Vic DiGital
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Recently, an obscure game from the 60's, Dogfight, has seen a surprising surge in curious interest. Mostly this is due to several epic threads that you can discover on your own. I request that in THIS thread, no mention be made of that other thread. Let sleeping dogs lie.

In those other threads, a variant of Dogfight was created and presented to the nice (and not-so-nice) citizens of BGG. This variant of this 50 year-old game was itself more than 30 years old, and all aspects of the game were in dire need of tweaking and updating with modern game mechanics. Among the feedback was pages and pages of amazing suggestions to how this variant could be modernized to appeal to today's gamers. All of the suggestions were categorically dismissed as inferior to the version of the game he had created. And this is a totally fair opinion for him to have about his game and our suggestions.

However, the fact remains that the suggestions presented WOULD lead to a pretty cool modern, updated variant of Dogfight.

To that end, I present... DRONE TACTICS. The place where everyone who had great ideas for modern Dogfight variants can come and contribute their ideas and have those ideas considered and hopefully incorporated. I'm excited to see what sorts of innovative ideas are submitted, and what sort of game emerges, one that very likely end up baring little resemblance to it's source, Dogfight.

Some gameplay elements to start off with, straight from Dogfight, are

1) a grid-based board, the number of squares open for discussion.
2) Three or four planes in a 'squadron', with two teams of two squadrons on either side of the board to start.
3) Combat to be determined by a sort of Rock-Paper-Scissors card play.
4) Four anti-aircraft spaces surrounding each player's starting corner. Flying into these spaces results in destruction of the aircraft. These four spaces are determined by each player, who secretly places the four tokens face-down on the board.
5) Aircraft moves according to dice rolls.
6) Gameplay is swift and decisive.


These are the base mechanics DRONE TACTICS will employ. HOW it employs those mechanics is entirely up to discussion. Also up for discussion is the overall theme of the game. The original version of DRONE TACTICS imagined it as a very modern/near-future version of Dogfight, where instead of biplanes, it's mechanized drones that are sent out to fight each other.

Some of the early DRONE TACTICS-specific ideas thrown around (no longer existing as it was in the now-deleted Epic Thread) are:

1) Movement is based on programmed dice. Sort of like Robo-rally. You roll four dice, each one has slightly different faces that indicate what sort of movement actions you can take. You are stuck with the results of the die faces, but you get to choose what order you place the dice. So at the beginning of their turns, each player will "program" their plane, and then reveal their program one die at a time, and watch as the aerial DRONE TACTICS play out. The cards in the game (each player would have a hand of five or six) would contain means of "Hacking into" (modifying) the programming of the dice. This could include either your own DRONE, OR possibly, your opponent's DRONE.

2) A SENTIENT DRONE. This is a sort of "hidden traitor"/role selection sort of mechanic. Each game, there is a possibility that one of the sixteen DRONES (four per player, remember) gains sentience at some point during the game, and goes on the offensive against all the players. If the SENTIENT DRONE state is triggered (however that happens), then a special deck of cards is brought out that determines the SENTIENT DRONE's tactics and moves. This is not unlike the villain and environment decks in Sentinels of the Multiverse, or the system decks in Firefly. This poses an interesting choice for the players. Do they temporarily team up to bring the SENTIENT DRONE down? Or do they each stay on their own? And for that matter, does the original owner of the SENTIENT DRONE spend energy and resources in attempting to regain control of what is essentially one-fourth of their force? If they are able to regain control, they potentially will have a powered-up version of their old DRONE, as they'll maintain whatever power/weaponry/defense the SENTIENT DRONE may have acquired while it was seeking its independence.

3) DRONE TACTICS can have a modular or randomized/customizable board. Terrain can vary from game to game, with various terrains having subtle, but definite impact on DRONE movement and attack.

4) DRONE TACTICS can be potentially based on the Moon. It's essentially a battle over Lunar Control, as there are no humans living on the moon, but controlled DRONES are battling it out for dominance.

That's the basic gist of what DRONE TACTICS can look like. Now it's time for your suggestions. I have no idea how anything 'definitive' will be determined, but I believe the best ideas will rise to the top and be first to be implemented and tested out and ultimately "win". But no suggestion is too big or too small. And feel free to modify or outright ignore any of the suggestions posted above. Those are all just the starting points to inspire the game that will become DRONE TACTICS.

