No Plan B - Wonky CQB for CQB wonks

Yeah I remember playing a demo of this during a Steam fest a couple of years back and this was what ultimately drove me to uninstall it, which is a shame because I’m a big fan of the Frozen Synapse brand of timeline-tactics! That was obviously a long time ago now so I’ll keep an eye on this thread. Thanks for putting it back on my radar!

Oh, it’s made by the Gladiabots guy!

My pleasure, and I get it, I’m frustrated by stuff like that too, but I try to power through it if the mechanics of a game are interesting enough.

What I’ve come to realize is that the guy developing this has built his own logic into the game.

For example, the timeline doesn’t show a lot of marks beyond when doors are opening or grenades are exploding, so just from looking at the timeline, it’s impossible to know where you are in the plan. However, clicking on a point on an operator’s path will bring the timeline to that moment - and that also shows you where everyone else is at that point in the plan - so you can actually use your own paths to navigate the timeline.

Figuring that out was not straightforward. Even just trying to explain it makes me feel inept, but it actually does work once you wrap your head around it.

It badly needs some help from the UI, and a far better tutorial.

Here’s one of the smaller missions from my Gangsters, the Cartel del Bobos:

And a far more complicated one from my SWAT team:

Poor Kowalski takes at least one or two AK rounds to the face at point blank range, which is a good illustration of how the game can punish even the most minor oversight. It happens because the operator I have covering Kowalski has her gun down for roughly half a second.

In Skirmish I can go back and tune the plan to sort that out, which is ironic given the name, but in Campaign mode, as far as I understand, you don’t get to go back to planning.

Campaign also models injury and fatigue, and I think that may be when I start having problems with this game. I love it as a CQB simulation, and I wouldn’t want it to become a game about personnel management.

If I can replace dead or exhausted team members, that would be fine. That’s just X-Com.

I haven’t gotten to that yet though, I’m having too much fun with the Skirmishes.

I should add that there’s an economy, and you can spend your money on guns and grenades, or upgrade your operators so they’re able to move or fire faster, or throw grenades further. Losing those guys would probably suck.

So I picked this up a little while ago, actually, but set it down again to cook a bit more like I have been doing with a bunch of early access stuff that I haven’t been able to keep myself from buying lately (e.g. Songs of Syx and Shadows of Doubt), but the reason I set this down for the moment is that the campaign is kind of overwhelming at first! Blammo stage one you’re presented with 8 guys to maneuver to the goal, and doing all the planning with no takebacks is pretty brain intensive, so I think it would be much better if they started you off with two and worked you up to a bigger squad.

Yeah that’s accurate, overwhelming and unforgiving.

I think it’s gonna be part of the challenge to not use all 8 guys. If you use them on one mission, they’re fatigued for the next one. I’m not actually sure what fatigue does, but in a game where milliseconds of reaction time makes a big difference, it’s probably quite lethal.

But yeah, it’s early days. They’re still in the process of adding stuff. Most recently they added gun customization, but it’s kinda awkward. Every attachment comes with a positive and negative modifier, so a laser will increase aiming speed, but also make enemies react faster.

I don’t much care for it. It’s hard to gauge how it will affect performance in a mission, although obviously having silencers is pretty cool.

There’s also a general problem with the economy. The early missions might pay out 1000 bucks, but stun grenades can only be used once during a campaign (which is 4-5 missions) and they cost 400 a pop.

Buying an ability for your operator, which enables them to do cool stuff like throwing grenades farther or reacting faster is 1000-3000-5000 bucks depending on the tier, so the economy just feels massively unbalanced at the moment.

There are also really cool mission perks, like cutting the lights for a mission, which gives everyone night vision goggles, or deploying gas, which gives everyone gas masks, but they cost 1500 and 2000 respectively, so when the mission only pays a grand, it doesn’t feel worth it.

Right now I feel like it locks away a bunch of fun and interesting gameplay, and I hope they eventually get around to rethinking that.

