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Subject: Rosie's Drone Cars rss

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Rob Stevenson
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These drone cars are simplified automated cars that can be used to fill out a field where you lack sufficient historical driver cards and/or strategy cards to do so.

I have 5 strategy cards and 4 historical driver cards, although I have addressed the latter by creating an extra historical driver in Pastor Maldonado, so I can race against 5 other drivers.

However, I have painted up 8 Eureka Miniatures cars and would like to use all of them, and think races feel truer to F1 with more cars.

As a result I have come up with these Drone Cars, which follow simple rules so that a strategy card is not required. I also think that you can probably do without speed cards for them, although it may be more sensible to use the cards if you have more than a couple of drones running.

Car Build

The drone car is built to be as easy as possible to administer. It has a net +2 build points like a user car. Drone Cars are set up as follows:

Top Speed 160 (0)
Acceleration 80 (+2)
Deceleration 80 (+2)
Start Speed 60 (0)
Wear 5xLaps (-1)
Skill 2xLaps (-1)

The high acceleration and deceleration mean that the drone is almost always in a position to plot the appropriate speed per the track notation.

Drone Rules

Qualifying. They bid Track Value +1d6/2 paying with green skill in full before using wear.

They always pay 2 Skill to automatically push start speed if possible.

They never push Top Speed or Acceleration.

They always block if they are currently in the top half of the race classification i.e. in an 8 car race if they are running in 1st to 4th.

They never attempt a forced pass unless it would put them into the top half of the race classification, or if traffic is such that late braking would definitely result in a spin.

They always take slips if available.

Drone Strategy

Drones follow a simple strategy for the entire race, doing away with the need for a strategy card.

Drone type 1. Always plots default speed until they begin their final lap when they always plot OO speed until wear is exhausted.

Drone type 2. Always plots O* speed when available until wear is exhausted, otherwise plots default speed.
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Rob Stevenson
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I have used them in one race so far (session report pending). They achieved my objective - the grid was busier with drones qualifying in 4th and 6th place. This meant that there was initially less opportunity for cars at the back of the grid to power ahead with impunity. There was more traffic to navigate in the pack, resulting in increased amounts of late braking at certain corners. The historical drivers that exhausted their wear and skill were not able to coast home without being threatened.

I will post the results of future tests and if I intend to make any tweaks.
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Christian Busch

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After playing a human game of 3 racers and one historical driver, we came to the conclusion that overly simple AI racers would be better in non-solo games. Your drone rules sound very much like what we were thinking of doing.

The only difference we were thinking of was to get rid of the tokens for them as well. Instead, we would just have them auto-spend an unlimited amount of wear tokens based on the limited AI like you described- one class doesn't spend any until the last third of the race and then starts using it he double wear plot speeds, another always uses the single wear plot speed, etc. I'd really like to even get rid of the speed cards for them but I'm or sure if that would pan out.

Thanks for posting!
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Berthold Nüchter
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space monkey mafia wrote:
I'd really like to even get rid of the speed cards for them but I'm or sure if that would pan out.

Thanks for posting!

You need to know their current speed. You could use these speed dials (speed circuit dials.pdf), it may be quicker using them instead of the cards.
 
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Rob Stevenson
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space monkey mafia wrote:
After playing a human game of 3 racers and one historical driver, we came to the conclusion that overly simple AI racers would be better in non-solo games. Your drone rules sound very much like what we were thinking of doing.

The only difference we were thinking of was to get rid of the tokens for them as well. Instead, we would just have them auto-spend an unlimited amount of wear tokens based on the limited AI like you described- one class doesn't spend any until the last third of the race and then starts using it he double wear plot speeds, another always uses the single wear plot speed, etc. I'd really like to even get rid of the speed cards for them but I'm or sure if that would pan out.

Thanks for posting!


No problem.

I think that if you want to do away with wear tokens for drones, you have to be careful in terms of how you build the cars. Obviously, if you want a more challenging race, you can build more powerful drones. Depending on the simple strategy you pick, unlimited wear might be viable but it will potentially have a relative effect similar to a high build value of wear.

For example, if you build a car that always plots the O speed to spend a single wear at every opportunity, that equates to a pool of wear >= total corners, because they will expect to spend one wear in each corner. That means that on tracks with more corners they probably have an effective pool of wear the same as or larger than Nigel Mansell (the only historical driver I am aware of that has laps x9 wear, which is equivalent to a +3 wear stat).

If you reduce their other stats, to compensate they become weaker opponents that are harder to administer. If you reduce Top Speed to 140, they have a harder time staying relevant in a longer race. If you reduce acceleration or deceleration, you maybe have a harder time plotting their speed without speed cards - the advantage of the Acc80 Dec80 build is that you can almost always assume that they can legally plot the required speed without tracking it. There are few, if any, occasions when track markings will have the car instructed to plot 160 on one turn and less than 80 the next turn, and you can generally see clearly when they are in or have just come out of a low speed corner into a straight where they will not be able to just plot up to their maximum speed due to the cap on acceleration.

If you don't reduce the other stats then the drones are the equivalent of highly starred historical drivers because their cars are set up beyond the capabilities of a human driver.

