What has been irking me about combat in S:AE was the iterative process for rolling each attack. Each attack with each similar weapon system requires a total of three die rolls with multiple dice. My issue isn't the number of dice rolled but the number rolls made. There is a roll to hit, a roll to overcome defenses, and a roll to determine damage allocation. This provides for a great amount of granularity for how different weapons behave allowing for the creation of one weapon that may be highly accurate with a high rate of fire but does not have much penetration or damage potential or another that has difficulty getting past defense but inflicts a great amount of damage on impact. It's actually one of the strengths of the design system within the game. The down side is that rolling a handfull of dice, sorting out which ones hit, rolling to see which ones penetrated then sorting those dice out, and then rolling for damage (sometimes with a multiplier) can begin to take time, especially with larger squadrons of larger ships mounting multiple weapon types. Individual weapons, engines, and shields/armor are potentially damaged from the first hit onwards. A battleship could potentially lose it's main gun in the first hit just as easily as a frigate.
Combat in FT:XD is much smoother. There are a limited number of types of weapons and there is only one roll that is modified by the target's defenses. This reduces the game's ability to closely replicate how weapons from specific books/shows/movies (which let's face it, generally falls into Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and occasionally Babylon 5) behave but does simplify gameplay. Roll to hit, typically hits are counted on 4, 5, or 6 and apply damage (applying half of the damage to armor if present) to the hull boxes. Systems are rolled for critical damage at the end of each of three or four rows of hull boxes, depending on the construction options used for the ship. A battleship's main gun won't be a candidate to be destroyed until after it has sustained enough damage to destroy a typical frigate.
I tried the sample scenario included with FT:XD using my GZG starship miniatures, this being the first time they were used for the game they were designed to be used with. The scenario is simple, each side has mirrored forces of two cruisers and three frigates. One side has to attempt to exit his ships off the opposite side of the table and are set up in a line abreast formation. The other side is to intercept and destroy the opposing player's force before he can get them off the table. This player deploys in two columns, one with the two cruisers and the other with the three frigate, in a corner on an approximately 60 degree bias from the table edge. My 9 year son Phillip played the interceptors and I played the blockade runners.
We both quickly picked up the basics of the game. Phil had no problems writing preplotted movement orders after I told him he could use left and right instead of port and starboard for indicating turns. Combat was quite smooth as I expected, slowing down only for the first couple threshold checks until we got the hang of the mechanic. By the end of the game I had lost my frigates and one cruiser had been effectively disabled while Phil had lost a cruiser to a containment breach in his power core and a frigate to weight of fire. His remaining frigates were heavily damaged but his remaining cruiser was untouched. My cruisers did manage to exit the board though. We called it a tie since I exited the board but had lost three of my escorts in the process. The upside is that we both managed to avoid the usual first game high speed pass that most FT players seem to experience since momentum is conserved turn to turn.
My impressions are that while I liked the faster combat I found that I prefer my starship games to be played on a hexmap for ease and speed. Turning and measuring, then turning and measuring again was a bit fiddly and moderately annoying with ships in close proximity and maintaining formation. So I'm left with something of a quandary. I like the combat resolution (though I have my doubts about adapting settings satisfactorily using the limited weapon options) but didn't like the movement mechanics with FT:XD. In S:AE I like movement on a hex (I use a modified movement mechanic rather than the one in the rules) and the differentiation between weapons but want a streamlined resolution mechanic. Majestic 12 changed the way combat works in their latest version, Starmada Nova Edition, but I'm not sold on it as it now uses a more complex defense mechanism though I suppose I ought to give a run using the sample rules in the interest of fair evaluation. I'm told Colonial Battlefleet may be what I'm looking for but don't really want to spend $15 + printer ink to find out it isn't what I want. I'm already invested with Starmada, both the base version as well as the licensed Starfleet Universe version, so will probably stick with it but the hunt continues. All this though has had me wondering if I still have the draft version of a starship game I had been working on about six years ago but never finished due to getting bogged down with figuring out how to assign point values.
