Bare bones Strategic level of Play

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Bare bones Strategic level of Play

Postby VoidStalker_WoE on Thu 07 Dec 2017 03:53

Ok folks, in this thread I am looking specifically for thoughts on what constitutes the 'bare minimum' that everybody finds essential to a campaign game of starfire, regardless of rules set in use. So some general guidelines of what HAS to be in the game to get you to want to play it, and what cannot be in the game for you to play, and please, don't be shy to discuss, at length, why you feel this way. Here is my first attempt:

For me, there needs to be tactical combat, using ships that I have designed, built, and paid for out of my budget. I want a map, even if it be nothing more than a partial single solar system, within which the game takes place, and I want shipyards on the map, where the work is done, and if they are not properly defended, the cost is severe!

And that's it.

Basically, just give me the means to build my ships, an income, a base, and a willing foe...

Ideas?
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Re: Bare bones Strategic level of Play

Postby VoidStalker_WoE on Thu 07 Dec 2017 03:59

I should point out, to avoid confusion, that this thread is for any version of starfire, as opposed to just SSF. Which is why I felt the need to make a separate thread.
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Re: Bare bones Strategic level of Play

Postby nukesnipe on Thu 07 Dec 2017 11:32

I just read Starfire III Empires yesterday. Honestly, I think it's a great system and covers most of what I'm looking for in a strategic game. Some thoughts regarding those (and the other) strategic rules:

1. Shipyards are abstracted; I'd require their construction as mentioned in the earlier post.

2. I like the concept of Economic Level and Science Level and their research.

3. R&D. SFIII has R&D, but I like (some) of the granularity of the later rules. I like having to research individual systems, but in Ultra/Solar it seems like more work and less fun. I don't like having to build lots and lots of R&D stations, but I do like the idea of having a physical location where R&D occurs. Perhaps instead of building a gazillion R&D stations on a planet you could only build one per planet. Each station could have a number of research "slots" tied to the empire's Economic Level. For instance, an EL 1 R&D station might have 5 research slots, EL 2 6 slots, EL 3 7 slots, and so on. Maintenance on the facility could be a function of the number of research slots. Which leads me to...

4. ...Money. Ultra has too much if it. One of the reasons I gave up trying to play some of the 3rd edition scenarios was the fact that there were entirely too many units involved. The amount of money available in Ultra/Solar enables the construction of fleets that are too large to enjoyably play. I believe the strategic game requires more drain on available funds as a means of limiting fleets sizes to make the tactical game manageable.

5. IUs. Not a fan of these. I think the only infrastructure with which this game needs to concern itself is shipbuilding and research. I believe the infrastructure associated with economics can be abstracted in a manner similar to SFIII where a certain amount of damage to a planet results in lost population and economic production (i.e., money). Improvements in economic "infrastructure" could be abstracted by improvements in Economic Level.

6. Ground combat. Is it really feasible to land a sufficient force on a planet to overcome its indigenous population? Once one holds the high orbitals, they pretty much control the planet. Any large troop concentrations could be dealt with with orbital strikes. I'm not really sure ground combat is a necessity.

Just some of my thoughts. ;)
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Re: Bare bones Strategic level of Play

Postby VoidStalker_WoE on Fri 08 Dec 2017 01:59

nukesnipe wrote:I just read Starfire III Empires yesterday. Honestly, I think it's a great system and covers most of what I'm looking for in a strategic game. Some thoughts regarding those (and the other) strategic rules:
I have only so far glanced through them, as I have had some rather nasty reversals in my personal situation this last week. OTOH, the atmosphere determination charts were as I remembered, so none of this restriction to T/ST worlds with O-N atmospheres.

nukesnipe wrote:1. Shipyards are abstracted; I'd require their construction as mentioned in the earlier post.
This does need fixed, no question there.

nukesnipe wrote:2. I like the concept of Economic Level and Science Level and their research.
I missed this part, to be honest, but I'm going to go over the whole book now that things have settled down now...

