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Author Topic: Brym's OpFor - an automated solo/co-op opponent for Alpha Strike  (Read 429 times)

Brym

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I'm a lover of solo and co-operative board games, and I always thought that Battletech: Alpha Strike could use an automated opponent for solo or co-op play. I wanted something that wouldn't require me to essentially play both sides of the table - I wanted a boardgame-style system like the automated opponent in Scythe or the monsters in Gloomhaven where randomly drawn cards would dictate exactly what the opponent does, and I could try my hardest to beat that opponent.

Earlier this year, I decided to create such an automated opponent. I had a ton of fun playing against it over a few months of playtesting, so with the impending release of the Alpha Strike box set, I decided to refine the system and turn it into a public release. I'm calling it Brym's OpFor, and you can download the first version below.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/12whS9sZloRJLcyCKvnNdeHpeBIZ8SuCm?usp=share_link

At a high level, the system works by having the OpFor draw a card (or roll and consult a table, if you don't want to print out the cards) for each of its units. The card dictates how the unit will move for the turn, who it will attack, and whether it will use overheat. There are separate card decks for each Alpha Strike Role (ASCE p. 112), so that different units behave differently.

For movement (the trickiest part rules-wise), each card will provide some alternatives, and the OpFor uses the first valid alternative. So for example, a card might tell the unit to move to short range to a specified target, or if that can't be done, decrease the range to the target. The rules then provide tiebreakers specifying how to execute that movement. Broadly, the OpFor will try to have clear, unobstructed LOS to its target, will avoid ending up where its target can move to its rear, and will try to get into cover from its target. This system (cards specifying alternative actions, plus rule-based tiebreakers) is all broadly similar to the decision-making process for the automated opponent in Scythe, and I think the complexity level for players is similar to that system.

The system currently supports stand-up fight scenarios with the OpFor playing most battlemechs and ground vehicles (players can use whatever units they like for their own force).

If people enjoy using this system, I could go in a few directions for future releases. I could add rules and cards to support more types of units - ground vehicle artillery, aerospace, battle armor, etc.

I could also add support for a campaign and/or a wider variety of scenarios. I played through a couple of campaigns from the Tukayyid book using some custom rules/cards for each scenario, and that worked out pretty well, but some scenarios worked better than others. I think a better approach may be to create a custom campaign from the ground up, similar to the popular Heroes of the Aturi Cluster campaign for the X-Wing Miniatures game. I have some ideas sketched out, but there is a lot of design and playtesting work to be done.

Finally, I could adapt the system to work with DFA Wargaming's excellent Battletech: Destiny system. For those not familiar, it's a fan-made ruleset that is a hybrid between Alpha Strike and the mech combat from the Mechwarrior: Destiny RPG. It generally plays like Alpha Strike, but adds back in a bit more of the crunch from classic Battletech in the form of location-based damage and different weapon types. I've playtested a modified version of the OpFor with Destiny, and it works and is fun. But I would need to refine, revise, and polish a bit before releasing anything.

So, if you try Brym's OpFor and enjoy it, let me know where you'd like to see it go next.

VanVelding

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Re: Brym's OpFor - an automated solo/co-op opponent for Alpha Strike
« Reply #1 on: 19 November 2022, 11:48:34 »
I'll see if I can try it with a generic Alpha Strike game this week. No guarantees.
I also have a blog about gaming, comics, and news at vanvelding.blogspot.