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.
Locked
User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1443
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

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

Post by Tyrel Lohr »

Okay, I spent most of Friday evening and Saturday running some tests on a few different alternative concepts in regards to how infrastructure is handled. Specifically, I ended up revisiting the concept of Tech and Intel infrastructure creating tech and intel points, respectively, in a manner similar to how Productivity and Agriculture create resources for their owner. Here's the highlights reel:
  • I still really like the limited infrastructure rule, but ended up dropping it from this playtest and going back to the original utilized infrastructure rules from 1E because I think that is a rabbit hole that I could easily get lost down unless some clear solutions appear later on (which they might).
  • I set both Tech and Intel so that they would produce +1 resource per 2 Census at the colony (round down, minimum 1). I started with 6 Census just to give me a minor power starting income to play with and see what would happen. I started with 4 of each infrastructure at my homeworld, which gave me +12 tech points and +12 intel points each turn.
  • Tech points could be used to increase empire tech levels (10 x Census), colony tech levels (set at a flat 50 TP, for a few reasons I'll explain later, prototypes (unit C$), and unit refits (unit C$). This gave me enough things to spend tech points on that I always had something to spend them on. I removed the automatic tech advance rule so you have to manually spend the points on everything. Over the course of 20 turns my test empire ended up increasing its empire tech level by 2 (to TL 2) and was on course to get its homeworld upgraded. I also added an option to prototyping so that you could expend 10 TP to purchase a +1 bonus to the prototyping roll. That gives another use for tech points.
  • Prototyping also received a limit so that the maximum number of prototypes a colony can work on is equal to its utilized Tech value.
  • Intel points came flooding in early. To counteract the rapid build up, I created several new intel missions that were a useful diversion to eat up the intel points and encourage players against hoarding. Two missions in particular stand out. The Espionage: Exploration mission provides a bonus to exploration rolls in a system, while Propaganda: Infrastructure provides a +1 bonus to a specific type of infrastructure that turn. There were several turns that I used Propaganda: Infrastructure to artificially increase my Productivity or Tech to crank up their outputs.
  • I started prototyping a TL 1 supercarrier after I reached TL 1, and it has nearly finished prototyping as TL 2 is coming around. However, given the plethora of projects that tech points can be spent on now, it will probably be another 6-8 turns before I have enough tech points to upgrade my homeworld again. The dynamic under this system seems to be banking enough tech points to get an empire tech level increase, then waiting to save up enough in between other projects to start upgrading colonies to take advantage of the upgrade.
  • I did set the colony tech level increase price at a flat 50 TP partially to see whether that would encourage me to increase the tech levels of larger colonies in preference to smaller ones. The plan backfired, however, because the high TP cost made it untenable to found any colonies because the cost to upgrade them would be too high and better spent on empire tech level increases. So 10 x Census is actually a much better option for colonies, too.
  • Speaking of colonies, I ended up not founding any colonies because my homeworld was so much better than anything else that I found and it was more efficient to just spend my limited resources on building up infrastructure at my homeworld. In total after 2 years I had my home system improved to 8 Census from the original six and had purchased 2 Productivity, 1 Agriculture, and 1 Tech during that time.
  • I did look again at how to get the limited infrastructure rule to work in practice. Leading in to something that I'll discuss after this list, removing Shipyards from infrastructure and turning them back into an installation would help in that it would pare down the list to Productivity, Agriculture, Tech, and Intel. Of those four, as darbycmd notes, Intel could probably get tossed away, too, though I want to play around with keeping it for awhile to see how that turns out. That makes it easier to restrict the amount of infrastructure in a system just because there is one fewer type to build up. Unfortunately, I am not sure it can be fairly balanced without going back to a 10 x Value cost system for infrastructure which unduly favors spamming colonies and makes it less efficient to build up larger ones, something I would like to avoid based on my experience with 1E where you build a colony to 3 Census / 3 Productivity to get the supply bonus and then never touch the colony again.
I am open to moving Shipyards back to being an installation that you build. They were converted into infrastructure just to make it simpler to handle them under a previous version of the rules, but at this point I can see it being just as well to make them 10 EP starbases with a maintenance cost of 1 that allow you to build 1 CC of starships. Planets would then have a total shipyard capacity equal to their Productivity for building Atmospheric ships (and use Census for ground force construction). The maximum construction cost of units that a colony could purchase each turn would then be equal to its Productivity x Census. If the shipyards were CC 1 bases, a player could then use advantages to bring them into Defensive Scenarios.
[i]"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"[/i]

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1443
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

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

Post by Tyrel Lohr »

