Fleets

Pioneers of Space

We think it’s time to give you an insight into the world and history of Terraforming Mars and the competing corporations, so here goes:

When considering the colonization of Mars, the first pioneers were Interplanetary Cinematics, a media company that funded their first Martian settlements by making it into a live broadcast soap opera with plenty of advertising. This gave them a head start on the Red Planet, an advantage that allowed them to compete with much larger corporations.IC

However, they were not the only actors in  early  space colonization. National space programs also joined the space race, but with the increasing problems on Earth, funding dwindled over time, and a private company named Phobos Logistics was able to purchase several national space programs. With a lot of space infrastructure and technology, PhoboLog (to which it was renamed) set out to dominate ship building and spacefaring in the solar system.

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This allowed them to play a key role in the terraforming of Mars (2300-2700), delivering both shipments and asteroids to the Red Planet, but also colonizing other bodies and profiting from trade and mining. Over the centuries, some corporations merged, some went bankrupt, but PhoboLog always managed to hold its own.

With the invention of the warp drive in 2692 by ThorGate, the stars came within reach. The warp drive enables a ship to create a space-time ‘bubble’ around itself and move this bubble faster than light, avoiding Einstein’s famous speed limit. It takes enormous amounts of energy, though, and even more the heavier the ship, so even with the astounding energies of a mass converter, small probes may only reach a speed of 30 times the speed of light (30c), while big ships can only reach about 8c. The energy input has a limit, since it would not be a good idea to vaporize the entire engine.

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Corporations set out to colonize the nearby star systems, and the first interstellar colony was founded in 2719 by ThorGate. PhoboLog was not far behind, though, claiming Ashkelon in 2729,  establishing extensive mining and shipyards to supply humanity with huge ships for colonizing and trade.

By 2782, the terraforming of Mars was completed and 28 interstellar colonies had been established. They

did not thrive though, because each star system lies several light years apart, meaning travel times averaging a year and communications being not much faster. Markets shifted, leaving traders without profit. Science stagnated due to lack of exchange and communications. Rebellions, disasters and epidemics tore  the worlds apart before any help from Sol could be had. The colonies were a disappointment and the corporations began to lose interest in them. Some even reverted into autonomous kingdoms.

With the colonial decline, the demand for PhoboLog’s ships deceased too, setting the shipyards of Ashkelon almost on stand-by. By focusing on the steady but not very lucrative mining market (competing with all the asteroid mining going on in the solar system), PhoboLog could continue their operations on Ashkelon and at least replace their cargo ships as they wore out.

In 2827, however, PhoboLog scientists stumbled upon an innocent discovery that would completely change the future of mankind. Helium-3 was found in large concentrations in the asteroid fields around the star Merope in the Pleiades star cluster. Helium-3 is a key fuel for the fusion process necessary to ignite the mass converter, which in turn is needed for the warp drive. The real key, though, was its location in a star cluster. With distances under a light year, communications and travel could be made in weeks instead of years, eliminating all the problems that caused the colonial decline!

Once the chief analysts of PhoboLog realized this, they immediately ordered the top secret construction and launching of colony ships from Ashkelon, avoiding any surveillance in the solar system. For fifty years they traveled before reaching the Pleiades in 3008, and only then had their competitors finally realized what they were up to, and began hurrying to send colonizers of their own. For another fifty years PhoboLog built their new empire before other corporations began to arrive.

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Once corporate competition began to harden in the Pleiades, things began to get ugly. With Earth so very far away, the rule of the strong began, and mighty war fleets clashed and forced the colonized worlds into obedience in what became known as the Pleiad Conflict. Only because of their head start was PhoboLog able to fend for itself when mightier corporations come to claim the Pleiades.

They had some advantages though; a knowledge of the land, and their well-homed cunning. Their famed Wing Commanders lead their squadrons in surprise attacks to take out the opposition, while their analysts always came up with new ways to surprise their opponents.

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Will PhoboLog become the ruler of the Pleiades and dictate humanity’s future? 

Find out – in these FryxGames:

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Terraforming Mars    –    Fleets – The Pleiad Conflict    -    Corporate Lords Expansion

Designer Notes

This week, our brother Daniel, the designer of Fleets (and Wilderness), gives his thoughts on the Corporate Lords expansion. We also release the rules sheet for the Corporate Lords expansion to Fleets.

