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"Starchase": Rules discussion



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>Subject: cherryhlist
>Date: Fri, 10 Sep 93 10:42:37 CDT
>From: goldman@orac.cray.com (Goldman of Chaos -- postmaster CRI-US)
Just a few questions that have come up while thinking about role playing games and the C.J. Cherryh universe:

(...)

3) A children's game was mentioned in Cyteen. Has anyone thought about possible rules for it?
Matt
(...)


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>From: Onno Meyer <Onno.Meyer@arbi.informatik.uni-oldenburg.de>
>Subject: cherryhlist
>Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1993 10:22:07 +0200 (MET DST)
(...)
> 3) A children's game was mentioned in Cyteen.  Has anyone thought
>    about possible rules for it?
Only briefly: I imagine a map of the Union stations, linked by jumplines. Players buy ship counters who can move along these lines. There is a number of different trade goods (perhaps food, luxuries, machines). Every station consumes goods every turn and produces other goods. Players have ships, stations, goods and money and use their own goods, their own ships and goods and transportation their money can buy to keep their stations supplied. Every station could get different needs and productions. Trade goods could be stored for later transport or sale to those who need them. Perhaps Pell should be on the map to avoid the biomass monopoly of Cyteen.
I have no clear idea about the victory conditions. It could be something like monopoly or you could look who kept his population (that is, the population of his stations) best supplied.
Onno


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>From: Onno Meyer <Onno.Meyer@arbi.informatik.uni-oldenburg.de>
>Subject: cherryhlist
>Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1993 10:01:23 +0200 (MET DST)
(...)
> > 3) A children's game was mentioned in Cyteen.  Has anyone thought
> >    about possible rules for it?
I've re-read two different pages in Cyteen where this game is mentioned. Unless the translator fouled up (I've just found "laser" for "taser" in CH :-( ), it is a game of dice where stations, goods and ships can be traded between the players. The game can be played by small children.

What do you think about this:

The board is a map of the Union with 12 stations and jumppoints, with lines between the jumppoints that may or may not have a "difficulty" attached to them (probably not - a childrens game). Every station is represented as a plastic shape with slots in it that are storage space. These slots can be filled with markers colorcoded for the different types of goods (food,spare parts& machines, luxuries, raw materials, recycling parts). Ships are small plastic counters that can carry a limited number of cargo lots.

Stations, a limited number of goods and ships and money are distributed to the players, based on a list that gives the distributions based on player numbers.

Every turn starts with a "station" phase. If a station has food, it will consume one lot of food. Otherwise, it will not produce anything for this turn. In the second turn without food, a station dies. It is auctioned between the other players.
If the station has parts&machines, it will consume one lot of them. Otherwise, it will not produce anything, but there is no time-limit. If a station is producing, it can turn a number of lots of raw materials or recycling goods (2 lots recycling goods equal one lot raw materials) into luxuries, machines or food (that may be the players decision or be dependent on the station).
Luxuries can be spend to increase production. Happy workers work better. To keep the game interesting, every station should have at least one item it has to import.

The next phase is the "ships" phase. The players throw dice for every ship, and that is the number of jumps that ship can make. Whenever two ships meet or whenever a ship arrives at a station, the two can transfer goods if the recipient has sufficient storage capacity.

At the end of the turn players can order new ships that must be paid on order and will be delivered n turns later. Ships can be sold anytime to the "bank", for half the original price. The number of ships is limited by the supply of counters for each player.

At any time in the game, players can trade cargo, ships, stations or whatever (pay somebody not to trade with a third player :-) ). The price is negotiated between the players. Remember, even if cargo can be sold anytime, players must meet to deliver it.
 Onno


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>From: Lesley Grant <lgrant@maths.tcd.ie>
>Subject:  Cherryhlist
>Date: Wed, 15 Sep 93 10:14:32 BST
(...)

