Talon Tuesday Issue #17: The Critical Damage Table

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.

Issue #17: The Critical Damage Table

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Hull damage is serious business. If given the opportunity, you always want to deal damage directly to a ship’s hull. An exposed shield side can turn the tide in battle and subsequent hull damage can lead to dramatic effects.  Yes, when a ship’s hull is reduced to zero (all the red hull boxes get marked off) it is destroyed and it explodes, however, this is not the only reason you want to be firing on the enemy’s hull.

Destroying hull boxes also means the ship will have less power. Not only are important parts of the ship that regulate power usage damaged but more power is re-routed to life support to keep the crew alive. Since power (and the AP it generates) is one of the most precious resources in the game, damaging a ship can have big effects on its offensive capabilities.  Also if a ship is traveling at a high Speed and suddenly takes a large amount of hull damage, reducing its Power, its drives may overheat and the ship can break apart.  You can never have a negative Power number written on your ship so unless the ship can slow down to a safe level during the Power Phase, it will overheat.

MBT Command and Control Example of Play

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Command and control is a common element of most tactical games for good reason. Force management is a necessity to properly model low scale combat where each counter represents just a single unit up to no more than a few, not to mention supporting infantry units. It basically comes down to who can do what and when. Its modeling can take different forms, e.g., command points, chit pulls, or cards.Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 9.59.16 PM

MBT is no exception. At its scale, with each counter representing a single vehicle, aircraft, towed gun or infantry squad, half-squad or section, command and control is an integral part of the game.

Talon Tuesday Issue #16: The Play Book

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.

Issue #16: The Play Book

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As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, we wanted the Talon Rulebook to be thin and streamlined. This way, new players can pick up the game and understand the system as quickly as possible. As such we’ve moved not only the scripted scenarios into the Play Book but also some of our other “chrome-y” features: Transports, Terrain randomization, Design your own scenario outline, Empire War, Space Empires Crossover, other Battle Modes… When I get a new game, I always like having a thick scenario book. It means I’m going to get a lot of replay out of my purchase. We hope you feel the same.

Like we’ve talked about in previous Talon Tuesdays, there are a bunch of different ways to play the game.  Last week I discussed our default win condition – Last Ship Standing.  It’s an important game structure for Talon but it is just one of many ways to play a battle. We call the other options Battle Modes. They’re alternative victory conditions and objectives, some of which are used in the scripted scenarios and all may be used in Design Your Own Scenarios.

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium: Shunning the Schlieffen Plan in Fields of Despair

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Part One

For the past several months, I’ve been involved in the latest round of playtesting for Fields of Despair.  I’m playtesting with a couple of my regular wargaming buddies (Phil Mowatt and Dave Moseley) using VASSAL and Skype. After about 7 or 8 games, in which each of the short scenarios as well as a couple of campaign games were played, we were impressed that this is a game that invites repeated plays.  This is at least partially due to the great variety of possible strategies and outcomes that it offers.  I realize that the purpose of playtesting is to determine whether the game has balance issues or incomprehensible/contradictory rules or a variety of other problems, but because this game has been tested for several years by a fairly large and varied group of people, my fellow playtesters and I weren’t finding any gaping holes in the rules.

Talon Tuesday Issue #15: Lifetime Score

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.

Issue #15: Lifetime Score

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The goal of most battles in Talon is control over that region of space.  This is expressed with our default victory condition: Last Ship Standing.  That means for most games, the winner is the side with ships remaining on the map, regardless of how many ships that side lost during the battle. This is important because we felt that if your fleet beats up another fleet and then retreats, you didn’t really achieve much for your faction. The goal is the conquest/securing of territories as represented in most scripted scenarios.  It’s a different ball game in Empire War, where one goal may be to deal significant financial damage to your opponent. However, even then you need to avoid losing territory.

MBT Artillery Example of Play

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Since it first arrived on the battlefield in the 12th Century, artillery has played an ever expanding role. This no less the case on the modern battlefield of 1987. Whether employed off-map or as on-map fire support, artillery assets are a major facet of MBT.Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 3.37.25 PM

In game terms, artillery comes in two flavors: individual on-map mortars and self-propelled guns and off-map artillery batteries, which represent a group of guns of various calibers modeled as light, medium, heavy and supeScreen Shot 2015-12-04 at 3.37.32 PMr heavy. Not limited to just smoke, illumination and high-explosive shells, the modern battlefield includes specialized ordnance. If available in a scenario, players may also choose from cannon launched guided projectiles (CLGP), e.g., the US M712 Copperhead, improved conventional munitions (ICM), and artillery delivered mines (FASCAM). Also keep in mind that where there is artillery there is also the possibility of counter battery and counter-counter battery.

Talon Tuesday Issue #14: Space Empires Crossover

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.

Issue #14: Space Empires Crossover

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Jim Krohn and GMT Games have another game called Space Empires: 4x. It’s a 4x (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) board war game in the vein of old PC games like Masters of Orion and its namesake – Space Empires. It’s a strategic level game, where you are mostly concerned with the development of your empire, research and area control on the board.  Combat is handled through a very slick system that still gives players interesting tactical choices – however, it is abstracted.  The ships are not on a map, moving around, they instead take turns firing.

From the outset, Talon was always meant to be its own thing. Talon was never meant to be an expansion for Space Empires. It exists in its own flavorful universe while Space Empires has only mild seasoning for flavor.  We realized shortly after Talon was announced that there was a big demand from our Space Empires fan base for there to be a Talon tie-in for Space Empires.  Fans wanted a way to play out their Space Empires tactical battles in the Talon system – letting them zoom in and control the nitty gritty details of the ships they’ve built.  We wanted to satisfy our fans, but at the same time, Space Empires needed to bend to the rules of Talon, not the other way around.

Next War: India-Pakistan Design Notes – Air Forces, part 2

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In this article, Doug continues the air force orders of battle discussion by focusing on the air forces for the secondary or intervention nations and discusses the why of some of the decisions which were made. This is part two of a two part series. – Mitchell Land

The Air Forces of NWIP, Part 2

In Part 1 of “The Air Forces of NWIP” we covered the two main protagonists, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Here we cover the outside nations that we assume may intervene in the air war: the PRC People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), the United States Air Force (USAF), the Russian Air Force, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the French Air Force.

Talon Tuesday Issue #13: Empire War

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.

Issue #13: Empire War

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I loved to play tactical space combat games as a teenager.  One off scenarios were fun, but I almost always ended up designing a campaign game which would allow me to string scenarios together.  So, when I was designing my own game, some kind of campaign game was definitely going to happen.  It works even better with Talon because the individual battles play so quickly.  It is possible to get multiple games in during a session, especially if you are conscious of trying to preserve your flee.  With that mindset you will more often than not avoid fighting to the (bitter) end.  When to jump to FTL to save your ships becomes a very important decision that also tends to make games go even quicker.

Actually, the scenarios we provide are interesting enough that there is plenty to keep you busy without the Empire War – invading planets, base assaults, convoy protection, lots of interesting terrain – but since some of these elements have found a home in the Empire War, it also makes the Empire War even more interesting.