Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Design NotesRules

Rules 1.2.1 Release

Welcome! I’m WiseKensai, and I’ve become the responsible party for the Jovian Wars ruleset as of November, 2021.

I intend to be as open as I can about the rules writing and editing process. I’ll post Design Notes and Rules Updates on this blog as appropriate, and publish the rules over at rules.jovianwars.blog.

Design Intent

It’s worth talking about what my intentions for this game are, both logistically and gameplay-wise, so let’s start there:

  • Jovian Wars is a Competitive game
    • I’d like to target 90-150 minute game length, so the game can be played in a single-day tournament.
    • The factions and missions should be balanced for competitive play, i.e. player skill and experience is the deciding factor in determining the victor.
  • Jovian Wars is an Immersive game
    • The game has its roots in Jovian Chronicles, an RPG, and therefore it should be at least reflective of the source material.
    • The game is also inspired heavily by the anime space opera and mecha genre, and should allow players to explore those tropes on the game table
  • Jovian Wars is an Expressive game
    • Players should be free to explore different playstyles and find local optima in the design space of the game that work for them.
    • Players should not be bogged down in crunchy rules and instead focus on the larger tactical/strategic picture of the fleet battle as it unfolds.
  • Jovian Wars is a Evolving game
    • As new ships and factions come out, the game will no doubt change with new profiles and rules.
    • Also, as better solutions to game design problems are discovered, we’ll implement them! This means Jovian Wars will be a Living Rulebook.

Overall, designing and maintaining Jovian Wars is a pretty complex problem, and solutions to it will no doubt be divisive. Oftentimes we’ll have to cut mechanics or simplify things to ensure the game is playable at a reasonable pace and that there is a flow to things. Just remember, there’s always room for things to return in the future as metas shift and the game evolves.

As far as logistics go, I intend to treat the game as if is a software artifact. That means rules will be version controlled and various releases will be tagged. There will be a Stable and a Development branch of the rules.

  • Stable – The Stable ruleset will be used for tournament play, and can be thought of as “the current edition” of the rules.
  • Development – This is where I’ll explore different ways of solving the Jovian Wars design problem. It will change as often as I have time.

Eventually a version of the Development branch will stabilize, and thus become the new Stable rules for the tournament scene. All previous versions of the Stable rules will be available over at rules.jovianwars.blog, so if you think we “got it right” in version 1.2.1 and that’s all you want to play, forever, it’ll be there for you, for at least as long as I’m in charge of things.

There are a set of Playtest Teams, who are mostly going to be firewalled from one another to prevent groupthink and to allow metas to emerge in their own context. This will allow me to see different (even competing) solutions to design problems emerge, be discussed, and give me a rich opinion space to draw from when I’m making the next revision of the rules. If you’d like to become a playtester, all you have to do is just play the game and talk about it on the Discord!

Rules Release Notes

As this is the first time we’re doing this, I’ve combined the Design Notes with the Rules Release Notes. If you’d like to watch the kickoff episode of Late Night Wargames, you can do so here:

The v1.2.1 rules are basically a copy from the v1.2 rules available from DriveThruRPG, as published in 2017. You can find them here:

I have changed the following things:

  • Minor Cleanup and Consolidation – I’ve cleaned up some rules, removed dead end text related to things such as missed Find-Replace issues, and pulled together rules that have common threads.
  • Restructuring – I’ve attempted to reorganize the rules so they flow better, and I’ve added some amount of hyperlinks to help navigation. There will be more in later versions of the rules.
  • Dice System – I made a very minor tweak that allows Flex and Macro dice to be rolled simultaneously for play speed reasons.
  • Boost and Repair – They are now full special actions that cannot be declared in tandem with other special actions.
    • Boost no longer affects Fire Control to balance the fact that you can’t declare it “for free.”
    • Launch/Land are new “free” and can be declared in tandem with other things to clean up the Repair interaction with Squadron launch/land.
  • Alternating Activations – To keep both players engaged in decision making and to create an activation economy, players now alternate activating models.
  • Evasive – I’ve changed the calculation of the dice pool here. Instead of checking for a hit then re-adding the removed dice, the removed dice are now simply added to the macro pool. This doesn’t change the chance of a single hit, but it does reduce the chances of multiple hits. To make up for this, the additional macro dice will increase the chances of a more impactful hit. This was primarily a clarity and play speed change, resulting in a minor and likely inconsequential balance change.
  • Explicit Mechanic Callouts – I’ve explicitly called out some mechanics to allow for chunking when learning rules and for flexibility in rules reuse.

I am certain that there are mistakes and some omissions. I invite you to reach out to me on on the Jovian Wars Discord if you find any and I will see about taking corrective action. One particular area of weakness in this revision is the discussion of deployment. This is something that will change in the next rules revision.

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