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Generation of Traitors - A Design and Development Blog

Wherein I discuss the creation of a game about a fleet of starships going rogue in order to save humanity from itself.
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The Basic Concept

Nate K
United States
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I am creating--or "generating"--an as-yet-untitled sci fi game that details the exploits of a rogue starship fleet.

The story involves a tyrannical government rapidly coming to power in the Inner Planets, then conquering the Outer Planets in a matter of weeks. A fleet of warships, scanning planets at the edge of human exploration for signs of an old alien foe, receives word of this despotic reign. Admiral Vonn decides to to her fleet around and rescue humanity from the threat within.

The game is intended to play solitaire, although I have some ideas on how it could involve two players that would not require any additional components, merely some rules changes.

A typical session will likely last between 30 minutes and 1 hour. This will vary depending on the victory condition and the aggressiveness of the player.

Many of the mechanics have already been worked out. The game will rely on both dice and cards, although cards will, for the most part, only be shuffled at the beginning of the game to randomize the map. After that, randomness will only come from dice rolls.

The spiritual forefathers of this game are science fiction epics such as David Weber's Honor Harrington series and C.S. Friedman's In Conquest Born, as well as naval warfare as depicted in Patrick O'Brian's superb Aubrey/Maturin series.

In particular, I've latched onto the idea of naval broadsides. Although combat is heavily abstracted, I've come up with a way to represent the idea of swinging past an opponent and firing multiple volleys. I've yet to come up with a way to represent boarding actions that I like, but that may end up playing a part, as well.

The game includes several routes to victory--diplomatic, economic, and military. The player will be able to purchase his or her own custom fleet at the beginning of the game. (That will likely be the part of the game that requires the most tweaking and balancing.) Each starship type--there are currently twelve--has six stats: Cost, Systems, Armor, Supplies, Personnel, and Weapons.

Cost is only used at the beginning of the game as a player uses points to assemble the fleet as he or she sees fit.

Systems represents how much punishment a ship can take before it is destroyed. It's essentially the ship's "hit points."

Armor, which may eventually be renamed to "Shields," represents how much damage a ship can take before it starts taking hits to Systems. Unlike Systems, Armor is recharged after each battle.

Supplies abstracts many different things. At allied planets or space stations, Supplies can be used to purchase certain bonuses. After a battle, Supplies can be spent to repair Systems. Supplies pay for movement--representing the cost of feeding the ships' crews during the long voyages between planets. During a battle, they can be used to repair Armor. Much of the game will revolve around carefully allocating one's Supplies.

Personnel is, at this stage of the game, essential a second currency in addition to supplies. Certain allied planets or stations will need Personnel to stay on your side. If/When I work out how boarding actions will work, Personnel will also be involved.

Weapons represents how likely a ship is to inflict damage on the enemy.

Currently, I am also planning on including Officers. The player may select an Officer at the beginning of the game. That Officer will have certain advantages and disadvantages that can alter the game. I have nine Officers planned, which should shake things up enough that the game has a good amount of replayability.

The "map" of the game will also be represented by cards. There will be four different kinds of map cards: A, B, C, and D. The player will select his or her intended path to victory--political, economic, or military--then set up the map according to the prescribed layout for that victory condition. For example, the military victory might have a map layout like this:

B C <== side quests
ABCCDD <== main route
B C <== side quests

This map layout requires one A card, three B cards, four C cards, and two D cards. The player will randomly select those cards, then arrange them according to the layout. He or she must then work his or her way through the challenges presented at each location along the main route, starting at the left and moving right. The side quests will provide the player with opportunities to, for example, gain extra Supplies or technology that will provide dice bonuses.

The game is very much a work-in-progress and some of what I have written above may change. The current plan is to release the game as print-and-play sometime within the next few months, and hopefully receive some good feedback to help tighten up the game.

I don't expect any comments or criticisms at this stage, but any encouragement would be very welcome.
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