1 Player hardcore
Here is a draft ruleset for playing a 30 day fire season.
Since so much of the game is random, my goal here is to move away from the arbitrary financial figure used to determine success. I think an evaluation based on points might be more applicable based on experience and fun for gameplay. This of course becomes a "beat your own score" type of metric which I am generally not fond of, but again I feel it might be applicable and fun for this game.
I will also note some changes for game ending events I think will be appropriate.
Fire Season Point Evaluation - The goal, like golf, is to accrue as few points as possible.
Each $1,000 spent during the campaign is worth one point.
Example, if $185,000 is spent, 185 points are earned. If $9,000 is spent in one day, 9 points are earned.
Each urban hex burned adds 100 points to a player's score. The loss of an urban hex does not result in an "Utter Loss" per rule 10.2.3.
This rule represents the high value that private structures have economically and politically. While it is undesirable for many reasons when a structure burns, it is not generally associated with penalties to employment as the loss of a structure is often the result of several factors, including poor location, lack of homeowner work to make it for fire resilient, and weather conditions that responding firefighters are not responsible for.
If a fire would not be extinguished by midnight use rule 12.6 Working into the Night. However, at the conclusion of the 10 p.m. turn, before the turn marker is moved to the 11 p.m. space, the player may demobilize any resources he does not wish to use and pay for at the beginning of the next day (beginning on the 1 a.m. turn). All resources used for fire suppression from the 11 p.m. turn on will be paid deployment costs for a second full day, even if the fire is extinguished before midnight or only a few hours into the next day.
This rule assumes the resources demobilized before the 11 p.m. turn have enough time left to get back to the station or back to their camp spot and get off shift before the day ends.
If a fire burns off the map, the player plays out one more complete turn after the turn in which the fire burns off the map. Then the day ends immediately for the player. By moving off the map, it is assumed the management of the fire will be transitioned to a more qualified incident commander. They player would in all likelihood still be engaged on the fire, but would cease being the person in charge. So the player will be evaluated based on his or her performance up to the time when command is transitioned to the more qualified incident commander.
The player accrues 1 point per $1,000 spent per rule above. In addition, the player adds the intensity value for all burning or smoldering hexes together and then divides the total by 5. This number is added to the player's score. Any fraction/remainder is rounded up to 1 and added to the total score.
Example: 10 conifer hexes (intensity value 50), 2 mixed wood hexes (intensity value 4), and 5 grass hexes (intensity value 2.5) are burning or smoldering at the time the player is replaced by the more qualified incident commander. The player's score for the burning and smoldering hexes on the map would be (50+4+2.5)/5 or 56.5/5 or 12 points, in addition to the cost of deployed resources. The divisor of 5 is based on the movement value of a crew resource and is meant to roughly represent the burden lining and extinguishing such hexes would impose on the incoming incident commander as well as any further fire spread on the map from those burning/smoldering hexes. It is intended to be more of a penalty than would be imposed using rule above in conjunction with rule 10.1.1, as the hexes in rule 10.1.1 are contained and incapable of spreading.
I have a hard time reconciling rule 10.2.2 to the Fire Season rule in 11.2. Does a fire that escapes a map edge result in a "Major Loss" per rule 10.2.2? If so, what does a "Major Loss" mean for the fire season? Does it end for the player on the day in which it occurs? In my experience, fires are likely to escape a map edge at some point during a fire season. This rule is intended to both eliminate a "game end" condition partway through the fire season and to eliminate any confusion as to how such an event impacts the fire season. Basically when a fire exits a map edge, the player is penalized but gets to continue the campaign.
When fire enters a hex occupied by a resource, the resource may move up to 10 hexes away to escape per the 6.4 Evacuation rule. However, the resource is not removed from play unless every route to safety is through a hex that was actively burning, either before or after the fire growth phase (per the normal rule in 6.4, and with some component of head fire spread when the head fire momentum has a value of at least 10. This is every red colored square on the Fire Growth Chart. If this condition is met, the resource is assumed to have been entrapped and overrun by the fire.
Note that resources cannot be overrun by backing or flanking fires at any momentum, and cannot be overrun by head fires with values of less than 10. This is because even though the active fire would have occupied a hex or hexes along the resource's escape route, the resource's evacuation speed of 10 would cause it to exit any such hex before the fire entrapped it.
Any crew or dozer resource that evacuates must subtract the number of hexes it moved to safety from future movement allowances. Any tanker truck that evacuates loses one full turn for moving 1-5 hexes to safety and two full turns if it moved 5-10 hexes to safety. Each resource then must sit out one more full turn to account for its personnel reorganizing to reengage after the evacuation.
