PA Strategy Playtest #003: Let’s Get Ready To Rumble

It’s been a few hectic days, but alas, it’s time actually to take the game for a spin. As I’m not prone to lengthy introductions, here’s where we are so far. I’ve established five Factions working in their little corner of the Hydra sector, all primed and ready to go. I rely exclusively on game rules to build the narrative, so I didn’t create any background information or long-term goals for them, nor are any of them the player Faction.

Project Aphelion does have plenty of room for preset narratives, of course – they’re just not within the scope of those tests. Starting with this blog, I’ll let the game run loose and see what happens. If everything works as planned, the game should create a deep yet easy to follow emergent narrative on its own.

Without further ado, let’s get ready to set that trash container on fire, shall we? It’s Cycle (or month) One of the game, meaning all the Factions start with 10 Resources per Faction Rating and have no financial worries until the next Cycle. I’ll run Projects for them according to their priorities and owned Assets and create Scenarios as we go. Project Aphelion allows adjusting the level of investment in each of the game’s systems according to the needs at any given moment, but we’ll treat every Faction with all due detail for now.

Hack Before You Learn To Walk

Carver SciImp is an Investigative Faction first and foremost. They prioritize the biggest available Payouts as well as Projects, offering them protection from others. They will thus use their Intelligence Center to use the Stealth Deployment Projects (adding 1 Concealment point for the target Asset’s Scenarios) on the Investigative Crew of 1 Actor going after the Payout of 3 – a Rating 1 Asset would normally be assigned to a Payout 1 Scenario, but Carver SciImp likes big loot, and they cannot lie.

Crews are multi-purpose Assets that can support or replace any Facility function, so I’ll assign them to search for a Data Theft Project with the Payout of 3 Intel. Rolling the Faction Dice Pool of Investigative Dice Pool of 4, it took 3 Sols (days) to complete. Carver will also use their Faction Offices to Consolidate Assets and reduce the deployment Cost of the Assets involved in that endeavor – they could use it to uncover dirt on other Factions instead, but they aren’t hostile enough towards anybody so that their earning for high Payout outweighed the Exclusive/Growth Social Behavior.

The Scientific Fleet will engage in passive Intel Generation, making a killing of 30 Payout this Cycle by generating 1 Intel/Sol. Let’s see what other Faction are up to before determining our Data Theft target, because if nobody else runs an Intel related project with a Payout of 3 or higher, we’re going to need to create a new Faction.

Staying The Course

Hooper Group doesn’t really have many options right away – they favor Exclusive Defense Projects and are most interested in Resources. It makes sense to send them gathering telemetry into the Kuiper Belt, hoping to find something nice. They will run a Passive Generation Project gathering Intel as well, at the same pace as Carver – so they’ll drop 30 Intel this Cycle.

I Like What You Got

Meanwhile, K4 Conglomerate wastes no time. They would use their Faction Offices to Conglomerate Assets, but the priority table leans over to securing more resources instead. The only way K4 can do it is by targeting another Faction generating resources, and taking what’s theirs – and their Assessment Facility fits the bill with a Hostile/Offense Extraction Project. The Hostile part is not enough to push them over the edge, but since the target Asset must be a Science ship performing Passive Resource Generation of Intel, their Exploitative Trait does the trick.

They will also connect the Social Crew to this Project because Exclusive/Growth Behavior combined with Exploitative Trait makes stealing that ship by talking the people onboard into mutiny an easy choice. It will take them a measly 1 Sol to locate the ship using the Assessment Facility and launch the Crew in the next Sol in a Social Hostile Takeover Scenario.

New Kids On The Block

Phoenix Inc has a hammer and wants everything to look like a nail – they’re not out there looking for a challenge. None of their available Projects have much priority for them in those first Sols of the game, and the only other Faction they know are Carver SciImp and Hargrave. Their Exclusive/Growth Behavior can’t be met, so they move to the next one – Exclusive Defense – that also doesn’t fit anything they can do right now, with no Assets to run Projects. Moving on to Others, the only 2 points of priority they earn from the Exclusive/Growth Behavior are in the Growth Department, so they will decide to seek to hire their fleet out. Doing a Social search for a Faction with a Hiring Board with no assets and a Payout of 1. Amazingly, it took them 1 Sol to find such a Faction.

Excuse Me, Where You Stealing That?

Hargrave & Co are an Investigative Faction most of all, equipped with a ComSat Station – the only Project their Behavior entices them to us is not applicable from the start, so let’s sit on it for now. They also have an Investigative/Investigation Crew and a Warfare Fleet – and just looove interfering with others. Seeing as the Faction with the lowest Familiarity doing something they’d like to screw with is the K4, this is going to get intense. Well, technically, Phoenix Inc. is, but there is no way to Interfere with their Project.

Three marks on the Interference with assigned both the ComSat Station and the Crew result in Hargrave Warfare Fleet paying an unexpected visit on K4s Extraction attempt. The more, the merrier, right?

Before we look at the Scenario coming up, let’s remember about the Carver SciImp’s upcoming Data Theft – Hooper Group is running a Passive Intel Generation, so they’re a perfect target in 3 sols.

In Conclusion

The first round of Projects results in an already tense situation! In the next blog, I’ll be adding a new Faction – specifically one that is looking to hire mercenaries.

Meanwhile, Carver SciImp will attempt a hack to steal Hooper Group’s 3 points of Intel, K4 Conglomerate will try to steal Carver’s science vessel, and Hargrave & Co will do Carver a favor by trying to set up an ambush and take out the K4’s Social Crew. Emergent gameplay, ladies and gentlemen.

See you next time.

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