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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

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Nando
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

Ska_baron wrote:
Any comments though about the # of cards this would entail? Say there are 20-25 planets in the game... too many? or would that be fine?
I think it's too many.

But there are more challenges here. When two or more fleets have the same destination (i.e. use the same card): A) mingling markers will get confusing, and B) the arrival of the first fleet will expose the destination of the fleets still en route.

If the number of possible fleets per player is fixed (and small), you might consider a Planet Wheel/Dial for each fleet that can be 'dialed in' to a destination. El Grande has a similar contraption?

Cogust
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

Nando wrote:
But there are more challenges here. When two or more fleets have the same destination (i.e. use the same card): A) mingling markers will get confusing, and B) the arrival of the first fleet will expose the destination of the fleets still en route.

My thought would be that each player had his/her own 'jump deck' or similar, that way you can't discover the other player's destinations by searching through a common 'jump deck'. Another possibility if you have lots of planets and want to make a smaller jump deck is to have a deck of moves instead of a deck of destinations.

A move would be 'four hexes straight ahead and two hexes a little to the right' (preferably drawn on the card instead of written) and the direction of the jump could be changed by turning the jump token in the proper direction (thereby allowing one jump card to cover six different jumps if you're using hexes).

Nando
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

Cogust wrote:
My thought would be that each player had his/her own 'jump deck'...
Yes:
Ska_baron wrote:
- Each player has a deck with each planet on them
The problems still exist, though.

Cogust
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

Nando wrote:
The problems still exist, though.

I see, you're talking about different fleets from the same player, to solve that problem you either have to go with a deck of 'moves' instead of a deck of destinations or you can have a few generic destination cards that can act as a destination duplicate (ie. use a card that says that the fleet using this destination is jumping to the same destination as fleet X instead of using the same card as fleet X).

One could also take the easier road and make up a rule that only the first fleet to arrive at a location will achieve surprise and that any following fleet in hyperspace will be discovered when the defender are alerted by the appearance of the first fleet and start scanning for more attackers. The drawback here would be that all other players will instantly see that a number of fleets are heading towards the same destination and keeping track of which progress counters belong to which fleet could be difficult.

Cogust
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

Dang it, a double post.

larienna
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

There is also the pen and paper mechanics where almost everything is keep on a "character sheet" and only the latest information , like fleet detected this turn, is placed on the board.

The problem is that today, game that use pen and paper for playing are considered automatically more complex and they are less attractive. They are game for geeks. I think the only game where a pen and paper support does not makes the game look bad is blood bowl.

As to the necesity of hidden information, sure it can be possible to make a good game with no hidden information. The hidden Hyperspace seems like a good idea. You know the location of the forces but if it moves you don't know where it goes. Just hiding hyperspace movement could make the game interesting.

I like the Grid idea, where each square would be a different location but the meaning of each square is different for each player since they don't have the same grid. You could place a card board above the X and Y coordinates of the grid just to make sure the ohter player cannot interpret the location.

Else, if you have few planets, you could place a planet card face down and the army tokens above it. So the player know the strenght of his opponent's army but if there is a defenseless planet, it does not know which planet it is.

An example of good hidden information is done with hidden cash in Illuminati. You never know the strength of the group you are attacking. I was surprised when my opponent revealed a 20MB money counter, now I new that the attack would be harder than I thought.

Deviant
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

I've only been skimming the posts so far, so forgive me if someone already brought this up, but...

Has anyone considered the problem of having both tokens (identifying the prescence of a fleet, its mass, and location) and cards (which reveal the vital statistics of said fleets, and are hidden)? That is, that a player could easily cheat by revealing the wrong fleet. As an example, let's say my fleet of freighters is resuppling a distant colony, but is ambushed on the way. Freighters have no defense, but if I reveal my Ubermegabattlehulk fleet instead - who can prove I'm cheating? Assuming both fleets are of the same weight class, of course.

This is not a problem if the cards are also the tokens (if you wanted to turn your game into a CCG), or if you could map the cards to the fleet somehow. This might not be difficult, but could be an unwelcome inconvenience.

Hyperspace, hmm... I have been trying to make a space battle game with a novel hyperspace or wormhole mechanic on and off for several years now, but it continues to elude me. I am interested in seeing how this thread develops.

Jebbou
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

Deviant,

Fleet tokens could be identified by a number, letter or icon. There would be a token on board, and the same token would be off-board next to the cards of the fleet it represents. If using a "scrabble-like" card holder, the holders could each be uniquely identified, refering to the token on board. Thus, if the "Fleet Alpha" token is on the board, there would be a "Fleet Alpha" card holder in front of the player, to hold the cards of that specific fleet.

