Combat in Barracks Emperor

July 28, 2021

So I wrote a draft post about a dice pool based combat system I designed, and had playtested a few times. Then I reflected on my design goals, and discarded the draft post (and the dice pool combat system). I will explain why, then cover some historical sources that have influenced this game design, and then outline how the next iteration of the combat system will work.

All game design is an act of balancing the focus you put towards different, sometimes contradictory, design goals. No game can be all things to all people. A brief overview of my design goals for this megagame. First, this megagame needs to provide a model of ancient warfare, politics, and economy – and a model is an abstraction, not a simulation. Second, it needs to have space for player agency – the players need to be able to make meaningful decisions. Third, it needs to be capable of fast resolution – players need to be able to resolve battles, taxation, mutinies and other key game mechanics in one minute of time or less. Finally, the combat mechanic needs to provide feedback to the wider game system through things such as casualties, territory capture, or soft factors like faction prestige or leader reputation.

My main reason for abandoning the dice pool system was on speed of resolution grounds. With one die per legion, plus dice for auxiliary units, leaders, and discipline, each regional map had the potential to generate battles that might have involved as many as 12-20 dice being rolled for each side in a battle. Figuring out how many dice, and what size of die to use, was just taking a little too long. Its also the kind of iterative mental activity that burns a lot of energy over the 6+ hours a megagame runs, especially when players turn to Control to verify and validate their numbers, multiplying the number of brains being used in the task. Dice pool systems work best when the number of dice is around 3-8, easily fitting in one hand, and also being easy to sort or count. I was planning on a “Roll and Keep Best Two Dice” system, but even with that I was feeling it would just take a little too long.

A second reason was thinking about the level and focus of the game. Barracks Emperor is set more at a strategic political-military level, with three year game turns, rather than at the operational or tactical levels for which month or week long turns would be more appropriate (along with much more detailed maps). So rather than a detailed battle system that tries to reflect scouting, flanks, reserves, etc, the game just needs something that quickly lets the players get back to politics and diplomacy. So this meant thinking about using a mix of techniques for speeding up mechanical resolution:

  • Using deterministic mechanics rather than stochastic (random) mechanics
  • Simultaneous resolution
  • Able to be resolved with absent players
  • Removing extraneous steps in the process
  • Burying as much detail as possible about the game engine “under the hood” of the player facing game components.

Sources

A few more books and articles to add to those mentioned in my last post.

  • Dan Taylor, Roman Empire a War: A Compendium of Battles from 31 BC to AD 565, Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 2016
  • David J. Breeze, The Frontiers of the Roman Empire, Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 2011
  • Mark Hebblewhite, The Emperor and the Army in the Later Roman Empire, AD 235-395
  • Frontinius, Stratagems, translated by Charles E Bennet, Loeb Classical Library, 1997
  • Vegetius, Epitome of Military Science, translated by N P Milner, second revised edition, Liverpool University Press, 2001
  • Phillip Sabin, The Face of Roman Battle, ..Journal of Roman Studies, 11/2000 volume 90, 1-17.
  • Lukas de Blois, The Crisis of the Third Century A.D. in the Roman Empire: A Modern Myth?
  • Peter Temin, The Roman Market Economy, Princeton University Press, 2013

Sitting at the back of my mind is also Edward Luttwak’s Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, which I read in the 1990s but which I have not reread more recently. I understand serious classicists have issues with the text, but for me the key lesson was that border defences change over time.

A Time of Change

Because most of the visual media that we see about the Roman Empire is based on the late Republic and early Empire period we instinctively think of Roman soldiers with segmented armour, and large rectangular shields. The third century is a period of transition in Roman arms and armour, and renewed experimentation in tactics and force structure.

Legio III Cyrenaica of New England (United States) in a 1st century A.D. portrayal of a legion. From Wikipedia CC-BY-SA 3.0

So what kind of changes are we looking at in the third century?