Played the basic scenario three times yesterday after watching the awesome Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode. The kids took turns as the Mk III, though the youngest got a Mk II due to time constraints, and I played the defense. I lost the first two games due to some bad die rolls and not fully understanding just how difficult it is to damage an OGRE. The kids loved it and want to play again today. Thinking about a 2 on 2 game with everyone in a Mk III. I'll need to check the scenario book but I think there is one like that called Operation K or something like that.
|And it's almost all OGRE. Not much by way of filler.|
|Just the game box occupies a fair portion of my 6-seat dining room table.|
|Not that I'm complaining, but I think I was only supposed to get one of these.|
|Four packs of counter sheets, those on their own are fairly heavy...or I need to get back into a regular exercise routine.|
|Kind of hard to see, but there's a minor puncture in the lid. Didn't go all the way through so the contents were safe. Box did it's job.|
|Looks like the bottom of the box got creased in shipping. Guessing it was dropped.|
|Minor wear on one of the corner. Overall very little shipping damage.|
|Hand signed thank you certificate from Steve Jackson|
|The OGRE garage, for storing the assembled 3D counters, with labels|
|Map board in the box|
|bottom half of the original map|
|top of the original map|
|under the top set of maps are the books, record sheets, reference sheets and the eight GEV maps|
|Rules and sheets|
|stack 'o' maps|
|To give an idea of the size of one of the map sheets unfolded.|
|Look at all the STUFF!|
|PanEuro and Combine logo dice. These are pretty good sized dice, no mistaking what was rolled on these bad boys.|
|Bottom later of storage, mostly for counters and map overlays (additional pieces to modify the standard maps)|
|Tear in the side|
|Card board reinforcement for the walls of the tray. I don't recommend taking the bottom layer out, it was a pain getting those inserts to stay where they were supposed to when replacing the tray into the box|
|The names of the Kickstarter backers all around the box. Mine is easy to find, this side of the box, very lower left corner, first name on the bottom line.|
|The original map and four of the GEV maps. Still have four of the map boards stacked in the background.|
|Six of the maps won't fit on the table.|
I'm going to need a bigger table.
|tape reinforcement on the back side of the map boards|
|The GEV maps are four sets of two. They are geomorphic so you can mix and match boards for a large variety of gaming experiences.|
|The four counter packs. Not opening them tonight as I don't want them to get scattered.|
|armor unit counters (and a couple others)|
|some of the 3D counters|
|OGREs and Vulcans OH MY!|
|Same sheet, same bad photography. This is one of the KS sheets "Targets Go Boom"|
Half tempted to take a couple sheets to work with me to get a start on punching them all out. Probably a sure recipe to lose one or two.
Next update will either be progress on Kyra or a status report on how many counters have been prepared. Until then, enjoy.
|I don't know, fly casual.|
|a little dragonbooty|
|Is this my good side?|
|Or is this better?|
Here is the initial set up:
The scenario was that the Mekanoids were advancing on the flank of a larger battle. The UNSC had hastily gathered a reaction force to block the advance of the 'bots. The objective for both sides was to remove half of the opposing models, forcing them to retreat. The first turn involved some maneuvering and only one shot which had no effect. (In my mashed up version of FUBAR weapons can fire up to twice their listed range at 1/2 firepower dice.)
End of 1st turn:
Turn 2 was more movement then Alexander opened up and destroyed my section of anti-tank drones before they could even get a chance to fire. The grav tank immobilized the rearmost of Alexander's walkers with a shot that threaded a needle between the buildings:
In turn 3 my grav tank got into position and eliminated Phil's walker in one mighty blow as well as taking out one of his grenadiers. Alexander tried in vain to take out the infantry on the bridge.
Turn 4: the grav tank turned to engage the walker threatening the infantry and takes out the flamethrower. The infantry throw grenades and immobilize the walker while the fire support team takes out two of Alexander's grenadiers.
1) I still need some practice on balancing forces without a point system.
2) I need to sit down and finish the point system I've written some notes about
3) Either I'm not handling infantry armor saves correctly or I need to change the mechanic. That walker should have put a hurt on the infantry.
4) The tank didn't get a scratch on it, though I think was due more to keeping terrain between it and the opposing vehicles, not a complete test of it's stats. In this game though it seemed maybe a bit overpowering.
5) The next game will be over more open terrain so vehicles can strut their stuff.
6) Mobility to use terrain to screen models is key.