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RTS board game

37 replies [Last post]
Joined: 01/17/2016
I get that most people seem

I get that most people seem to not like the idea of using timers and actually having the game unfold in real time with no turn structure imposed on it, but if you are genuinely trying to capture the feel of StarCraft, as the originator of this thread first proposed, I think it's absolutely worth testing.

Would it create a certain degree of mayhem? Yes. But the pressure on awareness of all the different things unfolding simultaneously as was so succinctly pointed out, would be transferred. RTS games are inherently stressful because of that and I think it would certainly be worth trying out a direct port of the mechanic before we dismiss it and try to use Average Dice Rolling, Card draw and play mechanics, etc. to try to simulate the real-time aspect through a degree of time balance, which while also interesting, does not really capture the simultaneity of a true RTS like StarCraft.

Phases also detract from that concept, since while I am busy building or upgrading units, I could have a Zerg force walk into my base and ruin my day. I'm in build phase, but my opponent is not. I kind of like that total freedom to do what you want, when you want, applied to the table top.

I agree with some of the skepticism too, it might not work. But it's a very intriguing idea. I'd certainly be happy to play it, even if the game devolved into a chaotic mess. Porting an RTS into analog would be extremely challenging, but that doesn't mean it couldn't work. It's definitely worth a try.

Rick L
Rick L's picture
Joined: 08/22/2016
Gabe did an interview on BGDL

Gabe did an interview on BGDL with radioactive mouse recently, regarding his game with a "cool down" mechanic involving rotating cards, ie "muli-tapping". What if you simulate the real time of building or upgrading units or even buildings in the same way?

Example - combat units could be printed on cards or tokens of various shapes that would dictate how many turns (tappings) before the unit is complete. Use a rectangular card for basic units - turn once or twice to complete, triangular chits or tiles for the next bigger unit takes 3 turns, square units take 4 turns, and massive hex units take 6 turns to build! Or each one could have an additional turn to flip it over to the "completed" side.

Same concept could be used for movement.

Yes, this involves turns, but the turns count out the timing, same as a sand timer.

Players could also chose 1 of 3 actions for each turn, revealing them simultaneously to begin the turn - build/upgrade, move, or strike. This choice would allow you to start new construction, begin the move timer for a stationary unit, or resolve combat.

So basically, each turn you're starting a new action, then advancing the time on previous actions by rotating the tokens/cards.

A bigger, slower "hex" unit takes longer to build and is slower to move. It would take 7 turns to build (6 rotations then one to flip it to the completed side) and 6 turns to be in range to attack.

Turns would probably have to be fairly quick for this mechanic. If you have a unit reach attacking range at the same time an opponent finishes building a defense turret, you could roll for initiative, maybe using modifiers based on your upgrades...

Rick L
Rick L's picture
Joined: 08/22/2016
BTW, I'm not too familiar

BTW, I'm not too familiar with star craft, but I played a lot of Supreme Commander, so that's what I'm envisioning.

Construction of buildings could be done the same way as building units...

I know it's still rudimentary but kinda feels like I'm on to something - at least got the wheels turning in my head! Going to start thinking about a layout...

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
That is an better idea than a

That is an better idea than a pile of counters that are removed one by one.

Ps. Starcraft is very worthwhile.

FreedomPortal's picture
Joined: 08/24/2014
Even with card turning or

Even with card turning or counter moving still require set of events that should happen at the same time or it will end up as dexterity game which seems weird for strategy game.

How about all player makes decision at the same time (yes you could even add the clock timer in this phase) then the big resolve phase comes in and all player works on the result together.

Each big turn has 10 time slots that resolve in linear order. Every player secretly assign action plan to all the given time slot or skip. I'll not mention the resources or command points or building queue limitation here but they would be inevitably needed for the playable game.

Let's assume that player will gain resources at each time slot.

For example, the number in parenthesis is how many time slot needed to finish that action.

