VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Check here for updates and discussion about the new edition of the Victory by Any Means Campaign System.
User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1416
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: VBAM2E Colonies

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:39 am

countercheck wrote:I wouldn't mind if colonies started with Tech Level of Sector Capital-1, frankly. New colonies might have better tech than old colonies, but they probably aren't going to be cutting edge. Possibly allow for that tech level to be bought up at colonization?


There is a good point that can be argued here, but the problem comes with Pre-Interstellar empires as the -1 TL modifier would force their colonies to be even quite a bit more primitive. Again, there's a very good argument in favor of that position, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the net effect in most cases is just going to be forcing players to spend extra money to upgrade the colony after its put in place, at which point you might as well just increase the colonization cost to build the upgrade cost into the initial colony cost.

countercheck wrote:I love the new intel missions. Love. But all the calculations seem a bit complex. They also imply that defensive missions only fail on a 1.


The calculations aren't meant to be too complex. The one for success/failure is just offensive intel divided by defensive intel. The attacking player assigns offensive intel to the mission, and the defender just takes the target system's base defensive intel and adds the mission difficulty plus the mission range.

If we use this star map as an example, let's say that Sol has 6 Intel and they want to attempt an Espionage: System against Sirius. The shortest route between the system is 2 jumps, and the mission has a difficulty level of 1. If Sirius just has 1 defensive intel, its effective defensive intel becomes 1 + 1 + 2 = 4. Sol could allocate 4 offensive intel from the 6 it has available at Sol to get a 99% chance of success (as missions autofail on a roll of '100').

The problem with using the full 4 offensive intel is that it increases the mission's chance of detection. Using 4 offensive intel gives the mission a 5% x (4 Offensive + 4 Defensive) = 40% chance of detection, whereas only using 1 offensive intel gives the mission a 5% x (1 Offensive + 4 Defensive) = 25% chance of detection. The 1 offensive intel also only gives you a 25% chance of the mission succeeding.

I'm also noticing a rule that got deleted at some point, but that I'll probably add back in: you can spend offensive intel when you perform a mission to negate your own offensive intel for purposes of detection. In this case, Sol could allocate 6 offensive intel towards the mission but only put 3 offensive intel towards mission success and the other 3 towards reducing its effective offensive intel to 0 for purposes of detection. That would give it a 75% chance of success and a 20% chance of detection. The tradeoff is that you're using 6 offensive intel to support the mission that turn.

Anti-subversion missions are ridiculously cheap given the expense of inserting moles, and it's going to be an odd empire that doesn't counterinsurgency any system that dips below max morale.


I put Anti-Subversion missions cheap because there is already a pretty high cost to ferret them out. I have a feeling those missions won't get used very often, and I have considered moving them to another supplement (or a free rules release for testing prior to inclusion in a future product) just to keep them together as an optional rule. But it would be nice to be able to place moles in enemy forces and get the information back.

It's expected that most empires will run Counter-Insurgency missions against their own systems pretty much continually when their Morale starts to sneak lower than the maximum. I was really tempted to increase the difficulty/cost of the Insurgency/Counter-Insurgency missions for that reason, but I ended up going with 3 just to keep them average.

I would love extra ideas for intel missions, especially Propaganda missions, that anyone might have. I would prefer to have a nice range of missions of each type ranging from Very Easy (1) to Very Hard (5), but I had a hard time trying to come up with ideas for missions at the high ends of the spectrum for Espionage and Propaganda.

Is it possible to use a Counterintelligence mission on a hostile system to prevent the target from performing missions on his own people?


I noticed that I had left out a note that systems always have 1 defensive intel effective when they are targeted by intel missions that their owners perform. Given that, the answer is that no, you couldn't use Espionage: Counter-Intel for that purpose... but that would make a good intel mission! How about this:

Propaganda: Intel
Difficulty Level: 1
This mission uses compromised enemy intelligence assets to interfere with their own internal intelligence operations. The target system's effective defensive intel is increased by 1 for intel missions that the system's owner performs against it this turn. Additionally, all intel missions the system performed this turn have their detection chances increased by +5%.

That creates a mission that hampers the opponent's ability to perform intel missions against it (especially helpful for making enemy Counter-Insurgency missions fail) and also makes it more likely that the intel missions the target performs will get found out. It's pretty much a "maximum troll" against the opponent's intel resources. "Oh, I see you have a system with low Morale. Let me help you out by spamming 3-4 of these missions at the colony to make it more or less impossible for you to run a successful Counter-Insurgency mission." You could also spam a homeworld with these just to make the detection chances for their missions that much higher.

Propaganda: Subversion is better than Espionage: Infiltration in all ways.


They serve two different purposes. Subversion wants to take control of enemy units while Infiltration is attempting to place operatives at colonies for free offensive intel. Infiltration can be pretty effective if you're setting up for some major intel initiatives and want a better chance of success, especially if the target system is some distance from your staging point.

You might want missions that must target capitals to be able to target Core Worlds too.


The idea is that those missions are targeting diplomatic centers, and capitals are the best representation of that. You could conceivably have a heavily populated system that really doesn't have any major political influence or representation due to its remote location.

I also feel like half the defensive assets of any hostile system the mission is staged through should contribute too, to prevent intel missions from too easily striking the soft underbelly. I know I said it was complex already. Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.


That's a possibility, but it would have to replace the current mission range modifier that already adds a bonus to mission difficulty. That would be fairly easy to implement from a mechanical perspective, as each system would have 1 defensive intel regardless of Census in addition to its +1 per 3 Census modifier (round down). The downside of course is that it would make attacking an enemy core system all but impossible if there were multiple core worlds separating the systems. A 6 Census core world would add +3 defensive intel in that event. I'll have to play with that and see how it works.

