bobjohnson's picture

1) I'd suggest having a unitary HTML or PDF version available for people who don't like clicking.
2) What is the purpose of Ship Categories?  Will there be different design algorithms used for each category, or simply stat ranges defining them?
3) Orbitals section: "Orbitals are used for defending homeworlds.."Should probably change to "owned worlds"
4) Devices section: might consider renaming "inertial damper", "electron router", and "ion trap".  "Inertial damper" might be better called "warp damper"; "ion trap" sounds like it should do what an "electron router" does, and "electron router" is a little obscure.
5) "Allied empires receive the following benefits..." I'm a bit worried that this comprehensive formalization of "alliance" might dissuade people from forming them.  The original benefit of allying  - that you don't have to fear attack from an ally - was pretty good by itself.  The deal looks less sweet if you also have to compromise privacy (data sharing, iding, etc) in just about every way short of sharing ship designs and current orders.  It's like imposing a shotgun wedding on "friends with benefits".
6) "Allies can build ships at each other's worlds (if sufficient allied stockpile is present)." How's this going to work mechanistically? Can Ally A burn up stockpile and create ships and Ally B's world without explicit permission?
7) Eliminated Empires - It seemed to me like you were just giving a separate designation to what had been "empires with conquering ships but without worlds" but the nomenclature is a bit confusing since "eliminated" suggests "gone for good".  I would suggest saving "eliminated" for truly out of the game (ie, no worlds or conquering ships).   "Empires with conquering ships but without worlds" could instead be something like "refugee", "vagrant", or "homeless".
I like Devices a lot - seems eminently expandable.

bobjohnson's picture

Hull types and design costs

Hey, John! I just noticed the changes you made to the Ships section of the rules over the past couple weeks. A few questions/comments:

1) The equations for additional guns, DP, etc. represent modular costs added on to the price of the base design, correct?

2) Assuming that's the case, it looks like most base designs are underpriced by about 4-5 RU compared to what you would get plugging the values into the "added cost" equations. Since that difference effectively becomes an extra, cryptic design charge if you adjust the base design to create a new ship class, it might be good to add a hull-specific fudge factor subtracting it from the new cost.

3) The modular price increase is pretty shallow - with rounding to integral values, there will probably end up being a lot of stat ranges that give identical prices.


john's picture

Re: Hull types and design costs


1. Yes.

2. I think it's OK to underprice the base design a few RU. (I actually used the SE2 ship table to come up with the base stats, with some hand tweaking.) It'll let folks build the base-design ships more cheaply, but since those designs will be known to everyone, folks will want to spend their RU customizing those designs.

3. For any single ship component that's true (and was mostly true in SE4), but once you start customizing all the ship components together, you get a wider variation in the final cost, which requires a little more thought for the player. Do you want to add that extra engine on for 3RU, or would you rather get another 10DP for the same money? And so forth. Can you recommend a better formula that still gives logarithmic growth?

Please do play with these formulae (there will be an online calculator eventually), and let me know what else you think. I'd like to see how these base types and costs play out in a beta game once we're up and running. We can always tweak the numbers moving forward. Actually, I plan to build things so that these values can be set per session. That way a GM could make a session where (for example) capital ships are WAY expensive in order to effectively take them out of the game.

bobjohnson's picture

Design Formulae

> Can you recommend a better formula that still gives logarithmic growth?

It's a minor issue - I think the formulae work pretty well already. The only thing that comes to mind would be coefficients on some of the modular terms. I'll play around with them a bit.

Another question: how is tonnage calculated?


john's picture


Doh! I forgot to add the tonnage calculations, and just now did so. They're similar logarithmic growth formulae, just with slightly different values (and again they'll be configurable per session).

john's picture

Comments -- reply

Thanks for starting the conversation, Bob.

