Archive for the Scenarios Category

Tactics in Intercept 2

Posted in Intercept, Scenarios on March 23, 2015 by Mr Backman
In orbit
The previous post on Tactics in Intercept dealt with the character skills of Ship and Fleet tactics. In this article we will talk about player tactics, how to play Intercept effectively.

Each scenario should have a clear objective for each side and the objective should never be ‘kill the enemy forces’. Real battles rarely work like that and they tend to be boring tests of ship capabilities with not many choices for the player to make. Instead, we want objectives where combat is a tool to realize them. Side A should land a ship on a planet, side B should stop them. Side A is escorting a trader from Earth to the moon and side B should stop them. Side A and B start on opposite sides of Earth and should land a ship on the moon etc.

Intercept combat consist of two separate stages, before and after detection. Some scenarios may have one or both sides already detected but most of them will start double-blind.

Before detection
Spread your ships into separate boxes to avoid having them detected at the same time. If you have fission or fusion thrusting ships you must be really careful when to thrust, the fuel limit is one problem but the real killer with those drives is that you are almost guaranteed to become Tracked if they scan you when you thrust.

If you manage to stay undetected longer than your opponent you have an enormous advantage as you can see his moves before you do yours and your attacks will always go first. Beam attacks typically give away your position so it is important to not attack before you have a decent chance of hitting, but don’t wait too long, your opponent may have you detected and your advantage will have gained you nothing.

If you have cold start missiles launch a volley as soon as you got your opponent detected and have them drift closer him. Missile attacks does not automatically get you detected as beam attacks generally do.

After detection
Pay close attention to firing arcs and aft centerline. If you have more than one ship team them together to cover the wing mans cracks in his arcs, turning after thrusting really help here. Try to attack ships from the rear to hit the vulnerable thrust location and avoid hitting the hard to damage hull location. Concentrate firing on one ship until it is disabled as those pesky repair crews can revert minor damage in a jiffy.

If you think you might get attacked by missiles don’t use your lasers for attack. That -3 DM for missile defense after lasers have been used offensively can be the difference between dead or alive. Missiles are deadly in Intercept, don’t let them hit you. Facing towards the attacker increases the chance of hull hits and lessens the risk of vulnerable thrust hits, roll to bring any dorsal mounts to bear.

Always have the scenario objective in mind. Fighting is dangerous so avoid it if you can, and remember the motto of Space rouge pilots: “Keep the solar wind to your backside”.

Gravity in boardgames

Posted in Boardgames, Design system, Intercept, Other vector movemet systems, Scenarios on May 13, 2010 by Mr Backman



Space combat games are typically played on black hexgrids with no terrain features at all. Some games add asteroid fields, planets, nebulas, electric storms etc and some even try to incorporate the gravity field around planets. This is at least something we know, real planets do have gravity fields around them and climbing up the gravity well takes serious effort; just look at how big the Saturn V needed to be in order to send three guys to the moon and back.

What can we say about gravity then? Well, it pulls you back toward planets, a ship can remain indefinitely in orbit without thrusting, the higher above the planet a ship orbits the longer it takes; 1.5 hours in low orbit, 24 hours in Clarke orbit and a whole month per lap when you are as far away as the moon. We also know that if a ship has enough speed it can escape the gravity of a planet, this speed is called escape velocity for obvious reasons. Orbits don’t have to be circular either, they can be elliptical with one part getting real close to the planet and the other part taking it back further out, these orbits are also stable and require no thrust to maintain.

Prior examples

The first boardgame I came across that used vector movement was also the first that tried to depict gravity in a sensible manner, that game was Mayday. Mayday borrowed its gravity rules from Triplanetary and the mechanics where simple: If your vector, including its endpoint but excluding its startpoint, intersected one or more hex adjacent to a planet its future position would be affected. Another game with gravity rules was a game called Orbit war that was published in the Space gamer and then became a full blown boardgame.

Intercept version

In Intercept we want to do more than just being in orbit or not. Having several stable orbits with different periods allow us to model low tech orbital warfare with limited endurance fission/fusion rockets and spotting limited by the horizon. We can do elliptical orbits but that is something that just happen to work, free chrome one could say.

How do you do gravity in Intercept then? If your ship is inside a planet’s gravity well (6 squares for Earth) check what arc of the
planet you are in and adjust your drift in the direction of your current position towards the planet. Yes, gravity pull is based on the
position of your ship versus the planet but applied on the drift of your ship. If your ship is on the planet itself you do not adjust for
gravity (what direction would that be?).

That is all folks; if the ship is inside the gravity well but not on the planet you note the direction towards the planet and move your drift in that direction.

Scenario: Fission duel

This is a simple scenario with two equal ships battling it out in orbit above a planet. the ships start in the same orbit on opposite sides of the planet knowing where the opponent is but they cannot track him because the planet blocks LOS. The ships are 1G fission thrusters with 8 turns of thrust endurance and they are armed with a single small missile turret. You must carefully maneuver your ship close enough for your missiles 2G range single turn range. The ship has a crew of two; 1 pilot and 1 gunner/sensor op, there is no repair crew so there can be no repairs. Use the orbit from the image, ship A starts at x=0, y=-1, ship B starts at x=0, y=1 with the drift positions as shown. As I said earlier, this scenario is especially suited for deterministic play.

Gentlemen, start your fission drives, let the duel commence!

Major victory: Your opponent is a mission kill (incapable of firing and incapable of maneuvering) and you manage to land on the planet.

Minor victory: Your opponent is a mission kill and you are not.

Draw: Both ships incapable of maneuvering  and in such orbits that they will never get within 2G of a missile shot.