And possibly just add the number of jumps to the difficulty. Should it not be harder to deploy missions even to neighboring systems than your own?


That's already included in the base rules :)

When multple systems co-operate on an intel mission, do the increased number of intel points required to meet the difficulty count towards offensive intel points for the purposes of overcoming defensive intel?


Yes, offensive intel from multiple systems can be combined for a single mission, and the total offensive intel assigned to a mission is used to calculate its chances of success and detection during the Intel Phase.
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1416
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: VBAM2E Colonies

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sun Apr 01, 2012 2:25 am

  • Fixed the Reprisals Table - will upload a corrected draft later tonight with those changes
  • Adopted the change to new colony tech levels and updated the text areas that Jimmy outlined in his two posts.

quote]Also, the last sentence of the 4th paragraph doesn't really make sense.
VBAM2E Colonies wrote:Particularly brutal reprisals that result in the wholesale slaughter of civilian populations (Census loss) double the relationship penalties for empires that object to these heinous crimes against sentient life. Relationship bonuses aren't doubled by these deadly attacks, however, as the warlike nations that approve of reprisals place such little value on sentient life that the mass execution of a few million enemies of the state is seen as a purely urbane and appropriate exercise of imperial authority.
[/quote]

This is referring to the possibility of a relationship bonus that empires can receive if they learn of the reprisals and actually approve of them. This is outlined two paragraphs above. If the roll is less than half AG the empire is enthused that other empires are being so bloodthirsty, and their relationship with the power committing the atrocities goes up by 1D6. The part you quoted just says that the relationship bonuses aren't doubled when Census are killed, but relationship penalties are doubled when that occurs.

I have corrected the error in the example where it was being doubled.

Unless your Tech Modifier is now 10% instead of 5% (ignoring Command Cost modifier to Max Mass), you double at TL20, triple at 40, quadruple at 60, etc.


Correct, after previous playtesting and comment I went to +10% per TL. The maximum mass formula for unit design is currently:

(Construction Cost + Command Cost) x (100% + TL x 10%)

This seems to give a decent range of values and allow for empires to build units with a decent mix of abilities even at lower tech levels. The default starting tech level for player empires has also been shifted to TL 5 to give players a bit more room to maneuver and increase the chances that they'll be more advanced than the powers that they run into during the early phases of an exploration campaign.

That should actually be "2" defensive intel in the example. (5 [utilized Intel] + 1) / 3 = 6 / 3 = 2


Rule changes causing examples to be invalidated, part 1,415.

It's a good question to pose, however: do you think intel missions should be inherently more difficult? I ratcheted the defensive intel down to 1 per 3 instead of 1 per 2 because I was worried that it would make running intel missions against systems with 10+ utilized Intel too difficult.

Does this mean the Imperial Capital, or can it be a Sector Capital?


Imperial or sector capital. I have been trying to refer to them generically as just capital system if either will work. I can rewrite those sections to always say "imperial or sector capital" but that could get pretty verbose very quick. I'll do a search through the document and see how many mentions like that I have and see what to do.

VBAM2E Colonies wrote:5.10.8 OPERATIVES

There is not a Propaganda: Operatives mission.


That's what the propaganda would have you believe, isn't it? :)

I see I need to add a few more operative/infiltration related missions. I'll do that now!
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

countercheck
Lieutanant Commander
Lieutanant Commander
Posts: 86
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:34 pm

Re: VBAM2E Colonies

Postby countercheck » Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:41 pm

Tyrel Lohr wrote:
countercheck wrote:I wouldn't mind if colonies started with Tech Level of Sector Capital-1, frankly. New colonies might have better tech than old colonies, but they probably aren't going to be cutting edge. Possibly allow for that tech level to be bought up at colonization?


There is a good point that can be argued here, but the problem comes with Pre-Interstellar empires as the -1 TL modifier would force their colonies to be even quite a bit more primitive. Again, there's a very good argument in favor of that position, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the net effect in most cases is just going to be forcing players to spend extra money to upgrade the colony after its put in place, at which point you might as well just increase the colonization cost to build the upgrade cost into the initial colony cost.


Fair enough. I'd settle for Capital then.

Tyrel Lohr wrote:
Anti-subversion missions are ridiculously cheap given the expense of inserting moles, and it's going to be an odd empire that doesn't counterinsurgency any system that dips below max morale.


I put Anti-Subversion missions cheap because there is already a pretty high cost to ferret them out. I have a feeling those missions won't get used very often, and I have considered moving them to another supplement (or a free rules release for testing prior to inclusion in a future product) just to keep them together as an optional rule. But it would be nice to be able to place moles in enemy forces and get the information back.

The high cost you mention isn't obvious to me. But I defer to your knowledge! I mean, if the unit is small, why would it not just get mothballed, or scrapped, thus destroying the operative?

Tyrel Lohr wrote:I would love extra ideas for intel missions, especially Propaganda missions, that anyone might have. I would prefer to have a nice range of missions of each type ranging from Very Easy (1) to Very Hard (5), but I had a hard time trying to come up with ideas for missions at the high ends of the spectrum for Espionage and Propaganda.


There's no reason diplomacy missions couldn't be lumped in with Propaganda. Other mission ideas:

Espionage: Industrial - Gives a look at what's currently being constructed.
Espionage: Operational - Gives the names and positions of fleets in multiple systems LAST turn.
Espionage: Stockpiles - Gives approximate information about total PPs, EPs, TPs, and IPs.
Espionage: Cultural - Gives information on moral values for target system and neighbors.
Espionage: Prep work - Gives 1/2 Difficulty Offensive Espionage bonus to a mission targeting this system next turn.
Espionage: Mapping - Gives map of all systems colonized by target empire. At higher difficulties, may give map of all systems explored by target empire. At very high difficulties, gives map of all systems know of by target empire.

