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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Tactical Games need Quirks

This is Steven Petrick posting.

One of the things about designing ships for a game is the dangerous habit of deciding that the "quirks" of your design is that there are no quirks. Many players submit ship designs that are nothing more than fixing a quirk (there are quite a few submissions that consist of little more than adding or subtracting a box from the SSD of the Federation NCL and declaring that this "improved the ship's breakdown rating" for example). Some submissions of Federation ships include enough AWRs that the ship can use all of its warp power for movement, while continuously arming (albeit usually only to standard levels) their photons. There is also a constant push to "Kzintize" the Federation (add enough drone racks to Federation ships so that class for class they have the same number of drone racks as the Kzintis).

For the Klingons, there is a constant flow of "upgrade all phaser-2s to phaser-1s" and "improve all disruptors to range 30 (some want them all improved to range 40), and, oh yes, add drone racks equal to the Kzintis.

The Lyrans have their own oddities. Some are so offended about having to work with drone armed fighters (never mind that in a mixed Lyran-Klingon task force they would have to work with drones in any case . . . See Cavalry Charge for example), that they would rather have direct-fire only fighters (no matter how weak those would be against the Hydrans and Kzintis) then have drone-armed fighters.

Part of Star Fleet Battles is dealing with the fact that things are not perfect. And trying to ignore that means you miss much off the tactical flavor. Don't ignore the quirks, work with them to find the best tactics to overcome and triumph. And try to exploit the enemy's quirks.

If there were no quirks, then the game would just be everyone has a Federation CA with a different heavy weapons suite. They all maneuver just like each other, have the same vulnerabilities, and require no real tactical imagination to employ.