Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Titanomachia: Using the Board

Having revisited the design philosophy behind my Titanomachia project, I feel like I can forge ahead in re-thinking it, or simply thinking about it. Of course, one of the things I like in a good board-game is that the game uses the board. Conversely that's a problem I've had with prior incarnations of Adeptus Titanicus, in that there was no incentive or even reason to use the board. After all, part of the problem was that a Titan could not, in Space Marine, fire and then dive behind cover. On one hand the old "if you can shoot them, they can shoot you" makes some vague sense for a simulator, it makes less sense when you're trying to make movement have a little less of the usual teleportation effect movement in table-top games tends to have. Because, especially in a game involving canonical Titans, insomuch as there are any, the Titan with the first shot has an advantage, and resolving all shooting at once so that this advantage cannot be game throws the baby out with the bathwater; perhaps the first shot needs to be balanced with the best shot, for example.

One thought that I had, and to be fair the only thought I've had in a while, was that maybe the players need to be able to play more with the board. At first I thought, hell, why not actually enable teleportation, or at least portals (can you tell what movie I watched when I had that thought?). But there's also the thought of actual, 'moving' terrain. As in, instead of just spawning terrain until a battlefield appears, along with the risk of a game ending prior to sufficient amounts of pretty terrain being placed, players be able to chance the position of terrain around the Titan, as well as its position on the board. In other words, take advantage of that teleportation effect to take some of the annoying measuring and dithering out of movement. Of course, annoying measuring and dithering is how miniatures games roll, unless you're making something more board-game-ish where the board is pre-sectioned. The interesting thing is that the board I'm thinking of is indeed pre-sectioned into 6" by 6" squares, 16 in total. There's also the thought to make the board squares 4" by 4", meaning more squares for a 2'x2' board.

So suppose that values are given for the board given position and vector. Essentially I was feeling inspired by Chess, specifically the way that although one piece is moved at a time, they maintain a passive control of the board. I've felt that, in some way, a good game of Chess is like two squids wrestling, with the Queens as their tentacles. So what if, then, a Titan's ability to engage the enemy depends on its ability to direct its weapons, shields, target tracks, and electronic counter measures. For example, imagine that specific shields occupy points on the board and behave to interrupt attacks passing through that region, or that a target marker is placed on a square. So actions can be used to re-position elements such as shield elements, target markers, and so on.

Now suppose that the distance and direction, relative to the other Titan matters. So a Titan moving 1 square perpendicular to its opponent, and three squares towards its opponent confers a commensurate modifier to any target marker that it happens to cross, perhaps activating that marker as it crosses. Using squares makes this easy to track. Relative position determines positive or negative modifiers. With a limit of 8 directions and hence 81 possible combinations depending on target and Titan, including stationary target and Titan, makes for a nice set of options, combinatorially speaking, for players.

Now, the path of attacks between Titan and targets makes for an opportunity. Each type of weapon can trace a distinct path between Titan and target, just as Chess pieces can only engage each other along different patterns. The interesting problem, at the moment, is to integrate this with the pre-existing (and somewhat arbitrary) concept of target markers so that there's some sort of spatial relation between the location of the Titan, the relation of the target marker, and the path of the fire between them.

Revisiting the various Systems and their constituent values, one notion was to have target markers defined by a Sensor System's Acuity score, since that work suggests an ability to resolve multiple things, and hence the ability to erode that ability to resolve more targets eroding as the Sensor System takes damage. The Sensor System's Gain provided a passive, basic threshold value for attacks directed at objects (Titans or terrain) to which the target marker was appended. This doesn't work well in the context of a Chess-style of game where target markers help to describe Chess-like zones of control and action/re-action. Part of that way of playing with target markers involved little cross-hair markers with a dice on top of them to indicate the Gain associated with that target marker.

So we have some sort of the basis for the kind of pieces that can occupy the board in addition to a 'main body' or 'King' of the Titan itself. Because, and I'm just throwing this out there, we can add another element to the stack of target marker and Gain-dice, which is an associated weapon-marker. So we'd have a stack with three elements to it, a target marker with a Gain-dice (or some other value-indicator like a wheel or click-base thing) and a slot for a  detachable Weapon model. Think of it in terms of the original Adeptus Titanicus plastic models as each weapon having its own base and Void Shield Wheel.

This can be generalized in a certain sense by, for example, having "Shield-pieces" each with their own value and indicator of being active or not, kind of like a 'Pawn' that can be powered up, and essentially serves to block the movement of weapons with target markers. Likewise, and harkening back to an idea I had about an expansion to my Fog-of-War game where units like Titans could be made out of stacks of pieces rather than being single units themselves, the main body of the Titan can also be a composite stack of things.

So the state of the Titan will define how many extra pieces a player can generate on the board. Okay, I think I'm getting somewhere here.



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