  • the primary sword changes from the short gladius to the longer spatha
  • the shield changes from the rectangular scutum to an oval design similar to what the auxiliary forces had long used
  • a shift from the lorica segmentata (see picture above) to maille armour (see picture below)
  • increasing numbers of heavily armed cavalry, such as the cataphracti, especially as a large reserve force under the direct control of the Emperor or a trusted subordinate
  • the arms and armour of the Germanic tribes approaches equivalence with the Romans, as does tactical knowledge through barbarians serving in the Roman army
  • the full strength of the ten cohort legions (up to 6,500 troops) proving too slow in the face of raids by small warbands, leading to the creation of smaller fast moving vexillations (detachments) with only one or two cohorts plus supporting cavalry
  • at times, a deterioration in the legendary discipline of the roman forces, as exemplified by the large number of military revolts in this period
  • a decline in Italian volunteers serving in the legions, making the legions more provincial in focus (possibly abetted by the Severan dynasty allowing soldiers to marry, increasing ties to the community they were based in). My assessment is that while the number of barbarians in Roman service increased through this period, it was not a significant change at this time, unlike how events played out in the 5th century.
  • quality and quantity of recruiting also affected by wider economic problems and the deaths from plague and other calamities
  • an increase in the use of artillery engines (possibly a reaction to manpower shortages)
  • Roman cities were largely unwalled at the start of the 3rd century, and mostly walled by the end, as the emphasis for defensive strategy shifted from strong forward defence along the limes (borders) to more of a defence in depth strategy (supported by the decentralised government of the Tetrarchy, with four regional military commanders)
  • a shift away from amateur aristocratic command by senators, and command being placed in the hands of long service military professionals in the equestrian class.

Most of these factors do not need to be simulated in the game at the level of individual battles. Instead they will be policy decisions that the Romans can implement to try and increase their overall effective strength.

From Wikipedia CC-BY-SA 3.

The Face of Roman Battle

Most media portrayals of Roman warfare vary in quality from bad (flaming projectiles and cavalry charges through bad terrain) to worse (soldiers discarding their shields and battle formations collapsing into individual duels).

The classic Roman battle is a heavy infantry fight, with support from other arms such as cavalry, skirmishers, and artillery. Among its salient characteristics are:

  • Formations generally remained intact in close order until morale failed – none of those swirling Hollywood melees where one person fights another single person at a time.
  • Fighting with steel weapons in close proximity to the enemy (as opposed to longer distance archery) is a psychologically stressful state, and breaks and lulls in the fighting would be common (which reflects my own experience with re-enactment battles).
  • Roman generals largely did not do front line heroics (rare exceptions, such as Emperor Julian the Apostate, tend to demonstrate why this was the case) – this not a game of Warhammer with Champions that can overpower formations. Lower level leaders, such as the Centurions, did lead from the front, and often suffered high losses as a result.
  • Battles often took hours to resolve, before one side broke and ran.
  • The victor tended to lose around five percent of their force, while the loser would normally suffer 10-15 percent losses and could suffer heavy losses of 50-100 percent if encircled or pursued by cavalry. This is different from gunpowder battles, where both sides could take heavy casualties before one side retreated or collapsed.
  • A disciplined, high morale army with good leaders, could fight and defeat forces that outnumbered them by 4:1 or more (the 3:1 ratio you see in old wargames is not really a good rule of thumb for combat mechanics).

The Romans always considered the Persians, who had a lot of cavalry in their armies (including some elephants), to be their greatest enemy, but in the third century the assured dominance that Rome had usually enjoyed over the Germanic barbarians was fading. Between around 235 and 285, about one battle in ten was a catastrophic defeat, in which the bulk of the Roman army present at the battle, and most of the Roman leaders, were killed or captured. The key thing for the game is that almost every faction in the game is capable of beating every other faction on a good day. I have not found any good details on the strength of the Sassanid armies, so they will get a number of tokens that is close to Roman strength (and will get better if they repeat the historic feat of taking control of Armenia).

Map

The map will mainly feature Roman provinces as the main unit of geography, with a few special locations on the borders.

Large forces will be kept in containers off one side of the map, and represented by miniatures for leaders or standards for other formations. I will be using 28mm models from Aventine Miniatures.

Movement

The number of players needing to act at each map table will vary based on the number of player signups. It could be as few as three, it could be as many as nine. The number of teams needing to act should not be more than four. Within the constraint of 20 minute game turns, this gives me enough of a time budget to allow each team to move sequentially, rather than simultaneously. The three year timescale means a double blind system (i.e. hidden movement) is inappropriate. The key movement mechanics I have in mind are:

  1. Teams move in prestige order, from lowest to highest prestige.
  2. Each team will have one minute at the map table to move its game tokens.
  3. Each team can initiate a maximum of five invasions of regions containing enemy pieces.
  4. Mountain and Desert regions cost “two invasions” to enter.
  5. To invade deeper into enemy territory, you need to mask the forces in the border province by leaving behind more tokens than than the defender has in their border province.

