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Paladin21

Interceptor SRS Rebalance

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I've read this entire thread and can't claim to have digested it all, it's simply too much, but from a new player's perspective two thoughts have stayed with me...

i.torpedoes are too vulnerable to SRS adding to defensive PD, the torpedo vs. ship PD balance seems fairly delicate, and thus interceptors etc. need to be heavily nerfed (or removed?) from PD defensive fire. At least Linking instead of Combining.

ii.leveling out the potential damage values seems an idea worth exploring more, especially making fighters and bombers (particularly in low wing sizes) viable. It might also allow interceptor wings to be freed from the 2..12 PD straight-jacket. I'd rather keep the current design, but not if it's crippling SRS re-balance, assuming any replacement turns out to be better of course.

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After reading through the expanded explanation of the proposal to re-work SRS, I see where you are going with the idea now.  I'm all in favor of having a more cohesive, tight ruleset in that there shouldn't be large sections of "special" rules that violate the general rules which is where SRS live now.  For that reason alone you'd get a vote from me to consolidate them into the basic ruleset and then re-balance them accordingly.  I have no issues, either from a mechanical or thematic standpoint, with making them "ships" that can only be fired at with PD as their small size and maneuverability would make hitting them with main ship armament impractical to say the least.  It would, however, take a major rebalancing of not only the SRS units themselves, but all ships in the game able to take SRS flights.

All MARs related to SRS, especially Deck Crews, would need looking at as well as the carrier ships themselves.  You'd also have to conduct this re-evaluation at the same time you're looking at torpedo effectiveness, since the defenses against both systems are the same.  If you adjust out SRS and PD interaction to work, you'd better make sure that you also put the torpedos into the mix or they remain the afterthought weapon that they currently are in the new edition.  Carriers themselves would also need a look, and Relthoza and Ryushi (and somewhat Aquans to a lesser extent) would need large re-writes as well due to their propensity for having large numbers of SRS around, depending on how well the power level of the proposed changes maps to the current system.  Relthoza smalls who could carry a Medium bomber wing or Fighters+Interceptors (using the presumably rough-guesstimate figures provided) would be the first thing I'd look at, and "special" carriers, such as the Directorate and Relthoza cloaked carriers, would also need special attention.  Not to say that it isn't do-able, or not worth pursuing (again, I think simplifying the rules by removing exceptions is a generally worthy goal), but there's a lot of moving pieces if you approach it in this fashion.

Overall it's a very interesting idea and I like it for a new edition.  I'd only be concerned about how *many* different things in the game would have to be looked at (all PD values, all torpedo values, all SRS values, MARs, etc.) for this to work out.  The plus side being I already think many of these things should be considered in the new edition anyway.  What I *don't* want to see happen is the game turn into WW2-historicals-in-space with every ship existing to either bring or screen SRS attacks from carriers.  I've already got a couple of different systems for doing that when I want to do it, I'd rather this game continue to be more about big chunks of resin blasting at each other.

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On 10/19/2016 at 7:34 AM, Dr_Vector said:

*trimmed*

Thank you for the explanation, I understand the concept you're working with better, although I feel that simply leveling out the SRS Token's value will produce desirable results more directly.  Worryingly to me, HP/DR/CR additions to SRS makes the exact Point Defense value on ships far more relevant, Ryushi become gods compared to the Directorate. I feel this is just the tip of the iceberg in the way of treating SRS like models, particularly with MARs like Deck Crews in the mix.

I agree that adding DR and CR to SRS makes PD more relevant, but perhaps not as much as you worry about.  Ryushi are still gods compared to Directorate vs SRS because the extra PD offers more chances for 6s which yields more destroyed SRS tokens and more drive off effects.  Also, each token is essentially equivalent to a HP, so you're already effectively working the HP angle in the current system.  Just tweaking the existing system also means that low wing value ships still don't use anything other than interceptors - even if your 2 wing bomber token yields 8 or 10 AD, all it takes is 1 6 on PD to destroy the token.  I think the risk of losing the token is so high that you would still only see small interceptor squads.  In my propsal, using a Light Bomber squadron, you still have 6 HP that degrade gracefully and have an appropriate AD value, and they can be adjusted to have a separate MV from a heavier bomber squadron.  

Also, the DR, CR, and extra SRS types are something you would probably only try to tackle with a V3 of the rules.  That would gives a full balance pass to rip the SRS section out of the rule book and make sure Directorate isn't too PD weak and Ryushi isn't too PD heavy.  Do note that Directorate has mulitple options of ships with low Wing values, which, in my proposed system, could yield lots of Interceptor squadrons that would be better than 1 token interceptors of today.  Terrans might be more of a worry - if you want wings, you're looking at either the Tyrant, or Zenith / Solar - not much option there.  

My biggest worry is that adding, say,  2 DR and 3 CR to SRS make them too easy to kill - you'll land double crits on them pretty easily with anything with escorts or larger squads. I don't think you want it to be too trivial to wipe out whole tokens, even if the focus of the game is the big ships. 

 

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On 10/19/2016 at 10:12 AM, Paladin21 said:

 What I *don't* want to see happen is the game turn into WW2-historicals-in-space with every ship existing to either bring or screen SRS attacks from carriers.  I've already got a couple of different systems for doing that when I want to do it, I'd rather this game continue to be more about big chunks of resin blasting at each other.

