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Subject: New Official Rules for Community Feedback rss

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Bob
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We're gearing up for the release of Talon 1000 and the Talon reprint here. There's a number of rules tweaks we've been play testing. Below are a few for which we'd really like to get community feedback. They have to do with movement, namely taking some of the predictability out of being tailed. The new options would be available to all factions. They also, I think, will have an impact on smaller battles; making them more interesting or at least forcing them to be decided sooner. These rules will go into the living rules & errata for Talon in addition to being updated in the second printing rule book.
Please let us know what you think. I can't promise we'll be able to test and include every suggestion but any constructive ideas are welcome.

New Rules for Community Feedback:
1. Snap Turn: During the movement portion of a turn, if a ship does not have a turn radius marker on the board AND it is marked with a sideslip marker, then that ship may spend the side slip marker to turn and rotate two hex-sides instead of one. Mark the turn radius normally after the turn. After completing the turn that ship must immediately roll on the following table:

1-2: No effect
3-5: One hull damage
6: Do not turn, move straight ahead one hex and mark the ship with the Helm Down critical effect.

Regardless of the roll outcome, a ship that performs a Snap Turn may not fire until the next Impulse.


2. Power Shift: If a ship has AP to spend in Impulse F (most do), the ship can use its AP to declare a Power Shift. If the ship currently has a Turn Radius marker on the board, move it out one hex. If the ship does not have a Turn Radius marker on the board, place one out one hex (the ship will have to move straight this Impulse). This Turn Radius shift or placement is not affected by that ship’s Turn value. During the Power Phase all ships doing a Power Shift choose their speed AFTER all other ships choose their speed. The Power Phase is now resolved in this order: Initiative player ships, Second player ships, Initiative player Power Shift ships, Second player Power Shift ships. In addition, all ships doing a Power Shift may change their Power Curve by 2 steps instead of 1 step.
The idea behind this is to give you another maneuver option and allow you to try to shake a tail. The Turn Radius is added/pushed out because so much of the thruster/drive system is being used to change speed.

3. Structural Integrity: All ships with at least one hull damage must roll a die at the end of Power Phase, starting with all of the Imitative Player’s ships. On a roll of a six they suffer another hull damage.
This is obviously meant to bring games to conclusion by encouraging wounded ships to either retreat or press to end the game sooner.

Thanks in advance.
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David desJardins
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I understand and appreciate the intentions but I've got some doubt about the details. I will speculate, without, of course, having tested any of these.

In general, these seem more fiddly than the base rules. I'm not a big fan of adding a bunch of dice rolls where they didn't previously exist.

Snap Turn and Structural Integrity both seem biased against small ships. (1 hull damage for a small ship is a much bigger issue than for a big ship.) This seems especially strange for Snap Turn, since I would expect smaller ships to be more nimble. I feel like Snap Turn might get used a lot more than you intend, especially by larger ships. Obviously, Helm Down is the big risk there, but there could be situations where it's well worth it. (Not being able to fire on that impulse might not be a big deal, because you might be able to guarantee an alpha strike on the next impulse.)

Power Shift feels like it could be quite powerful. It seems like it's going to be quite attractive for the first player, who is gaining effectively both an initiative advantage as well as more control over speed, and then the second player may often respond with Power Shift himself, and now you're back to where you were before except everyone has more options. And again it favors bigger ships (because the total cost to me of Power Shift for my big ships is less than you with your smaller ships).
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These are great analysis points, though ones we did consider. As for your point that hull damage might not mean much to larger ships, the new rule on hull integrity can possibly double punish you for using snap turn. This allows for a bit of a push your luck mechanic for someone who makes a poor decision early in the game to try to push through the risk and get back the momentum they lost.

As for Power Shift, I feel you are right, that big ships will be able to use it more. I also feel like those ships should be able to cycle their engines more efficiently than smaller ships. Additionally, the opportunity cost of using power shift is that you lose an AP to trade initiative with. In situations where you want one ship to change its speed responsively, but are unlikely to win the AP trade, you can power shift. Against a fleet that you know you out power, you would benefit most from trading initiative, though you lose the ability to shift twice. Essentially, this option gives individual ships the ability to shake tails, but you lose the opportunity cost of winning the initiative war going into the power phase.

