2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Check here for updates and discussion about the new edition of the Victory by Any Means Campaign System.
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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby wminsing » Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:15 pm

Huh, that is an interesting idea, and it makes more sense perhaps than the 'unlimited supply from supply depot' that I had been using (based on 1st ed concepts). At first I didn't like it since it made 'frontier' systems with low infrastructure a bad place to put supply depots but if you allow them to 'chain' together that solves the problem neatly. Let me go see if either of my active empires are exceeding this new limit too badly, if not I may also adopt this rule....

I'm also going to assume my interpretation of the diplomacy rules are correct so I can get on with the game- I predict hostilities between the Geidi Empire and the Terrans in the not too distant future!

-Will
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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby wminsing » Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:10 pm

Yep, war has broken out across the stars, though it took one turn longer than expected. The Geidi Empire has declared war on the Terran Commonwealth. This brings up a couple more rule questions.

The 'declaration' rules make mention of a progression from hostilities > war > total war, but under war it seems like these hard breaks have been replaced with a 'soft' break based on ER. Is this correct, there is just a 'war' state and how intense the war is will be dictated by ER? This makes sense to me but want to confirm.

Is ER a mutual or an independent trait? In this case it actually makes sense to me that this would be an indepent trait, as the commitment levels of each involved Empire may vary. Right now the Geidi and Terrans have -10 and -5 respectively, so this war will basically be a set of border skirmishes.

I also reiterate my question about establishing communications, I presume I'll just roll every thing Terran and Geidi units/colonies end up in the same system.

Also, no relationship modifiers for a war breaking out, or modifiers to the diplomatic shift table? It seems odd as there is little way to 'escalate' a conflict if diplomacy stays fairly static and the ER doesn't shift. Though I just realized that this can be solved via diplomatic and intel missions in part, so maybe it is not as large an issue. Should the War Score also be applied to ER?

From a solo point of view, the only connection the Terrans and the Geidi currently share is straight across a black hole, and neither side is particular committed to the conflict yet, so I don't plan to have the Geidi go swarming across the black hole system, but instead I'll just start shifting units to that area and wait for an alterative connection to be established. Does this seem reasonable?

-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

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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby wminsing » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:13 pm

Ok, major mistake on my part, the war is off. I just realized that in fact the Terran Commonwealth and the Geidi Empire have no contact at all! I misread the First Contact rules, I read the condition as 'any explored system' rather than 'any colonized system'. But neither side has located anyone else's colonies yet. >_<

I'm not going to go back and re-do any prior turns, I can ignore the Terran/Geidi diplomatic interactions (or lack of them, until this last turn) easily enough and I'll re-run their first contact when they actually meet each other.

Peaceful exploration continues. :)

-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

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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby wminsing » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:49 pm

Ok, just noticed that the facility descriptions on page 41-42 and page 43 of the May 31st draft do not line up, particularly for the orbital facilities. Which version is everyone using?

-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."

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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby wminsing » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:38 pm

Finally posting an update! Turn orders first:
Terran Turn 22 (Turn 21 has gone MIA somehow):
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FPk ... P0axE/edit
Terran Turn 23:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RPk ... tBQFc/edit
Terran Turn 24:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RPk ... tBQFc/edit
Terran Turn 25:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/10FJ ... 6hnnk/edit

And the new guys, the Geidi Empire:
Empire Tracker:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc ... Hg5ZWtjcUE
Current Order of Battle:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kwz ... vtmQ0/edit
I'm going to post just the latest turn for the Geidi:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LnX ... S9gRs/edit

And the latest map:
Screen Shot 2012-06-13 at 1.38.04 PM.png
Screen Shot 2012-06-13 at 1.38.04 PM.png (85.72 KiB) Viewed 2393 times
"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."

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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby wminsing » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:53 pm

So overall the Terrans have maybe been expanding a little too fast; they have a lot of good but underdeveloped and low-morale colonies that are ripe for revolt. I narrowly avoided another rebellion on Sirius that would have been, no pun intended, quite serious. With Wolf 359 colonized I think the Terrans need to take a break and start building some of these colonies up more.

