We are now T minus 24 hours from when FedEx Freight is supposed to be delivering the seven pallets of plastic sprues that we need to complete the kickstarter rewards. What will follow will be a whirlwind of packing.
It's been a lot of work by many people to make this happen. In particular don't forget to go on the forum to thank Robert Dubois, the owner of Dream Pod 9. He put in months and months of work researching how to make the kickstarter function the best and then has been putting in seven day weeks ever since from guiding the 3D model development to the exact sizes of boxes required. He's done all this while also keeping the company operating smoothly. (Thanks Rob! I enjoy this job!)
Amazingly enough he also found time between kickstarter deadlines to help bring out the new fleet scale line of Jovian Chronicles figures. This led directly to discussions about the advantages and flaws of the current Jovian Chronicles rules set in terms of adaptability for the fleet scale models. After much discussion I convinced Rob to let me do some development work with the aim of making and releasing a game specifically designed for the miniatures and the setting we have.
A little background on me and where I'm coming from for this. In my previous life I have been a high school science teacher for several years and a fan of science and science fiction since I first learned it existed at the library. Most kids would curl up with a Tin Tin or storybook. I would find a book on the history of NASA or the atomic bomb.or the general history and progression of science. As a kid you often don't get the bigger picture though I've learned a lot over time as to the interconnected nature of our world, and how science and technology progresses.
I went to an interdisciplinary sciences program at University which taught me how to calculate relativity, plot orbital and gravitational forces, and understand statistics at a high level. I also learned enough biology to get a true sense of just how big the challenges are of living as extra-terrestrials in our own solar system are. We may be perfectly adapted to a wide range of habitats on earth but we are completely unprepared for space. Will generic engineering solve many of these problems? Time will tell.
Space science is of particular interest right now and bringing back Jovian Chronicles is a great way that can explore a science fiction setting with a backdrop of familiarity. Our own solar system is after all a place we should have more than a passing familiarity to. As it's popular to joke; Ask the dinosaurs if they think that a space program might have been a good investment.
Humans are on our way to space. At this point it's inevitable. SpaceX is planning to colonize Mars, China is planning a moon base, and the next generation of the international space station is already being drawn up. Stories that place humans and the inevitable conflicts we have are going to be very relevant within the next several hundred years. Jovian Chronicles is going to be a very fun way to combine the real science and a sci-fi setting with giant space robots and space battleships.
Jovian Chronicles is going to be a fleet scale game. That means that individual ships are represented but the crew is not. In a fleet scale game the models of fighter craft, and in our case the Exo-Armors, are not individually represented, but grouped into wings of three representing a combat unit on the field that moves and engages together. In a fleet scale game the details of the dogfight are abstracted away and resolved with a roll of dice. The skill in the comes from positioning and maneuvering your fleet well to maximize their abilities to affect the game, and adapting your plan to losses.
To this end I've used the following game design concepts and game setting points as a guide: Note that I shared much of this information at Gen Con with interested attendees and it has also evolved from the first rules drafts.
1) Players should know what weapons they are attacking with. Abstracting away the weapons into an 'attack' is less fun than using a Beam Projector or a Mass Driver.
2) Capital Ships have non-binary states: All ships can be damaged to a greater or lesser extent by attacks slowly reducing their capabilities. All damage should be track-able by reducing attribute ratings. Destroyed capital ships remain as hazards.
3) Exo-Armor and Fighters have binary states: When reduced to zero structure rating they are considered non-combat viable and have to go into reserves where they have to be repaired before they can rejoin the game. Exo-Armors and Fighters should be able to return from reserves from "off board assets" or from hanger equipped ships. Models relaunched from hangers gain the advantage of deploying further into the game
4) The game has to play quickly: An hour per game is the goal.
5) Tracking on models should be reduced as little as possible. Damage tracking only, if possible.
6) Game play should reward players who use their fleets well.
7) Infantry and Exo-Suits are too small to be represented except as a rating on a capital ship, can be used for boarding actions.
8) Exo-Armor and Fighters should be able to help protect capital ships from missile attacks and boarding actions.
9) The battle is fought in space. Models have to be able to move past each other and not 'lock up'. The game movement should be kept dynamic. Terrain or hazards should be rare.
10) Cinematic actions should be possible though rare and difficult.
11) The goal is that the players compete to complete their mission/destroy each others fleets. The point of the game is to have fun while playing.
12) The game should engage both players; not "I go, you go get a sandwich".
So that's a bit of a tease. If the new Jovian Chronicles game interests you please let us know by joining in discussions on the forum (click here). Make sure you follow our facebook page (enable notifications) and check here in the future as I start to lay out what you can expect to see from a new Jovian Chronicles game.