Sunday, August 31, 2008

Multilevel Play: Tweaking Shipyard Assault

I decided that it was time for the Federation to make a bold attempt to destroy an undefended Klingon shipyard with four starships while two more remained to interfere with Klingon operations in Federation space. One of those Federation ships was the USS Endeavour4, which was attacked by the IKS Kor3. Since the Kor initiated the attack, it rolled first. Here are the
combat logs:

At coordinates M,22, IKS Kor3 attacks USS Endeavour4

IKS Kor3 rolls: 36 allocation: 12o,24d
USS Endeavour4 rolls: 96 allocation: 39o,57d

IKS Kor3 damage: destroyed
USS Endeavour4 damage: undamaged

After the battle, the Endeavour4 linked up with the Genghis Khan5, and they will either harass the Klingon fleet or attempt to rejoin the Federation fleet.

The Federation fleet did indeed cross into Klingon territory for another go at Klingon shipyard wej. Here are the unfortunate logs:

USS Entebbe2, USS Chang4, USS Gordon3, USS Guadalcanal3 attack Klingon Shipyard wej (F/G,13)

USS Entebbe2 rolls: 108 Allocation: 84o,24d
USS Chang4 rolls: 48 Allocation: 0o,48d
USS Gordon3 rolls: 72 Allocation: 0o,72d
USS Guadalcanal3 rolls: 96 Allocation: 84o,12d
IKS Shipyard wej rolls: 280 Allocation: 39,8,8,27o,99,0,0,99d

USS Entebbe2 damage: destroyed
USS Chang4 damage: undamaged
USS Gordon3 damage: undamaged
USS Guadalcanal3 damage: destroyed
IKS Shipyard wej damage: undamaged

USS Chang4 rolls: 60 Allocation: 60o,0d
USS Gordon3 rolls: 60 Allocation:60o,0d
IKS Shipyard wej rolls: 252 Allocation: 66,66o,60,60d

USS Entebbe2 damage: destroyed
USS Chang4 damage: destroyed
USS Gordon3 damage: destroyed
USS Guadalcanal3 damage: destroyed
IKS Shipyard wej damage: undamaged

This represents just part of a really devastating day for the Federation. The only positive they can bring from this is when they respawn, they'll be in a position to join the battle against the Klingons. Speaking of Klingons, here are the logs of their attack against Federation shipyard Two:

IKS Drunken Warrior2, IKS Krueg4, IKS Genghis Khan, IKS tIQghoB attack Federation Shipyard Two (J/K,21)

IKS Drunken Warrior2 rolls: 48 Allocation: 48o,0d
IKS Krueg4 rolls: 96 Allocation: 96o,0d
IKS Genghis Khan rolls: 72 Allocation: 72o,0d
IKS tIQghoB rolls: 120 Allocation: 120o,0d
UFP Shipyard Two rolls: 308 Allocation: 0o,77,77,77,77d

IKS Drunken Warrior2 damage: undamaged
IKS Krueg4 damage: undamaged
IKS Genghis Khan damage: undamaged
IKS tIQghoB damage: undamaged
UFP Shipyard Two damage: destroyed

While I played through these attacks, I challenged myself to balance the offense and defense of both sides. Simulating both sides acting simultaneously, and doing my best to find some way for both sides to try as hard as possible to win or even survive. I came up with two things. With a shipyard having a multiplier of 28, the most it could have to defend with is 336. (28X12). Assuming that your fleet consists of four heavy cruisers, (each of course with a multiplier of 12), each ship needs to contribute 84 points, or a roll of 7 or up to overwhelm and destroy the shipyard. (84X4=336). So my Federation Fleet Commander, balancing the need to destroy the shipyard with the need to survive, is going to want to devote 84 points to the offensive effort whenever possible, and when he can't, balance the offense and defense as best he can. Considering that 7 is just about the medium possible roll from the two six-sided dice, that number 84 is the number a sensible fleet commander (if the fleet has four ships) will be thinking about when taking on a shipyard. On the other hand, there is the risky (and successful for the Klingons today) strategy of throwing every point into offense. Sure, the shipyard could fire back at four undefended ships, but I think that the obvious advantage enjoyed by the ships in adopting this strategy is balanced by the risk they face by not knowing what the shipyard will have to defend itself with. Look again at that medium 7 roll. Four ships would need to roll more than an average of 7 in order for that strategy to work. Any less, and a shipyard commander can work the numbers enough to whittle down the attackers. And really, once a shipyard has destroyed one attacker, the others are doomed. Because then that 336 max points means each ship (three remaining) will need an average of 112 points each (an average roll of 9.333 each). That's what I worked out during these two shipyard assaults.

So the situation we're left with is this: There are three remaining Federation shipyards. The USS Endeavour4 and the USS Genghis Khan5 are in formation, facing a Klingon fleet that smells victory. Four Federation starships (USS Entebbe2, USS Chang4, USS Gordon3 and USS Guadalcanal3) will respawn in a position to cause trouble for the Klingons, but they'll be slowed. Only three can respawn at once. They really have no choice but to fight a defensive battle now. Or maybe try to capture a Klingon ship or two. I think they can still come back with three shipyards, but if they lose another, I think it's just a matter of time. And of course, the IKS Kor4 is just about to launch from shipyard vagh and rejoin the battle.

All of this stuff probably seems pretty complicated, but it is really just the process of playtesting that works out rules to properly balance. It could eventually contribute to a tactics and strategies manual. It also is fun for me, because the more thinking I put into this campaign, the more I'm enjoying it. No button-mashing. No joystick-breaking. No cheat codes. Thinking. Decision-making. Problem-solving. And while there are no graphics to enjoy (yet:)...), as far as a thinking challenge, Fantasy Trek is getting to be my favorite. Of course, I'm a bit biased probably :)

More next time


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