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Re: [FT] Accelerated Play

From: agoodall@c...
Date: 24 Jan 2001 12:59:25 -0800
Subject: Re: [FT] Accelerated Play

On Wed, 24 January 2001, "Bell, Brian K (Contractor)" wrote:

> Does anyone have any other ideas that have been successfully
> I will probably end up droping the staged inititive and scale the game
> some.

Okay, this is a long reply...

The FT intro games at GenCon tended to get fairly big. You could have 5
or 6 ships of varying sizes (but one is usually big, and survivable) per
player, 4 players per side, two sides. So, you're looking at a long
table with 40 ships.

Movement is pretty easy with lots of guys. The problem is firing. One
ship at a time is far too slow.

We started doing some stuff during the game to speed things up. One easy
way is to look at the situation and have someone say, "You're not going
to affect things over there, are you? No? Okay, then fire one of your
ships." This did help, with twor or three ships firing at once. But,
inevitably, you get into a domino situation. Player 1 wants to fire at a
ship before player 2 can fire it, who wants to fire before player 3 can
fire, etc. etc... In tense, close situations you end up back with one
player then another firing.

During the last GenCon game I participated in, I suggested something
that the others at the table thought could work well. Typically 4
players sat side by side on a table edge. Let's number then 1a, 1b, 1c,
and 1d. Opposite them are their opponents, 2a, 2b, 2c, and 2d
respectively. You roll the dice for initiative. The side winning
initiative decides if they want their "a" player to go first or their
"b" player. 

The choice is made. Let's say 1a is picked to go first. In this case,
player 1a may fire a ship, but at the same time so can players 2b, 1c,
and 2d. Basically, you alternate back and forth across the table. If
player 2b elects to fire at 1a's ship that is currently firing, he can
roll, but the effects do not take placue until 1a has finished resolving
fire. Otherwise, he can freely fire at any other of 1a's ships, or any
ship from any of the other side 1 players. Likewise, if 1c wants to fire
at 2b's currently selected ship, he can but effects are resolved after
2b has fired.

The players on both sides are paired off. Even players who are not
firing or being fired at are still busy. They act as the observer for
their team. They watch what their immediate opponent rolls. You might
want some scratch paper to let players jot down what the results were.

Example: 6 player game, 3 per side. Sides are 1 and 2. Players are 1a,
1b, 1c, 2a, 2b, 2c. 

Initiative is rolled. Side 1 wins. They elect to fire player 1a first.
Players 1a, 2b, and 1c all pick targets and resolve fire. Players 2a,
1b, and 2c act as observers, hold the other side of the tape measure and
-- if their ships are targets -- mark damage and do threshold checks.

1a chooses his ship and starts to fire at one of 2a's ships. 2b fires at
the same ship 1a is firing. 1c fires at one of 2a's other ships. 2a
watches 1a's rolls and records the results of fire on his ship. 1b
watches 2b's rolls and jots down/remembers the result. When 1a is
finished, 1b tells 1a what to mark on his ship, and 1a makes threshold
checks if needed. 2c watches 1c and helps him old the tape measure. When
1c is finished rolling, 2c jots down the result. When 2a has a free
moment, 2c tells him what happened and 2a records the results.

Then play alternates. In this case 2a, 1b, and 2c now fire. Resolve back
and forth until no other ships are left. 

Example 2: the same game, a couple of turns later. Side 2 wins the
initiative and decides to fire player 2b first. What is the order of
fire? Using the alternate set up, player 2b, 1c, and 2a fire. After that
is complete, players 1b, 2c, and 1a fire.

Example 3: a five player game is running, with players 1a, 1b, 1c, 2a,
and 2b. The easiest way to do this is as follows: if side 1 wins the
initiative two of their players can fire first. If side 2 wins the
initiative, only one side 1 player can shoot.

So, if side 1 wins initiative and chooses 1a to fire first, then 1a, 2b,
1c fire, then alternately 2a and 1b fire. If side 2 wins the initiative
and decides 2a will fire first, then 2a and 1b fires, then 2b, 1c and

Another way is to just give side 2 a third fleet corresponding to 1c's
fleet, and let the players argue over who uses it and when.

Note: yes, it may mean that one player on one side will run out of ships
while the other players on his side still have plenty to fire at. That
will slow down that side and hamper them. That's part of the grand
tactics of this kind of game. You want to keep the fleets on both sides
well managed. You may decide to let fleets reorganize under a player so
that the work load is balanced out (which encourages players to stay in
the game, and encourages players to give UP ships to another player
because it's a disadvantage to have a player idle).

Yes, in odd numbered games, the side with the fewest players actually
fires more often. Unless you give the other side another fleet, you will
end up giving the shorter side a disadvantage. You can either tune this
in playtesting, or actually make use of it in a scenario (the fewer
number of players might have a bigger fleet, but since there's only two
of them their command structure is now lumbering).

That all works fine when you have a lot of players with essentially
smaller, manageable fleets. What if you want to give two players LOTS of
ships, or you want to have lots of players with lots of ships. One
partial response is: tough; you can only speed up the game so much.

Another is to see if you can speed up something else, like movement. 

For Full Steam I've experimented with non-simultaneous movement. Now,
yes, this is anathema to Full Thrust. Part of the point is simultaneous
movement. But, if you have long engagement ranges and want to speed up a
couple of dull turns, you can do this:

1) record speed differences.
2) roll for initiative. Winner gets to decide whether to move first or
second in the turn, but will be considered to have LOST the combat
initiative die roll.
3) the side going first move all their ships half their movement.
4) the side going second moves all their ships.
5) the side going first finishes moving their ships.

This works surprisingly well, especially with lots of ships in an
enclosed area where neither side is doing anything too sneaky.

Another option is to divide the turns even further. Instead of moving
side 1
s ships 1/2, side 2's ships full, side 1's ships 1/2, you can do
something like side 1's ships 1/4, side 2's ships 1/2, side 1's ships
1/2, side 2's ships 1/2, side 1's ships 1/4.

Depending on players, this can speed things up. Be warned... I've seen
players deliberate after each partial move and had the whole thing slow
DOWN the game. 

Just some thoughts...

Allan Goodall -

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