Another week, another quick update to cover rules potential rules changes and highlight what is happening with the public and internal playtests.
  • The process of having Tech infrastructure create tech points and Intel infrastructure create intel points has been working now that there's enough outlets for the points and the tech advancement isn't automatic.
  • Tech advancement seems to be working out to a 2 year cycle when an empire has half its maximum Tech at its homeworld. That's one year to earn enough tech to increase the empire's tech level and then another to save up the tech points to upgrade the homeworld's tech level. I've been using tech level costs of 10 x Census for both, and that seems to be working out fine. The behavior I am seeing is that you tend to advance to the next empire tech level before your first prototypes of the previous tech level are completed, but that's not much of an issue because larger empires will have more colonies they need to update and their tech advancement will be comparatively slower.
  • Intel points are still something that tends to build up unspent over time, but that's more because I tend to wait for there to be a reason for me to spend intel points rather than blowing them every turn for quick infrastructure bonuses (the Propaganda: Infrastructure mission is really nice for giving you a +1 bonus to help boost infrastructure). I have used Sabotage: Starship to help clean out piracy in a few systems to help destroy pirates when they appeared. It was easier and cheaper than just sending fleets out to deal with them, especially given the poor stats my low end frigates have in the one game.
  • I have increased both the piracy and system loyalty chances to a base 10% + 5% per Census. This is working out better than the previous formula and is easy to calculate. What it does is force you to keep at least 4 EP of starships in each system to keep the pirates at bay, and all of your colonies need some ground forces to help keep the peace. With 10 Census you would need approximately 50 EP of ground forces to keep your people in line. That's more than reasonable, considering how many people are actually in that system.
  • I am considering resurrecting the out of supply level (OSL) rules and modifying Endurance as follows. All units receive a number of OSL equal to their command cost each turn that they are out of supply. Units then take 1 damage for every fifth OSL they receive. Units remain encumbered by the OSL they have earned until they are repaired, at which point their total OSL are reduced to zero. This forces a situation in which units that have been out of supply for an extended period of time must return home for repairs/refit to fix the systems that have been damaged by the lack of supply, and the rate at which a unit is affected by being out of supply varies based on its size. A 1 CC frigate could be out of supply for 5 turns before taking damage, while a 3 CC heavy cruiser could only be out of supply for 2 turns before it receives damage. Endurance then becomes a 1 MU cost ability that increases the number of OSL required to damage the unit by 1. A 4 Endurance heavy cruiser would then only take damage on every ninth OSL it earn instead of every fifth as normal.
  • The max mass calculation in unit construction seems to work better as (C$ + CC) + 10% per TL above TL 0. This makes it more predictable when designing units at TL 0. I am also tempted to give units a base Defense value equal to their command cost. This eliminated the possibility of 0 DV units and gives units a minimum amount of hardiness based on their size.
  • I got off on a tangent and think I formulated some basic rules for minefields wherein the minefields are designed like normal units and use their DV to attack units that move into a system. This turns mines into a special first strike defensive weapon. They can also be included in a battle like any other unit, where they serve more as throwaway defenses for a defender to use to absorb hits meant for its other starships. The trick is going to be deciding how to apportion minefield damage between multiple units that enter the system. It's an edge case, but letting a minefield make three separate attacks per turn might be a bit much, even if the result would be a swift depopulation of the minefield (the hits the mines score on inbound travelers are repeated on the mines).
I should have more to report after tonight, as I'm going to sit down with my playtest game and try running through another ten turns to see what else might come up.
[i]"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"[/i]

User avatar
MarkG88
Commodore
Commodore
Posts: 737
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2007 4:25 am
Location: Ohio

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

Post by MarkG88 »

I am considering resurrecting the out of supply level (OSL) rules and modifying Endurance as follows. All units receive a number of OSL equal to their command cost each turn that they are out of supply. Units then take 1 damage for every fifth OSL they receive. Units remain encumbered by the OSL they have earned until they are repaired, at which point their total OSL are reduced to zero. This forces a situation in which units that have been out of supply for an extended period of time must return home for repairs/refit to fix the systems that have been damaged by the lack of supply, and the rate at which a unit is affected by being out of supply varies based on its size. A 1 CC frigate could be out of supply for 5 turns before taking damage, while a 3 CC heavy cruiser could only be out of supply for 2 turns before it receives damage. Endurance then becomes a 1 MU cost ability that increases the number of OSL required to damage the unit by 1. A 4 Endurance heavy cruiser would then only take damage on every ninth OSL it earn instead of every fifth as normal.
I see where you are coming from with this rule Tyrel and it is a nice clean solution to simulating operational supply issues. I disagree, however, with rewarding small ships while penalizing large ships. I think it should be reversed. Larger ships have more internal storage and therefore more capacity for food, fuel, water, atmosphere, spare parts, expendible munitions, etc than a smaller ship. Even though a larger ship has a correspondingly larger crew it has more storage abilities to support its crew and itself longer than smaller vessels.

