Skip to Content

Victory conditions when the units won't die

7 replies [Last post]
Joined: 10/23/2011

Hi all! First post.

I'm currently designing a tactical space combat game called Silent Fury, and I'm having trouble coming up with generic victory conditions. Now, most of the game will be scenario-based and victory conditions will be based on the scenario itself, but I'd love to establish some sort of guidelines for building a scenario's victory conditions, since many of the games I play right now are just for playtesting.

I'll try to give enough detail here so you guys can be helpful without making this post too long.

Silent Fury has a detailed damage model for ships - ships are composed of individual components. Each component has an equal chance of being hit when the ship is attacked, and if a component is already destroyed then further hits against it don't do any more damage. The result is a system where it's actually detrimental to try and pound on a ship until it's completely dead - I was tired of 'hitpoint' systems where the best tactic was to pig-pile on a unit until it died and move onto the next. So the overall effect is that ships almost never die - if you shoot an already-crippled ship, you're likely to hit a component that's already destroyed, so it's better to shoot a ship that's undamaged.

I like this effect, as I think it's pretty neat tactically and you end up with damaged and crippled ships (or near-lifeless hulks) floating off into space.

However, since ships don't generally die, a 'fight to the finish' would take too long. I need end-game conditions that finish the game at a reasonable point.

Ships have crew teams aboard for damage control and component operation, and there are boarding actions, so ships can be captured.

In the main playtest scenario, we've played until one of three things happens: Either 15 crew on one side are killed, two ships (out of four per side) have all their engines destroyed, or one ship on either side is captured. This has worked pretty well overall, but it doesn't do everything I want. Sometimes in a slugfest we hit the crew killed limit for one side or the other when there was about to be a very cool boarding action that we then don't get to resolve.

In terms of overall feel, it's a bit like a naval game where two sides slug it out, some ships are in worse shape than others, but many will get away with varying degrees of damage rather than be sunk. How do we figure out who won that sort of thing?

Ideally, I'd like there to be some motivation for players (like real ship captains) to withdraw their damaged ships from the battle (perhaps by making capturing an enemy ship worth a lot no matter what condition it's in, so to avoid capture you get the ship out of there).

In case you're wondering, the level of detail means that the scenarios aren't large in terms of numbers of ships - my brother and I can usually finish a game with four ships per side in about two hours, and that'll probably be a typical scenario size.

SLiV's picture
Joined: 10/21/2011
Depends on the effects of taking damage

Well, I guess it all depends on the effects taking damage has on your ship.

Does a ship slow down when it's engines are damaged, and/or does a ship become immobile when it's engines are destroyed?
Can a ship still fire after it's cannons have been damaged, and/or is its damage decreased?
Can a ship be repaired and if so to what extent?

It would only make sense that a ship that is unable to move or shoot, is pretty useless. So if your objective is to capture a certain point, getting your engines blown to bits could be a reason to surrender.

Also, you might have a scenario where you need to capture a certain item. In that case, it would be devastating to let the ship carrying that item, be captured by the enemy.

I think that if you're not bothered by the game going on for an hour or two, you don't really need strict rules that a game must end if this and this happens. Having an objective (capture this, escort that) should be enough.

pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008
Scenarios sounds like a good

Scenarios sounds like a good solution. Give one player a goal, other than "destroy all enemies”. Destroy all is not usually a good objective even in games with faster destruction.

Joined: 10/23/2011
The way damage works is there

The way damage works is there are three levels of damage - light, heavy, and destroyed.

Components with light or heavy damage can be operated as normal (weapons may fire, engines may run) at full effect - however if you do this, you may incur further damage. Light and heavy damage can be repaired by the crew over the course of the battle and restored to full functionality.

Destroyed components generally stay destroyed and cannot be operated.

There are also three special damage effects like powered down (inoperable), fires (cause further damage and more fires), and hull breaches (increases chance of crew death, hinders crew movement). These can be repaired as well.

Ships with no engines maintain their current velocity (this is space after all) and tend to drift away.

You're probably right in that my best bet is to just keep scenario-specific victory conditions - capture ship X or not does work pretty well.