  1. Yeah, I'll put it together eventually.
  2. Two reasons for Ship Categories:  
    • I'd been unhappy with the previous ship design model, mostly because it's pricing mechanism was too complicated to understand easily. I'm looking for something more linear, where addition guns are cost 1RU each (or 1/2 RU, or 2 RU, or whatever), and it occurred to me that ship categories let you define "cheap" and "expensive" components based on the ship's functionality.  So scanners are cheap (say 1RU each) to add to scouts, but expensive (say 3RU each) to add to gunships.  I don't have the details nailed down yet, and if anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear them.
    • I thought it would add some nice game mechanics if different ship categories had specific limitations and benefits. For example, orbitals provide additional repair capabilities, but are immobile. Scouts can have cheap scanners and engines, but have limited durability and can have only one rack.  We could also add some additional benefits to the different categories.  For example, maybe scouts can see into/out of nebulae when other categories can't.  Or perhaps transports (only) can both move and fire on the same turn.
  3. Thanks.
  4. I'll pick some better names -- but I'm probably keeping inertial damper. :)
  5. This was intentional, and I knew this would be a tough sell to paranoid veterans. :) The idea here is that since formal alliances give you lots of benefits, there should be a downside. SE is a balancing act in many ways, and here one has to weigh the strengths of an alliance with the risks of letting your ally in the back door. Empires are still free to ally informally and work together without sharing scan data etc., but I believe informal allies should be at a disadvantage against formal allies -- at least until the formal alliance can be corrupted. :) So, you can be friends all you want, but there's a risk of adding "with benefits." That said, I'm open to alternate ideas for negative (or even more positive) aspects to alliances.
  6. Yeah, I threw this out there for discussion. I'm less sure about this aspect of alliances, and I might consider dropping it. The idea here is that each ally's stockpiles will be maintained separately at the allied world, and each ally is free to build from their separate stockpiles. If the alliance is broken, the world owner would get the whole thing. Here again is the idea of weighing good vs bad. The world owner has to weigh the benefit of receiving immediate allied help vs the risk of allowing allied ships in the back door. The allied empire has to weigh the benefit of gaining new build locations vs the risk of the world owner breaking the alliance and stealing all the money.
  7. Good idea -- I'll come up with better nomenclature.

Great points, all -- keep it coming. Any suggestions for new devices?

bobjohnson's picture


> I'd been unhappy with the previous ship design model, mostly because it's
> pricing mechanism was too complicated to understand easily....I don't have
> the details nailed down yet, and if anyone has suggestions, I'd love to
> hear them.

I think it sounds really cool, actually. I vaguely remember a design discussion on the Forum long ago in which the concept of different base "hull" styles in naval ships came up (from Pete, maybe?), the choice of which would affect the cost of components. Your idea sounds similar to that. And it would make the pricing mechanism more straightforward and allow category-specific capabilities/limitations.

> I'll pick some better names -- but I'm probably keeping inertial damper. :)

I was partly teasing, although somewhat serious about the "ion trap"/"electron router" thing. How about "ion bomb" for the offensive device, and "ion trap" or "ion damper" for the storm abater?

> This was intentional, and I knew this would be a tough sell to
> paranoid veterans. :)
> So, you can be friends all you want, but there's a risk of adding
> "with benefits."

This paranoid veteran has no problem with it. Thinking about it more, the confidence in not being attacked by one or two other players is really a huge benefit. "Friends with benefits" generally blows up somehow anyway IRL. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

> I'm less sure about this aspect of alliances, and I might consider dropping it.

I say keep it! I didn't realize you were thinking of separate stockpiles, and that makes everything clear. And I think the ability of an ally to build without consultation/permission could be one of the negative balances for formal alliance you were looking for. I'd even spice it up a little:

1) all stockpiles, regardless of owner, are seized by a foreign conquerer on change of ownership (and therefore taken back by one ally exclusively if reconquered)

2) the design of ships built "side-by-side" by ally's at a single world are immediately added to the other ally's shiptable (how can you realistically hide the construction details from one another when you're using the same facilities?)

Another "benefit" could be that the allies count as a single empire when determining unowned-to-owned world ownership changes, but with ownership going to the empire with more visible guns (could create some interesting tension over "reconquered" worlds that end up in an ally's hands).

>Any suggestions for new devices?

