Okay, I admit it. The versioning system has gone a bit screwy, but I’ve made so many changes in the closed playlets group over the last month I lost track of the numbering. In order to provide a bit more context to the major changes in this release, I’m posting a blog post here. I might take this down after a while, or not… who can say.
CMD dice are no longer dice
CMD tokens are just tokens to be assigned and spent. No rolling at the start of the turn.
The main reason is that the game suffered from a real issue when one player rolled some good dice and the other didn’t. The need to roll well to activate the tactics you wanted to was just less fun that being able to do whatever you needed to and then having to outplay, rather than out-luck, your opponents.
It has the knock-on effect of instantly solving the “nudging a dice whilst secretly assigning CMD dice” issue, which would have been a real problem if I didn’t find a solution for it.
None of the play-testers have missed the dice. This is a good change, I’m sure.
The Jump Steps are gone
Now, when the jump phase comes around, you just take turns to jump stuff in.
I liked this idea, but with the loss of CMD dice, this could no longer function, and no-one seems to have minded much. It makes the game more “normal”, but the fact that every turn starts with a deployment phase is still pretty unique, so I’m hoping this just simplifies the game without losing the key cinematics of big ships jumping into the combat at crucial and exciting times.
Priority Activity Steps have gone
Another neat idea that I liked, and another casualty of the switch from CMD dice to CMD tokens. This was actually the core problem that drive the switch, as a player than didn’t roll any sixes just had to watch as her opponents alpha-striked her off the table before allowed to act. No fun.
It also makes the “Seize Initiative” command more important, so that’s good too.
Dice are now all backwards
The dice all now roll with “1” being the best number, and the highest face on any dice being an automatic failure.
This was an eventual result of trying to simplify the combat system, in order to force players to remember fewer numbers and being able to initiative sense the probability of the roll before rolling the dice.
The tricky part was simplifying things without losing the unique “silhouette” mechanic, which was my favourite part of the combat system. In conjunction with the new saving throw system, there is now a lovely symmetry in the dice: the higher the number of faces on a dice, the harder it is to hit the smaller ships, but the more difficult it is to make your saving throws. Bigger dice are more powerful and less accurate.
Most the weapons have been tweaked, many of the ship stats too
Just trying to give every ship a role. Plus the combat system is very different now.
The movement orders have changed
This is to achieve two things. Firstly, to make “vector” a more powerful tactical choice. Secondly, to make jumping out more cinematic, which matters because more of the contract rely on jumping out.
Many of the contracts rely on jumping out
This is to create an internal narrative to the contracts – something Glenn has been rightly pushing for. Now the story of completing a mining contract, for example, has a beginning, middle and an end, and you have to protect the little utility ships across more of the table. To this end…
Protecting utility ships is more interesting
Previously, you had to rely on auxiliary fire to save your little guys from the enemy. Now, ships within 3” of a bigger, friendly ship get to borrow the bigger ship’s Shield value, and the player also gets the choice to assign damage to nearby, larger, ships, in the hopes that this provides a different layer of tactics.
Contracts are now much less generous
This is another thing that Glenn argued for. His logic is that contracts on the table on turn one should not justify one of the heavy ship classes, unless you are playing much larger scales. The escalation should happen on a smoother curve, to the point where deploying a Cruiser makes sense because of the choices of your oppoenents, not just always the best choice.
Utility ships now cost 0 OpEx (but still need a CMD token to be spent to deploy them) to off-set the stingier contracts, and indeed are unlimited (although you can only have a certain number in play at any time).
Disorder tokens are like CMD tokens for your enemy
I’d trying a few things to get the disorder tokens to reflect a panicked and disobedient ship crew. Allowing disorder tokens to be spent by the opponent to disadvantage the disrupted group provides a lot of design space, which I’ve only just started to explore.
Oddly, having removed the CMD dice, which were a bit like the “battle boards” in SAGA, I’ve just added my version of the “fatigue” system. Oh, well. Hat tip to Gripping Beast and Studio Tomahawk for a fine game!
I’m excited by all these changes, the game is getting faster and slicker. I’m still searching for a couple of key hooks, but “the miniatures game with no army lists and no deployment phase” is a pretty strong opener… I just need to ensure that the game beyond that is exciting and cinematic.