Tales from CSCR 2

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Postby murtalianconfederacy » Thu May 07, 2009 9:05 am

I'm a bit worried. I think it might work, but it might seem too complicated for new players.
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Postby Rainer » Thu May 07, 2009 11:18 am

A good flowchart or two should definitely be added to make things clearer. It isn't that complicated although a few things have been added since the Federation Commander version. It might make sense to make a few of those items optional to not scare away the newbies.

BTW I do think that fighter flights should be counted for detection purposes. Under the current rules it might be better to send a few carriers full of fighters without escorts since there would be quite a decent chance of a major failure on their opponent's roll.

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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Thu May 07, 2009 4:02 pm

murtalianconfederacy wrote:I'm a bit worried. I think it might work, but it might seem too complicated for new players.


Given the general reaction thus far, I think we will end up making an ultra-simplified version of the new CSCR 2 available for download on the website alongside 2E. That simplified version may also be included in the planned Academy release (which will be a stripped down starter/lite version of the 2E rules).

To be honest, however, the only real addition to the old rules here is the Detection rules and Scenario Intensity model. The Detection rules were an attempt to codify some of what Jay had done for Federation Admiral, which is also where Scenario Intensity comes from. It isn't a direct port, mainly because I felt the need to provide a stricter rule structure to make things easier to resolve.

Most of the extra "cruft" in the CSCR 2 can easily be handwaved away using home rules. If you don't want range-based fire or techs, you can eliminate them from your campaign. The same goes for ECM/ECCM, Stealth/Sensors, etc.


Rainer wrote:A good flowchart or two should definitely be added to make things clearer. It isn't that complicated although a few things have been added since the Federation Commander version.


A general rundown of the order in which Encounter events are resolved could be added to the unfinished Encounter Generation section of the rules, in order to make it a bit clearer as to what happens at each step.

In your mind, what element is most confusing: Encounter generation, Scenario generation, or the CSCR? Or are they all equally confusing?


Rainer wrote:It might make sense to make a few of those items optional to not scare away the newbies.


If the general loathing of the range-based techs and firing options remains, then the full CSCR might just have to be left for the Engineering Manual. I would really hate to do that, but we could if we absolutely had to. I really don't want to see the other techs pulled from the book, though, because then we end up back with the vanilla DV/AS/AF trifecta in ship design that was part of the problem of CSCR 1: very little unit differentiation.


Rainer wrote:BTW I do think that fighter flights should be counted for detection purposes. Under the current rules it might be better to send a few carriers full of fighters without escorts since there would be quite a decent chance of a major failure on their opponent's roll.


I had thought about factoring Flights in by totaling their SIZ and dividing by 10, but I thought that might be annoying for players to having to add more than their Starships and Starbases to factor Fleet Size. Using the same Fleet Size for Detection and Command Limits was also appealing, to prevent some confusion.

As for sending a few carriers full of fighters without escorts: the carrier force might then be harder to detect, but it would also be extremely easy to destroy if found. If I have Initiative over you in the Encounter, I can send in just enough expendable ships to destroy your carrier in a low-intensity battle, leaving your fighters to die at the end of the scenario regardless of whether or not you take out my ships, too. I might lose 8 EP of small ships, but you will lose a carrier costing about the same plus all of its fighters (probably costing double).

That being said, Flights could be added to the total for Detection, but not for Command Limits, to represent that the Flights might be used as forward recon vessels that an enemy might run into.
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Postby Rainer » Thu May 07, 2009 4:29 pm

Tyrel Lohr wrote:A general rundown of the order in which Encounter events are resolved could be added to the unfinished Encounter Generation section of the rules, in order to make it a bit clearer as to what happens at each step.

In your mind, what element is most confusing: Encounter generation, Scenario generation, or the CSCR? Or are they all equally confusing?


I already know a lot of this stuff from Jay's work on Federation Commander so it is not really confusing for me. But then again I play WitP so complexity does not scare me. I could see how it could be confusing for someone not used to the system though

A more streamlined version could be helpful for PBEM play.


Tyrel Lohr wrote:If the general loathing of the range-based techs and firing options remains, then the full CSCR might just have to be left for the Engineering Manual. I would really hate to do that, but we could if we absolutely had to. I really don't want to see the other techs pulled from the book, though, because then we end up back with the vanilla DV/AS/AF trifecta in ship design that was part of the problem of CSCR 1: very little unit differentiation.