1. Build Barrack(2) from ConYard

2. no action

3. [Barrack complete]
Build Turret #1 (2) from ConYard / Build Marine #1 (2) from Barrack

4. no action

5. [Turret #1 / Marine #1 complete]
Build Turret #2 (2) from ConYard / Build Marine #2 (2) from Barrack

and so on...

1. Build Larva #1 (1) from Hatchery

2. [Larva #1 complete]
Build Larva #2 (1) from Hatchery / Evolve Larva #1 to Zergling #1

3. [Larva #2 / Zergling #1 complete]
Build Larva #3 (1) from Hatchery / Evolve Larva #2 to Zergling #2

4. [Larva #3 / Zergling #2 complete]
Build Larva #4 (1) from Hatchery / Evolve Larva #3 to Zergling #3

5. [Larva #4 / Zergling #3 complete]
Build Larva #5 (1) from Hatchery / Evolve Larva #4 to Zergling #4 / Send Zergling #1-#3 to attack Terran

and, yeah, i just show you the Zerg Rush.

On the resolve phase, all player will see what's going on together and if there is a combat happen resolve it via some combat rules.

Ok, this is my 2 cents.

Joined: 01/17/2016
I think ultimately one of the

I think ultimately one of the problems with RTS is that it kind of is a combination of strategy and dexterity already.

What makes you a winner is being able to do more actions in less time, i.e. faster at selecting and clicking, which is definitely dexterity, combined with knowing where to put your focus, i.e. sending in a small army to attack and instead of micro managing them, ignoring them while you focus on upgrading, sending in a bigger second wave, etc.

The other issues is a lot of suggestions of phasing, which doesn't exist in RTS formats really. I mean there is a setup phase I suppose, where players connect to the game, and then, execution followed by a scoring phase. So basically the entire game is played in one continuous phase. While you build I move, then while you are busy exchanging resources I am attacking, while you are defending I am building, etc. That ability to prioritize your attention is totally nullified in a turn/phase based environment.

If you really want RTS on the tabletop, there will be a dexterity component. Tapping or turning units to simulate build or activation wait times is not an RTS mechanic, it sounds more reminiscent of a build queue from Civilization, which was always turn based. Maybe RTS just doesn't work on the tabletop, fair enough, but most of the ideas are just about time elapse mechanics, not really capturing the real-time essence.

Rick L
Rick L's picture
Joined: 08/22/2016
Those are valid and important

Those are valid and important points.

In the matter of dexterity, while it is an element of the RTS, do we really want that in a large scale, expensive strategy game? Because every new player is guaranteed to lose against an opponent who has played before. On a computer, you can practice the interface in a tutorial, and practice dexterity in single player campaigns, but unless you design a single player variant of a board game RTS, new players will have no chance- they're going to be behind on everything.

I don't think this concept can be approached as an exact replication of a computerized RTS game because there will always be one thing missing - the computer. The question then is, do we want to have a game that simulates the AI of a computer? In other words, mechanics that allow us to start a process such as building, upgrading, moving, etc, and that can keep track of that progress over time automatically while we focus our attention elsewhere.

I like the idea of focusing on the "feel" of an RTS, whether it has these automated mechanics, or mechanics that keep Time moving along, or whatever. So as I've been thinking about this lately, a real TIME strategy makes you really focus on the TIMING of your choices and actions.

Did you start upgrading something too soon, using up resources you needed more to build a defense turret? Are your faster, weaker battle units getting too far ahead of the rest of your attack force and getting wiped out? Did you wait too long to build a radar tower?

These are the timing decisions I find myself making for all aspects of the game - strategically with combat as well as with resource management. To me, it's my process of keeping track of my decisions and making sure I don't forget important backup plans or decisions that makes a game feel like RTS, and not so much the dexterity.

So for a board game version, I think we need to consider what elements from the digital side we DON'T need to emulate in order to have the "feel" that we want to capture.

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