Onno, I like the game rules. Normally I detest boardgames, but of course, anything even slightly connected with Cherryh gets a thumbs-up :-)
			Lesley


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>Subject: Re: Cherryhlist
>Date: Wed, 15 Sep 93 13:10:26 CDT
>From: goldman@orac.cray.com (Goldman of Chaos -- postmaster CRI-US)
(...)
> (...)
> The board is a map of the Union with 12 stations and jumppoints, with
> lines between the jumppoints that may or may not have a "difficulty"
> attached to them (probably not - a childrens game). Every station is
> represented as a plastic shape with slots in it that are storage space.
> These slots can be filled with markers colorcoded for the different
> types of goods (food,spare parts& machines, luxuries, raw materials,
> recycling parts). Ships are small plastic counters that can carry a
> limited number of cargo lots.
The map is more than likely stylized since it is a children's game. Possibly a picture of the station or world. I wonder if the different stations have different number of storage slots? Any idea about the names of the various stations? Perhaps there is some way to learn about new null points so that you can take short cuts?

Perhaps in addition to "food", "spares & machines", "luxuries", "raw materials", and "recycling parts" we could also have "biomass" and "Azi" without making this too complex?
> Stations, a limited number of goods and ships and money are distributed
> to the players, based on a list that gives the distributions based on 
> player numbers.
How many players should there be? Does the range of 2 to 8 sound good?
> (...) In the second turn without food, a station dies. It is auctioned
> between the other players. 
As in when you loose your station, the other players can bid to take it over?
> If the station has parts&machines, it will consume one lot of them.      
> Otherwise, it will not produce anything, but there is no time-limit.
>(...)
> To keep the game interesting, every station should have at least
> one item it has to import.
Are all stations initally in existance, or can players build additional stations?
> The next phase is the "ships" phase. The players throw dice for every 
> ship, and that is the number of jumps that ship can make. Whenever
> two ships meet or whenever a ship arrives at a station, the two can 
> transfer goods if the recipient has sufficient storage capacity.
I'm wondering if a player moves all of their ships before the next person gets to move, or if each player gets to move one ship at a time. Another possibility is that each player gets to move one ship one jump at a time. I suspect that the first case is true since this *is* a children's game.

Then again we could make this a slightly higher level game. (yes, I'm talking about really making this game...)

Turn order could be something like:
1) feed stations.
2) set production for turn.
3) determine range for ships.
4) move ships up to max number of jumps.
a) trades as desired.
b) combat as desired.
5) order ships.
6) receive ships and production
> At the end of the turn players can order new ships that must be paid
> on order and will be delivered n turns later. Ships can be sold anytime
> to the "bank", for half the original price.
> The number of ships is limited by the supply of counters for each player.
Different size and abilities for different prices? I'd suspect that you might have choices like the following:

1) small merchant ship, lightly armored, slow, 1 cargo unit.
2) medium merchant ship, lightly armored, slow, 3 cargo units.
3) large merchant ship, lightly armored, slow, 6 cargo units.

4) small merchant ship, better armor, fast, 1 cargo unit.
5) medium merchant ship, better armor, fast, 2 cargo units.
6) large merchant ship, better armor, fast, 4 cargo units.

7) small warship, fast, no cargo.
8) medium warship, fast, 1 cargo unit.
9) large warship, fast, 2 cargo units.

Depending on the number of points you can go to I'd suggest a slow merchant ship gets 1D4 for movement, a fast merchant get 2D4 for movement, and a warship gets 2D4+2 for movement.

Other ideas would be lots of null points that can be discovered and claimed by various players.
Matt
(...)


