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xanderf

Campaign Add-on Idea: Side Missions

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Posted (edited)

Initially mentioned in the thread on the lack of value in 'thematic' builds, I'd suggested a concept of campaign side missions that could make them more viable.  The idea would be that each side in the campaign has a deck of 'side mission' cards that they have to draw from each campaign round.  These will require players siphon off some forces from their main battle fleet to complete those missions, which forces will not be available for the corresponding round of campaign matches.  I'd target these at about 20-30 pts of 'forcing thematic fleet choices' sort of fluff, for a Rebellion in the Rim-scale (IE., 200 to 250 pt fleet) game.  Each round, the two sides would draw a number of cards equal to the number of players on their side, and the Grand Admiral on each side works with their players to allocate forces to them.  If a side cannot deploy forces sufficient to complete all their assigned side missions, the enemy scores 1 campaign point (total - so it's all or nothing, either you complete all X side missions and nothing happens, or you fail to achieve one or more of them and the enemy gets a campaign point)

Some ideas for what these 'side missions' might look like:

  • Diplomat Transfer Mission
    • 1x squadrons with 'Escort' keyword or 2x squadrons with 'Swarm' keyword
    • 1x squadrons with 'Strategic' keyword
  • Sensor Network Maintenance
    • 2x squadrons with 'Strategic' keyword
  • Anti-piracy Strike
    • 1x squadrons with 'Escort' keyword or 2x squadrons with 'Swarm' keyword
    • 1x squadrons with 'Bomber' keyword
  • Sector Patrol (Probably 3x copies of this?)
    • 1x squadrons with 'Escort' keyword or 2x squadrons with 'Swarm' keyword
    • 1x squadrons with 'Relay' keyword
  • Heavy Ground Bombardment Mission
    • 2 or more squadrons with 'Bomber' keyword that total at least 3 anti-ship battery armament
  • Convoy Escort (Probably 2x copies of this?)
    • 2x squadrons with 'Escort' keyword or 3x squadrons with 'Swarm' keyword
  • Convoy Interception
    • 1x squadrons rated for speed '5'
    • 1x squadrons with 'Bomber' keyword
  • Enemy Asset Assassination
    • 1x squadrons rated for speed '5'
    • 1x squadrons with 'Relay' keyword
  • Anti-Piracy Interdiction
    • 2x squadrons rated for speed '5'
  • Intel Asset Insertion
    • 1x squadrons with 'Intel' keyword
    • 1x squadrons with 'Escort' or 'Swarm' keyword
      or
    • 1x squadrons with 'Assault' keyword
  • Emergency Base Repairs
    • 1 or more ships totaling '2' engineering rating
  • Disaster Coordination
    • 1 or more ships totaling '2' squadron command rating
  • Major Convoy Escort
    This mission automatically completes one other side mission assigned this round.
    • 1 or more ships totaling at least 6 dice battery armament across all hull zones
  • Combat Zone Convoy Escort
    This mission automatically completes two other side missions assigned this round.  Discard and re-draw if campaign side only has 2 players.
    • 1 or more ships totaling at least 9 dice battery armament across all hull zones

 

Thoughts?

EDIT: Optional idea to add some risk to this?  No idea if this is a good idea to add or not, but...

  • Once missions have forces allocated to them, for each mission roll a dice pool equal to 1 red die for each ship or squadron assigned to it.  (You may roll 1 less die for each additional squadron with [escort] or [swarm] keyword that is assigned to the mission above the required number of forces).  For each [acc] result, one non-scarred ship or squadron becomes scarred (Grand Admiral's choice).

EDIT #2: Probably should have some stepped consideration to the side missions, as some combinations could require forces unlikely to be fully available, and if it's all or nothing that side might just bail for the loss of a campaign point, but being able to use their forces.  So let's do a stepped loss.

  • If all side missions are fully assigned/completed, nothing happens.
  • If only one side mission is unable to be assigned/completed, the enemy receives a campaign token (either spynet, skilled spacers, diplomats, or resources) of their choice
  • If two or more side missions are unable to be assigned/completed, the enemy receives a campaign point and a campaign token (either spynet, skilled spacers, diplomats, or resources) of their choice

EDIT #3: And of course, in case it isn't obvious, as the goal here is to get player fleets to organically be able to deal with shifting requirements...you cannot use 'Ally' tokens to allocate forces to these missions. They must come from player fleets.

Edited by xanderf

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I can't help but think that many (if not all) of the side missions you've listed would make interesting objective cards. Ostensibly, objectives (at least some of them) are designed to make the game less of an all-out slug fest, but in practice, many of them seem to simply accelerate the punching! Those listed above seem like they could result in some genuinely compelling narrative play.

Take Convoy Escort, for example. What if convoy ships (which could simply be cardboard tokens) had zero armament but were worth 150 points each? That would make for some tough decisions for Player One. Do I ignore these warships coming right at me to try and attack the unarmed, high value convoy ships? Or do I defend myself, knowing that each convoy ship that survives is a 150-pt buoy for Player Two? That seems like a lot of fun to me.

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21 minutes ago, Rmcarrier1 said:

I can't help but think that many (if not all) of the side missions you've listed would make interesting objective cards. Ostensibly, objectives (at least some of them) are designed to make the game less of an all-out slug fest, but in practice, many of them seem to simply accelerate the punching! Those listed above seem like they could result in some genuinely compelling narrative play.

Take Convoy Escort, for example. What if convoy ships (which could simply be cardboard tokens) had zero armament but were worth 150 points each? That would make for some tough decisions for Player One. Do I ignore these warships coming right at me to try and attack the unarmed, high value convoy ships? Or do I defend myself, knowing that each convoy ship that survives is a 150-pt buoy for Player Two? That seems like a lot of fun to me.

