nys wrote:What I must confess I got frustrated with is that I was trying to spark a discussion, but I felt it kept getting snuffed out at the mention of the game not being tested yet. I don't mean to put you guys on the defensive over what you've already created. I just think discussion is important because it lends more clarity.
There are very few things that are absolutely set in stone at this point. I think the only things that definitely fall into that category are the basic rules for Colonies, Star Systems, and Planets, and the general Encounter system tied to the CSCR. Everything else is more or less firmed up, but we are not so committed to the rest that we couldn't tweak, repair or replace them. We have already done that with the tech system (James Pridemore sent us a much better option which, while we haven't adopted it in its entirety, replaced what I had already developed for that particular area of the rules).
nys wrote:For example, Tyrel, I'm actually *not* of the opinion that combat needs to resolve faster and with fewer decisions. I like the idea of having more decisions and I can't really say one thing or another about the speed as I have not played out a combat. (Just because I suggested the CSCR was more aptly named CTCR does not mean I thought that was a negative thing!) What I am specifically concerned about is the number of "decision phases" (the terminology gets a little rough here) where a CM will have to pause the resolution of the round until he gets additional feedback. I don't have to have played the game to know that if there are too many of these, it won't be easy to play over email.
I made a conscious decision when writing the CSCR 2 rules to front load as much of the decision making to the start of the Combat Round as possible. In a PBEM game using the current rules, the Command, EW, and Formations Phases would all take place in the same email. You would need to create your Squadrons first, of course, so your opponent could target things appropriately, but otherwise it should run smoothly from there.
On average, you should have three emails per Round -- one for the opening phases; one for Medium Range weapons fire, including any Directed Damage used; and then one to update damage and the forces after the player assigns any remaining Damage. If Long and Short Range fire, if retained, aren't going to be common outside of forces that specifically focus on those specialties, I wager, so they shouldn't slow down the tempo of combat too much.
Regardless, it is still going to be the case that a face to face or otherwise live via IM battle resolution is going to be much faster than trying to do it via email. The same holds true for 1E as far as PBEM play is concerned. Still, for most battles, I think that they could be resolved fairly quickly, so long as the players were able to trade emails back and forth every couple of hours. Once a day would not work at all, unfortunately, unless a highly tuned CSCR was used that reduced the number of decision points significantly. Such a system would need to have everything frontloaded so that the initial email each round provided the list of units to be damaged, the damage total, and then have the players each roll and score damage. Directed Damage could probably still be used, as the player could declare this damage immediately after generating a die roll using a dice server. The target would then receive the die roll, plus a followup stating the amount of damage, how much scored Directed, and the remainder. The opponent would then score the remaining damage and email back a status update for his forces. Ramming, Boarding, and the like would probably still be an issue in these cases, and would require extra rolls -- unless you just resolved everything simultaneously, regardless of the normal order of operations in the Combat Round. This would speed play immensely, and when combined with an elimination of the Squadron mechanics and handling everything as a complete Task Force would allow for very rapid turn around.
teinedraig wrote:Can I just say that the new combat system looks great - I am lucky enough to have a group that can play face to face so detail and tactical considerations are important.
Having a local group to play with certainly does overcome a lot of the possible time delay issues associated with PBEM play. Even playing solo (which is mostly what I do), you start to take for granted having the ability to quickly run through a battle.
The more I think about it, the more I think resolving a battle over IM is probably the best option for most distance players. Instead of playing email tag for a week, they can sit down for 15 minutes and just resolve the battle and be done with it.
teinedraig wrote:It would be interseting to see how the technology items will impact upon / enhance the various elements of the CSCR
We've tried to keep the base tech options that will appear in the Campaign Guide pretty straightforward. Most of the existing combat techs will stay relatively unchanged (Defense, Anti-Ship, Anti-Fighter, Command). Other techs are getting renamed or otherwise moved around. For example, Basing Capacity is now Carrier, and since Flights can have variables Unit Sizes, they may require more than 1 point of Carrier Rating to base them. However, these larger Flights will also be more powerful. We also have the new Engine and Sensor technologies which provide some bonuses and penalties. High Engines means that you can better control the length of an engagement, while Sensors give you detection bonuses that can provide bonuses to Surprise and Intensity. Stealth is also more important now, as it acts as a counter to enemy Sensors.
The most interesting thing about some of the new technologies added to the game thus far is that they are all potentially useful, and they can have a major impact on fighting styles. For example, a player that develops his empire's Stealth tech to a high degree will be able to build ships that are harder to detect. If that player's opponents don't compensate in some way, usually by fielding more Sensors, they may not even be able to detect his unit's anymore. The same situation applies to ECM (Electronic Protection, I will have to get used to using the new term) -- tech can give you an advantage, especially if your opponents don't take steps to remedy the situation.
Most technologies will also end up with a counter technology of some kind, so that there will be at least one straightforward way to "beat" a rival technology. Of course, there will usually be multiple strategies that can be employed to overcome an enemy's advantage even if you can't beat them technologically. If your Sensor tech is bad and your enemy uses Stealth ships, just build as many cheap Sensor boats as possible. They are individually weak and inefficient, but if that is what it takes to combat the enemy threat then that is what you have to do.
So far in my tests, the most interesting shift from 1E to 2E as far as ship construction is concerned is that a player could build units that lack most of the new technologies (Engines are kind of necessary, unless you like Starbases), and those units would have health Defense, Anti-Ship, and Anti-Fighter values; however, if they can't project good formations (Engine, Electronic Protection), detect enemy forces (Sensors), operate away from established supply lines (Endurance), or various other sundry tasks, then they will be at a disadvantage compared to units that can do these things. The conventional "big gun" warship in 1E might be a great system monitor design for defending your colonies and internal territories, but if their opponents have specialized in a range of other technologies they will find their firepower advantage partially neutralized.
We are trying to show some restraint as far as tech proliferation is concerned, of course, and will definitely be deferring the techs we feel to be "secondary" to the Engineering Manual. Such techs are those that have enough special rules as to be a bit goofy (engine Pulsar weaponry, Cyber Warfare, etc.) or that you just wouldn't want to see fielded in every campaign.
Going back to your original statement, teinedraig, beyond combat effects, the introduction of additional "essential" technologies will make tech development a more vibrant aspect of a campaign. Sure, everyone will be researching the core unit techs out of necessity. However, there will be enough techs to allow for empires to specialize and emerge with their own peculiar battle strategies. Consider that, just looking at the core stats, you have the following:
Space: Defense, Anti-Ship, Anti-Fighter, Engines
Ground: Attrition, Anti-Ground, Anti-Air, Mobility
Both: Command, Carrier, Sensors, Stealth, Electronic Protection, Electronic Attack
That is just off the top of my head, but that gives us 14 technologies that would be fairly common, and doesn't include the various derivative or alternative technologies (Cloak from Stealth, Tender from Carrier, CIC from Command, etc.). We also have old mainstays such as Assault, Cargo, Boarding, Minelayer, and more as additional techs to be researched.