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Air force strategy game

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stuka's picture
Joined: 01/04/2009

Hi there everyone. I'm new to the forum. I'd like to share a game idea that is in playtesting phase.

It's a game for 2, possibly 3 players. Each player has an island, made up of Catan-size hexes. This allows great replayability by providing random map setups. Islands consist of plains, hills/forests and a Uranium resource (yes, your guess is right). They are separated by water hexes; coastline may vary as the "island hexes" that are laid up at start also contain water tiles.

All combat is exclusively aerial.

Players can build cities (consisting of separate towers), airfields (small or large), a R&D facility and a nuclear plant. Cities, depending on size, provide money each turn. That money can then be spent on buildings, airplanes (fighters, bombers and ballistic missiles) and research cards, of which one can only have a limited number at a time.

Air assets have two attributes: combat strength and range. These can be upgraded for money.

Combat is played out by dice, each plane receiving their respective bonus from research and/or cards. (Some cards carry a bonus like Auxiliary Tank: +1 Range, Ace pilot: +2 Combat etc).

Fighters can (but don't have to) intercept any incoming plane that comes within range. They have a default bonus over bombers, but much smaller initial range. Bombers can destroy buildings, while fighters can only kill planes on the ground (airfields). I'm not sure about the role of missiles and nuclear bombs yet. They might be a game killer.

The protoype is almost ready (cast lead planes, clay buildings), but can already be tested. My question is simple: what do you think, is that too complicated or not? I tried to keep the number of bits down, but still, it has
10 fighters,
5 bombers,
3 airfields,
12 city blocks,
3 crop field tokens,
3-3 R&D and Nuclear figures per player,

then there is research involved, 32 cards and even money. Perhaps R&D could be merged with cities, but I see no circumvention of money. I'd like to end up with a game that is easy to learn.

Also, I may include an option for a peaceful win. Something like the spaceship in Civilization. Once you build it (for lots of money and under enemy fire), you win. Not sure about it either, because it complicates the game even further.

Joined: 08/01/2008
are the players

supposed to be Bond-style super-villains? If so, maybe you could play up that angle.

stuka's picture
Joined: 01/04/2009
No Bond here.

No, nothing super. Down-to-earth military. Except it's airborne. Players assume position of supreme commander, though. Cards do deal with intelligence by providing sabotage opportunities, but the core is about strategic bombing and defending against it.

bluesea's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Hello and welcome to the

Hello and welcome to the bgdf!!
(And Happy new year.)

Are there any anti-aircraft defence weapons?

In terms of complexity, it doesn't seem overly so. In fact only having air missions greatly simplifies the game. The question from me is does it simplify it too much?

Do you have a back story to this game? You know why are the 2 factions fighting? What is at stake? I think I would need something--a story--to help draw me into this game. My first thought about this is an idea from an episode from some scifi show (can't remember which right now) where there were two (futuristic) factions at war and they used drones to fight one another, but never really engaged in direct combat. Each faction lived on it's own island continent. Kinda dry though, but helps explain why there would only be air combat. Also, with only air combat, I guess the goal of the conflict is the complete annihilation of the other faction. Because without ground troops, you can't occupy the other faction's territory. In which case, it really is a race to who gets to the nuke first...hmmmm...

Actually, no that I think of it, it kinda reminds me a bit of Command and Conquer Generals (video game, sorry) minus the ground troops. When I play that game, my strategy, for good or bad, follow this theme: Build Defence, Launch Aerial Attack, Build Tech, NUKE!!

My question: Cast lead planes? Cool. Upload some pics of this process, please.

stuka's picture
Joined: 01/04/2009
Thanks for the suggestions.

AA weaponry might be an interesting addition, but I left it out deliberately. That would mean several more bits, which should again be upgradable. Air defense is handled by fighters alone.

I guess the air war could be explained by a rugged, rocky sea around the islands, which makes shipping and landing near impossible. Mind you, Germany and Britain actually clashed in the skies in WW2, because a landing was not possible for either (until the US Army built up in England). That conflict involved missiles too.

Obliterating the enemy seems very tedious in this game, although levelling a city is a harsh punishment, setting back finances considerably, probably hard to recover from there. That is why I'm contemplating some game-winner project like a spaceship.

