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Spenetrator

Thoughts on ship Classes

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So, before spartan went pop, they were bringing out some new ship classes - Heavy Battleships, Light Frigates, Heavy Destroyers etc. I wondered what everyone else thought about that?

Their argument was that this allowed them to provide more choice for players.

Personally I hated this (While simultaneously loving the new renders) - a Light frigate (For example) should simply have been another Frigate or Corvette, you just add more choice to that part of the fleet lists dependent on where you allocate it.  A heavy Destroyer is so specialized in most cases it would just be a more expensive destroyer. Torpedo Cruiser? surprise, surprise, Just a cruiser.

The exception to this for me is the  omnipresent heavy cruiser, as they are such a staple of Sci-Fi fleet games I feel they are indispensible - And their unique role in mixed cruiser squadrons means they remain a valid separate entity.

I feel like Class Bloat just adds confusion to the fleet lists and to new players - So I hope Warcradle put the kibosh on those  sub-classes whatever they do with the model lines.

That said, And to avoid sounding too 'Dont change anything' Grognard-y I'm all for the different sized bases, (Perversely for a person with loads of corvettes on larger bases than the light frigates on tiny bases) I feel putting corvettes on smaller bases too makes sense!

Anyway - I'd be interested to see what everyone else thinks about the proposed -[Edit: Proposed by Spartan, so this thread may be entirely fruitless speculation - but hey ho.] -sub-classes (and I suppose Base sizes for different classes)...

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Well, there are several problems with having all Tier 3s being Frigates OR Corvettes OR Escorts, and so on.  One is simply the human need to compare.  Instead of comparing generic apples to generic apples, we are allowed to compare between Galas and Fujis without having to go in to the nitty gritty or rely wholly on class name.

Another is that providing for a different class level of ship also allows for greater opportunities of build style within that group, such as the Heavy Cruisers you mentioned.  If all the Cruiser types were just listed as Cruisers, things could get very confusing.  It's already confusing enough with Directorate having two different type of R&D Cruisers right now, and I don't think the Aegis would really qualify as a "cruiser" in anything but size and mass.  If we lumped in Gunships and Destroyers in to the Cruiser group, it would get even worse!

Admittedly, many other games do fine without such distinctions in class.  I couldn't even begin to tell you all the Heavy Warjacks of most of the Warmachine factions by name, but they all have distinct builds within each faction.  Those who have a vested interest in building that faction will learn them rather quickly, but it can be intimidating to a new player.

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Increasing the number of ship classes is a good idea and can benefit the game in several ways

1) New classes can offer new designs and balance rules which are basically refinements of existing ships, but often with a greater slant. Yes you could argue that these could just be straight versions of the core types, but adding them as a new class  lets the game feel far more diverse. It also lets the designers introduce new hull types and shapes into the game

2) If they introduce some kind of force-organisation chart approach to army building then having more classes introduces more niches into the game. They could limit you to 5 cruisers per 1000 points so having light cruisers adds a new slot. This new slot is also different because the light cruisers are not the same as a full cruiser so they fill a different role within the fleet that couldn't be allowed for by just adding them to the cruiser slot. 

It's the same as having an "experimental" or hero unit where you only get to field one. The limited number lets you field the unit without it breaking the game.

3) It feels right. Fleets often have multiple ship classes and the age which Dystopian is based upon had multiple classes of ship. This builds into the games lore and makes the game feel deeper. Just the very same way that you feel a heavy cruiser is important, so too is a light cruiser or a patrol ship or a gunship etc... 

4) It gives you a different hull appearance (model) which is more than just changing the turret weapon choices. This gives armies a more diverse appearance and encourages more purchasing from the players. Players typically enjoy diversity in armies (outside of swarm based armies). So allowing for this is a good thing. 

If WC have a regular, heavy and light hull then that's 3 different ship appearances with different potential weapon loadouts on each. 

 

Personally I'd expect Warcradle to follow this pattern. Broadening out the core armies with a wider variety of ships and fleet content. It's a sane approach to army  building as it means that each player of a faction has more choice and more options to pick to build up their fleet. Thus increasing the potential maximum investment per player into a full army.