Propaganda: Coverup - Reduces the relationship damage due to an enemy targeting YOU with an espionage mission, or due to atrocities you have committed.
Propaganda: Create Consulate - Provides +1Offensive Intel for the purposes of concealing intelligence operations. Target empire is aware of consulate. Any operative exposed in target system may participate in one final operation before returning home. Consulate may be destroyed with a declaration of war, or with a Propaganda: Expel Diplomats mission.
Propaganda: Expel Diplomats - Any consulate operational in the system is shut down.
Propaganda: We come in peace- Successful op increases relationship.
Propaganda: Double - When an operative is exposed, rather than executing him, a power might use the operative as a conduit for false information. The power can choose to edit any reports the operative sends, and all operations the operative participates in are automatically discovered. The power may choose to sacrifice the doubled operative to make a mission the operative is participating in autofail.


Tyrel Lohr wrote:
Propaganda: Subversion is better than Espionage: Infiltration in all ways.


They serve two different purposes. Subversion wants to take control of enemy units while Infiltration is attempting to place operatives at colonies for free offensive intel. Infiltration can be pretty effective if you're setting up for some major intel initiatives and want a better chance of success, especially if the target system is some distance from your staging point.

Ah! I assumed operatives were operatives, and operatives on ships would add +1 Intel to wherever the ship went, and allow tracking of the ship, while operatives on the ground stayed still.

Tyrel Lohr wrote:
You might want missions that must target capitals to be able to target Core Worlds too.


The idea is that those missions are targeting diplomatic centers, and capitals are the best representation of that. You could conceivably have a heavily populated system that really doesn't have any major political influence or representation due to its remote location.

I would imagine that ANY system that achieves core world status is going to have a significant amount of influence and political power, especially given the time lag involved in travel in this system. I mean, even a remote core world has billions of people, and it's own economy, which has to be linked into the core. But I imagine that's a rule that could be shifted easily. Or, perhaps the difficulty is inversely proportional to the importance of the planet? Outposts are difficulty 6, settlements 5, Colonies 4, core worlds 3, sector capitals 2, and capitals 1?

Tyrel Lohr wrote:
I also feel like half the defensive assets of any hostile system the mission is staged through should contribute too, to prevent intel missions from too easily striking the soft underbelly. I know I said it was complex already. Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.


That's a possibility, but it would have to replace the current mission range modifier that already adds a bonus to mission difficulty. That would be fairly easy to implement from a mechanical perspective, as each system would have 1 defensive intel regardless of Census in addition to its +1 per 3 Census modifier (round down). The downside of course is that it would make attacking an enemy core system all but impossible if there were multiple core worlds separating the systems. A 6 Census core world would add +3 defensive intel in that event. I'll have to play with that and see how it works.

In retrospect, it might just make things needlessly complex. Possibly an advanced/alternate rule.

Tyrel Lohr wrote:
And possibly just add the number of jumps to the difficulty. Should it not be harder to deploy missions even to neighboring systems than your own?


That's already included in the base rules :)

Actually, as written, jumps only count towards defensive intel after the first jump.

[quote = "Playtest doc"]

5.10.4.2 Mission Range
The distance between the colonies that are
performing an intel mission and their target has
an effect on its overall difficulty because each
additional jump after the first
provides the target
system with a +1 defensive intel bonus when
resolving that mission. This represents that intel
missions that are conducted across long
distances are more prone to error because of the
additional number of individuals involved and the
logistics of coordinating all of their activities
during the operation.

Example: A power is performing an Espionage:
System (difficulty 1) mission using 3 offensive
intel against a system with 2 defensive intel that
is located 3 jumps away. The target system has
an effective defensive intel total of 5 for this
mission (+1 difficulty level, +2 mission range).
The mission success chance is 3 (offensive intel)
÷ 5 (defensive intel) = 60%. The power rolls a
'08' on a D100 - a success! [/quote]

It's as easy to spy on your neighbor as it is to spy on yourself. Now, this might be a feature, not a bug. I don't know.

Tyrel Lohr wrote:
When multple systems co-operate on an intel mission, do the increased number of intel points required to meet the difficulty count towards offensive intel points for the purposes of overcoming defensive intel?


Yes, offensive intel from multiple systems can be combined for a single mission, and the total offensive intel assigned to a mission is used to calculate its chances of success and detection during the Intel Phase.

Ok. Then there's no real reason not to include multiple planets on missions, other than fear of detection, which isn't really that big a deal, at least not if you're targetting someone you know is hostile. You don't actually PAY for using the extra planets, and because the difficulty only increases by 1, but you'll probably get 2 or three extra intel points for it, it's going to be pretty easy to drive missions through with a 100% success rate. An idea I had was to, rather than pay for the difficulty of the mission, pay 5 intel points per offensive intel point allocated. That way, there's an incentive to use as little intel as possible, rather than focusing the entire intelligence machinery of your entire empire to succeed at a single mission.

Example:
I'm doing a mission targeting system X. I've assembled enough intel to autosucceed. I have another system, equidistant to the target, with free utilized intel. I can add those three to the pool, and REDUCE my chance of being detected. The difficulty goes up by 1, yes, but I counter that with 1 of the three. The other two points are allocated to reduce the possibility of detection. I have, at no cost, reduced the visibility of the operation by adding another planet system into the op. It gets even worse when you factor in range. Increasing the range of the op increases difficulty by 1, but EXPONENTIALLY increases the number of my systems that can add intel. Using the map you last posted, lets assume we're targeting Alpha Centauri from Sol with a difficulty 5 mission. Alpha centauri has 2 defensive intel, boosting the difficulty to 7. Sol only has three. No good. But Lalande21185 has intel 3 too. So together, now I have 6 on 8+=9. Still not great, but I've exceeded the base difficulty of the mission. I'll succeed 2/3 of the time. So I increase the range by 1, to bring in AC79388, Ross 128, and Wolf 359, in total increasing the difficulty by 1 for range +3 for the three sysems, to 13, but now, assuming I still have 3 on each, I have 18 offensive intel, enough to autosucceed and reduce the detection chance to 35%. If I increase the range by 1 more, I get 6 new systems.

