Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

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What kind of small craft combat rules do you use?

I use SOLAR rules as they are.
1
20%
I use SOLAR rules with my own modifications.
0
No votes
I use an older set of rules instead of SOLAR rules.
0
No votes
I use my own set of rules for small craft.
2
40%
I don't use armed small craft.
1
20%
I don't have experience with small craft under SOLAR.
1
20%
 
Total votes : 5

Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Cralis on Mon 01 Feb 2016 12:40

Morpheus wrote:I am in favor of increasing the range of some or all LRW against small craft, or having a specialized anti-small craft system. It sounds like D/Dc is this specialized anti-small craft system - I think that the rules should be revised to give a little more bite, and range to D/Dc.


D and Dc are designed to intercept small targets so they are better at killing small craft. The basic difference is that point defense uses lower power beams and smaller munitions thar can be fired much more rapidly. While the weapons are useless against large ships, it makes them ideal against warheads and small craft.

I'm fine with this... so just to make sure, is this a correct analogy?

    R ~= Harpoon
    Rc ~= Tomahawk (Tomahawk has a longer range and larger warhead than Harpoon)
    D~= CIWS and/or Sea Sparrow
    Dc ~= SM-1/SM-2


Eh, it's an imperfect comparison but close enough I suppose. Although in SSF the D definition doesn't really includes warheads of any kind...only beams (or the equivalent K version).

So my question then becomes, and especially when looking at the BASV table and seeing what weapons have larger BASV (especially the ones that have larger BASV than D/Dc), what weapons are designed to be more effective against small craft. I can understand why some of the beans might have a high BASV relative to D/Dc, but why would K/Kc/Kh have such a high BASV relative to D/Dc, when R do not. I understand that a lot of ships have R, but why is K so high? Is it because K require so many more hull spaces than R?


To be clear, NO weapon was specifically designed for use against small craft -- only point defense. However, we determined that some weapons were going to be pretty good. K, for example, actually shoots a cloud of K rounds at a target (that is why it does more damage close) instead of a single warhead like R or Pt. But that also means it's pretty good against small craft.

Did 3rd Ed. really have more tables (especially for dealing with weapons and fighters) than Ultra/Solar? I most often just use 2-4 pages of tables when I play 3rd Ed.: the To-hit table, the damage table, the fighter kill table, fighter vs. fighter table, Munition Points table, and small craft types table.


Classic Starfire has less tables because it has less weapons and no generations. Until the release of 3rd Revised, for example, it only had one LRW (R).

How have you optimized them against GB? Do you have any examples? I'm very curious to see, and just might look at trying out some of them when I play.


Switch to an LRW with lots of BASV (aka not R) and mount all the Dc you can jam into a hull. That's the most basic anti-squadron escort
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby PracticalM on Fri 05 Feb 2016 01:32

Cralis wrote:
PracticalM wrote:
When you build ships that are optimized against GB, GB can be very weak. So weak that I had to stop allowing ships to fire first in my ULTRA games as the players in the games I was running just mopped the floor with their smaller ships designed to destroy GBs.


I don't recall this being the case in ULTRA, I'd love to see what you did.


I found the player's old turns.

WSLongbow2 CTf 16 393.6 59.04
[2] SS AA ZaHt(I)(I)(I)MgtDcaYaQa?a(I)Rb [8/4] Ib XOax2 AM1

While Dca is SL7, the empire using these ships were EL5 pushing technology after losing systems to an empire with Gunboats.
Strategies were run forward and try to stay out of the forward 60 degree arc of the gunboats by splitting as much as possible (the Za was often an expensive armor).
Another strategy was to let the GB hit the main line and then chase the gunboats with these back to the carriers.

Later ships were these. More expensive but had fun chasing GB around.
WSThunder CTb 19 417.8 62.67
[3] SS AA ZbHtM2JJJDbzLe?aQbJLe [8/3] Jb AM1

When our group used all ships fired first every gunboat was always damaged before they could fire. Our group didn't like that approach and by moving gunboats to fire with ships, there was more strategic choice. Also we found that when the gunboats fired at long range and then ran back to their carrier it was too easy for a few of the ships above to chase them back damaging them the whole time unless the battle lines were already pretty close.