The other approach is to spread the number of factions out; which works up t oa point but can fall apart when you can't support all factions equally with new releases. A faction left ignored for a few years quickly loses popularity. Meanwhile a faction with all those additional ship classes and variations can keep going for ages. 

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2 hours ago, fracas said:

Ship classes should be more on their tactical role rather than armaments 

and be housed in the smallest hull possible for that tactical role

Tactical role and armament usually go hand in hand.

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2 hours ago, Charistoph said:

Tactical role and armament usually go hand in hand.

Esp in a wargame since most of what the ships do is combat based.

Of course there are support roles also present, repair ships, boosters, the Arctic group had those neat support ships that combined beams etc.... But yes in general most of the roles we encounter are often combat based.

 

Of course if Warcradle add in new scenario types that prove popular we could see more civilian or other classes of ship. Spartan had already been working with barges and transports and very large barges for the land combat game so we could see those aspects restored in some form (eg generic large transports to be defended or tugs etc...) 

Uncharted seas even had ships that were basically tug-boats for other ships (if tugboats are huge undead whales). 

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In my opinion there’s nothing wrong with more types and classes.

Having more types and classes doesn’t have to change anything, depending on how this is handled in the fleet composition rules.

The only development I really would like to see ending up in the bin is that of those ridiculously sized leviathans, simply because dreadnoughts are already pushing it size wise, from a practicality point of view.

Firestorm Armada miniatures need to grow smaller, not bigger, that’s why I really like those light frigates.

With the detail level resin casting offers you don’t need ships the size of bricks in order to have great looking miniatures anyway.

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My problem with the heavy and light variants of everything is that there isn't really enough "design space" in the existing rule set to really differentiate them, particularly when it comes to the DR/CR/HP set of stats.  Especially at the small end.  Putting a light, regular, and heavy frigate, plus 3 corvettes, into 3 or 4 DR, 4-6 CR, and 2-3 HP fills up really fast, even before you take faction traits into account.  In the end it felt (to me) like a cynical way to sell more models, not something that actually adds much to the game.

One of the reasons I'm somewhat interested in the combining mechanic rather than linking is you can compensate for higher AD group totals not just by lowering individual ship stats, but by expanding DR/CR levels which opens up that crowded space (all ships in the game currently fit between DR 3 and 8, and CR 4-14).

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3 hours ago, Charistoph said:

Tactical role and armament usually go hand in hand.

Frequently but not inevitably: long range attack vs close range attack ships for instance; or assault ships or carriers that could be built for support or attack.

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12 minutes ago, fracas said:

Frequently but not inevitably: long range attack vs close range attack ships for instance; or assault ships or carriers that could be built for support or attack.

And what defines the differences in all of those?  The armament, if armed, or it's equipment if not.

A ship heavily equipped with weapons that do best in RB 3 will not be confused with a ship whose weapons are best at RB 1 or no weapons but a Shield Projector and some PD.

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24 minutes ago, reddwarf said:

My problem with the heavy and light variants of everything is that there isn't really enough "design space" in the existing rule set to really differentiate them, particularly when it comes to the DR/CR/HP set of stats.  Especially at the small end. 

You're right, but that's something a new rules set could fix easily.

And I do think there should be a place in FA for ships as small as the Bismarck.

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32 minutes ago, Charistoph said:

And what defines the differences in all of those?  The armament, if armed, or it's equipment if not.

A ship heavily equipped with weapons that do best in RB 3 will not be confused with a ship whose weapons are best at RB 1 or no weapons but a Shield Projector and some PD.

Does it matter that the AD comes from missiles or rail guns or beams?

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13 hours ago, Spenetrator said:

The exception to this for me is the  omnipresent heavy cruiser, as they are such a staple of Sci-Fi fleet games I feel they are indispensible

I agree with the OP and this point particularly.   I generally tend towards simplicity and depth, rather than complexity that has little impact on gameplay.   FSA 3.0alpha or whatever it was that was introduced last year "doubled down on complexity" and "change for no reason" and 3.0's manic explosion of classes was just one example.