Above all, this game is intended to remain fast, and simple and fun. But as we all know, that doesn't mean "easy" or "childish".

Let's make a cool game, one that definitely complies.


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Ricky Cantrell
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Love the idea, subscribed!

Ok, question the first: is there any way we could move from squares to a hex based grid? I really like the movement restrictions in Kings of Air and Steam and think something like that could be really cool in a duel game like this. Plus it opens up attacking on the diagonal.

Ex:
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Don't know if these are of any value, but here are a couple of more games with a few similarities to Dogfight that may give some more ideas and one uses hexes:

Dogfight D6's: An Aerial Combat, Dice Rolling Game

Crosshairs

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djthree6t wrote:
Love the idea, subscribed!

Ok, question the first: is there any way we could move from squares to a hex based grid? I really like the movement restrictions in Kings of Air and Steam and think something like that could be really cool in a duel game like this. Plus it opens up attacking on the diagonal.

Ex:


Maneuverability is a good question to consider. If it remains actual winged aircraft, then hex movement and sharp turn restrictions definitely add thematic flavor while still keeping it simple enough to allow for a fast-paced game.

At the same time, I've become enamored with drone-ish quad-copters for things like GoPro cameras. Those things are awesome, btw. But nowadays when I think of "Drone", I think of something that has full maneuverability, with the ability to hover, and stop on a dime and change directions instantly.

 
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*I have no idea what drone warfare would actually look like on the modern battlefields so I'm going with my preconceptions*

I think the theme needs to be embraced and for me that means remotely controlled with a limited fallback AI when out of contact. To implement you can have planes/ground units that jam the drones units within a certain area radius. This could be used to lock their action die as (fallback AI) or could open them up to being hacked into by the opposition etc.

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simply4est wrote:
Don't know if these are of any value, but here are a couple of more games with a few similarities to Dogfight that may give some more ideas and one uses hexes:

Dogfight D6's: An Aerial Combat, Dice Rolling Game

Crosshairs



One idea from the long-lost Epic Thread that I just remembered was having both squares AND hexes represented. The squares are for movement my normal pieces. But there could also be a semi-transparent hex grid overlaid. This hex grid would be for different, or upgraded pieces, and allow them to move both faster, and with more versatility. So the hexes would be bigger, maybe 1.5 or 2 to 1 compared to the squares. So instead of "speed lanes", your ship would just be using an entirely different movement scale.

These overlaid hexes could also not be covering the entire board. Maybe it represents canyons or ocean currents. So yes, you get speed bonuses, but your available areas of movement are restricted.
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stuartfinlay wrote:
*I have no idea what drone warfare would actually look like on the modern battlefields so I'm going with my preconceptions*

I think the theme needs to be embraced and for me that means remotely controlled with a limited fallback AI when out of contact. To implement you can have planes/ground units that jam the drones units within a certain area radius. This could be used to lock their action die as (fallback AI) or could open them up to being hacked into by the opposition etc.



Love it.

So maybe the fallback AI is something you have to pre-program (maybe with cards) and place facedown before you begin your turn. If ever you lose contact with your Drone, these cards become the movement. It would probably need to be open-ended instructions such as FLY TOWARDS HOME BASE UNTIL ENCOUNTERING OBSTACLE.

At the same time, the "return home by most direct route possible" should probably be the default setting, with the Fallback mechanisms things that alter that, making it harder for the opponent to predict that path and intercept/destroy the drone or hack into it and take control.

 
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Remote control and fallback AI could also be represented by distance from your home base. The farther you get from your home base, the more likely it is that you will lose control of your drone, causing it to go into fallback AI mode. So sending a sortie deep into your opponents zone will be the most precarious thing you can do because you're most likely to see a "Signal Lost" derail your plans.

At the same time, the CLOSER a drone gets to your home base, the more likely you are to be able to jam its control signal, or hack into its control.

How could these ideas be represented in game mechanics?