But all of that is theory. We have tested these options internally, but definitely want more feedback.
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David desJardins
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shadowmeldk wrote:
Against a fleet that you know you out power, you would benefit most from trading initiative, though you lose the ability to shift twice.


Well, that's not clear, that you benefit more from changing initiative. Choosing speed second and then going first in the first impulse of the next turn can be ideal. And spending to change initiative in the first position is less attractive than in the second position, because your opponent goes after you and can counter your expenditure, or not.

I'm not primarily thinking of the situation of "shaking tails", because I don't think that's the most common case or that the use of these rules will be primarily restricted to that situation.
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    Scope creep.

    I'll leave them out if given the opportunity.

    I think they'll detract from the game. The double-turn in particular gives you the ability to eat damage on the shield of your choice, especially from chasing missiles.

    Never did like the HET.

             S.

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David desJardins
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Sagrilarus wrote:
The double-turn in particular gives you the ability to eat damage on the shield of your choice, especially from chasing missiles.


This seems like a big concern to me, too. I go to a lot of trouble to set up a missile strike and the double turn makes it much less effective.
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K A
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chrono280 wrote:


New Rules for Community Feedback:
1. Snap Turn: During the movement portion of a turn, if a ship does not have a turn radius marker on the board AND it is marked with a sideslip marker, then that ship may spend the side slip marker to turn and rotate two hex-sides instead of one. Mark the turn radius normally after the turn. After completing the turn that ship must immediately roll on the following table:

1-2: No effect
3-5: One hull damage
6: Do not turn, move straight ahead one hex and mark the ship with the Helm Down critical effect.

Regardless of the roll outcome, a ship that performs a Snap Turn may not fire until the next Impulse.


2. Power Shift: If a ship has AP to spend in Impulse F (most do), the ship can use its AP to declare a Power Shift. If the ship currently has a Turn Radius marker on the board, move it out one hex. If the ship does not have a Turn Radius marker on the board, place one out one hex (the ship will have to move straight this Impulse). This Turn Radius shift or placement is not affected by that ship’s Turn value. During the Power Phase all ships doing a Power Shift choose their speed AFTER all other ships choose their speed. The Power Phase is now resolved in this order: Initiative player ships, Second player ships, Initiative player Power Shift ships, Second player Power Shift ships. In addition, all ships doing a Power Shift may change their Power Curve by 2 steps instead of 1 step.
The idea behind this is to give you another maneuver option and allow you to try to shake a tail. The Turn Radius is added/pushed out because so much of the thruster/drive system is being used to change speed.

3. Structural Integrity: All ships with at least one hull damage must roll a die at the end of Power Phase, starting with all of the Imitative Player’s ships. On a roll of a six they suffer another hull damage.
This is obviously meant to bring games to conclusion by encouraging wounded ships to either retreat or press to end the game sooner.

Thanks in advance.


I'll try to work these into a game but my first impression is rather negative. Aside from agreeing with others' first impressions that have been given so far...

Snap Turn seems way too cheap (compared to the same cost for a sideslip), spontaneous, and powerful. One point of hull damage, even a 1/6 chance of major damage, is a small price to pay to bring weapons to bear when they couldn't otherwise or to bring a fresh shield to incoming weapons/missiles that would kill the ship anyway. To me, the bigger issue is that it de-emphasizes maneuver since a ship that succeeds in getting behind an opponent can have that undone by a single point of power. The snap turning ships also don't have to commit to it since the use of the sideslip marker gives them options for Snap Turn, Sideslip, or neither. Having a dedicated marker would still not address the other issues. I also was not a fan of Star Fleet Battles' High Energy Turn for this same reason but at least it was just available once a game.

Power Shift: Seems "fiddly" during impulse 6 and during power allocation especially since it is per ship. More fundamentally it seems to be trying to address a natural consequence of the game being turn based rather than simultaneous in its movement. I agree with David's first impressions.

Structural Integrity: My first impression is strongly negative. Thematically, just because a ship takes 1 hull damage it enters a countdown to death? Also, if it is that unstable how is it getting back to port anyway or in a campaign game the damaged ship would die going between battles. Within the game, it adds a lot of extra die rolling with the potential of luck to have a strong, uneven impact. I agree that it punishes small ships too harshly.

