Tales from CSCR 2

Check here for updates and discussion about the new edition of the Victory by Any Means Campaign System.
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Postby MadSeason » Sun May 03, 2009 3:54 am

Thanks, Tyrel! Love hearing about the new system and your descriptions show the system will be somewhat complex but more satisfying.
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Re: Sounds good

Postby HairyHeretic » Sun May 03, 2009 2:59 pm

Tyrel Lohr wrote:The biggest added workload on the CSCR side is that Task Forces and Squadrons don't really exist outside of combat, so you will have to take the available forces and assemble them into Squadrons prior to a battle, but that shouldn't take very long to do, and in a PBEM game that is something that the players themselves can be responsible for.


What about using enlightened self interest there? Give a small tactical bonus to task forces / task groups / squadrons that have worked together. Give the players a reason to keep the task force together and organised, and if it's to their benefit, they probably will.


Tyrel Lohr wrote:I would love to hear about your campaign, and your take on the Empire Rising setting.


What setting is this?

The name makes me think of my own game to some degree. The Long Night has ended, and the various races have once again recovered enough tech to get back into space etc etc. Fairly standard expand, explore, find new races and new civilisations, bomb them back to the stone age and take their stuff :twisted:

Tyrel Lohr wrote:The new CSCR is something of a hybrid of Skirmish and Standard 1E CSCR, in that you make separate combat rolls for each range-based fire step, but all friendly units in that range-band combine AS/AF for their rolls, so at most you will have 6 weapons fire rolls per Combat Round.


Will ships be able to fire at other ranges, or are the weapons tending towards optimisation for a single range band?

Tyrel Lohr wrote:I would be interested in seeing some examples of your bonus/penalty system for representing player tactical choices. That sounds intriguing, and might be a useful component to have available for other CMs.


That's an idea I've been thinking about myself. I was toying with the idea of having a matrix of tactical choices, whereby each side picks one option, and checking those two against each other could result in a bonus to one side or the other. That's about as far as I'd gotten with the idea though .. no detail yet.

Tyrel Lohr wrote:I will have to keep this in mind and see if there is a way to really strip down the system to the bone and still get it to work. My gut instinct is that if you did away with Squadrons/Strikegroups and just had Task Forces, the other rules could be adapted so that the Command Actions of the Task Force Flagship would be used to allow other functions. There would be no granularity at that stage, of course, but the result would be that combat would be resolved much faster, and it would probably also end up being much bloodier. Time compression on all scenarios would need to be done to allow this, but that would play to your benefit -- instead of resolving 5 Combat Rounds, it may just be 2-3 Combat Rounds.


Does combat take that long to run? While I don't particularly want to see it take an entire evening to run a single combat, I do want to try for some ammount of tactical decision making to be available.

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Re: Sounds good

Postby morbug » Sun May 03, 2009 3:54 pm

Trying to adapt this to an existing campaign is probably going to be a bit difficult,


Yeah, I'm probably going to use the new rules for the next campaign (which I hope there will be) :)



Very interesting things about the CSCR + The biggest added workload on the CSCR side is that Task Forces and Squadrons don't really exist outside of combat, so you will have to take the available forces and assemble them into Squadrons prior to a battle, but that shouldn't take very long to do, and in a PBEM game that is something that the players themselves can be responsible for.


I guess my biggest problem is that im doing ALL the bookkeeping myself. My own fault that I set it up this way I guess. The players send me their turn orders in free form text and I interpret those orders and makes changes to my VBAM campaign database (where I keep track of all the worlds, every ship, every ground unit, finances of all nations etc etc). I have automated some things like the construction of units (I enter unit name, faction, number of units and the program subtracts the cost, sends the new units out when they're constructed etc) and a few other bits so it isn't as bad as it sounds. I think I might have to change this approach for the next campaign ;)

I would love to hear about your campaign, and your take on the Empire Rising setting.


Well, I'm afraid we have butchered your setting to a degree. I used all the main factions, added a few from the campaign guide and bestiary, recalculated all the unit list ISD's to be compatible with each other. I moved a world and added a few jump lanes too (to "close off" the map). I provided all the backgrounds up to when the different factions started to expand but I'm afraid only one player (Chouka) has really taken advantage of that, but he's been having a good time playing them.

you could use a home rule saying that units can only fire at Medium Range in order to speed gameplay up a bit.


