Galactic Battlecruisers – Part 3: Movement
by Diego Beltrami
Movement is one of the basics of Galactic Battlecruisers. The idea was to make positioning an important tactical choice in the game, that’s achieved by making range and firing cones interesting, but those have to be supported by a diverse array of moves.
Movement in Battlecruisers your ships move on a hexagonal grid. Your ship has a few basic manoeuvres. It can move forward a set amount of tiles (right now it’s three tiles). It can rotate one angle (60 degrees in the grid), it can move sideways or backwards one tile and it can change altitude by one point. Height is an independent unit, and it usefulness is being able to target sectors of the enemy ship that otherwise would be blocked. But more on that later.
Each of this actions take one movement order. There are also special movements that allow to bend this rules, but they come with some drawbacks.
First there is a high tension manoeuvre that lets the player rotate the ship 180º. It’s in the game to give the player a chance to avoid damage on his engine in case of persuit. As there is no weapons that face to the rear it’s a very frail section. But such a manoeuvre produces a great deal of stress on the hull, so there is a chance that any system on the ship might be damaged.
This is done rolling a D10. Number 1 to 7 are assigned to a specific sector, so if the player rolls any of those numbers he has to add one point of damage to it. If the dice falls on 8 to 10 the ship successfully performs the manoeuvre without suffering any damage.
Then there’s the FTL. This allows the player to place his ship in any empty place of the board, without changing its facing. But to do this the player needs to have it’s movement power at maximum and he can’t attack at all during the jump turn. This is to avoid a player having the upper hand and win the game just by getting a better position first. As it can’t be used to attack this is a purely defensive and desperate measure.
This is what the player can do during his turn with movement orders, but there is an interesting turn. The player can save movement orders to use as evasive manoeuvres during the enemy’s turn.
For now the way this works is that when it by an attack the player can choose to use an evasive manoeuvre to make the enemy re-roll his dice. This adds another chance for him to miss. The way to balance this is to make it dependant of the enemy’s weapon range. The closer you are the more orders you need to use for an evasive manoeuvre. So its one order for long range, two for medium and three for close range (more on weapons range in the weapons entry later).
Overall the idea is to have this slow behemoth where it can’t move much, but still allow for different movements that compliment weapon placement and range. Lateral movement is important as you don’t want to have to change heading every time you want to get closer while keeping your broadside (the sector with the most guns to bear) fixed on your enemy. Height adds another tactical choice, as it allows you to target sectors of the enemy ship you couldn’t attack before but as the same time allows the enemy to retaliate on your now exposed sectors during its turn. The idea is to give choices, to avoid the game becoming a mechanical affair where every turn is the same until someone wins. I think movement is varied enough to provide interesting on its own. And I haven’t even talked about collisions (those where fun in our test game). But that’s for another entry.