I personally think that this mechanic is best suited for two players. In a 4-5 players environment, it would be easy to assess a players strength. This is especially true during combat, where other players would need to see the combat (As someone previously mentioned). I do not think reorganizing your fleets by transfering ships would be sufficient to conceal your fleets' power, especially if the "ship class" technique is used to define a ship's cost. Easily assessing one's strength would probably encourage players to band against the more powerful player.

I once though of using that mechanics to reproduce the "Dynasty Tactics" playstation game on board. Numbered tokens would be on the board, and the same tokens would reside in front of each players, next to the "Skills" face down cards of the unit they represent. That was intended for a two player game, where you can hide skills of your units. The game length would also be short, which would reduce the issue of assessing one's strength. By the time you know all of the enemy's skills, the game is also near the end, which would also be easier to manage than a long game where secret units can be produced. The game was also ment to be a two player game.

EDIT: In regards to hyperspace, a black numbered token could be placed on top of the unit moving through hyperspace. Once in hyperspace, the unit would skip all phases of that turn (including attack, resuply, etc), and at the end of turn, during the "Hyperspace Resolution Phase", the player could move units marked with black tokens through hyperspace. They would move a number of space according to the number on the black token. This could be a simple way of handling hyperspace.

Regards,

Jeb.

Jebbou
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

I was thinking about the "Ship Class decks of cards" mechanics and I came up with an idea. There could be starports tokens on board, along with matching starports in front of each players. They could be located in controled space zones containing a planet. They would be considered fleets in the sense that ships that are built are placed in the starports, and because fleets could swap ships with starports, just as they would do with other fleets. Ships could be repaired at starports. You could also upgrade your ships for a ship of one class above, at a cost, when a ship is in a starport. Starport could also harbor static units, such as missile turrets, and canons batteries. Finally, instead of being circular tokens, starports could be shaped like a star (that would be very cute).

Another idea: Each fleet could harbor an officer, giving bonuses to that specific fleet. It could be a card, hidden along with the spaceship cards of a fleet.

Regards,

Jeb

Infinite_Monkey
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

This all sounds extremelty interesting. I just thought I'd add my brain to the pile.

For hidden movment:
Why not use the War of the Rings mechanic as is. If you have card holders for each fleet, along the base of the holder, you a have a track with (say) 6 spaces. If you are in hyperspace, you leave your fleet marker on the board (perhaps altered so that players know it isn't "really" there. Each turn, you then move a marker one space along the track on the fleets card holder. When you decide to leave hyperspace, you simply move your fleet the current number of spaces on the board. Perhaps a fleet landing on your fleets jumping off point (i.e. the point where the hyperspaced fleets marker is sitting), they can force you out of hyperspace, requiring you to move the fleet on the board the current number of spaces on the track, which will likely be less than you were hoping to move.
The issue with this is that you can choose a destination when you arrive, rather than when you leave, but I don't see this as a big problem, and could even be explained in the games fluff somehow.

For hidden ships:
Another possibility is that each ship (within a class) is just an identical hull, with a bunch of addons. So in your fleet card holder, each space has a small coloured peg showing what class the ship is (small, medium, large), and a bunch of cards for that ship, denoting its equipment. So for a battleship, you will add armour and weapon cards, whereas for a feighter you add varius cargo item cards. The number of cards you can have for a ship is limited by its class (small = 3 cards, medium = 6, heavy = 9 or whatever). You can also then have a mechanic where you can only add a certain number of cards to a ship each turn it is in dock. So if you are building a huige kitted out death star, or loading a massive freighter, it will take multiple turns to add all the weapons/cargo you want before you can leave.

You could create a kind of supply and demand like mechanic by having each planet have a set of cards (quite a few, perhaps a couple of dozen each). These cards represent the equipment and cargo available at the planet. When you arrive at a planet, you can only buy the cards that are at the planet. If you arrive with cargo, cargo cards you have that the planet doesn't pay double (because those items are in demand). At the end of each round, you just replenish the cards on each planet a central pile.

The main issue I can see with this mechanic is that you want to be able to see what cards are availabe at a planet you aren't at (so you can decide which planet you want to go to next), but if you buy cards from a planet you don't want other players to know what you are buying. Perhaps at the start of each round, the planets are refreshed and everyone can look at the cards. They are then turned over, and only revealed to a player that visits the planet. This will require some memory, but not much (a player just needs to remember which planets he wants to visit with which fleets, but doesn't have to remember what he was wanting to buy there until he arrives. If all movement and combat is resolved before the card buying phase, each planets cards will only be bought from by one player (the one victorious in any battle for control of the planet), so no one will know what you are buying.