From a game design view your proposal works, from a military simulation point of view I think the endurance ratings/supply requirements should be inverted (CC 1 vessels start suffering OSL penalites if more than 1 jump/turn away from supply while CC 5 ships can go half a year without OSL issues). This can be modified by balistics abilities (-1 penalty for OSL since they are more dependent on expendible munitions than other ships) and increased by explorer ability (+1 per level).

I would start inflicting the OSL damage immediately not after every 5th OSL (that will get fiddly fast tracking OSL turns and its damage on top of any combat related damage). This OSL damage cannot destroy a ship, it only affects things if a ship enters combat while OSL and "disappears/repairs" after one turn per OSL after being in supply and doesn't have to be paid to be repaired and OSL damage cannot be repaired while ship is in OSL status. Example: CC 2 Corvette would need 3 turns to recover from 3 OSL.That's my take on things and how I would "house rule" the game in a campaign I ran.

As always I am a big fan of this set of rules and look forward to the final 2.0 product! 8)

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1443
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

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

Post by Tyrel Lohr »

The idea is that the smaller ships have fewer crew that can make due longer with less supply. It is easy to home rule the situation by treating all ships exactly the same, however, instead of earning OSL equal to command cost.

In reality, the larger ships will be able to take more damage and earn more OSL, so it would probably balance out long-term. A DV 2 / CC 1 ship could be out of supply for 20 turns before it's destroyed, while a DV 6 / CC 2 ship could be out of supply for 30 turns before it's destroyed. So the actual endurance of the bigger ships is higher simply because they can take more damage.
[i]"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"[/i]

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1443
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

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

Post by Tyrel Lohr »

Okay, the sinus headache and drowsiness from medication hit again after I got back home from work tonight, but as promised here is a quick rundown of what has happened during this last lull. I ran through a local ~40 turn solo playtest to try some things out and stress test the existing rules, and came away with fairly good results. From there I am organizing a set of additional rule alterations to further fine tune the rules.

A bulleted list is better for going over some of this:
  • I still don't really like the feel of the colony infrastructure, and even with some additional changes it still feels like Tech and Intel infrastructure are after thoughts compared to the rest, and I don't like that. What I'm going to try before I go any further in the rule writing is to reorganize the infrastructure into Economic, Industrial, and Agricultural types. Economic infrastructure facilitates resource generation and provides a maximum on the amount of tech and intel points that can be purchased at a colony. This effectively combines Tech and Intel together with the economic point generation capacity of Productivity. Industrial infrastructure determines the maximum construction cost of units that can be built in a system as well as a colony's supply range. Agricultural infrastructure remains as a food production component.

    This separates infrastructure into three distinct types, each of them important and useful. Economic remains the most important because it is the source of an empire's wealth, but you can have a colony that loads up on Industrial infrastructure without either of the other two and it would still be useful. More importantly, it subsumes the Tech and Intel infrastructure so that you don't have to worry about developing them separately. It was nice to have more colony specialization, but even with some of my fixes it still didn't feel right to have organic tech and intel point production. It just didn't feel like VBAM anymore, and it was very hard to properly balance.
  • I've been mulling over Jimmy's comment (I think it was his) about preferring larger military forces in the game, and that they were hoping 2E would accommodate that. Taking that into consideration, I am going to do a final test to see if expanding the normal RAW/BIO value ranges to 1-10 instead of 1-5 (i.e., doubling them) could possibly address this issue without breaking any of the existing components of the rules. My biggest worry is that an empire could end up with too many economic points to spend, but in running some numbers the one major advantage it has is that it would actually allow a 6 Census / 6 Infrastructure starting system with 10 RAW to produce 60 EP per turn, the same as a home system in 1E.

    The one benefit from an ease of use that I see is that this change would allow you to roll a D10 for each system statistic (Carrying Capacity, RAW, BIO) if they wanted rather than having a separate chart. I think I tried something similar to this once before, however, so I need to really crunch the numbers to see if it is something that is really desirable or not. There's a good chance I'll pass on it, but I want to at least see if it would be an advisable option.
  • [*/]
  • After hammering on the diplomacy rules, I have come to the conclusion that a simpler approach is necessary for players and NPEs both. To that end I'm looking at having set relationship breakpoints at which empires can sign specific treaties or issue declarations. This gives the players themselves a reason to purchase intel points and use them to influence diplomatic relations.

