Rebirth: Combat Demo

Blue? Green? Red? Refuse? It's time to talk about rules for a new community edition of the VBAM rules!
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Tyrel Lohr
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Rebirth: Combat Demo

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Fri Jun 09, 2017 4:33 am

Over the last few months, Geoff and I have been testing out some new concepts related to Galaxies. This stemmed from a playtest that was started with Geoff and Jay as players and me as CM in January. We ran into a snag with ground combat that led to a massive shift in focus.

What follows is an example of what combat looks like in the "Rebirth" iteration of the Galaxies development track that I've been working on.

# # #

The Federation and Klingons were fighting, as they were want to do...

In this case, the Federation has a fleet in the Alcor system (6 Capacity, 2 RAW, 4 Census, 3 Morale, 2 Productivity). The system contains 2 Constitution CA, 1 Anton CL, 3 Loknar CL, 4 Saladin FF, 4 Scorpio LF, and 5 Militias.

Image
Constitution CA
TL 0, Cost 6, Maint 1/2, DV 5, AS 5, AF 2, CV 2

Image
Anton CL
TL 0, Cost 5, Maint 1/2, DV 4, AS 3, AF 2, CV 1, Scout

Image
Loknar CL
TL 0, Cost 4, Maint 1/3, DV 4, AS 4, AF 2, CV 0

Image
Saladin FF
TL 0, Cost 3, Maint 1/4, DV 4, AS 2, AF 2, CV 0

Image
5 Scorpio LF
TL 0, Cost 1, Maint 1/10, DV 1, AS 1, AF 2, Atmospheric

Militia LT
TL 0, Cost 1, Maint 1/8, DV 2, AS 2, AF 0


The Klingons have just moved a war fleet into the system with the intent of conquering the system. They have 1 K'el ri'anda BB, 2 K't'agga CA, 2 D'ama CL, 3 D'aka FF, 4 Kisarza DD, 8 Koreba LF, and 3 Warriors.

Image
K'el ri'anda BB
TL 0, Cost 10, Maint 2/3, DV 8, AS 9, AF 2, CV 3, Slow

Image
K’t’agga CA
TL 0, Cost 6, Maint 1/2, DV 5, AS 6, AF 2, CV 1

Image
D'ama CL
TL 0, Cost 4, Maint 1/3, DV 4, AS 4, AF 1, CV 1

Image
D'aka FF
TL 1, Cost 4, Maint 1/4, DV 3, AS 2, AF 3, CV 1, Assault

Image
Kisarza DD
TL 0, Cost 2, Maint 1/6, DV 2, AS 2, AF 2, CV 0

Image
Koreba LF
TL 0, Cost 1, Maint 1/10, DV 1, AS 2, AF 1, Atmospheric

Warriors
TL 0, Cost 2, Maint 1/4, DV 3, AS 3, Marines

# # #

Detection, surprise, and readiness rules have been combined in "Rebirth" combat. Each side in an encounter rolls a d10 on the Detection Table to see what their readiness is for the encounter and this also determines what they have detected. The Klingons get a -1 to their roll because their forces just moved into the system this turn. The Federation gets a +1 because they have a Scout in their fleet.

The rolls are Federation 2 and Klingons 7.

Federation (Bad -2). They know the Klingons jumped in, but don't know what they have.

Klingons (Normal +0). They detect the Federation player has 10 ships, 5 flights, and 4 troops.

# # #

Space combat in the encounter is now resolved in rounds, starting with high readiness and proceeding to low readiness. In each round, a player may generate a battle against an opponent or order his forces to withdraw -- with the actual withdrawal occurring during the player's action step next round.

The Klingon player has the high readiness in this encounter and gets to take an action first. The intentions are clear: take the system! He generates a battle against the Federation player using everything but his D'aka assault ships. There's no reason to expose those to the enemy without reason. This sets the commitment level to 17 for this battle, which means the Federation player must include at least 17 units of his own in the fight. This forces all of his ships into the battle.

At the start of the fight, both sides have to declare their escorts and scout use. The Federation player sets all 4 Saladin FF to escort duty. This halves their AS for the battle (round down), but these units have a total of 16 DV which is then used 1:1 to escort other ships and place them in a formation bonus. The 2 Constitution and 1 Anton CL are placed in formation bonuses (total 14 DV). The Federation player then declares that the Anton CL scout is being placed in AS mode, which gives it a +50% bonus to its AS value (+2 AS).

The Klingon player puts 4 Kisarza DD into escort mode, and has them give a formation bonus to the K'el rianda BB.

