Revised Technology and Combat

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Tyrel Lohr
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Revised Technology and Combat

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:41 pm

Here's a quick overview of some of the changes to the VBAM 2E rules from the past month. I wanted to review how technology and unit design have changed and also how that all ties back into combat.

First up is technology and research. Each empire has a tech level in each of the technologies in the game. In most cases this means Defense, Attack Strength, Point Defense, Command Rating, and FTL. A player has tech levels in all of the other special abilities, too, with each acting as its own "technology". Tech availability is not being restricted in the Campaign Guide, but there are tech availability rules that I've moved to another book (likely destination is the Engineering Manual) that would restrict access to certain technologies until they're unlocked. They were nice rules to have, but didn't really mesh well with the scope of the Campaign Guide.

Anyway, let's say we have an empire that has the following tech levels: DV 5, AS 2, PD 3, CR 1, FTL 2

The player wants to design a new ship for his empire and find out how these technologies interact with the unit construction process. Let's say he specs out the following ship:

Gettysburg-class cruiser
DV 8, AS 7, PD 6, CR 6, FTL 4

Okay, there the stats that we're aiming for. Now to calculate our costs.

First off, DV, AS, PD, and CR all have a fixed cost of 1 per point of value before tech level modifiers while FTL is a variable cost technology that costs 10% of your base cost of fixed values. We have to add our fixed cost items to calculate this variable cost. We have a total of 27 for fixed value stats, so each point of FTL costs us 2.7 before tech modifiers. Obviously strategic speed is an expensive luxury. This give us a base cost of 37.8.

Now that we have these values calculated we can apply our tech level adjustments. Right now I'm still debating between 5% miniaturization and 10% miniaturization. The latter is feeling more significant, and given the technology split I don't think you're going to see any major problems until TL 15+ which is pretty high tech, all things considered (and would take an empire a long time to achieve at the exclusion of all other research). The breakdown for actual point use is then:

DV: 8 x 0.90^5 = 4.72
AS: 7 x 0.90^2 = 5.67
PD: 6 x 0.90^3 = 4.37
CR: 6 x 0.90^1 = 5.40
FTL: 2.7 x 4 x 0.90^2 = 8.75

This gives us a total point cost of 28.91. From this raw cost we can derive our Construction Cost and Command Cost. A unit's Maintenance Cost is instead calculated on its base point cost before tech level modifiers, however, to better scale maintenance costs against unit capabilities so that more powerful units cost more to maintain, even if an empire can build and command them at a lower price.

Construction Cost: 28.91 / 2 = 14.455, which rounds to 14 EP. Not bad, the tech advantage made our unit a bit cheaper!
Maintenance Cost: 37.8 / 5 = 7.56, which rounds to 8. You pay 10% of the maintenance cost per turn in EP, so this is really 8 / 10 = 4/5 EP per turn.
Command Cost: 1 (base) + ROUNDDOWN(28.91 / 10) = 3 CC

Now, let's say that we had an empire that was a total scrub and had TL 0 in everything and they built a unit with the same stats as the Gettysburg. It would have a Construction Cost of 20 EP (6 higher), Maintenance Cost of 4/5 (same), and Command Cost 4. It would effectively be a battleship for them.

The maintenance calculation may seem a bit off to some people, but it really is the balancing factor that keeps extremely advanced empires from not completely trouncing lower tech empires. They get enough other advantages between cheaper construction and command costs to more than make up for it.

The Gettysburg's cost could have been greatly reduced by droppings its FTL, but then it wouldn't have had the same degree of strategic mobility and would have been forced to make extended or emergency jumps to cross more dangerous jump lanes. Still, you could have ended up with a ship like this for about the same cost:

Bull Run-class cruiser
Cost: 14, Maint: 8
DV 10, AS 9, PD 7, CR 6, CC 3, FTL 2

This ship is considerably stronger, but is only half as fast and will take longer to deploy into trouble zones. It can make 2 major lanes or 1 normal lane per turn, but anything more than that will require 2 turns to cross the lane. An emergency jump across a minor lane gives it a 1/6 chance of crippling/destroying, and restricted lanes are a 1/3 chance of the same. In other words, a player could build bulky FTL 1 monitors bristling with guns and still move them around, but it's going to get dangerous to be performing so many emergency jumps.

Now, how all of this ends up fitting into CSCR combat. Let's assume for the sake of conjecture that these two empires each brought 10 cruisers into a system and had an encounter. The number of command points they receive is equal to their highest CR + 1 per 10 CR in the remainder of the fleet. This gives each of them 11 command points to spend in the encounter.

Whoever wins initiative would get to spend these points to perform actions. Let's say the Gettysburg empire wins initiative. He could choose to generate a combat scenario, but he knows his opponent has a lot more firepower than he does. So maybe he's going to spend his CP to bring in reinforcements to the fight. Otherwise, he might spend CP to retreat most of his fleet and force the player to pursue or pick on the stragglers.