That's actually one of the things I would not want to see streamlined. :)

But things like e.g. forcing rolls for out of command squadrons every single combat turn just add complexity and time for little to no gain.


Tyrel Lohr wrote:I had thought about factoring Flights in by totaling their SIZ and dividing by 10, but I thought that might be annoying for players to having to add more than their Starships and Starbases to factor Fleet Size. Using the same Fleet Size for Detection and Command Limits was also appealing, to prevent some confusion.


There are more annoying things in the rules than that. ;)
A quick and dirty mechanic would be to add up the number of fighter flights instead of their SIZ. That should be easily accessible.

Tyrel Lohr wrote:As for sending a few carriers full of fighters without escorts: the carrier force might then be harder to detect, but it would also be extremely easy to destroy if found. If I have Initiative over you in the Encounter, I can send in just enough expendable ships to destroy your carrier in a low-intensity battle, leaving your fighters to die at the end of the scenario regardless of whether or not you take out my ships, too. I might lose 8 EP of small ships, but you will lose a carrier costing about the same plus all of its fighters (probably costing double).

That being said, Flights could be added to the total for Detection, but not for Command Limits, to represent that the Flights might be used as forward recon vessels that an enemy might run into.


Considering that their readiness roll be likely be poor and they can't have that much AS, I am not convinced that say 8 EP of smaller ships could take out the carrier before the fighters eat them alive. It might depend on whether you use attrition damage or auto-crippling even after a single damage point, but the damage rules are silent on this issue.

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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Thu May 07, 2009 7:28 pm

Rainer wrote:A more streamlined version could be helpful for PBEM play.


A PBEM version would need to eliminate basically all player interaction, which would not make for much fun in the full CSCR but is a necessary evil for PBEM play.

I think the "PBEM-friendly" version would be similar to the streamlined version, where there aren't any Squadrons at all, just one giant Task Force so that you have few options for assigning orders or doing anything special at all. Just roll and assign damage.


Rainer wrote:But things like e.g. forcing rolls for out of command squadrons every single combat turn just add complexity and time for little to no gain.


I saw Out of Command rolls for Squadrons as the lesser of several possible evils.

You could have Out of Command units halve their combat stats, but that has always caused game balance issues in the CSCR, especially when combined with the "whack-a-mole" kill the Command Unit strategy that players use (because it works). The Squadrons and Strikegroups that are Out of Command could just not get to fire at all, too.

You could also ignore Task Force level Command Rating limits completely, though that somewhat defeats the purpose of having a unit with a high Command Rating (still functions for Squadron, but would otherwise not be very important).

Alternatively, we could reintroduce the "ha, ha, I'm hiding my ships in the Reinforcements!" annoyance from 1E. No, we won't be doing that. I hated the Reinforcements Pool then, and I hate it more now; it was as gamey as the "I'm excluding your battleship" rule.


Rainer wrote:A quick and dirty mechanic would be to add up the number of fighter flights instead of their SIZ. That should be easily accessible.


I would be worried about doing that, because then 10 Flights of SIZ 3 fighters would be the same as having 10 SIZ 3 cruisers... which doesn't really sit well with me. It is certainly a simpler way of handling things, but also makes deploying small Flights impractical for the detection penalties they would carry with them.


Rainer wrote:Considering that their readiness roll be likely be poor and they can't have that much AS, I am not convinced that say 8 EP of smaller ships could take out the carrier before the fighters eat them alive. It might depend on whether you use attrition damage or auto-crippling even after a single damage point, but the damage rules are silent on this issue.


You are right that the opposing force's Surprise may be poor, though possible not poor enough to force truly hideous Readiness. Just Crippling the carrier would be sufficient to score a "win" for the attackers, as then their Carrier Rating would be halved, and they would have to lose Flights regardless (unless those Flights have enough Endurance to survive away from basing for a turn or two).

Still, I think you have suitably illustrated the reason why Flights should increase a Fleet's Detection Chance.

