Battle of the Dreadnoughts

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Battle of the Dreadnoughts

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Thu Aug 04, 2011 6:46 am

I should really be going to bed, but instead I wanted to run through a quick, simple slugging match between two matched squadrons of dreadnoughts using the sample stat block I just posted to one of murtalianconfederacy's campaign diaries. Here's the ship class:

Royal Sovereign-class Superdreadnought
TL 10 Starship - Construction Cost 50: - Maintenance Cost: 10 - Command Cost: 5
DV 25, AS 18, PD 12, CR 16, BC 3, FTL 2

I'm going to pit a squadron of four dreadnoughts against its identical member and see what happens. This is an arbitrary space combat scenario, but let's say it has a length of 6 rounds and both task forces start at normal (+-0) Readiness. Since there aren't any fighters or missiles present, either, our Point Defense (PD) is going to concentrate entirely on boosting formations. That keeps things simple this game.

Round 1

Task Force One has a total of 4 x 16 CR + 4 x 12 PD, for a raw total of 112 for its formations roll. We roll D6 x 112 / 10 and round to nearest to see how many formation points we have to spend. We roll a '1' (ouch), giving us all of 11 formation points. The cost to buy a unit +1 formation level is equal to their command cost, so Task Force One can only buy +2 formation levels for itself.

HMS Edward (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level
HMS Elizabeth (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level
HMS Victoria (Royal Sovereign) - 1 Formation Level
HMS George (Royal Sovereign) - 1 Formation Level

Task Force Two meanwhile rolls a '2', only slightly better, which gives it 22 formation points. I could put all four of my dreadnoughts in FL 2, or I would split up the bonuses and shift them around. Generally speaking you are better off increasing everyone's formation level that you can. Defender's still score damage like in 1E unless the attackers opt to score some as directed damage.

HMS Henry (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level
HMS William (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level
HMS Richard (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level
HMS Anne (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level

Next we conduct anti-ship fire. TF1 has 4 x 18 AS = 72. It rolls a '6' on a D6, so it scores 6 x 72 / 10 = 43 hits against TF2. TF2 ships are all in FL 2, so all of them take damage equally. Being in FL 2 means that it takes 2 hits to score 1 damage against the ships. TF2 splits the damage equally as follows:

HMS Henry (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 5 DAMAGE
HMS William (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 5 DAMAGE
HMS Richard (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 6 DAMAGE
HMS Anne (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 6 DAMAGE

That was a pretty substantial volley that left the ships in very bad condition. However, it was also an extremely lucky roll, and definitely far from average. In return, TF2 does 5 [D6] x 72 / 10 = 36 hits. Here is where things get dicey. Two of the dreadnoughts in TF1 are in FL 1, which means that it only takes 1 hit to score 1 damage against them. TF1's player has to decide whether to completely plaster those two exposed dreadnoughts or else take the damage to its two protected ones, one of which (Edward) is serving as the squadron's command element. As painful as it is, TF1 takes all of the damage to Elizabeth. That doesn't cripple her, but it does leave her vulnerable to future attack. The alternative is to damage Edward, but we don't want to lose our command element if we can't help it as losing Edward will put the squadron out of command until it can reorganize, halving its combat factors.

HMS Edward (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level
HMS Elizabeth (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 18 DAMAGE
HMS Victoria (Royal Sovereign) - 1 Formation Level
HMS George (Royal Sovereign) - 1 Formation Level

That's round 1 of combat, and I have to head off to bed from there. Tomorrow, along with doing another Human Republic turn, I'll come back and finish this combat to see how things turn out. Right now after one round of extremely good attack rolls and lousy formation rolls the forces are battered but not at a terrible disadvantage. In fact, if the same amount of damage was scored on each of the remaining five rounds of combat, both squadrons could emerge from the fight without any combat losses. Their ships would be crippled and heavily damaged, but they would still be alive and capable of fighting another day.