Now, obviously, not all these systems are going to have colonies... but intel 3 is not an extreme investment.

wminsing
Commander
Commander
Posts: 158
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:06 pm
Contact:

Re: VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Postby wminsing » Mon May 14, 2012 12:56 am

Hey, glad to see 2nd Edition development is picking up again! Is there any comprehensive list of 2nd edition preview files anywhere? I have a hankering to run a solo campaign and I'd like to have the latest and greatest so I can provide some feedback. :)

-Will
"Ships and sail proper for the heavenly air should be fashioned. Then there will also be people, who do not shrink from the dreary vastness of space."
-- Johannes Kepler, 1609

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1416
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Mon May 14, 2012 3:41 pm

Will,

Ask and you shall receive! I'm attaching three PDF files to this post. The one labeled VBAM2E-20120513.pdf is the most current draft of the rules. You'll be able to see that some elements are still in the process of being integrated from previous drafts pending final testing.

As noted in my playtest campaign thread from the last two weeks, here are a few deviations I'm testing that aren't codified in the latest rules draft yet (as they are pending further testing):

  • Colonies cost 25 EP per jump from the nearest capital. I reduced the cost here to make it easier for empires to expand as the 50 EP cost was a bit onerous once you started running out of spare funds.
  • Facilities cost 50 EP + 25 EP per jump from the nearest capital.
  • Trade routes cost 10 EP per jump from the nearest Trading Post. If the trade route passes through a system that is already part of your trade network that jump only costs 5 EP. This encourages building out trade routes piece by piece to keep the costs down.
  • Intel points no longer exist. You buy spies at a cost of 10 EP each and 1 EP per turn to maintain. A colony can buy a maximum of 1 Spy per Census each turn. Spies are assigned to missions, and their chance of success is equal to the number of spies assigned divided by the sum of the mission difficulty, mission range, and the number of active spies the defender has in the target system. Mission detection occurs if the roll is less than half or greater than twice the target (aka standard 1E detection). A detected spy rolls D10 against the mission difficulty and if the roll is less than this value he is captured/killed and the target finds out the identity of the empire that performed the mission.
  • Each colony makes a loyalty check each turn on a D10. On a '1' it loses 1 Morale, on a '10' it gains 1 Morale. Colonies in Unrest lose Morale on a '1 and '2', colonies in Rebellion lose Morale on a '1', '2', or '3'.
  • Piracy checks are made in each system every turn. The piracy chance is currently 5% + 5% per trade route connecting to the system. Each ship or flight in the system reduces this by 1%. If pirates appear, the size of the force is determined by the system importance.

I think that covers most of the highlight reel of changes that I have in place. Piracy I've gone back and forth about lately. Right now I'm rolling for every system, but it might be a case of restricting piracy only to systems that are connected to a trade network and make them a D10 roll just like loyalty checks with a '1' being a pirate attack. The reason I am wary of going the D10 route, however, is that it removes from the granularity from system patrols and specifically the Police special ability. I do think I'm going to end up restricting the pirates to systems that are being traded in, however, as that would keep pirates from forming in far off territories that no one cares about and would reduce the number of required die rolls each turn. Any thoughts on that?

As for unit abilities and their costs, here's a brief rundown -- probably easier for you to posit design abilities in a thread here or via email and we can run the numbers and get those locked down.

Build Cost (BC) - set by player; maximum mass units to spend equal to twice BC + 10% per TL above TL 0
Maintenance Cost (MC) - mass cost divided by 5 (round to nearest, min 1/2)
Build Time (BT) - BC / 2 (round up)
Tech Level (TL) - unit tech level; unit can only be built in systems with a TL greater than or equal to its own
Unit Type - Starship, Flight, Starbase, Ground Force, Ground Base

Defense (DV) - hits required to crippled/kill
Attack Strength (AS) - heavy weapons
Point Defense (PD) - used to increase formation level of units or shoot down flights/missiles

Command Rating (CR) - total CC of units the unit can command; equal to 2 x CC + 2
Command Cost (CC) - cost to command, equal to BC / 2 (round down, min 1/2)

Special Abilities:
Atmospheric: 50% x BC
FTL: 50% x BC
Carrier: 1
Assault: 1
Marines: 2 (Boarding)
Scout: 2
Stealth: 2 x CC
Armor: 1 x DV (+1 formation level bonus)
Fast: 2 x CC (was formation level bonus, but being reconfigured)
Police: 1
Guided: 1 (launch missile/drone, 1 PD shoots it down, otherwise it scores 1 damage)
Supply: 1

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but that should be a good start.
Attachments
VBAM2E-sysgen-20120513.pdf
System Generation Rules (Current)
(310.17 KiB) Downloaded 191 times
VBAM2E-OldPlaytest.pdf
Victory by Any Means Campaign Guide Draft (Previous Draft)
(1.05 MiB) Downloaded 191 times
VBAM2E-20120513.pdf
Victory by Any Means Campaign Guide Draft (Current)
(398.4 KiB) Downloaded 194 times
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

wminsing
Commander
Commander
Posts: 158
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:06 pm
Contact:

Re: VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Postby wminsing » Tue May 15, 2012 2:48 am

Thanks, greatly appreciated! A couple of quick questions based on a quick read through.