Example: If a crew resource fled 6 hexes to safety, it would lose its next 6 movement points or the equivalent of 1 full turn and 1 of its 5 movement points for the next turn. Then it would lose one additional turn as it reorganized. If a crew resource fled 10 hexes to safety, it would lose its next 10 movement points, or the equivalent of 2 full turns, plus a third turn to reorganize. A tanker truck which moved 7 hexes to safety would lose two full turns plus a third turn to reorganize. Road movement is not a factor here.
If entrapped and overrun, roll one die:
On a result of 1-2, there are no serious injuries or fatalities, the resource is recovered safely, but the player is immediately replaced by a new incident commander. The player's score is totaled per the above rules with the addition of receiving a 500 point penalty. The player is given five days off from the fire season, which is then resumed if there is any time left in the 30 season.
On a result of 3-6, there are serious injuries or fatalities. The player is replaced immediately by a new incident commander. A penalty of 1000 points is added to the player's score, in addition to the total per the rules above. The player is relieved of his responsibilities for the remainder of the 30 day fire season to prevent this event from impacting his performance on any further fires and so the player can participate in any short term investigation and critical incident debriefing that occurs. This situation would be characterized as an Utter Loss per 10.2.3.
I think the official rules for evacuation are too strict and unrealistic. I aim to reduce their potency a bit with this rule while still applying a movement penalty for any resources that do have to evacuate. This penalty should account for the movement of the resource away from the fire as well as the time necessary for them to reorganize and reengage the fire after the event.
Any fire start that lands next to the map and would result in the fire automatically moving off the map the hour after detection should be considered a "mulligan". A different ignition location should be determined in this event.
End of Fire Season
At the end of the fire season the points accrued for each day are added together to come up with the total points accrued during the 30 day fire season. When a player has played one full fire season, he will have a goal to improve upon based on past performance.
I feel that the daily limits for single fire situations and the 30 day fire season limit of $200,000 provides an unrealistic hurdle to fighting the fire. For a real fire situation, the incident commander would request the resources he believed necessary to contain and control the fire, regardless of cost. Whether such resources were available is another matter not considered by the game rules or this variant. The $200,000 limit for 30 days forces me to be much less aggressive with the fire as I'm hoping to do it on the cheap. Eliminating this evaluation metric and replacing it with a "beat your high score" metric should allow me to fight fires aggressively as is the norm but still provides a way to evaluate my decision making and tactical skills.
I also wanted to avoid penalizing the player with game ending conditions for situations that may often be outside his control, such as when an urban hex burns or the fire moves off the map.
I believe these variant rules should strike a balance between gameplay and "realism" such as it is, which is more of a concern for me and likely less for others.
I intend to begin playing with them soon. Please let me know if you have any feedback.
I certainly think this is worth considering, though I've played the game as written and the financial criteria actually worked well.
My other first blush reaction is that your proposal is longer the rules for the game, which might well be why something like it wasn't adopted in the first place.
Smokejumpers is a great game and it's fun to see people fiddle with it. Have at it!
1 Player hardcore
I can't help but have fires escape the map when I play a fire season. Generally because I'm too tight with money, always with an eye on the $200,000 limit.
Here are my thoughts:
I think the thing that strikes me the most is that fundamentally your rules aren't so very different to the rules as written - it's just that you count upwards (one point per $1000 spent) instead of downwards ($1000 deducted for each $1000 spent). I guess that is reasonable if you want to remove the arbitrary budget of £200,000 but I don't see why you wouldn't just keep score by using the game's metric of dollars. Perhaps you are just trying to psychologically distance yourself from the finances which I know you find rather unthematic?
I like the idea of a score (or budget) penalty for the loss of an urban hex. I think that is better than my rather inelegant proposal.
More pay for the firefighters, eh? Whatever made you think of that? Nice idea. I like it.
To be honest, I like the simplicity of £1000 per hex as the penalty for having smoldering hexes still in play. It makes perfect sense to me that hexes that are burning more intensely might attract a higher penalty - I'm just not sure whether I like it enough to do the extra arithmetic.
Yes - I like this.
I'd already done this. I approve of it being enshrined in writing somewhere.
All in all, I think I probably have less distaste for the budget mechanics than you do, so I don't feel the need to get rid of it. I certainly wouldn't discontinue a campaign if I was running over budget and I think I would welcome having some sort of goal to aim at - however arbitrary it might be. I am quite certain I will be "borrowing" some of your other rules though.
Thanks (as ever) for taking the time to share your ideas.