Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Computer-assisted tabletop games

I have been thinking about computer-assisted games. It started with reading some reviews, and then buying the XCOM board game. To play, it is necessary to use an app that manages the alien invaders. At some points, one of the players must input some information about the current board, and at others they must update the board based on the app.
Setting up the team at the beginning of a Breach and Clear mission.
I also have been playing a bit of Breach and Clear on my tablet. This is a "simultaneous turn-based" game. During your turn you plot the movement of a four-man team, and then execute it, while the computer does the same for the opposition. When units enter line of sight, they resolve fire and reaction automatically. It made me wonder how it would feel to have a computer A.I. to direct the opposition in a solo miniatures game. One problem would be how to allow the computer to keep track of the board. Ideally, you might be able to point your phone's camera at the board and just label the relevant elements for it to track, but that involves some hard image processing.

An easier solution would be to play on a grid, with some means to inform the computer about the initial table setup and movements. Still, I am not sure if the work involved (e.g. updating the position of each of your units) would be worth to get a more effective solo opponent.

On the other hand, there are at least two solo A.I.s for X-Wing Minature Game with computer implementations (this one, which I found on BoardgameGeek, and this app, which implements the Tyneside Wargames Club solo rules.) As players must choose the maneuver for their ships before they are resolved, the end result is a bit similar to the experience in Breach and Clear. However, in both of these A.I.s each ship is controlled separately, with no squadron tactics.

There is another question on this topic, about the usefulness of apps in board games, not for solo play (e.g. XCOM, Alchemists.) However, at this point I am more interested in the cost vs. benefit of adding an app to solo miniature games.


Neddoscope said...

Ciao Ricardo, for Xwing, try this ( sometime it doesn't work, everytime in workinprogress, but it's superadvanced! )

Ricardo Nakamura said...

Thanks for the link, this is really impressive!