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>From: Onno Meyer <Onno.Meyer@arbi.informatik.uni-oldenburg.de>
>Subject: cherryhlist
>Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1993 10:27:22 +0200 (MET DST)
> 	Onno, I like the game rules. Normally I detest boardgames, but
> of course, anything even slightly connected with Cherryh gets a thumbs-up
(...)
Those were rules? I think there has to be a lot of work until we can speak of rules.
> (...)  Any idea about the names of the
> various stations?  Perhaps there is some way to learn about
> new null points so that you can take short cuts?
Somewhere there is a listing - I think in ML.
> Perhaps in addition to "food", "spares & machines",
> "luxuries", "raw materials", and "recycling parts" we could
> also have "biomass" and "Azi" without making this too
> complex?
I assumed biomass = foodstuff, and I didn't even think about adding population. Perhaps it is an idea, but only for the "advanced edition".
 (...)
> How many players should there be?  Does the range of 2 to 8
> sound good?
I would say more than 2 to make alliances and diplomacy possible, and 12 stations have to be distributed equally among them: 3,4 or 6. Of course it would be possible to add some Alliance stations or to ignore some Union stations.
(...)
> As in when you loose your station, the other players can bid
> to take it over?
That was my idea - it could stay dead, too, but that would limit the game board pretty fast. But there has to be some punishment for such carelessness.
> > If the station has parts&machines, it will consume one lot of them.      
> > Otherwise, it will not produce anything, but there is no time-limit.
> (...)
> > To keep the game interesting, every station should have at least
> > one item it has to import.
I forgot: Stations produce raw materials and recycling goods. Every station produces recycling stuff, and some have mines. Foodstuff has to come from somewhere, too. To get biomass only from Cyteen could be unbalancing.
 
> Are all stations initally in existance, or can players build
> additional stations?
I imagined station in existance, distributed equally among the players. But there is room for an "advanced edition".
> (...) 
> I'm wondering if a player moves all of their ships before
> the next person gets to move, or if each player gets to move
> one ship at a time.  Another possibility is that each player
> gets to move one ship one jump at a time.  I suspect that
> the first case is true since this *is* a children's game.
> 
> Then again we could make this a slightly higher level game.
> (yes, I'm talking about really making this game...)
> 
> Turn order could be something like:
>(...)
Hey, I didn't think about that at all. If we play on a map of the Union, there would be a fleet to stop this, instantly.
> (...)
> Different size and abilities for different prices?  I'd
> suspect that you might have choices like the following:
Perhaps in the "advanced edition", but not in a childrens game.
> 	1) small merchant ship, lightly armored, slow,
> 	   1 cargo unit.
>(...)
> 	9) large warship, fast, 2 cargo units.
I assumed the players represent trading companies, not governments. You're talking about a wargame.
> Depending on the number of points you can go to I'd suggest
> a slow merchant ship gets 1D4 for movement, a fast merchant
> get 2D4 for movement, and a warship gets 2D4+2 for movement.
That depends on the time you assume for a "turn" of the game. I would add a "+4" to each of these numbers to make ranges less random. Perhaps we should kill the dice completely, but they are mentioned and this seemed the most reasonable place for them.
 
> Other ideas would be lots of null points that can be
> discovered and claimed by various players.
How can you claim jumppoints? You would have to defend them, and that's a wargame again.
Onno again.


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>Subject: cherryhlist: boardgame...
>Date: Thu, 16 Sep 93 9:18:46 CDT
>From: goldman@orac.cray.com (Goldman of Chaos -- postmaster CRI-US)
(...)

Then I got bored last night. Here are some sample production values
f = food
	1F = s, 2m, m+a, 2b, b+a
	2F = 1F+l, 1F+a
	4F = 2F+l, 2F+a
s = spares & machines
	1S = f+m, 2m, m+a, 2r, r+m, r+a
	2S = 1S+l, 1S+a
	4S = 2S+l, 2S+a
l = luxuries
	1L = f+m, f+b, r+a, r+b
	2L = 1L+f, 1L+a
	4L = 2L+f, 2L+a
m = raw materials
	1M = f+r, a+r, s
	2M = 1M+l, 1M+a
	4M = 2M+l, 2M+a
r = recycling parts
	1R = s, l, 2m, m+f
	2R = 1R+l, 1R+a
	4R = 2R+l, 2R+a
b = biomass
	1B = f, 2l, l+r, a
	2B = 1B+l, 1B+a
	4B = 2B+l, 2B+a
a = azi
	1A = f+s+m, f+s+2r, 2b+s+m, 2b+s+2r
the lower case is for a single unit of some item, upper case is shorthand for the output. For example, you can get 1 unit of food out when you use up one unit of spares & machines, or if you use up two units of raw materials. You will get two units of food if you use up one unit of luxuries in addition to one unit of spares & machines.