I complained about it on the Steam forums and the dev told me that’s what the skirmish missions are for, which seems true now that I’ve tried them. That sort of thing always seems like “side dish” stuff to me, so I tend to ignore it unless I’m really digging the game, but checking this out also promoted me to look at Door Kickers (a stated inspiration) again, and that game explicitly says that skirmish missions are intended for training for the main campaign, so in retrospect I guess it’s obvious if you know where it’s coming from.

I was also told by others you can kind of guess when all the people might not be necessary for a mission, but without being able to redo a mission it seems like a pretty big gamble to me!

So it turns out this is in early access, and well beyond its “around 12 months” scheduled early access period. I wish you guys would lead with that. : (

But at least its Qt3 thread has a bitchin’ title, so it’s got that going for it. Thanks also, @MelesMeles, for the demonstration in your original post.

Oh wild, I didn’t even notice it’s been “out” for over a year.

I wonder if it is still a completely one-man operation in terms of development. When I first stumbled upon No Plan B, a while before it even hit Steam, it was entirely the work of a lone developer, if I remember correctly.

Right you are. Sorry about that!

I’m an Early Access-playin’ man, so it’s easy to forget to label it.

I don’t know either, but I get that sense from playing it.

This feels like a guy who is totally following his own vision. There are a lot of compromises that he could make to make it more appealing to a wider audience, but I don’t think he wants to make that game.

From the Steam profile for GFX47:

Solo game developer from France. Former lead programmer at Ubisoft (Might & Magic Heroes: Kingdoms) and Amplitude Studios (Dungeon of the Endless). Released Gladiabots in 2019, now working on No Plan B.

I’ve been doing like a skirmish mission a night of this. Really enjoying it. Been playing a bit of Door Kickers and Breach & Clear, too (really have the small squad tactics bug right now, I guess! Also still doing Daemonhunters, also X-Com on the phone…sheesh I play a lot of games these days), but overall I think I prefer this one the most at the moment. I really like the insistence on having the plan fully worked out and no gametime intervention possible. The timeline view is a big improvement over Door Kickers, I think. I prefer playing DK the same way this one demands (plan it out, watch it happen), but the lack of coordination tools (except for buttons I have to press to make the guys all sync up, which I don’t love) makes it tough to know when things are going to go down relative to each other sometimes.

It certainly has its hooks in me, I’ve been playing the hell out of it.

I finished my first campaign, and it’s pretty much as I feared.

Fatigue is hell, and damage carries over, so you are constantly being pushed to use as few operators as possible, which is design that I just don’t understand.

You can mitigate fatigue and damage by outfitting your operators with certain perks - to turn them into medics who heal their teammates between missions, or to make them resistant to the effects of fatigue - but as we talked about, the economy is kinda tight, and perks cost a lot, so that means a lot of grinding just to be prepared for the campaign, and it also means you have to plan out your whole team just so.

That is a lot more busywork than I enjoy, and I don’t understand what it’s for when the game would be a lot more fun without that stuff.

I hate it when games do this, especially tactical sims. The sense of realism is part of the fun for me, and that really goes out the window when we pretend that cops don’t get to relax between raids - or receive medical attention - or when I’m sending in 3 guys to take care of 9.

That is not how the real world operates, and I think it’s frustrating because the game is a lot more fun when it just lets you play around with it.

In the game’s defense, I can do what I want on the premade Skirmish missions (of which there are a limited number) and I can use the Mission Generator to generate as many new ones as I’d like, and there are also Daylies, Weeklies and Monthlies that come with leaderboards, like the Skirmish missions.

Missions from the Mission Generator only pays out 500 regardless of the size of the map, or the level of threat, which seems a little off to me. Doing a mission on a large map with a lot of hostiles is significantly harder, and takes a lot more planning than doing a small map with few hostiles.