    For NPEs, I am also looking at removing the old AIX values (AG, IN, XE) and replacing them with hostilities, breaking, and offering chances, respectively. These would serve a nearly identical purpose to what the AIX values did in 1E and previous builds of 2E but without the extra math. This wouldn't be quite as robust as the AIX system, but it would be more straightforward.
  • After working with the new unit design calculations, I am looking at increasing the costs of Carrier, Assault, and Cargo to 2-3 MU. I had them valued too low before and they could use a bit of a bump. A 1 EP unit at TL 0 has 2 MU of abilities, which makes me think that might be the best cost for them.
  • Based on feedback, I have restructured the encounter rules so that command limits are now command bonuses. Therefore the more intense engagements will allow a player to add more units to a task force than he normally would be able to do otherwise. The Command unit ability provides an additional bonus to this. I am looking at two options here: a) keep the mass cost of Command low and make it a +1 per 10 ability; or b) give Command a mass cost of about 3 MU but give it a guaranteed +1 command bonus. That makes it expensive enough that you will only see it on dedicated command units but quite effective in allowing a player to bring in some extra firepower.
  • On the question of speed, I have codified the Fast ability that has a cost equal to a unit's command cost and provides a bonus of +1 Advantage per 10 Fast value in a task force (round to nearest). Task forces that are filled with fast screening units will thus earn extra advantages that they can spend to improve their chances in the battle, representing the forward screening or recon work the units are doing before a battle.
I had hoped to get back to the forum playtest campaign last weekend, but it just didn't happen. I will get turns out to everyone this weekend, however, so that we can pick things back up and working with the rules from the previous draft until I get the revised one ready to change over. We'll probably make that change on turn 10 and make suitable adjustments as necessary to accommodate the move.

My plan for tomorrow night, so long as I'm not space out on the couch like tonight, is to get a start on another solo test exercise that I had started cooking stats for on Sunday to run some of these changes through the gauntlet to see which feel right and which don't.

I appreciate that everyone is getting restless and agitated at this point because of the development delays, so after this round of revisions I'm just going to just cut out any content that still is giving me troubles and get the core rules for 2E finished and out the door. There's no point picking these nits any longer; at this point the thing just needs to get done.
[i]"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"[/i]

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

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

Post by countercheck »

Interesting!

Re: Colony Infrastructure

Have you considered taking Intel and Tech and moving them into facilities and onto space stations in the new system, so by building specific units, focused bonuses could be accrued?

Re: Diplomacy

So you're thinking of moving more to a relationship based system, where you track your empire's relationship with every other empire? I was thinking that might work. Could the relationships be asymmetrical? Could the Alliance feel favorably towards the Vorlons, but the Vorlons not give a fig for the Alliance? Would there be actions that would provide global penalties to relationships, like declaring war on an ally or bombarding planets? Bad Boy Points? Could specific actions, like attacking the protectorate of a friendly empire provide cassus belli or casus foederis without actually seriously damaging relations?

Re: Carrier cost change

Agree wholeheartedly, but I'd suggest that if you go this route, it might be an idea to lift (or moderate) the ruling that special powers cost double on flights. If Carrier costs 3 mu, it's no longer hyper efficient to fill it with scout equipped fighters.

Re: Command

Is there any reason you could not make both options available? It's the difference between having a specific flag ship and a distributed combat network. That seems a good way to distinguish between the flavor of fleets.

Re: Fast

Interesting choice. I had been leaning towards something along the lines of 'your fast units cost half as much to bring into a fight or exclude from a fight using advantages, and your opponent's fast units cost double for you to bring in or omit.' But your system is probably better.

Glad to have you back!

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1443
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

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

Post by Tyrel Lohr »

countercheck wrote:Re: Colony Infrastructure

Have you considered taking Intel and Tech and moving them into facilities and onto space stations in the new system, so by building specific units, focused bonuses could be accrued?
I have considered it, but I'm still on the fence about expanding the facilities too much. Jay has an innate hatred of planetary facilities to begin with, though he may not get a say in the matter before all is said and done :)

I'm already planning on moving shipyards back to being a facility rather than infrastructure after discussion here (been playing with that option again in my local playtests), and I have trading posts and supply depots penciled in as being transferred to a facilities section in the colonies chapter. I had been considering listening posts but hadn't really thought about research labs yet.

Going down that path, these facilities wouldn't provide free resources but would rather increase a colony/system's capacity to do other things. In the case of a listening post, it would increase the max number of intel missions a colony can run by 1 but it could also provide extra economic capacity that could be used to purchase extra intel points. For example, a listening post at a 6 Census colony would provide a +6 EC bonus for purposes of intel purchases only. Research labs could offer a similar bonus for tech point purchases, but I'm drawing a blank as to what its secondary benefit might be (possibly increase the number of prototypes that the colony can support?).