Additionally, note that azi can not be made in greater quanities than one. Everything else can be made in quanities of one, two or four.

Strange note from above 1F = 2b, and 1B = a, so 1 food = 2 azi... yum, yum.

Here are some proposed production values for the various stations. Note that the stations are setup so that they will all be able to survive.
    			    production
    			     per turn
    			f  s  l  m  r  b  a

Earth Station		-  -  1  -  -  4  -
Pell			-  -  1  1  -  3  -
Viking Station		-  -  -  3  -  -  -
Mariner Station		-  -  -  3  -  -  -
Russell Station		-  -  -  1  1  -  -
Pan Paris Station	-  -  -  2  2  -  -
Paradise Station	-  -  -  2  3  -  -
Wyatt's Star		-  -  -  2  1  -  -
Esperance Station	-  -  -  1  3  -  -
Cyteen Station		-  -  1  1  -  2  1
Voyager Station		-  -  -  3  -  -  -
Fargone Station		-  1  -  1  -  -  -
Beta Station		-  -  -  3  -  -  -
Alpha Base		-  -  -  2  -  -  -
Glory			-  -  -  1  -  -  -
Bryant's		-  -  -  2  -  -  -
Galileo Station		-  -  -  1  -  -  -
Olympus Station		-  -  -  1  -  -  -
Eldorado		-  -  1  1  -  -  -
Other info: Stations all start with 1 turn's worth of production and 1D4 units of food.

I'm thinking that cards for each station would be a neat idea. Much too hard to do in ascii. I'll do up a postscript card example.

end game notes for now.
Matt
(...)


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>From: Onno Meyer <Onno.Meyer@arbi.informatik.uni-oldenburg.de>
>Subject: cherryhlist
>Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1993 10:59:10 +0200 (MET DST)
(...)
> f = food
> 	1F = s, 2m, m+a, 2b, b+a
> 	2F = 1F+l, 1F+a
I don't like your system. With your rules, the production capacity of a station seems unlimited, given sufficient raw materials.

I'd suggest:

Basic goods are biomass and raw materials. Biomass are algae or plants or whatever, and raw materials are ore, chemicals or sheet metal.

Biomass can be turned into more biomass using raw materials and labour. Biomass is also produced by planets "free" of cost. Raw material is extracted from mines using labour or created from recycling stuff using labour. Mining is more efficient, and or there is a mass loss while recycling.

Biomass can be turned into food using labour. Raw materials can be turned into parts using labour. Food and parts are consumed by the stations at a constant rate, otherwise the station won't work. A working station produces recycleable(sp?) waste.

A key ressource is labour. It is provided by a station "for free", can't be stored and may be increased by consuming luxuries. These luxuries are produced from food or parts using a lot of labour.

I dislike the use of azi as a ressource/trade good more and more. If they are part of the game, they should be produced by Cyteen at a constant rate "for free", and should increase the labour pool of a station where they're working, but they would consume food and parts every turn, wether they work or not. You can't order them now and get them delivered next year, they're living beings and not a ordinary cargo lot.
> Here are some proposed production values for the various stations.
>(...)
> Earth Station		-  -  1  -  -  4  -
Just a moment - Earth station stands for the whole solar system, doesn't it? Just as Pell includes it's mines and the world. Isn't that a little low?
>(...)
> Beta Station		-  -  -  3  -  -  -
Didn't Beta fail, or do I mix something up?
>(...)
> Other info:  Stations all start with 1 turn's worth of production and
> 1D4 units of food.
In the worst case, they would have one turn to get new food. I don't like that.