As another quick aside, consider that HMS Elizabeth is damaged but not crippled. The cost to repair a damaged unit is 25% of its construction cost. It would cost 13 EP to repair the dreadnought, and the completion time would be 13 / 5 = 3 turns. The 13 EP has to be paid in a single chunk, too, so it would have to return to a colony with at least 13 EP of shipyard capacity to effect the repairs. An alternative would be to use ships with the Repair ability to conduct these repairs in the field, but it would require 13 Repair rating for those 3 turns instead. That's doable, but is going to tie up a lot of assets to repair the one dreadnought.
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Re: Battle of the Dreadnoughts

Postby Gareth_Perkins » Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:31 am

Is it possible to change formation levels in-battle? (I would guess through the use of unit special traits)

In principle I like the new formation rules - dropping the annoying fractions and calculations from 1e makes combat much simpler from the players perspective, and also makes CR very useful (which is also good).

It does look like the big ships will often end up defending the little ships though (because formation is dirt cheap on escorts, so you can give them a huge rating and use them to soak up damage!)? I suppose a formation level does apply across more DV (for more total damage soaked) on the bigger ships though...

Do these squadrons not exceed CC limits (5x CC5 ships under a CR16 flag)? Or does this work in some other way now?

Squadron flagship CR seems much less important now? (A poor squadron flag can have its CR bolstered by having squadron-mates with decent CR, which seems a bit weird - surely the flags CR should be much more significant - possibly this is a genre setting though)?

The die roll for formation points is an excellent point at which to add in some interaction with veteran officers...
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Re: Battle of the Dreadnoughts

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:52 pm

Gareth_Perkins wrote:Is it possible to change formation levels in-battle? (I would guess through the use of unit special traits)


You re-roll and reassign formation points each combat round, so each round you can shift your formations back and forth depending on what you would like to protect. Players can choose to protect just a few of their most important units, or they can spread the formation points around to buy up formation levels in a more balanced manner. There are some special abilities that will likely be ported back over from 1E (Guardian/Disruptor) that allow for more guaranteed formation level bonuses, but I am still trying to balance those so that they don't cause problems.

Gareth_Perkins wrote:In principle I like the new formation rules - dropping the annoying fractions and calculations from 1e makes combat much simpler from the players perspective, and also makes CR very useful (which is also good).


Giving Command rating a larger purpose beyond simple squadron and task force organization was a major goal for 2E combat, and after some soul searching I decided that CR really does encompass a lot of the C3 electronic warfare components, so it makes sense that it can be used to protect the fleet. It also makes it extremely worthwhile to have CR aboard all of your ships, as every little bit helps.

There will be some other EW systems available either in the main book or the Engineering Manual that expands on CR's role to a degree. Namely Electronic Protection that provides guaranteed formation points, and Electronic Attack which reduces the number of formation points your opponent has available.

Gareth_Perkins wrote:It does look like the big ships will often end up defending the little ships though (because formation is dirt cheap on escorts, so you can give them a huge rating and use them to soak up damage!)? I suppose a formation level does apply across more DV (for more total damage soaked) on the bigger ships though...


It is a give and take. You can give your light ships inordinately high formation levels (though these will need to be capped, to prevent jokesters from putting a single ship in FL 20) to allow them to act as damage sponges for your larger ships, but if you don't properly defend your capital ships and put them in a high enough formation level to protect them then your opponent can just do directed damage against your capital ship and blow it up instead. The directed damage penalty has fluctuated and I am still trying to figure out what is fairest. 50% premium seems fair until you get into the really high formation levels, but then again a ship in FL 6 should be much harder to target with directed damage.

The other side effect of allowing smaller ships to be put in higher formation levels is that it allows wolf pack or swarm fleets to still be potentially viable simply because they end up taking so many hits to kill. They probably won't be as economically efficient as an all-capital ship fleet, but they can be built more widely using less shipyard capacity, and can be built in greater quantities. Let's consider a heavy destroyer:

Wolf-class Destroyer
TL 10 Starship - Construction Cost: 10 - Maintenance Cost: 2 - Command Cost: 1
DV 4, AS 5, PD 2, CR 4, BC 0, FTL 2

We can field 5 Wolfs for every 1 Royal Sovereign, and we can fit those 5 Wolfs into a single squadron. That squadron has stat totals of DV 20, AS 25, PD 10, CR 20, or pretty comparable to that dreadnought. The dreadnought just can stay at full combat strength longer because it takes more damage to cripple it.

