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Designing movement system for a spaceship combat boardgame

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I am trying to make a board game about spaceship combat. Unfortunately, even though spaceship combat boardgames or pen & paper games are pretty common (Star Trek etc), I have never played spaceship combat based board games before! The part that I am stuck with is the movement system: I am opting to go for square grids on the board. For simplicity, lets focus on a battle between two large battleships shooting direct weapons (laser turrets maybe) at each other. Each ship is represented by a token that occupies one square on the board. How should I make the movement system? If I make it so that ships move like the King piece in a chess game, then there isn't much incentive to move around; both players would probably sit there and shoot at each other until someone blows up. Any new ideas or examples of movement systems other games use that has more depth than "King-move"?

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Even if the movement system was as simple as king-move, the players would still have motivation to maneuver if shields/damage/etc on ships was modeled in sectors, and there were more and less favorable directions to be shooting from and to get shot from. And if weapons have different ranges, the ship with the shorter range on its weapons will have to chase the one with longer range on its weapons.

Now if there are just two ships, it's hardly surprising that they have an easily discernable minmax-optimal movement pattern - which might be facing each other and trading shots. The best answer to that, I think, is to have more ships.

You could also give them equipment which allows them to boost their movement speed and/or turning rate momentarily, teleport in a specific pattern, etc., possibly ones with a cooldown or ones that involve a risk of some negative effect every time it is used. Master of Orion has a non-damaging ray weapon with range 1 which pushes one enemy a square farther, and therefore makes any weapons of theirs with range 1 useless. You could also employ effects which prevent or slow the enemy's movement, like a vulnerable and slow warp interdictor ship which slows the enemy all around it on two square radius.

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Do the battle on a flat board (no tiles). Movement is done is inches/cm. Every turn, you may turn up to X degrees (as determined by ship) and move up to Y inches (also determined by ship). Ship's weapons are located on the ship at different places (front, back, left, right), and a direct line (with string, or something) has to be able to be drawn from the gun's origin to the target in under the max range. Throw in rockets, which move, and turn, each turn like ships, and movement will be a big part of the game. Mines would also be cool, to prevent enemies from following you around each turn.

You could also have a system where each ship had an accelerating and decelerating stat, where they could only adjust their move each turn by that number. Would make some things more interesting (some ships can go to their max speed in one round, but take 5 rounds to break.)

[Edited by - doomhascome on December 6, 2009 9:40:04 AM]

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Make movement meaningful as part of the tactics required to win the game.

For example, if one ship follows another ship closely their shields will cover each other, translate that into game terms can mean a higher shield rating for both ships if both of them ended their movement beside each other, but due to their close proximity they prevent each other from firing at certain angles for fear of friendly fire.

In pre-carrier era, most movement was done to get into engagement range, move into a superior location where your side is able to bear most amount of firepower on your enemy while receiving less firepower from the enemy.

For example, obstacles like asteroid fields block direct line of fire power weapons, forcing an enemy to get really close to engage each other. Translate that into game terms, can mean your objective is to prevent your opponent from destroying the convoy you are protecting. Instead of a straight up fight you choose to send your convoy through the asteroid preventing your opponent from trying to destroy your ships from long range, instead they are forced to come into the field dodging asteroids while attempting to fight their way past the escorts.

And since the game is set in space, don't forget z-axis, though for simplicity sake you may not want to deal with it.

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Quote:
Original post by doomhascome
Do the battle on a flat board (no tiles). Movement is done is inches/cm. Every turn, you may turn up to X degrees (as determined by ship) and move up to Y inches (also determined by ship). Ship's weapons are located on the ship at different places (front, back, left, right), and a direct line (with string, or something) has to be able to be drawn from the gun's origin to the target in under the max range. Throw in rockets, which move, and turn, each turn like ships, and movement will be a big part of the game. Mines would also be cool, to prevent enemies from following you around each turn.

You could also have a system where each ship had an accelerating and decelerating stat, where they could only adjust their move each turn by that number. Would make some things more interesting (some ships can go to their max speed in one round, but take 5 rounds to break.)


