Rules Release v1.2.3

Okay, here’s a Roadmap update:

  • v1.2 – The 2017 version of the rules
  • v1.2.1 – A copy-paste of the 2017 version with some cleanup and minor fixes.
  • v1.2.2 – Significant core mechanics changes, rules reorganization, scenario rewrite
  • v1.2.3 – We are here. Balance/lore accuracy pass, additional mechanics.
  • v1.2.4 – Backend pass, clarity pass, balance pass.

The core rules remain similar, but I’ve added some new mechanics, tidied up some traits, and done a big recosting of ships and differentiation of units.

If you’re looking to just cut to the chase and get to reading, here are the links:

Please hit me up on the Discord with feedback. v1.2.4 will be delayed a bit, because I have to do a fair amount of programming to make the backend work in addition to the rules. If you’re interested in what’s on my to do list, here’s the tracking:

Also, I made a cheat sheet! If you want stuff on there that’s missing, lemme know!

Unit Changes

Weapon costs are now defined by the most expensive weapon lines a ship carries. Any weapons beyond a ship’s Fire Control capacity are free. For example, this Corsair has 3 lines of weapons, the two missiles, and the particle cannon. It has a Fire Control of 2, and thus only pays for the two most expensive lines, the third line being free.

I’ve also added a Unit Cap (UC) rating, which caps the number of copies of a ship you can take per every 250 points, seen in the bottom left of the unit card. You can take two Corsairs for every 250 points, for example.

I’ve also done a pass on differentiating units some more, and bringing things in line with fluff. I think some things are a little too strong at the moment, which will require some tuning in v1.2.4, but the most effective way to tune involves plenty of player feedback, so keep it coming!

Rules Changes

New Mechanics

Interception

The basic mechanics of Interception and Dogfights are the same, but the mechanics of when they work are slightly different now. It’s not a big rules change but the implications are big:

  • Reactive Interception now happens at any time in an activation, not just ending movement, declaring a Action or Attack. So as soon as you move within 3″ you are eligible for Interception.
  • To prevent a mess of Interceptions, Squadrons can only be intercepted once an Activation now.
  • All free moves have been updated to 4″ to allow units to reliably escape 3″ interception radius.
  • Interceptor trait now allows Interceptions within a radius of Speed instead of just 3″.
  • It is now harder to Intercept or Bomb a Fast ship or Squadron, requiring a Skill check unless you are also Fast.
  • Boost is now allowed in conjunction with other actions, allowing you to Boost into a Bombing Run or Interception.

These changes are in direct response to test games where people set up defensive screens of models good in Dogfights to prevent Bombers from getting through, but due to careful measurement, the Bombers were just able to sneak through and hit their targets, unmolested.

That’s a pretty big feel bad non-interaction, so I changed it to work how it works in most peoples’ heads. I didn’t want to create a big mess of interceptions though, so I limited things in scope, and made the Interceptor and Fast traits more interesting.

Interceptor allows Squadrons that are designed for it to fly Combat Air Support in a way that feels right. I’ll be changing Dogfights in v1.2.4 to be a rock-paper-scissors like game with only one interaction, but that’s going to take a lot of testing to get right.

Dogfights right now are like the bit of stub code in a software project–it works and lets you pass the regression, but you need to flesh out the features.

To ensure that Squadrons still felt flexible and free to move around, I made Boost an action that you can use anytime alongside other actions, and gave a Fuel Pods upgrade to give additional Fuel once per game, sort of like the wing tanks we have on modern jet fighters.

Missiles

I made the following changes to missiles:

  • Target Designator (TD) – Allows Missile attacks to use the TD carrier’s sensors instead of the Missile carrier’s for calculating range. Arc is still calculated from the firing model.
  • Missiles are no longer Precise, i.e. you cannot choose what rating to damage.
  • Critical Hits replace this functionality, as you can choose what rating to damage as a result of a Critical Hit.
  • Torpedo – Gives additional range to some missiles to represent magnetically accelerated missiles (fired out of a railgun, basically).

There wasn’t a problem, per se, but I wanted to differentiate missiles from other weapon types.

  • There were already a lot of other ways to damage specific systems: Mass Drivers, and now the Critical Hit systems
  • TD needed some sort of place in the game, and now it has it.
  • Missiles weren’t very useful in the early game as you had to be in range and also defeat Defense. Now at least one of these problems got easier.
  • It also gives a reason to hunt down TD carriers.

Dynamic Terrain – Drones

I’ve pulled in Drones from the lore and made them a big part of the game. Some ships were always “Drone Carriers” in the lore, and were instead turned into missile boats in the first editions of the game. They’re now actually Drone Carriers.

