Monday, 13 February 2012

Adeptus Titanicus: Strategy and Tactics

Having been inspired by Tactical Assault's Combat Cards, I've been thinking about how developing actions/situations as resources could be used to enable a giant robot combat. The difference between Adeptus Titanicus and Combat Cards is stark once you notice that Titan battles can involve one-on-one combat. So how to make single-unit games work in an interesting way?

I've drawn up some lists of actions and situations, and I've come to think it might be neat to let players 'buy' cards involving tactics and strategies to play along with action/situation cards. Because one of the interesting things about Combat Cards is that you can play situations to enable actions, like Issue Orders to have group-actions, as well as to initiate things like aerial/artillery strikes, react to actions like Opportunity Fire, cancel reactions like Covering Fire, and so on. Why not let players invest in how they can use their Titans to accomplish actions and resolve situations beyond its chassis and armament? Tactics and strategies will also enable players to offset differentials in their Titans, with engines like Wolfhounds getting extra tactics and strategies to offset the heavier armaments and armour of Reavers and Warlords, and even 'sub-optimal' builds gaining in the tactical flexibility that buying more Tactics cards will bring.

I'd like the game to work as enabling engine duels, where rival Titan commanders outwit each other. Take a wonderful scene in the Titan comic where the Imperius Dictatio (a.ka. the Imp.Dic) is trudging through a city with a number of other Titans, and its new Sensori fails to detect a massive Chaos Titan at basically point-blank range. Fortunately the Princeps is quick-witted and the Chaos Titan is destroyed, curiously easily. After a moment the crew realizes that the Chaos Titan was a dead hulk, set up as part of a ambush.

Equally fortuitously the Imp.Dic survives the ambush as another Chaos Titan opens up on its rear. Rather than slug it out at close range the Princeps pushes all power to the Void shields, and wades through the enemy's firepower until their respective shields make contact and short out, leaving the Imp.Dic under the second Chaos Titan's guns, and the Chaos Titan scambling to back up, reload, and fire again. The Princeps then uses the Imp.Dic's Gatling Blaster so murder the shield-less Chaos Titan at near point-blank range.

While this is a fairly linear outline of events, a game-version would involve a choice at each step, though not literally in the case of the Titans. In particular what I'd like to see is players be able to have the choice of various actions so that players can build a payoff-table of actions. In abstract terms imagine that there's two players, A & B, with two Titans apiece, P & Q.

In A's turn A might play a card with a Move action. In response B might play a card with the Poor Traction situation. So now A has the option of going ahead with the original action, or play another action. Once player B has played any situations, tactics, or strategies that might be used to cancel or offset the other action, then the player would have the choice of moving ahead or playing a third action.

In essence the notion would be that instead of being able to play actions on units to lure out the situations like Opportunity Fire that would make games of 1:1 Combat Cards kind of dull, that players will be able to set up a field of contingencies. Of course, as with Combat Cards, the opposing player would have to weigh the value of playing situations that will mean forgoing actions in that player's following turn. Tactic/strategy cards would be limited by being single-instances, so you could either snooker the opposing player into using a tactic or strategy that doesn't realize.

So, to summarize this somewhat scatter-brained post:

Adapting Combat Cards concepts to Adeptus Titanicus faces the problem of fewer units to pressure opponents into spending situations in response to actions. My solution, so far, is to:

1. Enable armies to be customized by tactics/strategy cards bought to be added to a player's hand of action/situation cards.

2. Enable players to play multiple actions on a single unit.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting concepts - I really like those combat cards - might have to pick them up. I see this being something like MTG where you build your deck to favor offense (red), tactics (blue), defense (white), movement (green), or playing dirty (black). Add a few categories in for taste; build a card setup that has probably no more than 2-3 "color" options to go with the mandatory fields (like combat cards). That should give you some meaningful segregation to work with, and the math to work on balancing it. I'd kill to see MTGs formulae ;)

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