Author Topic: Concept for a Shipbuilding game  (Read 992 times)


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Concept for a Shipbuilding game
« on: July 13, 2016, 12:30:06 PM »
Hello friends!

So I've been working on the idea of a CCG inspired by chain-of-command Scifi (read: Star Trek) and Space Empires, an old PC game where you can design your own ships. The game would be based around ship-to-ship combat, where each player plays crew and component cards, building their ship as they go. The combat system is inspired heavily based off of the Star Trek CCG's Battle Bridge combat rules.

This is something I've been mulling over for a long while, but I've recently thought of a new concept for it and I wanted to bring it to the community for some feedback.

One of the main gripes I had with this game is the idea of playing your crew and component cards as you go didn't really make sense. If I play a Warp Core card that upgrades my available energy, where did it come from? What was powering the ship before? Installing whole new decks isn't something that's intuitive when you're in the heat of a battle.

I tried coming up with different variations (first half of the game is shipbuilding, second is battle) but they were pretty clumsy. What I'm considering now is having two decks, one of which is made up of Crew and Component cards exclusively. This deck represents your ship: it can be attacked, and you reveal the top cards to see what takes damage. Component cards have Hull Integrity ("Toughness") which absorb damage; crew revealed this way perish.

Your ship would be represented by a certain class. For example, if my deck were a Galaxy-class, I'd have a card which outlines my base power, life, deck size, min/max crew, thruster power, etc. (A cool concept would be to have card sleeves made with all this info on the back, so you can see all that information at a glance and save on an extra placeholder card.)

Most CCGs have you build a deck beforehand, so why is his concept any different? I'm playing with the idea of not drawing any cards from this deck; instead you're drawing cards from your other deck, which has Tactics and Orders. The Ship deck is meant to speak for itself. Take this card for example:

Crew Quarters
Component - Hull Integrity 5
You may have a two extra Crew cards in your deck.

This is a good example because it affects the game in two ways: gives you decent Hull Integrity for when you take damage, and it allows you to stock extra crew. The second effect only affects the deckbuilding portion.

So this is where I'm currently at. I think this is a very fascinating idea, and want to stay with the theme that your ship is already built, and is represented by a deck with all the components used to build it. The problem I have with drawing and playing cards from that deck is that these things shouldn't really be random: if I play a Torpedo Bay card, it's only active then. I want the whole ship to be ready to go from the start. The question is, other than when taking damage, how do we interact with those cards?

I'm trying to stay true to the Space Empires game I mentioned, where you build your ship, then test it in action. It might help to think of the Ship deck not as a deck of individual cards, but as a single object which happens to have been built from multiple cards. I want the player to have interesting ship building opportunities without having to depend on drawing them.

I'd rather avoid searching through the deck every turn for obvious reasons. I've toyed with the idea of revealing the top five or seven cards every turn and having them in play for that turn; this would represent the angle that your ship has facing your opponent, so only those weapons can be used.

Does the community have any ideas on how to tackle this? I want to maintain the "your deck is your whole ship" concept as much as possible. All the action will be coming from the second deck.

Thanks for reading!!
« Last Edit: July 13, 2016, 12:39:54 PM by gwago »


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Re: Concept for a Shipbuilding game
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2016, 09:50:45 PM »
After giving this a bit more thought I've found a system that would seem to work pretty well. Keep in mind that all names are arbitrary, and I would welcome any and all input on them.

This system is a bit more complex than sit-down-and-play games like Magic, but I think it's fairly straightforward once you get used to it. My priority here was to duplicate Star Trek-style starship battles; that meant paying close attention to deckbuilding in order to avoid building the ship during battle (which didn't quite make sense), and incorporating all the technobabble and having the ability to do actions like "Transfer all power to X!". This system seems to be a good way to accomplish this.

So, each player has two decks:

The Ship deck is comprised of Outer Hull, Inner Deck, and Crew cards. This deck has specific building rules based on the class of ship selected: a larger cruiser for example might require 20 Outer Hull, 10 Inner Deck, 5 Crew, and at least 4 thrusters, while a smaller scout might need less of these cards. As you can see, a certain amount of attention needs to be attributed to deckbuilding.

The Command deck is composed of Tactics, Direct Orders and Standing Orders.

The turn breakdown is:
-Maneuvering phase
-Orders phase
-Combat phase

Maneuvering Phase

In the Maneuvering phase, players flip the top five cards of their Ship decks face down in front of them. Any Inner Deck or Crew cards are moved to the player's Core (in-play area) and replaced, until that player has five Outer Hull cards in front of him/her.