On the other hand, the Geidi empire is very compact with a few well developed systems and until recently had more census than the Terrans. However, they are borderline starving and NEED to find a hi-BIO system in order to continue to expand. It looked like the system I dubbed 'Bran' was going to be the answer to their hungry prayers (imagine Zoidberg-esque sounds from the Geidi survey teams as they looked at all of these sweet biostuffs) but worse luck it was already inhabited. I'll be interested to see if the dice dictate the Geidi will try to come up with a trade agreement for food or just try to conquer the Branonians outright....

My two major powers haven't encountered each yet but it is only a matter of time. Based on earlier rolling during the accidental era when I thought they had contact it will be an interesting era....

-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

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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby wminsing » Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:39 pm

The only other thing I have of note is that I am STILL trying to re-integrate Lalande back into the Commonwealth! It has been 9 turns so far with only a single partial success.... :evil:

-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

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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby wminsing » Thu Jun 14, 2012 4:30 pm

Ok, a couple more turns in and the Geidi Empire did get the chance to declare war on the Bran republic. My issue with the way ER works vs. hostilities/limited war/war/total war work is still a problem. Right now the ER for the Geidi only allows them to attack outposts, but the Bran homeworld is a major colony. So to 'escalate' the war the Geidi want to try to decrease their relationship with the Bran (and the Bran might want increase theirs to counteract this!), but since the Bran system is 'contested' due to military units from both sides being present I can't run a diplomacy mission. Am I correct in the assumption that I need to withdraw the Geidi forces already there (So the system is no longer contested) and then run diplomacy missions to lower my relationship with the Bran until the ER reaches the point where I can invade their homeworld, at which point I return and invade?

-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

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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby countercheck » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:19 pm

They could go into the system, blow up all the orbitals, glass all the terrestrial units, and then demand vassalization.

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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby wminsing » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:41 pm

That' the kicker- by the ER chart (page 65 of May 31st draft) I'm not even allowed to bombard their planet since my ER isn't at the right level. I can only bombard/invade Outposts! Unless I ignore the first table and the only the 'Invasion Limits' and 'Bombardment Limits' Charts apply.

-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

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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby countercheck » Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:33 pm

Yeah, there are some problems with it at present. I came up with some suggestions in another thread.

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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby wminsing » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:07 pm

Yep, I checked it out, will post some suggestions in that thread. In the meantime I might just revert to the old hostilities/war/total war paradigm, will need to review the rules.

-Will
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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby wminsing » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:28 pm

Ok, to keep the campaign rolling along I've decided to keep the hostilities/limited war/war/total paradigm, and each gives a -10 to the ER score, so eventually the Geidi can drive the war to the point where they can actually invade Bran.

-Will
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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby wminsing » Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:40 pm

Realized I'm quite a few turns behind. Rather than post every single turn for everyone I'm not going to post every 5 (or so) turns and the campaign trackers. If people want to see the non-posted turns for play test purposes I will be happy to post them.

Terran Turn 30:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1aZv ... nleDs/edit
Terran Empire Summary:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc ... 181MFN3X0E

Geidi Empire Turn 30:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/18x9 ... oAwMs/edit
Geidi Empire Summary:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc ... Hg5ZWtjcUE

Campaign Log:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/12rP ... TlhXE/edit

Latest Map:
Screen Shot 2012-06-19 at 8.39.22 AM.png
Screen Shot 2012-06-19 at 8.39.22 AM.png (49.97 KiB) Viewed 2298 times
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Re: 2nd Edition Playtest Report- Terran Commonwealth

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:13 pm

The process you went through for creating the new emerging empire looks right, Will. There is a bit of manipulation that you have to do to get things right, and it's really up to the player/CM to decide which systems to explore and where to place them on the map, or how to handle dead ends like the one you ran into in Van Maanen.

It's nice to see that the Geidi Empire does have two systems that are capable of producing some food. I really think we'll need to roll back to 2 food per Census (versus 3 food per Census) to allow for faster population growth to relieve the population bottlenecks that we've run into in the current batch of playtest games.

Also, for First Contact War rolls, do you add the aggressiveness of both races together, take the highest, or what?


The rules say to take the highest AG of the two and divide by 4, rounding down, to find the percentage chance of a first contact war occurring.

