Ground Units

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Emiricol
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Re: Ground Units

Postby Emiricol » Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:35 am

Great writeups, thanks! What do you think of making there be a minimum of 1 pt normal damage per turn if it would otherwise be zero, like the Fed/Klingon last round?

I see invasions taking about 3 or 4 months without reinforcements coming, which feels right to me. Long enough to allow an ongoing, grinding war if each side keeps bringing in reinforcements. Short enough that it isn't a pain to deal with.

I'd love to see both reinforcements and hospital/medic ability in your extended invasion example.

I agree that giving a dug-in bonus to defenders automatically would be a decisive factor, and it's not unbalanced in that regard so it doesn't feel necessary anyway. What of "fortress worlds" though?

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Re: Ground Units

Postby aelius » Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:47 pm

In answer to Tyrell, I could go with the cheap and easy ground combat. I could also go for the more complicated version.
If you really think that this a space game go with the cheap and easy. If you want to have more detail on the the ground then go for it like this thread discusses. Don't go for the middle of the road approach in the rules now.
To me this system is too basic to be interesting, but too complicated for what it does. I personally never liked the ground combat rules (hence my house rule for surrender in the face of a threat to bombard the planet), but if the fighting were simpler (a la Tyrell's cheap units and simple combat) or more detailed (More like BroAdso's examples) I would probably use it a lot more.
In this case I think an all or nothing approach is best. Perhaps make the simple rules the standard with the detailed rules for the optional rules.
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Re: Ground Units

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:12 pm

It seems that the continual problem that we have with balancing ground combat is that having Defense be an ablative defense against Attrition damage is probably our #1 problem. It's just too hard to balance that effectively given the shallow stats that we have now. If we had just Attrition, it would also solve the progressive damage issue, as then a player would HAVE to take the damage somewhere, and then directed damage could still be a factor.

I do think that tracking Attrition damage over multiple turns is the best way of handling that, as the crippling/destroyed mechanic from space combat doesn't allow for enough granularity when the number of troops is so small. Granted, there are ways to fix that, but it breaks enough of our existing rule concepts (Hospital, custom empire traits, etc.) that I would prefer to maintain at least rough conceptual parity with the existing rules.

Using the Infantry/Armor/Air split could let us realize the effect of having armored units simply by splitting the Attack values that are used to engage them. Rocket Infantry would have a good Armor Attack, for example.

That creates a situation like this:

4 x Light Infantry (ATR 3, INF 3, ARM 1, AIR 1)

vs.

1 x Medium Infantry (ATR 5, INF 4, ARM 2, AIR 1)
2 x Light Armor (ATR 2, INF 3, ARM 3, AIR 0)

Force A has a total of 12 INF x [d6] 5 / 10 = 6 damage. The Medium Infantry in Force B is destroyed.
Force A has a total of 4 ARM x [d6] 1 / 10 = 0 damage.

Force B has a total of 10 INF x [d6] 3 / 10 = 3 damage. The defender scores 1 damage to 3 different Light Infantry.

The combat round is now over, and the land battle continues. The Light Infantry are not well suited for taking on the enemy Light Armor, and this battle is going to continue for some time. Orbital bombardment might help Force A, but the armor are probably going to wear the infantry down much faster.

This solves the problem of Defense being too powerful by replacing it with a rock-paper-scissor effect instead. Combined arms then becomes an important component of ground combat. Note that I am ignoring CR entirely here, but that could just as easily be a factor, which would drop the stats on these units a bit further and make the medium units "standard" while the lights are not quite as useful.

Formations could then be applied to these rules, and it would generally be about the same as the CSCR, just with a much shorter length -- although technically would could have a full length ground battle if we really wanted to, but I prefer the more long-term battle for control of a planet.