Daniel: This week we think it’s time to show the rules for Corporate Lords. This “mini”-expansion might look like ”just another punchboard”, but it adds quite a few new aspects to the game. Who hasn’t dreamed of having a few extra unique escort ships, or having  special effects for the different corporations?
So, what are we looking forward to add to the game? What did we feel was amiss in the first game? Well, in order to make the basic game balanced and equal between players, we decided to make all corporations identical, without any special effects, reasoning that the flagships, upgrades, and escort ships would be enough for the basic game. But no more! It’s more fun to add some characteristics to the corporations. Especially as we also add new escort ships to them.
Moreover, we had reports of different player groups having trouble with some of the escort ships running out. Yes, we have taken this chance to add some more escort ships!
Last, but not least, we wanted to add a few more effects to the game. Operation bases were the first thing that we really wanted to add to the game. Actually, our latest idea was to add the merchants and pirates, which effects the interaction and tactics of the game.
Enjoy!
/Daniel Fryxelius

Click here to read the rules for Corporate Lords.

Different Breeds

 

 

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You are the head of the most successful corporation in human history – at least, that’s how you see it. Who could compete with the mighty Teractor-Olympiac? With its ambassador shuttle, diplomacy is always efficient, and your production capacity is second to none.

Teractor-Olympiac gains 2 MegaCredits extra in each rewards phase.

 

 

 

EgenskPosseidon

 

 

Still, there are the warmongers of Poseidon, never to be underestimated. Not only is the dreaded Hulk making appearances, but their flagships are now equipped with new hull-piercing lance-batteries.

Poseidon’s flagships make an extra attack causing 2 damages.

But if you can just avoid them long enough, your endurance will carry the day.

 

 

Egenskthorg

 

Then there is the ThorGate Alliance,  with their annoying Ion cruiser constantly disrupting your attack plans by draining the energy of your fleets. And somehow, they never seem to run out of energy themselves!

The fleets of ThorGate Alliance start with 1 extra energy and regenerate 1 extra energy each rewards phase.

Even so, ThorGate is no match in the long run. With your superior production, you can just buy extra generators for your fleets to even out their advantage.

 

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Last, but not least, is PhoboLog, that hated bunch of infidels! Thinking that their head start in colonizing the Pleiades will give them a gold medal, despite their mediocre holdings. What you cannot understand is why they still somehow come out ahead, their ace pilots striking from nowhere and always having new tricks up their sleeves!

PhoboLog gets an additional action card each rewards phase.

They can trickety-trick all they want – in the end there is power, and power lies with Teractor-Olympiac! At least, that’s how you see it.

Wing Commander

You’re a PhoboLog pilot, trained in the Merope asteroid field, and graduated from the corporate academy. For 25 long years you have fought pirates and corporate foes, earning the position of Wing Commander. Your squadron is the pride of the fleet and you have a reputation of striking like lightning and being impossible to kill. There is only one thing stopping you from being the ultimate hero of PhoboLog: there is another PhoboLog ace, too!

Yes, PhoboLog now comes with 2 special escort ships, the Wing Commanders! Being small might fool the opponent, but with an attack strength of 2 and a health of 3, the Wing Commanders are not all that easy to take out, especially if you have a shield ship or two in your fleet. What makes the Wing Commanders special, though, is their ability to lower the initiative value of their own squadron by 1. They will often attack before the opponent can respond, taking out the greatest opposing threat. For a standard 4-space squadron, this would mean that 3 fighters can join the attack run, but there are fleets with even larger squadrons…

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Last week, we showed you the special escort ships of Poseidon (the Hulk) and Teractor-Olympiac (Ambassador Shuttle). Now it is time to look at the last corporation; what does the ThorGate Alliance have up it’s sleeve? With a heritage of being energy specialists, it may come as no surprise that they would strive to keep that advantage – they now have an Ion Cruiser. Like other cruisers, it has attack 4 and health 4, but each time it attacks, it may lower an opposing fleet’s energy 3 steps with its ion cannons!
This can be really nasty for anyone getting in its way. Losing 3 energy is quite a blow, making the Ion Cruiser a prime target to either stay away from, or take out. Having only a health of 4 makes the cruisers vulnerable to enemy fire, and if you want to keep this ship in play, you’d better protect it with shield ships and interceptors. On the other hand, this will divert the attention from the flagship, increasing your chances of survival.

