Friday, July 20, 2012

Breaking the game: Star Navy playtest

When playtesting, it's important to do more than try out the game the way you intend it to be played.  You need to stretch the rules and example them from every angle until any loopholes become visible.  In other words, you need to try and break the game.
In our latest playtest, I wanted to see what would happen if a whole bunch of little specialized ships ganged up on one ginormous general-purpose warship.  I figured little ships armed entirely missile weapons wouldn't have to worry about a superdreadnought's shields, once they could get close enough to fire.  The question was, could the larger ship take out all the small vessels before they came into range?

I pulled out about 38 of my smaller models (destroyers, starbombers, and armored pursuit ships from various factions) to serve as Zhu-Zhu missile frigates (Class 3 ships) defending their planet against the Star Navy's gunboat diplomacy. 
The Terran Victory-class super galactic dreadnought made a great Class 6 Star Navy vessel, suitably imposing against the myriad smaller vessels.
There were several turns where the smaller craft were too far away to use their missiles, so the SGDN got in several free shots, destroying a number of Zhu-Zhu ships outright before they could close.  The massive batteries of the Star Navy scored only glancing blows on some ships, leaving them injured but on the table.  However, several Zhu-Zhu fled the table when they saw their comrades blown out of the sky, and the number of defenders dwindled.
Finally though, the missile frigates flew into weapon range.  The dreadnought's four anti-aircraft batteries were more than enough to shoot most missiles down.  For the first few turns of shooting, nothing much got through, and what did reach the ship didn't do serious damage. 
However, once I took out one flak gun, it became easier and easier to score hits.
The dread kept swatting down Zhu-Zhu, but eventually it lost weapons and then engines.  The monkeys kept pounding away, finally taking out it's remaining hull and destroying the ship.  Final tally, the monkeys started with 38 ships.  The Star Navy ship destroyed 13 of them, another 15 fled, and at the end of the battle just 10 missile frigates remained on the map--and three of those were damaged.
It was a good playtest session.  We tweaked the rules a little bit, but we were happy with the way this combat played out.  It shows the bigger ships are more powerful by an order of magnitude, but they can eventually be worn down. 
Ed also pointed out that if he'd taken out my flagship earlier in the game (we forgot to designate a flagship for the Zhu-Zhu until about halfway through), that would have resulted in more of my ships fleeing the dreadnought, and he could probably have held out through the game.  So we're pretty happy with the power balance for these ships.  Can't wait to try and break the game again next week!


Sean said...

The game is looking really good.

Ed the THW Guy said...

It says something about the game mechanics, as there are, that I think if I would have knocked out the flagship earlier, as mack mentioned, the outcome would have been even closer.
Coming along quite well.

Don M said...

Looks promising,it's a hard sell to convert me from Full Thrust to something new , this may do it...)