NOTE: This effectively FLIPS the old 1E formation bonus rules around, so it's the escorts that take the penalty and the ship in the formation bonus is unaffected. Being in a formation bonus doubles the cost of damaging a unit, and Ranged units (aka Missile ships) get a +50% AS bonus when they are in a formation bonus.


Ship vs. Ship Fire is first.

The Federation has 31 AS and the Klingons have 33 AS.

Combat now follows the model of Empire of the Sun, where each player rolls a d10 and adds their readiness modifier to then determine the effectiveness of their fire, getting between 25% - 100% of their total combat factor. This reduces the range of values to 4x instead of 6x as in classic VBAM.

The Klingons roll 6 + 0 = 6 for 100% effectiveness (if just barely!) and 33 hits. The Klingon player scores the damage. He first cripples 3 Loknar CL (12 hits) and 4 Saladin FF (16 hits) for a total of 28 hits. This leaves 5 hits left. 4 hits destroyed a crippled Loknar CL, and the last hit is lost.

The Federation rolls 9 - 2 =7 for 100% effectiveness and 31 hits. The Federation player is more worried about getting kills than cripples, and he spends 20 hits to kill both K't'agga CA (10 hits each). He could have tried to cripple the enemy battleship, but it's a formation bonus so it would take 16 hits to cripple, and another 16 to destroy. Best to wait it out. With the remaining 11 hits, the Federation player destroys 2 Kisarza DD (8 hits) and cripples another (2 hits). The last hit is lost.

Flights vs Flights is next.

The Federation has 8 AF and the Klingons have 8 AF.

The Klingons roll 3 + 0 = 3 for 50% effectiveness and 4 hits. 4 Scorpio LF are crippled.

The Federation rolls 9 - 2 = 7 for 100% effectiveness and 8 hits. The Fed pilots destroy 4 Koreba flights.

Flights vs. Ships is last.

The Klingon flights have 8 AS versus the Federation fleet's 12 AF. The Klingons roll 7+0 for 100% effectiveness and 8 hits. Flights ignore formation bonuses (* likely to still remain a rule) and destroy the Anton CL for 8 hits. The Federation roll 7-2 = 5 for 50% effectiveness on their return fire, for 6 AF. 3 Koreba flights are destroyed, more or less eliminating the Klingon shuttle threat (and pointing out how weak light fighters are).

The Federation flights have 1 AS against the Klingon's 6 AF. The Federation rolls 1 - 2 = -1 for 25% effectiveness (the minimum) and 1 hit. This wasn't a critical hit, and nothing in the Klingon fleet has 1 DV, so the point is lost. The Klingons roll 2 + 0 = 2 for 25% effectiveness and 2 hits. They destroy the last full strength Scorpio LF.

This battle is now over. The two fleets met, traded fire, and then disengaged to lick their wounds and prepare for the next engagement.


It's now the Federation player's turn in the encounter. The player can either attack the Klingons, withdraw from the system, or pass. He decides that he isn't willing to commit to an attack, but he's not going to abandon the colony, either. He passes, and the Klingon player then gets another chance to act.

# # #

Let's say that somehow the Klingons are able to actually land troops in the system. They invade with their 3 Warriors. These troops are being carried by the CV on the D'aka assualt ships. Because the D'akas have the Assault ability, the Marines invade with full DV (as DV is now halved instead of AS).

The battle is handled just like a space battle. The Federation has 8 AS and the Klingons have 9 AS. The Federation player rolls 3 - 2 = 1 for 25% effectiveness or 2 hits. This is not enough to damage a Klingon Warrior and has no effect. The Klingon player meanwhile rolls 6 for 100% effectiveness and 9 hits. The Klingons destroy 2 Militias (8 hits), and the last hit is lost. Because the Klingons managed to damage at least one enemy unit they are successful in establishing a beachhead and the 3 Warriors land in the system. They can now fight there again next turn.

# # #

This should illustrate in broad strokes what we're working on with the rules.

Conspicuously absent from the unit stats is CR/CC. Balancing those stats have been an albatross around our neck for too long, and we've jettisoned them for now in favor of trying to adapt a replacement via the commitment level rules that are inspired by rules that Jay originally developed for another project. There's always the possibility that we can use some other stat, such as Cost or DV, as a substitute for CR if necessary to constrain fleet sizes. For example, the Klingon battleship could have an effective CR of 10 based on its construction cost, which would let it bring 10 ships into a battle with it.