I'll write up a few more examples along these lines and compare against BroAdso to see where we overlap and what the strengths and weaknesses are.
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Re: Ground Units

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Fri Dec 09, 2016 3:29 am

The Federation has dispatched a trio of Chandley assault cruisers to drop marines on the Republic world of Ryloth. The three Federation CA have a total of 12 Assault and are carrying 2 x Marines (ATR 4, INF 3, ARM 2, AIR 1, CR 2, Marines) and 1 x Light Dropship (ATR 2, INF 2, ARM 0, AIR 2, CR 2).

The Republic forces on the planet include 2 x Clone Troopers (ATR 4, INF 3, ARM 2, AIR 1, CR 2) and 1 x AT-AE (ATR 4, INF 4, ARM 3, AIR 2, CR 3).

The Federation cruisers have a total of 12 bombardment value. They use this to score 1 Attrition damage to the AT-AE.

The Federation lands all of their troops in an invasion. The Marines attack at full combat factors, but the Light Dropship's combat factors are halved (dropping to INF 1, ARM 0, AIR 1).

The Federation has 7 INF x [d6] 1 = 7 / 10 = 0 damage.
The Republic has 10 INF x [d6] 5 = 50 / 10 = 5 damage. The Federation player scores 2 damage to one Marines and 3 damage to the other.

The Federation has 4 ARM x [d6] 6 = 24 / 10 = 2 damage. This scores another 2 damage to the AT-AE, bringing it down to 1 Attrition left.

The Republic has 4 AIR x [d6] 5 = 20 / 10 = 2 damage. The Federation Light Dropship is shot down!

The ground combat in Ryloth is now over. The Federation forces failed to destroy any defending troops, which prevents them from securing a beachhead in the system. Their Light Dropship has been destroyed, and their Marines are seriously wounded. Without Hospital ships to assist, the Federation is likely going to need to pull the force back to friendly space for the troops to heal.

The Republic meanwhile has almost lost their AT-AE armored walker, but the Clone Troopers took no damage. Their captain has been commended for holding the system and preventing the Federation from gaining a foothold.

# # #

This illustrates what would be a fairly "standard" ground invasion scenario I think, with some wiggle room depending on whether ground forces remain priced equivalent to ships. If the price is reduced to being more akin to fighter flights, then we'd be seeing an escalation in force concentrations which I don't think would be all that useful. I think the more expensive model is a better fit here.

In this battle, the Federation had an air unit (the Light Dropship) while the Republic had a heavy armor unit (the AT-AE). The overall losses were minimal, and removing Defense from the mix encouraged players to spread damage around, which is good because we want to show a slow erosion of Attrition over the course of a prolonged ground campaign.

Different alien factions could obviously gear their ground forces towards fighting specific threats. One empire's Infantry might not have any Anti-Air capabilities, preferring instead to focus on combating enemy infantry or armor units. For example, I might decide to go full Zerg and have a Medium Infantry that is just ATR 6 / INF 6. They can't do anything to Armor or Air units, but they can completely overwhelm enemy infantry and are very hard to kill.

# # #

Using the 1E invasion model seemed to work here, where troops need Assault ships to invade and receive only half their normal combat factors when invading; and Marines gain full combat factors invading from Assault ships and CAN invade from convoys. That seems to be a fair limit, and as long as there is an Assault ship on the universal list I think we'll be fine.

# # #

One argument we do have in favor of cheaper troops would be that atmospheric flights could more easily slot into ground combat, doing double duty as air units. I'm not sure that's desirable, though, and I think it would be better if maybe atmospheric flights played a ground support role rather than participating in bombardment; that way they could provide additional bombardment points that could instead be used to affect the ground battle. Anti-Air factors on the ground could then be used to shoot down those fighters.

It could be simple as saying that an atmospheric flight could contribute its AF factor to any one fire phase in that ground battle (Infantry, Armor, or Air) but by doing so they expose themselves to enemy fire. There would have to be some massive balancing to make that work right, however, as you don't want 20 flights of fighters all dropping firepower into a ground battle that only has 2-3 troops per side. At that point, maybe it is better for the flights to just contribute to orbital bombardment and let that be the effect?
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Re: Ground Units

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Fri Dec 09, 2016 3:09 pm

In another expansion of the thought experiment, we now see 3 x Clone Troopers (ATR 4, INF 3, ARM 2, AIR 1, CR 2) and 2 x AT-AE (ATR 4, INF 3, ARM 3, AIR 2, CR 3, Artillery 1) fighting a Separatist droid army on Duros. The Separatists have 6 x Battle Droids (ATR 6, INF 2, ARM 1, AIR 1, CR 2, Compact, Robotic) and 1 x .