Also, you could probably put in "signal boosters" at various places mitigating your precarious long-range control issues. These would be prime targets for opponents, getting these boosters away from their home bases.

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I like boosters idea as they add a ground element and more targets to shoot at. As for range from base I'd go with 2/3 zones at most though I'm not sure how much they'd add,straight across your map. Perhaps Let the booster units and terrain Interact to add the complexity. That way it's more modular.
 
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VicDigital wrote:
Remote control and fallback AI could also be represented by distance from your home base. The farther you get from your home base, the more likely it is that you will lose control of your drone, causing it to go into fallback AI mode. So sending a sortie deep into your opponents zone will be the most precarious thing you can do because you're most likely to see a "Signal Lost" derail your plans.

Would it be a temporary, or permanent, loss of control when the signal is lost?

The ability to place signal boosters is a clever idea.

 
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stuartfinlay wrote:
I like boosters idea as they add a ground element and more targets to shoot at. As for range from base I'd go with 2/3 zones at most,straight across your map. Let the units and terrain add the complexity. That way it's more modular.


So three zones. Your zone, neutral zone, and opponent's zone. Level of control drops down at each further zone. Maybe you lose a card per zone, or your signal strength roll is at an increasing negative modifier.
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Adverb wrote:
VicDigital wrote:
Remote control and fallback AI could also be represented by distance from your home base. The farther you get from your home base, the more likely it is that you will lose control of your drone, causing it to go into fallback AI mode. So sending a sortie deep into your opponents zone will be the most precarious thing you can do because you're most likely to see a "Signal Lost" derail your plans.

Would it be a temporary, or permanent, loss of control when the signal is lost?

The ability to place signal boosters is a clever idea.



I think it would be permanent-ish in that your drone has to make it successfully back to your home base, or at least your zone in order to reset it. Or maybe if it can get in proximity to your booster, you have a chance at resetting it.


I'm starting to think that maybe something like a Signal Test needs to be done at the beginning of your turn. This could be a D20 or percentile dice, although that starts to increase the fiddliness. But based on not just distance from your controller, but other factors such as weather, enemy jamming, etc, those are all modifiers to your Signal Test. Losing control and your drone going into Fallback AI would send the Signal Test into an almost impossible difficulty setting. However, it's always exciting to roll a natural 20 and you suddenly can shout "I've regained contact with my drone!"

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This seems like it could be enough of a base for an interesting game in the sub 3.0 complexity area with the right movement mechanism and AI planning mechanism.

When you discussed terrain earlier, what we're your thoughts. The way I'm picturing it right now is as a way to block/extend the range of the boosters but surely we can do better than just that.
 
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stuartfinlay wrote:
This seems like it could be enough of a base for an interesting game in the sub 3.0 complexity area with the right movement mechanism and AI planning mechanism.

When you discussed terrain earlier, what we're your thoughts. The way I'm picturing it right now is as a way to block/extend the range of the boosters but surely we can do better than just that.


Terrain was going to just be ways of making subtle variations on gameplay.

But I like the idea that it's co-main purpose is to disrupt communication strength.

While I have no fear we can design a massively complex and deep wargame, I think I'd like to see how much this can adhere to the founding principle of this game, which was as a direct, modern update of Dogfight. While that game is a children's game, obviously, with very limited complexity, I still think DRONE TACTICS can strive for as simple and streamlined a ruleset as possible.

I'm seeing a game taking maybe an hour. Less, if possible.

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stuartfinlay wrote:
sub 3.0 complexity area


BTW, is this an "official" thing somewhere? I'm not sure what this is referring to exactly.
 
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VicDigital wrote:
stuartfinlay wrote:
sub 3.0 complexity area


BTW, is this an "official" thing somewhere? I'm not sure what this is referring to exactly.


Not sure what he's referring to but the old Avalon Hill system had iirc chess at 3, monopoly at 1 and the most complex war games at the time at 10.
 
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VicDigital wrote:
But nowadays when I think of "Drone", I think of something that has full maneuverability, with the ability to hover, and stop on a dime and change directions instantly.
Most forseeable air-to-air and air-to-ground drone combat, though, is going to be fixed-wing rather than rotary-wing. Helicopters are inefficient, and need a particular purpose to justify that inefficiency.

