Sunday, August 26, 2012

Single Player Missions

    Some thoughts on designing a Single Player mission and how to go about it.

    Internet's been messing around, just fixed it so here is one post for today.  Will likely post again tonight and tomorrow, and then might be a few days as I move into college and do orientation stuff.

    So after hearing that the new starter set was including two single player missions (and hearing what they were but not the mechanics of it) I started to think about how I could create something similar.  I'm planning on going into missions design in a series later, but at the moment this is just me trying to figure out the best way to create other single player missions on a mechanics level that would be fun and different each time (to a certain point.  You can only expect a reasonable amount of diversity from a single player game that revolves around a mechanic that allows one person play in a system designed for 2+ people).

    My first thought is that, in order for it to be balanced, it is best to determine your point of interest.  What is it in particular that you are looking for?  Do you want to see how many Ork boyz those 5 terminators from your Black Reach set can take on before they die?  Perhaps you want to see how long you can survive with a small collection of squads as the Tyranids are closing from all sides.   Maybe you have only a select contingent of forces and you need to take out X number of enemy models/units.  In any case you need a core idea that you are going to design everything else around.  Lets run with the idea of a small force that is being set upon by Tyranids.

    First you want to set the parameters for this, what are the victory conditions?  In this case I want there to be no outcome where you win, only a record amount of rounds you can survive, sort of like a time record in games such as Left 4 Dead in survival mode (also known as horde mode in other games).  With that out of the way we need to determine what army is going to be combating the alien menace.  Any force could really fit for now, but for my purposes I will run with Space Marines because they are one of the most common armies and everyone knows what they can do.  So what would be the starting composition for you?  Lets stick with the Assault on Black Reach box set, so 5 shooting terminators, 9 Tactical Marines + 1 Sergeant, 1 captain, 5 scouts, and 1 dreadnought.  Lets say that all of the terminators simply have storm bolters, tactical marines have bolters, sergeant has pistol and chain sword, captain has a power sword, dreadnought has a heavy flamer and Dreadnought CC weapon with storm bolter.

    Now what would the deployment be?  Terrain is iffy, but I think that we could set up a basic premise for the situation of it.  In the center is a multi-level ruin, no more than 3 levels though, where the space marines are deployed, given a 1 foot radius from the very center of a board which will have a 4'x4' boundary (for simplicity's sake).  Area terrain of at least 6" long and 3" thick is present on two of the sides in the middle of the side (think of them as the lines dividing the board into thirds if you ignore the central ruins).  On the other two sides there is primarily line of sight blocking terrain that should be sizeable enough to block sight to a warrior from the 3rd (top) level of the ruins if they were hugging it, but leave a Carnifex for instance visible.  These walls should be about 6"-12" long with the center having a hole or the wall ending at the center.  These could also be a series of towers, rocks, rubble, vehicle wrecks, etc.

    So turn 1 the marines are the only thing on the board.  Tyranids go first (it would be pointless to say otherwise) and spawn a squad of worth to the turn.  I will provide a table of worth in this case for representation.  Randomly determine what of the results is being deployed, first determining how many randomly of each value by the table (roll a die, whatever the result is all of the results are from that worth), and then which unit(s) of that worth is being spawned.  If past turn 6 take as many of the value rolled for worth, and then randomly determine for the remaining worths that are valid that would bring the total up to the turn number (for instance, on turn 11 rolled a 4, took 2 selections from 4 worth (both selections being chosen from 4 worth).  3 worth is left over and so roll a d3 for which worth to deal with.  If a 2 was rolled then a 2 and a 1 worth selection would both be taken.  If d2 use 1-3 as 1, 4-6 as 2.  d4 just reroll any 5's or 6s, d5 just ignore 6's. The table is as follows:

    Random Number
    1 Worth
    2 Worth
    3 Worth
    4 Worth
    5 Worth
    6 Worth
    20 Termagants (flesh borers)
    10 genestealers (no upgrades)
    20 genestealers (toxin sacs)
    5 Warriors (talons and devourers) w/ Prime (lash & sword and talons)
    3 Carnifexes (x2 scything talons)
    X3 Trygon Primes (toxin sacs & Regeneration)
    20 Hormagaunts
    3 Hive Guard
    3 Lictors
    Harpy (stranglethorn)
    Tervigon (sacs, glands, regeneration, catalyst, talons)+20 Termagants
    Swarmlord with x3 tyrant guard with lashwhips + Trygon
    5 genestealers
    3 Biovores
    10 Ymgarl
    3 Venomthropes + 20 Hormagaunts
    Tyrant with Wings, Adversary, Regeneration, Toxin Sacs, Paroxysm, Leech Essence, Lash & sword, TL deathspitter + x2 Zoanthropes
    X2 Tervigons (sacs, glands, Regeneration, catalyst, talons) + 30 Termagants

    This table is likely not balanced at all, just the best that I could come up with at the moment.  I would have to play test it to see just how it worked out.  Just so you all know from a designers' perspective I think that you should be dead by turn 7 but to be honest I have no idea how this would work.  Also when I was coming up with the units I was thinking primarily of each of these as if they were showing up as the only unit at a a time, say in turn 5 3 Carnifexes show up is not too bad considering they are all that is showing up and it will take them at least 2 turns to get to you.  Which brings me to the point of how it acts as a one player game.

