Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Battle for Talathen Sector - Strategy phase part 1

Last week I mentioned the overview of what the campaign would look like.

Well, we had our first strategic phase and conducted our first operation, which was great fun. 

Here is the strategic map as it stands at the start of week one. (Click to enlarge).

The key is as follows. The colours below each planet represent popular support. Red for rebel and grey for imperial. Now, popular support will impact on how easy things are to do on each planet, but I haven't created "fixed" rules for that.

A lot of this game requires GM fudging and tweaking. That's because I don't want to lock everything in stone, but also because narrative missions need a bit more creativity than a fixed rule-set may offer. 

The icons in circles represent major bases. For the rebels, it's their main base on Axamar, a fighter base on Zenith, a fleet base on "the Rock" and they are constructing a fall-back base on Nimbala 8. For the Imperials, the Moff's HQ is on Talathen Prime, the Fleet HQ is on Korvas, Imperial Intelligence on Talathen VII and the army is building a major base on Selano. There are also scum bases on Axamar and Nimbala. 

The Star Destroyers represent where the Imperial Fleet has been sighted. The fleet cannot be everywhere, but missions conducted where the fleet is will have increased difficulty. 

Not shown on the map is "heat". A scale that determines how focused imperial forces are on a planet. If the rebels hit the same planet over and over again, it's heat level will rapidly rise. Increasing the likelihood of them facing stiffer opposition. heat will decrease over time. 

The plan

As the Chief of staff I briefed the Rebel Faction leaders (the players) on the current state of the rebellion by pointing out details on the map. 

I also mentioned our current resources. Two corvettes, a handful of intelligence operatives and guerrillas in disjointed cells, 24 Z-95 headhunters and not much else. 

I put six possible missions on the strategic map, but reminded the players that they are only mission "ideas" and they can come up with their own. 

Based on their current position and the lack of strength in rebel forces. The council decided to focus on building infrastructure first and conducting low-level sneak attacks. And deliberately chose not to "reveal" the rebellion at this stage. 

Based on this plan, we moved on to the strategic stage. 

A note on game phases

The game proceeds in five phases. 

  1. The Policy phase, where the faction leaders make high level decisions. 
  2. The strategy phase where we use the job boards to make strategic decisions for the game. 
  3. The operations phase where we fight X-Wing, Armada and Imperial Assault missions. 
  4. The character phase, where we conduct a roleplaying focused special forces mission. 
  5. The upkeep phase, where the strategic board is updated and the consequences of the players actions are noted. 

The first Strategy phase - Chief of Staff

This was new territory for everyone, including me. I'd written up notes about what each job board could do, but I was willing to fiddle around with it as we played. This is all still a work in progress. 

As the Chief of Staff, I keep track of resources, manage the turn and record the successes and failures of roles. I use handy "supply tokens" from Twilight Imperium 3 to do this. it's also my job to ensure that the overall "mission" outlined in the Policy phase is adhered to. In other words, a mission needs sign-off from me to go ahead. 

My first call, was to logistics. Oh, and note that each check in the tasks below, unless mentioned, is at difficulty 2. 

Logistics command overview. 

Stores are replenished based on the income of logistics. The rebels started with 10 stores, and 2 income. 

The director of logistics has three possible actions. 

  • First, they may attempt a short term financial transaction, which adds a number of supply to the stores next turn equal to 4 for every success +1 for each advantage. 
  • They may attempt a long term investment as well. Each success allows them to spend store equal to double the current income, to increase it by 1. Each advantage reduces this cost by one. (or, on a failure produces 1 supply for next turn)
  • Finally, the head of Logistics can support smuggling. Each success rolled on a hard roll adds an advantage dice to each smuggling attempt. 

The head of finance can do the first two actions, but not the third. 

A Smuggler in the smuggling pool picks whether they will do an easy, medium or hard risk run. Then, in combination with squadron command, they decide if any escorts will be provided. A light escort is 1 fighter, medium is 2 and heavy is 4. Escorts cost 1 supply point per twelve fighters, and if even 1 fighter is on escort duty, that squadron is considered "used" for the phase. 

The formula for how much supply a smuggler generates is as follows

Supply = (Risk value*successes*ship modifier)+advantages rolled

The risk value for easy is 1, 2 for medium and 4 for hard. The ship modifier is 1 for a light freighter like a YT-1300 and 2 for a medium freighter like a GR-75. 

On a failed smuggling run, the smuggler rolls the "evil red dice of despair". Negative results include being captured, being damaged, or being killed. Escorts allow this dice to be re rolled, at the cost of the escort taking the hit instead. 

Supply points are needed for operations to be supported, or in some cases to happen at all. Fleet, ground and starfighter missions need support tokens to even occur. R&D also needs support tokens to make progress on developments. All other departments are hampered by a lack of support in the form of disadvantage dice.  