First off, the Droid Troops have two strategic abilities: Compact, Robotic. The first halves their size for the purposes of transport (from 4 to 2), and the second lets them be built with planetary construction capacity instead of the normal ground force limits. That allows them to be mass produced. They are just more expensive to operate as a result.

Note: A Lucrehulk is in orbit providing a CR bonus to the Robotic forces, allowing them all to join the fray.

Artillery: The 2 AT-AE use their Artillery to suppress two Battle Droids, halving their combat factors this turn.

Infantry Fire:
Republic has 15 INF x [d6] 4 = 60 = 6 damage. The Separatists score 1 damage to each Battle Droid.
Separatists have 10 INF x [d6] 4 = 40 = 4 damage. The Republic scores 2 damage each to two Clone Troopers.

Armor Fire:
Separatists have 4 ARM x [d6] 4 = 16 = 1 damage. An AT-AE takes 1 damage.

# # #

This first turn of combat on Duros has been fairly uneventful. At this rate, it's going to take a long time and a lot more damage to take down the droid army. However, their lack of anti-Armor weapons will also make it tough for them to wear down the Republic AT-AE walkers. The Separatists are going to need reinforcements, in the form of some super battle droid battalions, to aid them in their fight.

Of course, the Battle Droids should probably be light infantry instead of medium infantry in this example, at which point they would wear down much faster.
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Re: Ground Units

Postby BroAdso » Sun Dec 11, 2016 7:11 pm

So I ran a couple of extended tests, only one is in pretty format here:

A Federation invasion force attacks a Cardassian fleet and space station. With two convoys and the superior fleet, they hope to brush aside the resistance and land, but Cardassian orbital defenses contribute a lot of firepower to the fight, as does the unexpected presence of a flagship-carrier, which the Federation hadn't expected.

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As a result, they lost their two Border Militia and one Security in the loss of transport capacity, so they had only two Starfleet Security and a Federation Regulars to invade with. If it hadn't been for the orbital bombardment from the Ambassador and pair of Excelsiors which made it through the battle, they would have been hard pressed to make a beachhead, since the Obsidian Order would have lowered their ATK rating by two with its Recon ability, and their total damage might not have been enough to overcome the weakest unit's DEF and deal it enough ATR to kill it.

The next turn, both sides bring in reinforcements - in the Federation's case, a pair of hospital frigates and four more Miranda class ships, in the Cardassians, a Transport full of Obsidian Order troops and two Galor class cruisers.

Ultimately, the Federation seemed poised to win at the end of the next round, largely due to a pretty good orbital battle (ending with one Galor and one Rasilak alone in orbit for the Cardassians) and keeping their troops on the planet from dying with the Hospital corvettes.

I think the current system of Ground Combat, with some small modifications, combines with the reorganized space combat (especially force-including those precious transports bearing ground troops) works pretty darned well.

I've settled on using this simplified version of the 'new' Ground Combat for a new campaign. Between Shock, Orbital Bombardment, and the sacrifice you end up having to take in other stats for an unbalanced DEF, my couple of tests didn't show that high-DEF units were particularly unstoppable. They can make good garrisons, but a player needs units which can be loaded onto transports (so not too high an EP), some with a good ATK, and some able to have useful special ground combat abilities. As a result, I have a hard time imagining you can come out on top with a too-DEF-focused army roster.

#######

With regard to the Air, Infantry, Armor brainstorm - I do kinda like it. It has some real elegance and forced balanced unit designs. The only worry I have is how 'multi use' it will be and how it can slot fighters in once there's some clear air element they 'should' take part in besides providing bombardment support.