1. Research, is this still infrastructure that provides free research points, or is it a spending cap based on the utilized economic value as mentioned in X.2 in the tech chapter?
2. Economy is used to provide EP (utilized Economy x Raw) and Industry is used to provide to just construction capacity? (utilized Industry x Census?)
3. How are population points accumulated? No more random rolls or buying Census with EP? (both of these would be good things)
4. Guided trait- Is that straight up damage point per round? And one PD cancels one point of Guided? I presume PD can used to shoot at fighters or defend against Guided, not both in the same round.

More will come up as I prepare the campaign I am sure!

-Will
"Ships and sail proper for the heavenly air should be fashioned. Then there will also be people, who do not shrink from the dreary vastness of space."

-- Johannes Kepler, 1609

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1416
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Tue May 15, 2012 6:22 am

wminsing wrote:Thanks, greatly appreciated! A couple of quick questions based on a quick read through.


Yeah, I know that things are still fragmentary enough in the current draft to make it all a bit confusing (and some of the stuff just isn't THERE because I haven't rewritten based on the latest playtest data). Again, Will, don't hesitate to post here or email me directly for help as you go along. I really am looking forward to seeing the kinds of questions you come up with as you go along so I can make sure they're addressed one way or another in the final book.

1. Research, is this still infrastructure that provides free research points, or is it a spending cap based on the utilized economic value as mentioned in X.2 in the tech chapter?


It's actually both. How it works is that you earn a number of free tech points per turn equal to your utilized Research infrastructure. However, each colony also have a research capacity equal to 5 times their utilized Research (before modifiers). This research capacity is the maximum number of tech points that its owner can purchase there.

A sample homeworld that starts with 6 Census / 6 Research would generate 6 TP per turn at no cost and the player could purchase up to 30 TP per turn there (at a cost of 1 TP per economic point).

The number of tech points required for a tech advance is equal to 25 x Census for Interstellar empires. An empire with 18 Census would need 450 TP before it would advance its empire tech level by 1. The end result of this is that you will slowly tech over time, but you need to put economic points into tech investment if you really want to advance at a meaningful rate. +1 TL every 20 turns is currently looking like the norm, so long as something doesn't come up to derail your economy or tech spending.

2. Economy is used to provide EP (utilized Economy x Raw) and Industry is used to provide to just construction capacity? (utilized Industry x Census?)


Economy is used to convert RAW into economic points. A system's income is equal to its utilized Economy x RAW. Economy used to have some other effects relating to commerce but this was removed in the last revision of the rules so now it just produces money.

Industry is used to build things. The maximum amount of military unit purchases (new units or repairs) that can be made in a system each turn is equal to its utilized Industry x 5. This is called the system's industrial capacity. There is no longer any cap on the total cost of units that can be simultaneously under construction in a system.

3. How are population points accumulated? No more random rolls or buying Census with EP? (both of these would be good things)


Each of your colonies has food production (utilized Agriculture x Biosphere) and a food cost (Census x 3). You total the food production of all your colonies and then subtract your total food cost to determine how many population points you earn each turn. These population points are placed into your population pool and can be used to purchase population increases. A population increase gives a system +1 Census and +1 Morale and has a population point cost equal to 10 times the system's new Census value.

On a related topic, after some changes in my current playtest, the cost to colonize a system is 25 EP times the distance to the target system from your nearest capital. New colonies start with 0 Census, 2 Morale, and a tech level equal to that of the capital system that established the colony. Tying back in with population growth, it would cost 10 population points to purchase a population increase at a new colony.

Getting rid of the random per-system rolls and the the ability to buy Census with economic points has been a major design goal in 2E. Using food production to power population growth has been a very good change and seems to work well.

4. Guided trait- Is that straight up damage point per round? And one PD cancels one point of Guided? I presume PD can used to shoot at fighters or defend against Guided, not both in the same round.


I've played Guided a few ways, but what I'm leaning towards now is to have it be a guaranteed 1 damage to a target that ignores enemy formation levels. This ability is meant to represent guided missiles, torpedoes, or drones that can home in on a target. You are correct that 1 PD cancels 1 Guided. I want the ability to be cheap but easily countered, but powerful if the enemy can't intercept the fire.

On the flip side, I really want a "Beam" weapon ability, too. I think the best way to do that is to make it a short range weapon that only gets to fire after all other weapons fire (similarly, Guided weapons may need to score damage first to make them fit the long range strike weapon role). I haven't found a good way to slot it in yet, though.

As for PD, during the Point Defense Fire Phase you determine your effective PD and then can use it to either a) fire at fighters, b) fire at Guided weapons, or c) increase formation levels. A and B are pretty straightforward. For C, the PD cost to improve a unit's formation level by 1 is equal to twice its CC. This action simulates a ship using its point defense guns to shoot down incoming fire and make a friendly unit harder to hit.

At present the one restriction that I need to put into clear language is that you can't increase a unit's formation level if there isn't a unit in your task force that has a formation level 1 level below it. In other words, if you have three light cruisers (1 CC) you could put the first one into a level 2 formation, but you couldn't put it into a level 3 formation until at least one of the other light cruisers was also in a level 2 formation. This prevents players from raising the formation level of a single ship to incredible levels and then scoring all of the damage against it.

That's another thing to point out, as it is different from 1E. The amount of AS required to score 1 damage to a unit is equal to its formation level. Every unit starts in a level 1 formation bonus but it is increased from there using PD.

More will come up as I prepare the campaign I am sure!


If you're doing an exploration campaign, I would recommend starting with a 10 Capacity, 5 RAW, 5 BIO system (going for lower values than in 1E for a few different reasons, which I'll explain later). Then give yourself 8 Census, 8 Morale, 8 Economy, 8 Industry, 8 Agriculture, and 8 Research. That'll give you a system income of 40 EP, industrial capacity of 40, food production of 40, food cost of 24 (net +16 population points per turn), and 8 tech per turn with a research capacity of 40. My Nova Solar Federation player empire started with 2 less of each of those, but in working with the numbers I think going with 8's are for the best.