Perhaps colonised planets construct more stuff (hold more cards), and the items there are available free, or for a big discount, to the owning player, so you have a big incentive both to colonise planets and to take over planets colonised by others.

It might be nice to be able to guide what each planet can produce (this one makes weapons, that one makes food), but it has always seemed silly to me that something the size of an entire planet produces only one thing. Perhaps each planet could have a tech level, and they are refreshed with cards from the deck corresponding to that level, so as you invest in planets you gain access to better stuff (better weapons, cargo that is worth more and so on)

Dude, this is sounding really good in my head. I may have to yoink some of these ideas and try them out. I hope thats OK!

Infinite_Monkey
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

Some more hyperspace thoughts:
I don't think that hyperspace travel should be dangerous, but perhaps a bit random would be cool...

You can move though normal space, at the rate of one hex per turn. Or you can move through hyperspace at, say, 3 hexes per turn. Each space on the hyperspace track for a fleet represents 3 hexes moved. When you come out of hyperspace, you have to choose a destination that is within range of your point on the track. So if you have moved 2 spaces on the track, you must move 4, 5, or 6 hexes, whereas 4 track spaces would mean 10, 11, or 12 spaces. When you have selected your desired destination. This would be a 6, 8, 10 or 12 sided dice, depending on your level of hyperspace tech. Six of the sides are marked with a direction (NE, N, NW, SE, S, SW), and the rest are marked with Safe Arrival. If you roll safe arrival, you land where you want. If you roll a direction, you move one hex in that direction. So with minimal tech, you are guaranteed to miss, and with the best tech, you have a 50 % chance of missing.

You could make it a tad dangerous by having no-go hexes (black holes), and if you scatter to one of those your fleet vanishes or something.

Julius
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

With regards to multi-player combat (i.e. more than two players) - Here's an idea for dice-less combat that still maintains secrecy, no matter how many players you have.

The basics:
Ships have an attack value and a defense value. This could be numeric (like MTG's power/toughness), symbolic (lasers beat iron plating, but not phase shields), or otherwise (Ace beats King).

When two fleets meet, fighting works like this: Players select one ship from their fleet and slide it across the table to their opponent. Both players secretly look at their opponent's card. If the opponent's ship's attack value beats your ship's defense value, your ship is destroyed.

Now, this might have several outcomes - Both ships are destroyed, One ship is destroyed, or Neither ship is destroyed. Each combat of two ships is a 'skirmish.'

If your ship survives that skirmish, set it aside. If your ship is destroyed, you must discard it (still face down, so the players not involved in the fight don't see it and deduce the class of your opponent's ship). To prevent keeping track of damage, assume all ships are repaired after each skirmish.

You and your opponent now select two more ships (one from each of your fleets). The secret fighting continues. If your opponent has more ships in his fleet than you, you can re-use ships that have already fought this battle. However, you must use ALL of your ships before you can re-use any.

Think of this like WAR (the card game), but you get to order the way your cards come up. To add to the secrecy, maybe players should put their cards behind their back (or otherwise hidden), and trade at the same time (i.e. that way you don't know your opponent is putting his mega big ship first).

Yes, this means that one big-bad ship can take out hundreds of little weak ships, but that's the risk of flying around unprotected.

Players may agree to stop battle at any time (i.e. if it would go on forever with neither being eliminated... or, you know, to cut losses).

Ska_baron
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

Wow, so I'm finally finding time to reply to all the great ideas being tossed around here - and again guys, thanks a million... You have no idea how many times I get stuck/sick of/uninspired only to post one thing on here and see an avalance of replies. =)

cogust,

Quote:
I see, you're talking about different fleets from the same player, to solve that problem you either have to go with a deck of 'moves' instead of a deck of destinations or you can have a few generic destination cards that can act as a destination duplicate (ie. use a card that says that the fleet using this destination is jumping to the same destination as fleet X instead of using the same card as fleet X).

Let's say 25 planets total, plus 10 Ditto (2 for each fleet, with 5 total fleets) is 35 cards per player and if I make this (and hopefully I will) a 4 player game that's 140 just for space travel. Initially that doesn't sound bad, but I can worry later when the card total for the game surpasses 5,000.

Another idea I've been toying with is theme to fix this: In this universe (since it's different in each one in SCIFI lit), a group of ships must be in close proximity to be able to hypertravel through space. So the starting points must be similar and the end points similar. So with this 'science' of hypertravel the destination is earmarked (say if another group of ships WERE to try it, they'd all crash together or go way off course and so it isnt even an option).

larienna
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Secrecy in Space: a new game mechanic (I hope)

So from what I can see, with all that has been discussed so far in both threads, the best solution is to implement it as a video game.

So I think the space game concept I currently have will stay as a video game design.

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