I agree with this 110%.  The focus should be on the big ships, but since carriers exist, and the existing system has quite a few flaws, the new edition of the game should really take a look at it.  In fact, if they only changed SRS by making them more like the core rules, simplified linking AD per the 3.0 thread, and adjusted a few balance pieces to match, that would probably be a really big win in the end.  

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My comparison of Director and Ryushi was based on how the mechanics of die rolling used against SRS differs so greatly from the normal exploding die roll compared to DR/CR/HP.  Using the normal model system, SRS may ignore damage that otherwise it would have taken before.  Although, it depends on how you calculate the suggested system's damage, yet if you deviate from the normal system then you start recreating another exception system for SRS.  Also, If you retain a full 6 HP to destroy any, "wing," value of SRS  then I also worry about even the rolls which do produce damage.

Three 6s would annihilate a small wing currently, but how equivalent would that be under the suggested system?  Presumably CR would deal only two points and even if you rolled another 5 then you still don't hit double CR threshold; and for a low PD model that normally would have been a good roll against SRS.  The current system used against SRS is a more graduated linear scale of results that aren't on the same curve as the HP/DR/CR versus exploding die mechanic.  This feels like, at worst nothing will be lost for SRS durability, at best they will become real nightmares to remove in a 6 turn game, possibly an impossible task for some fleets.

 

I'm also not suggesting that players be encouraged to bring low wing count Tokens to a match, I would like for a Token degraded to a low wing count to remain useful.  Having low wing count Tokens retain the same durability of full size Tokens, and also become more viable and competitive for die values, sounds like a recipe for making SRS more powerful and influential than they currently are.  Making low wing capacity models have more viable options is a good goal I think, but this doesn't sound like the best way to go about that task.

I'm trying to consider the potential for die results; against DR 2 and CR 4 that means for the sixes you are rolling the end result for the new system is fairly on par until you hit three sixes and suddenly nothing additional happens compared to the current SRS system.  There are dead zones created by this where beyond two sixes damage starts dropping compared to the current system.  This seems to be a problem possibly solved by the potential of exploding die, although that is as much boon as bane to balancing SRS durability with a changed system.  Sometimes you would be rolling complete duds for damage even with 8 die, yet with exploding die you could also destroy the entire SRS Token.  Presuming model standards, 4 CR and 6 HP means a 12 hit result is death for an entire SRS Token.  This potential may not be a severe problem on average, depending on exactly how the system works, but it's certainly something new and more unpredictable for SRS value calculations.

Presumably 5s count for damage, although whether 4s should matter seems problematic, I'd suspect that SRS would suffer greatly under a changed system if that were true.  With additional results of 5 counting, however, you can be more certain that SRS will be taking damage.  Given average rolls, I expect the up time of an SRS with a DR 2 and CR 4 to be low enough to justify raising.  The performance shift to even DR 3 CR 4-5 however does leave poor PD values out in the dust as their lower scale average results will end up effectively whiffing for damage, or unable to deal significant results.

 

For Frigates a single point of DR or CR can mean a world of difference for performance, and the same would apply for SRS especially considering the, "AD," values it would currently run up against.  Trying to get into a perfect zone for survivability may be impossible given the comparatively wide range of PD values across different fleets and fleet options.  Frigates deal with a relatively small variance of AD from a source capable of hitting them without hindrance, basically look at the range of die values Frigates use when rolling AD against other Frigates.

Changing model PD would be a very thorny path to balance because that also affects torpedo systems, which also use the model's PD value to determine their effectiveness.  Changing the SRS system to a DR/CR/HP with exploding die rolls may sound like simplifying and streamlining the game, but the way SRS are pegged into the game is definitively different from the models in play.  Unless your end goal also includes changing the SRS role in the game, then the proposed system will almost certainly require enough exceptions to the normal rules that you're simply trading one set of exceptions for another, regardless of the familiar appearance.

Unless I've misunderstood the end goal, I don't think the path getting there matches up well.

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Wouldn't the best solution  allow players to field Carriers instead of Battleships as their primary care one,  based on their personal preference?  If everything is properly balanced, you would see a larger variety of fleet builds.

 Right now, 90% of all fleets include a battleship or battle carrier.   Generally, you will never see a duel carrier fleet, let alone a single carrier, but there are some obvious exceptions.

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The best "balanced" solution (ie all T1 choices of a particular point range are more or less the same effectiveness) would certainly promote the idea that a Carrier should be just as desirable as a Battleship.  That is, however, a much different game than the one we're playing, and frankly one that I'm not interested in playing.  FSA has always been about the big ships blasting away at each other, with the Battleship and Dreadnought reigning supreme (and hopefully Leviathans soon) and Carriers reduced to also-rans that either bring along torpedo immunity or try to hide (sometimes in plain sight like Directorate/Relthoza) and deliver unanswered bomber runs.  I'm all in favor of bringing SRS tokens into the current rule set such that they don't have so many odd rule exceptions.  That said, I'm interested in toning down Interceptors so that torpedos actually work and doing zero to increase effectiveness of anything else when making these revisions.  As I said earlier, if I want a game focused on small flights dictating battles, I'll go play WW2 historicals (or anything newer than that really, I just happen to have lots of those models).  Carriers are, in FSA, a fairly specialized choice with reduced effectiveness as compared to a more generalist ship in any area other than those dealing with SRS.  I think this is a fine place for them to be in.  Given their ability to specialize on-demand and play multiple functions in a fleet list, I think they should be expected to make a tradeoff in terms of power level (assuming you aren't using the Blind Fleet Selection optional rule).  