nukesnipe wrote:3. R&D. SFIII has R&D, but I like (some) of the granularity of the later rules. I like having to research individual systems, but in Ultra/Solar it seems like more work and less fun. I don't like having to build lots and lots of R&D stations, but I do like the idea of having a physical location where R&D occurs. Perhaps instead of building a gazillion R&D stations on a planet you could only build one per planet. Each station could have a number of research "slots" tied to the empire's Economic Level. For instance, an EL 1 R&D station might have 5 research slots, EL 2 6 slots, EL 3 7 slots, and so on. Maintenance on the facility could be a function of the number of research slots. Which leads me to...
I think that the R&D in SF III is ok as is, in the context of a minimized system, but it can for sure be added onto and expanded. Keep in mind that in a few hours, I'll be back after refreshing all the rules in my mind after some 30 years without them.

nukesnipe wrote:4. ...Money. Ultra has too much if it. One of the reasons I gave up trying to play some of the 3rd edition scenarios was the fact that there were entirely too many units involved. The amount of money available in Ultra/Solar enables the construction of fleets that are too large to enjoyably play. I believe the strategic game requires more drain on available funds as a means of limiting fleets sizes to make the tactical game manageable.
Absolutely. I would be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on this.

nukesnipe wrote:5. IUs. Not a fan of these. I think the only infrastructure with which this game needs to concern itself is shipbuilding and research. I believe the infrastructure associated with economics can be abstracted in a manner similar to SFIII where a certain amount of damage to a planet results in lost population and economic production (i.e., money). Improvements in economic "infrastructure" could be abstracted by improvements in Economic Level.
Having only ever played SF III, and then my own version shortly after that, and for years, I have no experience with infrastructure.

nukesnipe wrote:6. Ground combat. Is it really feasible to land a sufficient force on a planet to overcome its indigenous population? Once one holds the high orbitals, they pretty much control the planet. Any large troop concentrations could be dealt with with orbital strikes. I'm not really sure ground combat is a necessity.
This is one of those areas that started off badly, and only got worse as the version numbers got higher, lol. You are totally correct, your massive fleet is in bombardment orbit over an enemy planet, and capable of inflicting massive damage to the planet, it's infrastructure, it's populations & defences, and now they are going to go all "Monty Python/Black Knight on you, and scream---have at you!!!" Just, no. This deserves at least it's own thread, but then, I am working on an idea, for laying out a game that fixates on the "BIG THREE" problems that each young race needs to solve on it's quest to leave it's homeworld and venture forth into the great unknown.

nukesnipe wrote:Just some of my thoughts. ;)
And good thoughts they are.

So off to bed, and a nap and then a re-reading of the entire SF III rules book, which I might add is quite refreshingly brief. I recently got the opportunity to go over a first turn/initial setup for a solo campaign, and one look was all it took to convince me to stick to SF III, lol.
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Re: Bare bones Strategic level of Play

Postby Cralis on Fri 08 Dec 2017 15:22

VoidStalker_WoE wrote:
nukesnipe wrote:2. I like the concept of Economic Level and Science Level and their research.

I missed this part, to be honest, but I'm going to go over the whole book now that things have settled down now...


What nukesnipe is saying is that he likes the EL/SL system from later versions of Starfire, that do not exist in SFIII

nukesnipe wrote:3. R&D. SFIII has R&D, but I like (some) of the granularity of the later rules. I like having to research individual systems, but in Ultra/Solar it seems like more work and less fun. I don't like having to build lots and lots of R&D stations, but I do like the idea of having a physical location where R&D occurs.


That is a new one for me. I've never heard anyone say that they disliked having to build multiple facilities. The complaints are usually that they have to track each project, buy 10 RP, and then calculate the target roll for success.

Perhaps instead of building a gazillion R&D stations on a planet you could only build one per planet.


You don't like having to build mutiple RDS on a planet? I was expecting you to say that you don't like a limit on facilities so you have to build them in multiple systems. I guess I don't understand the fundamental difference between having to build more RDS as "slots" or getting free "slots" based on pop size. The other difference is that SFIII doesn't have support requirements (FSP)

nukesnipe wrote:4. ...Money. Ultra has too much if it. One of the reasons I gave up trying to play some of the 3rd edition scenarios was the fact that there were entirely too many units involved. The amount of money available in Ultra/Solar enables the construction of fleets that are too large to enjoyably play. I believe the strategic game requires more drain on available funds as a means of limiting fleets sizes to make the tactical game manageable.
Absolutely. I would be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on this.[/quote]

There are three ways to reduce overall incomes:

1. Less income. Seriously, just lower all income from sources. Or remove income sources, For example, removing the CCN link income from Ultra Starfire.