Now, let's say that the Wolf squadron rolls a '4' for its formation roll and is using all of its PD for defense. That's 30 x 4 / 10 = 12 FP to spend. That puts 2 @ Wolfs in FL 3 and 3 @ Wolfs in FL 2. Not bad, and it is above average. The Royal Sovereign fires at these guys: 18 x 5 / 10 = 9 hits. The Wolf player can take 1 damage to one of the FL 3 [3 hits], then score 3 damage between the FL 2 ships [6 hits]. This leaves the wolf pack damaged, but its combat capabilities have not been degraded. In fact, it could take another two rounds of this punishment and still not end up with any crippled units unless the Royal Sovereign's player elects to do some directed damage to push one of the ships overs its limit to cripple it.

That all being said, there is a clear bias towards capital ship warfare in 2E. That can in part be blamed on the fact that I was reading Honor Harrington books last year when I was writing most of those rules, and in that setting of course capital ships (and then only the largest capital ships) are queens of the battle field. Escort ships in 2E are still viable, as shown above, but they are inevitably going to be bloodied if they come upon a major capital ship heavy fleet. What saves them is their cheap formation level costs and quick replacement and repair costs.

Gareth_Perkins wrote:Do these squadrons not exceed CC limits (5x CC5 ships under a CR16 flag)? Or does this work in some other way now?


There are 4 dreadnoughts per squadron, and the command element's own command cost doesn't count against its Command rating, so each squadron currently has 15 CC of ships in it. That leaves 1 CR leftover that could be used to add an escort if desired.

Gareth_Perkins wrote:Squadron flagship CR seems much less important now? (A poor squadron flag can have its CR bolstered by having squadron-mates with decent CR, which seems a bit weird - surely the flags CR should be much more significant - possibly this is a genre setting though)?


The highest CR unit in a squadron is typically (but not always) its command element, but there is no reason why all of the units in a squadron can't have the same CR. Its actually beneficial to have at least one other unit with the same CR in a squadron that could act as a backup command element should anything happen to the original flagship. The command element's CR is still used to determine the total CC of units that it can command, and a flag element in control of a task force determines the maximum number of squadrons it can command. You can include more squadrons in a scenario than a flagship can command, but those beyond the flagship's Command limit are "Out of Command" and halve their combat factors. So you can bring a huge overwhelming force into a battle, but they might not be as effective as if they were there individually. And they are likely going to be easier for the enemy to pick off, as their formation point generation is going to be halved.

Gareth_Perkins wrote:The die roll for formation points is an excellent point at which to add in some interaction with veteran officers...


"Mr. Sulu, evasive maneuvers!" That is definitely one of the nicer points about the new CSCR is that there are enough elements that a more interesting stable of combat officers can be built up, as there are just so many things that can be modified.
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Re: Battle of the Dreadnoughts

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:51 pm

Round 2

Task Force One
Formation Roll: [D6] 5 x 112 / 10 = 56
HMS Henry (Royal Sovereign) - 5 Formation Level - 5 DAMAGE
HMS William (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level - 5 DAMAGE
HMS Richard (Royal Sovereign) - 4 Formation Level - 6 DAMAGE
HMS Anne (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level - 6 DAMAGE

Task Force Two
Formation Roll: [D6] 4 x 112 / 10 = 45
HMS Edward (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level
HMS Elizabeth (Royal Sovereign) - 4 Formation Level - 18 DAMAGE
HMS Victoria (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level
HMS George (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level

TF1 fires at TF2: [D6] 1 x 72 / 10 = 7 hits
Defender scores 1 damage to Elizabeth [4] and 1 damage to George [3]

TF2 fires at TF1: [D6] 5 x 72 / 10 = 36 hits
Defender scores 9 damage to Richard [36]

Round 3

Task Force One
Formation Roll: [D6] 3 x 112 / 10 = 34
HMS Henry (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level - 5 DAMAGE
HMS William (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 5 DAMAGE
HMS Richard (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level - 15 DAMAGE
HMS Anne (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 6 DAMAGE

Task Force Two
Formation Roll: [D6] 2 x 112 / 10 = 22
HMS Edward (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level
HMS Elizabeth (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 19 DAMAGE
HMS Victoria (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level
HMS George (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 1 DAMAGE

TF1 fires at TF2: [D6] 6 x 72 / 10 = 43 hits
Attacker scores 6 damage on Elizabeth [18]
Defender scores 13 damage to George [26]

TF2 fires at TF1: [D6] 4 x 72 / 10 = 29 hits
Defender scores 5 damage to Richard [15] and 7 damage to Anne [14]


