The Battle for the Solar
System : Tactics
Game version: 0.4
Last updated: 7 February 2014
Note: this game is still work in progress, and as such this gameplay manual is subject to change.
Unless resuming from the middle of a battle, the title screen is the first screen that a player sees. From here, the player can choose from a number of options, listed below.
This allows you to resume the current campaign. The campaign is on-going and only one campaign is allowed at any time. For more information on the campaign, see the Campaign section below.
Allows you to get a feel for the game, by practising certain scenarios, including moving your units and engaging in combat with enemy vessels. See the Battle Screen for more information on how to command your units.
By select Quick Play, you can choose to jump into a game with a random set up of units, against a random number of opponents. Both the units and their experience levels are randomly assigned. A number of scenarios can be selected from:
Sweep: destroy all enemies in the combat area.
Destroy: eliminate the targets listed in the objective screen, and return to the jumpgate. At least one craft must make it back to the jumpgate for successfully complete the mission.
Use the Next and Previous buttons to change scenario, the Regenerate button to regenerate the current scenario, and the Select button to start playing.
Displays the game statistics, including the number of missions started and successfully completed, the number of enemy units destroyed, and the number of units the player has lost.
Toggle in-game options.
Show Battle Grid - Toggles the game grid on the battle screen.
Show Unit Alignment - Indicates the side the unit is fighting by way of a coloured background. Green = friendly, light blue = neutral, red = enemy.
Mini Radar Location - where to display the mini radar on the battle screen. Default is bottom right.
Check for new version builds - Tells the game to look for new build versions, as well as regular version updates. Off by default.
The campaign is the main guts of the game. The overall goal is to apprehend Fleet Admiral Jason Zackaria, in order to prevent the advance of the Pandoran army before it can wipe out the human race. It is your job to ensure that the allied forces of the Confederation Stellar Navy and the United Naval Forces are able to keep the galaxy safe and stable, and fight back against the Pandorans.
Keeping systems stable will increase your cash flow, which will enable you to buy starfighters to help combat your enemies. Completing missions in star systems will grant cash bonuses and lead to stability increases. Patrol star systems and defeating enemies encountered will also increase a system's stability.
The galactic map is the main part of the campaign, and shows the current status of the star systems that make up the galaxy. The name of the system is shown below the star, with the current stability in brackets following after. To view a star system's information, simply click on it.
The top of the screen details your current cash, total units, and the number of star systems that belong to the various factions. There are also a number of menu options available:
Wait - Essentially do nothing and wait for an event to take place. This can save you the trouble of risking losing units by performing a needless patrol that could end badly.
Main Menu - return to the main title screen.
When an event occur within a star system, a red pulsing sphere will appear over the system. To discover the nature of the event, click on the star system. Events should be attended to as soon as possible. If they are ignored for too long (by way of Waiting or by performing too many other missions), the event end and the stability of the system will decrease significantly.
The star system view displays an overview of the star system. It shows the system stability, and which faction currently owns it. Star systems that have not gone rouge and have not fallen to the Pandorans will have a starfighter squadron stationed at them. The name of the squadron and the units that make it up are also displayed. A number of options are available:
Patrol - perform a patrol of the system, to increase its stability.
Mission - attend to an event that has occurred in this system.
Buy - allows you to purchase new starfighters for this system.
Sell - allows you to sell selected starfighters.
Transfer - allows you to transfer selected starfighters to another system.
Exit - return to the galactic map.
In order to perform a patrol or a mission, you will need to select up to 12 fighters to send onto the battlefield. To do so, simply click on the fighters that you wish to select. The fighter's current level is displayed below it. Once you have selected the units you wish to send into combat, click on Patrol or Mission.
Caution: units that are sent into battle and are destroyed will be lost from the system's squadron, so choose your units carefully.
To buy new units, click on the Buy button. This will take you to the buy screen. You can buy as many units as you have room for in the system, and as much as you can currently afford. Darts are always free, but are considered to be poor fighters and should only be used as fallback craft if you cannot afford better ones.