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These special escort ships are not the only thing setting the corporations apart in Corporate Lords, the upcoming expansion for Fleets: the Pleiad Conflict…

Pets in Space

With the upcoming Corporate Lords expansion for Fleets: The Pleiad Conflict, each corporation gets a unique escort ship. Of course, these reflect the different focuses of the corporations. Poseidon, for example, is a rather aggressive faction and brings its new pet the Hulk into battle:
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What better way to scare your opponent’s off than to show off your ‘little’ pit-bull terrier? Since the corporations get their ‘pets’ for free, Poseidon is going to start the game off in a very scary way (and just wait until you see their corporate ability!). If you manage to kill the Hulk, though, it is out of the game for good, but with a health of 8 that’s a pretty tall order. Maybe best to just avoid it, be somewhere else…

Teractor-Olympiac, on the other hand, is more focused on long-term strategy and gets an Ambassador shuttle:
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Without any attack strength, the shuttle may not be perceived as a threat, and with 5 health maybe too big a bite to bother with, but looks can be deceiving – the extra reward of 1 Diplomatic Point each round adds up, and we’ve had more than one play-test where this definitely contributed to Teractor-Olympiac’s victory.

Dragon’s Lair

Some systems will attract you more than others. Maybe they have a juicy reward, maybe a strong effect, but one thing is certain; you’ll guard that system no matter what. Like a dragon, you will guard its riches, and attack anyone foolish enough to come close. But fighting is costly, so you need a lair.
Your fleet will need to replenish its energy and make repairs after the repeated battles. With the Corporate Lords expansion you get just what you need – Operation bases.Operatinbases

Each player can have one Operation base in play, and its marker (same size as a fleet marker) is placed on a system. Whenever you move or deploy a fleet to the system with your Operation base, that fleet can immediately repair 2 damages and gain 3 energy. The Operation base is bought for 4 MC in the Build phase, when buying escort ships, and is then placed on any system during Deployment, like placing a fleet. The Operation base does not block you from having a fleet there, and it doesn’t count as a fleet. It cannot be attacked, but you can destroy your own base in the Build phase in order to be able to buy a new one and place it at another system.

Operation bases are great when a battered fleet needs to recuperate, but they are also good for newly bought fleets to gain that extra energy and be less vulnerable to strong enemies. It does have  disadvantages, though. It ‘ties’ you to a system, the base being expensive to move. It might also fall under siege from a rival corporation placing their strongest fleet there together with their own base!

Stakes are high, and the competition is fierce between the dragons, the Corporate Lords!

Merchants Ohoy!

Trade ship

Although patrolled by pirates and corporate war fleets, the Pleiades are also home to merchants, who bring resources and commodities between the systems. And they are more than willing to trade with you (could it be your big guns?). For some influence at the Pleiad council, they will bring you the riches from any system!
Specifically, the Merchant fleet is placed / moved by the second player after the player order phase, making the chosen system quite attractive, because the Merchants add a new diplomatic action to that system: Spend 1 Diplomacy Point to tax any untaxed system. Every player with a fleet at the Merchants may use this action once, just like ordinary system actions.

So, what systems would be nice to tax then? How about Corpas, with a reward of 2 DPs, netting you +1 DP. If you have more of an economic focus, then maybe Altax III or Eden would do fine with their MegaCredit boost. For the most value, though, you should consider taxing the Merope Asteroid Field with its 2 MegaCredits + 3 energy reward. That energy may come in handy, too, when battling the other fleets drawn to the Merchants. Speaking of which, make sure you tax your favorite system before your opponents do! Each system can still only be taxed once, you know. And you can still do normal taxation actions.
You don’t like the Merchants dealing with your enemies? Well, you can’t shoot at the Merchants, but you can go there with your strongest fleet, and dare anyone to oppose you!

Space Pirates!

Watch out for the pirates!

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In the upcoming Corporate Lords expansion to Fleets: the Pleiad Conflict, there will be pirates. They are even depicted on the presentation picture we presented last week. The Pirates are represented by a neutral fleet marker that is placed by player number 3 at the beginning of each round (this means that the pirates will not be used in a 2-player game). The Pirates will attack any fleet entering the system, causing 4 damage that the player must distribute to the entering fleet.
So how does this affect gameplay? First off, it will scare people away. On the other hand, if your opponents will not deploy there, maybe you can go there, take the damage and gain a VP plus the system rewards. In order to go to the Pirates’ location, you need to take the damage, so healing is also of importance. For this, you have mechanics, but there are more opportunities for healing in this expansion…

Fleets: Corporate Lords

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In Fleets: Corporate Lords the corporations are back with unique traits and ships!

In this expansion to Fleets: The Pleiad Conflict each corporation gains a special ability as well as their own unique escort ship. Two neutral fleets move between the planets; the Pirates are firing their guns at anyone entering the system, while the Trade Convoy allows the players to get extra resources from other systems. The players may also build operation bases where they can recharge and repair (hopefully without too much interruption). The conflict is escalating…

Expanding Space

Just letting you know, in October, Poseidon is bringing its new little pet to the Pleiades. It’s called the Hulk.

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I wonder what the others will bring…