Monday, 22 April 2013

Titanomachia, the Fun Part II

Back when I was still calling Titanomachia "Adeptus Titanicus" I wrote an article. Having moved on ever-so-slightly, I'd like to revisit that article in a more current context: one in which the turn sequence is set. As a reminder, the turn sequence is a matter of the player with the initiative playing a card, and the player without the initiative playing a card. That means if the player with the initiative wants to shoot the face off the player without the initiative, they have to take the risk that the player without the initiative will see it coming, because after all of the cards are played the players then pay for success.

In addition, shooting is a process of at least three actions: Arm Weapon, Acquire Target, Fire Weapon. And, I think, it's something to say that the cost of a successful action is not the ceiling. There are minimally successful actions and maximally successful actions. A weapon may be armed more successfully if a player can spend the bonus cards.

Take a Volcano Cannon, for example. A Volcano Cannon may require three Arm Weapon actions before it can fire one shot. But if the Arm Weapon action only costs 1 card to be minimally successful, the player may wish to dump two more cards to get it ready to fire next turn.

Likewise a player may wish to not only acquire a target, but do so in a way that ensures the target will not be lost if battlefield conditions change. And, naturally, the difference between a Titan's Sensor System's Gain and the putative target's Signature will adjust the basic cost of success, with bonus cards to be spent armouring it against bonuses from the battlefield. A Sensor System's Acuity will, by contrast, control the number of targets that a Titan can maintain at any one time.

Finally, success in a Fire Weapon action will depend on there being a target, in range, and in the weapon's orientation. The bonuses, I think, will be defined as firing additional weapons. Any partial firing will be controlled through the Arm Weapon action. I think, though I have yet to run the numbers, that I want to have the Power of weapons transformed by the positive difference between a target's Signature and the Gain from the Titan's Sensor system. In other words, a Titan with a Gain of 4 acquiring a target with a Signature of 3 + 2 (+1 from obscurement cover, +1 from a backfield condition obscuring all LOS) would have to spend at least two cards to acquire the target with a margin of success of 1. Spending three cards would give it a margin of success of 2, at least so long as the target's adjusted Signature remains at 5. If it goes up to 6 prior to a Fire Weapon action, the margin of success reduces to 1. Starting at 1, it is lost... Just makes one think interesting things about Holo-fields and whatnot eh? Anyhow, basically this means that aiming is very important.

The actual effect of shots will be determined by either a straight-up procedure against battlefield terrain, or the first intervening Shield. Effects against Systems are resolved by shuffling up the Titan cards with an orientation including the attacker, and selecting cards for each shot. This the adjusted Power of the weapon is compared to the Armour of the Terrain, Shield, or System with the usual higher (Light Damage), higher by 2x (Heavy Damage), and higher by 3x (Overkill) with overkill results causing light damage to adjacent Terrain, Shields, or Systems.

Now, it should be clear that whether this will balance out will depend on the number of cards that a player has in hand. Working from a basic hand of 5 cards, with an Action:Command card that allows the player to retain a bonus card, and remembering that the number of cards in hand is governed by the Titan's crew, it means that each game should last for at least three turns, and hopefully some multiple of that as the players attempt to get killing blows, inflict wear-and-tear, and play for time.

And now, the whores! Guns, I mean guns:

Vulcan MegabolterMunitions: 4/1: Range: 12", Power: 1x, Rate of Fire: 8
Gatling Blaster:
Munitions: 2/1: Range: 24", Power: 2x, Rate of Fire: 4
Quake Cannon:
Munitions: 1/2, Range 36", Power: 3x, Rate of Fire 1
Hellstorm Cannon:
Munitions: 1/2, Range 24", Power 3x, Rate of Fire 3
Hydra Battery:
Munitions: 1/1, Range 36", Power 1x, Rate of Fire 1 (Anti-Aircraft)

Melta Cannon:
Munitions: 1/2, Range 12", Power: 4x, Rate of Fire: 1 (Incendiary)
Inferno Cannon:
Munitions: 1/1, Range 12", Power 1x, Rate of Fire: 6 (Ignore Cover, Incendiary)
Tactical Missile Launcher:
Munitions: 2/1, Range 36", Power: 2x, Rate of Fire:  2
Strategic Missile Launcher:
Munitions: 1/1, Range 36", Power 4x, Rate of Fire: 1

