybe not. It’s something that needs testing.)

  4. John Morton says:

    Trade:

    What ever you do, don’t put the tokens on the map. This requires the map gms to put down stuff on sectors already crowded with CD, ATOM and fleets. Then it requires the traders to take up space in the queues just to pick up fiddly tokens off the map.

    Instead, just hand each an allotment based on sectors their faction controls at the beginning of each turn.

    I like the auction outcome. I’m not sure if linear value will result in as much or as interesting trading as Civ’s system. The biggest producer of a given colour would tend to be easy to determine from the maps, which would tend to reduce each turns trading to either establish a contender, or simply concede that auction.

    I like the way the civ exponential sets, and trading rules tend to encourage a lot of trading in pursuit of sets, and should give the smaller traders a shot at bidding large on later auctions if they do the trading work.

    Will have to dig out the galciv cards and see what can be done with them.

  5. John Morton says:

    The galciv cards I have have three 1-9 sets in three different coloured backs. Databases needs reprinting, as not all the numbers are printed on it, but otherwise they’re usuable.

    For tokens, avoid tiddlywinks, as they’re fiddly and designed to bounce everywhere. Poker chips are good, while glass beads used by the likes of Magic players are probably best, and easily acquired.

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