Another aspect of infrastructure vs. facilities that I'm debating is whether the facilities should be "insta-build" like infrastructure upgrades (they probably will be, for the sake of conveniences), how many facilities a system should be able to support, and whether these facilities should be monolithic or more individual. Combining those last two points, I could see having the facilities functioning like system-side upgrades. For example, a system might not provide any supply unless it contains a supply depot. Once the supply depot is built the system would then have a supply range of 1 + 1 per 3 Census (round down). If we were to go this route I think it would be important to apply that conceit universally to all facilities, however, to eliminate some confusion. Under such a system a shipyard facility might cost 50 EP and just give a colony the ability to build starships, with the number of starships being limited only by available industrial capacity.

Under the above conceptualization of facilities, they would very much act as discrete "upgrades" to a colony's capabilities. Trading posts would then be required to trade, supply depots for supply, shipyards to build starships, research labs to conduct research, and listening posts to conduct intel missions. The latter two are a bigger problem with that formula, of course, as it seems odd to force a colony to have research or intel facilities present to be able to purchase those points -- at least it seems off. Of course, that restriction existed with the Tech/Intel infrastructure, too, so it isn't that far afield. If all of the facilities cost ~50 EP each and homeworlds started with all of them, then I think it would be fair. The bigger issue being that even pre-interstellar homeworlds would then need research labs to develop tech or listening posts to conduct intel. Special allowances could be afforded to them to cover that, of course... so it isn't insurmountable.

Another aspect of facilities is whether they should have to be built at an inhabited system or if the player should be able to just place them in any system that his empire can trace supply to. I think allowing them to be purchased in any nearby system would be the best option, as that way you could build trading posts in uninhabited systems, or systems that don't have any planets at all (which will be an issue come the Companion and expanded star system generation).
Re: Diplomacy

So you're thinking of moving more to a relationship based system, where you track your empire's relationship with every other empire? I was thinking that might work. Could the relationships be asymmetrical? Could the Alliance feel favorably towards the Vorlons, but the Vorlons not give a fig for the Alliance? Would there be actions that would provide global penalties to relationships, like declaring war on an ally or bombarding planets? Bad Boy Points? Could specific actions, like attacking the protectorate of a friendly empire provide cassus belli or casus foederis without actually seriously damaging relations?
We had separate relationship values in 1E, but I simplified down to a single shared relationship value between two empires to reduce some of the bookkeeping and because, in practice, it seemed like the empire with the lower relationship always defined what the two powers could do, anyway. Further testing also showed that trying to force player empires into the AIX/NPE diplomacy system didn't work as I had originally intended and was more frustrating for the player than anything else. By having set relationship break points for treaties/declarations, it gives players goals to aim for when investing resources towards improving or degrading their relations with other powers.

The xenophobic/standoffish attitude in the Vorlon/EA example above is still simulated via the successor the AIX. In this case, the chance that an empire would accept a treaty would be based on a combination of a base success chance (probably 5-10%) plus a bonus equal to their offering chance times the amount that their relationship is above the treaty's target value. For example, let's say they have a relationship of +14 and the player offered this NPE (offering chance 3%) and the player offers them a border treaty (difficulty 0). If we have a base of 5%, the final chance is 5% + 3% x 14 = 47% of treaty acceptance. By comparison, a NPE with a 1% offering chance would only have a 19% chance of signing the treaty, and a NPE with a 10% offering chance would have a 145% chance (auto success).

Attacks on friendly powers currently just apply relationship modifiers that could reduce relations significantly. A declaration of war against a friendly power drops relations by 10 in one shot. The case of attacking an allied power, as would be the case of a protectorate, the war declaration would be extended to all alliance members and that could cause a relationship chain reaction that would cause relations to plummet catastrophically.

It's also worth noting that the plan is to keep the breakpoint for hostilities to be fairly high so that it will be possible to enter into hostilities even if the empires have a fairly decent relationship just for situations as the above. Unless things change, it will be about +50 for hostilities, +-0 for war, -50 for total war, and -100 for final war. Total war may also be removed if I can't find a smooth enough delineation between the first three declaration states. Final war is simply a declaration that can't be ended by an armistice. If you get to -100 and declare a final war, then you're fighting to the death, full stop.
Re: Carrier cost change

Agree wholeheartedly, but I'd suggest that if you go this route, it might be an idea to lift (or moderate) the ruling that special powers cost double on flights. If Carrier costs 3 mu, it's no longer hyper efficient to fill it with scout equipped fighters.
I'm still planning on doubling special ability costs for flights, as that fixes other issues like making FTL-capable flights pay more for the ability without having to create an entirely separate FTL ability for flights. You can still build flights with Scout/Cargo, but they end up costing more and not being quite as combat capable. A 5 EP Scout flight is still viable at TL 0, for instance.
Re: Command

