Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Titanomachia: Adjusted Game Sequence

It occurred to me that the equilibrium between my blog and my design notes should be maintained, if only to keep me working on them both. Currently I'm re-thinking what would otherwise be the 'turn sequence' in a game where the players take turns. However, part of the design of Titanomachia is that the players play 'simultaneously,' or at least play their intentions at the same time even if they don't resolve those intentions at the same time, like Rock-Scissors-Paper.

Part of the issue was that requiring players to build a deck such that they would have to play the card on the top of the deck. The result would be that players pay for a favourable result using more cards off the top of the deck, and entail that either players would need to be geniuses with photographic memories, they would need to be able to look at their own decks during play, or deal with the fact that all notion of strategy would go out the window during contact with the enemy (here the opponent) and that players would essentially be at the mercy of randomly drawing cards from a deck hoping that it's the right answer to their opponent's virtually random draw. Which kind of sucks.

I say 'randomly' because, as mentioned, they could be playing their decks single-blind and be aware of what's going to come up next and weigh their intentions accordingly. In that case, however, the decks function like large, unwieldy hands of cards. And one of the things I disliked about Tactical Assault's Combat Cards game was the way useful cards showed up randomly. But that was due in part to set decks, and maybe there's a mechanic in the Combat Cards rules to devise custom decks where the actions can be optimized in harmony with army selection; there certainly is going to be one in Titanomachia, and so I think the notion of playing straight off the deck was interesting in the sense of 'how not to simplify things,' but ultimately the wrong combination of complicated, user-unfriendly, and mathematically fucked.

It's really the last one that motivated me to return to the notion of replenishing a hand of cards from a deck, because access to the deck meant that there wasn't any balance between attempting to take the initiative from one's opponent, in that players could literally bid through their entire strategies except for a single card, or maybe three cards (Arm Weapon, Acquire Target, Fire Weapon, kill target, win game, go home early to masturbate). Which is bad. Bad, bad, bay. Not the masturbation, but the equilibrium in game play where the winning strategy is not to play the game, or at least to avoid dicking around with most of the rules.

In particular the notion of success and failure in playing actions, and the interactions of those actions with other actions, battlefield conditions, and objectives to form events. The game is then based on a series of events, or perhaps I should say: Sequence of events. I think it would be something to modify the game sequence so that there's no dicking around with the initiative, when actions are resolved, until the game starts, so no bidding for the initiative and then bidding again on the initiative.

So the 'Round Sequence' would be adjusted to be something like:

1. Take the Initiative? - The player with the Initiative bids cards from their hand, by placing them face-down on the table, to keep it from the player without the Initiative. The player without the Initiative may then bid cards from their own hand, by placing them face-down on the table, to take the Initiative. The player bidding the most cards takes the Initiative.

2. Engage! - The players play any action, battlefield condition, and objective cards from their hands by placing them on the table face-down . Once all cards from both players are on the table, and the players agree they have played all the cards they are going to play, the cards on the table are flipped over. Face-up cards are 'in play.'

3. Success? - The players pay for the success of any action cards in play by placing more cards from their hand face-down on particular action cards. Where the number of cards meets the adjusted cost of the action, the action is successful, and where the number of cards is insufficient, the action fails. Find the adjusted cost of the actions by establishing their base cost, and adding any modifiers resulting from battlefield conditions, or bonuses available such as Supercharging Shields.

4. Action! - The players resolve successful actions in Initiative order, where the player with the Initiative resolves an action first, and the player without the initiative resolves an action next, taking turns until all of the actions have been resolved.

5. Logistics - The players check to see if any objectives have been met, and where an objective has been met the player controlling the Titan meeting that objective wins the game. Otherwise the players draw cards from their Strategy decks to replenish their hands. If they cannot replenish their hands from the remaining cards in their Strategy deck, then they lose the game (Note, not a zero-sum game).

Now, given that the base cost of a successful action was previously determined by an opposing action, and that multiple actions are possible, the issue becomes how to commensurate which action cards apply to which other action cards, and especially what to do in non-symmetrical conditions where one player plays more action cards than the other.

For the sake of a number of cards in hand, I think it's probably a neat way to bring the crew into the game by defining the number of cards that can be held in hand by the number of crew available, but that suggests something akin to needless complication for the sake of some spurious representation of the crew in the game. On the other hand, I still haven't worked out how attacks will affect individual systems on a Titan, whether damage will transfer, and how it might affect the crew.

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