Round 4

Task Force One
Formation Roll: [D6] 5 x 112 / 10 = 56
HMS Henry (Royal Sovereign) - 4 Formation Level - 5 DAMAGE
HMS William (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level - 5 DAMAGE
HMS Richard (Royal Sovereign) - 5 Formation Level - 20 DAMAGE
HMS Anne (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level - 13 DAMAGE

Task Force Two
Formation Roll: [D6] 2 x 98 / 10 = 20
HMS Edward (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level
HMS Elizabeth (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 25 DAMAGE (Crippled)
HMS Victoria (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level
HMS George (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 14 DAMAGE

TF1 fires at TF2: [D6] 6 x 72 / 10 = 43 hits
Attacker scores 11 damage on George [33]
Defender scores 5 damage to George [26]

TF2 fires at TF1: [D6] 2 x 63 / 10 = 13 hits
Defender scores 5 damage to William[15]


Round 5

Task Force One
Formation Roll: [D6] 5 x 112 / 10 = 56
HMS Henry (Royal Sovereign) - 4 Formation Level - 5 DAMAGE
HMS William (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level - 10 DAMAGE
HMS Richard (Royal Sovereign) - 5 Formation Level - 20 DAMAGE
HMS Anne (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level - 13 DAMAGE

Task Force Two
Formation Roll: [D6] 6 x 84 / 10 = 50
HMS Edward (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level
HMS Elizabeth (Royal Sovereign) - 4 Formation Level - 25 DAMAGE (Crippled)
HMS Victoria (Royal Sovereign) - 3 Formation Level
HMS George (Royal Sovereign) - 4 Formation Level - 30 DAMAGE (Crippled)

TF1 fires at TF2: [D6] 4 x 72 / 10 = 29 hits
Defender scores 8 damage to Elizabeth [32]

TF2 fires at TF1: [D6] 4 x 54 / 10 = 22 hits
Defender scores 1 damage to Henry [4] and 6 damage to William [18]

Round 6

Task Force One
Formation Roll: [D6] 2 x 112 / 10 = 22
HMS Henry (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 6 DAMAGE
HMS William (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 16 DAMAGE
HMS Richard (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 20 DAMAGE
HMS Anne (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 13 DAMAGE

Task Force Two
Formation Roll: [D6] 1 x 84 / 10 = 8
HMS Edward (Royal Sovereign) - 1 Formation Level
HMS Elizabeth (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 32 DAMAGE (Crippled)
HMS Victoria (Royal Sovereign) - 1 Formation Level
HMS George (Royal Sovereign) - 1 Formation Level - 30 DAMAGE (Crippled)

TF1 fires at TF2: [D6] 3 x 72 / 10 = 22 hits
Attacker scores 20 damage to George [20] - SHIP DESTROYED
Defender scores 1 damage to Elizabeth [2]

TF2 fires at TF1: [D6] 6 x 54 / 10 = 32 hits
Attacker scores 5 damage to Richard [15]
Defender scores 9 damage to Richard [18]


End of Combat
Here's the end results of the battle:

Task Force One
HMS Henry (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 6 DAMAGE
HMS William (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 16 DAMAGE
HMS Richard (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 34 DAMAGE
HMS Anne (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 13 DAMAGE

Task Force Two
HMS Edward (Royal Sovereign) - 1 Formation Level
HMS Elizabeth (Royal Sovereign) - 2 Formation Level - 33 DAMAGE (Crippled)
HMS Victoria (Royal Sovereign) - 1 Formation Level
HMS George (Royal Sovereign) - 1 Formation Level - 50 DAMAGE (Destroyed)

TF1 came out of the battle feeling pretty good. All four of its dreadnoughts are still alive, and only one of them was crippled in the engagement. By spreading damage around, however, they have made sure that all of their ships have to be repaired to return to full combat efficiency. The cost to repair these ships is 64 EP, they'll require 3-5 turns in the yards to get repaired.

TF2 was badly bloodied in this engagement, but even with poor rolls they still managed to get in a few licks against the enemy. Replacement and repair costs for TF2 are 75 EP, but they still have two pristine dreadnoughts in their squadron that can continue to fight without needing to be sent back for repairs. If another space combat scenario was generated this same encounter, TF2 stands a fairly good chance of crippling one or two of the rival DNs to even the score, so long as they don't roll too poorly themselves.

