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Friday, November 02, 2007

Game Design Facets

Steven Petrick Posts:

Currently on the discussion board is a proposal for a "hopper", a small unit that (as described) would amount to a family sedan (four passenger car including a driver). This finally led to a proposal that the combat version of the unit would have no space combat capability (although it could fly in space), but would have a ground combat capability of one point, be destroyed by one point of ground combat damage (three points in space combat), and would have a BPV cost of 0.5.

The problem here is that, right now that ground combat potential and BPV cost are exactly the same as the cost of a standard boarding party. (One point of offensive potential, destroyed by one point of damage, BPV cost of 0.5.)

Does this matter?

Yes, because it completely changes all of the dynamics of ground combat in Star Fleet Battles as they currently exist.

Right now if you were planning to defend a planet you would have to make the assumption that the enemy is not going to attack unless he can gain "space superiority". What this means is that he is going to eliminate the greater portion of your ability to move ground troops from one part of the planet to another. In Star Fleet Battles this means he eliminates your transporters (drives off your ships and destroys any of your ground bases that have them). This then allows him to land his own troops to attack each of your defending positions one at a time. He has the initiative, can choose which position to attack, and can mass all of his available combat power against each position as he goes. The defender will have minimum ability to combat this (whatever transporters have survived, and using shuttle convoys to try to move some troops before the attacker destroys them all).

But if all of the defender's "ground troops" are "self mobile", i.e., able to fly from one hexside of the planet to another, he does not have to defend any one hexside but can simply mass all of his 'troops' on one hexside, wait for the enemy to begin his landing, and then fly the entire force to that hexside to attack the attackers troops before they can all be landed. Operating the Hoppers in "shuttle convoys" to make them effectively immune to being stopped by enemy ships.

In essence, if the proposed "combat hopper" were adopted, the marine boarding party would be reduced to near extinction as part of a planetary defense force. Planets would be garrisoned by masses of combat hoppers and marines would only appear as the landing forces, with the mobility edge going completely over to the defender.

So the proposal could be made, but there needed to be far more consideration of the design interaction problem.