However, that being said, removing the artificial CR limitation means that swarm fleets would actually be viable, albeit not very economical and easily destroyed because they'd have such low DV values that every extra hit would likely damage a ship. Such attrition fleets would be great for an alpha strike, but then easily destroyed afterwards.

The tempo of encounter resolution in this model is meant to make it easier to resolve multi-empire encounters, but it may prove preferable to have battles be more like what we're used to, with a set number of units duking it out and ships then moving in or out of the fight until one side or the other withdraws.

I am trying to get us away from the arbitrary round limits, and instead rely on a more natural ebb and flow of combat, with the players deciding how many rounds of combat are fought.

# # #

This solution isn't perfect, and it likely over corrects in the other direction by removing statistics and making special abilities more basic as a concession to faster play, but the battles do setup and resolve faster. It also helps that construction rates are severely reduced by the smaller economies. In my last few playtests, each shipyard had a fixed 12 construction capacity. With one shipyard in your home system, that limits you to building one capital ship per turn, and combat losses are likely to outpace that. So you have to invest in additional shipyards in key systems.

We've been experimenting with also keeping the Empire of the Sun rule that (barring a critical) all targets much be crippled before they can be destroyed. I think as our escort rules have matured, however, that we can get away with leaving that more up to the player.

We're still debating how this can interface with tactical rules, and that discussion will probably feed into the final version of the encounter rules.
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Re: Rebirth: Combat Demo

Postby BroAdso » Mon Jun 12, 2017 2:41 am

Wow! A lot to think about here.

Positives:

1) Consolidating the ground and fleet combat models. Yes! Makes a lot of sense. I would really like to see this. However, if you are going to do so, there needs to be a Ground equivalent of fighters, to that AF is a stat you'd "want" to give a ground unit.

2) Consolidating Scouts, Readiness, Surprise, Detection, etc into one roll. Again, seems like a great way to cut through the brush. It definitely needs some refinement (for each point of cloak in your fleet, do the ships simply all get a x2 modifier to their AS/AF in the first round? or would it have some effect on the new readiness calculation instead?).

3) Adoption of an Empire of The Sun model for damage. This actually inspired me to go read the rules for this game, and wow, what a grognard-tastic thing it is. This is mostly good - one of the most frustrating and rewarding things about VBAM was how a bad fleet on a good day (AS 10 x 6) could nearly outgun a much better fleet (AS 21 x 3) on a bad day. This makes thing much more predictable and effective, though I might recommend having a result of 125% or 150% of fleet power, to at least give some incentives to give bonuses on the initial readiness/surprise states.

Things I am not so sure about...

1) Removing CR/CC as ways to determine the number of ships in an engagement. This is just such a core mechanic that removing it causes all kinds of difficulties. The one that springs most to mind is flagships - without CR/CC, do they exist anymore? Do they have point? Flagships are central to a huge number of fictional ways of telling the story of the game, and it's hard to imagine them gone.

2) Moving to a 1-point increment for ship costs. The two point increment was pretty intuitive, and it opened up a nice gap in a number of important places. For example, even a Super Heavy Flight could never have as many construction points as a DD, although a DD costs the same amount (CP 10, Cost 4), but under the new system they'd be hard to differentiate. Similarly, the Categories system (2 Escorts CT/DD, 2 Cruisers CL/CR, two Capitals CB/BB) was a really good innovation I'd like to see stick around.

Looking forward to testing all this out sometime soon!

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Re: Rebirth: Combat Demo

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:08 am

BroAdso wrote:1) Consolidating the ground and fleet combat models. Yes! Makes a lot of sense. I would really like to see this. However, if you are going to do so, there needs to be a Ground equivalent of fighters, to that AF is a stat you'd "want" to give a ground unit.


Flights can be used to provide tactical support (AS bonus) to friendly ground units. Troops with AF are then used to shoot back at these flights. This gives the ground forces a way to counter enemy flights that are used in this manner, and makes it riskier to use tactical support if the enemy troops have enough AF to be a credible threat to your flights.

BroAdso wrote:2) Consolidating Scouts, Readiness, Surprise, Detection, etc into one roll. Again, seems like a great way to cut through the brush. It definitely needs some refinement (for each point of cloak in your fleet, do the ships simply all get a x2 modifier to their AS/AF in the first round? or would it have some effect on the new readiness calculation instead?).


I fell into this solution back in January or February when I was reviewing cast-off rules prototypes. It seemed like the detection rules that Jay had could dovetail into the surprise and readiness table to provide a single set of results. That way for games with a CM you could figure out right away what you've detected and have that feed into your readiness.

