Citizens of the Imperium

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robject April 7th, 2005 01:47 PM

Jeffr0 has come up with some excellent ideas for a set of interlocking, scalable, strategic (mostly) Traveller games, bringing together concepts from Book 2, Mayday, High Guard, Imperium, and Fifth Frontier War, plus some ideas of his own.

I've tentatively named these conceptual elements "Counterstrike", 'cause it sounds exciting.

I imagine standard sector and subsector maps should suffice. In-system actions would need its own representation, perhaps on a hexgrid centered on the primary. That might make hexes quite large (0.25 AU per hex!?); HG has shown us that battles for systems are generally battles for the mainworld, so maybe the focus is better placed on the mainworld on a hexgrid (and that goes for vector-based play, too).

At its core, the concept covers military and economic warfare, stretching from sector-level strategy down to planetary assault. Since much of this has been done already for Traveller, the goal is to fill in the blanks and provide conversions. A loftier goal would be to tweak the designs to allow maximum interoperability. But first things first.

Oz, with help from Sigg, have come up with a good mechanic for converting FFW counters to High Guard Squadrons, and vice versa, thus providing a theoretical path from single Book 2 ships and the Mayday system up to FFW counters.

Mercenary (LBB4) and JTAS 9 (I think) bring in ground/planetary assault elements into the game. How they mesh with FFW or HG remains to be seen.

I wondered if there needed to be an intermediate unit between the Squadron and the single ship, and I tentatively came up with a "Task Force" thing: essentially a squadron of auxiliaries, usually in support of a single capital ship (or two?).

Something Jeffr0 specified, but no work has been done on, is a Tradewar/Economic Warfare conversion. Such rules would probably leverage existing combat rules, with elements that are weaker but are rated for carrying capacity (rather than bombardment, for example). Tradewar would involve capturing markets and crippling competitors. There could probably be rules for running 'automated corporations' as adversaries, too.

My gathered thoughts to date (this is conceptual draft stuff only) is here:

http://home.comcast.net/~downport/ru...terstrike.html

Jeffr0 April 7th, 2005 01:49 PM

My initial thoughts after reviewing the web page:


Mini-game Definition Brain Storm:

** The games must be fast playing and easy to learn. Each game could provide a option for introducing some aspect of Traveller to a new and more casual audience.

** Much like Voltron, the seperate games could combine to form a gigantic game that could satisfy the most grognardy of grognards.

** Optional layered expansions could flesh out each individual game to a slightly more 'mature' design. (See how the relatively simple game of Ogre was fleshed out into almost a 'real' wargame with the classic G.E.V. supplement.)

** Each group of players could assemble the 'perfect' game my mixing and matching which games would be played out and by choosing which layers of rules would be applied for each mini-game. (Example: Players might choose to combine simple strategic games with advanced tactical games while ignoring the trade/economic mini-games.)

** Ideally many of the mini-games should be designed so that they are easy to play by email or some other online approach. (I don't expect these games to take the CCG and CLIX crowds by storm, so we need to be able to get players somewhere!)

** Some of the mini-games (or mini-game subsystems) might be similar to the Classic Traveller character design system, allowing for a kind of solitaire play.

** Some of the mini-games might use a system of secret and simultaneous orders with perhaps some types of conditional orders being allowed in some cases. The sequence of play will have to be as lean as possible in order speed up game play and make things managable by email.

** Ideally it should be possible to codify your basic strategy into a set of orders so that players can play even if they have to drop in and drop out of the game occasionally.

** Taking these ideas to their logical conclusion, it should be possible for all of the 'players' of the game to be 'programmed' so that a sort of gigantic cellular automata of the Traveller Universe could be built. Like Conway's classic game of Life, this could be an amusing Zero person game in itself.

** If any of the more obscure ideas I'm mentioning here turn out to be too difficult to implement, they should be ignored. Playable face to face game designs should remain the top priority in any case.


Economic Game Brain Storm:

** The Strategic game could have counters defining an office or team set up on a specific planet. Each type of office will have a set of strengths and weaknesses. Different players might have different sorts of offices on the same planet. Ships move on a route from planet to planet. The amount of money made each turn depends on competition between offices on each planet interacting with the frequency of the passage of the ships. Each turn the offices engage in varios "contests of skill" stacking up various resource and product blocks. The big ships move from system to system shuffling the blocks around for the big pay off.

** The abstract resolution of the Strategic game could be expanded into a stand alone M.U.L.E.-like game taking place in a single star system. If there would be a way to make the game playable on a map similar to the classic Traveller world maps, that would be really cool.

