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Re: [FT] Matrix Game Full Thrust Campaign

From: "Andrew Martin" <Al.Bri@x...>
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2000 07:42:45 +1200
Subject: Re: [FT] Matrix Game Full Thrust Campaign

Oerjan Ohlson wrote:
> David Reeves wrote:
> > Chris Engle's (Inventor of Matrix Games) email to me: 
> I must say that this was a fairly short mail...

I agree! here's Chris Engle's Matrix Game for Full Thrust after my .sig


Andrew Martin
ICQ: 26227169


Okay, there is a desire for a campaign game to be used with Full Thrust
- A standard miniatures/role play game. A Matrix Game for this purpose
needs to not alter ANYTHING about the standard game. Players want to
play FT, not have it redesigned out from under them. Also, the campaign
game needs to serve the purposes of the basic game - which is to play
battles. The campaign game should not suck energy away from this primary
purpose. As an aesthetic I want the game to have the potential to do
much more than just generate battle - but this should not be pressed
forward. I think it best that players be allowed to add such parts in as
they desire.


I know nothing about this game. I don't play it but I've heard of it and
from that have gleaned that it is a straight forward ship battle game.
So battle games consist of moving ship markers around and firing
weapons. It apparently has some kind of point system (or production
system) that covers building ships. Beyond this it has a map and
apparently 42 different factions to play with!

Ship battle games often handle small actions well and slow down to a
snails pace when more than twenty ships are involved on a side. This is
when only two sides are involved. When many factions (six or more) are
pulled into a game - it becomes insane. Real life politics are lost.
Countries are considered to be monoliths - everyone agreeing to fight.
Which frees up the players to concentrate on bigger and bigger ship
actions. An arms race invariable begins and campaigns devolve into
accounting exercises devoid of interest.

I sound cynical here. I am. I ran a Star Fleet Battles MG campaign for a
bunch of gamers in the early 90's and saw this happen. So any game must
overcome the players moth like tendencies to fly into the flames of
boredom. This is not easy. Battle games do not lend themselves well to
campaigns - it is not a matter of multiplying turn lengths. Campaign
stories flow in a different way.


When tendencies are to complexity it is good to start off with a simple
cast of characters. So I suggest a "subsector" with two small powers
(three solar systems each) with two or three unalligned (disputed) solar
systems (each with a local power base).

Inside each "state" have several stereotyped characters. 1. The leader,
2. The leader of the political opposition, 3. The industrialist, 4. and
several military leaders. This give room for political interaction
without being to in depth.

Have each solar system have several vital points that tactical (ie
movement inside a solar system) revolve around. 1. Shipyards (where all
new ships are built), 2. Mines (raw material collection points, 3.
Factories (where raw materials are processed into ship making products,
4. Communications facilities, 5. Command posts, 6. Political capitals,
7. Cultural centers. This is abstract - but it shows the players what
they are fighting over. Also it shows what they lose if they are driven

So who cares about cultural centers? Hummm...You mean like Jerusalem? I
wonder how long a PM of Israel would stay in power (let alone stay
alive) if he gave away or lost the Western Wall? Lose any site and the
leader suffers politically.

Economically I was thinking that if one does not have the mines,
processing plants and shipyards communicating and functioning - then
ship production stops. Beyond this use the existing point system to
build ships. But don't get deeper into accounting (if you do it will
take over the game).

I would suggest setting up regular commercial shipping lines that run
between the star systems. These are privately owned ships that go back
and forth along the same route until war disrupts communicaitons. They
can be ignored until attacked and thus once again simplify economics
(until it is needed to generate battles). Commercial shipping also
stands as a second voice vying for control of ship building production.
Don't worry about what the ships are carrying - it is irrelevant!


Each state will have a brief write up of culture, history and their
goals. Usually the goals are to expend and grow stronger. Only the
unalligned systems should have passive goals. Now both the leader and
opposition share the states goals they merely differ over methods. The
leaders favors war - the opposition probably favors peace and diplomacy
(just to be different). Neither are good or bad - they just want power.
If the leader can not harness the opposition and industrialist behind
him then his state appears weaker to the referee. As a leader has
failures, the window of opportunity arrises to split the state's
factions and thus move a state towards peace. (this gives a none
military way to win - and thus a reason to not kill them all). The goals
I think people will want to see...

THE STATE: Increase its power (militarily, politically, economically,
geographically, culturally etc.)

THE LEADER - The leader wants to accomplish the state's goal and remain
in power.

THE OPPOSITION - The opposition wants to accomplish the state's goal and
gain power.

THE INDUSTRIALIST - The industrialist wants to increase his ownership of
the economic infrastructure (mines, factories, communications, ship
yards, actual ships, and cultural centers). The state then needs to
protect his property!

THE MILITARY - The general wants to accomplish the state's goals but
gain reputation and rank in so doing. After all good generals make great


The technology of FT dictates what the game should do. The game needs a
strategic level (star systems) and a tactical level (inside star

Strategically since communications are only as fast as the fastest ship,
the game resembles Napoleonic sailing. One has to send out squadrons
with prewritten orders. Coordiantion between systems is hard but not
impossible. This lends itself well to area movement. It takes a certain
number of days to reach a system with action outside systems being very
unlikely (space is big!).

Tactically, radio communications work to make the game much more like
WWII carrier actions. Players need to find one another and fight
actions. I'd recommend using free movement inside systems to assure that
campaign moves do not bog down and thus divert attention from actions.
By making movement easier - players have to decide where they really
want to be and not just charge forward. This also allows players to us
my MG ideas about barriers without interfering with the game. Naturally,
ships will gather around vital places but this does not mean that they
have to. A player could try a subtle strategy.

I see games starting off with strategic moves but then centering on a
tactical situation. I'd recommend a month long Strategic turn (maybe two
weeks when a tactical action happens). and a one day turn for tactical


First the players will want to move ships and fight battles. The war
story is what brings people to the table. Then they will want to build
new ships and engage in the arms race. Next they will want tofish for
less obvious advantages (politics etc.) and lastly they will want to
role play their captain's life.

What I suggest is that the game be structured to give the players an
argument that can only be used to futher one of these goals. So
strategically one would get the following argument

POLITICS - The players make one argument about political happenings at
home or in another system. (see political MG rules for what one can do).
The players fight for control of the high political office, alliances
and economics.

BUILDING - This can be used to get ships started or by the industrialist
to gain control of the wealth or by anyone to set up new infrastructure.
Also it can be used to cause economic trouble for your enemy.

MILITARY - This is to move ships from system to system and to make big
strategic plans. It is also a place for competing military commanders to
fight it out over promotions.

CHARACTER - This allows the player to make up an event in their
character's life. This brings in all the character growth one needs and
makes people wnat their leaders to live.

Tactically players have to maintain control of solar system's vital
resources (the mines, factoris and ship yards) Rather than have
everything done by arguments I think it best to make some actions

FREE MOVE - Let players move anywhere they want to in the system.
Players can set up defense barriers which block movement (well actually
cause the free attacks noted below) but other wise they move anywhere.
The side with the most ships moves first. The mover can move as many
ships as he wants to but ships can only move once. Then the player with
fewer ships move. They keep on trading moves till one side is out of
ships. Then the reamining ships move (usually to places behind you! This
will rapidly move through ship set up. On the other hand for PBEMs it
might be best to write an order where the ships are to go to and just do
it. Yea, that would be better. (I'd suggest setting the ships on a map
and showing their direction vector)

FREE ATTACK - I'd say anything a ship trys to go through a barrier that
deffender should get a free call to combat - no argument needed!

MILITARY - This allows players to fish for advantages, get extra moves
and cause battles to happen even when a barrier is not crossed. Unlike
strategic moves these actions focus on starting shooting rather than
positioning large bodies of troops.

BUILDING - This deals with repairing damage to ships rather than
building new ships.

CHARACTER - Allow very focused short term character growth arguments.
These might help a player deal with trouble by their leader's example.

GROUND COMBAT - I assume this is included in the game. Use arguments to
land and move troops and if you wish even do conflicts.


I would give the players a script (like in the Classical Matrix Game) to
teach them what to do in a campaign game. Beyond that I'd let them do
what they want.

So there you have it. Does it sound like what you were after?

Sincerely Chris Engle

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