Stealth ships seem to function better under this model, as I have adjusted it so that Stealth ships aren't detected at all at Normal or below readiness. That means you need Good or Superb to detect the cloaked ships, and even then you won't know what they are -- only that there are some tachyon detections in the system. The combat bonus then becomes a combat die roll bonus for a "Sneak Attack" if your force has only Stealth ships in the battle.

For example, I'm a Romulan fleet containing 5 D'deridex battleships. I warp into a system and the Federation fleet rolls Normal readiness. They don't know I'm there. I then generate a battle against them using my five warbirds and because all my ships are cloaked I get a +4 bonus to my combat die roll (that bonus is variable). That makes it impossible to completely botch your attack.

BroAdso wrote:3) Adoption of an Empire of The Sun model for damage. This actually inspired me to go read the rules for this game, and wow, what a grognard-tastic thing it is. This is mostly good - one of the most frustrating and rewarding things about VBAM was how a bad fleet on a good day (AS 10 x 6) could nearly outgun a much better fleet (AS 21 x 3) on a bad day. This makes thing much more predictable and effective, though I might recommend having a result of 125% or 150% of fleet power, to at least give some incentives to give bonuses on the initial readiness/surprise states.


I haven't been able to track down a copy of the game proper, although it looks like it is up for a GMT reprint, but I did grab copies of War Plan Orange and South Pacific and have poured over them quite a bit. The thing I like is that it provide a good graduation of results, and "fixed" one issue that players have had with VBAM: that the amount of AS/AF a unit has wasn't the amount of damage it could do in a round of combat.

Working with the numbers, we end up with a range of 25-100% of AS/AF, which works out to being about the same as combining 3 rounds of VBAM combat into one. This leads to faster combat resolution, with less time required to setup and play out the battles.

The current range of values (on a d10) is 2 or less 25%, 3-5 = 50%, and 6+ = 100%. I tried working a 75% result in there, but I found that it's harder to do the mental math in that case, and I can see why EotS and its progeny don't do that. Without the loss of much fidelity, this range could be reduced to a d6 roll of 1 or less = 25%, 2-3 = 50%, and 4+ = 100%. Some modifiers would need changed if we shifted die type, but the percentages would be roughly the same, with the 100% result being slightly less.

BroAdso wrote:1) Removing CR/CC as ways to determine the number of ships in an engagement. This is just such a core mechanic that removing it causes all kinds of difficulties. The one that springs most to mind is flagships - without CR/CC, do they exist anymore? Do they have point? Flagships are central to a huge number of fictional ways of telling the story of the game, and it's hard to imagine them gone.


In my classic VBAM battles, I found that it was very rare for units to end up in the reinforcements pool because the squadron rules made it too easy to add them into the fight. Galaxies fixed this with a single squadron, but we still have some issues with small ships being unnecessary penalized, which favored largered ships with high command ratings.

My current working concept was to introduce a Command ability that you could give to a unit for +2 Cost. Your task force would then get a +1 combat die modifier as long as the Command ship was present. I thought about splitting this up by type, so that you could have Command flights, too, and only they would affect flight fire, whereas Command ships would aid ship-based AS/AF fire.

In that interpretation, your dedicated Command ships would mitigate the effects of bad rolls and make it more likely that you'd get a good result.

I have been ignoring the effect of flagships in my recent fights. On the one hand, I would be tempted to give a flagship a free formation bonus, but I'm not sure that's necessary.

That being said, the CR limits were moved more to the commitment level rules that I've been trying to port over from Jay's projects (in spirit, anyway). But reading through your Final Frontier game, I think CR could integrate into commitment level if we gave units an effective CR equal to their total stats, or some portion thereof. That would keep CR increasing gradually with tech. For example, a starting CA has 14 points of stats. We could make this a CR of 14 or 7, which would mean it could bring that many units in with it on the attack.

We may have to go back to more "set" combat events for space combat to better emulate tabletop play. In that case, it would work to say that this is the maximum number of units you can command at one time, and then work in reinforcement rules accordingly. It breaks down when applied to ground combat, however, because we only want one round of combat there -- because ground battles need to last longer to offer interesting long-term battles for control of a system.

BroAdso wrote:2) Moving to a 1-point increment for ship costs. The two point increment was pretty intuitive, and it opened up a nice gap in a number of important places. For example, even a Super Heavy Flight could never have as many construction points as a DD, although a DD costs the same amount (CP 10, Cost 4), but under the new system they'd be hard to differentiate. Similarly, the Categories system (2 Escorts CT/DD, 2 Cruisers CL/CR, two Capitals CB/BB) was a really good innovation I'd like to see stick around.