Also, on an amusing side note, due to how I was forced to distribute infrastructure the largest ship that the Geidi Empire can currently build is limited to 10 BC. I will work on rectifying that ASAP!


It's pretty interesting when you find alien empires like this in a game. It really defines the feel of their military forces and forces their designs during specific paths that might not have been the player's original choice or intention. I know in previous versions of the rules I had empires that had to go with Atmospheric fleets because of a lack of a shipyard (or enough Capacity to make building a Shipyard even worthwhile).

Another quick rules question. Are mapped jump lanes mapped for everybody, or does each power have to map each lane for itself? I think the answer is no shared exploration but I thought I'd check.


For the sake of player sanity, every jump lane that is explored is explored for everyone. The reasoning behind this is that there is always a stream of civilian traffic moving through explored lanes, and any alien that arrives in the system will be able to detect and track this movement back across the jump lane. In reality it's a practical concession that keeps a game from bogging down. Having to track exploration states for every jump lane for each empire would be a huge mess. Some 4X games use the individualized exploration to slow enemy progress into another power's core systems, forcing them to explore each new system before advancing on. As it stands with VBAM, an enemy is still going to have to move cautiously into enemy space if there's a fog of war component where each player has his own map of the galaxy to work off of and doesn't have preexisting knowledge of galactic topology.

I do keep track of which systems that each empire has visited, listing them in a separate section with an intelligence report about when they were in the system and what they found there. It probably makes more sense to breakdown systems so that those that are part of its sphere of influence are in one section and those that aren't are in another, just as a practical matter.

In the draft the chance of a declaration is AG - Relation. For the Geidians that would be 55 - (-5) for a 60% chance. They rolled a 24, so that indicates they will attempt to declare war, or rather Hostilities. Per the OLD draft, the chance seems to be 50% (hostilities base) - -5 (relationship) +5 (Geidi AG of 55 - 50) = 60% of declaration succeeding. Is this correct?


The Geidians chance of declaring war is calculated by taking its AG - Relationship and then multiplying the result by 10% (round to nearest). This gives them (55 - (-5)) x 10% = 6% chance per turn of declaring war. Once the war is declared, however, the scope of the conflict is limited by its effective relationship (this really needs a better name), which at the current level is -10.

This hits part of the rules that still need to be fleshed out, but based on my notes at ER -10 the Geidi Empire would be able to attack colonies up to Settlement size. This keeps the larger colonies off limits because the war hasn't expanded to that level of animosity yet.

Also if they do go into hostilities how do I go about trying to establish communications so they can later try to make peace if things turn out that way?


If one party conquers one of the opponent's colonies they can use that as an opportunity to try and establish communications. Similarly, you could park a fleet in orbit of one of the other empire's colonies and attempt communications while you're blockading the system.

Snip Industry


Bah, I thought I had trimmed that out. It is in fact Utilized Industry x 5 right now (though I really want another system resource to govern that). That errant note that mentioned Utilized Industry x Census was a copy and paste error from a previous rules draft that I hadn't reconciled yet as I was still poking at the supply rules. Sigh.

At present that is unclear to me. I'm currently treating supply depots as a system to distribute supply that already exists - if a system is within range of a depot, it contributes supply to the depot, which redistributes it to far-flung fleets.


The supply limit is on a system-by-system basis for cases where you have units operating outside of the supply range of a supply depot. Therefore a system that has 25 industrial capacity (5 Utilized Industry x 5) could maintain up to 25 CC of military units even if there isn't a friendly supply depot nearby to keep them in supply. It patches a problem with how supply used to work and allows colonies that are outside of your supply lines to still resupply units using their own industrial capacity.

That being said, I wouldn't be opposed to tying industrial capacity to overall military maintenance. Whether it is a case of you spending industrial capacity to cover maintenance (with economic points as a substitute?) or just limiting the number that you can normally maintain before you have to pay an economic premium. I would be worried with having industrial capacity completely cover maintenance costs, as then that frees up a huge trough of economic points for use elsewhere and makes it easy for large empires to gain traction by building more Industry to cover their maintenance budgets. It would probably be better for there to be a penalty if the empire's maintenance exceeded its industrial capacity instead.