The term "Attrition Damage" doesn't exist anymore -- all damage is Damage. It is analogous to the old Attrition Damage, however, and units no longer auto-cripple (that term and concept no longer exists). Units receive Damage from Hits in battles, and that Damage then has to be repaired. Damaged units (still need to work damage states into a section somewhere) can be repaired either by field repair units or at shipyards, while Crippled units can only be repaired at shipyards.
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Postby jygro » Fri May 08, 2009 3:03 am

Rainer wrote:
That's actually one of the things I would not want to see streamlined. :)

But things like e.g. forcing rolls for out of command squadrons every single combat turn just add complexity and time for little to no gain.


This seemed odd to me as well. I liked the idea of the OOC (out of command) units having a penalty, but rolling to see what 'bonus' they get seems a bit over the top. I would assume that any captain worth his salt is going to fire, but the effectiveness should be way down. Perhaps, at the beginning of every battle, the player can state what his OOC squadrons are going to do (attack, defend, retreat) and that is their default orders when they go OOC. Of course, attacking should be at a penalty and I really think the others should too, but I couldn't tell you how to handle that one.

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Postby HairyHeretic » Fri May 08, 2009 9:32 am

Tyrel Lohr wrote:
Rainer wrote:A quick and dirty mechanic would be to add up the number of fighter flights instead of their SIZ. That should be easily accessible.


I would be worried about doing that, because then 10 Flights of SIZ 3 fighters would be the same as having 10 SIZ 3 cruisers... which doesn't really sit well with me. It is certainly a simpler way of handling things, but also makes deploying small Flights impractical for the detection penalties they would carry with them.


What about simply adding a note somewhere that fighters count as only a fraction of their size for the purposes of detection roles?

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Postby Rainer » Fri May 08, 2009 11:02 am

Tyrel Lohr wrote:A PBEM version would need to eliminate basically all player interaction, which would not make for much fun in the full CSCR but is a necessary evil for PBEM play.

I think the "PBEM-friendly" version would be similar to the streamlined version, where there aren't any Squadrons at all, just one giant Task Force so that you have few options for assigning orders or doing anything special at all. Just roll and assign damage.


Considering that a considerable fraction of the total number of campaigns are likely to include PBEM, there should certainly be some consideration for that.

As long as a player can input some orders and plans before the battle starts, I don't think that you will have to totally scrap all interaction.


Tyrel Lohr wrote:I saw Out of Command rolls for Squadrons as the lesser of several possible evils.

You could have Out of Command units halve their combat stats, but that has always caused game balance issues in the CSCR, especially when combined with the "whack-a-mole" kill the Command Unit strategy that players use (because it works). The Squadrons and Strikegroups that are Out of Command could just not get to fire at all, too.

You could also ignore Task Force level Command Rating limits completely, though that somewhat defeats the purpose of having a unit with a high Command Rating (still functions for Squadron, but would otherwise not be very important).

Alternatively, we could reintroduce the "ha, ha, I'm hiding my ships in the Reinforcements!" annoyance from 1E. No, we won't be doing that. I hated the Reinforcements Pool then, and I hate it more now; it was as gamey as the "I'm excluding your battleship" rule.


"I'll exclude your fleet carrier" was way better anyway. ;)

Having said that, I am not a fan of adding too many dice rolls. Making the resolution system too cumbersome would defeat the purpose of the CSCR IMO, namely being a quick and dirty resolution system. If a battle takes an entire afternoon to play out, I'd rather break out the miniatures instead.

I fear the preferential killing of the flagship problem will not be resolved by that feature anyway.

Tyrel Lohr wrote:I would be worried about doing that, because then 10 Flights of SIZ 3 fighters would be the same as having 10 SIZ 3 cruisers... which doesn't really sit well with me. It is certainly a simpler way of handling things, but also makes deploying small Flights impractical for the detection penalties they would carry with them.


I am more worried about not counting fighters at all. Fighters should not be hiding in their hangar until the battle starts but rather be out constantly flying missions like CAP and patrols. That might make a fleet easier to detect but the potential benefits far outweigh the drawbacks IMO.


Tyrel Lohr wrote:You are right that the opposing force's Surprise may be poor, though possible not poor enough to force truly hideous Readiness. Just Crippling the carrier would be sufficient to score a "win" for the attackers, as then their Carrier Rating would be halved, and they would have to lose Flights regardless (unless those Flights have enough Endurance to survive away from basing for a turn or two).

