Galactic Battlecruisers – Part 8: First playtest
by Diego Beltrami
We tried the game. Fortunately for me and all the work I put into this it was kinda fun. But there was a lot of stuff to improve.
First of all, movement and tactics was fun and the fundamentals were easy to grasp, we were shooting at each other pretty fast. The big problem with that session was that despite constantly shooting we were missing most of the shots. We probably played for two hours and we stopped the game with one point of damage each. So despite being fun it was impossible to finish and got nowhere fast.
The dice throws made the game too random and there were occasions where they didn’t made sense, for example I missed three shots point blank. It made no sense and it ruined a great strategy.
Also there was a big mistake made, as electronics, drones and repair involved their own orders there was just too much stuff to keep a track of. Repair became too powerful given that we hardly damaged each other. We tried allowing it once every two turns but that made it harder to keep a track of.
Rules regarding drones were a bit fuzzy so we polished them a bit and wrote down some specifications regarding launches for example. We found drones quite useless too. It became about avoiding encounters and resulted in a stunlock between sides. The only tactic we found that allowed us to use them was putting the ships one next to the other and launch the fighters on top of it.
Asteroids ended up being a great addition. There was a moment during the game that became a cover based shooter with ships navigating an asteroid field and using them as cover to avoid getting shot.
The main thing I got from this playtest was:
- Too hard to hit anything.
- Too easy to defend and repair
- Drones are annoying
- Too many things to keep a track of
- Too random
- Since it was too random, the electronic system was useless
- Collisions are fun
So the changes were focused making sure that both ships could be damaged and to integrate electronics, repair and drones within the order system.
First no more dice. Attacks automatically hit. So to balance weapons I introduced two things. First there was an ammunition attribute for weapons, this controls how many times can a weapon be fired per turn.
Now, if weapons always hit range changes doesn’t make much sense. But it’s still useful to determine the effect of evasive manoeuvres. Long range evasion only cost one movement order, but the closer you get you need more orders per evasion. So if you want to avoid getting hit on close range you’ll need three movement orders, making it too expensive to be useful (or used more than once).
Since we’re trying to remove dice rolls now we have to do something about shields. They no longer work as a stopping mechanism during attack. Now they’re placed before hand during the player’s defence phase. Each shield cost one point of defence orders and you select a system to place it on. This gives that sector a 50% chance of negating damage. We have a dice roll here, but the best tactic is to try and damage an unprotected sector so it’s not as annoying. You might want to risk it anyway if the target is about to be destroyed. The strategy here is placing the limited shields in sectors that you want to protect or you think the enemy might be able to attack.
Damage was kept like it was, but now the penalizations only apply when a subsystem is destroyed. Penalizations were revised to make them less damaging to strategies. This is made to avoid penalizations to be a decisive factor in a victory where strategies become about destroying a certain subsystem first and also to make sure that risking damage isn’t as crippling as to stop the flow of the game.
The Electronics system also had a few chances, now it’s automatically successful but it requires a defence order to be used. Now the subsystem can be used offensively too, using an ATTACK order you can disable an enemy’s subsystem applying the same penalizations it’d had if the system was destroyed for one turn. The idea was to make the system a bit more useful.
Repair also cost defence orders. Removing the first point of damage cost one order, while removing the second one -and only that- costs two orders. you can only repair one point of damage per turn.
Drones were integrated to the order system, moving them costs an attack order but in exchange had their movement range increased. Changes to the drone system were covered in part 6.
The idea behind this changes is to make the whole game more centred around the order system while eliminating randomness and making it easier to cause damage.
These changes are what constitutes the second iteration of the game. There are probably things to adjust, and some values and damage penalizations to revise after a second playtest.