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56 minutes ago, Dr_Vector said:

 

Changing model PD would be a very thorny path to balance because that also affects torpedo systems, which also use the model's PD value to determine their effectiveness.  Changing the SRS system to a DR/CR/HP with exploding die rolls may sound like simplifying and streamlining the game, but the way SRS are pegged into the game is definitively different from the models in play.  Unless your end goal also includes changing the SRS role in the game, then the proposed system will almost certainly require enough exceptions to the normal rules that you're simply trading one set of exceptions for another, regardless of the familiar appearance.

Unless I've misunderstood the end goal, I don't think the path getting there matches up well.

goal 1) remove PD mountain generated by current interceptor rules.  

Make interceptors like any other model.  Give them a MAR called CAP - May join a squadron and link PD with squadron. This solves:

A. Interceptors variable PD value giving them a HUGE PD boost at 6 wing strength, and an ultra value PD choice at 5 points for 2PD.  You get a consistently costed X pd at Y points (say, 8 PD at 20 points for the token). 

B. PD value vs other wings can be different than Torp defense (due to linking via CAP), thus making Torps more relevant.

C. Removal of PD bubble generated by Interceptors, thus making escorts more relevant.  (If you must have a PD bubble, give it to escorts, IMO)

 

goal 2) unified PD system.  There is really no reason there should be multiple sections of rules for PD.  With a little bit of work managing SRS stats, all PD can be handled the same way.

If we give Wings a blanket a value of DR 2 CR 4, with current PD Rules, a 6 PD squadron (hammer squadron), deals, approximately 5 hits with torp PD.  

This deals 2 HP damage to the wing in the proposed system.  In the current system, That  same squad will destroy 1 wing on average rolls.   AD wise, against bombers, in the proposed system, the bomber token loses 2 AD, in the current system, it loses 3AD.

Lets look at an insane PD setup - 1x Resulka Dread with 3x Arrow Escorts for 20PD.  This deals approximately 16 PD hits with Torp PD.This deals a quadruple Crit against the proposed system at CR 4, and completely destroys the bomber token.  In the current system, around 3 wings are destroyed and the wing is probably driven off.  

IMO, Light and Medium bombers should be destroyed by an undamaged Dread with 3 undamaged escorts.  If you must come closer to duplicating the current system, you could bump the CR to 6 on heavy bombers.  A beauty of the proposed system, additional SRS choices gives more tweakability for balance.

All told, the systems are fairly close in performance.  Close enough there isn't much of a compelling to have a separate section of the rules just for SRS IMO.

 

goal 3) give more options to small wing values than to just stack more interceptors.

Having Light / medium / heavy bombers, and interceptors / fighters / Heavy fighter not only gives more points for balance tweaking, it also yields extra variety and something else to do with carriers with small wing sizes.  You can still bring lots of interceptors (same as now) or you can bring something with a little offense at a wing value of 2 or 3.

 

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SRS already have a separate system, so I don't see anything wrong with simply giving it an alternative separate system.

What I proposed above in the rough would work like this.  SRS stats and costs etc remain the same, PD against wings works a little differently, PD vs wings hits on 4+ with 6 counting as 2 hits and exploding mechanic, individual ships not the target of an attack run within PD range still roll separately, the target can link PD fire with it's squadron members (or combine with Escorts).

SRS would have a single DR, lets say 2 (playtest can start there, may change later) and points equal to the number of wings in the token, very similar to a Planetfall Infantry base/token.  Lets say this 5 wing Bomber token makes an attack run against a cruiser, the cruiser gets his 3 PD and + 3 more linked from his buddies to roll 6 dice total, (using a random dice roller online it comes out with 6, 3, 5, 3, 6, 6, rolling for the sixes gets 5, 3, 5, = 9 hits.  Dividing out the hits to DR equals 4 Driven Off results with one hit left over.  This would reduce the attack by 4 dice, (-1 die per Driven Off result, resulting in 11 AD instead of the full 15 AD).  If the PD Roll had produced 10 hits, that would come out to 5 Driven Off results sending the SRS Token back to it's carrier without making it's attack.  If a number of hits to equal more than Driven Off are rolled, the overages then kill wings in the token as it's driven off back to it's carrier.  Example: PD rolls 15 hits against the 5 Bomber token, 10 of those hits drives it off, of the remaining 5 hits at DR 2 means that two wings of Bombers are destroyed reducing the Bomber token from 5 down to 3. PD hits taken from other ships the SRS passes in PD range of on it's attack run simply add to the total hits once it reaches it's target.

Now this is only a rough idea, it has not been playtested yet and I'm still not sure how to handle Dogfights between SRS at this point.