Still, I think you have suitably illustrated the reason why Flights should increase a Fleet's Detection Chance.


Thanks.

Reading over the other detection rules the colony detection chances also look a bit strange. You have a 50% chance to detect a lvl. 3 interstellar colony. You do add the fleet's sensor rating but from the examples that will likely be not much more than 10%. That seems low to me.

Tyrel Lohr wrote:The term "Attrition Damage" doesn't exist anymore -- all damage is Damage. It is analogous to the old Attrition Damage, however, and units no longer auto-cripple (that term and concept no longer exists). Units receive Damage from Hits in battles, and that Damage then has to be repaired. Damaged units (still need to work damage states into a section somewhere) can be repaired either by field repair units or at shipyards, while Crippled units can only be repaired at shipyards.


That clears things up.

Also the retreat check has caught my eye. Currently there seems to be no downside to attempt a premature retreat and the chance is not that bad either. d6 + no. of rounds + a bonus against the total scenario length? That is not too hard achieve in most scenarios. Why should an inferior fleet not always try to use that mechanic?

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Postby mriddle » Fri May 08, 2009 1:10 pm

Deception: What about lowering / Raising the effective SIZ for the ship, this gives the same effect on Command limit and provides other useful effects.

14.3.4 (Fog of War) Should Deception be used here as well ? ie
Should the players have standing orders for faking smaller or larger

14.3.3.1 (Initiative Order) If Deception is used here, that would be a reason to boost SIZ (larger fleet to get to go first)

You limit the low edge of combat rolls to 1, did you mean to limit the high end to 6 ?

Can out of control squadrons contribute ECCM ?

14.4.7.2.1 AntiShip Fire
Text says roll D6, example has D10

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Postby MarkG88 » Fri May 08, 2009 6:14 pm

Rainer wrote:
Also the retreat check has caught my eye. Currently there seems to be no downside to attempt a premature retreat and the chance is not that bad either. d6 + no. of rounds + a bonus against the total scenario length? That is not too hard achieve in most scenarios. Why should an inferior fleet not always try to use that mechanic?


Defenders should always have an opportunity to retreat before combat. Under "ideal conditions" (where you see the attacker coming) you should be able to retreat before a battle takes place. This can be modified by surprise (when you don't see the attacker coming) and perhaps terrain (if using warp points/jump gates etc and the attacker is between you and the exit point, you're not going anywhere without some sort of fight).

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Postby MarkG88 » Fri May 08, 2009 6:21 pm

mriddle wrote:
14.3.4 (Fog of War) Should Deception be used here as well ? ie
Should the players have standing orders for faking smaller or larger


I like the idea of this. Using a small group of EW ships to broadcast themselves as BCs or BBs squadrons would be nice and keeping with the various hide and seek games that get played out in our favorite sci-fi novels. The reverse is true as well where you want your larger ships/fleet too look smaller to intice your foe to stay and engage in battle.

There should be a set limit but with enough range to keep an opponent guessing as to size of fleet and size of units in the fleet before deciding to engage in combat or not.

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Postby mriddle » Fri May 08, 2009 10:06 pm

How do the various multipliers apply to the same Squadron/Strikegroup ?
ie
if a squadron with an AS of 20 is given a Dedicated Long Range attack, does it have a final AS of 20*1.25*.5 or 20*.5 + 20*.25 ?
in one case it is 15 and in the other it is 13 (12.5 rounded up)

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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sat May 09, 2009 12:08 am

jygro wrote:This seemed odd to me as well. I liked the idea of the OOC (out of command) units having a penalty, but rolling to see what 'bonus' they get seems a bit over the top. I would assume that any captain worth his salt is going to fire, but the effectiveness should be way down. Perhaps, at the beginning of every battle, the player can state what his OOC squadrons are going to do (attack, defend, retreat) and that is their default orders when they go OOC. Of course, attacking should be at a penalty and I really think the others should too, but I couldn't tell you how to handle that one.


In reference to the bolded statement above, the Out of Command rules are meant to function as a simple unit Morale system in addition to imposing penalties on Task Forces that have too many Squadrons and/or poor Command Units. A Squadron commander might not be altogether competent; he might do nothing, fall back, attack as ordered, choose to retreat, or some combination of the three. What that commander chooses to do is, by definition, out of the player's hand -- their Task Force commander is incapable of giving them orders.