Not giving them tokens also makes me curious how you would place them in qualifying. Giving the drones their own pools means that you can administer their bids in the same way as historical drivers, which puts them in a similar range to the human drivers. Depending how you place them on the grid, having no token pools may give them even more equivalent build value, or invalidate bidding by human drivers, depending on how you resolve the problems.

This is just me thinking aloud (or writing at least) about these design decisions. If you want to provide a challenge then building a drone with unlimited wear might be a means of doing it.

Another reason I wanted to keep track of wear for my drones is that I still want them to be subject to some risk of spins and potentially waste resources if they are forced into late braking. If they have unlimited wear they are never at any risk when they are blocking or attempting a forced pass, and they can always late brake by 40mph with impunity.
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Christian Busch

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Berthold wrote:
space monkey mafia wrote:
I'd really like to even get rid of the speed cards for them but I'm or sure if that would pan out.

Thanks for posting!

You need to know their current speed. You could use these speed dials (speed circuit dials.pdf), it may be quicker using them instead of the cards.


I'm not entirely sure that is the case. If you strip them down bare enough and don't care about tokens, you should (in theory) only need to use the speed values on the side of the track. In most cases, given no other drives, those values are compensating for the car's accel and decel. The other aspects of speed are governed by the car's build which you could (for simplicity) say they never push. If a situation does require a push (likely only for situations of late braking since likely they shouldn't force pass given the advantage of no tokens), then you roll a naked chance roll like normal. All of this is just theory since I haven't put cars to track yet but I don't think using no speed cards will be as difficult as initially suspected. I could be totally wrong but I'll likely give it a go soon enough.
 
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Christian Busch

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rosie_187 wrote:

No problem.

I think that if you want to do away with wear tokens for drones, you have to be careful in terms of how you build the cars. Obviously, if you want a more challenging race, you can build more powerful drones. Depending on the simple strategy you pick, unlimited wear might be viable but it will potentially have a relative effect similar to a high build value of wear.

For example, if you build a car that always plots the O speed to spend a single wear at every opportunity, that equates to a pool of wear >= total corners, because they will expect to spend one wear in each corner. That means that on tracks with more corners they probably have an effective pool of wear the same as or larger than Nigel Mansell (the only historical driver I am aware of that has laps x9 wear, which is equivalent to a +3 wear stat).

If you reduce their other stats, to compensate they become weaker opponents that are harder to administer. If you reduce Top Speed to 140, they have a harder time staying relevant in a longer race. If you reduce acceleration or deceleration, you maybe have a harder time plotting their speed without speed cards - the advantage of the Acc80 Dec80 build is that you can almost always assume that they can legally plot the required speed without tracking it. There are few, if any, occasions when track markings will have the car instructed to plot 160 on one turn and less than 80 the next turn, and you can generally see clearly when they are in or have just come out of a low speed corner into a straight where they will not be able to just plot up to their maximum speed due to the cap on acceleration.

If you don't reduce the other stats then the drones are the equivalent of highly starred historical drivers because their cars are set up beyond the capabilities of a human driver.

Not giving them tokens also makes me curious how you would place them in qualifying. Giving the drones their own pools means that you can administer their bids in the same way as historical drivers, which puts them in a similar range to the human drivers. Depending how you place them on the grid, having no token pools may give them even more equivalent build value, or invalidate bidding by human drivers, depending on how you resolve the problems.

This is just me thinking aloud (or writing at least) about these design decisions. If you want to provide a challenge then building a drone with unlimited wear might be a means of doing it.

Another reason I wanted to keep track of wear for my drones is that I still want them to be subject to some risk of spins and potentially waste resources if they are forced into late braking. If they have unlimited wear they are never at any risk when they are blocking or attempting a forced pass, and they can always late brake by 40mph with impunity.


You bring up a lot of good ideas with the limitations of going too simplistic. In my response to Berthold, I do think there should be risk and these ultra dumb drones shouldn't just be able run free. I think wear tokens would only be used to govern corners as a function of what speed they plot. Late braking and forced pass situations would be treated as if they had no wear so it would force a naked die roll. These could also be mitigated by whatever challenge setting you want (maybe advanced drones always have a -1 to die rolls, etc).

I think all in all, my main goal is to muck up the field with more cars in low player count situations and simplify their implementation to as close to nil effort-wise as possible. I'm not really looking for personality and if they end up crapping out midway through the race, that is fine. The biggest concern would be drones that are just too good. That will only be revealed through play, largely.

The last piece that I failed to mention is that I would still use the Historical Driver cars to determine the car build and special powers or bid info. The bidding is granted based on the Historical Driver and you would easily just pretend that they spend what they spend based on the bid rules per driver. Even in a normal Historical Driver race, they don't "care" what they spend. They just lose resources and move on. It does have an impact on their race but, again, they don't care or have regret :-) Again, this may lead to some really powerful drones like Jim Clark always having 1 wear for turns sounds scary but can be mitigated in simple ways (only spends 1 wear in first half of race, spends none until last lap and then spends one wear to the finish, etc.)

As I responded before, it may totally fail and then going up to your system with a little more management per drone is the better option but I'd really like to see a way to drone these guys out using just their little historical driver car. No token management, speed cards, or build cars to take up more table space. Just some crazy drone out there, getting in my way and choking up my lanes while my friends laugh at me in my battle for 5th place.
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