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In order of response, using a mechanic of tying an SRS Token to a squadron for PD linking would make certain fleets far more viable for a PD Mountain strategy than others.  Aquans and Relthoza are much better positioned to take advantage of this in fleet building.  Aquans have many potential sources of SRS and Relthoza Nidus frigates become even more valuable for the blanket of SRS they bring for their fleet.  This doesn't evenly impact factions or their fleet building as I see it, and I haven't read any points which conclusively address this potential issue.  I believe Terran fleets could find this situation a real problem to deal with, rather ironically.

I don't see how a Combat Air Patrol truly answers the high variability in PD performance for Interceptor Tokens; rather, the element you mentioned where SRS Tokens become model like entities with more specific variants added is what attempts to address this issue as I can understand it.  Outstanding issues like Nidus frigate squadrons are going to be quite interesting to balance.  If a CAP rule is by itself supposed to solve the issue, then I'm not certain how you see this working, since variable PD between Token sizes is still there currently even if altered to be tethered to squadrons.  The only end result coming from a CAP ruling is an adjustment to the range of effect rather than the effect itself.

Implementing different PD interactions on SRS doesn't sound like an elegant solution, and given reports in this thread and elsewhere I'm not certain it would be effective either.  While torpedoes are currently beaten down for cost quite well by interceptors, that doesn't necessarily mean they will become more generally viable after reducing interceptor effectiveness.  Certainly it won't hurt, but torpedoes can still face a shut out game even with reduced SRS protection.  I also think the issue of value for bringing the various SRS types starts getting called into question rather heavily under the suggested system; what really is the point between a fighter and a bomber if fighters can't CAP.  If fighters can CAP, why bring altered interceptors under this new system?

If you transfer PD Mountain to escorts, what was the real point of making changes to SRS?  Certainly escorts are a currently more expensive solution with more vulnerability, but if you're facing torpedo heavy lists and can reasonably shut them out with escorts, why ignore the potential for a new PD mountain composition?  Bombers have been cited as also being effective for this role, so some Escorts can't be ruled out even if they don't do the same effect for cost.  If they do fail to be cost effective though, well, then I see them as even more marginalized and irrelevant in fleet building.

 

A problem with exploding dice is that the averages are just a mathematical probability.  I think the lowest PD value a base squadron will give is about 4 PD for certain frigates, although they may have other systems such as shields or stealth systems which skew their true viability against torpedoes.  However, squadrons and models with higher PD and PD options certainly exist and this value can dramatically increase to 8+ PD depending on faction and fleet.  Which is again a serious issue for balance as the PD values between faction fleets is notably different.  There is an incredible degree of difference between what a SRS squadron will be going up against, and if you did use a bomber SRS Token to blow up a frigate?  Frankly, I call that a win for the defending fleet.

It sounds like you might prefer SRS to be unable to damage a Death Star, or other similarly huge construct, which is fine.  Although I'd be disappointed to see that kind of potential removed from the game.  Frankly if you're using, presumably expensive, bomber SRS Tokens against cruisers, or worse frigate targets, I'm not certain I would remain very concerned about bombing runs during a match.

I feel there is a big problem with the resulting damage scale when putting an exact DR/CR/HP value on SRS; and even a PD value of 4 can have a higher range of potential damage against any kind of SRS Token thrown at them currently.  It also leaves the lower end PD models and squadrons in a futile position to drive off improved SRS Tokens with what ends up as a flattened damage scale, particularly with Deck Crews or the like thrown into the mix.  Creating different tokens of differing model values, that still leaves a very specific section for SRS in the handbook with special exceptions, and the end result goes beyond streamlining SRS rules.  I see these changes encouraging an arms race revolving around SRS which I don't think you are fully appreciating.  It might feel like a nice concept, but without sitting down and seriously getting into hashing out the rules it remains a complex end goal with narrow samples of the end result.  I think there are a lot of issues to hash out in this proposal.

 

To reiterate my thoughts on improvements to low wing capacity models, do they really need to project more power onto the field than they currently do?  Do standard carriers under perform currently and need improved SRS to compensate for poor performance?  Certainly low wing capacity models have a disappointingly small cost effective selection of SRS to bring; but this is more a problem of the scaling of SRS value through increasing wing sizes on a Token.  Here's the crux of the problem though as I see it, first you start with bringing lower wing size Tokens more on par with the ability of full wing Tokens.

However, if you do this why bring a full price, full wing Token?  There has to be some notably greater value to bringing a full size Token on a large capacity Carrier.  You can either ignore this and people likely gravitate towards the cheaper while effective low wing Tokens, or you improve the full wing Tokens.  Which then means Carriers become stronger than they were previously before changes.  I don't really see you finding a way around this issue, regardless of the spin you put on it.

 

 

Changing the current special rules system SRS use into another isn't a problem as I see it; and frankly I don't see anything suggested in this thread as actually getting away from that situation.  Personally, I think changing the current interaction between SRS and model PD to an exploding die roll seems like a good way to throw a monkey wrench into the game without a serious overhaul that could become system wide.

I'm not certain I understood this other proposed change.  Currently models do not link or combine fire against SRS Tokens, are you suggesting this be permitted?  Also are you saying that hit results be carried over during the course of an entire activation for the SRS rather than resolved only within each individual point defense attack?  If you do carry over the individual hits there isn't any incentive to link fire in the first place, you're simply lower the number of dice you are rolling.  The point of linking dice in a squadron is that their individual hits don't add up to overcoming a single target's, "DR."