Hmm.... I really like the long/medium/short approach so I'll try to keep that. Gives a lot more depth to the combats and even though it adds to my headaches I'll try to use that rule :)

I would be interested in seeing some examples of your bonus/penalty system for representing player tactical choices. That sounds intriguing, and might be a useful component to have available for other CMs.


Ah well, I'm more or less winging it for each combat. I try to look at the tactical situation, officer abilities, ship abilities and add up to a +-2 bonus/penalty to the readiness modifier. I've also thought about making a matrix with tactics like: "Frontal assault", "Flank attack", "Missile Barrage" etc and give them bonuses/penalties against each other but I havn't done it yet...

I have been tempted to try and create rules for combat operations based on AIX values, so that you would roll on a chart to see what actions the side would take, both during encounter generation and scenario resolution. I am not sure how well that would work out, but it is something that I have thought about creating to see if it works. That way the CM would at least have a quick way of maybe determining what a fleet wants to do based on its empire's AIX stats.


That would be nice. I've been using a d100 against the A-value to check if an NPC is tricked by a player from time to time.

I will have to keep this in mind and see if there is a way to really strip down the system to the bone and still get it to work. My gut instinct is that if you did away with Squadrons/Strikegroups and just had Task Forces, the other rules could be adapted so that the Command Actions of the Task Force Flagship would be used to allow other functions. There would be no granularity at that stage, of course, but the result would be that combat would be resolved much faster, and it would probably also end up being much bloodier. Time compression on all scenarios would need to be done to allow this, but that would play to your benefit -- instead of resolving 5 Combat Rounds, it may just be 2-3 Combat Rounds.


If you manage to do this I'll be very happy :D

Thanks for the answers :)

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Re: Sounds good

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sun May 03, 2009 4:12 pm

HairyHeretic wrote:What about using enlightened self interest there? Give a small tactical bonus to task forces / task groups / squadrons that have worked together. Give the players a reason to keep the task force together and organised, and if it's to their benefit, they probably will.


My original intention was that players would at least keep their Squadrons together on the sheet pre-built, but as the adaption of some of the Federation Admiral concepts of Jay's came into the mix that became untenable, as you are creating your Task Forces and Squadrons in an ad hoc fashion now. The only foreseeable circumstance where having your Squadrons pre-constructed would be of assistance is in Major commitment-level scenarios where all of your forces are included. Otherwise, just a percentage of your force will be drawn into a scenario. For a time I played around with maybe applying Command Limits to the number of Squadrons you could bring into a battle, but that ended up with some pretty serious loopholes ("Why, yes, I do have a Command Unit with a Command Rating of 100. What's that? I can only include one Squadron in this scenario? Oh dear, how ever will I manage that?").

A middle of the road option would be to have players form their Squadrons, and then have them pick a Squadron or Squadrons that is closest to the scenario's Command Limit without going over. If that criteria can't be met, you just get as close as possible and omit a few units from each to get back to being equal to or less than the Command Limit.

HairyHeretic wrote:What setting is this?


Empire Rising is set in my Escalation Wars universe, and covers the early history of the Circasian Empire. The history of the setting is written down pretty firmly +-100 years from the events in that book, and in broad strokes on either side a couple hundred years more.

HairyHeretic wrote:Will ships be able to fire at other ranges, or are the weapons tending towards optimisation for a single range band?


Any ship will be able to fire at any range; however, some units may possess specialized Long Range or Short Range weapons that provide a +2 AS/AF bonus when firing at their preferred range, but otherwise have no effect outside of that range.

HairyHeretic wrote:Does combat take that long to run? While I don't particularly want to see it take an entire evening to run a single combat, I do want to try for some amount of tactical decision making to be available.