Now, as a simplified solution (and the one that was there originally), you could just halve all of their combat stats and just leave it at that; it would certainly be simpler, but it also breaks the Command Action system. The true "simple" solution is to just not allow Out of Command Squadrons and Strikegroups to do anything. A middle of the road alternative would be to make a single roll each Combat Round for all Out of Command Squadrons/Strikegroups in a Task Force. This would eliminate die rolls (of which there would be few to begin with*), but would retain the element of random chance. You could also make it so that only Squadrons make Out of Command rolls, and their effects affect both the Squadron itself and their associated Strikegroup.

* In your campaigns, how many circumstances have you run into where a large number of Squadrons, Strikegroups would be simultaneously Out of Command? The worst-case scenario I can think of is a Task Force containing 12 Squadrons, each with a Strikegroup, commanded by a Flagship with 12 Command Rating. If this Flagship was Crippled, its Command Rating would drop to 6, leaving a total of 6 Squadrons and 6 Strikegroups (12 in all) Out of Command. Realistically, though, that Flagship would be in a minimum Formation Level 3 (1 from Engines, 1 from Flag Squadron bonus, 1 from Command Unit bonus) before any other modifiers, and Directed Damage against the unit would be at a 5:1 ratio (6:1 if you went with straight doubling instead of the 1.5x modifier). It is far likelier that their opponent would have scored some damage and eliminated some Squadrons/Strikegroups before the Flagship was Crippled.

I take that back; the *WORST* scenario would be when you have a huge number of ships present in a system when a Major Encounter is generated, dragging them all into the fight. In those cases, yes, Out of Command penalties could end being massive. However, I think that more warrants a rule to just make one roll if you think there are too many Squadrons/Strikegroups present... and I am not sure how often that would occur.

Most battles in my campaigns see 3-4 Squadrons, usually command by a unit with Command Ratings of 3-8. If a Destroyer Flagship with 3 Command Rating was Crippled, its Command Rating would fall to 2, which would leave 1 of its 3 potential Squadron mates Out of Command. The bigger issue hits at the high end when you max out a unit's "command potential" -- but that is more a case of a player needing to build better Command Units and not rely on ships that can just barely command average-sized Task Forces.
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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sat May 09, 2009 1:06 am

Rainer wrote:Considering that a considerable fraction of the total number of campaigns are likely to include PBEM, there should certainly be some consideration for that.


I can see a few points where decision points could be removed without breaking everything, but most of them will require an entirely separate CSCR for those situations where players just want something akin to the 1E CSCR where there aren't any decision points beyond whether to score damage as Directed Damage or not.

Rainer wrote:As long as a player can input some orders and plans before the battle starts, I don't think that you will have to totally scrap all interaction.


If the player could declare a "Posture" for combat, to illustrate how Command Actions should be spent and the point at which a force might retreat, that would give the CM enough guidance to play out the battle.

Otherwise, as far as the players go, all non-weapons fire related interactions are front loaded in the Combat Sequence so that they can all be issued at the same time. To save time you could then eliminate Directed Damage completely and just have the turn end with the players assigning damage themselves.

That ignores things like Boarding, but if players are strictly looking to remove decision points and speed up play then those tactics and technologies would just have to be outlawed in their campaigns; there just isn't really any middle ground there.


Rainer wrote:Having said that, I am not a fan of adding too many dice rolls. Making the resolution system too cumbersome would defeat the purpose of the CSCR IMO, namely being a quick and dirty resolution system. If a battle takes an entire afternoon to play out, I'd rather break out the miniatures instead.


The careful balancing act is between keeping the game mechanics simple and fluid while also providing an engaging experience for the player. The current CSCR is functional, but it isn't very extensible -- or, most of the time, terribly exciting. It gets the job done, but part of the goal with CSCR 2 is to make sure that combat, tech research, and ship design are all a bit more involved and interesting, and so that battles don't devolve into one-sided massacres. Whether what we have now accomplishes that or not is another story.

In any case, resolving battles with the CSCR would never take the entire afternoon; there is not that much more overhead added to the rules, and what is there doesn't add more than a couple of minutes to your scenario or encounter. At the start of each Combat Round you just issue your Command Actions, apply any ECCM/EW, and away you go on to resolve weapons fire.