The issue there is that the supply rules for industrial capacity are keyed to Command Cost (easy to figure) rather than Maintenance Cost (which is calculated empire-wide, and a bit nastier to calculate on a system-by-system basis). I would really appreciate any thoughts or input that you guys have on that topic, especially as the interpretation that was rejected in my absence is actually the one that was intended :)

The 'declaration' rules make mention of a progression from hostilities > war > total war, but under war it seems like these hard breaks have been replaced with a 'soft' break based on ER. Is this correct, there is just a 'war' state and how intense the war is will be dictated by ER? This makes sense to me but want to confirm.


This was a very late-in-the-game change to the rules brought on by my own dissatisfaction with the declaration rules. You're correct that the hard progression of hostilities > war > total war > final war have been removed in favor of a flat declaration of war that varies intensity based on AG and Relationship.

As you noted, in their current state of relations the Terrans and Geidi are limited to border skirmishes against small colonies. Originally I had started to further break out which type of bombardment missions would fall into the different ER levels, but now I'm not really sure that's necessary. I think it might be just as well to restrict just to colony size, and maybe even change from the strict limits here to a more variable solution where empires can attack colonies that have Census values that are less than or equal to their ER / -5. This would allow the Terrans to attack Census 1 or less worlds, while the Geidi could attack Census 2 or less worlds.

I also reiterate my question about establishing communications, I presume I'll just roll every thing Terran and Geidi units/colonies end up in the same system.


Yeah, if they end up in the same system you roll.

Also, no relationship modifiers for a war breaking out, or modifiers to the diplomatic shift table? It seems odd as there is little way to 'escalate' a conflict if diplomacy stays fairly static and the ER doesn't shift. Though I just realized that this can be solved via diplomatic and intel missions in part, so maybe it is not as large an issue. Should the War Score also be applied to ER?


The reason for no relationship modifiers for declaring war is that the relationship between the two empires already has to be bad enough to make declaring war possible. I've run into "snowballing" issues when relationship penalties are applied in these cases, but that was before the introducing of the singular war state. During previous playtests I applied a -10 modifier for declaring war, but again that prematurely escalates a conflict.

The reason for no diplomatic shift modifiers is similar: they are the primary means for affecting diplomatic relations without using diplomatic missions, and you want two empires to have a chance of improving relations to the point that they might consent to peace.

War Score probably shouldn't be applied to ER, as ER just says to what lengths an empire will go, and an empire that is losing badly would still be willing to drop a whole bunch of nukes on the enemy homeworld if given a chance.

One other thing worth noting: at one point I had your highest level treaty modifier applied as a positive bonus to the declaration chance (back when it was a two-step process). For example, two empires that have signed a mutual defense treaty (-40) would get a +40 bonus to their relationship for the purposes of the declaration calculation. That was stripped out at some point, but it may deserve coming back in as some sort of a special modifier.

I'm also thinking that reworking it to be a two-step process again where NPE just have a chance of trying to declare war (as spelled out previously in NPE Diplomacy), but all empires that attempt to declare war then have to roll for success by rolling D100 against their AG - Relationship plus a treaty modifier. That would give your Geidi Empire a 60% chance of success at actually declaring once they passed their declaration chance roll. However, had the Geidi Empire signed a non-aggression treaty with the Commonwealth, that might apply, say, a -20 modifier to the chance. Or it could be made even simpler and say that a non-aggression treaty halves your AG for purposes of trying to declare war against a power. That would reduce the Geidi to a 33% chance, and their NPE declaration chance would drop to 3%.

From a solo point of view, the only connection the Terrans and the Geidi currently share is straight across a black hole, and neither side is particular committed to the conflict yet, so I don't plan to have the Geidi go swarming across the black hole system, but instead I'll just start shifting units to that area and wait for an alterative connection to be established. Does this seem reasonable?


Yeah, given the positioning of their two empires I doubt that either one of them would be interested in pursuing the conflict unless there was a more direct route between their territories, and even then the low ER (Anyone have a better name for that? Please?) would severely limit the scope of the war to harassing small border outposts.

