Finally had a little time last night to sit down with Dispatcher and play a bit of a game. I’d play myself, and see how it went.
Okay, first thing I haven’t done in a long time – set up the counters on the “order of battle”. I had to put about a hundred train counters into their starting cities, on the little grid of starting positions. And unfortunately, the game only listed ending cities on the counters so it took a bit of looking about. We certainly don’t do that now in our games. It all happens in a blink of an eye.
So I started playing both sides to see how it went. Hoo boy. See, Dispatcher uses a unique system – phases – though in 1958 they didn’t detail it, only implied it. If a train moves four squares in a turn and a turn is an hour, than that train moves at, say, 8:00am, 8:15am, 8:30am, and 8:45am. A train moving two squares and hour moves 8:00am and 8:30am. You move all the 8:00am trains first, then the 8:15’s, and so on. Even doing it railline by railline, it got confusing fast. I found myself consulting the timetable, thinking did I move this guy? I’m sure there were mistakes galore.
So, yes, the game was a lot of fun (before I gave it up – I’d made a number of serious mistakes). But I’d like to play it more, and I’d really like to see it computerize (so the computer can help you along). So I’ll be looking at this next.
I do want to write it so other divisions can be added – users (or designers) can add their own.
But first, I’ve got to get that Solar Trader Alpha version out to you guys. Jesse’s got it for review.