I recommend you start your empire with the following facilities: Shipyard, Supply Depot, Trading Post. A Shipyard lets you build non-atmospheric starships in a system. A Supply Depot allows you to trace supply lines to units up to 3 jumps away, keeping them in supply. Trading Posts are used to setup trade routes. All of your trade routes start at one of your Trading Posts. Facilities cost 50 EP + 25 EP times the distance to your nearest capital system and cost 2 EP per turn to maintain.

An important note on supply: a system can resupply a total CC of friendly military units equal to its industrial capacity even if its outside the range of a Supply Depot (or if the Supply Depot can't get supplies out because of a blockade). This allows stranded fleets to still keep in supply if the local colony has enough industry to produce the needed consumables. Pre-Interstellar empires can also supply their forces without needing a Supply Depot.

Intel is performed using spies under the current build of the rules. I have a note in the Lost in a Sea of Stars II thread about those.

As for my note above about switching to 10/5/5 for CAP/RAW/BIO at the home systems instead of the 12/6/6 that 1E used. When I created the final system generation charts for 2E I capped the values at 10/5/5 with higher values only being possible via special traits. After generating enough systems with the new charts I found that very few systems ever came close to the 12/6/6 values and they honestly felt out of place. Even at 10/5/5 the home systems are still very good, far better than most you run across.

EDIT: Oh, one other thing I have to still add to the sysgen rules: if a system ends up with 0 CAP, reduce its RAW and BIO to zero. The 0 CAP means there's no planets there and nowhere to draw the resources from. It's just easier than worrying about trying to pull resources from the system via Habitat facilities or the like and is more consistent with the original intent of planet-less systems being materially worthless but with potential strategic value depending on their location and the number of jump lanes connecting to them.
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

wminsing
Commander
Commander
Posts: 158
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:06 pm
Contact:

Re: VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Postby wminsing » Tue May 15, 2012 2:00 pm

1. Research- so you get tech points for free AND can spend EP, got it.
2. Industry- so this is basically a per turn cap, not a 'rolling' cap? So if I have 30 capacity in a system I can lay down 3 10$ ships one turn and 3 more 10$ cost ships the next turn, even though the first set are not finished?
3. Population- Aha, I like this a lot. I always thought that Agriculture was something of a lackluster investment, but now worlds that are BIO rich and RAW poor are still potentially great colony sites. Re: Colony Costs, would this be modified by the Jump Lane class if I decided to use those rules (debating whether I will this first solo game)? But basically if I want to colonize a world 2 jump lanes from my capital it's 50 EP, and 75 EP for 3 jumps, and so on?
4. Guided- Ok, so 1 damage, ignores formation level. I'll play around with them striking first. Thanks for the notes on PD and formation/damage as well. On a side note, I like the current tech site, I'd leave the more complex stuff for a later Technology Handbook of some variety.
5. Campaign Start- Thanks for the advice! I will use that as the starting stats and facilities. A couple more questions from the discussion:
a) Are Supply Depots the only way to extend supply, or do systems have a built in supply range? I seem recall it was something like utilized industry/2 in one of the drafts, but that could have been an older version.
b) Trade Posts, do I still need to build trade routes in all systems or are they automatically connected? The new trade rules are actually a little fuzzy to me overall.
c) Does the Imperial Capital replicate any of these functions or does it just serve as a jump point for determining costs for facilities/colonies/etc

Thanks again!

EDIT: And another question that came up. Game 'years' used to be 12 turns, but it seems like a game 'year' is now 10 turns since maintenance is m$/10 per turn? Mostly cosmetic but curious.

-Will
"Ships and sail proper for the heavenly air should be fashioned. Then there will also be people, who do not shrink from the dreary vastness of space."

-- Johannes Kepler, 1609

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1416
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Tue May 15, 2012 6:30 pm

wminsing wrote:1. Research- so you get tech points for free AND can spend EP, got it.


After testing this ended up being the best way to encourage players to build Research infrastructure while at the same time limiting the absolute rate at which an empire can perform tech investment.

2. Industry- so this is basically a per turn cap, not a 'rolling' cap? So if I have 30 capacity in a system I can lay down 3 10$ ships one turn and 3 more 10$ cost ships the next turn, even though the first set are not finished?


Correct, it's just a per turn cap on purchases. Combined with the slower build times for units it ends up balancing out. You could build a 30 EP ship every turn at the planet with 30 industrial capacity, but each one is still going to take 15 turns to build and it's likely you're going to run out of money eventually.

Oh, that reminds me of another change from 1E to 2E: you start paying maintenance on units on the turn you purchase them! So that 30 EP superdreadnought that costs 6/10 EP per turn to maintain would cost you that during its entire 15 turns build time.

3. Population- Aha, I like this a lot. I always thought that Agriculture was something of a lackluster investment, but now worlds that are BIO rich and RAW poor are still potentially great colony sites. Re: Colony Costs, would this be modified by the Jump Lane class if I decided to use those rules (debating whether I will this first solo game)? But basically if I want to colonize a world 2 jump lanes from my capital it's 50 EP, and 75 EP for 3 jumps, and so on?


Correct! This cost seems to be fairer than how I was costing it before and it encourages players to colonize the systems near their capitals even if they aren't that great just because the colonization cost is so cheap.

As for how the costs interface with the jump lane class optional rules, for the sake of simplicity I think I would just use the basic costs and not try to increase them based on the jump lane class movement costs. You could do it, but I think it'd just add more busy work for marginal advantage.