I presume the calculation of effective, "damage," is based off the way Planetfall calculates damage.  Although this calculation of drive off and destroyed results seems to favor the SRS unless the hits carry over between each model, and then it becomes quite a bizarre situation to predict.  I feel there are many potential variables to consider with this change, but in the end I see large wings as increasingly heavily weighted in value. Granted running through the fire of multiple models which can add together individual hit results seems suicidal; but if you can only respond with linked fire from the targeted squadron then I believe this unequally punishes some faction fleet builds.  The example Cruiser roll given was on the high end of performance for the given amount of PD and a full bomber Token seems rather unreasonable to deal with on average; quite possibly close to immortal under this proposed change.

 

These are rather sweeping changes that logically require testing evidence before deciding precisely what kind of effect they will have on the FSA system.  It's hard to recommended any beneficial qualities without at least several cases of testing or example references to back up the hypothesis of what will definitively change in FSA.  I'd perhaps try convincing people to run trials of your ideas under several different match conditions, but unfortunately I believe the variety of FSA factions and fleets will work against producing conclusive results quickly.

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I'd love you quote you and respond item by item Dr_Vector, but your post length is prohibitive! ;)

I'd like to more thoroughly break ALL the problems down into a post, as I can then reference how my proposals (or others) address each individual issue.  Additionally, if we disagree with the problems, we won't be able to agree with the solutions either.  For example, I suspect that not everyone will agree with my point 3 below...

Problems with SRS in general

1) Small wing sizes are not universally useful across SRS types

2) Damage causes attack SRS to lose effectiveness too quickly

3) Do not follow the regular rules for PD. Since the game is not focused on SRS, they should follow a unified PD ruleset with Torps.

4) Damage to SRS is too random.  A large SRS token can run past a full heavy cruiser squadron worth of PD (15-16 dice in some case) if your opponent can't roll any 6s while the same token can be reduced to uselessness by a lucky roll of 4 Firgates.

5) Point defense bubble allows SRS to protect multiple ships at a very low point cost.  There is no counter play - this PD cannot be mitigated by opponent's ranged fire.

6) SRS can't move far from carrier, making Attack SRS essentially an extra RB 1 weapon.  *Note* This may be a feature and not a bug.

Problems with Interceptors in specific:

7) Very cheap point defense upgrade.  1 Interceptor is the same cost as most individual ships PD upgrades (5 points), and exceed the performance of all PD Escorts

8) Bubble of defense, already a problem per 4, is even larger than other SRS.

9) Only SRS that never have to return to base. 

Problems with fighters in specific:

10) Same PD as bombers, less than interceptors.  

11) AD on fighters drops so quickly that even a 4 token squadron is unlikely to cause damage to most targets

Problems with bombers

12) Provide PD boost.  While Bombers thematically should be able to shoot at SRS, they should not contribute PD vs torps.

I think the above should cover all of the issues with SRS, not just Interceptors, but please add to the list if I missed something.

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Going from what you've bullet pointed, allow me to describe my perspective of the situation.

SRS Tokens can be highly dependent upon their wing size for effectiveness, but this depends on the type chosen.  Roles such as support SRS do not need a large wing size, and and quite easily become wasted value for Tokens above half full.  The reverse is true for Fighters whose AD value is incredibly low given the minimum bar of DR/CR that must at least be equaled to have an effect.  The fundamental problem, if the goal is to equalize SRS Token value across all possibilities, lies first in the variety of distinctly different parts of FSA's rules SRS can interact with.  Rolling two die per wing for AD and rolling two die per wing for replacing Crew Points are two very different parts of the game, current SRS interactions makes equalizing this value rather difficult.  Interceptors are also an issue and play a role in yet again another distinct part of the FSA rules system.  Judging relative values across all these systems is part of the fundamental issue equalizing SRS value requires.

The system Attack Die exist in has a minimum bar which must be reached to be reasonably viable.  Thus, the linear scale SRS AD follows severely impacts performance at low values, and exploding die makes the high end especially effective.  While six Hull Point models exist and double degradation can apply, SRS actually suffer worse than those models per point of, "damage," applied.  Frigates and Corvettes with whom they share some similarity due to how die hits are calculated do not also share this severe degrading issue, nor come in a single unit package.  While these points are probably intended for thematic purposes if nothing else, these chosen SRS rule implementations makes comparative equality interacting with the models in play particularly difficult.

I would not say SRS Tokens seriously break the way PD works against Torpedoes, what they do bring is an incredibly high value of PD which does not notably impact fleet movement.  The fundamental issue is how much PD they provide and how easy it is to provide this coverage compared to another squadron element.  This becomes a serious problem when combined with how SRS can only be dealt with effectively by PD fire.  If the former were not true, then the latter issue would not be nearly so obvious a concern, if it would remain a serious concern at all.

I find the point of tethering SRS to Carriers to be a non-issue, it is a gameplay choice, and I do not see it as a relevant issue to the problems of SRS functionality and balance as it stands currently.  To me, changing this would seem a choice made for thematic purposes, to suit a person's preference of abstract representation for models, rather than a core problem with SRS rules.

