Chapter 3. How to Play

Table of Contents

OpenFracas's User Interface
The Map
The Player Status Panel
The Information Panel
Messages
The Map
Unclaimed Countries
Claimed Countries
Capitals (HQs)
Ports and Water
Phases of a Turn
Troop Reinforcement Phase
Action Phase
Troop Movement Phase
Passing and Resigning
Attack and Defense
Defence Total
Attack Total
Combat Resolution

This section explains the details of the game. All screen elements, gameplay elements, and otherwise are described in this section.

OpenFracas's User Interface

The Map

The map area is the largest part of the game window. This is where all of the action takes place and where the player clicks on countries to perform actions.

The Player Status Panel

The player status panel is in the upper-right corner of the game window. Each of the active players has a slot in the statistics panel, and each player's name is shown backlit by their empire's color.

Under each player's name is an indicator of what kind of player they are; human or AI. Next, there is a running total of the number of countries owned by that player, followed by the current number of troops that player controls in all countries combined.

For example, if "5 / 137" is shown underneath a particular player's name, it means that player controls five countries on the map, and the total number of troops in all five countries is 137.

A player's name and the running totals turn gray if a player is eliminated from the game.

The Information Panel

The information panel is the large box to the bottom-right of the map. This box gives the player information about a particular country or water mass when that item is right-clicked. Human players can right-click countries for information at any time during the game.

If one of the player's own countries is right-clicked, this panel will show the country's name and the total defence strength of the country.

If an enemy country is right-clicked, this panel will show the country's name, and the total defence strength of the enemy country. In addition, if the current player is human, it will display the current player's attack total for this country as well.

Messages

Above the Map, there is a coloured strip with a line of dynamic message text.

This is an instruction and notification area, updating players on the game's state and progress. This line of text is always visible and explains what is currently happening in the game. This text is always backlit in the active player's color.

The Map

The world map is composed of entities called countries. It's easy to think of these countries as real-world countries, with definite borders making it separate from the countries around it.

Countries can directly border other countries. In this case, a borderline is drawn between the neighboring countries. These countries are said to have "land" contact and are called "adjacent" countries. No sea ports are necessary to travel from a country adjacent to another.

Countries can also exist in isolated clusters, surrounded by water, or as single-country islands. If a country can only reach another country across water, then they are said to have "water" contact and are called "overseas" countries. A port is required to travel between overseas countries.

Unclaimed Countries

At the start of a new game, all (or almost all) countries on the map are unclaimed. An unclaimed country is just that -- a country that is not owned by any player.

Unclaimed countries can hold neutral troops, However, these countries do not have attack or defense strengths, and do not participate in combat in any way.

An unclaimed country can be annexed by a player during that player's action phase if that player can reach the country by land or water.

Claimed Countries

A claimed country is a country that is owned by a player. A claimed country's primary purpose is to hold troops for the player that owns it. These troops add to attack and defense strengths for that player. A claimed country can participate in combat.

Claimed countries also add to the number of reinforcement troops a player receives during their turn.

A claimed country is shown in the color of the player who owns it.

Capitals (HQs)

If the game is played with capitals, then the capital is the most important country that a player can own.

Each player selects (or is given) a capital during their first turn. Choose wisely, because the HQ cannot be moved later.

Defend the capital at all costs, because if a player's capital is list, that player is either eliminated, or will at the very least suffer a severe setback in the game.

A capital is shown in the colour of the player that owns it, but with a diagonal striped pattern to distinguish it from other countries.

Ports and Water

The port is a very significant deviation from games like Risk, because with a port, a country can have influence over many faraway lands.

A country that has a port will be able to provide attack and defense support to overseas countries. Note that a country can influence other overseas countries only if they border a common body of water. In other words, if the same water mass borders two countries, one of those countries can reach the other if the former has a port built on it.

An important point: ports make naval combat possible, but do not affect attack and defense totals themselves. In other words, building a port on a country does not "beef up" its defences in any way. It will, however, allow troops in that country to defend other overseas countries.

A country can have only one port built on it. Ports are shown as piers along the country's border. Ports can only be built during a player's action phase, and take the place of an attack.

Phases of a Turn

Throughout the game, each player takes their turn in sequence, starting with Player 1. This sequence is never altered.

When playing with capitals, each player chooses a capital, or has one chosen automatically, during their first turn. After that, each player's turn is composed of three individual phases: The reinforcement phase, the action phase, and the troop movement phase.

The running commentary text at the top of the screen will always indicate which player's turn it is and the current phase.

Troop Reinforcement Phase

The military is always training new soldiers to join the fight. The first thing that a player does when it is their turn is add reinforcements to their army.