Casting lead is easy to do at home, but you need a master object. I used tiny plastic airplanes made for model carriers, like this:
I'll get hold of a camera and upload some pics.

dnddmdb's picture
Joined: 01/06/2009
The Goal

The way you describe it, the Goal of the game would appear to be to destroy your opponents' buildings with Bombers, and destroying bombers in return with Fighters.

If so, then there could indeed be a lot of strategy as to what pieces you should deploy and when, and how to get around the Fighter defenses.

If you made it so that you could colonize other islands to get more Uranium = More Planes, that could be very strategic (sending Transport to colonize, escort with Fighters, opponent will be needing to destroy this colony as well, 2 places to attack, war on 2 fronts, etc.)

I would say to get rid of the Nukes and Missiles, but add in the colonization Transports (or treat them like bombers instead). If you incorporate Nukes, the largest priority (instead of colonizing and such) would be to get R&D as high as possible and get a Nuke out as quickly as possible as to ensure your victory.

stuka's picture
Joined: 01/04/2009
Balancing is the key.

Yes, a naval addition certainly fits the game, but again, it makes it much more complicated. Once you have shipping, you need at least a combat unit (cruiser/battleship), and a carrier, possibly others too, and submarines as cards (to remain hidden until battle ensues). With transports, the omission of ground forces is hardly explainable - and that'd mean tanks and troops at the very least, maybe even artillery and mobile AA.

This game aims to be a crossover between 500-piece military games and Euro. There is an endless opportunity to make a wargame more detailed, but I am determined to keep the game time under 90 minutes, 60 even better.

Adding more options could also demand too much strategic planning, making a turn too long. Even as it is, you have to make agonizing decisions between spending your money on new cities, building airfields to house the planes, buying fighters to cover cities and R+D, bombers to set your opponent back, and R+D cards to be able to launch a major raid with their bonuses. Meanwhile, you need to watch the enemy: once he begins to deploy bombers, you need to cover your cities with airbases and fighters; if he gets his silo up, you'll need bombers and escorts (fighter range upgrades) to ward off the threat.

I'm not sure about adding a "staging area", basically a tray for each player. When you buy anything - planes or buildings -, it goes into the tray, deployable only next turn. This forces a player to plan forward, keep reserves at hand, and makes a successful attack hurt more, because you can't just replace that airfield and the fighters that have been destroyed, which means severe suffering next turn, when the enemy can target your undefended assets. I'll see if it works.

Nukes can be toned down so that they do not end the game. I'll experiment with different ideas. One possibility is to have the nuclear attacker roll a die, and stand a chance of failure, with other results indicating a devastated tile, some neighboring tiles damaged, or all 6 hexes suffering. Nukes may even leave fallout for a number of turns, or permanently, by a token. The cost of a nuke must be high, so that one must sacrify conventional buildup to get hold of it.

Several computer games have nukes like Civilization, powerful but not doomsday weapons.

The best bet is still an introduction of a peaceful win by an expensive project (spaceship), with prerequisites in R+D. Then a player must choose between going for a nuke or the winning project, because finances don't allow for building both and maintaining a proper fighter defense.

There is much testing ahead.

stuka's picture
Joined: 01/04/2009
Proto images

I have finally posted some photos of the prototype. Unfortunately I didn't quite have the time to proceed with testing, but I'll get to it soon. Here they are:

lucasAB's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008
Welcome, and a new style of gameplay

Hi Stucka, welcome to the forum!

I agree with many of the guys in this thread that you should simplify this game, and I have a few ideas for you.

At the start of the game, a map is created by placing Catan-like tiles in a random formation and order. Some would become islands, whereas others would create continents which consist of uranium deposits, agricultural industry, ore deposits, and building materials(wood, bricks, concrete).

Each player places a couple city blocks on the map, and the game begins with the youngest player. I don't know how players get resources, but in the end, they have resources. On a players turn, he can do whatever he wants(like in Catan), he can build city blocks, upgrade his city blocks, build airfields, upgrade airfields, build fighter squadrons, build bomber squadrons, or build the dreaded nuclear silo.

