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Thursday, 8 December 2016

Fanstorm Armada - Battlelog Part 1

Well December is already more than a week old, and Christmas is rushing up to us with the speed of a Dindrenzi rail cannon shot, so I thought I'd better get onto the old keyboard and splurge some more of my thinking of Fanstorm Armada. This time I'm going to look at Battlelog, which was one of my favourite innovations for Firestorm v2.

Now over the past couple of years as the game has evolved, players have gotten used to the system and new ships have been released, some weaknesses have been exposed in the BL system - not inherent flaws, more design weaknesses that didn't take account of tournament hardened players or future releases. Let me lay some of these out there;
  1. Working out who is winning can be somewhat confusing, and requires knowledge of the other players battlelog. Now this does create a dialogue (a good thing), but especially in tournament settings it could cause conflict (is your BL really at +8? I thought it should be +5 etc). This is compounded by some effects applying both a positive BL adjustment to one player and a negative to the other.
  2. In some games you get "topping out" of one players BL, meaning additional positive effects don't count - making them pointless...not really the intent or reflective of where the game is at. this can act to create more draws or minor victories even when one side is clearly winning by any other measure.
  3. Some ships are not worth their BL investment. This is most easily demonstrated with a couple of examples
    • Tier 3 ships are easy BL - 1 point for halving a squadron (usually just 2 ships). 2 points for wiping them out. Easy money, as Tier 3s are not too much of an issue to pop.
    • Battlecruisers in a Patrol Fleet are a liability - lighter on points than a battleship, but a massive BL swing if destroyed...which is easier than taking down most other Tier 1s. Carriers also have this issue to some degree.
  4. Sometimes in the heat of battle it's difficult to remember to apply certain BL events - most usually reducing a squadron to half, a really unsatisfactory point since there are few other negatives associated with this - it's not a really pivotal point that draws attention.

Now obviously (3) is the biggest thing here, since it fundamentally affects how people build their fleets, leaving some ships in the "little used" category, because if used then they can be exploited by other players. This is often shown in minimisation of Tier 3s in many fleets, where their utility for points is also on the low side.

So battlelog is a third element that needs consideration when building a fleet - essentially what players do (those interested in building effective tournament lists, at least) is look at utility (subjective to the player) vs cost vs BL impact before using a ship in their fleet.

So how can we address this issue in a constructive way that solves some of the other minor weaknesses in the BL?

Well (1) & (2) are easy to address - you use a single battlelog for a game - the winner is determined by comparison of battlelog in any case, and it rarely impacts the game in any meaningful manner during the course of play, so why not just get rid of one? A centrally placed BL allows easy understanding of where the game is, and no ambiguity. You still have a dialogue - potentially more so - and it's harder to "forget" events since you're both essentially the gatekeepers of the log. This also eliminates "topping out" since that will indicate a crushing victory and opposing fleet shunt-out (if its not already destroyed!). This helps with (4), but it doesn't solve it entirely - better to address that one separately, which I'll do in Part 2.

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