The number of reinforcements that a player gets to deploy depends on the number of countries that player owns. The number of bonus troops received per country owned is configurable.

To deploy troops in a country, the active player must click on a country that they own. All available troops are then deployed in that country. It is not possible to deploy troops to more than one country per turn.

Action Phase

Now comes the fun part. During the action phase, a player can do ONE of the following actions: Annex unclaimed land, build a port, attack one enemy country, or pass their action phase.

Annexing Land

To annex land, simply click on an unclaimed country. If the active player can reach that country by either land or sea, the country becomes the property of the player. All neutral troops in the country are also added to the active player's forces.

Remember that it is only possible to claim land overseas if you have a port.

Building a Port

A player can build a port by clicking on a country that they own. If the country is owned by the player, borders at least one body of water, and does not have a port on it already, a port will be built.

Once a country has a port, it can participate in overseas combat.

Attacking an Opponent

To attack an enemy country, simply click on the enemy's country. If the active player has a higher attack total than the defender's defense total, the attack succeeds and damage is dealt. If not, the attack is disallowed and the active player can perform another action.

It may be helpful to right-click a prospective enemy country first to see if it is possible to attack it, and to get a feeling for how well-defended a particular area of the map is.

Troop Movement Phase

Once an action is performed, each player has an opportunity to move troops from one place to another. This is done in a three-step process:

  1. Click the country to move troops FROM.

  2. Enter the amount of troops to move in the lower right corner.

  3. Click the country to move troops TO.

The interface for choosing the number of troops is designed to make troop movements easy. If a specific number of troops is desired, that number can be entered directly into the edit box. The up and down arrows to the right can be used to increment or decrement the current amount.

The 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and ALL buttons can be clicked to select that fraction of the total troops in the 'FROM' country. This number will be automatically entered in the edit box.

The number of troops defaults to the full amount of troops in the 'FROM' country. In other words, if you don't use the movement interface, ALL troops will move out of the 'FROM' country and into the 'TO' country.

Remember that you must click on the destination country to perform the troop movement. If no troop movement is desired, this phase can be passed with the "Pass" button.

After moving troops, play passes to the next player.

Passing and Resigning

In the course of taking over the world, it will likely be necessary to leave your empire as it stands for a turn or two. It is possible to skip the action or troop movement phases of a player's turn by clicking the "Pass" button in the coloured status bar above the map. Passing the action phase will still allow the player to make a troop movement. Passing the troop movement phase will start the next player's turn.

If a player wants to leave the game prematurely, the "Resign" button in the same location as the "Pass" button (but seen only during the troop placement phase) can be clicked. This will immediately remove the active player from the game. The remaining players will continue as normal.

Attack and Defense

This section will explain the math behind the attack and defense strength calculations. If you're the type of person that doesn't like to know the details about how things work, then skip this section and know that right-clicking a country will show you all the information you need. If you want to micromanage your empire, however, this is important stuff to know.

Defence Total

Each country has a separate defense total. Put simply, a country's defense total is the sum of the following:

  1. The number of troops in that country,

  2. The number of troops in all friendly adjacent countries.

  3. A fraction of the troops in all friendly overseas countries that have ports.

In other words, the troops in a country defend that country. They are aided by all friendly troops in adjacent countries -- traveling a short distance over land to defend one of your own isn't difficult. Said country is also defended by a portion of troops from all friendly overseas countries which have ports -- traveling in warships across water is a difficult task, so a country can only offer a fraction of its services overseas.

The fraction of troops that can attack and defend overseas is configurable.

Attack Total

Attack totals are calculated for enemy countries. Put simply, when it's time to attack an enemy country, an attack total is calculated for that particular country. This number is the sum of the following:

  1. The number of troops in each of the attacking team's countries that are adjacent to the target.

  2. fraction of the troops in all of the attacking team's overseas countries that have ports.

In other words, troops in a country next to an enemy country can attack the enemy with full strength. Troops who can only reach an enemy country with the help of a port can only assist with a fraction of their strength.

Combat Resolution

When an attack is made on a country, the attack total is calculated from the attacking team's attacking countries, and the defense total is calculated from the defending team's defending countries. These two numbers are compared, and the battle is resolved as follows:

If the attack strength is less than or equal to the defense strength, then the country cannot be attacked. No turn is lost, and the attacker can choose another action.

If the attack strength is greater than the defense strength, then the attack succeeds. The amount of troops lost by the defender is equal to the difference between attack and defense totals. If this difference is greater than the number of troops in the defending country, the country is lost and the attacker gains control of it.