    When a unit is spawned determine from which side it is deployed from randomly, 1-4 should each be assigned a side for a die roll, if you do not have a d4 roll a d6 and ignore 5+.  Units should be deployed as from the point on that table edge where it would end a basic movement (6" for infantry, 12" for flying MC's) with maximum cover or line of sight blocking, whatever is more applicable based on which side they have been deployed.  Keep in mind that multiple units cannot end within 1" of each other.  Each turn the units move as close to the closest Space Marine model as they can while staying in cover until they must leave cover/line of sight blocking terrain in order to get closer to the closest Space Marines.  Units run every turn that they are able to.  Ideally they beeline straight to the center.  Once any model is within 12" of any space marine unit that it can injure in close combat (CC) that unit must attempt to assault and may not run though it may shoot if that would not prevent an assault).  Units that are excepted from this are those that have another purpose.  Termagants, Hive Guard, and Biovores only move until they have come into range with the majority of a space marine squad that they can hurt with their shooting (majority rounding up).  This movement is determined on a model by model basis, termagants at the rear will continue moving up while those in the front row stop to shoot at the tactical marines.  Also termagants would continue past a dreadnought since they could not shoot it.  Tervigons are another exception in that they never leave area terrain or the maximum line of sight blocking terrain.  They still must, whenever moving, move closer towards the closest space marine model but will stop moving any more if their movement would take them out of area terrain or to have less line of sight blockage than they do at the moment.  Keep in mind that the Space marines' LOS may change, so make sure to check to see if the Tervigon can move closer.  Each turn that the Tervigon is on the table it must attempt to spawn termagants which are then deployed as close to the closest space marine model as allowed by the rules for the Tervigon's spawn.  Once a Tervigon cannot spawn any more it loses its exception to the movement rule and acts like all other Tyranid units.  Flying monstrous creatures swoop as quickly as possible towards the closest Space Marine model and ignore terrain for the purposes of where they are able to move to following the rules that were just laid out, they make a straight beeline and do not try to hide for LOS or area terrain.  Every turn that they are able to they fire every weapon they are able to at the maximum speed that they went at the closest space marine model that they can hurt with that weapon.  Once they start a turn within 20" of a space marine model that they can injure in CC they enter glide mode and move 12" towards the closest space marine model they can injure in CC and attempt to assault that unit, even if it would take it through terrain.  Spawning Ymgarls always spawn in the ruins.  Lictors spawn as close to a space marine unit as possible that it can injure in CC following normal priority for attacking, in the case of the dreadnought behind its rear armor if possible (explained next).  All Tyranids ignore units in the upper levels of the ruins until the bottom-most level is cleared.  Then they prioritize the second level, and finally the third level.  For instance if a dreadnought was off outside of the ruins killing some Termagants than anything that could damage it would attempt to kill it even though they may be closer to the guys on the second level than the dreadnought.  Lictors would be forced to spawn as close to the dreadnought as possible in this scenario.  Once everything on the ground level is cleared out, the Tyranids try their best to kill the second level, ignoring the top, and then the top (3rd) level.

    This is a fairly complex set of rules, and when designing your own missions that you intend to show other people make sure to be more precise in your wording so that the mechanics of it are clear and better defined, less room for error.  At the moment I am insanely tired and can't be bothered to go back and fix it up like I normally would or had planned to.  You all get the idea, you are smart cookies and can figure it out.

    So that is it for now, I will post this some time in the future since my internet seems to have a problem at the moment (this isn't one of the pre-written ones though I wrote this technically on 8/25/12 though I started late on 8/24/12 at night).  Also just so you know Warllama I am eagerly awaiting your review on this month's white dwarf since I am debating on whether or not it is worth buying and I know you do a good job assessing the relative worth and going over the content (Edit, have since read the review, thanks for the heads up!).  Thank you all for sticking with me despite my having problems with posting and I appreciate all the feedback that you give me.  And if anyone finds me and wants me to pimp their blog just email me, send a tweet, or leave a comment and I will do that, because I love to support the rest of the community, especially when all of you seem like such excellent people.  And if any of you play Space Marine on the PS3 I have been playing more regularly lately, the username being chargingcarnifex (shocker!) though that may change based on whether or not it is coming with me to college.  BTW I think its funny that some of you thought that when I said graduation you instantly assumed I meant college.  And I'm going to put an end to my rambling now, so good night to all of you and enjoy this quality-lite post, sorry for the lack of professionalism I try to have in these.


  1. It's funny how you posted about this topic within a few days of me doing a massive late night search for ways to play single player. I didn't have much luck, the closest bits and pieces I found included the Death Angel card game from ffg. An idea I had for that was using miniatures placed on top of the cards.

    Another great idea I found was how to run a single player campaign. Basically you stick with your own army but can play any and all opponents, they don't even have to know its part of a campaign. Then all you do when you get home is write up the story and update your map/ however you're keeping track.

    My final thing I wanted to say was about a mission I've been thinking of ever since the storm talon came out which could be adapted for single player. Basically you've got a load of storm talons and a squad of civillians or something, and the 'enemy' has some quad guns and you have to escort the people across the table. Still needs work but it's just a concept at the moment.

    1. Well, you could get involved with the Ruins of Medusa V blog wide campaign. You still don't have to get your opponents to agree to participate, but you help you faction earn points.

      Also, I have a small skirmish type single player mission posted up there that you may want to try out too!