I'll add another of my own, that Carrier sub-classes carry an important distinction in history and lore: large vs. small, fleet vs. escort, etc.  Beyond that, historically there are highly varying definitions of classes - there's not a lot of consistency.

So... I think classes in FSA need to be either more or less relevant than they are now.  Meaning: either ship class needs to more fluff only, and not significantly relevant to fleet building.  Call it a "Light Assault Frigate" if you really want, it doesn't matter.  In this case what matters for the game is: capital vs. non-capital, small/med/large or Tier123 ...for both game play and fleet building.  Or the other way, class needs to be very relevant to not only role but fleet building as well, more so than it is now. 

To further complicate matters:

  • I see no reason why the 'mixed cruiser squads" couldn't be expanded to allow any one cruiser of any type to be subbed into the squad.  Not only would it increase sales but it would be more interesting fleet building.  Example: a squad of heavy cruisers subs in one light cruiser to save points, or add a capability they need.
  • All cruisers that don't have a 'weight' (Shield, R&D, Torpedo, etc)  fall into the tier charts in this single category "Specialty Cruiser"

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4 hours ago, fracas said:

Does it matter that the AD comes from missiles or rail guns or beams?

Considering the rules have interacted differently between rail guns, missiles, and beams, including range bands (and should), yes.

We make those distinctions today in our modern navies, and have in the last century BECAUSE of the differences in armament.

4 hours ago, Stoobert said:

I agree with the OP and this point particularly.   I generally tend towards simplicity and depth, rather than complexity that has little impact on gameplay.   FSA 3.0alpha or whatever it was that was introduced last year "doubled down on complexity" and "change for no reason" and 3.0's manic explosion of classes was just one example.

I'll add another of my own, that Carrier sub-classes carry an important distinction in history and lore: large vs. small, fleet vs. escort, etc.  Beyond that, historically there are highly varying definitions of classes - there's not a lot of consistency.

So... I think classes in FSA need to be either more or less relevant than they are now.  Meaning: either ship class needs to more fluff only, and not significantly relevant to fleet building.  Call it a "Light Assault Frigate" if you really want, it doesn't matter.  In this case what matters for the game is: capital vs. non-capital, small/med/large or Tier123 ...for both game play and fleet building.  Or the other way, class needs to be very relevant to not only role but fleet building as well, more so than it is now. 

To further complicate matters:

  • I see no reason why the 'mixed cruiser squads" couldn't be expanded to allow any one cruiser of any type to be subbed into the squad.  Not only would it increase sales but it would be more interesting fleet building.  Example: a squad of heavy cruisers subs in one light cruiser to save points, or add a capability they need.
  • All cruisers that don't have a 'weight' (Shield, R&D, Torpedo, etc)  fall into the tier charts in this single category "Specialty Cruiser"

I see where you are going with this, and the OP, but honestly, fluff is a huge part of universe creation.  Realistically, for fleet creation purposes, all you really need to do is define the Tier the ship is in their own stats, and use that Tier for creation.

I do like the idea of any of the general types of ship should squadron up, the only downside to that is that the models doing so usually come in squadron strength, not mixed.

Internally speaking, their should be notable differences between a heavy cruiser and a light cruiser, a frigate and a light frigate, and so on.  I'm not saying two heavy cruisers should be the same between factions, but they should be similar in terms of relative weight, speed, and firepower.  The same would go for Assault Cruisers: they would all be focused on boarding other ships, but while Directorate ships would seek to whittle down your crew before boarding with a few elite squads, Saurians would powerful by just having a stronger crew.

In short: Tiers for fleet creation is great; general types for Squadrons is fine, but not currently practical;  leave the specific ship types in to guide the development of the individual ship classes (i.e. Torment, Apollo, etc) and give character to them. 

The ships will be named by their specializations anyway by the player-base, so it's just better to get that out of the way and let the players know what is intended by the ship by presenting that class's type.

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Armament is a mean to a tactical end

ship classification should be based on their tactical role rather than having rail gun class cruisers separate from beam cruisers or such.