Combat in the examples thus far haven't taken very long to resolve. As mentioned in a previous post, setting up the Encounter itself can take as long as a small battle (about 5 minutes a piece). I could see a very large battle with a lot of different technologies in play taking longer, as you would have to apply their effects each Combat Round... however, those kinds of battles would be few and far between. I would say that the largest battles could probably take 30 minutes to play out, 45 minutes if there are a lot of technologies with special rules in play. But at that stage we are talking 20+ Squadrons/Strikegroups per side and all manner of Electronic Warfare, ECM, ECCM, Boarding, Hacking, etc. attacks going on.
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Re: Sounds good

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sun May 03, 2009 4:58 pm

morbug wrote:I guess my biggest problem is that im doing ALL the bookkeeping myself. My own fault that I set it up this way I guess. The players send me their turn orders in free form text and I interpret those orders and makes changes to my VBAM campaign database (where I keep track of all the worlds, every ship, every ground unit, finances of all nations etc etc). I have automated some things like the construction of units (I enter unit name, faction, number of units and the program subtracts the cost, sends the new units out when they're constructed etc) and a few other bits so it isn't as bad as it sounds. I think I might have to change this approach for the next campaign ;)


Oh, yes, I have done this before, too. It would be fine if all of the players sent in their orders in some sort of standardized format, but that rarely happens -- and you are left trying to decipher what exactly the players really want to do. Sigh. What I ended up having to do on my second PBEM campaign was provide a pre-configured asset form that they entered information into directly, then I could just run through the form and generate the info from there. Not as neat and tidy as other alternatives, but it allowed me to resolve a player's actions in about 5-10 minutes.

Another goal that we have for 2E is to provide a nice, complete chapter on turn orders, including a standardized way of issuing said orders. That should make a CM's life a little bit easier, and at least make sure that everyone is on the same page.

morbug wrote:Hmm.... I really like the long/medium/short approach so I'll try to keep that. Gives a lot more depth to the combats and even though it adds to my headaches I'll try to use that rule :)


It does add a few more dice rolls and a few more calculations, but overall it seems to work okay. For the most part I think players will probably order their units to fire at Medium Range most of the time, anyway, since Long Range fire incurs a -50% AS/AF penalty and Short Range fire adds a +50% AS/AF bonus. Specialized units are likely to fire at their preferred range, but otherwise it becomes a question of whether a force wants to gamble on taking out some ships at Long Range so they can't fire; or if they want to wait until Short Range to maximize their available firepower, which could be important if they are outnumbered or outgunned.

morbug wrote:If you manage to do this I'll be very happy :D


I will keep it in mind and try to get a slimmed down resolver created that can be included as an extra option.
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Re: Sounds good

Postby morbug » Sun May 03, 2009 5:57 pm

Tyrel Lohr wrote:It does add a few more dice rolls and a few more calculations, but overall it seems to work okay. For the most part I think players will probably order their units to fire at Medium Range most of the time, anyway, since Long Range fire incurs a -50% AS/AF penalty and Short Range fire adds a +50% AS/AF bonus. Specialized units are likely to fire at their preferred range, but otherwise it becomes a question of whether a force wants to gamble on taking out some ships at Long Range so they can't fire; or if they want to wait until Short Range to maximize their available firepower, which could be important if they are outnumbered or outgunned.


One tiny idea: instead of having abilities and ranges giving modifiers to AS you could present the information as (for instance): 9/6/3, or for a missile Cruiser perhaps: 2/4/4, where the values represent short, medium and long range. That would make it a bit easier to see how powerful each ship is at each range.

And should AF really vary by range? Shouldn't always AF-fire be at short range? Or possibly AF could be higher at longer ranges since the fighters need to travel longer distances to reach the defending fleet (or fighters) and thus be easier to track or destroy before they get a chance to attack.

Another half baked thought: In the example it seems like the defender chooses the ships that's getting damaged (same as in 1E). I know that directed attacks exist in 1E, but I've always felt that the attacker always should choose what ships to attack (or at least focus on). Other ships in the squad ought to make this more difficult somehow with point defences, counter-missile fire, EW etc. Heh, not sure exactly how it would be implemented ;)

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Re: Sounds good

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sun May 03, 2009 10:16 pm

morbug wrote:One tiny idea: instead of having abilities and ranges giving modifiers to AS you could present the information as (for instance): 9/6/3, or for a missile Cruiser perhaps: 2/4/4, where the values represent short, medium and long range. That would make it a bit easier to see how powerful each ship is at each range.