 

To be honest the problem with Interceptors boils down to, PD for cost and range of influence.  Sorylian Hasta Battlecruisers can add a very large amount of PD over an even larger area, easily compensating for their board presence in fleet movement, thanks to Bigger Batteries.  However the price point they do this for is absolutely higher, even when the downsides for bringing a required Carrier are brought into the calculation.  The end issue is, the points cost needs to be raised, the PD value needs to be dropped, or both.  Honestly the point of never needing to RTB while providing PD coverage isn't necessarily a problem.  Let's be frank here really, torpedoes simply aren't going to be the best weapon on the field no matter what you do to SRS, the real problem is the price point at which you can shut them out.

 

The biggest problem with Fighters is that they're trying too hard to be a jack of all trades in the rules portion of FSA where this makes them the clearly under performing choice, currently.  Bombers have an issue not that they have PD at all, but that they are priced so cheaply for the amount they bring.  Given how their PD value is calculated, the only ways to reduce effectiveness are to change the rules or remove the value entirely.  Unless you completely remove the value then the price point needs to be changed.  Really the fact that SRS are all equally valued has always struck me as the oddest part of this system.  However, price changing is also made difficult to address since FSA works off multiples of 5 for it's pricing.

 

Damage to SRS, I somewhat covered earlier, but to put a finer point on it.  The issue comes with how degradation of a Token works in comparison to a model.  While similar in a way to Frigates and Corvettes, they are a singular entity that suffers massive degradation per hit and this severely impacts performance.  No role comparative model shifts in quality as significantly nor to such an ineffectual state.  The way damage itself is calculated isn't significantly changed or unfair specifically, it is the degree to which performance of the SRS Token is altered which causes this perception.

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Largely unrelated to the main topic but of note. The Hasta is fantastic at PD coverage. 300pts gets a pair with extra shields and weapon shielding and 6 interceptors. These are long range firepower with their Kinetics, then massive broadsides that are hard to degrade or destroy. They also give a big PD Bigger Batteries bubble and both carry 3 interceptors. Sit the Battlecruisers just under 6 inches apart in a line, then place the interceptor tokens touching their parent ship, behind, inline with the stem for two 6 inch +6PD bubbles. The Hasta are the immune to practically anything torpedo or SRS and there is a 6+6+(just under 6) = 17.x inch bubble of 6-12PD right in the middle of your fleet.

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Something I've been brewing about on the size/effectiveness of Support Shuttles. While larger number token works fine for Medical Runs (roll to restore Crew points equal to wings in token), it's subject to diminishing returns on Engineering runs (-1 to repair roll for each wing after the first, a roll of one still fails) why not expand that a little bit. Give it so that Engineering Shuttles can make a repair roll each die/wing past the first reduces the to-hit needed until it maxes out at 3 wings (where a roll of 1 still fails) any after that allows a second repair roll at the standard and -1 to the roll etc, so that way you could make two repair rolls and might have a reason to take a full 6-count Support Shuttles.

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12 hours ago, Commodore Jones said:

Something I've been brewing about on the size/effectiveness of Support Shuttles. While larger number token works fine for Medical Runs (roll to restore Crew points equal to wings in token), it's subject to diminishing returns on Engineering runs (-1 to repair roll for each wing after the first, a roll of one still fails) why not expand that a little bit. Give it so that Engineering Shuttles can make a repair roll each die/wing past the first reduces the to-hit needed until it maxes out at 3 wings (where a roll of 1 still fails) any after that allows a second repair roll at the standard and -1 to the roll etc, so that way you could make two repair rolls and might have a reason to take a full 6-count Support Shuttles.

Personally, I liked the idea that support shuttles and assault boats just become MARs on the carriers.  I don't think there is a ton of reason to have either as actual SRS unless you want to create contention for Wing slots in each carrier?

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To return to my post of all of the problems, and how my proposed solution covers the issues.  Please note, I'm really suggesting this as part of V3, as V3 (conceivably) will be a change to the core rules with associated testing.  While you could bolt this onto V2, it would potentially require major overhauls to ship PD and Torpedo values, in addition to SRS and individual SRS token balance.

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First, I'm proposing that you don't pay for squads per Wing / HP.  You buy a single token at a set value.  I don't want to break down into individual stats at this moment, so I'll start by proposing that all tokens cost 30 points.  It looks like this:

Interceptors - 1 wing slot 
Light Bombers - 2 wing slots 
Fighters - 3 Wing Slots
Medium Bombers - 4 Wing Slots
Fighter Bombers - 5 Wing Slots
Heavy Bombers - 6 wing slots.

This (generally) addresses issue 1, and 7.

In specific, regarding 1), game design can better be handled if each squadron's stats are more alike - you don't have to balance a 1 wing interceptor token vs a 6 wing interceptor token and make sure both are equally useful, you just have to balance interceptors.  

Regarding 7).  Having a fixed point size for interceptors means that every ship capable of taking interceptors isn't necessarily going to, given the point cost.  Lets say a hypothetical Aquan or Relthoza fleet has 4 squads that can take wings.  Interceptors could be taken by each of these squadrons (they only take 1 wing capacity slot), but that would cost 120 points in interceptors.  A much larger point investment than taking 1 small 1-2 wing token with each squadron for a total of 20-40 points spent.

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Second, I'm proposing that SRS use MARs like other models.  In particular, I'm suggesting stripping out the PD bubble section of the rules and replacing it with the MAR: Combat Air Patrol (CAP).  This squadron may join another squadron and link Point Defense with that squadron.