Underlying all of this is the statement that the rules changes should make smaller battles more interesting or faster. This is an extremely good small fleet combat game. Adding details like these could impact the fleet aspect negatively while still not giving the game the level of detail and options needed for an interesting ship/small fleet vs ship/small fleet game.

FULL DISCLOSURE, I'm planning on web publishing a free, detailed ship game. However, that does not keep me from appreciating the great games in this genre.
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David E
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I am not sure what problem exists that these rules need to fix.

I'm sure there are players who would be happy with binders full of "optional," "advanced" and house rules, but that way lies SFB...
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Niko
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Add another one to the "not convinced" list.
Snap Turns: As has been said this just makes it too easy to turn shields to whatever side they are needed. This actually will make games longer since it becomes harder to line up a shot against a side without shields.

Also, how does this work with FTRs, one damage to each FTR or to just one? What about bases, can they be assigned side slip markers to let them turn two sides?

Lastly, am I the only one that vaguely remembers a comment along the lines of this not being space ballet? I.e. ships having inertia and not being able to spin on a dime?

Power Shift: Seems too fiddly to be worth it. From the BBG description: "This is an accessible game", so why add a rule that introduces exceptions all over the place (not a movement yet places turn radius, only way to extend turn radius, turn radius independent of current turn value, only available in one impulse, power adjustment now tracked ship by ship)

Can FTRs take advantage of this? Bases?

Structural Integrity: Fixes a table problem (which may or may not exist at a given table) via a rule, something I hate. IMO this is on par with Scythe's "if a player counts points they lose popularity" optional rule (read as "I will not play with it, even if it means not playing that game with that group")
Also, being on the receiving end of the initial alpha strike is bad enough, this makes it worse since the player with more damaged ships will keep going into the hole.

In summary, 1 seems too forgiving, 2 too fiddly, and 3 combats a problem that 1 and 2 exacerbate (and one that I've not experienced)

AmadanNaBriona wrote:
I am not sure what problem exists that these rules need to fix.

I'm sure there are players who would be happy with binders full of "optional," "advanced" and house rules, but that way lies SFB...
thumbsup The great benefit of Talon is that it is easily and quickly explained and played. I don't think any of these rules are worth the additional overhead.
If those do get added, please consider to at least mark them as optional/advanced.
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David desJardins
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Sometimes the Structural Integrity rule will even encourage delaying tactics, if you can't win a head-to-head fight (outgunned) but you can hope that Structural Integrity will take out your opponent's ships faster than your ships.
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David desJardins
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On Power Shift, I could see something much simpler, like SFB Emergency Deceleration (if I'm remembering that correctly). Allow reductions of more than 1 in power curve, with no precondition or additional cost, but some significant damage consequence/risk when you do it. If you really think that helps address the tailing "problem".
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    The second rule change is not going to be understood by someone when they read the rules the first time (unlike the other rules you've included, which are beautifully described and engineered.) The result will be a "Rich Uncle" rule, something that's out there that you only reach for at a moment when you think it might save your skin. Then you'll go into the rule book to figure out how to apply it, and the guy sitting across from you will wait for you to give him the bad news -- you've weaseled out of his otherwise good use of manoeuvre*.

    Tailing ends games quickly -- the tailed ship dies. Pro-tip: don't get tailed. That's part of the game. In battles with more than two ships it doesn't appear to be as big an issue if you keep your wingman relatively close to you. If you have a concern with tailing put more shield boxes on the backs of the ships. They're woefully unprotected at the moment.

    I would really really consider making these "Tournament Rules" or at a minimum "Advanced Rules". They are very different from the original rule book's KISS approach.

             S.