(...)
Onno Meyer


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>Subject: cherryhlist: starchase
>Date: Fri, 17 Sep 93 10:30:04 CDT
>From: goldman@orac.cray.com (Goldman of Chaos -- postmaster CRI-US)
(...)
> (...)
> Any idea about the names of the
> > various stations? (...)
> Somewhere there is a listing - I think in ML.
That explains why I can't find ML anywhere!
> (...)
> I assumed biomass = foodstuff, and I didn't even think about adding
> population. Perhaps it is an idea, but only for the "advanced edition".
I was thinking that biomass was the raw material, and could be converted to foodstuff or other things. I feel like we're talking with a high V differential!
&gt: (...)
> > How many players should there be?  Does the range of 2 to 8
> > sound good?
> I would say more than 2 to make alliances and diplomacy possible,
> and 12 stations have to be distributed equally among them: 3,4 or 6.
> Of course it would be possible to add some Alliance stations or to
> ignore some Union stations.
Sounds good.
> (...)
> > > In the second turn without food, a station dies. It is auctioned
> > > between the other players. 
> > As in when you loose your station, the other players can bid
> > to take it over?
> That was my idea - it could stay dead, too, but that would limit the
> game board pretty fast. But there has to be some punishment for
> such carelessness. 
Perhaps the station could be dead for a number of turns, and then the station would go up for auction with the origional player not being able to take part in the auction. If no one buys the station a random time period will go by and then there will be another auction in which everyone can take part. If no one still buys the station, then after another time period, the station reverts to the origional owner. During the dead time period, nothing is produced by the station.
> (...)
> I forgot: Stations produce raw materials and recycling goods. Every 
> station produces recycling stuff, and some have mines. Foodstuff
> has to come from somewhere, too. To get biomass only from Cyteen 
> could be unbalancing.
Time dilation is in effect again...

> (...)
> > Turn order could be something like:
> > 	1) feed stations.
> > 	2) set production for turn.
> > 	3) determine range for ships.
> > 	4) move ships up to max number of jumps.
> > 		a) trades as desired.
> > 		b) combat as desired.
> 
> Hey, I didn't think about that at all. If we play on a map of the Union,
> there would be a fleet to stop this, instantly.
Combat could be very simple with 2 possible results: Grab cargo from the victim or cause the victim's ship to loose the rest of the movement for the turn.
> > 	1) small merchant ship, lightly armored, slow,
> > 	   1 cargo unit.
> > (...)
> > 	9) large warship, fast, 2 cargo units.
> I assumed the players represent trading companies, not governments.
> You're talking about a wargame.
We could simplify it down to 1) small merchant ship, 1 cargo unit 2) medium merchant ship, 2 cargo units 3) large merchant ship, 4 cargo units 4) warship, no cargo units
> >
> > Depending on the number of points you can go to I'd suggest
> > a slow merchant ship gets 1D4 for movement, a fast merchant
> > get 2D4 for movement, and a warship gets 2D4+2 for movement.
> >
> That depends on the time you assume for a "turn" of the game.
> I would add a "+4" to each of these numbers to make ranges
> less random. Perhaps we should kill the dice completely, but
> they are mentioned and this seemed the most reasonable place
> for them.
I think the randomness of the number of jumps is important. It takes into account things such as repair time, r&r, loading time, etc.
> > Other ideas would be lots of null points that can be
> > discovered and claimed by various players.
> > 
> How can you claim jumppoints? You would have to defend them,
> and that's a wargame again.
I worded this badly, I intended to say something about learning new jump points. Other people could learn of the jump points, you could sell information about jump points to the other players. You could even publically anounce the coordinates of the null point.
> > > At any time in the game, players can trade cargo, ships, stations or
> > > whatever (pay somebody not to trade with a third player :-) ). The
> > > price is negotiated between the players. Remember, even if cargo can
> > > be sold anytime, players must meet to deliver it.
> (...)
I finally found the 2 passages that deal with Starchase. It seemed to me that each turn the players would set their prices for a turn that they would sell stuff at.