** If the above two economic could be automated, you'd have an interesting system for generating background for a Far Trader type single ship game.

robject April 7th, 2005 02:02 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by Jeffr0:

Economic Game Brain Storm:

** The Strategic game could have counters defining an office or team set up on a specific planet. Each type of office will have a set of strengths and weaknesses. Different players might have different sorts of offices on the same planet. Ships move on a route from planet to planet. The amount of money made each turn depends on competition between offices on each planet interacting with the frequency of the passage of the ships. Each turn the offices engage in various "contests of skill" stacking up various resource and product blocks. The big ships move from system to system shuffling the blocks around for the big pay off.

** The abstract resolution of the Strategic game could be expanded into a stand alone M.U.L.E.-like game taking place in a single star system. If there would be a way to make the game playable on a map similar to the classic Traveller world maps, that would be really cool.

** If the above two economic could be automated, you'd have an interesting system for generating background for a Far Trader type single ship game.

You're a good Idea Machine, Jeffr0. These ideas are simple yet powerful, and can have complex interactions with a minimum of rules. I see you have learned a few things from MULE.

I love the idea of having an office established on worlds. This is a great way to represent market saturation, since competing offices can be on the same planet.

Perhaps the sum of all office strengths for a world cannot exceed the planet's population?

What kinds of offices are you thinking of?

robject April 7th, 2005 02:24 PM

Just had a note from BeRKA suggesting that Piracy will also fall under the Tradewar banner... perhaps under the tactical facet of the game?

Jeffr0 April 7th, 2005 03:19 PM

>> What kinds of offices are you thinking of?

"Offices" could range from the usual Factories, Farms, and Mines to Brokers, Elite Management and Corporate Espionage teams.

Ideas on running the planetary level M.U.L.E. game:

If you've ever played the dice game Farkel, you'll have an idea of how this might work. You roll 6 dice and get points for 1's and 5's. X-of-a-kind and Straights get huge scores. Each turn you may reroll as many dice as you want, but you must 'freeze' at least one or more point scoring dice for each roll you make. If you ever fail to roll any scoring combinations, you loose all of your points. If ALL the dice are showing points, you gather them all up and start again.

The strength of your factory could determine the number of dice to roll. The type of economic unit would determine the scoring combinations. Management and Espionage intevention would determine the number and type of rerolls. Planetary and Terrain affects might determine the type or color of the dice.

Each production round would contain several mini-mini games that are kinda exciting in and of themselves. 'Hitting the jackpot' might be frustrating if you can't transport your 'winnings' to market or if they go bad before the next starship comes.

Edit: Here's the Farkel rules-- http://www.surfsdsa.com/farkel.htm

robject April 7th, 2005 04:14 PM

Jeffr0, while we're brainstorming, let me work off of your ideas above.

Setting the MULE concept aside for a moment, can an economic game be so organized that 'score' is implicit in the positions and potentials of the counters on the map/gameboard?

And how can one represent transport lines without becoming overwhelmed with maintenance tasks or cluttering up the map with tokens? Can they be assumed to exist between two nearby planetary systems with the required offices?

I'm asking both of those questions because I'm trying to figure out how to minimize or remove bookkeeping from the game.

I'm seeing two levels of game detail here: interplanetary and planetary/insystem. The "Land War" maps -- probably standard Traveller planet maps, eh? -- ought to be usable for the planetary/insystem level of detail.

Jeffr0 April 7th, 2005 05:16 PM

>> Can they be assumed to exist between two nearby planetary systems with the required offices?

Playability Playability Playability

The 'Terrain' ought to be determined primarily by a few numbers on the system hexes. Far Trader states that there aren't any Major/Minor/Feeder routes the way the Villani used to do it. I have a hunch it will be more workable to leave connections off the map for the most part and just let the players push their ships where ever they want.

We may have the Trade goods dissipate to represent independent traders leeching away the Big Dawgs trade goods.... The 'leeching' might just be applied to the planets with the biggest stockpiles. (Or maybe the leeching will be too much accounting to bother with?)

Remember that the WTN system of Far Trader was made to eliminate the imbalances of the single player CT system. With multiple players competing on the game, we shouldn't have that same sort of problem. The players might compete so much for the sweet spots that the returns for them won't be that much.


I can 'see' the "MULE" game in my mind's eye fairly well. I think I can work up a prototype of that that even my wife and my office mates would play against me.

Jeffr0 April 7th, 2005 05:44 PM

OTOH, we might could have certain standard/major routes on the board and the offices on them earn a base set of points each turn?

We could try making a game without routes... then see what balance problems exist... then maybe use the routes (or something else) to solve the problem.

(Sort the opposite of "Premature Optimization...")

robject April 7th, 2005 06:02 PM

You sound like you're a local (i.e. from Texas) ... the way you toss about that "might could" construction...

Re: routes. A game without demarcated major routes might be interesting. It might be interesting to see what patterns emerge, too.

FlightCommanderSolitude April 8th, 2005 01:19 AM

Totally go sans predetermined routes. You should have a system where someone could roll up a subsector or whatever and not have to use a canned map. Alternately, have some way to generate or derive the routes.

Just my opinion, of course!


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