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Personally I think leviathans are a great idea and that, done right, they act much like the gargantuans in Hordes or knights in Warhammer. They provide a really fantastic high detail huge model for the table; which works in regular gameplay. Often presenting some of their own new mechanics to account for their size. Eg a leviathan in Firestorm might well have its damage table spread into sections along the ship length rather than being a universal number for the whole ship. 

 

They also sit in a spot where they don't so much support new players; but those who have been playing for longer and have built up a much larger collection of models. Thus those players wanting to and able to play much larger points value games; the leviathan brings something to that table that is new and different and isn't just the same base game played over more models. 

 

That said Spartan never released them, they only ever teased them as a concept. Meanwhile Warcradle will likely be years before they get a leviathan on the table. Indeed I'd expect and welcome a second class of dreadnought added to most fleets (this is without accounting for any redesign of ships that is likely to take place as part of a relaunch)

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Big models work well in warhammer style fantasy games because those games use a 1 to 1 miniatures versus table scale (or something close).

In FA, and other scifi space combat games, however, there exists a huge difference between miniatures and table scale.

That’s why the rules mention that the ships are actually the size of pinpricks, represented by the stem the miniature is supported on, the miniature itself just being eye candy.

And that’s just fine, as long as this eye candy doesn’t interfere to much with the games mechanics.

In the case of leviathans, and their multi stemmed book sized bases, however, massive interference in the games mechanics is unavoidable.

What leviathans would mainly add is realism issues and manoeuvring problems.

But I don’t know if this topic is the right place for a leviathan specific discussion.

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Internal classification for a faction of ship types makes sense.... So a Terran fleet would have hull types for the various classes.  Frigate, destroyer, light and heavy cruisers etc. Should they be functionality based or size and weight?  Also for sake of sanity and ease of play it also makes sense to share those class designations across all factions, for the most part.

 

Oh and Leviathans :)

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I think that there are certainly more or less redundant choices, the biggest example I can think of being two Relthoza frigates, one with a fore weapon and one without for the same price point. The other might put out a few more dice on the broadside, but in terms of overall use id imagine the frigate with more arcs of fire is a more appealing choice. I'm sure every core race has a couple of these.

 

WITH THAT SAID I'm a vocal opponent to homogenizing the game or getting rid of things for no reason. More variety of ships is a sentence that doesn't leave a bad taste in your mouth.

 

 

 

 

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Sircan thing is adding in physical ships is part of the gameplay. Measuring to the stick or to a stick (if  a ship has more than one) to me is just giving a unified easy point of reference to game with. The ships being the size they are relative to each other makes sense. In that way a space game is the same as, say 40K. Even though the space game technically has the 3rd dimension of travel its basically not practical in a tabletop game (and honestly even on PC games its lesser used - even the much famed Homeworld basically make no use of it in gameplay),  

Also visually speaking something like a dreadnought is the kind of thing that non-players will often see that will draw them in. Big high detail models always stand out way more than tiny high detail. I'd also say that sometimes tiny and high detail are not always the best things to pair together. I've got some Hawk Shaltari space ships on my desk, the detailing is really great, but at the same time it leaves one to wonder how the heck to pain it

 

Also I'd say having more classes of ship also opens up different races to focus in different ways. Instead of all being battleship - cruiser - frigate - special research ship. With a greater spread of ship types a faction could focus the brunt of its power in a certain area. Eg one faction might be full of light cruisers and frigates, but have fewer larger ships; whilst another faction might be the other way around.

Eg the minor faction which is basically living in city ships flying through space (Omnish? Sp I forget their name) might well be a faction that could have a lot of larger battleship and battlecruiser sized ships; even if they are not as "powerful" or as high in point costs as other factions. Reflecting their need for many of their ships to be flying habitations not just warships. There's also the other faction that those nifty actual city-style-ships; a faction tht would certainly fit the bill of fielding larger ships in fewer or greater number and very few smaller.

 

 

 

Also lets mark Richards post as the first tease of official leviathans!  (now the counter is set to see if WC can keep that tease going as long as Spartan did;) --- and no I don't mean any insult to either company by that, just a bit of fun). 

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9 hours ago, fracas said:

Armament is a mean to a tactical end

ship classification should be based on their tactical role rather than having rail gun class cruisers separate from beam cruisers or such.