This proposal creates solutions for issues 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12.  

In specific, regarding points 5 and 8, the point defense bubble rule is removed entirely.  If you MUST have this rule in the game, it should be included as a MAR on escorts, as escorts have many more counter play options - in particular you can shoot them with primary weapons from other ships. However, I'd be OK if the PD bubble rules were flat out removed entirely.

Regarding points 7, 10 and 12.  Giving Interceptors and fighters the CAP rule allows you to retain the same spirit they have now (SRS that assist in PD) but the effects are limited to individual squadrons.  As long as you don't give Bombers the CAP rule, you can give them whatever PD you want (retain the theme of the Flying Fortress bombers self defense against fighters) without worrying about how they will assist the fleet in torpedo PD.

Regarding Point 9, you can add a MAR to any token that individually effects AD - I propose a MAR called Ordnance (X).  After this Model / token makes  an attack run, reduce its AD by X until it returns to base.  This doesn't specifically address Interceptors, but instead it allows bombers and fighters to remain on the field at reduced ability.  

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Third I'm proposing that we use a stat line more like other models, and apply damage in a similar way.  Lets look only at a suggestion for Fighter bombers in this case (all values entirely arbitrary - the individual values would be pending play testing):

Fighter Bombers.  Wing Capacity 5.  MV 15, DR 3, CR 4, HP 6, SH 2, AD 12, PD 5.  MAR: CAP.  ORDNANCE (2)

This proposal creates solutions for issues 2, 3, 4, 9, 11.  

In specific: regarding point 2 and point 11 - these Fighter Bombers would degrade from 12 AD (no damage) to 7 AD.  7 AD is still a threat to damage cruisers, unlike the current system where a 6 wing token reduced to 1 wing is only 2AD and generally useless.

Regarding point 3 and 9, you could now use a unified PD system, generally in the vein of the current torpedo PD system.  I think this would be a VERY good thing, as I don't think there is a terribly good reason to have 2 different rule sets for PD.  Crits against SRS should require a RTB - this could even potentially address point 6 - allow tokens to move further from the carrier at the risk that they will have to RTB and not contribute for a large chunk of the game.  

Regarding point 4, I believe (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), DR and CR create a more predictable damage curve that just having wings be destroyed on 6s.  

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Fourth

By only allowing SRS to link with Squadrons for PD vs torps, you also, essentially, get 2 values for PD.  1 value to use against torps, and 1 value to use against other SRS.  This opens the SRS to extra counter play, espeically with some extra interesting MARS.  Some suggestions may beke Escort (While in base contact with another friendly SRS token, you may allocate any number of enemy SRS AD to this token instead of the other token) and Intercept (when an enemy SRS squadron comes within 6" of this token, you may immediately move this token into base contact).  

Note, the MARs themselves don't matter as much as the fact that SRS would be more deadly to other SRS than some ship based PD may be.  

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this can also allow fleets access to defferent wings as each carrier can have limits to what wings it can choose. As example escort carriers wouldn't carrier heavier wings but Dindrenzi could and maybe their fleet might have less access to the lighter elements unless from their standard carrier. It could be an interesting way to vary current carriers as some less used ones could bring more variety.

I would personally still like to see the cmd are limit stay to keep carriers from hugging the back lines but it dous need to be larger maybe 2x their cmd rating with CAP being assigned and switched only within cmd but can follow the units out of cmd. Also this could open up to having more than 2 tokens per carrier out but only launching (X) a turn and having (X) wings out. perhaps limiting wings in play to the CP of a carrier.

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Hmmm, there is a bit of talking past the other person going on here, but to start off I do appreciate the lengths you are going to explain yourself.  The enthusiasm you have for the concept is clear and I am not saying the proposal I've heard is functionally impossible as a rules set, however the problem I see lies in how this realistically applies to FSA.

While you've made clear that this is not intended for bolting directly onto FSA as it stands right now, I feel it is still important to retread and state that clear and precise design changes are necessary if you want to alter someone else's system.  While a starting point for brainstorming, without specifics a design change isn't particularly useful for a game system, the rules players use must be clear and easily understandable.  The concept isn't wrong itself, but how it works within an already built system is unambiguously vital to the results those suggested changes will have on the game.

Regardless of what system you are planning on implementing the concept for, the details of the system also need to be a known quantity to have an idea of how the changes will work upon the game and affect the balance between player fleet options.  I cannot see how planning changes for a system whose qualities we don't even know yet, haven't even been truly outlined, will be useful to someone else.  As nice an idea it may be, there's nothing for anyone else to judge it against in this vacuum of ignorance as to what changes FSA 3.0 will bring to the game, and to what degree precisely.  As I recall this was not spoken of as a complete overhaul in the same transition as FSA 1.0 to 2.0, but sounded like hints of an update which made me think of what Wizards of the Coast did with D&D 3.0 to 3.5.

Regardless of the scope of the upcoming changes, it's rather impossible to balance a design for something whose overall and detailed interconnecting parts aren't even visible to understand how everything works together.  If you can't tell how a change will impact a system, then it isn't very useful as a suggestion for someone else looking for that specific quality.