Is there any reason you could not make both options available? It's the difference between having a specific flag ship and a distributed combat network. That seems a good way to distinguish between the flavor of fleets.
No reason that they both couldn't exist. Perhaps have Command be the flat command bonus, and have the distributed bonus become Datalink? Then in the appropriate settings you could have Command act as "command datalink" and Datalink as normal datalinks.
Re: Fast

Interesting choice. I had been leaning towards something along the lines of 'your fast units cost half as much to bring into a fight or exclude from a fight using advantages, and your opponent's fast units cost double for you to bring in or omit.' But your system is probably better.
The advantage to having Fast give advantages ( :o ) is that it allows your fast units a lot of versatility in the way that they benefit you in battle, from adjusting the length of the scenario itself to adding extra ships to your side or removing them from the opponent's side. There are a few illogical combinations (Fast ships = more emergency repairs!), but that can even be explained away by saying the Fast units in your force were out distracting the enemy long enough for those repairs to be made.

One of the main reasons I decided to go with this benefit was to make it worthwhile for players to field Fast ships, and it doesn't require the CSCR to concern itself with unit ranges and speeds.

The one avenue for abuse I do see is if an empire focused completely on a wolf pack strategy where all or nearly all of its ships were 1 CC and had several points of Fast value. That would make them extremely versatile when it comes to advantages, assuring 1-2 Advantages in every fight, or even more in larger battles, regardless of their own readiness state. On the other hand, these extra advantages help to make wolf packs more viable when the game moves into a period where capital ships are ruling the battlefield and would provide even more reason for players to field swift escorts to protect their fleets.
[i]"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"[/i]

SLea
Ensign
Ensign
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:15 am

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

Post by SLea »

I liked the AIX system, but see where you're coming from when you say that players felt to restricted by it. The good thing about it was, obviously, the way it simulated cultural differences between different races, and the impact that these had on diplomacy. How does the new system you've now implemented do this (assuming it does at all)?

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1443
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

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

Post by Tyrel Lohr »

SLea wrote:I liked the AIX system, but see where you're coming from when you say that players felt to restricted by it. The good thing about it was, obviously, the way it simulated cultural differences between different races, and the impact that these had on diplomacy. How does the new system you've now implemented do this (assuming it does at all)?
What is boils down to is that offering chance replaces Xenophobia, breaking chance replaces Integrity, and declaring chance replaces Aggressiveness. The range of values for each also effectively changes from the 1-100 range under AIX to 1-10. This gives less variance overall, but it makes each percentile difference more important.

For example, an empire that was AG 54, IN 14, XE 84 would translate into 2% offering, 8% breaking, 5% declaring.

Also, you receive a +1% bonus to offering and a -1% modifier to breaking/declaring for every 10 points your relationship is above 0. The reverse is true for every 10 points your relationship is below 0. Referring to the previous example, if its relationship with the target is +34, it would have an effective +5% offering, 5% breaking, and 2% declaring. In other words, the better your relationship is with the target the less chance you have of breaking/declaring. This helps reign in extremely aggressive NPEs and also gives xenophobic NPEs a better chance of offering if relations are good enough.
[i]"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"[/i]

User avatar
virtutis.umbra
The Critic
The Critic
Posts: 207
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:50 am
Contact:

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

Post by virtutis.umbra »

Tyrel Lohr wrote: For example, a listening post at a 6 Census colony would provide a +6 EC bonus for purposes of intel purchases only.
Research labs could offer a similar bonus for tech point purchases, but I'm drawing a blank as to what its secondary benefit might be (possibly increase the number of prototypes that the colony can support?).
That sounds about right on to me.

Glad you're feeling better. :)
-Patrick
crit·ic /ˈkritik : Someone who knows the way but can't drive the car. -- Kenneth Tynan

User avatar
virtutis.umbra
The Critic
The Critic
Posts: 207
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:50 am
Contact:

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

Post by virtutis.umbra »

Tyrel Lohr wrote:Under the above conceptualization of facilities, they would very much act as discrete "upgrades" to a colony's capabilities. Trading posts would then be required to trade, supply depots for supply, shipyards to build starships, research labs to conduct research, and listening posts to conduct intel missions. The latter two are a bigger problem with that formula, of course, as it seems odd to force a colony to have research or intel facilities present to be able to purchase those points -- at least it seems off...

