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Space Empires: 4X» Forums » Variants

Subject: Variant AP ideas after a few more solo plays rss

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Brian Bankler
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I played a few solo games last year (and 1-2 real ones) and then a few this weekend and ... I like the AP solo game, but it feels a bit dry. Of course solitaire would, but I play a ton of MK solitaire and it feels tense. After thinking about it, I realized that the the issue was that in the solitaire game you'd often be fairly certain of what was going to happen. Sure, the AP roll dice, and you'd have to suffer from the tech, but you never got nailed by a decoy or anything like that. So, I started tinkering.

I've tried these rules twice, and they seem to work well. Definitely harder. Both games devolved into a knife fight quickly, and you can get hit hard. I haven't solidified the rules, but here are the basics.

1) During movement fleets will make an aggression roll to determine strategy. They may decide to withdraw (back to HW or merge with nearby fleets), wait or attack normally or even get hyper aggressive and split points to attack multiple hexes. (The aggression roll is modified by the relative strength of nearby fleets).

Rationale -- If the AP fleet is weak, waiting for more ships to arrive (or even for the other AP to launch a fleet) is better than charging into a colony and getting killed. Often (prior to these rules) I could run a fleet left to attack AP1 and then right to attack AP2. I need to formalize it, but I'm working on that.

1a) In general, AP should move to keep multiple targets in scope, which spread the human thin.
1b) If the AP lands on minerals he gets them (add to Fleet points at HW) and a wreck gives an immediate roll. (AP considers wrecks targets, like colonies).

2) The alien buys Move Technology on 1-3 (instead of 1-4) at launch, but if it fails may make another roll (succeeding on a '1' only) at the moment when a bonus move would be useful. (Slipping past defenders, hitting exposed targets). Also, there is small chance of gaining move during combat tech rolls.

Rationale -- This makes planning harder.

3) Economy rolls don't give the alien more dice, but the AP replaces the nearest unexplored tile with a colony ship. (The tile is removed). It grows normally, and those points get allocated. The AP is limited to 3 dice (+ colony points), which (at 10points/die) means that AP are producing ~60 points of a turn + colonies.

3a) At most 1 colony will be generated per turn (and none on the first turn) but the chances continue forever (always on a '1'). The AP grows roughly proportional to the player.

Rationale -- In the original game, an the econ rolls led to some easy games and some impossible. This leads to a still random but flatter growth curve and (more importantly) you can go smash AP colonies to recover. It has a nicer ebb and flow. I've given up a colony to green to smash a few colonies to yellow... feels like a real game.

4) A few new fleet options. If defending, the AP will build a base (at a colony) or mines, or have an option to try to "first strike" (in general, build ships that roll right before the mass of enemies, if there is a mass, so DDs vs Scouts (if attacking), etc. Also, sometimes the fleet build is "Wah! Decoy!" and the points go to the nearest unrevealed fleet (or HW).

(Still tinkering the exact rules. Sometimes fleet will try to fight for initiative by building one class better).

Addition -- On a fleet roll of 10, fleets never launch. And if one AP rolls a launch, the other gets a -1 to its roll (10s still never launch).

5) Once you eliminate on AP, the other gets +2 dice.

6) Tech -- I replaced the tech table with the following (you still go through the pre-table checks for mandatory purchases and size roll).

(Updated Aug 8th)

Table A
1-2 :: Attack (Reroll if Attack is greater max hull, ie attack 2 size 2)
3-4 :: Defense (ditto)
5 :: Tactics (Attack/Defense if equal)
6 :: Mine sweeper
7 :: Cloak
8 :: Fighters
9 :: Ship Yard. Spend 20 research and add 20 points to this fleet!
10 :: Rare -- Roll on Table B

Table B
1-2 :: Point Defense.
3-4 :: Scanning
5 :: Tactics
6 :: Mine Sweeping
7 :: Size (yes, you could get size twice in one attack! Or more!)
8 :: Move
9 :: Whatever is most annoying
10 :: Stop Rolling, Fleet is a decoy (if not defending a colony/HW)

After three no purchases (edit -- in a row), the AP stops trying. (This keeps him from wasting a random 15 points on mine or something).

The Shipyard option is brutal, and means that even a small 10 point fleet can't be handled by a few scouts (necessarily).

Addition -- Also, if an (offensive) tech is useless right now, the AP won't make it unless it can afford the complement. So, no purchasing fighters if it doesn't have 27 Fleet points, or size 3 (unless the AP can purchase size 3 right now). If the human is revealed at tactics 2, the AP won't buy tactics 1 unless it can also afford tactics 2, at which point it buys both.

AP will buy Mine Sweeper or Point Defense in advance, as that is defensive.

Also, One AP will not buy cloaking if the other has already revealed it on a prior impulse.

Addition -- I missed this but it was implied earlier. The AP will retreat (if it makes sense). In close cases, make an aggression roll.

TODO -- Have "surprise" research, just like shipyard is "surprise" tech. I may allow a tech roll that is somewhat short to steal fleet points to buy it, as long as it is a small (ish) percentage.

Edit -- Updated with new rules.
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Brian Bankler
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I've updated this with a bit more detail and some tweaks.

These aliens feel reasonable. They have some coordination, and the game doesn't feel like everything hinges on the early economy rolls. I've traded colonies back and forth -- you have more to do than just take homeworlds. With 20 AP at 10 CP per die, I'm having tense games using a 30 Point HW and a (minor) empire power (like Nanobots or Power to the People. Haven't drawn a combat Empire Power).
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