 

 

Onto specifics, it's rather worrying to be honest how this plans to work out.  The Aquan example is an extreme I see as a probable weakness for this system.  You potentially have to re-balance the fleets around this system as factions like Terrans have a distinct lack of options for carrying SRS tokens onto the field and Aquans practically have them coming out their fishy ship gills.  Fleets like the Ryushi are quite SRS heavy by nature, and fleets like the Veydreth are unable to bring any within a pure faction fleet.  Pure fleets should be a viable choice, instead of making a player buy cross faction to make a fleet viable, in my opinion.

Individual tokens have to be balanced exceptionally carefully and are you taking the standard cap of two SRS Tokens per squadron source in mind when doing this, or removing it?  While you assert that making Interceptors a flat choice makes them easy to balance, I don't see that clearing this situation up at all.  How exactly do they perform versus other SRS, if they are the only Token that can assist in PD for a fleet and they would say cost 120 points for a four squadron coverage, that's an entire typical frigate group I just lost for what gain precisely?  The more expensive the choice becomes the more fleet options this PD coverage competes with, if it doesn't remain a points cost competitive choice the limited value they bring increasingly becomes escort level quality and below to field.  Escorts aren't popular for good reason and these proposed Interceptors are becoming less fleet build competitive with even these lackluster options as we go along.

As I was trying to state earlier, the PD bubble is not removed from the game, the options clearly remain.  The proposed change just removes this from SRS Tokens, and to what real benefit?  As a Sorylian I could potentially take a Carrier for some SRS PD coverage, or just spring for some Hasta Battlecruisers with the points sink option that would've otherwise cost me making the value for the Hasta squadron notably raised in fleet building.  Here's another option, instead of a Terran Ares with four flights of Interceptors, costing 245 points to roll out, a pair of Marshall battlecruisers costs 260 points and provides a 4 PD bubble to go along with them.  Maybe you think that's hard to work with, but if they can cover even two other squadrons, a grand total of three with themselves automatically included, then this trade off just became horrific for the Ares and Interceptors.

Lastly that's a lot of stat tracking, rather like creating sub fleet options for factions rather than just tinkering with the SRS system.  That's a lot of work to make something which not all fleets may even be able to use, perhaps even want.  Certainly nothing stops fans themselves from building that system, but a company has budgets to deal with as they live off this hobby rather than just using their free time to play with it.  As noted above, the current HP/DR/CR and exploding dice system is somewhat easier to predict, but everyone also has stories of models dealing out absurd levels of damage or vice versa.  Also there is a definitive minimum bar you note yourself for dealing damage, a single wing fighter Token is ineffectual for attacking models, but it could still at least deal damage to an SRS Token whereas none to the models currently.

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I'm still learning the game, but (in my opinion) a way to "fix" some of the problems with SRS is to use a slight variation of the SAWs in Dystopian Wars.

Interceptors must remain within X" of their parent model/squad, as a CAP, any other SRS can move as if they were "normal" squadrons.

Any form of attack run (regardless of SRS type) uses up fuel/ammo, and they must return to within X" of a friendly Carrier to refuel/reload. (A Carrier group can only refuel/rearm a maximum of its total Carrier value per turn.)

Interceptors may only defend against attacks directed at themselves and/or their parent squad.

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While discussing the current SRS rules and the problem if PD Mountain, the idea was proposed that what if within the current v2 rules, Intercepters were forced to Return to Base at the end of every turn? This could potentially give some relief from the uber PD cloud, it also forces a choice to either always activate your carrier first and get that PD cover back or forgo it for an activation in favor of more tactical advantageous attack from another squadron. It also gives an initiative winning player a first strike opportunity with Torpedoes or attack SRS.

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Yeah yeah, Beta testing is right around the corner but I'm going to post this anyway. 

This weekend Endrasalem and I played out some house-rule changes to the SRS combat system.  What we did seemed to work so more playtesting will be done with the rest of the group this week.

The changes were:

- Ships/models now link/combine (as appropriate) PD by squadron against SRS. (Example: Bomber run on a cruiser, Cruiser gets it's PD and linked from it's squadmates. Bomber run on a carrier with Escorts, carrier get Combined PD from it's Escorts as per normal defensive fire rules) 

- If  the target ship's PD Hits equal or exceed the number of SRS in the token, they are Driven Off (as normal), PD Hit total that is lower than the Drive Off limit reduce the number of AD rolled by the number of Hits rolled.  

- If an Interceptor SRS token performs an Intercept Action, it Returns To Base at the end of that activation.

-If an Interceptor SRS contributes it's full Combined PD to the Defensive Fire of a model (Vs Torpedoes or Boarding Assault) it Returns To Base at the end of that activation. However Interceptors have the option to instead Link it's PD for Defensive Fire with a model to remain on the board and not have to RTB.

 

The results we noticed:  It was nice not having Interceptors hanging-around-forever-always, they were still powerful, but with a limit. It was also nice to have to the option to keep them on the board for added PD if you wanted too, we both felt that the reduced PD cover from Linking was worth the trade off to stay on the field, and you still have the choice to take that mountain of Point Defense if you needed it in a pinch. 

Having non-kill hits out of your PD roll actually count for something was very satisfying!  A die or two off of an SRS attack roll (even Fighters with their lower AD) isn't all that much but does make you feel at least like you're getting SOMETHING out of a roll with no 6's.

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