Good to see you back, James! Yeah, submarines seem a bit funky in the current version of the rules, and LoS seems too easy. Here's my feedback, submitted through the portal. Excuse the essay, I tried to keep the individual points short:
Crippled status: This seems like an excellent start to reduce calculations. I’d hope for more things to change in a crippled stat line than just the “wheel” stats, though. I saw some gained MARs such as deep running, which is interesting, but I’d love to see their weapon systems affected somehow, as that added a lot of strategic depth. Maybe add a 3rd weapon value so that when a unit is crippled, 8 lead 4 support shifts to 4 lead 2 support AD?
Less turning templates: okay, so we could do with less turning templates. Having to shift around templates could be a pain, especially for newer players.
AA/CC assist: it always felt a bit stupid to me that the giant flagship 1” away from a model under fire could not support that model. This is nice. It does encourage clumping though… More on that later.
Carriers & SRS: Boy, I thought it wasn’t possible, but this actually seems like a nice fix. I am slightly sad that the 100+ SAWs I painted might not all be used anymore, but this feels like a WAY less cluttered form of the rules, and I do still like the way it feels… Which is more than I can say of its predecessor, the fleet action rules.
The new defense AD: I am patently against special dice, but I am starting to turn around to the idea of favoring the attacker by limiting exploding dice. I am slightly sad at the potential removal of the “little die that could”, though.
End of turn critical cleanup: That was a really nice change. We used to have to move lots and lots of markers whenever a ship moved, and removing the critical effect tokens at the end of a turn really limits that. Nice stuff.
The new card/VV system: I like the cards. The STAR cards were an atrocious thing, and the newer cards of 2nd edition were… Okay? This feels like the concept has been integrated a lot more fully into the game. The whole “playing this thing is victory points for the other player” was very counterintuitive, and I’m glad they got rid of it. I would suggest that it be possible to flush cards though, which is not in the rules yet, to avoid being stuck with a dud hand.
Rerolling 1s: Really nice. Everyone likes rerolling, and this is a far better alternative to the +/- to hit.
Doing away with +/- to hit numbers: Like I said above, I’m glad those are gone. Adding up different modifiers from different parts of rules could get confusing quickly, especially since things like primary guns vs small models were very prevalent in games. I understand that obscured is still in the game, but as long as that is a single, specific effect, I’m fine with that. More on that below though…
Redistributing fire to other models in squadron after kill: I think I like it? Nothing as frustrating as throwing too much fire at a single target due to luck of the dice, then wasting your precious dice. Not without mixed feelings though, as it removes an element of gambling out of the targeting strategy: Do you REALLY WANT TO KILL IT DEAD? Or are you willing to play the odds and hope for above average rolls across the board?
Improved/expanded upgrade system: This system feels like it has the potential to be amazing for opening up possibilities for list building. I hate how changing weapon systems plays with the readability of stat cards though, more on that below.
Bombs: I liked the change of bombs as a 360 weapon system, but changing it to a frontal 10” attack actually makes sense. I approve.
Cleaning up the Ramming section: This is a really nice change, although I have some reservations about the interaction with disordered. It feels like one of those finicky details you need to remember. Still feels good all-in-all.
Allowing units to simply move backwards at half speed: I am… tentatively in favor? I can see the potential for cheese if artillery units arrive on the scene, but until then, it does away with the incredibly cumbersome full stop and 2” backwards movement. I would addd an option to forgo movement for turning though, to compensate for the slightly more rigid movement of naval units in this version.
Integrating initiative with VV cards: That’s just nice. Adds a bit of tactical thinking where there was simply chance, before.
Repeating the boarding assault phase multiple times: I hate it. Simply hate it. This means we have to repeat the same thing 4-5 times for a corvette squadron. Please just allow one boarding action per squadron, it’ll speed up the game for the better, I promise. Why not add a support number for Fray like you folks did for weapon systems?
No degradation of carrier cap / weapon systems: The carrier cap should degrade according to the rules but the stat cards don’t allow for it yet. Combine that with the lack of degraded weaponry and you get something that feels like it isn’t crippled at all once it reaches half health. Play with a crippled gun line, or removing weapon systems, or anything that increases the feeling that you can pound specific ships to reduce their firepower.
How Deep Running works: To be honest, halving the effectiveness of enemy fire but completely negating your own seems like a very bad deal. Include with that the fact that most submarines, uh, can’t go deep running until they’re damaged? That feels wonky.
Line of Sight: Okay. I see how you want to simplify the line of sight rules, but the combination of any-to-any-point LoS, removing weapon hardpoint specific LoS makes line of sight trivial. This is nice if you want to simply throw dice, but it feels not at all nice if you want something were positioning matters. There are few things in this beta that I really disliked, but this is definitely one of them. Additionally (and this really should deserve its own point, but I’ll just put it here), having your own squadron mates not block line of sight might reduce some frustration in the maneuvering phase, but it absolutely encourages tiny clumps of ships. I crossed the T on someone’s ships by having all 4 of my frigates stacked side by side shooting through each other. PLEASE reconsider this particular design choice!
Too few turning templates: Okay, I admit I said that less turning templates is nice, but it felt really, really weird to have frigates move around with the same turning circle as a giant battleship/carrier. I’d rather, I think, just do away with the 45-degree template and have small, medium and large templates. You can convince me that medium + turning limit can substitute a large template, but I really, really hate turning limit so that’d be a hard sell.