That would be an idea for a simple mass-fleet combat extrapolation of the CSCR. Have the naturally be at 1.5x/1.0x/0.5x at those ranges, but then allow the player to move the points around a bit to customize each design.

Of course, for that to work, you would have to have the Squadrons and Strikegroups moving on a hex map so that ranges can change dynamically rather than relying on fixed range bands or some similar mechanic.

morbug wrote:And should AF really vary by range? Shouldn't always AF-fire be at short range? Or possibly AF could be higher at longer ranges since the fighters need to travel longer distances to reach the defending fleet (or fighters) and thus be easier to track or destroy before they get a chance to attack.


I had thought about that myself, and had originally planned on allowing a Squadron to perform AS and AF fire in different sub-phases if they want. Of course, that idea was discarded because it causes a lot of administrative headaches that we just don't want to have to deal with.

The current concept behind AF fire is that Long Range AF fire equates to firing as soon as the enemy Flights get within the extreme range of your point defenses. This gives the Flights more opportunities to evade or intercept incoming fire, which diminishes the effectiveness of the AF fire; however, any Flights taken down by Long Range AF fire won't get to fire in later sub-phases. Alternatively, waiting until Short Range to perform AF fire means you wait until the Flights are at point-blank, and there is little chance that you are going to miss.

morbug wrote:Another half baked thought: In the example it seems like the defender chooses the ships that's getting damaged (same as in 1E). I know that directed attacks exist in 1E, but I've always felt that the attacker always should choose what ships to attack (or at least focus on).


The reason why the defender typically scores damage is because, otherwise, the attacker is going to act like a min/maxing munchkin and always take out their enemy's Flagship. CSCR combat would devolve into "whack-a-Flagship", with each player taking terms destroying each others Command Units while no other units take damage.

To somewhat address the issue, Directed Damage is still around, which does give the player the option of assigning some damage himself, but at a penalty. Currently that penalty is set to 2x Formation Level instead of 1X Formation Level, which may or may not end up working. A straight +1 or +2 Formation Level penalty might be better for that, though.

morbug wrote:Other ships in the squad ought to make this more difficult somehow with point defences, counter-missile fire, EW etc. Heh, not sure exactly how it would be implemented ;)


I think you just defined what Formation Levels represent. :)

Right now, the number of Hits it takes to score 1 Damage is equal to a units Formation Level. That seems to be working all right. But with Directed Damage at 2x, it makes doing Directed Damage at anything over Formation Level 2 gets to be untenable... which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

My current plan is get a very rough "alpha" version of the rules posted tomorrow. There will be sections that are missing or incomplete, but it should allow everyone to start playing and see what breaks.
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Postby mriddle » Mon May 04, 2009 2:09 pm

Detection Rules and Options..

A thought, it might be nice to have some scouting options that affect the fleet options in the later battles.. A fleet that is scattered out is more likely to find and be found than one that is in a compact formation. However a spread out fleet would not be able to fight together as well as well as a compact formation. A compact formation would be more adversely affected by surprise. etc.

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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Mon May 04, 2009 6:02 pm

mriddle wrote: A thought, it might be nice to have some scouting options that affect the fleet options in the later battles.. A fleet that is scattered out is more likely to find and be found than one that is in a compact formation. However a spread out fleet would not be able to fight together as well as well as a compact formation. A compact formation would be more adversely affected by surprise. etc.


That might make for an interesting option or optional rule; the best simulation I can think of off the top of my head is to offer three "Detection Formations":

Compact: -50% to Fleet SIZ and Sensor Rating for Detection
Normal: No bonuses/penalties
Spread Out: +50% to Fleet SIZ and Sensor Rating for Detection

That would fit the bill, so that a Fleet that was Spread Out would have an easier time detecting the enemy, but would be additionally conspicuous themselves.
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Postby Rainer » Tue May 05, 2009 7:17 am

It would be nice to recreate one of the more fighter heavy battles of that campaign for comparison.