2. Increase costs. Especially maintenance costs. This way you buy less with the same income.

3. Do 1 or 2 but also add other resources. This way you can increase or gate specific costs independent of the "credit value"

nukesnipe wrote:5. IUs. Not a fan of these. I think the only infrastructure with which this game needs to concern itself is shipbuilding and research.


IU aren't really an infrastructure. At best, a financial vehicle that represents economic investment. A hybrid, really. I don't like them either, which is why I put out two ideas, one of which was multiple IU types to represent different actual infrastrucure" that you could build up or leave weakened.

I believe the infrastructure associated with economics can be abstracted in a manner similar to SFIII where a certain amount of damage to a planet results in lost population and economic production (i.e., money). Improvements in economic "infrastructure" could be abstracted by improvements in Economic Level.


Lost PU is lost income. You certainly could remove all other sources of income. [/quote

nukesnipe wrote:6. Ground combat. Is it really feasible to land a sufficient force on a planet to overcome its indigenous population? Once one holds the high orbitals, they pretty much control the planet. Any large troop concentrations could be dealt with with orbital strikes.


Depending upon the circumstances... absolutely. This question all boils down to two things: the attacker's objective and the alternative costs. If bombardment cost more than invasion, then invasions would be more common. Or if you gained more value from invading, you might do it more.

Realistically the military would be defending population centers, resources, etc. so orbital bombardment would mean severly impacting the value of a world.

And likewise, if the attacker's objective is genocide, none of the above matters.

Look USF and the current SSF rules. They were harshly abstracted to try and simplify. But they are boring and there are almost no choices of consequence. Bombardment is literally as cheap as hydrogen And the options are "pay a lot to suck", "pay a little to suck more", and " press button to bomb the crap outta 'em.". So of course they are broken.

I'm not really sure ground combat is a necessity.


Necessary? Nope. But they could be interesting and offer options. And right now they do not.

VoidStalker_WoE wrote:I am working on an idea, for laying out a game that fixates on the "BIG THREE" problems that each young race needs to solve on it's quest to leave it's homeworld and venture forth into the great unknown.


Don't keep us in suspense... what are the "big three" ?

VoidStalker_WoE wrote: I recently got the opportunity to go over a first turn/initial setup for a solo campaign, and one look was all it took to convince me to stick to SF III, lol.


It all just depends upon what you want out of the game.
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Re: Bare bones Strategic level of Play

Postby VoidStalker_WoE on Fri 08 Dec 2017 16:34

Cralis wrote:
VoidStalker_WoE wrote:
nukesnipe wrote:2. I like the concept of Economic Level and Science Level and their research.

I missed this part, to be honest, but I'm going to go over the whole book now that things have settled down now...


What nukesnipe is saying is that he likes the EL/SL system from later versions of Starfire, that do not exist in SFIII
Gotcha!

Cralis wrote:
VoidStalker_WoE wrote:I am working on an idea, for laying out a game that fixates on the "BIG THREE" problems that each young race needs to solve on it's quest to leave it's homeworld and venture forth into the great unknown.


Don't keep us in suspense... what are the "big three" ?
No big secret, but I'm considering if I can make a viable game of the first one, and maybe sell stories set in that fictional world. But these are not for this thread, I think.

BTW, any thoughts on that email?
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Re: Bare bones Strategic level of Play

Postby aramis on Fri 08 Dec 2017 18:18

How to do bare bones?
I'd start by stripping back to a single tech progression - makes it both easier and more fair.
Streamline the economics.

Streamline construction to happening only at major populations.

Simplify maintenance. Perhaps 1 Maintenance point per hull size, 1/2 that for military freighters. Squadrons of fighters count 1, as well. Minimum 1/2 point. Outposts none (but provide supply link), Colony provides HT, treble per size up from there.

Reduce the economic input, but specify it's only the construction budget. State of war increases it.

No NPRs.

