Replicator Tuesday Issue #38: Advanced Ship Development, Part Four – New Techs

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Replicator Tuesdays is an article series appearing on InsideGMT. It features insights into the development of the 2nd expansion for the board wargame Space Empires:4x by Jim Krohn.  Here the designer, developer and play testers will share their thoughts and experiences on this upcoming expansion. Since there is much crossover between the Space Empires and Talon development teams, both Space Empires and Talon articles will be featured in this series.

Issue #36 Advanced Ship Development, Part Four – New Techs

This article continues the discussion of the Advanced and X Units that were added to the game in Replicators.  New ships and techs are about 25% of this expansion.  Having already looked at all the new ships, this last article finishes by examining the new technologies.

The last thing I am going to write about is the extra tech that we added to the Titans/DN/BBs once Advanced Construction 1 was researched.  Titans can now mount Attack 4.  DNs can mount a Shield Projector.  BBs can mount a Tractor Beam.  These upgrades were added for two reasons.

One was that fact that I found Titans to be a bit unsatisfying in battle when it came time for them to shoot at ships mounting a lot of Defense.  In a lot of cases the other side would not stand and fight the Titan so the Titan would only get two shots off before the entire enemy force had fled.  As it is hard to deploy a lot of Titans, a run of bad dice might leave you with the hex, but no permanent damage caused by the Titan.  So I thought a slight increase in its firepower was warranted.  Please keep in mind that though Interlinked Targeting Computer and Giant Race might seem to allow Attack 4 to be mounted on units other than Titans the rule does state that only Titans can mount Attack 4.

The tech boosts to the DN and BB have a slightly longer story.  Once the Titan was added to the game I started thinking that the BB would go out of favor as a buildable unit since there were two other more capable A rated units in the counter mix.  I started thinking that perhaps we should add Fast to the BB hull in some fashion.  That would give the players a reason to build the BB as it could get to hexes that the DN and Titan could not.  Jim shot that down as he did not want to add Fast to the BB. As I played more games I actually saw that instead of the BB falling out of favor it was more likely the DN that was not built.  A BB mounting Attack/Defense 2+ is a very good unit compared to a lot of the other units in the game and if you are going for Titans, producing more BBs is a way to save CPs for the Titans.  So about two years ago I mentioned to Jim that once I was done with the playtesting I was thinking of giving the Titans some sort of boost and allowing the DNs to mount Fast BC 2.  I made more formal proposals to this effect in the past and Jim had always rejected them so I was surprised when he wrote back that he was up for going over this idea at that time.  He told me that although he was still against mounting Fast BC 2 on any of the old units I could go over the Unique Ship Special Abilities and pick different ones for the DNs and BBs to mount, as long as I did not choose Fast.  With a lot of those abilities already being available to other normal ships I decided to only look at the other ones for my selections.  My desire to keep Second Salvo limited to only one ship type kept it out of the running.  So I felt my choices were limited to Shield Projector, Construction Bay, Tractor Beam and Warp Gates if I wanted to add something to these ships that would not duplicate abilities that were already in use on other ships.  Jim approved my choices and with a slight rewording of the Shield Projector and Tractor Beam rules these abilities were added to the game for the DN and BB.  The rewording of the rules was that no ship equipped with a Shield Projector can protect another ship with a Shield Projector.  We did not want players to deploy Unique Ships with Shield Projectors and DNs with Shield Projectors had then have the two types protect each other and leave the other side with no targets while the ships with Shield Projectors were firing at them.

Note from Jim: One thing I really like about where we ended up was the symmetry of the fleets.  Now every main line ship has a possible improvement, and a thematic one at that.  Scouts have PD, Destroyers have scanners, Cruisers mount exploration tech, Battlecruisers can get fast technology, Battleships can use Tractor Beams, Dreadnaughts can use Shield Projectors, and Titans can get even more firepower. 

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