To begin purchasing units, click on the displayed available units to get see a short description, and then click again to add it to the purchase order (displayed as a series of squares below). To remove a unit from the purchase order, click on the slot. The total cost of the purchase will be displayed at the top of the screen. Once you are satifised, click the Buy button to complete the transaction.
Note: all units will take 24 hours to be delivered!
To sell units, click on the units available in the squadron, and then click Sell. You be taken to the sell screen where you will be shown how much each unit is worth, and how much you will earn from the sale. Once you are happy, click Sell to complete the transaction. Units are sold immediately and you will receive the cash value at once.
Units can be transferred to any star systems you desire. You transfer units, simply click on the units you wish to transfer, and click the Transfer button. You will be taken to the transfer screen where you can select the star system you wish to transfer the units to. The time it takes to transfer the units will depend on the distance the two star systems are from one another.
Battles are displayed from a top down point of view, with each unit and entity on the battle field occupying at least one square. All the action in the battle is controlled with the mouse.
Note: the battle takes place on a "2.5D" field. While two units cannot occupy the same square, cannon fire, including missiles, can only strike the intended target. If the attack misses, it is not possible for it to strike another craft in its path. As such, there is also no line of sight in the game, so it is possible for craft to shoot past each other, without causing harm to others.
The HUD provides crucial information about the battle, including the status of the current unit and messages that might pop up during combat. The HUD is divided into two parts: the top bar and the bottom bar.
The top bar display the type of craft (or in some cases, the pilot's name), the unit's armour percentage, and the unit's shield percentage. The unit's armour percentage will display in white, yellow, or red, depending on its state. White means that the armour is in good condition, yellow if it has taken moderate damage, and red if it is critical. Following these are several control buttons. In order, they are:
Current Cannon: cycles through a unit's available cannons
Current Missile: cycles through a unit's available missiles
Previous Unit: selects the previous unit to the currently active one
Centre On Unit: centres the view on the currently active unit
Next Unit: selects the next unit after the currently active one
Radar: displays the radar, showing the entire battlefield and the positions of all units and entities
Objectives: displays the objectives and their status. Also gives access to Options and Main Menu options
End Turn: ends your turn and allows the AI to take its turn
The bottom bar shows when messages are present. The colour of the message will depend on its type. General gameplay messages are displayed in white, hints in blue, good messages (such as completely objectives) in green, and bad messages (such as an objective failed or unit destroyed) in red.
When in combat, units move and fire at one another. Units are destroyed when their armour is reduced to zero. Many ships are equipped with shields, to provide additional defence against incoming fire. The unit's shield will absorb fire and prevent damage to the armour while it is active. Shields restore a small amount at the beginning of each side's turn. However, if a shield is depleted completely it will take a little longer to recover than normal. The battle will end once all the mission objectives are completed (or conditions are failed). The battle will also end if all the player's units are destroyed.
To scroll the map around, hold down the left mouse bottom and move it around. The map will scroll with the mouse. To stop moving, simply release the left mouse button. The centre the view back on the active unit, click on the Centre On Unit button at the top of the screen.
Selecting a unit is as easy as clicking on it with the left mouse button. A selected unit is highlighted with a blue square. You can also traverse through your active units by clicking on the Previous Unit and Next Unit widgets on the HUD.
Each unit can perform one of two actions each turn: move and fire. Performing an action will consume an action point. Every unit has at least two action points, which are replenished at the beginning of every turn. Both moving and firing consume one action point. The number of action points remaining are represented by blue squares in front of the unit. Clicking on a unit will move it through a number of different state: idle, move, fire. Idle means that the unit is currently not performing any actions. Move and fire actions are details below.
To move a unit, select the unit, and then click again to bring up the move state. When in this state, the available move range will be shown as a number of blue squares around the unit. Click in any of the squares to move the unit to that position. Note that you cannot move into a square that is currently occupied by another unit. A unit may move onto squares occupied by certain other entities, however, such as jumpgates.