Combat

The tricky bit in the mechanics is not so much the process for determining victory, as in determining the consequences. One of my decisions has been to try and model the one in ten catastrophe. Because the battles are abstract, the players do not have a high degree of agency over the outcomes, and I do not want players feeling they have been reduced to impotence by one die roll. The key combat mechanics I have in mind are:

  1. Teams resolve battles in prestige order from highest to lowest (this is the reverse of the movement order)
  2. Each team has one minute to initiate and resolve battles.
  3. If no one finds time to resolve a battle, the forces involved do not fight that turn.
  4. Each side rolls three dice: a leader die, a discipline die, and a decisive unit die (the decisive unit is determined by a card draw, and a quick comparison). High score wins. High prestige wins ties.
  5. The winner converts one large combat token into a small combat token. The large token is placed in the Reserve Pool.
  6. The defeated side removed half of their small combat tokens, and converts all of their large tokens into small tokens. One of the large tokens is placed in the Dead Pool, the rest are placed in the Reserve Pool.
  7. If you retreat through provinces containing enemy tokens, you will lose additional tokens to the Dead Pool.

Having all your large tokens removed in one battle sounds pretty dramatic, but read on.

The Decisive card specifies a unit type, such as Infantry, Cavalry, Skirmishers, Fleets, or Forts. Depending on relative unit strength, each side will get to roll a d4, d6, d8, d10, or d12. The masking and retreat rules are there to ensure that any player trying to raid deep into enemy territory is carrying a logistic penalty and bearing an appropriate level of risk. The movement-combat initiative also makes your deep raids more risky when you move first.

Feedback into the Wider Game

Combat tokens placed in the Dead Pool are permanently removed from your force pool. Some policy options can bring them back, but are expensive.

Combat tokens placed in the Reserve Pool return to play. The rate at which they return to play depends on other factors (Imperial Unity for the Romans, Prestige for the Sassanids). For example, if Imperial Unity is between 201 and 250, 1 in 2 Roman tokens in the Reserve Pool return to play at the start of the game turn. If Imperial Unity is between 151 and 200, only 1 in 3 Roman tokens in the Reserve Pool return to play at the start of the game turn. There will be a policy option that can increase the rate of reserve token return, but once again it will be expensive.

So while you can knock a side down, and take their tokens off the map, you cannot keep a side down for ever. In 2-3 turns they will be back in force.

The winner of a battle gets a Fort token in the region, the loser of a battle will lose a Fort. This represents shifting control and influence among the local inhabitants, as well as the occupation of key fortresses. The winning side gets +1 prestige (the defeated side does not lose prestige, as all factions shift one step towards zero prestige at the start of each game turn).

Defeated leaders make a mortality check, if they fail they die and the player gets a new character. Victorious leaders roll to see if they are promoted or gain honours (improving the Military or Political die one step, e.g. from d6 to d8).

The winner can choose to loot, gaining wealth, and placing a plunder token in the region. Plundering reduces faction RP income.

Still Needs Playtesting

I will be doing a playtest of this system on 7 August, focused on the frontier regions between Rome and Persia. For the playtest I will represent a legion with three large 16mm wooden cubes, while smaller detachments will be 10mm wooden cubes. Cavalry forces will use discs. Things I will be looking at closely in the playtest:

  • How do the players respond to prestige based movement-combat initiative system
  • Do the rewards from battles (promotion/prestige) balance the risks (loss of military strength, territory control)
  • Can battles be resolved in under a minute?
  • Do players concentrate their forces (to win one big battle), or disperse them (to spread risk across several encounters)
  • Does the ebb and flow of relative advantage look anything like the historical back and forth?
  • How does the three way dynamic between Rome, Persia, and Palmyra work out?
  • Does the mutiny/usurper mechanic work?


Information Rich Combat Mechanics

June 13, 2017

The Modiphius 2d20 system is one I have used a couple of times to run convention games based around the Conan roleplaying game. I am thinking of adapting it for use in a Megagame.

First, a Quick summary of the 2d20 system:

  • You always roll at least 2d20.
  • You can roll up to three more d20s for situational modifiers, such as other players assisting you, to a cap of 5d20.
  • The roll is compared against an Attribute (usually in the 8-15 range) and a Skill (usually in the 1-5 range), potentially generating 0, 1 or 2 successes for each d20 roll
  • For example if you have an Attribute of 12 and a Skill of 3, and you roll 2d20 and get a 12 and a 2, you have three successes
  • If the number of successes equals the task difficulty, you succeed, and for each extra success you gain a point of Momentum
  • You can then spend Momentum to cool stuff in the game
  • Weapon damage is handled by rolling d6s
  • A damage roll of 1 or 2 inflicts damage equal to the roll, a roll of 3 or 4 does nothing, but rolls of 5 and 6 trigger special effects based on the weapon type (e.g. bypassing armour, or extra damage).