Mostly, I like the relative abstraction of the ATR/DEF/ATK system. Is the unit's DEF heavy armor? Chitinous skin? Personal stealth generators? Speedy hoverbikes that help them avoid enemy attacks? The current system doesn't care, just like DV doesn't care about similar questions in space combat. Chainswords, heavy gatling laser cannons, bazookas, artillery trucks? ATK doesn't care, just like the AS/AF balance doesn't care except how well the weapon set does against the enemy units. With the new system, we are forced into stricter fluff interpretation - are Wookie Gliders an Air unit with a ground attack? Does that make sense? Are Scout Troopers on hoverbikes an Infantry unit because they aren't big and heavy, or an armored unit because they're mounted? And so on.

I think both are workable, but ATR/DEF/ATK with some special abilities and CR limits is what I've been playing around with and it seems pretty effective in the broader context of 'how' ground combat seems to happen during a campaign.

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Re: Ground Units

Postby BroAdso » Sun Dec 11, 2016 7:26 pm

Since I posted it on the last page, here's the set of rules I have been using for most of my tests, with some new small tweaks (like a changed cost for Marines) based on those tests. Still totally open to ways this might be unbalanced or tweaked - a few solo runs at using it does not a bulletproof framework make!

Rules wrote:Building Ground Units

Each Ground Unit has the following attributes:
Name / Cost / Maint / ATR / DEF / ATK / CR / CC

ATR/Attrition: This represents the unit’s ability to last in a battle over a long period of time, usually representing sheer numbers.
DEF/Defense: This represents the unit’s ability to withstand damage without losing appreciable numbers. Armored or very tough units have a high DEF.
ATK/Attack: This represents the unit’s ability to dish out damage on the battlefield through whatever means it has at its disposal.
CR/Command Rating: This represents the unit’s ability to provide coordination on the planetary battlefield, letting you have more troops in the fight.
CC/Command Cost: This represents how much battlefield control and coordination this unit requires to use effectively.

Like ships, ground units come in several classes. The base costs, CP available, and fixed CC of these unit types are:

Light Ground (LTG) - 2EP Cost - 8CP - CC 1
Medium Ground (MDG) - 4 EP Cost - 12CP - CC 2
Heavy Ground (HVG) - 6EP Cost - 16 CP - CC 3
Large Ground (LRG) - 8EP Cost - 20 CP - CC 4

When building the unit, no attribute may be less than 1, a unit's CR cannot be less than 1/2 its CC.

Ground units stop at Large because 8EP is the most one transport fleet can carry at a time, if the unit has any special abilities which increase its EP cost. If a Large unit has no special abilities, a Transport fleet might still have room for a Light Ground unit in addition.

Transport, Marines, and Orbital Invasion
A) A fleet (total ships in a system) can carry a number of EP worth of ground troops equal to their Assault value, plus 10 EP for each Convoy and 1 EP for each Supply in the fleet.

B) All troops invading a planet without the Marines trait halve their ATK values. A unit may gain one point of ATK if there are a number of Assault functions equal to its cost in EP in the fleet in orbit during the turn in which it invades only.

C) Troops with the Marines trait do not halve their ATK value when invading from orbit. A Marines unit may gain an extra point of ATK if there are a number of Assault functions equal to its cost in EP in the fleet in Orbit during the turn in which it invades or during any subsequent turn.

Ground Combat Procedures

In Ground Combat, each month undergoes steps 1-3 each month:

1) Select units and determine final ATK/DEF Values:

1a)Each player selects which of their ground troops in the system are participating. Each player may select a total Command Cost of units up to their highest participating unit’s Command Rating. Only these troops contribute their ATK or can take damage directly this turn.

1b) Players apply their unit’s active special abilities in an IGO-UGO fashion with the owner of the system going first.