Rainer wrote:I fear the preferential killing of the flagship problem will not be resolved by that feature anyway.


The feature doesn't solve the whack-a-flagship behavior on the player's side, but it does minimize the damage of doing so (to a point).

The only viable alternative to the Out of Command rules that I see right now is just to not allow those units to perform actions at all, which I don't think players would be happy with, either (well, one player might be pretty happy about it...).


Rainer wrote:Reading over the other detection rules the colony detection chances also look a bit strange. You have a 50% chance to detect a lvl. 3 interstellar colony. You do add the fleet's sensor rating but from the examples that will likely be not much more than 10%. That seems low to me.


Those values are not playtested, and are just in there as filler waiting to be tweaked. A 3 Census colony would be relatively easy to detect (thus 50%), and the Sensor Rating would also help in this regard. If that is to be tweaked, I would say that it would only be by +10-15% base. Any Fleet with some Sensors aboard would increase the chances.

If the base detection chances were increased to 10/20/30/40, that would put the detection chance for a 3 Census colony to 70%, while just 50% for a 1 Census colony or 40% for a 0 Census colony. 5/10/20/30 might work better, too, as it is a little more middle-of-the-road.


Rainer wrote:Also the retreat check has caught my eye. Currently there seems to be no downside to attempt a premature retreat and the chance is not that bad either. d6 + no. of rounds + a bonus against the total scenario length? That is not too hard achieve in most scenarios. Why should an inferior fleet not always try to use that mechanic?


The Retreat Check (in the unfinished backend of the section) is D6 + Current Round Number + FTL Rating, where FTL Rating is the lowest FTL Rating in the retreating Squadron. If you roll greater than the total Scenario Length, then that Squadron has retreated from battle. Units with superior FTL tech will therefore be able to escape faster than units that lack the technology.

As for how easy it is to retreat, the D6 roll might need to be changed to a D3, and the FTL Rating bonus may need to be halved (as FTL Ratings of 10 or higher could be encountered in very rare instances). Your average Normal Deep Space Scenario would have a Scenario Length of 7 prior to adding any Engine Rating modifications. So reducing the Retreat Check as previously mentioned would probably make sense; that version of the Retreat rules was written before scenario length was ratcheted down a bit.

The reason that an inferior Fleet would not always try to Retreat is because it would burn a Command Action. If you have a Flagship with 6 Command Rating and 5 Squadrons, telling all of the Squadrons to perform a Retreat Action would burn up 5 Actions -- leaving a single Action to be used to Attack, Defend, whatever. That means they won't get to fire back at all. So they might be able to successfully retreat from the scenario, but not before taking damage and possibly not firing a single shot back at the enemy.
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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sat May 09, 2009 1:39 am

mriddle wrote:Deception: What about lowering / Raising the effective SIZ for the ship, this gives the same effect on Command limit and provides other useful effects.


That's a good question. I know there was a reason for why I wrote the rules that way, but now I can't think of what that reason was. You make a compelling argument for having Deception tech be handled on a unit-by-unit basis, so that its effects can cascade through the rest of combat.

mriddle wrote:14.3.4 (Fog of War) Should Deception be used here as well ? ie
Should the players have standing orders for faking smaller or larger


Good catch. I will pencil in a note about that.

mriddle wrote:14.3.3.1 (Initiative Order) If Deception is used here, that would be a reason to boost SIZ (larger fleet to get to go first)


I am a bit torn on this one, as the player doesn't actually have a larger fleet -- but, by the same token, I also like that it makes Deception a bit more userful, too, as it can be used to influence this tie breaker category.

mriddle wrote:You limit the low edge of combat rolls to 1, did you mean to limit the high end to 6 ?


Yeah, that is something I was him-hawing over for awhile, but I didn't get it written into this build of the rules (too many notes!).

mriddle wrote:Can out of control squadrons contribute ECCM ?


This is another one that I am still a bit divided on. My gut reaction is that only Squadrons or Strikegroups ordered to Attack should get to use the active support functions like ECCM and EW.

mriddle wrote:14.4.7.2.1 AntiShip Fire
Text says roll D6, example has D10


Ha ha! Copy and paste and you get old rules! :)
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