But those are the options right now. I’m totally against the way he’s chosen to focus the campaign, but I am having a lot of fun with the rest of it :)

Here’s one hostage rescue from my campaign, showing the newly added exteriors:

I’m so glad you like it!

I’m the same, I was also really bitten by Breach & Clear. Door Kickers kinda frustrates me with how small the teams are, but I also think it’s less of a dedicated sim. I’ll still try the sequel at some point.

I’m glad you’ve finally come to X-Com! I was enjoying your reports in the thread. I’ve been playing that since I was 9 years old, and I still go back to it :)

I made a thread for the completely insane X-Piratez mod, which has you playing as horny female mutant air pirates in a post-apocalyptic setting, but I ended up regretting that a little bit, because the recent builds went off the rails and added a bunch of stupid fail states that made the game so much less fun than what I had been playing. I’m not sure what state it’s in now.

That’s too bad to hear about X-Piratez; it was on my list to try after the base game. Probably is has fallen into the common indie trap of becoming more and more finely tuned over time to the sensibilities of its most vocal and hardcore player base, in these times tending to be those who congregate on the inevitable discord and obsess over the thing to the point of squeezing the fun out of it for everyone else.

One of the great things about X-Com is the original was low enough resolution that playing on the phone is fine. Jagged Alliance 2, by contrast, is uncomfortably small.

As for the campaign on this one, without those mechanics you don’t like I don’t really know what reason it would have to exist. The meat and potatoes of the game really does seem to lie in the skirmish missions and other stuff, with the campaign seeming kind of like a “challenge mode”.

I think it’s partly that, but also the developer is a little bonkers, which I think is part of what makes the mod awesome, so he just keeps adding a ton of stuff, and I don’t think he stops to care too much about the finer details of design or balance. Mostly that works, but with those changes, it really didn’t.

That’s true, and I’m fine with there being an aspect of squad management, but I think it’s questionable to have a challenge mode that requires that level of grind and planning beforehand.

Having fatigue and damage mitigation as perks on your operators seems unnecessarily clunky. It could just be a screen between missions, that gives you limited resources to heal and rest your team.

That would still have you making “tough decisions™”, but it would be far less demanding in terms of the time you have to spend.

I’m not exactly sure what I would prefer, but I imagine something like X-Com, where you’re rewarded for doing well, and the punishment for doing badly is losing a soldier, or having them be injured, and needing to be replaced by someone much less capable.

I’m probably building an entirely different game there…

I am on the 7th of 10 SWAT skirmish missions, requiring me to escort two HVTs out of the building. The mission allows me to bring in all eight people. I thought, I can do this with two people.

I don’t think I can do it with two people.

This one is really baking my noodle compared to previous ones, which were fun but generally solvable in one go. The random component in enemy placement and type and reaction to sound is making this one pretty tough. I’m gonna sleep on it.

Funny. I’ve been slowly working through single missions I’m DK on my phone (the controls are bad but [just] usable) and for the first six missions the team size has been two. Now on the seventh it is ten. NPB certainly does a much better job of slowly increasing this over time!

First off: ha ha :)

But seriously though, that’s a problem for me. Like I said I’m not really sure how I’d prefer he fix it, but maybe increasing the roster size or something like that to make those missions not feel as terrible.

When I don’t really have enough guys to make things look really cool, I become a sad little twerp who starts trying to cheese his way out.

Like in the hostage rescue above, I’m deliberately camping and stretching the time out, because I know my guys will take that much less damage if the bad guys have to rotate through a door.

It just about works, but it’s not as fun to me as upping the tempo and being aggressive.

Is that DK1 or DK2?

I’m pretty sure I did more than six missions on PC, but I don’t remember controlling more than 4-5 guys.

I probably need to dive in deeper on that one and see how it evolves down the line.

It’s the first. DK2 hasn’t made it to phones. Kind of annoyed B&C got first turned into a subscription app and then delisted. I would have loved to play that one mobile.