Ok, major mistake on my part, the war is off. I just realized that in fact the Terran Commonwealth and the Geidi Empire have no contact at all! I misread the First Contact rules, I read the condition as 'any explored system' rather than 'any colonized system'. But neither side has located anyone else's colonies yet. >_<


The two conditions for first contact are two fleets meeting for the first time or a fleet finding one of the other empire's colonies. This is the point at which they actually know of each other's presence and can start trying to communicate.

Ok, just noticed that the facility descriptions on page 41-42 and page 43 of the May 31st draft do not line up, particularly for the orbital facilities. Which version is everyone using?


As I continue to fiddle with the rules, I'm not happy at all with how most of the ancillary facilities function. Right now I'm looking strongly at going with system resource bonuses (+1 RAW, + BIO, etc.) instead of the infrastructure bonuses. At this point just pick an interpretation and see what happens until I can came up with a better solution.

On the other hand, the Geidi empire is very compact with a few well developed systems and until recently had more census than the Terrans. However, they are borderline starving and NEED to find a hi-BIO system in order to continue to expand. It looked like the system I dubbed 'Bran' was going to be the answer to their hungry prayers (imagine Zoidberg-esque sounds from the Geidi survey teams as they looked at all of these sweet biostuffs) but worse luck it was already inhabited. I'll be interested to see if the dice dictate the Geidi will try to come up with a trade agreement for food or just try to conquer the Branonians outright....


Food problems seem to be rampant in the current build of the rules. I really do think going back to 2 food per Census is going to be important here. Sure, it means that any system with 2 BIO will at least be to break even, but I'd sure prefer a faster colonization rate than what I've been experiencing in my own game. I have a few half decent systems I would like to colonize, but right now if it doesn't have 3 BIO I just can't do it because of food scarcity.

As for running into inhabited systems, that's always been my luck, too. That's cooked into the chance of finding aliens by design, however, as it makes it a bit more interetsing if some of the best real estate is already inhabited and you have to decide whether to be friendly and trade or else polish the rifles and get ready for an invasion.

My issue with the way ER works vs. hostilities/limited war/war/total war work is still a problem.


Okay, this is some good situational testing and is brining up things that I hadn't considered. Specifically, the contested system stipulation needs to be removed, at least for the damage relations mission. The effectiveness versus cost of the mission would also seem to be a bit low, and the variability may actually not be the best option. It might be better to have the 5 x Range cost and then a set 1D6 or 2D6 adjustment. At 5 x Range, 2D6 probably makes more sense as you're paying quite a bit of money to carry out the mission. The downside is that it wouldn't take many of those missions to max out relations... which brings us to having diplomatic missions instead provide modifiers to diplomatic shift rolls, which might actually be the better way of handling them. Have each provide a +-1 modifier to the shifts.

In the case of Geidi, the range to Bran is 1 jump. That means the shift modifier would cost 5 per point, so spending 15 EP would give the Geidi a -3 diplomatic shift with the Branonians. That doesn't guarantee a degradation of relations, but it sure help it along.

Other cost options are to drop the range requirement completely (flat 5 EP per mission) or shift it to fixed + range for cost (5 EP + 1 EP per jump between capitals). I like having some range component built in, but it doesn't really make sense for damaging relations - only for trying to build them. It also doesn't make sense for the players to be able to add bonuses to relationship rolls until after they have established communications.

Would spending 5 EP for a +-1 diplomatic shift roll be too cheap, though? On the surface it feels about right, as it isn't a direct relationship modifier, it just influences the relationship shift. An empire that spends 25 EP for a -5 modifier isn't guaranteed to tank their relations, but they have a very good chance of getting the -2D6 result (or at least prevent relationship gain).

Coupled with a more progressive ER > Colony Size option above (ER / -5 = Census maximum), the Geidi Empire would need to reduce its relationship with the Branonians to -25 if the Branonians have a Major Colony with 6 Census. Assuming they spend about 20 EP per turn to damage relations (-4 modifier to shifts), they can expect to lose ~4.5 relationship per turn. I'm not sure what their current relationship with the Branonians are, but 6-7 turns of "investment" towards the invasion should be enough to read the ER level that you could attack the system.
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