VV victory conditions (e.g., destroy UNIT with SRS/boarding): These felt very hard to achieve. You can aim for destroying models, but if you require, for each of these cards, that an entire squadron be eliminated, its going to take quite some time before the victory conditions become relevant. I’d far rather scale the scenario rewards so that the VV cards can be used to gain points for a specific model rather than squadron.
Stat line changes through upgrades
Standardization of weapon gun lines: I… Just don’t like it. It feels like, with this design choice, the majority of all individuality of nations was swept away. I’d consider instead a set of gun lines per nation. This would allow for far more unique feeling fleets/armies. I get that this is a beta with limited options, but I do feel this should be pointed out regardless.
Boarding defense: I’d prefer to just use AA to repel boarders, and not give people the choice between the highest of the two. For surface/surface boarding. It reduces the lookup time and it doesn’t add much, anyway.
Revving up generators… All of them: I love passive defense gens. I hate active defense gens. Why? Because it feels like I am very, very constrained in when I activate a unit. I’d far rather that we just say that all offensive generators are activated, and all defensive gens are on by default. If you’re in a battle, you don’t power down the shield gen every few minutes now do you?
Obscured is… Not nice: A first obscured ignores light hits, a second obscured is ignores light hits and transforms exploding hits to heavy hits? I’d rather obscured is non stackable and exploding hits count as heavy hits. This prevents checking for multiple sources of the same thing: You find obscured somewhere? You apply it, period.
Minimum of 2 AA to assist: There’s this great change where you don’t have to figure out what the AA value of all units is in order to calculate totals… But now you’re forcing people to look up all those stat lines (across squadrons!) in order to figure out whether they can, in fact, support. Just make it so that every model within 5” can support AA, period.
Unlimited boarding power with multiple squadrons: I think this has already been mentioned multiple times, but the combination of clumping (See: The Bad, Line of Sight) and supporting boarding attempts across squadrons means you can move multiple corvette squadrons in close and pump out absolutely ludicrous amounts of dice during multiple boarding assaults. I don’t like. Change to only having squadron supporting (excepting VV cards maybe, see Nazduruk_Bugzappa’s point), and/or only a single boarding attempt per squadron (my preference).
Large templates + turn limit: So, on a 3’x3’ board with terrain, a large turning template plus turning limit means that a large unit has two tactical options: Stand still, or chug forward to the opposite side of the map. The maneuverability of large ships is too constrained to interesting movement.
Hazard, the not-quite-critical-effect: It smells like a crit effect, it sometimes acts like a crit effect, it tokens like a crit effect, but it is, in fact, not one. I also take some issue with the idea that conditions are usually removed during the end phase (see first sentence of hazard explanation), as there are currently 4 conditions and only two of them are removed at the end of a round. Suggestion: It feels like stunned should just be part of a critical condition, obscured neither a state nor an effect (since it is applied by MARs and properties first and foremost), and only hazard and disordered conditions. Then, cleaning conditions should be a special step in the end phase.
Terminology: Unit vs. Squadron: Why was squadron changed to unit? Unit feels like it could just as well refer to a single model, and it created a lot of confusion in our games (See also: The Bad, VV Victory conditions)
Need to use tables to look up gun lines: This is a pretty bad offender to quick gameplay. Either we have a gunnery reference table open at all times, or we memorize it, or we have to add the stat lines to the upgrade cards. The first two are not really acceptable alternatives, and the last one creates confusion as it replaces a stat line that is printed on the card. I don’t really have any solid ideas on how to deal with this issue, but either have all gunnery lines as separate cards (lots of paper!), be more constrained in the upgrade system (removes the fun flexibility in list building), completely rely on a digital tool for army building and stat card reference, or… Eh. I don’t know.
Rams don’t have any AD value assigned: Like it says on the tin.
Linking fire is still universally half AD… Except for bomb bays, which are 1 to support?: Feels either like an oversight, or a balance choice because it is a blast template (in which case: please reconsider, it pays to have consistency in your stat lines for balance reasons. Instead, consider making it 4/2 for an equivalent payload in a 3 plane squadron).
VV text orientation: Please just have the victory and valor parts the same way up. You want to reference them in the same phases, which means you’re constantly turning the cards around.
Gunnery seems superior to torpedoes in targeting submarines: Um.
Wavelurking is still iffy: Give it the submerged trait, sure. But say that it treats all enemy units as obscured (using that new condition) instead of saying the same thing without using the catch-all term that was invented for this. This also interacts nicely with torpedoes which can then attack wavelurkers without penalties due to its weapon specific qualities. I’d say remove aerial defense 0 since it’ll make it mighty unappealing to use wavelurking in most situations, you’re already penalizing them for relatively light gains by making it harder to hit enemies.
SRS attacks: they have both the aerial and submerged qualities, which is great. The 0.03 version of the rules seem to have snuck in an errata to make it able to target submerged units (good!), but right now the rules state that you can use both AA and CC against SRS attacks. against the target. Might need a rethink
Scenarios Two were added in the 0.03 version of the rulebook. Still missing the other 4.
Battlegroups / Unit sizes: We need this to make many of the judgements we want to make about how stuff feels in the new edition. Maybe just give us 2-3 default ones?
I can’t stress this enough: Supply a change log if you update the rules so we can see what has changed and test accordingly!!!