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Reducing the amount of ships

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

This is for a video game, but it's a sitation that could occur in board games (to keep production cost low for example).

I am working on a real time colony management game in a low tech settings wher you can build space ships to attack, defend, colonise or transport resources.

Now since it'a a real time game, management needs to be quick and simple. In many games you have to manage huge fleets with different combinations of ships, but I don't think that for my game, that is an option as it would be too hard to handle many ships. So my solution so far:

- Keep the number of ships low, for example: max 2 ships per planet. Maybe only 2 ships can dock at the same time. Or have an artificial ship count maximum.
- use universal ships. The difference between a combat and transport ship would be which weapon or material you load on it.

Now I am not sure how space battles will be handled. If the amount of ships is low, that I could get unbalanced fights. For example, I send 1 ship in battle, my opponent has his space station with his maximum 2 ships in orbit. So my odd's are 1:3. I could send 2 ships to drop them 3:2, but that's the most of it. Or have stronger ship

I cannot really combine ships from various planets because of different travel range and timing. Combined attack could be possible if 2 adjacents planet are in range, but they will be attacking one after the other, not at the same time.

So I am thinking:

A: Make all weapons depletable (missile, mines, bombs, etc) so that if the attacker survives, he can still land forces on the planet. It create a situation where there can be a draw. But if the attacker fails and is still alive, he will have to move back to reload his weapons.

B: make ships only 1 on 1 battles, so that the defender cannot gangbang all his weapons at once on the attacking ship. Ships would duel in order until somebody die, or all weapons are depleted. It could give the option to have a sort of minigame during the duel.

Do you have other suggestions?

Jay103's picture
Joined: 01/23/2018
B seems pretty unrealistic.

B seems pretty unrealistic. Like watching an old kung fu movie where the hero gets surrounded, but wins because the opponents all wait their turn.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Talking about kung fu. How

Talking about kung fu.
How about option C?

The ships do 1 on 1 battles. But any extra ship that awaits its turn. Will give a bit of support to the main ship that is battling.

Something along the lines of, any ally will get in the way if they join the fight. But can throw in a punch at certain moments when the main guy is temporary distanced.

Option A doesn't sound good. Tracking of ammunition is bad. Unless, the home planet ship has infinite supply. And the attackers always start with X when attacking another planet. If you are pretending that this is a board game, X can be 6, 10, maybe even 20. A die would do the counting if you will.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Well, by thinking about it, 1

Well, by thinking about it, 1 on 1 battle could give other ships more time to prepare. For example, while defending, you could send a ship forward to intercept the ennemy. Then, you ship in the back lay mines around, so that he gets more efficient in the second battle. Else the support idea is interesting.

As for handling ammunition, Yes it could be a bit harder to handle. I'll give it some thoughts, but since I already wanted to have a docking station, loading ammunitions, did not seem like more complicated. Weapons would be auto-manufactured when depleted by your planets, so no need to manually produce them. It's only a matter of waiting them to get produced.

The advantages is that it forces a battle ending, and it forces a delay before a ship can fight again.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Why not do something like "Warpgate"?

Something like the "attacking" player may PLAY ONE (1) "combat" card which has a multiplier. If for example it is "x2" and you use two (2) ships versus two (2) of your opponent's ships, that means that the attacking player has 4 ships versus 2 ships. Both sides loses 2 ships and then the attacker is left with 2 ships, his opponent 0.

I'd send Arty a "PM" to explain his combat mechanic. PM "ElKobold" and ask about his "starship" combat mechanic. You can also watch the "combat" portion of the KS video too:

Anyway just something else to consider...

Note #1: This is NOT exactly the Warpgate mechanic... I just gave you another idea INSPIRED by "Warpgate". But still if you speak with Arty, he can give you a better explanation.

Note #2: I think in Warpgate BOTH players play a multiplier card that affects the number of starships. The winner of the battle is subsequently affected by the "results" portion of the card (on the bottom). Like "x2 = The opponent adds 1 starship to his fleet". So you would benefit from a 2x multiplier and if you win, the opponent gains +1 starship.

ElKobold's picture
Joined: 04/10/2015
questccg wrote:I think in

questccg wrote:
I think in Warpgate BOTH players play a multiplier card that affects the number of starships.