4. Guided- Ok, so 1 damage, ignores formation level. I'll play around with them striking first. Thanks for the notes on PD and formation/damage as well. On a side note, I like the current tech site, I'd leave the more complex stuff for a later Technology Handbook of some variety.


Most of these kinds of advanced technologies will end up in another book. I was just testing some of them early to make sure they work. Guided may end up getting delayed to another book, too, as it isn't 100% necessary for the rules and can be slotted back in without much trouble.

a) Are Supply Depots the only way to extend supply, or do systems have a built in supply range? I seem recall it was something like utilized industry/2 in one of the drafts, but that could have been an older version.[/quote[

I eliminated the supply range from colonies (you're remembering right about the calculation) in the last pass and just replace them completely with Supply Depot facilities. I came to the realization that as a player I'd much rather have supply linchpins that were strategically important. That way I could try to knock out an enemy's war capabilities by targeting its supply depots. The old rules led to every system being a supply point and you never really seemed to have trouble keeping in supply.

b) Trade Posts, do I still need to build trade routes in all systems or are they automatically connected? The new trade rules are actually a little fuzzy to me overall.


The trade rules are still pretty note-y and sparse. The rule is that the cost to add a system to your empire's trade network is equal to 10 EP times the jump distance between the target system and your nearest Trading Post. This cost is reduced by 5 EP per system along the way that is already part of your trade networks. For example, if you are going Alpha=>Beta=>Gamma=>Delta and you already have trade routes connected to Beta the cost to extend a trade route to Delta is 25 EP. That's 10 x 3 jumps - 5 for Beta already being in your trade network.

The amount of commerce income you earn is equal to 10% of the total trade value of systems in your trade network (round fractional income to nearest). A system is in your trade network if you've paid to establish a trade route to it. A system's trade value is then equal to its highest utilized infrastructure value times Census. A 8 Census / 8 Infrastructure system has a trade value of 64, for example.

An empire automatically has a trade route to any system where it has a Trading Post, because trading is obviously happening there. This means that a one-system empire with a Trading Post will be earning commerce income from its home system.

This is a compromise between the FA/early 2E trade link and later 2E commerce range rules. It's simpler to maintain and just seems to flow better. I've also pretty much determined after last night that pirate checks should only be rolled for systems that are on someone's trade network. That keeps the number of required rolls per turn down. I'm going to try shifting the piracy checks back to a D10 with a target equal to the number of trade routes in the system minus 1 per 5 Starships or Flights in the system (round down). Police would then be added to the Starship/Flight total before calculating modifiers. I'm still not entirely sure I like losing the granularity, but I'm going to try it and see if it works better.

c) Does the Imperial Capital replicate any of these functions or does it just serve as a jump point for determining costs for facilities/colonies/etc


Imperial and sector capitals just act as hubs of activity from which facilities, colonies, etc. are purchased. I tried having it act as a free Supply Depot and Trading Post but that didn't really feel right, especially for empires that shouldn't be able to buy facilities of those types.

One change I do plan on implementing is to blend the sector capitals back into the original capital rules (i.e., they won't be facilities anymore) and add a few restrictions on how close capitals can be to one another. Right now I'm thinking no closer than 3 jumps, and then use a cost similar to colonization where the cost to build a sector capital is 25 EP times the number of jumps between the systems. The Core World requirement for sector capitals will also be eliminated in favor of a lower threshold. Minor Colony (4+ Census) seems much better based on the current test game.

EDIT: And another question that came up. Game 'years' used to be 12 turns, but it seems like a game 'year' is now 10 turns since maintenance is m$/10 per turn? Mostly cosmetic but curious.


There were a few players that really wanted to see decimal years, and once I decided to adopt maintenance cost as a per year value (mostly to get rid of the fractional maintenance costs from 1E) I thought it would make sense to go that route as it's easier to do the mental math to figure out how much you're spending per turn to maintain a unit. If you wanted to play with 12 turn years you can either keep the maintenance at MC/10 or go to MC/12. The latter is more correct, but the former is easier.
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

wminsing
Commander
Commander
Posts: 158
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:06 pm
Contact:

Re: VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Postby wminsing » Tue May 15, 2012 8:21 pm

Ok, the above seems pretty clear. Another question, this time about unit design- are the design rules different for different unit types, and if so in what ways? Ie, are space stations and flights just ships without FTL, or do they differ in the construction rules?

-Will
"Ships and sail proper for the heavenly air should be fashioned. Then there will also be people, who do not shrink from the dreary vastness of space."

-- Johannes Kepler, 1609

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1416
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Tue May 15, 2012 8:59 pm

wminsing wrote:Ok, the above seems pretty clear. Another question, this time about unit design- are the design rules different for different unit types, and if so in what ways? Ie, are space stations and flights just ships without FTL, or do they differ in the construction rules?


All units are designed the same, with the following exceptions:
  • Starbases, ground forces, and ground bases can't be equipped with FTL
  • FTL costs twice as much for flights. Normal FTL cost is 1/2 Build Cost (round down, minimum 1/2)
  • Maintenance Costs for starships, flights, and ground forces are equal to their mass cost divided by 5 (round down, min 1/2) while the Maintenance Cost for starbases and ground bases is equal to their mass cost divided by 10 (round down, min 1/2).

It's worth mentioning that each point of Carrier (flights), Assault (ground forces), or Tender (starship) value allows 1 BC of units of the associated type to be based, and each costs 1 mass per point to add to a unit. A 7 Carrier ship could carry up to 7 BC of flights, a 5 Assault ship could carry up to 5 BC of ground forces, etc. Cargo is a generalist and follows the same rules, except that units based in Cargo can't participate in combat.

The combat units that are based aboard a carrier using Carrier or Tender are included with their carriers at no command cost, which is the major advantage of building carriers/tenders. The downside is that the units are also destroyed if their carrier/tender is taken out (at least as things exist right now).

