Fighters

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Tyrel Lohr
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Fighters

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sun Feb 22, 2009 4:49 am

Flight units in 2E will be seeing a few major changes. How many of these survive playtest, of course, remain to be seen.

The first major change is related to how Flights participate in CSCR combat. Instead of being assigned individually or in small groups, all of the Flights in a single squadron form a "strikegroup" -- and this strikegroup then receives orders like a squadron during the Assignments Phase. This streamlines the assignment of Flights in the CSCR, and also creates some interesting decisions for the players. Do you commit your fighters to attack the enemy, or else hold them back to defend the fleet?

Another substantive difference between 1E and 2E is that Flights will now Cripple like ships. This makes individual Flights more survivable.

I can already sense veteran players wincing. "Fighters are bad enough already! This will just make them even more powerful!" In 1E, yes, that is clearly correct. However, one OTHER change to 2E that will balance this survivability is the fact that Flights will no longer be able to be "teleported" out to units, even if they are In Supply. Flights will have to be moved between locations manually, either aboard Civilian Fleets or Military Freighters (e.g., units with the Cargo ability).

Also, while I can't promise it, I do think we are going to see flight units costing more in 2E than in 1E, and being more like small ships that are cheaper to maintain but require other units to deploy them.

The final thing I can divulge is that all Flights will be rated as to their Unit Size (SIZ), and this SIZ attribute will equal the amount of Carrier Rating (the replacement for Basing Capacity) they require to be based aboard a carrier. The Tender ability (and associated Tender Rating) will be available for more cheaply base, transport and deploy large Flight units. The best example of large Flights would probably be the gunboats fielded in David Weber's Starfire universe.

That should give you a quick overview of where we are going with Flights in 2E. There are a lot of specifics left to be nailed down, but overall the cost and availability should help to ensure that fighters and carriers remain viable weapons, but not quite as nasty as they are in 1E.

-Tyrel

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Postby Chyll » Sun Feb 22, 2009 4:53 am

I am biased, I know, but I like the Stars Divided tech/unit design approach for ground units and fighters. I, in some ways, think the way you build/design these is as important as their function in battle.
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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:05 am

Chyll wrote:I am biased, I know, but I like the Stars Divided tech/unit design approach for ground units and fighters. I, in some ways, think the way you build/design these is as important as their function in battle.


As planned, Starships, Starbases, Flights, and Ground Units will all be designed using the same basic construction system. It isn't a bracket system, as in TERRAN CIVIL WAR, but rather a point-buy system.

The Maintenance Bracket concept from TCW instead manifests itself by making a unit's Maintenance Cost based both on Unit Size (SIZ) and the percent of "points" spent during the construction process. If you only used 70% of your possible points for a unit, then your Maintenance Cost is reduced to 70% of normal. This will allow you to build units that are not the "best" you could build at your tech level, but will be cheaper to maintain in the long run.

BTW, each unit ability (which now includes all of the AS/AF and similar abilities) will have to researched and "leveled" separately, with maximum ability at any Tech Level scaling with SIZ. This will work somewhat like how you had players researching specific Starmada tech options like Increased PEN in TCW, Noel. That way players can have very different specialties in different fields.

-Tyrel

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Postby MarkG88 » Sun Feb 22, 2009 6:26 am

Tyrel,

I really like the sounds of how this will develop/refine fighters. The logistic limits on their movement alone will help "tone down" their sometimes overwhelming appeal in the VBAM games.

Carrier basing and points to build also sound like solid developments to add to the flight/fighter rules.

-Mark

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Re: Fighters

Postby MarkNorfolk » Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:10 am

Tyrel Lohr wrote:I can already sense veteran players wincing. "Fighters are bad enough already! This will just make them even more powerful!" -Tyrel


Well, in some settings (Star Wars and B5 spring to mind) Starfighters a quite powerful and flights of them are quite capable of taking on capital ships.

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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sun Feb 22, 2009 6:12 pm

MarkG88 wrote:I really like the sounds of how this will develop/refine fighters. The logistic limits on their movement alone will help "tone down" their sometimes overwhelming appeal in the VBAM games.


It is my hope that forcing players to worry about where their Flights are being built and how to get them to the front lines will provide some interesting new strategic decisions. Productive planets along the border can be used to replenish lost fighters; otherwise, a player has to move them via Cargo ships. Transporting them in Cargo makes it so that players can attempt to disrupt your Flight shipments through careful attacks, or by sponsoring raiders in key systems.

As an aside, if our design document translates correctly into actual game mechanics, you should see capital ships being much more survivable than they are in 1E. So your battered carriers may be able to retire from the battle line and head back to a planet for repairs and to restock their fighter complements. We are going to try and do our best to make it so that space battles are no longer the "all or nothing" affairs of the past.

MarkNorfolk wrote:Well, in some settings (Star Wars and B5 spring to mind) Starfighters a quite powerful and flights of them are quite capable of taking on capital ships.


Settings with superlative fighters are represented by giving an empire better Flight Construction technology, so that their Flight units are capable of having better stats for the same economic cost. In Star Wars and Babylon 5, I think the heavier fighter flights would also be fairly expensive (1-3 EP each), which would also allow for those powers to build some heftier fighters. In comparison, the Star Trek setting doesn't have very capable fighters, so their Flight Construction tech would probably be fairly low.