Replacing the wall of text with straight data would also be helpful. ;)

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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Tue May 05, 2009 5:46 pm

I ended up more or less dead to the world yesterday evening, so the CSCR 2 alpha doc didn't get finished and posted. Sigh. Hopefully I will have that done later tonight.

Rainer wrote:It would be nice to recreate one of the more fighter heavy battles of that campaign for comparison.


I'll have to dig up one of the big Republic/Cardassian battles to see what happens. I will try to get that done later this week and post the results.

Rainer wrote:Replacing the wall of text with straight data would also be helpful. ;)


Yes, it would, but it is dreadfully boring to record straight data. A 5 minute fight ends up taking 30 minutes if you have to record everything. I know, I know... not much of an excuse. :? I will see about putting the info together in a huge wall of data in text form for the next test.
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Detection Issues

Postby mriddle » Tue May 05, 2009 8:26 pm

Tyrel,

What are the effects of Bombardment on a planet to detection rules ?

ie given your "pacification" example.. both sides failed to find each other, could the Cardassians sailed to bombard the planet ?

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Re: Detection Issues

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Wed May 06, 2009 2:56 am

I just uploaded a pre-alpha copy of the CSCR 2 rules up to the website for people to download and take a look at:

http://www.vbamgames.com/cscr2_alpha_1.pdf

The rules are extremely rough, incomplete in sections, and not numbered correctly. These rules have been gutted and largely rewritten twice now, and there are some sections I will probably hold off on finishing until we move on to their respective areas (Boarding, Retreating, Ramming). But it is enough to at least take a look at and discuss.

mriddle wrote:Tyrel,

What are the effects of Bombardment on a planet to detection rules ?

ie given your "pacification" example.. both sides failed to find each other, could the Cardassians sailed to bombard the planet ?


That is a good question. There are rules for detecting colonies, too, and for having a colony's Intel Capacity provide a Sensor Rating bonus to detection for the owner and his Allies.

If you knew that there was a colony in a system but neither your Fleet nor your enemy's detected each other, I think that would call for a special circumstantial rule being added to the rules that would say that any attempt to perform Orbital Bombardment at the colony would generate Defensive Scenario. I would be inclined to say a Minor Defensive Scenario, since neither side would be prepared for the attack, so they couldn't honestly be "committed" to the strike.

This circumstantial scenario would be resolved during the Orbital Bombardment Phase when the order to bombard takes place, so it wouldn't interfere with any other possible movement orders (or movement systems, for cases where a player might home rule in a more advanced impulse-based movement alternative).
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Postby jygro » Wed May 06, 2009 7:42 am

Tyrel Lohr wrote:
With this scenario over, there is no Scenario Intensity left in the Encounter, and the only scenario that can be generated is a Minor Interception that has an Intensity Cost of 0 and a 10% Command Limit. The two forces could resolve these scenarios until they were blue in the face the way things are currently written, but I am inclined to say that once Intensity hits 0 that is the end of it.


This looks very promising! I also agree that once you get to Intensity 0 that no more scenarios can be generated for that system. I'm looking forward to more information (and more redo fights).

-Bren

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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Wed May 06, 2009 5:54 pm

jygro wrote:This looks very promising! I also agree that once you get to Intensity 0 that no more scenarios can be generated for that system. I'm looking forward to more information (and more redo fights).


I went back and changed that, I think. I came to the conclusion that there should be at least some marginal cost to generate scenarios of that type. They are still cheaper than other scenarios, though the costs of the scenarios at each commitment level is something that might require a general increase in the amount of Intensity available in a scenario, though I think the current values are probably pretty fair.

Also, several of the scenarios end up giving bonuses of one kind or another to the involved players. Interception Scenarios provide a Surprise bonus to the attacking player, Pursuit Scenarios provide a Surprise bonus to the defending player, and Defensive Scenarios allow the defender to field Starbases and other planetary defenses. The presence of a Starbase might not seem like much of an advantage, but they don't have to spend Mass on Engines, which frees up quite a bit of space for additional weaponry and other systems.
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