The feeling was that Gunboats were great when they had more than the enemy and really didn't do well at all when the enemy out costed the gunboats. This was because at least how we were reading the rules, ships could fire at other ships and then still fire at gunboats. That just didn't work for us.

Now it's possible that we had played it wrong and that it was intended that ships had to not fire in the large unit combat phase and then could fire in the small unit phase but if that was the intended than it didn't seem to hurt by just combining fire.

In mixed fleets, the Gunboats would act as the SRW wing of the fleet and deal with the enemy SRW wing while the capital ships duked it out with LRW.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Whitecold on Fri 05 Feb 2016 02:47

Now I am really curious what changed between ULTRA and SOLAR. 1 Dca + 1 Rb has a BASV of 7-8, getting a -6 dmg modifier. Thus each of those corvettes can do at most 4 damage, and none at all in more than half of the time.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Morpheus on Fri 05 Feb 2016 11:17

Whitecold wrote:Now I am really curious what changed between ULTRA and SOLAR. 1 Dca + 1 Rb has a BASV of 7-8, getting a -6 dmg modifier. Thus each of those corvettes can do at most 4 damage, and none at all in more than half of the time.

So am I. Either there is some subtle (or maybe not so subtle) detail that I missed and that is having a major impact, or maybe there are multiple ways of interpreting the rules that are different from how we (Whitecold and I) have been interpreting them and one interpretation is much more favorable to ships fighting small craft than another interpretation.

Also... I haven't had time but I am very interested in doing an analysis (assuming that one hasn't been done already) of BASV and/or Damage to Small Craft per Hull Space. One could argue that BASV or Damage per MC is also appropriate, but since I mainly play tactical scenarios (playing a campaign and all the tracking involved is just too much like work, and I don't like to do work when I'm not at work), I'm more concerned with designing the optimal designs. Sure, I do care about MC a little because I want to have some sort of relative balance between players when I play a scenario, but I'm mainly concerned with getting a good ship design.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby PracticalM on Sat 06 Feb 2016 00:43

You are forgetting that you can place 7 of these into a datalink and that adds up on the first shot.

It's possible the difference is that in the game we were playing fleet sizes were large enough that the NPR just could not bring enough GB to help even though the battles being fought should have been to the NPRs advantage.

Fleet sizes were about 50 ships to a size BC to CT in the player fleet.

I think the issue is maneuverability as well. It's all well and good for a GB to try to stay at range 9 then turn and run but the turning takes a few movement pulses and then the escort ships start chasing.

If you send your escort ships out to face the GB, the GB have some trouble keeping all the ships in arc and keep heading for the battle line.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Whitecold on Sat 06 Feb 2016 01:28

That can't be it alone. 7 of these things datalinked have a BASV of 49, dealing +4 dmg. This gives on average 10 damage on one squadron, when you can field 6 GBa for the price of 7 CTs.
Datalink is rather useless for BASV, as above 30 Dmg dealt per BASV goes down.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby southwestforests on Sat 06 Feb 2016 03:33

I had been wondering how "nerfing" fit the discussion - important to note that I am not a computer gamer - so my mind was looking at Nerf toys trying to find relationship and coming up with only "Huh?" - finally went and Googled it.
Okay, I get the relationship now.

Personal trivia tangent over, we now return to worthwhile conversation by others.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Cralis on Mon 08 Feb 2016 01:03

PracticalM wrote:WSLongbow2 CTf 16 393.6 59.04
[2] SS AA ZaHt(I)(I)(I)MgtDcaYaQa?a(I)Rb [8/4] Ib XOax2 AM1

While Dca is SL7, the empire using these ships were EL5 pushing technology after losing systems to an empire with Gunboats.
Strategies were run forward and try to stay out of the forward 60 degree arc of the gunboats by splitting as much as possible (the Za was often an expensive armor).


These have a BASV of ((8.33, 7, 7). With Za you can put 60 HS of these together, so three. Total BASV of the datagroup is (25, 21, 21), or G7.02 value of (-1, -2, -2). The entire datagroup would do an average of (5, 4, 4) damage to a single GBa.