Logistics command, as it happened. 

Logistics command did not have a stellar turn. The head of logistics tried for a long term investment, failed and generated 2 supply. The head of finance made his roll and increased income to 3!

Then the sole smuggler, Roark garnet, flying without an escort failed his roll and rolled the red dice of despair. Instant death on the first roll.

Now, I could have let that go as it was. But I thought that as the first turn of the game, that was a bit harsh. So I simply had him critically wounded and removed from the game for a turn. That was the rebels "one freebie". 

Logistics command now had to offer up supplies to the Chief of staff for the round. And, another little special ability of Logistics command is they can pick where half of these resources go. That represents logistics being able to control who gets what, while not giving them total control of the matter.

Logistics command put its resources into R&D and recruiting, as those areas of infrastructure are needed to develop the rebellion further. 

Intelligence centre overview

The intelligence centre is a relatively straight forward job board, with a few options for each operative.  

Each Operative as the following options

  • Gather information (personal). Make an social intelligence roll to add to the intelligence pool. 
  • Gather information (Slicing). As above, but a mental roll. 
  • Misinformation. Make an intelligence roll and target a planet with heat. Heat is reduced depending on successes and advantages.
  • Targeted intelligence mission. Sometimes, specific missions will appear on the strategy map for operatives to undertake. 
  • Sabotage missions. 
  • Abduction/Assassinations. 
  • Coordinate intelligence efforts. (leader only). Make a hard intelligence roll, each success adds and advantage to all other intelligence rolls

The intelligence pool is made up off all the "gather information" rolls. You gain 5 points for a triumph, 2 per success, 1 per advantage - 1 per disadvantage

  • Provide close intelligence to a planning roll in the form of an advantage dice (max 2) (Cost, 1 per dice)
  • Provide additional information to an A-team mission(1 point per clue) 
  • Simple investigation of a specific topic (1 point)
  • Detailed investigation of a single topic (3 points)
  • Extensive investigation of a single topic (5 points)
  • Answer one specific question about a person or location (5 points)
  • Perform counter intelligence, allows a reroll of a "consequences" dice on a mission failure (1 point per reroll)

Even if no intelligence rolls succeed on a turn, some information will be available to the players each round. Some stuff doesn't require spies to find out after all. 

Intelligence phase as it happened

Two operatives, and the boss decides to focus on gathering intelligence. A good roll generating 1 triumph and 2 sucesses. Now I don't have the questions the intelligence leader asked for, because I've already changed how this system works from when he rolled. I was initially going to have it all done behind the scenes, but the ideas of questions and lines of inquiry increases interactivity in the game. 

The second operative was sent on a sabotage mission to Nadir and Zenith to blow up some Tie Fighters scheduled to do a "Imperial day" parade. A reasonable success on that roll, but the players do not find out the consequences of missions until the "end phase".

Diplomacy Centre overview. 

Diplomacy is a relatively simple job board compared to some of the others. One of the features of the diplmoatic board is that operatives here are always "at risk". Diplomacy requires meeting people and talking, so failed rolls can end up with diplomats being killed or captured. 

Their options are as follows

  • Bolster support. Make a diplomacy roll to increase rebel support on a planet. Difficulty is determined by how strong the current support is. Moving a planet from 7 to 8 is harder than from 0-1. Only 1 point made me moved regardless of successes, unless triumphs are rolled. 
  • Undermine support. Exactly the same process as above, but instead of improving rebel support, you undermine imperial support. 
  • Targeted diplomatic mission. Sometimes, specific missions will appear on the strategy map for diplomats to undertake. 
  • Gather information. Use a diplomacy roll to add to the amount of intelligence generated by the rebellion on this turn. Represents a diplomat focusing more on rumors than building influence. 
  • Liaise with rebel HQ. (liaison and leader only, and only one per turn). Make a diplomacy roll to get support from Rebel HQ. These points can be spent later on ships and other resources. 
  • Coordinate diplomatic efforts. (leader only). Make a hard diplomacy roll, each success adds and advantage to all other diplomacy rolls. 

Diplomacy Centre as it happened

Well, there is only one diplomat in the diplomacy centre at the moment. Lianna, and she decided to visit Selano to undermine imperial support by pointing out that they are building a massive military base there, and that it can only mean bad things for the people of Selano. 

Two triumphs, an additional success and some disadvantages later. And Lianna has completely undermined imperial support on Selano, and built up a little favor for the rebellion. The disadvantages manifest as "heat", as the imperials are suspicious that the people of Selano are suddenly given them the cold shoulder. 

To be continued

This is already a mammoth post, so i'll break it up and pubish part two in a few days. Thanks all!

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