{snip}

The bigger issue being that even pre-interstellar homeworlds would then need research labs to develop tech or listening posts to conduct intel. Special allowances could be afforded to them to cover that, of course... so it isn't insurmountable.
What if any colony (pre-INT or otherwise) could pay double to generate any one of the point types they lack the dedicated facilities to produce? So a system with, say, RAW 5 / Economy 3 in a system with no Research Lab one could spend up to 15 EP to purchase up to 7 Tech Points in a single turn? (Note the "any one of" -- lacking bot a Listening Post nor a Research Lab, a colony could only emulate one or the other in a given turn)

This lets players squeak by without building the dedicated structures, but it limits their bandwidth pretty severely and strongly incentivizes getting on board with dedicated facilities, plus it allows pre-interstellar entities to behave in a normal fashion relative to the rest of the rules.

I think the concept of system facilities is a good one; it provides something for players to think about in their colonies, and if nothing else would make a great optional rules module. In fact in my own games I'll probably present the colony Infrastructure stats as 'facilities' too even if they're not explicitly pitched that way in the rules.
Beta Cephei has three Farms, two Economic Zones and four Industrial Hubs. In the colonial capitol (or in orbit) there's a Research Lab and a Shipyard, but no Starport or Listening Post (the latter is under construction).
-Patrick
crit·ic /ˈkritik : Someone who knows the way but can't drive the car. -- Kenneth Tynan

User avatar
virtutis.umbra
The Critic
The Critic
Posts: 207
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:50 am
Contact:

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

Post by virtutis.umbra »

Tyrel Lohr wrote: {WRT Fast Ships generating Advantages} The one avenue for abuse I do see is if an empire focused completely on a wolf pack strategy where all or nearly all of its ships were 1 CC and had several points of Fast value. That would make them extremely versatile when it comes to advantages, assuring 1-2 Advantages in every fight, or even more in larger battles, regardless of their own readiness state. On the other hand, these extra advantages help to make wolf packs more viable when the game moves into a period where capital ships are ruling the battlefield and would provide even more reason for players to field swift escorts to protect their fleets.
I think your explanation of this makes it sound not at all like an avenue for abuse, but as a balancing factor that makes an asymmetric strategy viable and a combined-arms approach optimal! I like it. :)
-Patrick
crit·ic /ˈkritik : Someone who knows the way but can't drive the car. -- Kenneth Tynan

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1443
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

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

Post by Tyrel Lohr »

virtutis.umbra wrote:What if any colony (pre-INT or otherwise) could pay double to generate any one of the point types they lack the dedicated facilities to produce? So a system with, say, RAW 5 / Economy 3 in a system with no Research Lab one could spend up to 15 EP to purchase up to 7 Tech Points in a single turn? (Note the "any one of" -- lacking bot a Listening Post nor a Research Lab, a colony could only emulate one or the other in a given turn)
I'm thinking something like this is probably the direction to go. There are two possibilities here: one is to do the double cost without the facility, the other is to have the facility provide an additional reservoir of capacity for the specific resource. For example, a colony with 4 Census and 3 Economic would have an economic capacity of 12. Building a research lab in that system would then give the player another 12 EC, so he could purchase up to 24 tech points per turn at the colony rather than just 12.

Considering the two homeworld startup options of 10 Census, 10 Economic, 6 RAW or 6 Census, 6 Economic, 10 RAW that are on the table, the first provides 100 EC for use that is pretty excessive and creates an environment where you would never need more than one research lab per empire, as your homeworld could take care of an empire's entire research needs. In the other case, the starting condition would be 36 EC, which is significantly lower, though it would grow to the same level after more Census and infrastructure investment.

Looking at that, having the costs be doubled if the appropriate facility isn't present probably would be the simplest way of handling that. Then the 100 EC planet isn't so scary until the research lab is there, and even then (at the exclusion of all intel purchasing) the player would only be able to buy 100 tech points per turn there. That's a lot and probably still enough to accommodate their entire empire's research needs, but...
I think the concept of system facilities is a good one; it provides something for players to think about in their colonies, and if nothing else would make a great optional rules module. In fact in my own games I'll probably present the colony Infrastructure stats as 'facilities' too even if they're not explicitly pitched that way in the rules.
Beta Cephei has three Farms, two Economic Zones and four Industrial Hubs. In the colonial capitol (or in orbit) there's a Research Lab and a Shipyard, but no Starport or Listening Post (the latter is under construction).
The difference I'm currently seeing between infrastructure and facilities is that the infrastructure would be "leveled" so that you can improve it from 0 to up to Carrying Capacity, while the facilities are a single application upgrade that can be purchased for a system. As you say, you can easily pitch them at being very similar and as long as the players know that some can only be purchased once you'll be fine.
[i]"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"[/i]

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

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

Post by countercheck »

I had an idea for internal trading that sort of fits into this, and would work well with the facilities/economy system, and provide another shunt for dumping economic points.

