The current round of combat tests came about because of a desire to address some existing criticisms (internal and external) of how combat worked. Most of 2017 was probably spent pushing these concepts around to see what stuck.
We've run into a few issues with our internal rules build in our test game and we're ironing out the details, but I like that it makes both offense and defense a more active decision than it was before. You have to choose to sacrifice firepower to screen/protect your ships, but then you get to choose what your fleet damages in the fight instead of leaving it up to your opponent.
The special abilities are in flux right now, and we're trying to find the best way to consolidate and apply them within the new context. You are absolutely correct that Scout is currently the one most in limbo, and after my last few battles it may be a case where Scout gets more of a hand in the formations department with screening being the "we can do this if we have to" option and Scouts being the preferred way to place units in a formation bonus.
The formation levels and directed damage have all been removed in favor of a standard formation bonus (2xDV to reduce) and attackers scoring all damage. Do you want to protect your valuable carrier? You had better put it in a formation bonus! That makes it the defender's job to guard those most valuable units.
I wish I had more to share on this, but I've been down with a cold the last two weeks and am finally starting to snap out of it. But I think we're making really good progress addressing rules changes with the current version of the rules, and another two weeks of play (making up for the lost time due to my illness) should have us back on track.
Blue? Green? Red? Refuse? It's time to talk about rules for a new community edition of the VBAM rules!
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