This represents the side of the player's ship that is facing the opponent. Helmsmen and navigator crew cards can alter these results.

Afterwards, a player assigns Power tokens to these cards. Each player has three tokens to distribute per turn. Cards that do not have tokens on them are considered inactive.

Orders Phase

In this phase, players draw three cards from their Command deck. Players can take (one? two?) Orders in this phase: this means playing Direct Orders, which have an effect and are discarded, Standing Orders, which are permanent and played to the Core, or any other abilities that require the use of an Order (usually on Crew cards).

Combat Phase

This phase begins by each player placing a Tactic card from their hand face down in front of them. These cards dictate the ship's actions for the turn, and provide combat buffs and other effects. They can also provide evasion to dodge the attack. Both player's Tactic cards are revealed at the same time. In order to encourage their use, their effect would be fairly powerful and crucial, so as to get a standard of 2:1 Tactics to Orders ratio in the Tactics deck. This could all change in playtesting.

Whatever is left in the hand is of no further use and is discarded.

Players then add up their powered weapons on the table with whatever bonus their Tactic gives them, and compares that to the opponent's total Hull Integrity on the table (a stat on all Outer Hull cards).

I'm not too sure what applying damage looks like yet, but the Star Trek CCG had the Tactics card double as a damage marker with specific negative effects which I've always wanted to include. Discarding from the top of your deck is also an option, having a player lose when they're out of cards. Damage could also target specific components to have those taken out of play, having a certain threshold of cards that can be removed before a player loses.

So that's where I'm at. I realize the dual deck format isn't as popular as  a single deck you can just shuffle and play with, but I think it's the only way to provide the results and flavour I'm looking for.

Thanks for reading! I'd appreciate any feedback anyone may have!


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Re: Concept for a Shipbuilding game
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2016, 10:04:38 AM »
While I haven't had any response to this yet, I figured I'd keep updating my progress for posterity. Of course, if anyone has any feedback, please share!

I've considered a few avenues for the combat system and have found one that seems to hit the right notes. I haven't playtested this yet, and I'm afraid it's adding yet more overall complexity to the game, but we'll see.

Combat would consist of rolling D6s for each attacking weapon. For example, if I had three powered cannons on my turn, I'd roll three seperate dice. These dice represent the actual beam or projectile flying through space to give a bit more of a conceptual feel.

In the above example, I'm rolling three dice. Modifiers are then applied, most commonly coming from the Tactics cards ("Evasive Maneuvers: Your opponent's attack rolls are -1 this turn."), but these can also come from other cards.

Once modifiers are applied, the final number is checked. A 1 or 2 is a miss, and the attack is disregarded. A 3, 4, or 5 is a hit, while a 6 is a direct hit.

The defender then places all hits (3-5) on his Outer Hull cards as he or she chooses. The attacker then places any direct hits on his opponent's outer hull cards as he or she chooses.

Each Outer Hull card has a Hull Integrity stat; if that value is met or exceeded in damage, it is destroyed and placed in the Destroyed pile. Victory is decided when cards in this pile exceed a certain limit.

This is the model I'm working with right now. It provides enough leeway for ships to be able to maneuver around attacks, and keeps evasion and defense (Hull Integrity) separate. The D6s also allow for more randomness than just counting values and applying modifiers. I was toying with the idea of having you roll all dice at the same time, which would simplify things and make combat more dynamic; different coloured dice could be used for different types of attacks (Beam vs. Projectile, for example), but this would mean that all attacks would have the same default strength, and any effects that weapons would have wouldn't be associated to the roll (which could be a direct hit). If I could find a way to do this I think it'd be preferable, and I might revisit this to dumb it down if it gets too complex.

As noted above, there are different types of attacks to add a few variables: Pulse, Beam, and Projectile. Certain types of defenses nerf different types of attacks; shields are great against pulse attacks, weaken beam attacks, and have no effect against projectiles, so you'd want to mix them up. Pulse attacks gravitate toward multiple small attacks (meaning multiple dice), beams focus more on damaging surrounding cards, while some projectiles might be harder to evade.

So that's the game so far. I'm at a point where I'm able to produce mock cards to start playtesting, and I'm curious to see how well it plays. If anyone has any feedback, please send it my way! I'm curious to see different takes on this model.