I should also point out that a player can include flights from carriers in his task force without including the original carrier. For example, a player generating a small battle could choose to add the flights from a non-participating carrier that's in the system. This shields the carrier from harm while allowing its fighters to engage the enemy. The task force / squadron command element just has to pay the flights' Command Cost as they would with any other unit.

Falling in the category of "probably for another book", Atmospheric/Mecha ground forces would also be allowed to fight in space combat as if they were flights, at which point you could use Assault ships to deploy pseudo-fighters (by way of transatmospheric flying robots) into a space battle. This mirrors atmospheric flights being allowed to fight in ground battles.
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

wminsing
Commander
Commander
Posts: 158
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:06 pm
Contact:

Re: VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Postby wminsing » Wed May 16, 2012 3:52 pm

Ok, thanks for the pointers! Another few question as I'm trying to design some units-
1. FTL/Atmospheric MU cost, round up or down?
2. Do fighters now have normal CR/CC stats like units? What about bases?

-Will
"Ships and sail proper for the heavenly air should be fashioned. Then there will also be people, who do not shrink from the dreary vastness of space."

-- Johannes Kepler, 1609

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1416
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Wed May 16, 2012 6:13 pm

wminsing wrote:1. FTL/Atmospheric MU cost, round up or down?


FTL/Atmospheric cost 50% x BC, round down, min 1/2. FTL costs are doubled for flights.

A 1 BC starship would have to spend 1/2 MU for 1 FTL or to become Atmospheric, a 2-3 BC would spend 1 MU for 1 FTL, a 4-5 BC would spend 2 MU for 1 FTL, etc.

The net effect is that making large ships faster becomes more expensive, and those points could be better spent on weapons if the empire doesn't need to strategically redeploy its units quickly.

2. Do fighters now have normal CR/CC stats like units? What about bases?


Yes to both. And you can conceivably have a flight lead a task force if you wanted to, with the caveat that all of the units in its squadron should have to be flights, too (that isn't in the rules anywhere, but thinking about it I think it makes the most sense).

Bases also have CR/CC and function like a starship in combat and can be used to command defensive task forces / squadrons. This makes larger starbases very appealing for system defense.
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

wminsing
Commander
Commander
Posts: 158
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:06 pm
Contact:

Re: VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Postby wminsing » Thu May 17, 2012 12:14 am

Thank you kindly sir for the advice. I think I am about ready to start; I've designed the Terran Commonwealth's starting unit line up and I'm making my initial purchases (5 x current income?). I do have one observation that normally I wouldn't make without some play testing but it concerns scout rating and exploration. It seems like that is is just as efficient to build a horde of small ships and expect to lose a bunch while trying to explore as it would to build a few larger, more capable ships. For example, my current explorer is a fairly large ship at BC 14 but it has Scout(5) so it can get a +1 by itself. Or I can build 7 little tin cans that are BC 2 and have Scout(1) (smallest hull I could fit 1 DV, 1 FTL and 1 Scout on). From a raw numbers standpoint it seems like the second option is superior since all the tiny scouts can combine their scout ratings together anyway. Sure they will die in droves if we accidentally jump into a hostile system, but the worst that will happen from a bad exploration roll is that they all get crippled (or lost, but that would happen to a larger ship too). This might not really be a problem, but it seems thematically odd that tiny ships are the most efficient scouts. I'd consider two ideas:

1) The largest # of ships that can combine their Scout rating for the purposes of an Exploration Roll is limited by the usual CR/CC restrictions. So in the above case the big explorers could operate in a squadron of 3 (CR/CC or 16/7) for a +3 bonus total while the little guys operating in a squadron of 5 (CR/CC or 4/1) could only get +1 total. Though a big explorer could lead up to 16 little guys for a +4 bonus, so maybe this isn't a perfect solution....
2) Have the 'less bad' results (ie, something other then entire fleet lost) be mitigated by ship size or other traits. Or have some traits based on size that modify the die roll away from 'all ships lost in space' to represent the better self-sufficiency of a large ship.

Anyway, for the first pass I'm going to play the rules as written with my larger scouts but something to think about.

-Will
"Ships and sail proper for the heavenly air should be fashioned. Then there will also be people, who do not shrink from the dreary vastness of space."

-- Johannes Kepler, 1609

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1416
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: VBAM 2E Playtest Files (Was: Any Updates?)

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Thu May 17, 2012 12:57 am

5 x System Income still seems to be the sweet spot. I started my Nova Solar Federation at 10 x System Income and while it gave them a really nice fleet to start with, it also made it so that there was no reason at all to build any ships during the first 20 turns. That didn't sit very well with me.

As for the scout issue, I think the best way to really address that probably would be to make the peril results be a fixed damage amount instead of a simple crippled/destroyed. That would benefit larger ships with higher Defense values as they'd have a better chance of surviving. Little hyperspace probes on the other hand would experience massive attrition rates when they rolled poorly. You could try having the System Failure result score 5 damage to the fleet and the next result be Major System Failure that scores 10 damage to the fleet and see what happens. I also notice that I have a rule mistake on the table. The Out of Supply result just puts the units out of supply, it shouldn't instantly damage them.

It's also important to point out the squadrons don't matter as much in the rules. I originally pulled them completely out of the last iteration but will be writing them back in for purposes of creating task forces, with each intensity spent allowing each side to field one squadron of units. For exploration fleets you just take the total Scout value and divided by 5, rounding down, to see what your exploration bonus is.

I'd be curious to see what your initial fleet composition and unit classes look like, Will. If you have the time and don't mind I'd appreciate it if you'd create a thread in this forum so that we can keep track of how your test goes and watch how things turn out.
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"


Return to “Second Edition Development”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest