Gaming: Hidden-Move Games

[As you can tell by now, I subscribe to the Ronseal approach to Post-naming.]

I have found that there are very few games in which one player makes move that the other play either: can’t see, or, doesn’t know about. I don’t see why though – it could be quite entertaining.

Anyway, I watched Das Boot recently, so let’s think of a sub-themed game.


A simple set-up is this – one player controls a guarded convoy [Player 1], the other some submarines [Player 2]. Player 1 has to get as many of his ships to the other side of the board. Player 2 wants to kill the Merchant ships in the convoy. Pre-game, Player 1 designates some of his mechant vessels as Q-boats [Destroyers hiding as merchant vessels]. If this is a model game, then it could be written underneath, or something.

Lets give Player 1 some nice ships to play with though. For a convoy of, say, 20 ships, he has 2 Q-boats, 6 Destroyers, and 1 Dreadnought.

Player 2 has a measly 4 U-Boats.

It should be played on a large squared board, with the Merchants and Destroyers taking up 2 squares, and the Dreadnought 4. Each ship has a certain allocated HP – merchant vessels 1, Destroyers 2, and the Dreadnought 6. If a submarine takes 1 hit, it’s out.

However, in order for Player 2 to be “hidden”, Player 1 can only see along which line Player 2 fired his torpedoes. Player 2 also tells Player 1 in which areas he has submarines, but not how many. The board may be divided into a larger 3×3 grid, above the smaller isometric grid.

If the game lasts 10 turns, then each Player can have a “timer” ability. When Player 1 drops charges, he can choose to have them delayed until any turn he wants. He says he drops charges in a 2×2 grid, and writes down the co-ordinates, and the turn at which it goes off. Similarly, Player 2 can use Timed Fuses, in which he puts down the line of action (where it originated from, and in which direction), which works under similar principles.

Each player could also have an offensive and defensive ability. Player 1’s offensive is to launch a Hedgehog – a 4×4 grid of charges, that last 2 rounds. His defensive may be the aforementioned Q-Boats. Player 2’s defensive may be Silent Running – for 1 turn, he does not have to tell Player 1 where the sub’s are. His offensive may be HE Rounds – the torpedo does double damage against the target.

Each player can move his ships every turn, in order for the game to remain fluid.

The problem here is for Player 2 to keep track of the subs, but a small notepad should solve that problem, with the subs laid out in chess-like notation – i.e. Sub 2, d3to b7. Or something. You’d only need 10 lines anyhow.

Not sure how I should expand / modify this any more, so I’ll end it here.


Worldbin: Mag-Lev Volcanoes.

Yes, this will be exactly what it says on the tin – floating volcanoes.

I was re-reading The Player Of Games by Iain M Banks recently – I would recomend it, it’s a great book – and one of the characters makes an off-hand remark about putting floating mountains on a new Plate – a section of the world that they were on at the time. So I took that idea and ran with it for a while.

I started out with magnetic fluid that became less magnetic and more dense the cooler it got. Now you have a strata’d magnetic ocean, with the most magnetic stuff at the top. Now, below it, you have the lava-stuff. This follows the same principle as the fluid, and starts out below the ocean. However, the fluid is more pronounced in the heat vs. magnetic and heat vs. density arrangement than the lava-thing is.

The second thing is that both fluid are like mercury – if they have the option, they stick together, and align together.

Thirdly, the further you go down, the hotter it gets.

So at the moment a vertical slice would look like this;

Air Above

V.Magnetic fluid.
Less Magnetic fluid.
Quite Magnetic Fluid.

[Gap due to the repulsion – Vacuum? or just low pressure?]

V. Magnetic Lava-stuff.
Less Magnetic Lava.
Extremely Magnetic Lava.


(Both the lava and fluid will be in convection currents, as they heat up, rise, cool and fall again)

Now the lava will get hotter and hotter until it reaches a critical mass, or average temperature, or whatever. The fluid above will contract and align opposite to it, in order to stick together. Eventually the Lava will “force” it apart, due to the strength of it’s magnetic field, and fly above the ocean, where it will settle and cool, levitating above the fluid.

And – Viola! – a floating volcano.

Now, when the volcano gets too cool, it will get less and less magnetic, and heavier and heavier, and eventually it will fall into the fluid below. This will cause the fluid to part around it, and so will make a path for the sub-critical lava below.

This should cause a nice periodic graph of islands above the fluid, as more islands “cheat” up as islands fall, until too many cool at once, and there isn’t enough critical or sub-critical lava below it, and it waits for the lava to heat up enough for the cycle to repeat.

There you have it – MagLev Volcanoes. And the Physics for them too.

Gaming: Space Combat #3 – Now with added realism!

Space combat as depicted below is completely silly. In reality, the distances involved, and the speed of the projectiles would be that you would only notice the slug just before it hit you (how close it is depends on how near to c (the speed of light) the slug was going.

Take this situation;

Two ships are travelling at .5 c, one due east, one due west. Their projectiles move at .9 c. They are 1 light-minute apart. (18 Million Kilometres) They fire at each other. One ship knows the other has fired 11 seconds before it hits. However, in this time it has moved 1.11 light minutes relative to the other ship (20 Million Kilometers) eastwards, and is now 27 Million Kilometres away.

If your shot is, say a hundredth of a degree too high, then you will over shoot by over 3000 kilometres. In space, you have to be accurate. In fact, it would be better to fire shells which fragmented into thousands, or millions of smaller sub-munitions in order to hit the enemy.

Looking at this, you can see that even “close” distances of only 1 light-minute mean that shooting is a tricky business, and is more statistics than gunplay.



Talking Shop #2: Blog Necromancy

I’m realising that this whole blogging thing actually takes a bit of both effort and commitment. So I’ll try to post at least 1 non-Shop article a week, to stop this turning into a Norwegian Blue. Hopefully, I’ll post on Monday/Tuesday and on Friday/Saturday. I’ve should be posting 2 gaming articles & a worldbin soon.

Gaming: Space Combat #2

Looking back on yesterday’s post, I realise that there are a lot of easier ways for me to do this, or variations about how to this.

Astromachia, if I remember correctly, had a set-up where you were a 1x1x1 cube at height 5. [Max height 10, min 0 – the game used a lot of 10-sided dice] Your ship was divided up into 6 parts – fore & aft, port & starboard, top & bottom, and each was equipped with the weapon, or weapons of your choosing. But as you were both the same size (it was a 1v1 game), if I could hit you with my fore and port guns, you could hit me with your aft and starboard guns also. I also meant that if I was directly below you, I could only hit you with my topside batteries. However, if I then moved one space left, and one space backwards, then I could broadside you with port, fore and topside weapons.

Damage was quite novel too – for say, my aft side, I would have a list of 30 or so little white circles, some of which are allocated to engines, some to weapons. If you hit that side with a Type 6 weapon, and rolled a 3 on the d6 (6sided die), then I could shade out the 3rd circle along, and every 6th one after that, but the damage for some weapons had a “fall-off” point, as such. Therefore two shots Type 2 weapon with a 5 damage falloff might destroy everything allocated in the first 10 hardpoints (technical name for the circles – think of it as HP), but if I had 100 such hardpoints (clearly hull tanking here) two shots from a Type 8 weapon might do more damage overall. If 75% of a system’s hardpoints had gone, then if was off-line. You could though repair several hardpoints a turn, so you had the option of fully restoring one system, or just managing to bring 5 more online. If the total HP for any section dropped below around 80%, then you lost, so you had to always bring your strongest side to bear on the enemy, and target his weakest. Pretty good, all things considered.

Eve Online had a novel field approach – you had a cloud of small “nanites” that moved automatically to absorb the damage from an attack – dissipating a laser beam, or blocking a kinetic round, and you repaired or produced a set number of these per second. It’s a nice way to explain this kind of stuff without resorting to force-field technology.

Gaming: Space Combat

I’ve had an idea about building a space combat game for a while now, so here I go.

First of all, you have to choose, simply whether you have field technology or not. This is a bigger choice than you might at first think. If you have force fields, then you can have proper behemoths, real ships-of-the-line, as they have more space inside, so more power plants, so stronger force fields. If you don’t, then you have carriers at the peripheries of the fighting, which launch smaller ships.

In space, see, manoeuvrability is necessary for survival, as otherwise you are a large, slow target. Just like how now modern naval battles are decided by aircraft, as ships are too vulnerable, it would be worse in space, as you can be attacked from all directions.

However, as fields can stop smaller weaponry, we can finally have large, 18th-century naval combat IN SPACE! Which is nice.


Anyway, let’s get on track, after that massively tangential background-thing and back to modelling space combat. You have a couple of things to think about here, ship-wise. Note: this is about a little homebrew strategy game here. So be prepared

Firstly, the force-fields themselves. Now, each field can take X damage before it falls. But, as there are power plants aboard the ships, they will regenerate at rate Y/turn. Y= Energy Allocated, X= Energy Allocated x 5

Secondly, weapons. We’ll call these standard railguns – using the power of electricity to fling lumps of metal across space. Damage from each turret = (Energy Allocated x 2), as the more juice you put into this thing, the faster you fire that lump of metal.

Each ship has Total Energy = (1 + Number of Power Plants) x2

Thirdly, Engines. Engines give you thrust to move in any direction that the engine faces. i.e. – if you have no front-pointing engines, you can’t move backwards. You can move (Engines facing that way x Energy Allocated) per turn.

Finally, Crew. Simple thing this. You need (1 crew/plant, and 2/engine or turret) each crew bay gives you 5 crew. Go figure. Each crew module drains 2 Energy.

Now for the Ships themselves. They are made of up to 12 cubes (it’s easier this way) and can be put together in any way you choose, as long as they connect. Each cube can be a power plant, engine or crew bay. Engine “point” of out one face only. Turrets are added onto faces. Each turret can fire at anything in a semisphere centres on itself, as long as it has line of sight.

You would, however, have to allocate your Energy before the game start, but you can “shift” a maximum of (1 + Power plant) energy a turn, by switching around the flux capacitors, or something.

Gameplay-wise: Turnbased – everyone moves in order, then shoots in the same order. Each ship has 20 HP per cube, and once they are gone, it’s game over. Also, a viable strategy is to split up your “fleet” into smaller ships.


Well, there you have it.

I’ll probably look over this later, and realise that it is horribly unbalanced for certain build, but it seems fine for now.

Worldbin: Flotsam & Jetsam #1

NB: Worldbin is where I chuck campaign worlds. I’ve filled up 3 maths textbooks with this sort of stuff, and this is cheaper. Mainly fantasy RPG, but some sci fi / cyberpunk / whatever.

Flotsam & Jetsam is a twinned hollow-world with shared borders.

What that means is that it seems like a normal place, but if you go above the cloud layer, mine deep enough, or sail far away from the central landmass, then you go into the other one.

Environmental and Atmospheric conditions on each are not exactly the same, Flotsam being heavier and more humid than Jetsam, so when you cross over you can tell. Kinda.

Apart from that twinning, it is a plane of forgotten things – as indicated by the name. Objects that time forgot tend to end up there, one way or another. Unfortunately, sometimes there is good reason that these are not known of. Basically, a new doomsday device, ancient super weapon or eldritch artefact turn up every couple of days, and so the world is full of apocalypse cults, treasure hunters and esoteric monastic orders trying to find these as and when they appear.

If you have ever player Paranoia, think of it as a endless Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues.