Strategic Primer: New Campaign: Players wanted

As I announced a few weeks ago, I’m planning on starting a new campaign of Strategic Primer, my strategy game, if and when enough players join. Possibly as early as next month. Today I’ll again try to persuade you to join, explain as clearly as I can what the game will entail, and describe how the game will differ in this campaign from the current campaign and from previous versions.

In Strategic Primer, you take the role of a military leader of an (initially small) force stranded in an abandoned world and guide your people into the future—though what that means is largely up to you as you respond to the challenges presented to you and to the actions of the other players. It is a test of your strategic and (to a lesser extent) tactical thinking, your diplomatic and communication skills, your scientific or technical inclination, and your ingeneuity. If you enjoy strategy games in any medium or tabletop role-playing games, you should join this campaign–or if anything else about it (I’ve written about the game nearly every Wednesday for a year) piques your interest.

Each month you’ll send me a strategy describing what you want your people to do that turn, including exploration, building, training, research, industry, agriculture, or military goals. At the end of the month—since you can keep revising and improving the strategy in response to my comments or your new ideas until the deadline—I’ll tell you what happened that turn in your part of the game-world as your people tried to carry out your orders. If you’re an experienced player, or you catch on quickly, preparing a strategy needn’t take you more than a few hours. (But since you can keep revising it as you get new ideas, it can obviously take much longer.) Newer players will most likely take more time, at least at first, but even so it shouldn’t have to take you more than a few afternoons a month.

Some of you have played in previous campaigns of Strategic Primer. This new campaign includes several changes from the current campaign that cannot be easily implemented there, and many more changes from previous versions.

  • Unlike the first campaign, now discovering an advance does not always automatically give you a free “prototype.”
  • On the other hand, unlike the current campaign, discovering an advance is slightly more complicated than “describe it to me in terms your people can understand and you get it.” This description takes time and, if prototypes are needed, other resources.
  • Unlike the first campaign, there is no longer a single currency used to purchase units, improvements, or other resources and pay maintenance costs; instead, things are built from their component resources, which are acquired through agriculture, gathering, mining, or trade.
  • Unlike the first campaign, maintenance is not a percentage of the cost of each unit or improvement that’s charged each turn; some resources have similar mechanics—stored food eventually spoils unless processed to prevent this, for instance—but maintenance per se is limited to replacing spent fuel or projectiles, replacing broken or damaged parts, and the like.
  • While players shouldn’t usually have to concern themselves with such matters directly, a lot of the details that I simply ignore in the current campaign—like where clothing and most tools come from—will have to be addressed.
  • Previous campaigns didn’t specify how long a turn was, and didn’t deal with lengths of time longer than turns, while in the current campaign each turn is a day for most purposes and a year is a fortnight in the game-world. In the new campaign each turn will be a week in the game-world, and a year in the game-world will be fifty-two weeks.
  • The current campaign handles agriculture on a per-fortress basis, with each crop having a set year-cycle unconnected to any other crop’s cycle or its cycle anywhere else. In the new campaign, crops’ cycles are set on the year, and are designed to overlap so that a player’s food supply is not dependant on only one crop.
  • In previous campaigns, exploration was simply a matter of what terrain and whose units and fortresses were where. I determined whether a resource was found on any given tile based solely on the tile’s terrain type. In the current campaign, I added a system of random “events” for explorers to discover, but only one per tile and ignoring whether the “event” was suitable for the tile or not. This new campaign will have a properly designed system for determining what explorers might encounter.
  • Previous campaigns didn’t think much about the design of a fortress except what defenses it had (not even where to put them). In the beginning of the current campaign I required players to design their headquarters, and only later came up with the idea of providing a “default” design. In the new campaign, everyone will begin with their choice of a few “default” designs and have a large, but limited, budget of materials and labor for improving it and other tasks.
  • In previous campaigns, each tile was several miles across, but each unit had a vision range of several tiles. In the current campaign, each tile is half a mile across but (largely for technical reasons coupled with my own laziness) each unit has only reported on the tiles it actually crosses (and any water tiles it discovers by trying to enter them). On the other hand, for people going as fast as they can, units in the present campaign have been far more perceptive than they ought to be. In the new campaign, tiles will if anything be somewhat smaller yet, but units will have a reasonable vision range, and their proficiency in discovering things will depend on how fast they’re going.
  • Earlier versions ignored logistics altogether; the present campaign makes it important but began by requiring the player to manage it fairly directly until his domain grew big enough for a chain of command to form, and even then gave results in overwhelming detail. In the new campaign the messy details will be hidden from the players.

To sign up for the campaign, get in touch with me—email or IM me, or even just comment on this post. Any takers?

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