* Proper spelling when used in GMT game threads.
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Jef Addley
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Sorry to say for me these don't seem to be an improvement

Snap turns gonna ruin fighter creep into backside.. the risk on d6 is meaningless if you are looking at ship dieing if you don't try the HET. yes i used it in SFB but never loved it there. also back to feel like a battle of space capital ships with some vector element (albeit very abstract) to atmosphere fighters turn on a sixpence type manoever

cascade failure of ships breaks my suspension of disbelief.. oh well i'll just damage all ships by one and toodle off until they just blow themselves up.. no its all right we can go ftl using the high energy difficult to get thru cooldown ftl drive will suddenly band aid the cascade failure that was destroying the ship... wtf! Game may be based on psudo-science.. but i still need logic... might as well be powered by "red - fricken-matter"

Power shift.. well more enticed by idea of turn up by 2 or down by 2.. but i wouldn't make it conditional.. allow it as an optional... write in rules that initiative player must do his power curves first.. or better that non initiative can change after initiative player has chosen (so both do simultaneous..and non initiative gets a chance to change his mind... then the choice whether to try and change initiative has even more consequence on impulse 6.. player with initiative may desperately want to give up the initiative.. reduces some of its benefit.

didn't mean that to come across rant-y.. stupidly writing in stream of consciousness!
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K A
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On the plus side, the games' fans seem to REALLY like the original rules
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chrono280 wrote:
We're gearing up for the release of Talon 1000 and the Talon reprint here. There's a number of rules tweaks we've been play testing. Below are a few for which we'd really like to get community feedback. They have to do with movement, namely taking some of the predictability out of being tailed. The new options would be available to all factions. They also, I think, will have an impact on smaller battles; making them more interesting or at least forcing them to be decided sooner. These rules will go into the living rules & errata for Talon in addition to being updated in the second printing rule book.
Please let us know what you think. I can't promise we'll be able to test and include every suggestion but any constructive ideas are welcome.


I really like this approach to rules updating by getting community input. Thanks for doing that.

chrono280 wrote:
New Rules for Community Feedback:
1. Snap Turn: During the movement portion of a turn, if a ship does not have a turn radius marker on the board AND it is marked with a sideslip marker, then that ship may spend the side slip marker to turn and rotate two hex-sides instead of one. Mark the turn radius normally after the turn. After completing the turn that ship must immediately roll on the following table:

1-2: No effect
3-5: One hull damage
6: Do not turn, move straight ahead one hex and mark the ship with the Helm Down critical effect.

Regardless of the roll outcome, a ship that performs a Snap Turn may not fire until the next Impulse.


I am not a fan of this rule at all, as it introduces "superpowers" which allows a double move to occur.

Talon Afterburners are not usable on impulses they move, to prevet moving 2 hexes in an impulse. Terran batteries can't be used on impulses they get AP.
I am against the ability to suddenly turn 2 hexsides.
Terran HC,BC and BB and Talon BB and DN when going full speed have a turn radius of 3. Them suddenly being able to put the "handbrake" on and snapturn two hexsides doesn't sound good to me.

This ability looks like they will make those sidefiring weapons alot more valuable.

BUT: I'm all for fighting a future race with ships having this ability to drift one hexside on a turn it doesn't move. But I would make them a one-shot ability like the Afterburners on the Talon ships or a one-shot ability usable during the power phase.


chrono280 wrote:
2. Power Shift: If a ship has AP to spend in Impulse F (most do), the ship can use its AP to declare a Power Shift. If the ship currently has a Turn Radius marker on the board, move it out one hex. If the ship does not have a Turn Radius marker on the board, place one out one hex (the ship will have to move straight this Impulse). This Turn Radius shift or placement is not affected by that ship’s Turn value. During the Power Phase all ships doing a Power Shift choose their speed AFTER all other ships choose their speed. The Power Phase is now resolved in this order: Initiative player ships, Second player ships, Initiative player Power Shift ships, Second player Power Shift ships. In addition, all ships doing a Power Shift may change their Power Curve by 2 steps instead of 1 step.
The idea behind this is to give you another maneuver option and allow you to try to shake a tail. The Turn Radius is added/pushed out because so much of the thruster/drive system is being used to change speed.


With the current economy of the AP's in this game, I think this ability should cost more than 1 AP.

I also feel that allowing this "alternative" use of the thruster/drive system opens up a whole can of "alternative" possible uses which might not be the best for the game.

Again, I feel that this ability could be a one-shot ability or something a new race or a new type of ship can use.

chrono280 wrote:
3. Structural Integrity: All ships with at least one hull damage must roll a die at the end of Power Phase, starting with all of the Imitative Player’s ships. On a roll of a six they suffer another hull damage.
This is obviously meant to bring games to conclusion by encouraging wounded ships to either retreat or press to end the game sooner.