Hey, thanks for the mention ;)

Warpgate uses multipliers paired with effects.
Lower multipliers = better effect. And vice-versa.
Ships only get destroyed by card effects.

You play 1 card each, check who wins, and resolve the effect. I needed it to be fast, to avoid downtime for the other players, so tere's only 1 round and then resolution.

You can check it out in more detail here:
Combat is on pages 10-11.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
It's crazy how much people

It's crazy how much people continue making space opera. It seems like THE theme that has the most games.

I had a mechanic idea for, guess what, another space opera game that seemed similar to your card mechanism.

I wanted to use rock paper scisor in combination with a value. So it create a situation where the more valuable card would be used more often, but the weaker card would have a stronger special ability that could for example affect die roll.

For example, to use your multiplier idea I could have the following cards:

Rock x5 : weak ability: No rerolls
Paper x3 : average ability: Reroll 6+
Scissor x1 : Strong ability: Reroll all misses

But again the multiplier mechanism in warpgate works because there are multiple ships.

If I want to keep the number of ships low, I could try to use a rock paper scissor mechanism for ship duel resolution that would represent the type of maneuvre or weapons that the ship would use. It could be a way to prevent scripted combat: Fire missiles first, then shoot cannons and send assault shuttles.

It's still a very limited choice but could work for a real time game. There is a similar mechanism in Endless Space video game, but the impact on combat is limited (simple modifiers to weapons).


I am not sure yet if I want the game to continue while ships are battling, or if I want the game to pause while combat is resolved. Programatically, it would be easier if it all happened at the same time. Thematically, it could be weird, as right now, I thought of making game time be 1 second = 1 day. Mechanically, it could be harder for players to handle at the same time as colony management.

If I do put everything at the same time, I could allow players to preselect their strategy card for their ship for the battle to come. Defenders will probably have to select their ship to intercept the incoming attacker, else they will not take place in the battle.

This way I am sure that all battles are 1 on 1, but defender can chose who to intercept. I might need to put an auto defend button, so that the AI can automatically undock a ship to intercept an attacker without player input.

The problem is that it could create more management and have issues where ships can remain lost in space not in orbit around a planet, which is something I want to avoid for the game's simplicity. The other way, I only have 2 status, in transit or in orbit.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
shuffling with content for idea's

What if you put these:

Fire missiles first, then shoot cannons and send assault shuttles.

In a RPS system?

Missiles, plenty, some hit the big cannons to send them of the path.
Cannons, a few, will blast those shuttles.
Shuttles, a medium amount, while missiles will follow them, they will never follow all the way back to the ship that launched the missiles.

Every ship has like 6 or so cards of these.
1 card is picked and compared. There is a 1/3th chance on a draw. 1/3th chance on having a hit. And 1/3th chance to take damage yourself.

A ship with a lot of shuttles, will do well against a ship with a lot of missiles.

So a carrier > cruiser, if the carrier has 3 shuttles while the cruiser has 3 missiles. Chances are pretty high that the carrier will have more hits on the cruiser than vice versa.

I don't know how many different ships you had in mind.
But health could be done by a d6 for tracking, as if a board game. Some might have only 5 or 4.
And the ammunition are the cards. There might be 6, but any number might do.
Maybe even allowing some ships to discard a card before the battle begins? So the most optimal deck is chosen for certain targets?

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
I could have a form of RPS

I could have a form of RPS with the ship design. I have 2 possible solutions for ship design:

A) Use generic ships and load them on the fly with the weapons you want

- Advantage: Makes them more versatile, only 1 type of ship to build
- Disadvantage: Would require some work to all the time to load weapons on the ship. Which could be annoying in late game.

B) Use different ship type with various configuration of Tubes, Cannons, cargo.

- Advantage: Weapons could be autoloaded. Various ship models could be available for each faction. I could also ignore ammunitions.
- Disadvantage: Les versatility, only the cargo loaded could change the behavior of the ship. Unless the cargo is fixed in the ship design (assault shuttles or landing forces)

C) Variant to solution B: Tubes, cannons, and cargo has 2+ possible loadout. For example: Launch tube can send torpedoes or mines. Cannon can be mass driver, or flak defense cannon. Once you select which type of weapon you want to slot it remains there until you change it.

- Advantage: No need to reload weapons manually all the time. Give some versatility within the restrictions of the design. Allow more types of weapons.


The second element to consider is if I want the player to make a decision during battle resolution. So far, the only decisions is the ship built with equipment loaded. Possible decisions in battle:

- Full/half/disable weapon to save ammunition if considered. No ammunition makes management easier for the player.
- Make an RPS decision (could be interesting since simple)

Or I use no decisions and combat is automated. In that case it could happen in the background without the player having to look at the results unless he choose to. Making the gameplay uninterrupted.


For the RPS system, I don't want a choice for each weapon as ships should be using all weapons. I am thinking in something like:

Dash : Increase defense vs cannon and shuttle, end battle faster
Block : Increase defense vs missiles, or allow deployment of mines or decoy
Maneuver: Make use of weapons more efficiently and avoid missiles

The RPS would be

Block counter Dash
Maneuver counter Block
Dash counter Maneuver

A counter would negate the benefit of the action to the opponent.

The goal of the RPS would be to anticipate the opponent's action according to his weapon configuration. Not sure if you should be allowed to view your enemy's weapon configuration.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
larienna wrote:Not sure if

larienna wrote:
Not sure if you should be allowed to view your enemy's weapon configuration.

Make this optional, before starting a game??
Like a difficulty level?

Other than that. I think that the player should be allowed to make custom configurations.

But having 3, 6 or even 9 prepared to choose from would also be fun for the players who want to be fast. Here examples with a total of points of 7.

Cannon; 2, Shuttle; 2, Rockets; 3
Cannon; 2, Shuttle; 3, Rockets; 2
Cannon; 3, Shuttle; 2, Rockets; 2
Cannon; 3, Shuttle; 3, Rockets; 1
Cannon; 3, Shuttle; 1, Rockets; 3
Cannon; 1, Shuttle; 3, Rockets; 3
Cannon; 1, Shuttle; 1, Rockets; 5
Cannon; 1, Shuttle; 5, Rockets; 1
Cannon; 5, Shuttle; 1, Rockets; 1

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
In fact configuration would

In fact configuration would be in 2 part. What you are suggesting here is what I call ship design. Now ship design would remain fixed, but will be unique for each of the 4 factions.

Originally I wanted to have 2 small and 2 large ship per faction (Ex: Destroyer, Frigate, Battlecruiser, carrier). But if battles are going to be 1 on 1, I'll have to make each ship the same size. Else smaller ship will always be disadvantaged, unless I counter balance it with something else like evasion.

What the player will change on the fly is the weapon equipped in that slot.

Launch Tubes: Torpedoes, ECM missile, Web Charges.
Cannon: Mass Driver, Flak Defense Cannon
Cargo: Assault Shuttle, Landing Shuttle, Flak Turrets, Mines

So if a destroyer ship has 3 Launch tubes and 1 cannon, he can chose for example the following configurations:

Torpedoes x2, ECM Missile x2, Flak defense cannon x1
Torpedoes x3, Massdriver x1

Ship will come with the default equipment, but they could change some of their slot with different weapons.

It could be possible that technology improvements add new weapons to be equipped or improve the weapons already available. Or if I keep it even more simple, and there is no equipping. When a new tech is acquired, all ships are equipped with it in addition of anything they had so far.

But I like the idea of a fixed configuration, only 2 or 3 choice per type, then make tech boost their efficiency.

ElKobold's picture
Joined: 04/10/2015
larienna wrote: But again the

larienna wrote:

But again the multiplier mechanism in warpgate works because there are multiple ships.

Well, Warpgate uses the number of ships in your fleet as one of the resources to create the design space for the cards. If you introduce alternative resources, you can ditch the idea of fleet VS fleet.

For example, from the top of my head, you could alter it to use damage and hull points instead, and have ship vs ship battles.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Hmm! For example, I could

Hmm! For example, I could have a card that modify the strength of the weapons or defense. Something like:

-- Dash --
Dodge x5
Missile x3

-- Block --
Cannon x5
Missile x3

-- Maneuver --
Dodge x3
Cannon x3

This way, in a quick glance, you can see the modifier offered by the card. What is not specified remains as x1. I could use % modified instead of multipliers a bit like in Endless Space.

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