When in attack state (two clicks from idle state, one from move), a number of red squares will be displayed around the active unit. Enemy units within this range may be fired upon. To fire at an enemy target, simply click on it. Your ship will then attack that vessel using the currently active weapon.
Aside from missiles, which always hit their target, cannon fire and rockets have a chance to miss. The chance to hit the target is governed by the attacking unit's base accuracy (governed by the ship itself) and its current skill level. The target also has a chance to dodge the incoming fire. This, too, is governed by similar traits. Cannon and rocket fire that misses cannot strike other ships.
Higher level attackers will have a greater chance of hitting lower level ones, and static targets, such as turrets, can almost always be hit. However, there is always a chance that even a high level attack can miss their target, and a chance that a low level attacker can score a hit against a higher level one. In the main, a high level attacker has a greater chance of successfully hitting their opponent.
Units can come equipped with a variety of weapons. To change weapons, click on the Current Cannon and Current Missile icons on the HUD. If name of the active weapon will be displayed in the message area. Cannons have unlimited ammunition, while missiles are limited. Missiles are typically far more powerful than cannons. The most common weapons are plasma cannons, particle cannons, missiles, rockets. Some units will also have access to laser and mag cannons. These are details as follows:
Plasma: a standard, powerful bolt of energy
Particle: a low power offensive weapon, typically used by pirates and civilians
Laser: an anti-shield weapon. Saps a target's shield very quickly, but causes no damage to armour
Mag: disrupts system power and can prevent a target from being able to move or fire.
Using the Radar
To access the radar, click on the Radar button on the HUD. This will bring up an overview of the battlefield, with all units marked. Friendly / player units are marked in green, enemy units in red, and other entities in yellow. A cyan-coloured box will also outline the current position and viewpoint on the radar. The currently active player unit will blink white on the screen, as will mission targets.
To change the position of the viewpoint, hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse around. The viewport will shift. Release the mouse button when you are done to exit the radar and view the new location. To exit the radar without moving the viewport, click once anywhere.
All missions have objectives that must be fulfilled in order to complete them. These can range from simple, to complex ones. You can view the mission objectives and their states by clicking on the Objectives button on the HUD. From here, you will have three options:
Continue: return to the game
Options: view and change the in-game options
Main Menu: exit the battle and return to the title screen
Ending Your Turn
When you have finished moving your units, click the End Turn button on the HUD to allow the AI to make its moves. Once the AI has finished making its moves, you will once again be placed in control of your units. A message at the bottom of the screen will also inform you of the current round.
Jumpgates provide the entry and exit points to missions. Units cannot exit a mission until they are permitted to do so via the mission objectives.
Finishing a Mission
When a mission is completed or failed, you will see the objectives screen. From here, you will have three options:
Continue: depending on the context of the mission, this will either continue to the mission or return you to the title screen
Retry: allows you to attempt the mission once again
Main Menu: will return you to the title screen
Load and Saving Games
The game is automatically saved whenever you quit, either by closing the game window or by select Quit from the title screen. If you are in the middle of a battle, the game will resume from where you left off (even during the enemy's turn). Games cannot be manually loaded and saved.
This game is still work-in-progress, and as such will contain bugs and errors that could cause the game to crash. Below are some common error causes and their remedies:
The game loaded once, but will not start again - this is most likely due to a corrupt save file. In the game directly (or from wherever you ran the game) will be a file called "save.ser". Delete this file and try again. Note, that this will destroy your save progress.
Other issue - a log file called "tbftss.log" is produced while the game is being played. Email this file to email@example.com so that I can examine it.
This game is based on the Battle for the Solar System novel trilogy by Stephen J Sweeney. You can learn more about the trilogy and this game by visiting:
The Battle for the Solar System and related related materials are Copyright ©2009-2014, Stephen J Sweeney. All Rights Reserved.