Back in the Corellian Conflict days, I'd started kicking around this sort of concept using exactly that method - trying to create objective cards that were more skewed to the mission, rather than 'all-out slug fests'.

What ran that into the ground was threefold:

  • It didn't really compel players to make more 'historical' (*cough*) lists, but just min-max in a different way
  • Worse, it tended to result in breathtakingly boring game sessions - or if you tweak the balance just a bit another way - devolved into the same "themed all-out slug fest" common to the game (granted, only a minor dig - the objectives really are AMAZING to keep Armada matches fresh vs, say, X-Wing, but I digress)
  • And in the end, it didn't really achieve the goal it needed to achieve; that of giving a fleet commander the sort of challenge he'd typically face

I think this idea of 'side missions' might solve all three problems.  First and foremost, realistically, the vast majority of anyone's naval career - even in wartime - really IS shockingly boring patrols and escorts.  So a convoy is sailing through a combat area, yeah you need to assign it an escort because it might run into an enemy.  But it PROBABLY won't.  So as the fleet commander your decision really comes down to (noting my 'optional' variant above)...do I just send the minimum needed, and risk the 1/8 chance it comes back scarred?  Or do I send the needed force AND an extra squadron of TIE Fighters to reduce the risk to everyone, and ensure that who I NEED to come back undamaged does so?  And honestly, that's about the only really interesting decision to be made for that entire mission.  If any fight does come up, it'll be ridiculously lopsided one way or the other.  So why waste the time playing it out as a full-fledged battle on the table?  Model the decision, model the impact it has on the REST of your goals (IE., now what am I going to do without several squadrons of TIE Bombers and a TIE Fighter squadron?), and leave it at that.  Design for effect!

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First off, I play this game for both the chess-like strategy of maximizing the effectiveness of every piece, but also for the theme. This idea warms my gamers heart because it asks strategic decisions of thematic fleets without modifying Armada's beautifully (IMHO) streamlined core rules (and RitR's streamlined campaign decisions compared to CC). Bravo.

You got me thinking about this idea though.... I started playing star wars games with LucasArts X-Wing for PC. That and TIE Fighter had a great system of secondary objectives and bonus objectives.

During fleet building: Provide a list of keywords and abilities that could be needed to get 'achievements' (secondary objectives) that could come up during the campaign to recommend that each team have some 'Intel', 'Strategic', 'irregular squadron', 'Raid token production', 'Accuracy generation', etc.

So to steal elements from the OP,  draw 1 or 2 cards during the strategy phase BEFORE choosing assaults. Then AFTER the strategy phase each secondary objective is secretly given to a team member by the grand admiral (after seeing which fleets were matched up). Similar to the OP, they all need to be completed to give 1 campaign point to that team. They'd be easy enough to do, and secret from their opponent, that they'd be usually complete-able, but they'd still modify the course of the game - maybe the station gets placed differently, or they prioritize raiding the flagship (and farming points elsewhere to try to still get a win) rather than destroying it.

For examples,
a 'Strategic' squadron must visit the station, then be un-engaged at the beginning AND end of a turn, then is removed from play (to 'hyper out'). 
a Raid token must be placed on, or an upgrade must be removed from the opposing Flagship (to retrieve vital information)
spend 2 accuracy dice in a single attack against a ship with a unique upgrade (to confirm the enemies whereabouts)
destroy an enemy 'Relay' or 'Intel' squadron (to disrupt a secret message)
and irregular squadron must deal 1 damage to a hull (to place a tracking device)

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On 1/9/2020 at 7:32 AM, deDios said:

You got me thinking about this idea though.... I started playing star wars games with LucasArts X-Wing for PC. That and TIE Fighter had a great system of secondary objectives and bonus objectives.

During fleet building: Provide a list of keywords and abilities that could be needed to get 'achievements' (secondary objectives) that could come up during the campaign to recommend that each team have some 'Intel', 'Strategic', 'irregular squadron', 'Raid token production', 'Accuracy generation', etc.

So to steal elements from the OP,  draw 1 or 2 cards during the strategy phase BEFORE choosing assaults. Then AFTER the strategy phase each secondary objective is secretly given to a team member by the grand admiral (after seeing which fleets were matched up). Similar to the OP, they all need to be completed to give 1 campaign point to that team. They'd be easy enough to do, and secret from their opponent, that they'd be usually complete-able, but they'd still modify the course of the game - maybe the station gets placed differently, or they prioritize raiding the flagship (and farming points elsewhere to try to still get a win) rather than destroying it.

That would work alongside it, yes, and definitely would capture some of that X-Wing vs TIE feeling.

Although I guess I wish FFG had done something like that *IN* X-Wing.  I mean, that game just screams for objective play BADLY (and the community seems to have felt the same, given the success of the HotAC third-party campaign).  And that kind of 'secondary objective' would be such a sweet homage to those LucasArts classics!

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I have had some similar ideas: agenda cards such as those found in the Rebellion board game. I have these written up as part of a larger campaign project that's currently on back-burner. Some of the wording is written for the mechanics of that project, but the idea should be clear enough.

"All Wings Report In: Activate 5 or more squadrons with a single ship activation."

"Tactical Supremacy: Resolve 4 or more Concentrate Fire commands during the battle."

"They Told Me They Fixed It! Play when your opponent's ship reveals a command that matches a Raid token placed on it."

"Counterintelligence: Cancel one agenda card played by your opponent."

"Return of the Jedi (Rebel only): Defeat Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine by destroying a squadron with that name or a ship with an upgrade card of that name."

"Revenge of the Sith (Empire only): Defeat Luke Skywalker or Leia Organa by destroying a squadron with that name or a ship with an upgrade card of that name."

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