Wow, this could get really crazy - I find the idea of manually controlling a load of homing missiles with a protractor and piece of string pretty amusing.

In a way, though, this is maybe not abstract enough for most board games?

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Original post by WavyVirus
Quote:
Original post by doomhascome
Do the battle on a flat board (no tiles). Movement is done is inches/cm. Every turn, you may turn up to X degrees (as determined by ship) and move up to Y inches (also determined by ship). Ship's weapons are located on the ship at different places (front, back, left, right), and a direct line (with string, or something) has to be able to be drawn from the gun's origin to the target in under the max range. Throw in rockets, which move, and turn, each turn like ships, and movement will be a big part of the game. Mines would also be cool, to prevent enemies from following you around each turn.

You could also have a system where each ship had an accelerating and decelerating stat, where they could only adjust their move each turn by that number. Would make some things more interesting (some ships can go to their max speed in one round, but take 5 rounds to break.)


Wow, this could get really crazy - I find the idea of manually controlling a load of homing missiles with a protractor and piece of string pretty amusing.

In a way, though, this is maybe not abstract enough for most board games?


Meh. Works in the warhammer games. anyway, while it would be a bit of a pain to do, the end result would likely be pretty fun. Until you get to having 10 missiles on the board. Oh well.

If Girsanov doesn't take this idea, I'll prolly make a game around it. Something collectable card based.

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Original post by doomhascome
Do the battle on a flat board (no tiles). Movement is done is inches/cm. Every turn, you may turn up to X degrees (as determined by ship) and move up to Y inches (also determined by ship).

Have a look at the "Wings of War" series of games (best place to look is Boardgamegeek.com).

In this game each player has a Plane and a set of manoeuvre cards (yes cards). On each card is printed a line that leads from the base of the card to a certain point on that card. You aligning the line on the card with the front of the plane and then move the plane to the new point that the line ends at on the card. This move the plane and also include turning it.

You could use a similar system for your game if you want to abandon a rigid grid layout.

But, if you wanted to use the grid, then you can still use cards for the movement. On each card you have a sequence of tiles that the ship moves in. When you play the card you move the ship in the manner described on the card.

SO if the card says: "forward 2, left 1", then you move the ship forward 2 squares and then to the left 1 square (and there could be a direction to turn the ship in as well).

Firing weapons could also be handled like this. Torpedoes could be fired just like moving a ship with cards that describe how it moves.

This would give an incentive to move your ship as you would need to move your ship into a position where the cards in your hand would allow you to hit the enemy ship.

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Original post by doomhascome
If Girsanov doesn't take this idea, I'll prolly make a game around it. Something collectable card based.


Why can't you make a game with it even though I am using the idea? I am just making a home-made board game to play with my friends. (who are crazy about spaceship combat...crazy enough to play a home-made game by their friend lol)

Anyway...your idea is GREAT!!!! Thanks a lot! I am definitely using this. But I will have to find a more elegant solutions to the movement/control of missiles. Like WavyVirus said, things could get crazy if there are 10 missiles on the board.

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Original post by Girsanov
Quote:
Original post by doomhascome
If Girsanov doesn't take this idea, I'll prolly make a game around it. Something collectable card based.


Why can't you make a game with it even though I am using the idea? I am just making a home-made board game to play with my friends. (who are crazy about spaceship combat...crazy enough to play a home-made game by their friend lol)

Anyway...your idea is GREAT!!!! Thanks a lot! I am definitely using this. But I will have to find a more elegant solutions to the movement/control of missiles. Like WavyVirus said, things could get crazy if there are 10 missiles on the board.


Heh. Good call. I thought of a better way to use the missile mechanic: standard movement. They don't accelerate or decelerate, just turn.

The flat board mechanic is one I've been working on in a bunch of contexts for a while now. It tends to work best on games with only one unit per player on the board, but can manage with a few more, so moving missiles may work anyway. Playtest it out, I guess.

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Games workshop released a couple of games featuring space combat & manouvres of this kind (spaceships had turning arcs / acceleration & deceleration limits / firing arcs). Have a look at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlefleet_Gothic
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Fleet

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