Make your own TL 8 Fission thruster equipped ships, equal or custom designed by each player. 100 MCr each is my suggestion for price.

Intercept Line-Of-Sight tutorial

Posted in Intercept, Rules, Scenarios on April 17, 2010 by Mr Backman

The rules for Line-Of-Sight (LOS) are important in Intercept as they govern when you can be seen and when you cannot. In this post I’ll do a step by step that deals with planet LOS, aft centerline and the sun direction. I will cover these in detail but I won’t bother with any actual sensor signatures, scan radius etc. The basic assumption here is that your ship is undetectable when drifting and automatically spotted when thrusting unless you happen to be on the enemies aft arc (as the enemy will always be drifting he should in reality be able to trace LOS through his aft centerline), on his sun direction row or have the LOS blocked by the planet.

Situational report

Well, you are the commander of a UFO that has just finished its mission on earth (anal probing, crop circling, abductions, the usual boring mission) and now it is time for you to exit the solar system undetected. Galactic law allows meddling in human affairs as long as you are never spotted by astronauts, astronomers and similar creatures and the problem is that the humans have put up a space station, known to them as ISS, that is filled with just such beings. If your UFO get spotted the galactics will revoke your license and your Emperor will be most unhappy. Luckily enough your UFO is equipped with a stealth device that make it invisible to all sensors when it is not thrusting. When it thrusts though, all that pent-up heat is radiated away and makes your UFO easily detectable even with the puny telescopes of the ISS station.

You will start your mission in the same orbit as the IIS but on the other side of the planet. You are then to cleverly thrust away from Earth until you leave the map area and can engage your warp drive. In Intercept terms you will have a 1G ship with unlimited endurance that can only thrust when the LOS between you and ISS is blocked from Earth, the sun direction or the ISS rear centerline (the ISS should be able to scan the aft centerline as it is never thrusting but the silly humans put their urine and feces ejection system to eject in the aft centerline so no one will use telescopes in that direction, out of modesty.

Your UFO is currently 1,0 facing SW and the ISS is in -1,0 facing NE. Your gravity assisted drift will take you to 0,-1 and the ISS will drift t 0,1. You decide to turn your ship three steps right so it will face towards S and you will then thrust 1G so your destination will be 0,-2 facing S. After movement is taken care of we must should look and see if the ISS can see us. It is fairly obvious that the LOS is blocked from the planet but let’s see what the Intercept rules actually say about planet LOS.

Centerline blocks entire opposite arc.
Left half arc blocks opposite right halfarc and opposite centerline.
Right half arc blocks opposite left halfarc and opposite centerline.

ISS is on the N centerline which means LOS is blocked to the entire S arc (and vice versa as we are on the centerline too). Incidentally, we are now in Earth’s shadow our Visual(Hull) sig would be reduced by -6. OK so far so good, let’s see what happens next turn. Drift and gravity will take the ISS to 1,1 and our UFO will have its drift at -1,-3 facing S before we apply thrust. We decide to thrust directly to east to get inside the SW arc.

The ISS is on the NE centerline so the entire SW arc should be blocked because Centerline blocks entire opposite arc. We are in the right SW half arc so the NE centerline should be blocked because Right half arc blocks opposite left halfarc and opposite centerline. Can we keep thrusting with blocked LOS or do we have to drift for the next turn? (keep in mind that our UFO is entirely invisible, very much unlike TOS Romulans whose cloaking device only cloaked vision so the clever mr Kirk could still shoot using his sensors). The ISS will be in the W arc so we’ll do our best to get into the E arc and thanks to gravity we are able to do just that.

As you can see from the image, without gravity our drift would be at the x position and our puny 1G acceleration would never get us into the W arc, thank you mr Newton! ISS is on the E centerline so the entire W arc is blocked, and vice versa. So far so good. In the next turn the ISS will move into the S arc and there is no way that we will be able to get into the N arc with our 1G thrust so we will drift for a couple a couple of turns instead. Note that the Intercept rules dictate that Gravity range = Surface gravity x 6 so the gravity well around Earth is 6 squares, beyond which there is no gravity.

We will not be in an opposite arc of the ISS so let’s drift some more shall we.

When the ISS is in the W arc we should finally be able to do some thrusting to finally break free of Earth’s gravitational hold.

The ISS is finally in the W arc so whatever we do inside the E arc will be our little secret. We turn our UFO around 4 steps and thrust 1G to 7,-3. You should know by now that when the ISS is on an arc centerline the entire opposite arc is blocked for LOS, we just barely made it still inside the E arc. The captain aboard the UFO pats his pilot on the back, careful not to disturb his dflrghm.

We are now free of Earth’s gravity pull and can just coast all the way off the map where we can engage our warp drive and the pilot can finally jkhdga his dflrghm. Here’s a shot of our UFO three turns from moving off the map, notice how our trajectory no longer curves when drifting as we are no longer subject to gravity.

The entire escape off the map took 17 turns or 4 hours and 15 minutes to use Earth time units. When the UFO got back their homesystem the Emperor was much pleased with the anal probings, crop circlings and abductions, the crew were to keep their heads this time too. During the following photosession a young alien reporter went up to the celebrities and ask them why it took 17 geflerms (4 hours 15 minutes) to escape the planet. The pilot just started to answer when the commander hushed him and said: “Well, because it is impossible to do it faster without becoming detected by the primitives in their space station”

Can YOU do better? Send an e-mail with a turn by turn account for how you would fly the UFO without detection giving the same starting positions and vectors as outlined above. Remember that ISS aft centerline and ISS sun direction also block LOS in this scenario. Write your solution to (replace the fnord with your favourite cinnamon-bun like character). There may be a price!

May your dflrghm be jkhdga, always!