So, designing a ship's classification around their tactical role doesn't include giving it the armament to provide the means to that tactical role?  Preposterous.

For example, let's review the difference between the kinetics and beam weapons:
Beam: AD in RB1 can reroll 1s.  Range Bands of 10".
Kinetic: May add 1 to the Critical Hit Table.  Range Bands of 12".

Then, let's also consider that, unless you're Aquan, most Beam Weapons don't even reach past RB3, while the majority of Kinetic Weapons reach their full RB4.  And even though many Beam Weapons can reach to RB3, they tend to only tickle when compared to their RB2 and RB1 dice.

That pretty much indicates armament playing a rather large role in a ship's classification, and that's not even considering the positioning of the weapons which would determine a sniping ship or a brawler.

Now, armament is not the ONLY thing which determines a ship's classification.  Mass, armor, and speed are also considerations in a ship's classification, but they are not ignored, either.

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I thought tactical role and armament were related in the class.  Therefore corvette lightly armed but fast, frigate middling and destroyer overgunned for a light vessel.  At a glance we know the role, not just the trick for doing it.  Is it a destroyer by virtue of long ranged destructive power, cloaking in and giving a short range broadside?

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14 hours ago, Charistoph said:

So, designing a ship's classification around their tactical role doesn't include giving it the armament to provide the means to that tactical role?  Preposterous.

For example, let's review the difference between the kinetics and beam weapons:
Beam: AD in RB1 can reroll 1s.  Range Bands of 10".
Kinetic: May add 1 to the Critical Hit Table.  Range Bands of 12".

Then, let's also consider that, unless you're Aquan, most Beam Weapons don't even reach past RB3, while the majority of Kinetic Weapons reach their full RB4.  And even though many Beam Weapons can reach to RB3, they tend to only tickle when compared to their RB2 and RB1 dice.

That pretty much indicates armament playing a rather large role in a ship's classification, and that's not even considering the positioning of the weapons which would determine a sniping ship or a brawler.

Now, armament is not the ONLY thing which determines a ship's classification.  Mass, armor, and speed are also considerations in a ship's classification, but they are not ignored, either.

What do you do when ships have two different tactical roles but armed with similar primary weapons? Still classify them by their armament? Armament & tactical role?

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3 minutes ago, fracas said:

What do you do when ships have two different tactical roles but armed with similar primary weapons? Still classify them by their armament? Armament & tactical role?

Did you bother reading the last paragraph I typed?

In this modern age, we have Destroyers and Cruisers both armed with the same missile system.  Heck, the US submarine fleet uses the same torpedo systems in both, but nobody would confuse a boomer and an attack sub because the boomer has more armament.

Let's take the differences between the Directorate Heavy Cruiser and Cruiser.  The Heavy Cruiser's Beams are on Gun Racks, while the Cruiser's are on turrets.  The Heavy Cruiser has a higher DR, AP, and HP (not discounting the Cloak, either), and comes with Special Forces as a default instead of an option.

Then let's consider the differences between the Directorate's Abraxas (base) and Champion (Task Force) Cruisers.  The Abraxas armament is pretty simple with turrets and broadside torpedoes, and having better AP and boarding options.  The Champion picks between one of three fore weapons (2 fixed), only one of which is Beam, and can convert his broadside torpedoes to being robotic boarding torpedoes.

Sounds like some significant and notable armament changes which will largely determine the tactical role of the ships in question, wouldn't you say?  The Heavy Cruiser has to broadside to do anything, while the Abraxas can be almost anywhere with its Beams, and the Champion is stuck being a sniper ala Dindrenzi due to its fixed nature.

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My comment was in direct response to the last paragraph of your previous post.

a cruiser and a destroyer with the same weapon load makes the cruiser obsolete, as most cruisers have become.  The smallest hull capable of that tactical role will like retain production and deployment.

hull size is a mean, not an end. armament is also a mean, not an end in itself. 

Why classify based on the mean rather than the tactical end?

battle cruiser as a class make sense. Missile battle cruiser class and beam battle cruiser class on the other hand do not make sense.

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