“When word of a crisis breaks out in Washington, it’s no accident that the first question that comes to everyone’s lips is: ‘Where’s the nearest carrier?‘” – President Bill Clinton
What I should be doing is writing up worlds and adventures. What I’m actually doing is looking at the God’s Chess version of the Dark Nebula map and drawing inferences, some of which may even be valid.
WHERE ARE THE CARRIERS?
Or in this case, the battleships. For the moment, I shall only consider those squares on the chessboard overlay (see previous post) which have worlds in them, which to be fair is most of them.
On the Confederation side, there’s a queen in D8 (Maadin), a king in E8 (Avair or Zloban, probably Avair – what on Earth is it doing there?), a bishop in F8 (Llavia), and pawns in D7 (Icat), E7 (Gazzain), F7 (Kamat), G7 (Bulan), and H7 (Eski). We can infer from that an interest in the space around Bulan, between the Dark Nebula and Confederation space. There are also a number of pieces (both rooks, both knights, a bishop and three pawns) with no representation on the campaign map – I’m going to say those are being built at Maadin, in the production queue as it were.
In the Hierate corner, we have the king at E1 (Kuzu), the queen at D1 (Vaxt), and pawns in A2 (Kinada), B2 (Amani), C2 (Bors), D2 (Rosa), E2 (Xida), and F2 (Panas or Enjiwa). All of that is inside the Hierate’s borders, except for Kinada and Amani; and actually, the chain of Amani-Kinada-Mir, by my previous rulings on population, are all outposts planted by Vaxt, presumably on behalf of the Hierate. What is beyond Mir that the Hierate is interested in? Another mystery for the PCs to solve. Meanwhile, in the production queue at Kuzu we have both rooks, both bishops, both knights, and two pawns.
From this I extrapolate the following:
- The Confederation has a slight edge in naval power, but nothing dramatic.
- Both empires send warships beyond their borders, but both to roughly the same extent, so there is no reason to suppose one side’s spacers are more experienced by virtue of spending more time “at sea”.
- There has been a military buildup going on for some time, an arms race between the two empires, and it’s still going on. I justify this by the number of units on the map, and off it in production queues – far more than either needs to subdue its neighbours, the Hierate and the Confederation must be expecting a fight with each other.
- Something at the bottom right of the map interests the Confederation, and something offmap to the top left interests the Hierate.
WHERE ARE THE ASSETS?
When I came up with idea of using God’s Chess to run the war, I confess I hadn’t thought through how it would integrate with the faction rules in Stars Without Number, and just blithely labelled pieces as destroyers, various flavours of cruiser, battleships, and the "national government counter".
Then I thought, suppose the war begins when both sides have produced the right assets to give them a full lineup of chess pieces? PCs could them see the buildup, spy on it, sabotage it and so on. Could be fun, and it will provide direction to the monthly faction activities; I can see the backdrop to season one being run using the SWN faction rules, and that for season two using the chess game once all the pieces have been built.
At first blush, it looks like most pieces should be things like Space Marines or Strike Fleets, with a very limited number of Capital Fleets – probably one per side, represented by the queen. There is no obvious asset equivalent to the king, so I will most likely stick with the national government counter idea – in which case why is the Confed government on Avair? Perhaps because it is one jump further from the Hierate, perhaps as a symbolic gesture to demonstrate Maadin sees itself as merely “first among equals”?
However, a proper analysis requires more time and energy than I have at the moment, so I will park that idea for now.