There are moral rolls every turn per system yes? Apply a penalty for the distance to the sector capital, say, -1 for every two jumps, tracing the shortest line. Then, permit spending on Bread and Circuses... dumping economic production into creature comforts to keep the proles happy. Say, EPs equal to the planet's census squared for a +1. Building a trading post would reduce this to EPs equal to the planet's census. So building trading posts at larger colonies provides a major economic benefit, while investing in trading infrastructure at smaller population centers is less important. Or something along those lines... it will need tweaking, I'm sure. Dividing your empire into smaller administrative sections, effectively giving them 'home rule' would vastly reduce the amount of resources needed to keep the rim worlds from revolting.

You could even incorporate this into a 'gearing up for war' system. Rather than having mobilized planets actually produce more resources, perhaps they get a global moral bonus as nationalism floods the empire, permitting the empire to stop spending so much on pacification, and more on ships! War weariness could be a gradual erosion of that bonus. Peace could allow the bonus to regenerate slowly.

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1443
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

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

Post by Tyrel Lohr »

countercheck wrote:I had an idea for internal trading that sort of fits into this, and would work well with the facilities/economy system, and provide another shunt for dumping economic points.
It's good to hear that this would be able to accommodate other rules concepts fairly readily. I am currently eying a fixed cost of 50 EP for each facility, and then an maintenance cost somewhere between 1-5 EP per turn. The reason for the facility maintenance is to dissuade players from building each facility in every system they control. I think a variable maintenance cost and fixed construction cost might also be the way to go, so that while all facilities would cost the same to build the more useful would cost more to maintain.
There are moral rolls every turn per system yes? Apply a penalty for the distance to the sector capital, say, -1 for every two jumps, tracing the shortest line. Then, permit spending on Bread and Circuses... dumping economic production into creature comforts to keep the proles happy. Say, EPs equal to the planet's census squared for a +1. Building a trading post would reduce this to EPs equal to the planet's census. So building trading posts at larger colonies provides a major economic benefit, while investing in trading infrastructure at smaller population centers is less important. Or something along those lines... it will need tweaking, I'm sure. Dividing your empire into smaller administrative sections, effectively giving them 'home rule' would vastly reduce the amount of resources needed to keep the rim worlds from revolting.
As much as I wanted to find a way around it, each inhabited system does still make its own morale check each turn. I have simplified the checks somewhat to being a D100 roll with a target based largely on the system's Census. Rolls equal to or less than the target results in -1 Morale, while rolls of 91+ give you +1 Morale. The major boon to using Census as a baseline for morale checks is that it provides a good game mechanism for encouraging players to station ground forces at their colonies because the morale check target is reduced by 1 per EP of friendly ground forces present.

The distance mechanism is something I tried before, and I may reintroduce it before all is said and done to make building sector capitals desirable. That might also wait until a future set of optional rules, too, but I could see giving a +5% morale check penalty for every jump that a system is away from the nearest capital.
You could even incorporate this into a 'gearing up for war' system. Rather than having mobilized planets actually produce more resources, perhaps they get a global moral bonus as nationalism floods the empire, permitting the empire to stop spending so much on pacification, and more on ships! War weariness could be a gradual erosion of that bonus. Peace could allow the bonus to regenerate slowly.
Under the current rule proposals, I would see a set of gear up rules increase colonial industrial capacities to allow them to purchase more units per turn, but perhaps at the risk of a long term penalty to morale checks. Similarly, with NPEs, you could say that they gain a +5 x Declaration Chance bonus to their morale checks starting on the turn that gear up begins, but then incur a -1 penalty for each turn after that. For example, an empire with a 5% declaration chance would receive a +25 bonus to morale checks on the first turn that they start gearing up for war, but that would reduce to +15 after the first 10 turns. After 20 turns it is +5, and after 30 turns it is a -5. That would make it so that the war would eventually start puttering out and you'd start encountering war exhaustion.

The same concept of course could be turned around and applied to the industrial capacity bonus, too. The 5% DC empire would get a +25% bonus to its industrial capacity to start out, but within 30 turns they would start dropping off as fatigue sets in. The issue of course is that most wars would be long over by then, and it would probably be better to model the gear up so that you could gear up or down by +DC% per turn, but each turn you were in a war economy you had a chance of something bad happening. That would keep you from ramping up too far because it's going to take just as many turns to gear back down, and during that time you could get hit by negative effects.

That would all have to fall into optional rule territory, of course, but it's good to discuss to make sure things don't fall through the holes that the rules need to be able to accommodate.
[i]"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"[/i]

Locked