1c) Players apply predetermined bonuses and penalties (like penalties for invasions or bonuses for Assault functions in orbit)

1d) Players note the final ATK, DEF, and ATR values of their units at this point. Remember to include Orbital Bombardment damage and keep track of unit's ATR value from turn to turn.

2) Calculate and direct combat damage:

2a) Each player adds up their unit’s adjust ATK values, rolls 2D6, and multiplies the totaled ATK values by the results of the 2D6 roll. Then each player divides the result by 10. The resulting number is the total points of damage the player has scored.

3) Assign damage and destroy units.

3a) When points of damage are assigned to a unit, it “absorbs” a number of points equal to its DEF before taking any points of ATR.

3b) When a unit takes a number of points of damage equal to its ATR, it is destroyed.

3c) Each player assigns all the damage their troops scored to their choice of opposing units.

3e) If the damage scored by a player destroyed all enemy units able to engage because of CR restrictions, damage can carry over to non-engaged enemy units.

4) Close

4a) Units that take ATR damage retain that ATR damage next turn. Note the remaining ATR of any damaged ground units.

4b) Any unit currently in supply regains up to one lost point of ATR.

4c) Apply end-of-turn ATR special abilities like Hospital. This cannot bring back destroyed units.

4d) Record the final ATR status of all units on the planet's surface for use in next turn's combat.

Unlike Space Combat, the Ground Combat sequence only occurs once per turn. It is not a series of repeating rounds like space combat.

Special Abilities

Marines
+1 EP, +1 MAINT, 0 CP, Passive
Does not halve ATK value when invading from orbit. If there are a number of friendly Assault function ships present in the system equal to its EP cost, gains +1ATK.

Peacekeeper
+0 EP, +1 MAINT, 0 CP, Passive
Counts as a number of units equal to its CC plus one for purposes of garrisoning.

Reconnaissance (X)
+1 EP, +0 MAINT, -1CP/Level Active
Lowers a chosen enemy unit’s ATK by its Recon value each round.

Shock (X)
+1 EP, +0 MAINT, -1CP/Level Active
Lowers a chosen enemy unit’s DEF by its Shock value each round.

Artillery
+0 EP, +1 MAINT, 0 CP, Active
May choose to not add its ATK to the total pool, and instead lowers one enemy unit’s DEF by an amount equal to its ATK.

Support
+0 EP, +1 MAINT, 0 CP, Active
May choose to not add its ATK to the total pool, and instead increases one friendly unit’s DEF by an amount equal to its ATK.

Hospital (X)
+1 EP, +1 MAINT, -1CP/Level Active
May, at the end of a ground combat turn, heal any units with lost ATR up to its current ATR value.

Hardened (X)
+1 EP, +1 MAINT, -1 CP/Level, Passive
Has an effective Defense Value equal to its Hardened rating against attrition from Orbital Bombardment.

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Re: Ground Units

Postby Emiricol » Mon Dec 12, 2016 3:01 am

After reviewing both systems, I like them both, which presents a conundrum :) But I would frankly prefer BroAdso's for the core rules. Tyrel's new system allows more granularity, making it ideal as either an optional rule or Companion rule. I would tend to go for Optional, simply because it addresses multiple play styles without taking up much room. (They are, after all, very cool rules with some added granularity many players would enjoy.)

Separate conversation - I've messed around with BroAdso's system with extremes of both DEF and ATK and it has mostly balanced out like he suggested. A unit with a very high DEF isn't going to have ATK high enough to trounce the other side's ATK-heavy/low-DEF units, and a balanced force has mostly worked out best in the two test battles I ran (one extremes, one extremes-vs-balanced). Two tests isn't comprehensive, but I feel a bit better about it knowing that my results have echoed BroAdso's.

I do like Tyrel's system's theoretical ability to incorporate Flights, once points are figured out, but my air suppression house rules have worked well enough in the BroAdso system by inhibiting support units' special abilities. That comes at the cost of added complexity, so I wouldn't use them for the basic game. Instead, for basic Galaxies I'd use Tyrel's idea of making Flights provide a very small boost to fleet BV for the basic game.


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