The Bull Run empire in contrast knows he has a firepower advantage and would want to press that advantage by generating a scenario. An Interception scenario would give him a readiness roll bonus, but it's scenario length would also be halved which isn't optimal, so Deep Space it is! He spends 9 CP on the scenario; this allows him to bring in 3 Bull Run cruisers as squadron command units, and each of those can command an additional 2 cruisers (6 CC) in their squadron. The opponent does the same and the two line up for a battle.

In the new CSCR, without any special abilities to get in the way, this combat would be very straightforward. Each player would total his PD and resolve that first. Gettysburgs have 54 PD to the Bull Run's 63. Each side has 3 squadrons and thus roll 3 dice for their combat rolls. The Gettysburgs roll 1, 3, and 5. The high roll is a 5, so their effective PD this round is 5 x 54 / 10 = 27 PD. There aren't any flights to fire on, so all of this PD is spent on increasing formation values. The cost to increase a unit's formation by 1 is equal to its CC, so each of the Gettysburgs can get +1 Formation for this round. The Bull Runs meanwhile roll 1, 6, 6. The high roll is a 6 and the second 6 gives +1 to the result. This gives them 7 x 63 / 10 = 44 PD to spend on formation bonuses. That's 14 formation increases spread between 9 ships. Very good defense.

The same process if repeated for AS, and then the AS is spent to damage enemy units. The number of AS required to score 1 damage is equal to the target's formation value. As was noted in yesterday's update the attacker is now responsible for all damage allocation, and they have the choice of which units to damage, cripple, or destroy with their AS. Strategic use of formation bonuses by the defender can help to shield his wounded units, however, which maintains a back and forth between the two players.

Flights, gunboats, and satellites are excellent tools for forcing a player to split their PD between offensive and defensive fire. This split also ends up benefiting flights as an opponent is less likely to use all of their PD to swat down a wave of enemy fighters when it could be used to protect its own fleet units against attack.
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Emiricol
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Re: Revised Technology and Combat

Postby Emiricol » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:26 pm

If both sides spend the majority of their PD on formation, what are the tactical options for the opponent to actually deliver some damage and prevent the engagement from being just circling each other until turns run out?

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Re: Revised Technology and Combat

Postby virtutis.umbra » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:07 pm

Tyrel Lohr wrote: CR 6, CC 3

He spends 9 CP on the scenario; this allows him to bring in 3 Bull Run cruisers as squadron command units, and each of those can command an additional 3 cruisers in their squadron.


Assume that "additional 3 cruisers" is actually "additional 2 cruisers" ?
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Tyrel Lohr
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Re: Revised Technology and Combat

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:08 pm

Emiricol wrote:If both sides spend the majority of their PD on formation, what are the tactical options for the opponent to actually deliver some damage and prevent the engagement from being just circling each other until turns run out?


The opponent has two potential strategies in a balanced situation like this. The first is to concentrate fire to cripple as many enemy units as possible. This reduces the targets' combat capabilities on future combat rounds, but it also forces the defender to spend disproportionately more PD to reinforce the formations of those crippled units -- or else leave them to the wolves and let them be destroyed. The second option an opponent has is to spread the damage around as much as possible. This doesn't weaken the enemy for this battle but it does have the effect of inflicting economic harm against his enemy, as the damaged units will have to be repaired and those costs add up.

If you had other special units in your task force, it might be better for a player to concentrate on taking them out. This includes things like Scouts, Carriers, Tenders, Supply ships, etc. -- units that provide extra utility that you'd prefer to eliminate from the fight. The presence of these units in a battle also forces the defender to spend PD to protect them, potentially leaving some of their other units unprotected and ripe for being shredded by enemy weapons fire.

A lot of it comes down to the ebb and flow of combat, with players hoping that they roll well enough to defend themselves against the enemy's incoming weapons fire. It does turn combat into a case of battering against the enemy's defenses looking for an opening and hoping more to weaken them than outright eliminate them. This has been one of the core goals of the 2E CSCR: make units more survivable and give players more chances to reinforce themselves so that a single bad set of die rolls in one battle doesn't deal them out of the game forever.

virtutis.umbra wrote:
Tyrel Lohr wrote: CR 6, CC 3

He spends 9 CP on the scenario; this allows him to bring in 3 Bull Run cruisers as squadron command units, and each of those can command an additional 3 cruisers in their squadron.


Assume that "additional 3 cruisers" is actually "additional 2 cruisers" ?


Correct, I forgot that I was working with 6 CR and not 9 CR :(
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Re: Revised Technology and Combat

Postby virtutis.umbra » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:20 pm

But you still ended up with 9 ships per side, which is actually correct for the CR/CC balance as written, so either you made two math errors that cancel each other out or you knew what you were doing the whole time :)
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