Berserker: Expert System

If you read my post from a couple weeks ago then you saw the hints I put up about what we’ve been up to lately. Well, now it’s time to give you a look at our fanboy project. We’ve made an update to the classic space war game Berserker! Shit y’all, we even conjured up a movie about it.

We put up a web page on the main site that has both a fancy new rulebook with our additions to the game, as well a printer friendly version for folks that don’t want to waste a lot of ink. Proud Mammal Berserker Page

If you need a copy of the game, I’m sure our friend Rick at Flying Buffalo would be happy to send one home with you.

So now that you have had a look at what we did let me tell you why. Berserker is a great game that just needed a little bit of reshaping. It’s a very old style of war game that needs a lot of extra bits to play correctly, like pencils, paper, tracking numbers, a good memory would help… and don’t let me ignore the fact that you need another player. We love the ideas found in the game, but it’s actually somewhat difficult to play. So we started with simplification.

The first change that needed to happen was just making the whole game less hardcore. Turning it into a game that doesn’t require so much extra stuff to play. First thing we did was remove health tracking for every ship except the main antagonist Berserker (and Earth of course). Right there we solved a lot of issues we had playing the game. Not being required to take notation anymore, speeds up the game immensely.

On top of that elimination, we had to alter stats and made sure we weren’t breaking any of the game’s actual mechanics by removing those numbery bits. So damage figures mostly got hit with the nerf stick, and most combat evasion stats got buffed, to account for their lack of health. So the game in general has human ships doing less damage, and they can’t survive a single shot but they are difficult for the Berserker to actually hit.

Once we got the balance right, we moved onto the second big issue… just finding someone to play with. How more appropriate could it be than to address that need than by creating our own killer AI to fight against? So we (and by we, I mean mostly Ben with a bit of testing and course correcting by me) set about generating an autonomous Berserker. We managed to get it down to a point where all the human player has to do for the Berserker is roll a die 3 times each turn, and the Berserker: Expert System will take it from there.

Finally, to put a cherry on top, we created 2 new tracking sheets and remade 1 old one, so you’ll never have to refer to that pesky rulebook, or whip out the scratchpad ever again.

Bottom line, we’re pretty proud (semi-unintentional pun) of this stuff and we really hope you enjoy it. It’s been a lot of fun to work on, but it’s done now, and time for everyone to take it for a spin. Go Berserker, folks.

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