Formation level assignments go faster in larger games where you have to apply your formation points on a squadron-by-squadron basis and then just use the leftovers for spot adjustments, but you need a bit more versatility in these smaller battles.

To give a better sense of scale, your average homeworld could start construction on one Royal Sovereign per campaign turn. They take 10 turns to actually build, but you can keep a constant stream of these things coming out of the shipyards so long as you have the economic points available to fuel your war machine. After a year (10 turns) of continuous construction, you would have enough dreadnoughts underway to fill out two complete squadrons. It is far more likely, however, that each full-strength squadron would only have at most 3 dreadnoughts with the remaining 6 CC allowance filled out with cruisers or escorts. Alternatively, if you needed to spread your forces out a bit, you would put 2 dreadnoughts per squadron and then fill in with lighter warships that can be built faster and at a lower cost. You end up with a lower concentration of absolute firepower and less staying power in battle, but that is okay in most circumstances. Those 10 dreadnoughts would cost 10 EP per turn to maintain, however, so it would start eating into your budget fairly quickly.
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Re: Battle of the Dreadnoughts

Postby Iron Sky » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:40 pm

Two questions/comments from my recent re-reading of the (outdated) ship combat rules you released last year:

1) Doesn't the command ship in each squadron gain +1 Formation Level?

2) Couldn't the ships have used close-range fire? I would think, at least in the first round when there's very little risk of a ship being crippled before getting to close range that it would be beneficial. Have the firing range rules changed?

Otherwise, neat to see. I haven't played 1E, but I've read most of the AARs people have put up on these boards and it seems like 75%+ of combats are 1 side completely destroyed, the other undamaged. Even if one side is highly superior, I like the idea that the "underdog" fleet can at least get a few licks in, so it's cool to see that it seems to be the case in 2E.

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Re: Battle of the Dreadnoughts

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:59 pm

Iron Sky wrote:1) Doesn't the command ship in each squadron gain +1 Formation Level?

Doh. Yes, you're correct: the two command elements should have received the free +1 Formation Level bonus for being command elements. Luckily that wouldn't have had a huge effect on the outcome, though it would have meant that the TF1 command element would probably have taken 1 less point of damage.

Iron Sky wrote:2) Couldn't the ships have used close-range fire? I would think, at least in the first round when there's very little risk of a ship being crippled before getting to close range that it would be beneficial. Have the firing range rules changed?

The range-based fire and dedicated fire rules are probably going to be excised from the final version of the new CSCR. I have been trying to find good ways of balancing those options, but trying to keep them balanced and not turn into a situation where each side always goes dedicated AS/PD against certain targets causes problems.

Iron Sky wrote:Otherwise, neat to see. I haven't played 1E, but I've read most of the AARs people have put up on these boards and it seems like 75%+ of combats are 1 side completely destroyed, the other undamaged. Even if one side is highly superior, I like the idea that the "underdog" fleet can at least get a few licks in, so it's cool to see that it seems to be the case in 2E.

In my own games I haven't seen as many blowouts as murtalianconfederacy has, but it is something that happens often enough to be an obvious problem with the 1E combat rules. The main problem comes when one side so completely outmatches the other in number of quality of units that it becomes nearly impossible for the inferior force to do any real damage before they're annihilated. A good range of die rolls can save a force, but that's never a guarantee.

One aspect of the 2E combat that isn't demonstrated by this battle simulation is that these same ships could participate in additional combat scenarios later that same turn, likely with other squadrons assisting them if present. Or a player could say "crap" and bugout by using his next initiative action to retreat his force from the system (they move out next turn, but start the retreat this turn). During scenario setup, TF1's player could also alter the scenario setup to include TF2 in the battle against the other player's will. This is a good strategy for mopping up enemy stragglers or forcing the other player to protect an important transport convoy.

The end result is the combat is more dynamic, though it can take longer to fully resolve an encounter if there is a lot of fighting in a star system. But at the same time it might take several turns of space combat in a system before a clear victor can emerge. That gives players the opportunity to move reinforcements into the system in between turns, something that wasn't really possible in 1E.

I hope to have the revised Encounter rules done Saturday, in preparation for the Sunday 2E draft release. When I get them finished I'll run through a sample encounter resolution to show those rules off.
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