That said, one notable exception is the MQ-8 Fire Scout, which is more noteworthy for its optics and targeting package than for its armament. Giving the reconnaissance unit rotorcraft capabilities (no facing restrictions) when the standard combat units have to use fixed-wing characteristics might be an interesting way to further distinguish the roles.
 
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VicDigital wrote:
1) Movement is based on programmed dice. Sort of like Robo-rally. You roll four dice, each one has slightly different faces that indicate what sort of movement actions you can take. You are stuck with the results of the die faces, but you get to choose what order you place the dice. So at the beginning of their turns, each player will "program" their plane, and then reveal their program one die at a time, and watch as the aerial DRONE TACTICS play out. The cards in the game (each player would have a hand of five or six) would contain means of "Hacking into" (modifying) the programming of the dice. This could include either your own DRONE, OR possibly, your opponent's DRONE.


To me, this is the key idea that got my attention, and there's enough right there to make a fun, light game without additional complications. Maybe call it Roborally Express instead of Drone Tactics.
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Santiago wrote:
VicDigital wrote:
1) Movement is based on programmed dice. Sort of like Robo-rally. You roll four dice, each one has slightly different faces that indicate what sort of movement actions you can take. You are stuck with the results of the die faces, but you get to choose what order you place the dice. So at the beginning of their turns, each player will "program" their plane, and then reveal their program one die at a time, and watch as the aerial DRONE TACTICS play out. The cards in the game (each player would have a hand of five or six) would contain means of "Hacking into" (modifying) the programming of the dice. This could include either your own DRONE, OR possibly, your opponent's DRONE.


To me, this is the key idea that got my attention, and there's enough right there to make a fun, light game without additional complications. Maybe call it Roborally Express instead of Drone Tactics.


You mean this? http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/89695/roboderby-express
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Santiago wrote:
VicDigital wrote:
1) Movement is based on programmed dice. Sort of like Robo-rally. You roll four dice, each one has slightly different faces that indicate what sort of movement actions you can take. You are stuck with the results of the die faces, but you get to choose what order you place the dice. So at the beginning of their turns, each player will "program" their plane, and then reveal their program one die at a time, and watch as the aerial DRONE TACTICS play out. The cards in the game (each player would have a hand of five or six) would contain means of "Hacking into" (modifying) the programming of the dice. This could include either your own DRONE, OR possibly, your opponent's DRONE.


To me, this is the key idea that got my attention, and there's enough right there to make a fun, light game without additional complications. Maybe call it Roborally Express instead of Drone Tactics.


What if you place only 3 of the 4 rolled dice to determine movement? It alleviates some of the randomness and creates a new set of choices without increasing complexity??
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polychrotid wrote:
Santiago wrote:
VicDigital wrote:
1) Movement is based on programmed dice. Sort of like Robo-rally. You roll four dice, each one has slightly different faces that indicate what sort of movement actions you can take. You are stuck with the results of the die faces, but you get to choose what order you place the dice. So at the beginning of their turns, each player will "program" their plane, and then reveal their program one die at a time, and watch as the aerial DRONE TACTICS play out. The cards in the game (each player would have a hand of five or six) would contain means of "Hacking into" (modifying) the programming of the dice. This could include either your own DRONE, OR possibly, your opponent's DRONE.


To me, this is the key idea that got my attention, and there's enough right there to make a fun, light game without additional complications. Maybe call it Roborally Express instead of Drone Tactics.


What if you place only 3 of the 4 rolled dice to determine movement? It alleviates some of the randomness and creates a new set of choices without increasing complexity??


One aspect of the programmable dice mechanic is that it's a VERY chaotic mechanic, usually not suitable for anything resembling a serious strategic game. Roborally and Space Cadets/Dice Duel have the programmed movement, and that ALWAYS leads to hilarious miscalculations and unintended destinations. At the moment, DRONE TACTICS doesn't feel like a light-hearted game, so maybe the programmed movement works best as part of the Fallback AI. Once direct control of the Drone is lost, then it reverts to the programming, which may or may not result in what you wanted it to do, especially if an opponent hacks into it.
 
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Any news on this?
 
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