No, please don't introduce this luck based destruction. This already eist on the critical hit table and for me that is where it belongs.

BUT, it could be a rule that is linked to terrain, with excessive gravity pulling the ship apart.
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Doug DeMoss
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I'm with the naysayers. Snap Turn will shift balance significantly toward the less maneuverable side (typically Terran) and toward the side without missiles (Terran). There's enough depth in how maneuver works currently and I think this might actually harm that; getting a tailing position will have less value. The rule IS at least simple enough that it could be interesting as a special ability for a race we haven't seen yet, though.

Power Shift, I just plain don't like. It's hard to grok at a first glance and (again) adds unnecessary complexity.

Structural Integrity - a death timer just doesn't seem right. How would a ship ever survive a combat? Again, though, it COULD be interesting as a racial special.

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I like the "special rules for terrain/new races" angle Stig and Doug are suggesting.
That way these rules could be a lot more targeted to certain ships (e.g. different damage probability for snap turns and cascading damage based on ship size) and they don't have to be in every game if players don't want to use them.
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David desJardins
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The game is already pretty random (huge difference between "no effect" and "ship explodes" on your critical damage roll!) but one of the things you can count on is limited maneuverability, if you can get behind someone that's a real advantage. The more I think about it, I don't understand the whole idea of watering that down.

For newbies the first time you find out that someone is behind you and there's not much you can do, it's frustrating. But then you figure out that's the game. It's the advanced players who can deal with that as part of their strategy, so these changes seem even less necessary to me for more experienced players.
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    Care to enlighten us with any of the other rule tweaks?
 
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Jim Krohn
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This first reply will be about answering various feedback:

Quote:
I am not sure what problem exists that these rules need to fix.


There aren't. The motivation for exploring these has not been that anything is broken, but that I wanted to improve the game, at least for a certain segment of the market. I have picked up an impression, and maybe it is not accurate, that we have lost some potential players because of how unforgiving the system can be. Two new players sit down and learn the game and one, maybe even by accident, gets in the rear arc of the other and they get punished mercilessly.

I am on the boards all the time and I really listen to fan feedback. It leads to improvements. I'm always looking to do that, especially with something that becomes a system. With Space Empires, the universal cry was for unique player advantages. That one was obvious, but Empire Advantages came out in the expansion the next year. With Band of Brothers, we added force exchanges to each scenario and optional rules for Sustained Fire, Unconfirmed Kills, and Combat Events came out in Ghost Panzer. With the last Kickstarter, we improved the maps, improved the Player Aid Card, made the signs on all the modifiers consistent, etc. all based on player feedback.

Talon, I think we hit a home run and I am really happy with the product. The biggest noise on release was about having to use specific markers on lamination. I pushed to get the lamination improved. These test rules address the only other concern that I have picked up along the way.

Quote:
Snap turns gonna ruin fighter creep into backside..


Less so that you might think. It is really easy for a fighter to get back in place. Plus, it does not allow a 180 degree turn and leaves the ship with a turn radius marker.

Quote:
Also, if it is that unstable how is it getting back to port anyway or in a campaign game the damaged ship would die going between battles.


The idea is that if a ship could shut down, it could make enough repairs to survive. It is the fact that a ship is pushing itself to the limit in battle conditions which causes the continual degrading of a damaged ship.

Quote:
Underlying all of this is the statement that the rules changes should make smaller battles more interesting or faster. This is an extremely good small fleet combat game. Adding details like these could impact the fleet aspect negatively while still not giving the game the level of detail and options needed for an interesting ship/small fleet vs ship/small fleet game.


Thank you. Of course that is the idea. The game shines with multiple ships on the table. These rules are meant to keep the game interesting even at 1v1.

Quote:
Structural Integrity - a death timer just doesn't seem right. How would a ship ever survive a combat? Again, though, it COULD be interesting as a racial special.


Quote:
cascade failure of ships breaks my suspension of disbelief.. oh well i'll just damage all ships by one and toodle off until they just blow themselves up.. no its all right we can go ftl using the high energy difficult to get thru cooldown ftl drive will suddenly band aid the cascade failure that was destroying the ship... wtf! Game may be based on psudo-science.. but i still need logic... might as well be powered by "red - fricken-matter"


That's probably a little harsh. It is not too much of a stretch to add that the stress of operating an NFTL drive under battle conditions puts a dangerous amount of strain on a damaged ship.