The system is still mostly 2-point increments, I just had to adjust things down to provide a closer analog for fighters once we determined that we couldn't do a one-size-fits-all flight. We end up with this:

Corvette: 1 EP, 1/8 Maint, 4 points
Destroyer: 2 EP, 1/6 Maint, 6 points
Frigate: 3 EP, 1/4 Maint, 8 points
Light Cruiser: 4 EP, 1/3 Maint, 10 points
Heavy Cruiser: 6 EP, 1/2 Maint, 14 points
Battlecruiser: 8 EP, 2/3 Maint, 18 points
Battleship: 10 EP, 2/2 Maint, 22 points
Dreadnought: 12 EP, 3/2 Maint, 26 points

The CT and DD went down one notch, the rest stayed the same, and I just added the FF back in because there was a conspicuous hole that I needed to toss the 1/4 maintenance bracket into for a smooth transition.

The math is the same, the names have just been adjusted slightly to allow for a cleaner 12 point scale. But it's something that will have to be tested.

The other reason for this change is that it gives us a clear analog for the Light => Heavy flights.

And the construction point totals for flights are deceptive, as I found out in testing, because the flights still get killed faster even with crippling. That and all small ships tend to fall down quick when they are crippled and their AS/AF is halved (rounding down in this case). Some ships become practically useless, which isn't great, and I may still make it round down, to a minimum of 1/2 to just give them some semblance of combat capabilities.
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Re: Rebirth: Combat Demo

Postby BroAdso » Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:54 am

Tyrel Lohr wrote:Flights can be used to provide tactical support (AS bonus) to friendly ground units. Troops with AF are then used to shoot back at these flights.


Good! I do like this model. It removes a lot of difficulty in transitioning between space and ground battle, and makes fighters "special" and worth taking even when they are EP-for-EP not always as great as ships, since they can be particularly helpful in ground fighting.

Tyrel Lohr wrote:I fell into this solution back in January or February when I was reviewing cast-off rules prototypes...The current range of values (on a d10) is 2 or less 25%, 3-5 = 50%, and 6+ = 100%. I tried working a 75% result in there, but I found that it's harder to do the mental math in that case, and I can see why EotS and its progeny don't do that. Without the loss of much fidelity, this range could be reduced to a d6 roll of 1 or less = 25%, 2-3 = 50%, and 4+ = 100%. Some modifiers would need changed if we shifted die type, but the percentages would be roughly the same, with the 100% result being slightly less.


Yeah, I figured it would work out something like this. It's a good model. If I had to spitball, I'd go something like +1 per scout functions, with a much higher target for getting 100% of your firepower. On a D10, something like 1-4 being 25%, 4-8 being 50%, and 9+ being 100%, to encourage people to bring along as many scouts or cloaked or first-strike ships as possible. I especially like, after messing with it a little bit today, how much easier it makes to link a ship's stats to what it really adds to your stats in a battle.

Tyrel Lohr wrote:Galaxies fixed this with a single squadron, but we still have some issues with small ships being unnecessary penalized, which favored larger ships with high command ratings...That being said, the CR limits were moved more to the commitment level rules that I've been trying to port over from Jay's projects (in spirit, anyway).


I don't dislike the idea of "faster" battles in the new system, with more ships. The more detailed version of Galaxies combat with missions and ships rotating in and out is really fun, but I can see it taking way too long if you're not a patient person dictating their own pace like I am now. This would mean you also need to find a way to include more ships in the encounter, but I hesitate at making battles so heavily favor the person with the largest overall fleet - they can set the commitment level and drag the other player's whole system presence in, which seems potentially problematic. Maybe something like a system of commitment cost, where the largest ship is the flag and gets its total CP value as its "maximum commitment," and different kinds of ships have different commitment costs, much lower than their command costs. A rough sketch would start at .5 commitment cost for a CT, 1 for a DD, 2 for a CL, 2.5 for a CA, and so on. This is easy to calculate and removes the burden of balancing the CR/CC scores for units, but puts a basic limit on the size and unit mix of a fleet.

Tyrel Lohr wrote:We may have to go back to more "set" combat events for space combat to better emulate tabletop play.


Yeah, I've found that within the current draft of Galaxies neither player usually decides to stay for all the possible rounds of combat, and orders a withdrawal (despite the risks) once the tide turns on round 3/6 or 5/8 or whatever. So a model which encourages this natural tendency might be best, where each player gets to decide when and if to commit each round of combat.

Tyrel Lohr wrote:The system is still mostly 2-point increments, I just had to adjust things down to provide a closer analog for fighters once we determined that we couldn't do a one-size-fits-all flight. We end up with this....The math is the same, the names have just been adjusted slightly to allow for a cleaner 12 point scale. But it's something that will have to be tested....as I found out in testing, because the flights still get killed faster even with crippling. That and all small ships tend to fall down quick when they are crippled and their AS/AF is halved (rounding down in this case). Some ships become practically useless, which isn't great, and I may still make it round down, to a minimum of 1/2 to just give them some semblance of combat capabilities.


I agree with some of these conclusions, but am still doubtful that we need a 4-CP ship. Such a ship doesn't gain points until its third tech level, is basically cannon fodder, can't take meaningful special abilities, and so on. Having the smallest real ship with a few more CP than the smallest flight seems intuitive to me, and I've had no real qualms with the CP and organization of units in the Galaxies rules. If you adjust each unit's CP down by either a flat 2 or their "minimum CR" under the old rules, you could get a solid result without rebuilding the unit table and types.

Glad to see more ongoing evolution! Experimentation is fun and also the soul of progress.

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Re: Rebirth: Combat Demo

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Tue Jun 13, 2017 1:43 am

BroAdso wrote:Good! I do like this model. It removes a lot of difficulty in transitioning between space and ground battle, and makes fighters "special" and worth taking even when they are EP-for-EP not always as great as ships, since they can be particularly helpful in ground fighting.


This was something that I fought in 2E trying to get it right and couldn't find the right mix, but the introduction of the Empire of the Sun style combat made it viable. There isn't a huge amount of variety in the stats in that case, but there's just enough that you can use special abilities to demonstrate differences in troop capabilities and create just enough differences to make ground units stand out from each other.

As for fighters, I'm still experimenting with ways to make them useful. The fact that they do require a special stat to combat helps, and I think if we go back to the 1E roots and have flights ignore formation bonuses then it turns them into effective surgical strike units that can scream into the enemy formation and drop their payloads, even if they pay a heavy price in attrition.

BroAdso wrote:Yeah, I figured it would work out something like this. It's a good model. If I had to spitball, I'd go something like +1 per scout functions, with a much higher target for getting 100% of your firepower. On a D10, something like 1-4 being 25%, 4-8 being 50%, and 9+ being 100%, to encourage people to bring along as many scouts or cloaked or first-strike ships as possible. I especially like, after messing with it a little bit today, how much easier it makes to link a ship's stats to what it really adds to your stats in a battle.


I'm trying to "collapse" the special abilities back down to being fixed effects that scale with the stats of the unit, where appropriate. My current working model for Scouts is that they can increase any one of their own stats by 50%. This is a simplistic interpretation, but it demonstrates the concept that Scouts offer a versatile option to boost effectiveness in combat. I still think the DV bonus should be more flexible, and possible be able to be applied to a friendly unit instead of the Scout itself, but you get the general idea. That way a small DD sized Scout is going to be weaker than a CA sized Scout, and that difference in capabilities will be apparent through the ship's stats.

Raising the range of values is a possibility, but something that would definitely need tested out. I think the reason that EotS uses its 20/30/50 spread is that it makes full effectiveness the most likely result, but still only a 50/50 chance.

But part of this epiphany did come from a FT playtester that was complaining that the ship stat effectiveness wasn't intuitive, and that just because a ship had 6 AS didn't mean it could do 6 hits per turn, but instead could only do 4 hits. The more I mulled that one over the more that I agreed that it *is* more intuitive to have 6 AS mean you can do up to 6 hits per round/battle. The EotS approach of putting a decent floor in for effectiveness also seems to be nice, as then the range of effectiveness is 4x instead of 6x, as I mentioned before. That makes "blowouts" less painful, and gives a little more predictability to the combat experience, which isn't a terrible thing.

BroAdso wrote:This would mean you also need to find a way to include more ships in the encounter, but I hesitate at making battles so heavily favor the person with the largest overall fleet - they can set the commitment level and drag the other player's whole system presence in, which seems potentially problematic. Maybe something like a system of commitment cost, where the largest ship is the flag and gets its total CP value as its "maximum commitment," and different kinds of ships have different commitment costs, much lower than their command costs. A rough sketch would start at .5 commitment cost for a CT, 1 for a DD, 2 for a CL, 2.5 for a CA, and so on. This is easy to calculate and removes the burden of balancing the CR/CC scores for units, but puts a basic limit on the size and unit mix of a fleet.


In practice, I've found that the small fleets aren't in nearly as much peril with the round-based encounter rules. This is partially because if they're lucky they can declare their withdrawal first, and then it becomes a single round Pursuit (as it's playing out right now) in which both sides only get half their normal AS/AF (except Fast ships, they get their full AS/AF). This vastly reduces the carnage and gives a retreating fleet a better chance of continuing to fall back.

I think if we went back to battles being more like the combat scenarios of 1E/2E, a good model would be to have each ship have a CR equivalent to say how many ships it could start with, and then the flagship would use its CR to move ships to the reinforcements or more new ships in -- with strict rules that you can only move ships out if you are meeting your commitment level in the battle, so you can't just spirit all of your ships right out of the fight and :trollface: the opposition.

Command costs are evil, though. I've fought those damn things for so long, and they are the root of all of our balancing problems. I would much rather address the issue through the formation/escort and economy changes if at all possible, because otherwise it becomes too easy to powergame or min/max fleets. That's how we always ended up with specific classes that just weren't good enough because they were inefficient in the CR/CC game. Treating all units equally means that in a perfect world you'd prefer a BB over a CL, but the CL is cheaper and that alone might end up leading to you having more CL than BB. And the CL is likely a better escort since it is small enough to replace, whereas using a BB to escort is going to leave it exposed to enemy fire.

BroAdso wrote:Yeah, I've found that within the current draft of Galaxies neither player usually decides to stay for all the possible rounds of combat, and orders a withdrawal (despite the risks) once the tide turns on round 3/6 or 5/8 or whatever. So a model which encourages this natural tendency might be best, where each player gets to decide when and if to commit each round of combat.


With an eye towards how this would translate into Starmada or Full Thrust, I could see each player starting with a limited core fleet limited by the command ability of the flagship, and then use flagship to bring in additional units as the battle progresses. That way you'd start with a small number of units on the board, and more could jump in and jump out as the battle progresses.

The other way around this is to have multiple smaller battles in the strategic side, again limited by CR, with each lasting a single round as they do now before initiative passes, except that with tabletop play you would have the option of bringing in reinforcements.

At the same time, there is a desire to fight decisive engagements that are something like the big battles out of Deep Space Nine or Babylon 5 where entire fleets clash all at once. I prefer the smaller engagements because they are more personal, and limit the carnage in such a way to allow for more tactical options for how fleets are deployed.

That's why I think a larger playtest with bigger fleets is in order to sort this out. In the battles I've seen thus far with modest economies (5 systems each), I have yet to see a fleet big enough to not warrant just being one fleet operating together. For example, I have 2 Venator BB, 2 Acclamator CA, 2 Consular FF, 6 Hammerhead CT, 8 Z95 MF that participated in one battle and were probably about 1/3 of the total fleet. That would still be a comfortable fit for the tabletop.

The one fleet that is really our edge case is CT spam. But even then I think they would get obliterated by an equal point fleet. They might have a decent alpha strike, but they would get wrecked in short order.
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Re: Rebirth: Combat Demo

Postby BroAdso » Thu Jun 15, 2017 11:20 am

Busy week, but I've been finding some time to playtest. I'll put them in PDF and JPEG format this evening or tomorrow, but for now here's a here's a gdocs link with comments enabled to my slightly more systematized version of the new Rebirth combat system. I've probably misinterpreted some of what you posted, so I'd love to grab some feedback.

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Re: Rebirth: Combat Demo

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:19 pm

It's been a long week for me, too, and my allergies have flared up the last day so that I ended up in bed shortly after work last night. :x

I'll take a look at the doc after work. I'm not too worried about misinterpretations, and alternative interpretations are also helpful. When I skimmed it yesterday, the biggest outlier I found is that you were giving a bonus for each Scout in a fleet rather than just a flat bonus for having a Scout at all. I was going that route to maintain some degree of balance, as open ended modifiers can really break the rules.
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Re: Rebirth: Combat Demo

Postby BroAdso » Sat Jun 17, 2017 2:02 am

Tyrel Lohr wrote:the biggest outlier I found is that you were giving a bonus for each Scout in a fleet rather than just a flat bonus for having a Scout at all. I was going that route to maintain some degree of balance, as open ended modifiers can really break the rules.


I based it on the Commitment Cost (CC) of the Scout in question. So a Corvette with Scout adds .5 to your Readiness Roll, while a Battleship with Scout adds 3.5 (round down) to your Readiness Roll. This should help to limit cascading bonuses.

