This part, to me, is perhaps the most difficult part of making a scenario. It all needs to be put on paper, and without having even that first playtest, I need to determine all sorts of things, from where each side starts to how each side is supposed to win.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of all those details though, I like to think a bit about what’s actually going on here. I know in general terms that this is a scenario where one side is trying to strike a target. But why? What’s the context?
In this case, I’ve decided that this is a breakthrough attempt – an attacking force has run up against a defensive ring of battlestations, and it’s using this corvette force to blow a hole so that larger, more valuable ships can safely pass through.
Thus, a bit of fluff is called for:
The strongest obstacle facing McKinnon’s assault force was the ring of Battlestations protecting the approach lanes to the Tiberius Gate. Not wanting to risk his capital ships, the task fell to a small band of corvettes. Their critical mission was to open a breach in the line to allow the rest of the assault force to pass through. The attack order contained the dreaded words: ‘At all costs.’
Given that, and the vast array of firepower facing the attacking corvettes, I’ve decided to name this one ‘Suicide Mission’.
The initial positions and the choices that players are allowed to make during setup can vastly affect the scenario. In this case, McKinnon’s Raiders (the attacking corvettes) have a clear mission – get in, hit the target, and get out. As such, their setup will be near a friendly board edge, and we’ll make part of their victory condition to be escaping off that same board edge. The Glacier Defense Squadron (defending forces) will be able to set up anywhere, but they set up first so the attackers have a chance to plot an attack route through the defenses arrayed before them.
Lastly, the main target – Glacier Station itself – can’t be allowed to hug a board edge. Silent Fury ships can build up large amounts of speed, so I feel like there needs to be some room to maneuver around the target and allow bombers to overshoot it to some degree if they are coming in on a high-speed run. I’ll restrict the station to setting up at least 12 hexes from any board edge.
One bit of strangeness in setting up Silent Fury games is that there tends to be no terrain to speak of, so everything is described in relation to board edges, or in relation to each other. On the plus side, I very rarely need to draw a map.
So, that brings us to these setup instructions: Designate one of the edges of the space map as McKinnon’s entry side. The Glacier Defense Squadron sets up first. Glacier Station must be placed at least 12 hexes away from every board edge. All other Glacier ships may start anywhere on the board. All Glacier forces have an initial vector of 0. McKinnon’s Raiders set up second within 5 hexes of their entry side with an initial vector of 2.
Initiative in Silent Fury is actually a disadvantage, so I usually give it to the side that’s being attacked to give the Attackers a bit of impetus and the first opportunity to grab it to swing an event in their favor. The initiative will start with the Glacier Defense Squadron.
Victory conditions are hugely important, and in this case the odds are stacked against the Raiders – if this were a stand-up fight, I expect that they’d lose pretty badly. In an asymmetrical scenario like this one, it often falls to the victory conditions to make it balanced.
Note that I don’t feel that a scenario has to be perfectly balanced to be a playable scenario. It’s enough that one side or the other has a reasonable chance for victory – it’s ok to have an ‘underdog’, and can make for a more challenging game to play one.
I’m going to make this one a victory point condition, so that I can assign importance to different things.
First, ship preservation – it’s important to keep ships alive. I’ll award the Raiders a victory point for every Raider ship that exits the friendly board edge (this takes care of the general objective to ‘get out safely’ after the strike), and the defenders can similarly have a victory point for every remaining ship they have on the board, encouraging them to preserve their forces as well, and rewarding both sides for killing each other’s ships.
In addition, McKinnon’s Raiders get a point for every damage marker on Glacier station at the end of the scenario. I anticipate that the station crew will probably have a enough time during the Raider’s escape to repair the weaker forms of damage, so this will mainly translate into victory points for Destroyed and Hull Breached components that are too difficult to repair.
McKinnon’s Raiders also get a whopping 8 points (close to an auto-win) if Glacier station is destroyed, but with its hull integrity it’ll be a tough nut to crack. A lucky critical hit might do the trick though, and I need to account for the possibility.
I think the scenario should end once McKinnon’s Raiders are off the table, but I want to emphasize that they need to escape off the friendly board edge. I see a potential exploit where they make their attack run on the station and then run off an unfriendly board edge just to end the scenario immediately, so I’m going to award the Defense forces 5 points if none of McKinnon’s Raiders make it off the friendly board edge.
How will it work out? I expect the attacking force to get hurt coming in, but I also expect a couple to make it through to hit the station, and hopefully be able to do enough damage and still get enough of their forces off to have a shot at winning.
Ships and Crew
I had already decided what ships would be involved way back at conception, but not how much crew each vessel would get. I’m going to give Glacier Station a ton of ’em to give it some defense against being captured by a boarding action – 10 spacers, 3 marines, 2 engineers and a battlesuit. Almost everything else in the game can have 4 spacers – enough to run the gun platforms with a bridge. The Panthers get 5 since they’re a 5-component ship. The Ravens are a 6-component ship, but since two of those components are the one-shot bombs I think a crew of 4 is plenty, and I don’t want McKinnon’s Raiders to have too much spare crew to conduct boarding actions with – I think with the gun platforms sitting at 4, we’ll probably see an attempt on them at some point.
Almost forgot – the ‘One shot’ attribute I assigned to bombs isn’t in the game yet. I’ll just have it destroy the weapon when you fire it, but not disrupt crew – that should do the trick.
That’s the scenario, for now. That’s the scenario, for now. We’ll see how the playtest goes on Sunday.