Quote:
With the current economy of the AP's in this game, I think this ability should cost more than 1 AP.


It can't. We tried that, but making it cost more made it VERY difficult for the Talon to use.

Quote:
The great benefit of Talon is that it is easily and quickly explained and played. I don't think any of these rules are worth the additional overhead.


This is a VERY valid argument.

Quote:
...but one of the things you can count on is limited maneuverability, if you can get behind someone that's a real advantage. The more I think about it, I don't understand the whole idea of watering that down.

For newbies the first time you find out that someone is behind you and there's not much you can do, it's frustrating. But then you figure out that's the game. It's the advanced players who can deal with that as part of their strategy, so these changes seem even less necessary to me for more experienced players.


I think I mostly agree with this assessment. Again, my goal is to broaden the appeal of the game. I know that the game's fans love the game. I'm just trying to get more of them.

Quote:
Care to enlighten us with any of the other rule tweaks?


The only other rule change we have been experimenting with is the ability to reinforce a downed shield. We are undecided on that.
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Jim Krohn
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This second reply is about some of the reasoning behind these test rules:

Snap turn and Power shift each are meant to fill a niche.

Snap Turn was meant to be a powerful maneuver option with a definite cost. It costs AP, but it also costs damage (and the possibility of more with Structural Integrity - a purposeful decision). Some of you have mentioned the HET used in other games. I hate that too. It is too powerful allowing facing any direction without a turn marker and the first one is essential free on any but the biggest ships. Ugh. Snap Turn is less powerful than that, but comes with a cost. However, the cost was not so high that you wouldn't use it. It is not only something you would do when desperate. You will use it, at times, throughout a battle.

Power Shift was meant to be a less powerful maneuver option with very little cost. The two fold benefit is important. It allows you to shift to a speed that can change the engagement/lose a tail and it also allows you to choose your curve later.

I predict that these rules will make good players, better players.

Structural Integrity has two purposes. It does de-incentivize boring, delaying tactics, but it also makes the cost of using a snap turn more permanent.
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Jim Krohn
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This now brings me to my plea. If any of you have any inclination, please give these rules a spin and let me know what you think. I REALLY appreciate your feedback so far, but I was just reminded by one of my playtesters that he hated these optional rules until he actually played with them and now he loves them.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say.

Let me know!

(Don't worry, we are not going to do anything stupid and add the rules if everyone hates them. This is the whole reason why we are asking for broader feedback.)
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K A
United States
Tulsa
Oklahoma
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I think that shield reinforcement could be simplified to just the limit of one per shield whole dropping the language about a maximum reinforcement of half the available power.

You might also consider allowing the two hexside turn when the ship is away from all enemy ships and missiles to get it back into action sooner.
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David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
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Jim Krohn wrote:
Two new players sit down and learn the game and one, maybe even by accident, gets in the rear arc of the other and they get punished mercilessly.


I think that's true, but it's a poor reason for adding complex rules that they aren't going to fully understand the point of anyway. By the time they understand the "problem" that Snap Turn is meant to solve, they will already not be getting into that situation (without a commensurate benefit) in the first place.

Frankly, it's more likely they will start making Snap Turns right and left when there's no call for it and then end up with Helm Down on their one ship and then be complaining that now they are completely screwed by that.

This may go without saying, but if you are playtesting such rules, and the purpose is to help new players who have never played the game before, the right people to playtest them with are new players who've never played the game before. Not with very experienced players.

I do have a different idea. Instead of advanced rules, create some "introductory rules". Let introductory players learn the game system with rules that are more forgiving. Then graduate them to the real game once they have learned something.
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Niko
Canada
Calgary
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Thanks for the detailed replies Jim!
I've already said it in a previous post, but since you touched on it with your BoB reference I'll reiterate it: Please consider making these clearly marked optional rules.
I know it is silly, but something just feels better about not using optional rules compared to not using standard rules, even if the outcome is exactly the same.

Given a chance I'll gladly test these, but lacking experienced opponents (and time...) I can't make guarantees.
 
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