Here's a few:

"subspace relay" - can be launched once from a rack to position; allows communications with empires with ships within a certain range of the device without previous scan contact; possibly permanant unless destroyed; in combination with wormnet travel, could make galaxy-wide diplomacy a factor much earlier in the game than previously

"scan jammer" - blocks LRS collection and LRS/SRS data sharing by ships within a given range

"ion mine" - single-use offensive device similar to "ion trap" but triggered automatically by the presence of (non-device) ships in the sector it's deployed in starting the turn after deployment

"portal decoy" - deployed within a certain range of a portal, causes ships attempting to exit wormnets through that portal to be diverted to the decoy's sector

Here's another couple suggestions to really spice things up:

1) devices could be optionally "unmarked" - that is, the owner controls them as appropriate but device ownership is "unknown" to other empires (even allies)

2) where appropriate, ownership of devices can change hands without changing designer markings (eg, my "ion trap" can be confiscated by another empire and redeployed and detonated under their control but with my name still on it and the diplomatic blame going to me)


Subspace Relay

I like the subspace relay idea, but with a few twists.

-The relay has unlimited range, but reveals position.
-To communicate with it directly (to reply) you must be within scan range.
-To change the message you must be in the same sector.
-Can be flagged as anon.
-Is the only way to send anon messages.

john's picture

1.You're right -- I think it

1.You're right -- I think it was Pete who originally suggested hull types, and this is basically that, so props to Pete.

2. I've changed the ion device names to "ion shield" and "ion generator." Pretty clear there.

3. Yep, it was always the plan that the "secondary" empire could lose their stockpile at an allied world if the alliance is broken, or if the world is captured. I like the idea of forcing the secondary empire to share designs of builds that happen at allied worlds, so I'll add that.

4. Great suggestions for devices. I'll include what I can in the mix. I'm hoping the list devices will grow over future games, but I might keep the list small for now just to simplify the initial implementation.


I think there should always be a doomsday weapon avaiable. For instance, a loosing empire could direct large quantities of resources into building a device that would,

"call" space monsters. These monsters would attack anything and would definately make the game much more interesting. Also, monsters would keep comming until hte device was destroyed.

A device to make your ships appear stronger (more guns, ships, dp, etc) in that sector than they really are.

A stasis field device that would make time nearly freeze in all sectors up to 2 away from deployed sector. Works until destroyed. (planets 50% income all travel reduced to 1 in affected sectors)

Acceleration Field Makes time pass twice as fast in the sector it is deployed in. (twice as many combat tunrs, planets earn double money, etc.)

john's picture

Re: devices

The "space monsters" idea would be interesting for a session special condition. Imagine monster ships that are under the control of the weakest empire. You'd have to make sure that your enemies kept enough RU so that they didn't gain control of the monster.

The stronger (or weaker) disinformation idea is good, too. Kind of like a cloaking device that masks your ships' true powers.

All great ideas. I can't promise which ones will make it into the first release, but I'm going to start an additional forum thread for device ideas, since I can imagine we'll be seeing more of them in the future.

bobjohnson's picture

Calling All Monsters

>A device to make your ships appear stronger (more guns, ships, dp, etc) in that sector than they really are

I like this idea, especially a minor variant of it: a device to make your ships appear weaker on LRS than they really are. I love disinformation.



Disinformation is key and is always a wonderful tool. The ability to make phantom fleets to disguise real forces has played a major role in the success of many wars. Devices to broadcast phantom ship transponders and devices to cloak ships from LRS would make the game of alliances much more tricky.

In adition to these devices I think we need a new gun.

Tractor beam. it is placed like a real Gun but deals no damage. Instead it alows the firing ship to tug the targeted object. This alows the towing of devices, battle damaged ships, and immobile ships to other sectors. Obviously a tiny scout with one tractor beam cannot pull a 10,000 million ton battlecruiser. So a set of rules needs to be developed for it. :) But think if you could deploy transponder devices, then move them from sector to sector simulating a powerful fleet moving on your enemies border while your actual fleet is building up deep inside a nebulae to strike from the far side. :D (evil chuckle)