A very high Scout advantage is also constrained in playtests so far by the fact that the most it can do is improve your Readiness. At best, even a perfect Readiness "only" lets you see the whole opposition fleet and gives you +3 to your Fire Effectiveness rolls.

This means that a player with total Stealth and Scout dominance could still roll a 1 on Fire Effectiveness, and still be stuck only having 50% of their AS and AF (1+3=4), and their opponent would never be worse off than being stuck at 50% of their AS and AF (10-3=7).

Your total bonus to your Readiness is also based on the "balance" of Scouts and Stealth between the fleets. To get your modifier to your readiness, you add your Scout CC and subtract enemy Scout CC, then add your Stealth CC and subtract enemy Stealth CC. This also means bonuses will rarely be too out of control.

So let's imagine Player 1 has two Scout Destroyers and a Stealth Light Cruiser - that gives them +2CC of Scout and +2CC of Stealth. Player 2 failed to bring any Scouts, but has two Stealth Heavy Cruisers (+5CC Stealth).

Player 1's modifier to their Readiness D10 is (2+2-5) = -1
Player 2's modifier to their Readiness D10 is (-2-2+5) = +1.

Here's a non-prettified example of a Space Battle Round using some generic ships to get an idea of how it might work out.
It's quick and dirty but illustrates a mix of Scouts and Stealth of various sizes.

The "new" CC proves pretty useful and central in this Rebirth incarnation I'm looking at. It can be a basis for modifiers because it always reflects the "size" of the ship, from a Corvette (.5) to a Dreadnaught (4), but since it's not paired to CR, it's not a difficult thing to balance in point allocation and it serves only to determine modifiers for special abilities and to set a high upper limit on the number of ships participating in a Space Battle Round.

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Re: Rebirth: Combat Demo

Postby BroAdso » Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:14 pm

Finished up a much larger playtest with big fleets, a two-part space battle, and a ground battle.

Quick summation:

The Dominion has warped a large invasion fleet into the Bajor sector. It consists of a single Superdreadnaught, substantial number of capital ships, a few Scout Destroyers, and most importantly, 6 ships with Assault carrying a large number of ground units. The Federation fleet is led by a Dreadnaught and has two Battleships, but few other heavy combat vessels, and the orbital defenses in the system are pretty minimal - a CL and four CT type bases, along with outdated troops and a few flights based on the planet and its orbital bases.

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The Federation has a slight edge in Scouts, giving them a +2 and the Dominion a -2 to their Readiness rolls, but both of them land in the "normal range," meaning pretty minimal information. The Feds choose to reserve their Galaxy Class, and initiate a Space Battle with the Nebula's 26CC of ships. The Dominion was also being more cautious, and led a similar task force with the Hydra's 26CC of ships, leaving out the invasion ships and scout destroyers.

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Fire Effectiveness rolls strongly favored ships, despite both sides having Carrier bonuses (+2 and +3 respectively) to their Flight Effectiveness rolls. The ensuing Fire Rounds were brutal, as rounds where all ships are at 100% effectiveness tend to be.

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Remaining forces:

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The Dominion demands an invasion, so another Space Battle, this time including orbital defenses, ensues. Hoping to minimize enemy fighter and orbital bombardment support for the inevitable destruction of the orbital defenses and ensuing invation, the Federation pulls in the Galaxy class and remaining ships - even some of the vulnerable Nova class ships, mostly designed to give Scout bonuses for cheap in.

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With Fire Effectiveness rolls almost the same as the first round, things are pretty nasty in the orbital slugfest.

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The Orbital Defenses are gone, so the Dominion can begin a ground invasion. All their invading troops don't have Marines, so they are at DL-2, and the Federation's troops are defending against a new orbital attack, so they're all at DL+1. This means directed damage will be cheap and easy for the Federation, despite their lower orbital bombardment bonus AS and smaller amount of fighter support.

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But both sides roll relatively poorly for their Fire Effectiveness, especially the Federation. The resulting battle wipes out most of the Federation's smaller, technologically inferior force but leaves two Crippled Starfleet Security behind, still contesting the planet, along with a fair number of fighter craft.

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The much-weakened fleets are still in orbit, but next turn the Dominion will not be so afraid to let their six ships with Assault engage in the main battle, giving them fresh firepower the Federation fleet won't have without reinforcements. The Federation's Shuttles - 13 of them at the end of the day with .25CC of Supply each - do mean the Federation will be able to make 3 points of field repair. The Cardassians have 6 points of Supply CC in three Tonga class ships, which means they'll be able to engage in field repair, as well. Here are the final forces left in the system at the end of the day.

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