Plasma Blastgun:
Munitions: 1/2 cards, Range 18", Power 2, Rate of Fire:  2
Plasma Destructor:
Munitions: 1/2 cards, Range 18", Power 3, Rate of Fire: 3
Plasma Annihilator:
Munitions: 1/2 cards, Range 18, Power 4, Rate of fire: 4

Turbo Laser:
Munitions: 1, Range 36", Power 3, Rate of Fire: 1.
Laser Blaster:
Munitions: 1/1, Range 36", Power 3, Rate of Fire: 3.
Volcano Cannon:
Munitions: 1/3, Range 36", Power 4, Rate of Fire 1

The armour values of these systems are definitely going to be variable and depend on the chassis they're mounted on. At a thought, I think that anything being hit by a Volcano Cannon should suffer light damage, so an Armour value of 2 seems about right so that Quake Cannons, Volcano Cannons, the Plasma suite, and so on should be able to do something about glancing hits unaided by superior targeting bonuses. By contrast weapons like the Vulcan Megabolter are going to need some serious bonuses from targeting, but will do an avalanche of damage upon connection.

Note that there are some checks and balances in what can take what. A Warhound Titan will be able to take the Vulcan Megabolter, the Plasma Blastgun, Inferno Cannon, or a pair of Turbo Lasers (the Turbo Laser Destructor!). I'm looking into the viability, and the coolness factor, of Ursus Claws. Not as stupid an application as on a friggin' space-ship, iffen you've read Betrayer, but it's not like the Trident wasn't a canonical Adeptus Titanicus weapon. Otherwise things like the Plasma Annihilator and the Hellstorm Cannon are mounted on Emperor Titans, able to engage entire battlegroups of battle Titans like Warlords and Reavers. Speaking of, close combat weapons! And here I think the notion of accuracy has some worth.

Going on the notions laid out here, you can always walk up and slug someone (or kick them). But I think that they should benefit from punching/kicking bona fide targets. The notion being that where a Titan, such as those of the Space Elves, do not use Void Shields, or Power Fields, or Holtzmann Effects, players will need a solution to the problem of getting tap-danced on by a target they cannot engage. Also, got the sensor system shot off? Eyeball it with fisti-cuffs!

It's something to consider that these are profiles for perfectly functioning systems. Some Titans, due to the player's due, or otherwise perhaps in some sort of campaign setting, will begin battles with Weapon Systems suffering from light or heavy damage, not merely weaker (or more expensive to arm) but also weak-points in the Titan where a well-placed Volcano Cannon shot may inflict crushing overkill damage, and hence light damage to another system.

So what might happen in a game? A Battlefield card (formerly Battlefield Conditions) may be played in order to destroy the target lock of a Warlord coming up on your Warhound's vaguely-armoured rear, wasting all of those Vulcan Mega Bolter shots your opponent payed to spray, after seizing the Initiative. Or maybe they'll let you cough up those cards for the initiative, use the cards to re-Acquire Target, and stomp you into a bloody paste next turn. Or simply move up for a mighty boot to the rear.

Essentially the guns in Titanomachia need to be fine tuned so that after all the buggering about with getting the target in orientation, the right weapons armed, the target acquired, and the initiative seized, they can blow the enemy to kingdom come and function as a kind of Chess-like check where the constant threat of destruction has players scrambling to move, play their shields, and manipulate the battlefield as well as play punch and counter-punch.

Actually, the more I explore the Titanomachy, particularly in George O'Connor's excellent Olympians series, the more I want to abandon the traditional Adeptus Titanicus Titans in favour of giant crewed battleships of the land modeled more closely after Greek mythology. In particular, I like the idea of the Hekatonkhieres, the Hundred-Handed, and their brothers the Kyclopes, as classes of Titan unlike the Scout/Battle/Emperor that has accreted in Warhammer 40,000 mythology.
   

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