It recently occurred to me that I could adapt this as a mechanic for handling Army/Front level combat in Megagames. Traditional wargame mechanics often involve a lot of counting of various factors, followed by some maths as you try and make sure you reach the golden 3:1 ratio considered the minimum to ensure success in land warfare. In a Megagame there is no time for all this counting, you need to be able to take in the situation at a glance and get on with resolution. At the same time I want rich information from the combat result – if we are only doing a few combats each turn, then they need to actually move stuff around on the map and add to the game narrative.

ostfront-6-december-1941

The situation in Army Group Center’s sector of the Eastern Front on 6 December 1941. This is a German map, the Soviet reinforcements that are about to launch a counteroffensive are not on the map. Sourced from the Dupuy Institute blog.

Generally speaking, formations of Army/Front size are rarely destroyed in combat – the exceptions being encirclement (e.g. destruction of Army Group Center in 1944) and/or running out of space to retreat (e.g. British at the Fall of Singapore in 1942). What is important is how ready is the unit for further combat operations, and what is the momentum on the front.

So I am thinking of a mechanic where we are rolling d10s, and the important factors about a combat formation are readiness, on a 1-10 range, and quality, on a 1-5 range. A rested unit at full strength with brand new equipment would have a readiness of 10 (so most units would be rated nine or less). Quality is something that can be worked out based on historic performance (for World War Two, based on effectiveness scores from post-war quantitative analysis, I would put German units at 5-6, the  UK at 3-5, the USA units at 4-5, and the Russians at 2-3). Units roll a base 2d10, then +1d10 for each supporting unit flanking the enemy. Units then roll 2d6 for damage, but can spend supply points (or play special capability cards) to boost that up to 5d6 (I will have to playtest that cap, or perhaps allow it to be exceeded by special limited use cards).

The force being attacked also rolls for its defence, and the force with more successes is the force that gets Momentum points to spend. Units that are defending get bonus Momentum for defending river lines, urban terrain, mountains and prepared/fortified positions.

So we also rolled some d6 for damage, and while we throw away the 3-4 rolls as in 2d20, in this 2d10 system, the rolls of 1-2 are used for Attrition Effects and the rolls of 5-6 are used for Maneuver Effects.

Attrition Effects

Spend your Momentum points to reduce the targeted unit’s Readiness score by 1-2 points. The defender can also spend Momentum to hold the ground the occupy (the default assumption is that the attack does move the defender backwards) at a cost in Readiness.

In theory with 5d6, if you roll enough 2s you can take a unit from Readiness 10 to Readiness 0 in one attack, in practice its likely to take a while to grind forces down. At a glance in the European Theatre in World War Two, it was pretty hard for any force to sustain continuous operations with land forces for longer than a couple of months (the US/UK tended to run out of supplies first, the USSR to run out of tanks).

Maneuver Effects

This is where it gets more interesting and you can spend Momentum to:

  • reduce your own Readiness losses
  • reduce enemy Political Will (i.e. capture a large number of prisoners, or a city or other vital objective)
  • gain initiative for your side next turn
  • exploit the breakthrough (deep penetration and/or forcing flanking formations to retire)
  • capture enemy supplies that you overrun.

Using the two sets of dice, lets the game create a rich tapestry of potential game information. The downside is getting the players to make those decisions around spending Momentum quickly. This would be the key thing to stress test in playtesting the design.

Doctrine

One way of representing historic doctrine is to programme the first choice a side makes (or perhaps even the first two choices). For example, UK forces could be required to spend their first Momentum effect on reducing their own Readiness losses, Soviet forces on getting a breakthrough, and US forces on maintaining the initiative.

Initiative

I used to own a copy of a game called Renegade Legion: Prefect, which focused on hover tank battles on a planetary scale. The side that had initiative did nearly all of the movement and combat, while the side without basically sat there and hoped for a counterattack to give them the initiative. That concept bubbled to my head while thinking about this hack.

