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Post feature RSS Mechanics Series #9- Fleet movement

In this entry of our game mechanics series, we cover tactical and strategic movement for fleets in Lord of Rigel.

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How your ships move is a large part of Lord of Rigel. In this article we’ll cover the basics of strategic and tactical movement in the game. To begin with, speed is determined by the type of engine installed on a ship. The default engine is a Nuclear Drive which is very slow in both strategic movement and in tactical combat. As you discover new technologies, better types of drive systems are unlocked.

With strategic movement, ships are grouped into fleets. Fleets move a set number of parsecs (1 parsec=3.26 light years) per turn. Ships have a maximum range in parsecs from a friendly colony or outpost based on the type of fuel cell technology your empire has. If a ship is suddenly thrust out of range due to the destruction of a colony or a broken alliance, they’ll limp back to the nearest friendly outpost or colony.

Fleets can only move as fast as the slowest ship in the fleet. So if your fleet is fitted with new anti-matter drives but you forgot to upgrade an old ship, you’ll want to split up that force. Support craft like colony ships, outpost ships, and troop transports get automatically upgraded. Fuel cells also automatically upgrade. Overall, strategic fleet movement is rather simple: point at an object such as a star or fleet and your fleet will move there within a set number of turns. We’ll discuss special cases where fleet movement is different in a future article on mechanics such as wormholes.

Tactical movement is where things start getting a little more complicated. Each ship has a set of “movement points” which is how many squares a ship can move each turn in tactical. These points are tied to engine type (higher tech, more movement points) and ship class size (larger ships are slower). The amount of space left on a ship also ties into movement points. Fully loaded ships are slower than ships with fewer devices and weapons installed in tactical. Some devices can also be installed to increase ship speed, or even teleport during combat.

Ships come in several grid sizes. Frigates are 1x1 ships. Destroyers and Cruisers are 2x2 grids in size. Battleships and larger are 3x3. This means that small ships like frigates can get into small spaces that larger vessels can’t. Moving a ship one square consumes one movement point. Pretty straight forward so far, right?

One issue with square grids is that a piece moving 2 squares diagonally has covered the equivalent of 2.8 spaces orthogonally. So you gain extra fractions of moves if you move diagonally on a square grid. We solve this problem with two mechanics. First, turning a ship costs movement points. Second, moving diagonally costs 1.5 movement points. This at first might sound rather punishing, being penalized for turning and also for a move. However, this actually makes smaller ships more useful again as they have more moves than large ones and can make use of diagonal movements to get around to using other armor and shield facings on a ship. Some special devices also reduce turning costs, and take less space on smaller ships than larger ones. So why use what seems like such a complicated system when a hex grid would do the same? We did some early experiments with hex grids and a square system was better for having ships of different sizes “play nice” with each other for maneuvers. Overall this system looked and felt better for gameplay than using hexes for tactical.

Join us next week as we discuss colony production system!

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