It's hard to see how these are going to make a huge dent unless you have a LOT of them...more than the other guy has GBa. At 393.6 MCr, a datagroup of these is only a little more valuable than a GB+carrier cost of ~2 GBa. From what I've seen so far, the GBa would decimate these guys on a cost-for-cost basis.

Another strategy was to let the GB hit the main line and then chase the gunboats with these back to the carriers.

Later ships were these. More expensive but had fun chasing GB around.
WSThunder CTb 19 417.8 62.67
[3] SS AA ZbHtM2JJJDbzLe?aQbJLe [8/3] Jb AM1


CTb! Generational ships! Great use of J drives... these have (14/11/9) BASV each (4/3/3 for Db and 5/4/3 for each Le) and with Zb you can assemble groups up to 120 HS, so 120/19 = 6 ships. Total BASV is (84/66/54), for a G7.02 value of (+10/+7/+5). Damage will be (10-20, 7-17, 5-15)

Nice design... seriously. I've always been fond of those squadron eating lasers. Of course, if he'd used Lrb he'd have (6/5/4) for each laser instead of (5/4/3), but the total BASV would only be 2 points higher... unfortunately not enough to push the G7.02 bonus to the next value and they cost a lot more.

Six of these puppies are also worth 2506.8 MCr, or an entire large population's income. And you can buy a carrier and four GBa for about the same cost. Very interesting...

When our group used all ships fired first every gunboat was always damaged before they could fire. Our group didn't like that approach and by moving gunboats to fire with ships, there was more strategic choice. Also we found that when the gunboats fired at long range and then ran back to their carrier it was too easy for a few of the ships above to chase them back damaging them the whole time unless the battle lines were already pretty close.

The feeling was that Gunboats were great when they had more than the enemy and really didn't do well at all when the enemy out costed the gunboats. This was because at least how we were reading the rules, ships could fire at other ships and then still fire at gunboats. That just didn't work for us.


So... you're saying that gunboats ruled when they had more in value than the enemy, but the enemy ruled when they had more in value than the gunboats. Isn't that true for literally everything?

Now it's possible that we had played it wrong and that it was intended that ships had to not fire in the large unit combat phase and then could fire in the small unit phase but if that was the intended than it didn't seem to hurt by just combining fire.


It is intended. Where it hurts is that active defenses have negatives to defend against attacks and be used on the same turn offensively, and that's only if you have researched dual-mode ... otherwise you have to choose one or the other.

The only part of the shooting in both sub-phases is for weapons with munitions. The explanation that they are multi-shot and can mix shots doesn't work for that case, as they obviously are expending limited numbers of round. I'm considering allowing those kinds of weapons... specifically LRW ...the ability to shoot at longer ranges but limiting them to one sub-phase or the other.

In mixed fleets, the Gunboats would act as the SRW wing of the fleet and deal with the enemy SRW wing while the capital ships duked it out with LRW.


Against smaller ships or against other gunboats? In the latter case, fighters are generally much better. Looking at the flight times though, I think fighters have a hard time because their flight time is so much shorter than gunboats...

Whitecold wrote:Now I am really curious what changed between ULTRA and SOLAR. 1 Dca + 1 Rb has a BASV of 7-8, getting a -6 dmg modifier. Thus each of those corvettes can do at most 4 damage, and none at all in more than half of the time.


Not that much, at least not yet. You're spot on as far as I can tell.

Morpheus wrote:So am I. Either there is some subtle (or maybe not so subtle) detail that I missed and that is having a major impact, or maybe there are multiple ways of interpreting the rules that are different from how we (Whitecold and I) have been interpreting them and one interpretation is much more favorable to ships fighting small craft than another interpretation.


More often then not, what I've found is that people don't like the way the rules are written and change them. That (obviously) screws with the balance. Most often the change is either that they don't let large units fire in both the large unit combat sub-phase AND the small unit combat sub-phase, or counting all shots in point defense (which was my mistake as well for a long time). Remember that Marvin wrote these rules for ULTRA around 12 years ago.