So my plan for this 2d10 system is that the side which starts the game on the attack holds the initiative. The initiative allows you to attack as many times as you like (up to one per Army formation). The side without the initiative gets a limited number of counterattacks. Both sides can spend Momentum on initiative, with a cumulative penalty for any side holding on to the initiative for consecutive turns. Another way of doing that might be to have an escalating supply cost, so you could hit a point where one side runs out of puff, no matter how well they are doing on the map. Frustrating, but a representation of Clausewitz’s theory of the culminating point.

A zero score for initiative could be taken as both sides are temporarily exhausted and spend a couple of weeks (or longer) resting or maneuvering before one side resumes offensive operations. Maybe both sides would be limited to a small number of attacks, like counterattacks.

Recovering Readiness

Units should recover Readiness quickly. Fifty percent of lost Readiness per two week turn seems okay as a starting position for playtesting. In this system I would just about never remove a unit from play, but at Readiness One I would not allow it to initiate attacks. Front lines would also be continuous – if you run out of actual Army formations, you would just deploy a Readiness One Battlegroup counter.

While Readiness should bounce up and down, quality would change only rarely – perhaps reflecting a unit gaining an elite reputation, or being issued with state of the art equipment in sufficient numbers to have an impact on operations (one Super Pershing does not a +1 Quality increase make).

…and now I really need to get back to revising The Colossus of Atlantis. GENCON is only 63 days away.

 


Keep it Simple and Awesome

February 28, 2012

I stole the title from an article that was on copyright, but covered success stories for content creators in the digital age – keep it simple and awesome.

So, as much as I like the dice/energy system, it fails the simple test.  Too easy for “The Great Hat Disaster” to bump all the dice, at which point the entire game turn is screwed.  I also could not find enough stuff for the Agents to do that was awesome – it looked too much like being an unpaid intern.

Revised player roles:

  • Imperial Princes (up to 10 players)
  • Great Houses (x3, with 5 players each)
  • Pirates (up to 15 players)

I’m fairly happy with the Senate, no maor changes there.

Combat, because the pirate players are each individuals, I have to drop the idea of Faction based cards for determining victory.

Initially there will be three types of combat units:

  • Raiders (build by Pirates)
  • Cruisers (built by people controlling colonies)
  • Dreadnoughts (built by Imperial players with Atomic Power).

Players are free to trade/gift units to other players (and this is the only way that Pirates can get Dreadnoughts or Imperials can get Raiders, unless they are lucky in combat and capture a unit).  Initially only Imperials control colonies, but as the game progresses, Pirates will capture colonies too.

Later in the game, the Senate will be able to authorise the construction of additional special capability units.  This requires a crisis to trigger, so the players have time to learn the basic combat system before it gets made more complex.

The combat resolution mechanic is:

  1. Draw a card – the card lists a unit type (Raider or Cruiser or Dreadnought)
  2. The side with the most of the unit type wins
  3. The Defender wins ties
  4. The card will list two sets of casualties that the loser takes, winner takes no losses.
  5. Loser retreats.

Casualty results are in the form of [Unit Type] [Loss], where the types of loss are:

  • One unit destroyed
  • One unit captured by enemy
  • All but one unit destroyed
  • All units destroyed.

Initially the Imperial forces have a 2/3 chance of winning battles (because the Pirates probably don’t have Cruisers or Dreadnoughts early on).  The game economy, however, will allow Pirates to rapidly recruit new Raider forces.  This means that the strategic risk of combat is actually borne by Imperial forces – while the chance of losing all your Dreadnoughts is low, losing all of them in an ambush is a great disaster.  This chance of disaster is deliberate, because it will force the Imperials to engage in diplomacy and to work together when there is a crisis.

Pirate players can be bribed by the Empire, gaining the Pirate the designation of Warlord as long as they work for the Empire.

Trade – leaning towards a variant of civilisation trade cards, but simplifying it so each set of trade card lists what the set is exchanged for.  Players get one trade card for each colony world they control.

Civil Wars – ideally I will develop a mechanic that allows the players to resolve the civil war entirely during the period when the GMs are tidying up the map table.  My current idea is to give players “support cards”, which can be traded around.  In the inter-phase, Princes can trigger a Civil War, at which point people spend and compare support cards.

Emperor – to make the Civil War worth fighting, the Emperor will get a lot of beanies to distribute among their supporters.

Maps – looking at having sector capitals that generate atomic power, and colonies that generate trade cards, and some deep space zones for Pirates to skulk in.

Thats where my thinking is at the moment.


Sun & Starship Mechanics (draft)

January 17, 2012

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.