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Casualties in Space Combat

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@Stoobert @Toxic_Rat @Wolfgang Jannesen I highly recommend you read the “Lost Fleet” series, which has many of your discussion points as themes.  If I were making  a Fleet action game, and I would try to capture the space combat depicted in these books.  It also shows you what kinds of things you should focus on in a campaign.

Also, in the real world, war machines are very rarely destroyed to the point of being shredded to pieces in a large explosion.  Instead, they are disabled in some way, often by disabling the human crew.  This is generally true for wet navy ships as well throughout history; it’s only recently where weapons were employed which could reliably disable a ship to the point where it sank.

Ships don’t sink in space, but the crew really hates breathing vacuum.

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Ill give that series a look when I have a chance for sure, but modern navies dont have to deal with kilometer-long railgun coils and plasma batteries. The terrans launch nuclear warheads that damage ships through a tract of space and the Relthozans melt your ships out from under you. I think we can stand to have some proper explosions ;)

If historical wargaming has taught me anything, its that I dont care for hard realism and Im not at all uncomfortable with space being full of wrecks and corpses.

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7 hours ago, Ryjak said:

Ships don’t sink in space, but the crew really hates breathing vacuum.

Spaceships don't sink in space, but are filled with a lot more energetic systems, especially in power generation.  It takes a LOT of energy to move a ship that is more easily measured in hectometers, and those weapons aren't going to be the pop guns we use today (much less the WW2 models).  Star Trek ships explode spectacularly when their matter/antimatter cores get breached.  Honorverse ships become plasma as their fusion reactors have their safeties penetrated or disabled.

If the crew hate breathing vacuum, then their system is stupid for letting them go in to battle without hard vacuum protection like Star Trek and Star Wars.   The Expanse and Honorverse have their crews go in to battle suited up so that they can be protected against breaches to their compartments.

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9 hours ago, Charistoph said:

Spaceships don't sink in space, but are filled with a lot more energetic systems, especially in power generation.  It takes a LOT of energy to move a ship that is more easily measured in hectometers, and those weapons aren't going to be the pop guns we use today (much less the WW2 models).  Star Trek ships explode spectacularly when their matter/antimatter cores get breached.  Honorverse ships become plasma as their fusion reactors have their safeties penetrated or disabled.

If the crew hate breathing vacuum, then their system is stupid for letting them go in to battle without hard vacuum protection like Star Trek and Star Wars.   The Expanse and Honorverse have their crews go in to battle suited up so that they can be protected against breaches to their compartments.

Strangely, Nuclear-powered naval vessels don’t convert to mushroom clouds even if they take a reactor hit, and the most modern weapons we have are surprisingly lacking in volatile or explosive components.  Cinematic space battles might be fun in movies and TV, with ships annihlating in antimatter/plasma explosions, but I’m sure Scotty would tell you that’s bad engineering.

As for wearing spacesuits into combat... well, modern submarine crews don’t wear scuba gear in combat.  @Ruckdog Maybe the resident submariner can explain why?  Even then, they probably are only expected to keep the crew alive long enough so they can fix the ship, not keep fighting and fix the ship later.

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3 hours ago, Ryjak said:

Strangely, Nuclear-powered naval vessels don’t convert to mushroom clouds even if they take a reactor hit, and the most modern weapons we have are surprisingly lacking in volatile or explosive components.  Cinematic space battles might be fun in movies and TV, with ships annihlating in antimatter/plasma explosions, but I’m sure Scotty would tell you that’s bad engineering.

As for wearing spacesuits into combat... well, modern submarine crews don’t wear scuba gear in combat.  @Ruckdog Maybe the resident submariner can explain why?  Even then, they probably are only expected to keep the crew alive long enough so they can fix the ship, not keep fighting and fix the ship later.

Honorverse ships are nuclear-powered, they just operate on fusion rather than fission.  We're not so successful at making a net-gain fusion plant to know what would happen when the fail-safes stop working.  Same would apply to a matter/anti-matter plant.  Either way the current theory is that the process runs away consuming the energetic portion of the fuel or allowing the process to expand beyond its proper confinement.  Honorverse and Star Trek both refer to containment fields for their energetic power plants, which indicates Bad Things happen when they fail.  Containment for fission plants usually means the radiation, not the pressure or the fuel itself, is going where it shouldn't.