Also... I haven't had time but I am very interested in doing an analysis (assuming that one hasn't been done already) of BASV and/or Damage to Small Craft per Hull Space. One could argue that BASV or Damage per MC is also appropriate, but since I mainly play tactical scenarios (playing a campaign and all the tracking involved is just too much like work, and I don't like to do work when I'm not at work), I'm more concerned with designing the optimal designs. Sure, I do care about MC a little because I want to have some sort of relative balance between players when I play a scenario, but I'm mainly concerned with getting a good ship design.


Yeah, that's one thing that is pretty linear about BASV and squadron combat right now. The only major factor is damage output. Unlike large units, which have to deal with different kinds of damage skipping, modifiers, and detection... squadrons have none of that. It is something I'd like to change.

PracticalM wrote:You are forgetting that you can place 7 of these into a datalink and that adds up on the first shot.


For the CTb it is 120 / 19 = 6.3 FRD = 6 units per datagroup. If you're talking about the CTf, it would be 120 / 16 = 7.5 FRD = 7 per datagroup, but I think he's talking about the CTb design as the CTf has Za, which is limited to 60 HS and so only 60 / 16 = 3.75 FRD = 3 per datagroup.

It's possible the difference is that in the game we were playing fleet sizes were large enough that the NPR just could not bring enough GB to help even though the battles being fought should have been to the NPRs advantage.

Fleet sizes were about 50 ships to a size BC to CT in the player fleet.


They do say that you never want to have a "fair fight"... we only worry about it for balance purposes. I think even you've noted before (as have I and most other experienced players) that most battles fought in campaigns are pretty lopsided.

I think the issue is maneuverability as well. It's all well and good for a GB to try to stay at range 9 then turn and run but the turning takes a few movement pulses and then the escort ships start chasing.

If you send your escort ships out to face the GB, the GB have some trouble keeping all the ships in arc and keep heading for the battle line.


True. But if the squadrons have enough time they should gun for the escorts first and come back for the battle line later. Of course, they don't always have the time... that's a tactics issue IMHO.

Whitecold wrote:That can't be it alone. 7 of these things datalinked have a BASV of 49, dealing +4 dmg. This gives on average 10 damage on one squadron, when you can field 6 GBa for the price of 7 CTs.
Datalink is rather useless for BASV, as above 30 Dmg dealt per BASV goes down.


I think you're slightly off, as my count of the BASV at long-range was 54. But I mostly wanted to ask why do you think Datalink is useless? At 9 BASV at long-range, you could organize these into groups of 3 per datagroup... but the +5 for the full six is going to be the average damage you'd do with a second datagroup, and you'd do it consistently. You might get lucky and do a little more damage with good rolls, and you might get unlucky and do less. I guess it depends upon how lucky you feel :)

southwestforests wrote:I had been wondering how "nerfing" fit the discussion - important to note that I am not a computer gamer - so my mind was looking at Nerf toys trying to find relationship and coming up with only "Huh?" - finally went and Googled it.
Okay, I get the relationship now.


I can see that if you've not been around computer gaming much. :lol: Now you need to look up the concept we call a "nerf bat", because that's what WhiteCold is advocating. Testing will tell.

I have the same reaction to some of the stuff my teenager says. After she explains it, I get the urge to bang my head on the wall...
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby PracticalM on Mon 08 Feb 2016 09:25

The ships and results are all from a early ULTRA game that transitioned from GSF so I might have to go back to the player to get a better handled on what happened. I looked at my records and the empire didn't start using ast until later so the ships posted were the anti-GB forces in use.

In regards to the GB performance, the original comparison was GB alone versus fleet without ast or fighter support. In these situations, the fleet can afford to turtle up and every ship will fire at the GB before the GB can fire. So even when the fleet sizes are equivalent so much damage is going to be done before the GB can fire that the GB never fire undamaged.

After the first attack run every GB is damaged and then the escorts chase them back to the carrier. Our GB tactics improved but until our group just let ships and GB fire in the same phase, our group wasn't impressed with GB. We refought battles a few times looking for ways that made GB perform better but were never really happy with it until we got rid of the small craft sub phase.

I know I probably wrote up more detail when it happened for the mailing list. I'll see if I can find it.
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