One item we need to think about is the endgame. What are the victory conditions? Are the victory conditions fixed, ie gain so much money, so many bases, so many ships or some such? Or are the victory conditions sort of like in the game "Careers" where everyone sets their victory conditions?

Example:

Need to reach 1000 points:

Ships = 10 points each
Stations = 50 points each
Money = 100 unit = 1 point
Production types all = 1 point each

You set your personal victory conditions as:

10 stations = 500 points
10 ships = 100 points
100,000 cash = 100 points
50 food = 50 points
25 spares = 25 points
75 luxuries = 75 points
50 raw mater = 50 points
50 recycleables = 50 points
25 biomass = 25 points
25 Azi = 25 points
===========
1000 points

Then everyone else is working towards a different set of victory conditions. I'd say that you'd need to set your victory conditions before you learn which stations you control. The length of the game could be controled by the number of points needed to reach victory. Please note that all of the above numbers are off the top of my head.

One thing to consider is why was there an advantage to two people joining their fleets?
Matt
(...)


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>From: Onno Meyer <Onno.Meyer@arbi.informatik.uni-oldenburg.de>
>Subject: Cherryhlist - starchase
>Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1993 10:27:40 +0200 (MET DST)
> 	4) warship, no cargo units
Again this "warship" stuff. I don't think a childrens game should be a wargame.
> I think the randomness of the number of jumps is important.  It takes
> into account things such as repair time, r&r, loading time, etc.
Maybe.
> (...)
> I finally found the 2 passages that deal with Starchase.  It seemed to
> me that each turn the players would set their prices for a turn that
> they would sell stuff at. 
That is not necessary a "global" price fixing, more like "give me 1000000 for this food if you need it that much".
> One item we need to think about is the endgame.  What are the victory
[...]
That sounds good.
 
> One thing to consider is why was there an advantage to two people
> joining their fleets?
(...)
Perhaps ships get advantages from visiting a "homeport", and these advantages would not exist in an informal cooperation.
Onno


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>From: Jo Jaquinta <jaymin@maths.tcd.ie>
>Subject: Cherryhlist/Starchase
>Date: Tue, 21 Sep 93 8:36:59 BST
Having read the earlier articles I, too, sat and thought out rules for the game. When they are more complete, if ever, I might post them. For the moment I have a few observations:

1) You are getting too convoluted. Formula and special forms are (sometimes) OK for a role-playing game but aren't workable in a children's game. It is not that it can't be complex. Monopoly is complex and is still a children's game. It just has to be straight forward without intricate turn sequences or computation.

2) We're talking Union here. Where's the Political Agenda? Given the general level of psycological awareness and engineering I doubt that something like a mass-market children's game would be free from Union-educational undertones. The game is not to be designed to be a vaguely realistic simulation of the political events in and around the formation of Union-Alliance but rather an object lesson in why things happened the way they did. Whatever way the rules are constructed the best strategy will probably be that historically (or what is now recorded as historical) taken by Union.
				Jo Grant


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>From: Onno Meyer <Onno.Meyer@arbi.informatik.uni-oldenburg.de>
>Subject: cherryhlist
>Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1993 11:33:14 +0200 (MET DST)
> 	1) You are getting too convoluted. Formula and special forms
maybe :-(
> 	2) We're talking Union here. Where's the Political Agenda?
> 	Given the general level of psycological awareness and engineering
Agenda: "The different Union stations have to cooperate, each of them has import and export requirements that supplement each other." I don't think the game simulates the development of Union/Alliance, it shows the "current" trade relations.
Onno

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