System gen needs to exist. Needs to be relatively consonant with modern knowledge - including allowing hot GG's.

Simplify Warp Points linkages to fit on a map. 1d5 links to adjacent systems. Closed WP return just in case. No distant jump warp points except as rare system type. Likewise, starless nexi need to be bloody rare.

Make the empire econ doable in 10 minutes with P&P only, no spreadsheets needed. No savings, but investments in ongoing, yes.
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Re: Bare bones Strategic level of Play

Postby VoidStalker_WoE on Fri 08 Dec 2017 18:48

Maybe I should throw this in here as well. For a minimal strategic level campaign, how many folks are needed to make it worthwhile? How many folks at most?
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Re: Bare bones Strategic level of Play

Postby aramis on Fri 08 Dec 2017 20:31

VoidStalker_WoE wrote:Maybe I should throw this in here as well. For a minimal strategic level campaign, how many folks are needed to make it worthwhile? How many folks at most?

2 to 5 for a FTF game. 2+ for a net-game,
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Re: Bare bones Strategic level of Play

Postby thesmiths4 on Fri 08 Dec 2017 21:48

VoidStalker_WoE wrote:Ok folks, in this thread I am looking specifically for thoughts on what constitutes the 'bare minimum' that everybody finds essential to a campaign game of starfire, regardless of rules set in use. So some general guidelines of what HAS to be in the game to get you to want to play it, and what cannot be in the game for you to play, and please, don't be shy to discuss, at length, why you feel this way. Here is my first attempt:

For me, there needs to be tactical combat, using ships that I have designed, built, and paid for out of my budget. I want a map, even if it be nothing more than a partial single solar system, within which the game takes place, and I want shipyards on the map, where the work is done, and if they are not properly defended, the cost is severe!

And that's it.

Basically, just give me the means to build my ships, an income, a base, and a willing foe...

Ideas?


I've been playing since the original TFG edition, and I have watched strategic play get more and more complicated over time. Good? Bad? I'm not sure. I like simple rules, not complicated ones, so simple is better--there's my opinion.

For strategic rules, I'd start with the quick start rules, expanding them to add capital ships and similar sized freighters and bases, and fighters (a short range anti-fighter version and a sprint missile firing attack version) and carriers. For weapons, include the original weapon and an advanced version of the weapon. Missiles get the base version and a capital version (as the advanced version). Do the same with drives--have a basic drive and an advanced drive. Repeat that for shields, armor, point defense (in that case, it's regular point defense and anti-fighter point defense). Add overload dampners and some sort of simple ECM, maybe just a (-1) to hit effect, plus hangar systems.

Economics is based on "Hull Spaces." A ship costs however many hull spaces as it has as capacity. Any system costs as many hull spaces as it takes up. A player can build 100 hull spaces of shipping a turn. Investing 500 hull spaces (a one time charge) builds 100 more hull spaces of build capacity a turn, which can be repeated as many times as a player wants. Each player gets 150 hull spaces per turn. If they spend a one time cost of 500 hull spaces, their economy goes up by 50 points to 200. That can also be repeated as many times as the player wishes. Each player starts with 250 hull spaces to build his initial fleet and pay for a second weapon system if he or she wishes.

Technology works like this. Everyone gets the basic version of everything for free, except weapons. They pick one weapon system--laser, force beam, energy beam, missiles, torpedoes--and get that for free. A second weapon system type costs a one time investment of 50 hull spaces, with a third costing 100 hull spaces, and a fourth costing 200 hull spaces, just to get the basic version of the weapon.

The advanced version of any system costs a one time investment of 200 hull spaces. (Overload dampners and ECM cost that 200 hull spaces amount, too, and hangar spaces cost 200 also. Each fighter type also costs 200 hull spaces. (Again, these are all one time charges to develop the tech.)

Freighters are abstracted for the economy. For each 10 hold spaces of freighters built, one hull space is added to the economy.

I'm still working through how strategic movement and combat occurs. Instead of an actual strategic map, I'm thinking of a "mission" architecture, where players assign ships to different missions--exploration, commerce protection, commerce raiding, colonization, recon in force, world defense, and world attack. There'd be scenarios for each of these, with in game consequences for success or failure.
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