-Tyrel

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Postby jygro » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:34 am

Tyrel Lohr wrote:BTW, each unit ability (which now includes all of the AS/AF and similar abilities) will have to researched and "leveled" separately, with maximum ability at any Tech Level scaling with SIZ. This will work somewhat like how you had players researching specific Starmada tech options like Increased PEN in TCW, Noel. That way players can have very different specialties in different fields.


This sounds great and with the SIZ idea, I think the push for a streamlined ship construction system (as opposed to just winging it) is just what the game needed.

-Bren

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Postby Chyll » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:09 pm

jygro wrote:
Tyrel Lohr wrote:BTW, each unit ability (which now includes all of the AS/AF and similar abilities) will have to researched and "leveled" separately, with maximum ability at any Tech Level scaling with SIZ. This will work somewhat like how you had players researching specific Starmada tech options like Increased PEN in TCW, Noel. That way players can have very different specialties in different fields.


This sounds great and with the SIZ idea, I think the push for a streamlined ship construction system (as opposed to just winging it) is just what the game needed.

-Bren


I agree

It should make setting things up a lot of fun, too.


OTOH... **ponders the inevitable urge to update Stars Divided that he feels looming**
No man is wise enough by himself.

- Plautus

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Postby mwaschak » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:06 pm

Chyll wrote:I agree

It should make setting things up a lot of fun, too.



We did not want to pounce on an official CSCR 2.0 or construction system just for the sake of doing it. We all agreed that it had to be absolutely right, and balanced. As many of you know the original CSCR was built with B5 in mind (for obvious reasons which take too long to restate) so fighters tended to hit hard, and fade away. Well, mechanically that has problems to say nothing of "realism".

What SIZ did was allow tech and economics to take over. You can build the stronger, ship killer fighters of WC, but it will cost you time and effort. In all my tests so far the balance has been spot on for economic and opportunity costs. So when we get to the Engineering Manual where we introduce the many, many techs scifi can dream up it will have a solid foundation to keep it in check.


Chyll wrote:
OTOH... **ponders the inevitable urge to update Stars Divided that he feels looming**


I hope we can see all of our major settings updated accordingly. I enjoy Stars Divided, and know many others who have as well.

This also means we have to renegotiate some of our tactical system tie-ins, but that is another discussion entirely.

-Jay

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Postby Charles Lewis » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:54 pm

Chyll wrote:OTOH... **ponders the inevitable urge to update Stars Divided that he feels looming**


It's not something I'm looking forward to for Jovian Chronicles, as that was a tricky conversion to begin with. Fortunately, the source stats were pretty rich, so the adjustments ought not be *too* difficult.
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Postby Chyll » Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:59 pm

mwaschak wrote:
Chyll wrote:OTOH... **ponders the inevitable urge to update Stars Divided that he feels looming**


I hope we can see all of our major settings updated accordingly. I enjoy Stars Divided, and know many others who have as well.

This also means we have to renegotiate some of our tactical system tie-ins, but that is another discussion entirely.

-Jay


I have an outline now (hmm, there's a section I could post in now), for Stars Divided material expansion.

Depending on timing of everything I am considering a pure VBAM update, and supplement for any further tactical tie-ins/updates.
No man is wise enough by himself.

- Plautus

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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:42 pm

As far as back-conversion of VBAM 1E stats into 2E, you could always just convert movement and sensor abilities in and make sure all other "special" abilities are rated as to their ability and make the conversion *mostly* painless (not totally painless, mind you, but mostly painless). In those settings it isn't mandatory to have the stats built with the new construction system. It would be nice, but certainly not something that has to be done.

-Tyrel

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Postby Chyll » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:53 pm

Tyrel Lohr wrote:As far as back-conversion of VBAM 1E stats into 2E, you could always just convert movement and sensor abilities in and make sure all other "special" abilities are rated as to their ability and make the conversion *mostly* painless (not totally painless, mind you, but mostly painless). In those settings it isn't mandatory to have the stats built with the new construction system. It would be nice, but certainly not something that has to be done.

-Tyrel


You ought to know me by now, I am far too thorough once I get rolling.
No man is wise enough by himself.

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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:56 pm

Chyll wrote:You ought to know me by now, I am far too thorough once I get rolling.


Hey, I resemble that remark, too :)

Part of the reason my published output has been low the past few years is because I have spent too much time tweaking and testing. I have a feeling when I start updating Empire Rising, I will be there forever making everything "just right".
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Postby Feralkoala » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:18 pm

Tyrel Lohr wrote:It is my hope that forcing players to worry about where their Flights are being built and how to get them to the front lines will provide some interesting new strategic decisions. Productive planets along the border can be used to replenish lost fighters; otherwise, a player has to move them via Cargo ships. Transporting them in Cargo makes it so that players can attempt to disrupt your Flight shipments through careful attacks, or by sponsoring raiders in key systems.


Well, I have to say I am dismayed by this; if I want to haul individual flights around (or keep track of individual missile loads), I'll play Starfire. I was hoping you'd move in a direction toward having an empire-wide replenishment pool. If I am going to track anything, I'd prefer to track pilot training.


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