Let’s have a look at the Uller:

It has only Drone Bays for weapons, with limited ammo. Every time it “fires” a Drone Bay, it may deploy the Drone Bay rating worth of Drones, marking off the boxes as it does so. The first Drone Bay can launch two Class I drones each “shot,” deploying the Class I drone tokens (1″ hexes) up to 12″ away in the Uller’s front arc.

The second Drone Bay can launch 1 of either a Class II or Class III Drone each activation. It’s loaded with 2 shots worth of Class II and 1 shot worth of Class III. To refill the Drones, you’ll have to have a Tender ship nearby to Resupply.

So what do Drones do? Well, they’re sort of like Dynamic Terrain. Class I drones are just swarms of smart missiles. If you move within their Sensor Range, they’ll suicide into you with a AC/AS: 5 attack!

It creates 9″ radius bubbles of “don’t go here” for Capital Ships and 6″ radius bubbles for Squadrons. Of course, models with Stealth (looking at you, Venus), can sneak through Class I drone fields, no problem. The Drones are also pretty easy to kill, so you can take them out from a distance if you’re concerned.

Class II Drones are a little more advanced:

The Sentry Drones stick around and fire lasers at you, and the Observer Drones can help your missile armed ships extend their effective threat range.

Class III Drones start to look like actual Squadrons. They don’t have their own activation, but you can spend an Action to “activate” them. They can also Intercept and be Intercepted!

One of the big problems with spaceship games is that terrain can really feel “bolted on” and somewhat clunky. The Jovian Wars terrain isn’t much different. Drones give players a way to influence the battlefield and create areas of temporary positional pressure for their opponents.

Thanks to the playtesters, particularly TheDiceAbide for helping me tune the Drones. I’m sure they’ve got a ways to go, but they’re feeling pretty good right now.

One other bit of feedback I’ve been getting from the Houston playtesting team is that there needs to be a way to protect ships with terrain much the same way that there’s a way to pressure ships with these Class I, II, and III drones.

I’ve added the Decoy Drone Swarm, which can be launched from Tenders. The Decoy Drone Swarm is a cloud of small robots too small to be effectively engaged that just spews E/M radiation and charged particles in an effort to mask the signature of ships moving through the cloud.

The swarm generates a 4″ radius terrain zone that grants the Cloak trait to models in the terrain zone. After one turn, the radius shrinks to 3″, and then on the second turn the swarm becomes inert and is removed from play.

Design Notes

The core of the game is finally starting to take shape and feel snappy. There are lots of things to change still to improve play speed. Balance tweaks will require a lot more testing.

I’ve tried to differentiate some units that were starting to look/feel pretty samey by adding traits like Snub, Precise, and Sniper. The factions are starting to feel more distinct now. I’d like to hear your thoughts on faction differentiation and identity as well.

It’s worth noting that Jovian Wars as it stands right now is really in Alpha–there are lots of things that need attention and fixing.

To that end, I desperately need your feedback from test games. I can only play so many games in a given period, and being human, am biased to a particular playstyle. I can do my best to try and put myself in the mindset of other gamers and their playstyles, but I can’t do as good a job as someone actually playing the game and giving me their honest opinion.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed with their time and feedback thus far, especially Jade, Gold, and Blue squadrons in the playtest server (yeah I’m nerdy, if you’re reading this you are too).

Starter Pack 150 TV Fleets

If you need some help building lists from the starter packs, here’s some suggestions! It’s worth mentioning that the starter packs need some work, and that’s on my to-do list for sure. If you’ve already bought the starter packs though, you’re still okay!

CEGA

CEGA is the punch you in the face faction, so do that thing! The Constantinople is all about getting up close and personal, as is the Dragon Striker. You don’t necessarily need to bombing run with the Dragon Striker, firing that Nuke is quite good! The Wraith Recon is there to keep the Wyverns in line with Vector Attacks, and the Syreen is there to screen both the Dragon Striker and the Constantinople.

Jovians

One way to play Jovians is to focus on their Squadrons, so take a ton of them! The Lancer Recon will help you keep your Squadrons moving along, and the Hector and Pathfinder will help keep your Valiant alive while the other squadrons harass the enemy. The Valiant is the lynchpin, so don’t lose it! With Sensors: 3 it can sit back and fire its mega spinal lazors!

Venus

Venus is all about tech and tricks. The Satrap can carry all your Squadrons except for the Reinzi, which can spam Drones every turn and cycle back into the Satrap or be reloaded by the civilian version of the Chieftain. The Bonebreaker can do some area control with its Kinetic Cannons, and the Korikaze can put the hurt out on anything. The Chieftain can also help keep stuff alive with Decoy Drone Swarms… or is it a armed Chieftain!?

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