As for submarines, not entirely a fair comparison.  Submarines of yester-year operated at depths a human could usually survive surfacing from.  Submarines of today usually operate at a depth which would crush the average person without a heavily reinforced suit and/or a liquid atmosphere (ala Abyss).  The only pressure you need to worry about in a hard vacuum is the one keeping your lungs operating.  A spaceship crew usually has other things to worry about if they are exiting the ship and that is the ambient radiation wherever they are at.  That level of ambient radiation will largely vary depending on location in a system and proximity to its individual bodies.

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11 hours ago, Ryjak said:

  Cinematic space battles might be fun in movies and TV, with ships annihlating in antimatter/plasma explosions

Thats kinda the key concept here, I'll be real the thought of a ship just drifting forever with a few holes poked in it is not that exciting. The ships in firestorm absolutely have enough power to turn something into slag, the damn things can glass planets.

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1 hour ago, Wolfgang Jannesen said:

Thats kinda the key concept here, I'll be real the thought of a ship just drifting forever with a few holes poked in it is not that exciting. The ships in firestorm absolutely have enough power to turn something into slag, the damn things can glass planets.

Then again, that's why Critical Effects which obliterate Tier 2s and crack Tier 3s exist, too.  Reactor Overloads and Fold Drive Ruptures represent those more cinematic events (and are very hard to accomplish).

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9 hours ago, Charistoph said:

Then again, that's why Critical Effects which obliterate Tier 2s and crack Tier 3s exist, too.  Reactor Overloads and Fold Drive Ruptures represent those more cinematic events (and are very hard to accomplish).

They also tend to break the game, making it unfun for one or both players.

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5 minutes ago, Ryjak said:

They also tend to break the game, making it unfun for one or both players.

How often do they happen in your games?

"Fun" is hardly a quantitative aspect.  If it happened with every critical effect, I would agree, but it is sooo much easier to make a 40K Vehicle to explode in 6th and 7th Edition then it is in FSA.

Of course, as bad as you may have it, think how the crew feels. ;)

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I’ve had enough of my games ruined by these 1/18 Critical Effect results for it to leave a strong negative impression on me... They probably dramatically impact 1 of every 8 games.  Last one was against Hive, where a Reactor Breach inflicted 6HP on his Admiral’s ship, destroying it.  We were having fun until then.  I’ve also had a solid win or loss turned into a draw thanks to the RNG, which obliviates player skill and agency in gameplay.

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14 hours ago, Ryjak said:

I’ve had enough of my games ruined by these 1/18 Critical Effect results for it to leave a strong negative impression on me... They probably dramatically impact 1 of every 8 games.  Last one was against Hive, where a Reactor Breach inflicted 6HP on his Admiral’s ship, destroying it.  We were having fun until then.  I’ve also had a solid win or loss turned into a draw thanks to the RNG, which obliviates player skill and agency in gameplay.

Unless you're playing a game like checkers or chess which involves no random element (be it dice, cards, etc), RNG will always be there to remove player skill and agency in one way or another.  That single pip was always available for Space Marine Terminator Armour Saves, after all.  Vehicles in 40K had a 1/6 chance of blowing up as well, a far cry easier possibility to reach it (though, most vehicles were not your Warlord).

Admittedly, the Reactor Breach could probably be adjusted, or HPs adjusted to reduce its effectiveness, but that doesn't mean it should be gone all together.  Sad as it is, sometimes such energetic events do happen in battle, no matter how exclusive to the cinema you think they are.  While they aren't usually because of the power systems of our craft, a magazine cook-off will do amazing things to a ship that are not very healthy.

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I see both sides of the arguement for catastrophic events.  It really sucks to roll snake eyes at a cruical moment and then receiving extra punishment by having your ship obliterate itself into a thousand tiny pieces - whether it's "realistic" or not.  I can see how people would say it doesn't reward player skill.  What doesn't bother me, and something I actually enjoy, is the fact that both my opponent and I are equally at the mercy of the RNG, that this sort of thing can happen at any moment, that one turn it could be the other person and the next turn me.

Another possible reason that "double-punishment" RNGs don't bother me is that it's very military... no one expected the magazine on HMS Hood to erupt after only a few minitues of combat...

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