A city block is a one-piece city skyscraper that produces a little bit of money. If you have two in one hex, it produces more, have 3, even more... have 4, and you produce lots of moolah. But it's kind of risky to build a huge city all on one hex, there's a risk that a squadron of bombers could take out the whole city in one fell-swoop, but having lots of little cities means you can't advance technology wise. As well as getting lots of money for bigger cities, bigger cities gain more privileges.

A city of 1 allows you to build an airfield there.
A city of 2 gives you anti-aircraft guns against enemy fighters/bombers flying nearby.
A city of 3 gives you nothing(this gives the player a heads-up to bomb it before you can build silos).
A city of 4 allows you to build a nuclear silo next-door to this hex.

From this game idea, the only way of attacking your enemies is through airborne assaults or devastating missile attacks. Fighters have a intercepting radius around the airfield they are stationed at, and strategic bombers have a attack radius which is longer. Fighters can escort bombers for a little bit of the way, but must return back to their airfield of origin. Simple? This could be more simple, but for now, this is how it could be.

Currently the game revolves around city building and the occasional bombing. Instead of upgrading cities or building things, players could buy cards(also like Catan). Maybe cards from two decks, special actions, and researches. Researches would allow you to increase your bomber's flight range, fighters firepower, income, nukes, the works. Special actions would allow you to deploy airborne divisions to capture cities, stealth bombers, laser-guided missiles during one battle, and carpet bombings, good for blowing up airfields.

Air combat can be resolved any way, but in the end, there is a victor, I don't care how it plays out, there has to be a victor, and a loser. Nukes might be too powerful, but I have a couple insights into nukes...

A little while ago I had the privilege of attending a college session from one of the country's leading mass-destruction-researchers. He explained how nukes work to the class, how powerful they actually are, how the bomb blast isn't the most deadly thing, it's the panic and the radiation afterwards, and how the radiation drifts with the wind. So, here's what I'm thinking(if you want to make the game more complicated)...

When a nuke is detonated in a hex, it randomly destroys a number of city blocks. Then, it is determined which way the wind is blowing from all six sides of the region. When it is determined, cities within a range of two in that direction are totally destroyed. Radiation drifts for miles, and settles on everything and anything. Ultimately it would not destroy a city, but it would kill the residents, and make the city uninhabitable thus rendering the city to a state of uselessness. Thus, the city is removed from the map.

In fact, if you wanted to make the game more complicated(which I don't advise), you could build nukes of different calibers. Nukes with increased kilotons. Most nukes nowadays are between 25-75 kilotons, enough to destroy the downtown area of a city and cause havoc. The nukes used in WWII were 10-15 kilotons, and were not too powerful. Some countries nowadays have nukes upto 150 kilotons, whereas there are rumors that the Israelis have nukes that they can dial in the number of kilotons before a launch... although this is a rumor, it is possible.

Anyway, there are my ideas in a nutshell. What do you think?

stuka's picture
Joined: 01/04/2009

Well you said I should simplify the game, but your suggestions point toward complicating it. Different sizes of nukes mean more items or cards. However, the game board isn't that big, about 22 tiles per island. So there is no room for large area destruction, in fact, a single nuke probably sets your enemy back so that he is lost. Unless he can retaliate right away.

Small nukes are not needed because small scale bombing is done by bombers.

Actions cards are already there. These include range bonuses (Auxiliary Tank), combat bonus (Ace Pilot), increased destruction (Giant Bomb) which allows you to take out 2 city blocks or a double base in one run, Flak which allows you to take out an attacking bomber and others. However, I don't want to randomize plane upgrades. It's an element of strategy. Say you decide to beef up your fighters, dig in and go for missile development as an offensive branch, neglecting bombers. This is a valid strategy but then you don't want bomber upgrade cards.

Merging cities and city sizes with research capability is a good idea though as it saves the R+D building pieces.

Nix_'s picture
Joined: 09/23/2009
Complexity of your game

I've devoloped some fairly complex games, and I think I've learned some things.
If adding more rules or complexity doesn't make the game more fun, don't do it.
Be careful with how complicated you make a game, while deep I love deep strategy games you might find it hard to find people who are interested enough in your game to learn all the rules and really try to win.
You can tell if your game is probably too complex if people get lost mentally while playing. In order for games to be fun you have to be able to conceptualize them.

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