Joined: 05/15/2011
Some thoughts

SilentFury wrote:
In the main playtest scenario, we've played until one of three things happens: Either 15 crew on one side are killed, two ships (out of four per side) have all their engines destroyed, or one ship on either side is captured.

The capture condition is the only one I'd keep. As already said, some scenario-specific conditions would be nice. In case the game takes too long because of the left out condition, you could introduce some mechanism realistically penalizing partially damaged ships. For example, the 15 killed marines must be missed somewhere, so the fleet gets quite inoperable and looses quickly.... And the two engine-less ships should make capturing a ship to an easy task....

There could be also something what the whole fleet uses together, e.g. a common shield. Destroying the shield generators on a ship or two would make all the shots hit more heavily. A ship drifted too far away due to destroyed engines can not participate in the common shield....

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
I see those kind of situation

I see those kind of situation in video games where the tactical battles are part of a bigger game.

For example, in PTO, a pacific war game, each naval battle leaves a lot of ship "Alive". It takes multiple engagement to eliminate a fleet.

Now the problem with your game is that the tactical battle is the game. My first suggestion would be to evaluate how well the player succeeded. This could be done by giving victory points for destroying, disabling and retreating ships.

It reminds me of a sub tactical game, where the dub needed to kill X transports before they had a chance to retreat and of course survive the battle.

Else, I would make a very simplistic higher level game if you can afford to have multiple battles per game or if you have a campaign mode. The idea is that you want to give the player some consequence for annihilating, losing or retreating a fleet.

Maybe losing that battle place the enemy in a better strategic position, or it allows him to capture a planet. So the outside game could be as simple as having a list of planets that players can attack and the opponent decides which ship he is going to send to defend. The more planets the player control, the more ships they would be able to build and the easier will be the repair.

Else, like other people suggested, you will need scenarios, which can be a simple objective, to artificially simulate these consequences. For example: "We need these bomber ships to survive, else we won't be able to land".

Joined: 01/17/2011
Assymetric victory conditions?

Have you considered assymetric victory conditions?

Examples of symetric victory conditions:
- First to capture 1 enemy ship
- First to inflict 15 casualties
- Most casualties inflicted after 6 rounds
- Most quadrants controlled after 6 rounds

If you want a generic victory condition to apply in the absence of a scenario-specific goal, I'd go with something like "number of systems destroyed". A ship which is captured counts as all systems destroyed for the purpose of victory points. The side that received the least damage wins.

However, comparing to historical battles (WW2) there are plenty of examples where naval battles resulted in both sides limping home and both claiming victory. This is because each side had different objectives for being in the battle, and "not getting damaged" was not always the deciding factor. (Also, "least damage wins" doesn't work well for multiplayer games because it encourges ultra-defensive play, which is boring.)

Also, space is such a huge place that it is hard to conceive of a situation where "random" battles would occur. Combatants are always going to be fighting over something (a planet, asteroids, moons, space station, jump gate, etc), not just fighting for the fun of it in deep space.

Examples of asymetric victory conditions:
- 3 VP per friendly ship that exits off the far edge of the map
- 1 VP per enemy crew casualty inflicted
- 3 VP per enemy ship reduced to zero movement
- 1 VP per enemy weapon disabled
- 3 VP per objective destroyed/captured (e.g. relay stations, spy satellites, etc)

(Yes, the above objectives could be applied symetrically also, but I'm talking about applying each objective to only one player.)

Asymetric victory conditions can be dealt randomly and kept secret (such as Risk).
Players could have multiple victory conditions each worth a certain number of VPs (such as Risk 2210).

BTW I like the concept that the more damage a ship has the harder it is to inflict more damage. It's counter-intuitive to most wargames, but could be quite fun -- provided, as you say, that "annihilation" is never an objective.


Joined: 10/23/2011
Thanks all - I think the

Thanks all - I think the general consensus here is to focus on scenario-specific victory conditions, which at this point I think is the best course.

I really like the idea of using asymmetric victory conditions - I'll be exploring those as we design scenarios.

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut