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alextroy

Casualties in Space Combat

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If you want to make your campaign interesting, remove the ability to repair ships during the game... repairs require campaign time and/or a facility.  For example, a ship can only restore half of the HP lost from the last engagement, and you can only remove X damage markers per campaign turn.

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I had a playtest today and my cohort mentioned this issue, so I thought I would post here.  He's fed up with wargames  of all kinds being exercises in "annihilation" with casualties so high.   During our discussions we realized that FSA, with the fluff and mechanic of shunt/FSD is in unique position to portray a battle that emphasizes: maneuver, surprise, hit-n-run and objectives.

His radical proposal was:  (whoa!)

1. make FSD far faster and more common, to the point that a ship can activate and FSD immediately.  That's right, just *bamf* and it's gone.   Just not on the same turn that it shunted in.    Firestorm is unique fiction so FSD can be whatever we want.

2. combine this with the mechanic that ships that are disordered and at 1/2 HP must make command checks if they want to stay on the board

3. ships shunt out independently of their squad.  For example one battered cruiser can leave, the other three can stay.  My reaction was "I guess, yeah, why not?"

4. factions which are fanatical or whatever either ignore these checks or get bonuses

5. make a distinction in scoring between ships that are: captured (most points), destroyed (less points) or fled (least, or maybe no points) ...

This would make for a wild, free-wheeling kind of game, but it can make sense from a fluff perspective.  I suppose that most captains aren't suicidal as a first resort - and would rather warp out than stick around and die for no reason.

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The more I think about it, the more I convince myself that these are all heavily unnecessary rules and we might not be achieving anything but slowing the game down in the name of realism. I liked the rules forcing some ships to disengage and FSD out sooner, Id be happy to see FSD be a quicker escape too. Its everything on top of that thats getting to be too much for me.

I also dont think the kind of losses you'll see in a Firestorm engagement are out of the question. Every major intergalactic empire will have trillions of population to draw from, star systems worth of resources to use, and massive massive tracts of space to defend. The fights that we portray as players are massive massive scale engagements where millions of crew lives are at stake, but I think these represent a fairly small chunk of total combat engagements in the firestorm universe, which Id imagine are mostly taken care of by inter-system policing forces made up of interceptors and the odd frigate. 

I dont think its ludicrous to expect the space version of Kursk to result in high casualties on either side, and any engagement with capital ships is going to be a huge commitment of crew lives

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47 minutes ago, Stoobert said:

Yeah I see your point, and don't have strong feelings, but if we talk percentages, looking at max 25% KIA per side at Kursk.   My FSA games run 50-80% even when I win.  Frigates are almost always 100%. 

Strong points, using the disengagement rules from earlier in the thread definitely cut down overall losses too. I guess I just dont want people to be afraid of destruction because this is fictional spaceships, and Im not a fan of how elaborate the rules around disorder checks are becoming versus their current position in 2.0

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True, if we are trying to speed up the game, we don't want one often-meaningless roll being replaced with another often-meaningless roll.   And agreed, it is fiction - the void of space is just about as deadly as any environment one could imagine, and casualties might be very high indeed.   Part of my bias comes from other games like 40k where my supposedly 200 year old battle hardened Space Marines suffer 80% casualties in every battle - how is that?  Either they battle only once a century, or they don't take 80% casualties every battle - otherwise the fluff makes no sense even from a fictional standpoint.  :-)  It's going to depend a lot on the fluff Warcradle come up with, I think.

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And this is why I think the functionally indifferent change from destroyed to causilty is worth exploring. The ship is still reemoved from the board at 0 HPs, but is not assumed to be a broken, burning death trap. 

I also like the idea of quick shipped-based FSE with incentives to not fight to the death. 

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Make it objective based. Like in Dropfleet Commander. In order to win you have to score the most  points by capturing or completing the objectives. You would be forced to do something besides shoot at the enemy.

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One of the feedback statements that I heard from @Stoobert amounted to something like, "ships should have value outside of the game."  The campaign rules should reflect this.  The skirmish rules should reward this.  

15 hours ago, Wolfgang Jannesen said:

I also dont think the kind of losses you'll see in a Firestorm engagement are out of the question. Every major intergalactic empire will have trillions of population to draw from, star systems worth of resources to use, and massive massive tracts of space to defend.

True, there would be a huge resource pool to draw from.  Pretty quickly though, you end up with green troops just about everywhere if you are suffering those kinds of losses.  Plus, who is going to want to join the Navy if you have a 1 in 5 chance of survival?  

Anyway, skirmish game rules for consideration:

  1. During the Movement segment of its activation, a ship may engage it's jump drive, immediately leaving the game. 
  2. A ship is considered out the game when it reaches 0 HP.  The ship model is removed from the game table and has no further effect on the game.
  3. A ship is considered Compromised when it takes damage equal to 1/2 of its original HP, rounded up(a 7 HP ship is Compromised at 3 HP).  A Compromised ship has 1/2 CP, and attacks are made at 1/2 AD (both rounded up, minimum of 1).
  4. If a Compromised ship suffers a critical hit, or receives a disorder marker, it must make a Command check.  On a failure, the ship makes an immediate emergency jump, exiting the game.
  5. Scoring:  A ship that makes a voluntary jump scores 25% of it's point cost.  A ship that makes an emergency jump scores 50% points.  A ship that is destroyed scores full points. 

For campaign considerations:

  1. A ship is destroyed and removed from the fleet if it suffered a Reactor Overload, Reactor Leak, or Fold Space Drive Rupture critical effect during the skirmish game. (Or, Main Reactor Overload, Fuel Cells Ruptured, Life Support Failure, or Hyperspace Drive Rupture if you are using the FREE rules :) ). 
  2. A ship that suffered a Main Drive Failure, Fire Control Offline, PD Network Disrupted, Hull Breach, or Shield Overload must return to space dock before it can return to full strength.  (Or,  Fire Control Offline, Launch Bays Offline, Hyperspace Drive Offline, or Main Drive Failure)
  3. A ship that suffered a Decompression,  Fire or Security in Disarray critical effect can be returned to fleet action without penalty. (Or, Hull Breach, Communications Down, Defensive Systems Offline)

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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.

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So I get the feeling that all this recent talk of campaign systems and "what is happening at 0HP" is aimed at having both formalised and part of the published rules.  If I'm right - does this sort of thing really need formalising?

I'm all for discussion and community developed content/rules though, it's absolutely great reading all the ideas and opinions bouncing around the forums, but I'm just not convinced I would use anything formalised.  I never have.  I like the idea of game systems having frameworks for me to play around with, whether it's intentional or not.  I don't know if Spartan Games ever intended for the FSD mechanic to be used as part of a campaign system but that fact it's there gives me something to work with.  However, if it wasn't there I would have created something like it anyway for campaign play.

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At this point in time at least, a lot of our forum go-ers have cobbled together their own local Firestorm Armada 2.5 hometable rules, and above all else we're debating the merits of those throughout 2018. 

Theres nothing necessarily wrong with a formalised ruleset if WC decides to work on one, take off that tinfoil hat :ph34r:

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On 3/13/2018 at 7:03 AM, Charistoph said:

Interestingly enough, that would be counter-intuitive unless one could ram other ships or "accidentally" collide with other ships.  The amount of debris that a ship leaves that could spread that far would largely be minimal except if the hull remained in significant sized pieces, such as the size of a ship that you could accidentally hit.  Everything that would allow you to miss another ship would fall under the same ability to avoid such debris.  Anything that wouldn't qualify would be too small to be a danger to the ship itself.

Except we have debris fields significantly larger than d3".  Though arguably they don't REALLY make sense as anything other than a way to add "terrain" to a battlefield.

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2 hours ago, reddwarf said:

Except we have debris fields significantly larger than d3".  Though arguably they don't REALLY make sense as anything other than a way to add "terrain" to a battlefield.

I think the idea is to give your ship's corpse more agency after destruction than just being removed off the table

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5 hours ago, reddwarf said:

Except we have debris fields significantly larger than d3".  Though arguably they don't REALLY make sense as anything other than a way to add "terrain" to a battlefield.

I think you glossed over the perception I was presenting.  In order for the debris from a single ship to be dangerous, one would need to have the capacity to accidentally collide with another ship.  If one can dodge another ship very easily, the debris from a single ship, which will be much smaller than any other ship of its class, should be just as easily avoided.  I'm not saying that having a ship that "blew up real good" shouldn't leave a debris field, just that if it does, we should be able to ram other ships or have accidental collisions.  They are part and parcel of the same package, that is all. 

Unless the only reason a ship can automatically avoid another active ship in every single case is because of its active emissions, such as drive and fire control, and the actual hull materials are almost invisible to normal meteor tracking radar, could that happen.   But that still leaves a lot of counter-intuitiveness in areas where the same emissions cannot block another ship's presence, like shooting past a Dreadnought at its Escort.

On the other side of things, I always viewed debris fields to be the graveyards of an entire action, i.e. the corpses of numerous ships all collected together, which is why they would be dangerous as opposed to the bones of a single ship.

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I guess the big clarification is what are we working on in this thread? Are we discussing the feasible lore of ship destruction like the beginning of the thread? In that case I cant argue against what people have said aside from my own preference for star trek space magic total ship explosions.

Are we working on giving ship deaths / disabled status different campaign effects? If thats the case Id love to see the general architecture your campaigns are taking, the discussion so far in this and other threads has been great.

 

Are we looking to make it so a ship reaching 0 hull does more than just exit the table? If so we might have to suspend fluff for gameplay and discuss what rules make sense

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My intention in creating the thread was less to do with game play and more to do with background. The FSA 2.0 Rulebook unambiguously states "if a model's Hull Points reach zero, it is destroyed". This means every battle is a graveyard of ships and crew with astronomical cost in blood and treasure. It also makes the concept of seasoned crews seem strange when ships are so easily "destroyed", which invokes the image of mass death.

Change the wording to "if a model's Hull Points reach zero, the ship is disabled and removed from play" invokes a different image and yet has the exact same effect on gameplay. You no longer envision every ship as disintegrating into a field of debris or exploding with a few lucky crew member escaping in life pods. Now ships are drifting in space waiting to be towed back for repair with some crew losses.

I think that makes for a richer background and lends itself to campaign play without requiring WC to create campaign rules.

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7 minutes ago, alextroy said:

My intention in creating the thread was less to do with game play and more to do with background. The FSA 2.0 Rulebook unambiguously states "if a model's Hull Points reach zero, it is destroyed". This means every battle is a graveyard of ships and crew with astronomical cost in blood and treasure. It also makes the concept of seasoned crews seem strange when ships are so easily "destroyed", which invokes the image of mass death.

Change the wording to "if a model's Hull Points reach zero, the ship is disabled and removed from play" invokes a different image and yet has the exact same effect on gameplay. You no longer envision every ship as disintegrating into a field of debris or exploding with a few lucky crew member escaping in life pods. Now ships are drifting in space waiting to be towed back for repair with some crew losses.

I think that makes for a richer background and lends itself to campaign play without requiring WC to create campaign rules.

The only thing to consider with this is that the engagements we reenqct as players are HUMONGOUS contributions of forces on either side, even in an 800pt game. A capital ship engagement should result in hundreds of thousands dead and billions of credits worth of damage ti repair before you even begin thinking about replacing ships.

When the lore states that even a corvette is an expensive project for a system, I think the tapestry of more sensible engagements fits into the background narrative where fighters and the odd frigate make up most of your actual skirmishes. The lore also states that hundreds of thousands of vessels commit to these wars at a time, considering we field maybe 20 at a time in a battle I think its not an incomprehensible loss for any force commander in the firestorm universe.

The feel of the fluff is entirely yours to decide on, I just dont think Firestorm is far fetched the way its written right now.

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4 hours ago, Wolfgang Jannesen said:

When the lore states that even a corvette is an expensive project for a system, I think the tapestry of more sensible engagements fits into the background narrative where fighters and the odd frigate make up most of your actual skirmishes. The lore also states that hundreds of thousands of vessels commit to these wars at a time, considering we field maybe 20 at a time in a battle I think its not an incomprehensible loss for any force commander in the firestorm universe.

And you don't see the contradiction in these very statements? 

  • even a corvette is an expensive project for a system
  • hundreds of thousands of vessels commit to these wars at a time
  • we field maybe 20 at a time in a battle

These simply don't make sense together.  

  • How do I have hundreds of thousands of ships when even a corvette is an expensive project to create?
  • If I have hundreds of thousands of ships, why would I be fielding just 20 at at time?
  • In what galaxy is 70% causalities an acceptable loss on a regular basis?

FSA takes place in a small section of the galaxy. It isn't like there are a mind-boggling supply of worlds with near infinite populations and production capasity to supply such a brutal war of attrition as those statements imply.  

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We're talking lots of systems here, have you looked at the campaign map?! In the Dindrenzi Legislature we have large groups of systems such as the Trenten Cluster, the Thorsen systems, the Stars of Ephemus with any number of systems making up those clusters. An empire of any size of space on this chart has a population in the trillions and hundreds of thousands to millions of worlds or settled systems within their borders. A galaxy like that isnt even half the span of a game like 40k, I really dont see those kinds of numbers being absurd in sci fi.

I think its also safe to make the assumption that unless a ship is alpha'd right out of the sky, escape pods would start evacuating non-essential crew as the ship became heavily damaged. Im in favour of a destroyed ship being destroyed but there are always going to be crew saving countermeasures in place

 

http://www.spartangames.co.uk/images/firestorm/wallpaper campaign map-1600by1200.jpg

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7 hours ago, alextroy said:

My intention in creating the thread was less to do with game play and more to do with background. The FSA 2.0 Rulebook unambiguously states "if a model's Hull Points reach zero, it is destroyed". This means every battle is a graveyard of ships and crew with astronomical cost in blood and treasure. It also makes the concept of seasoned crews seem strange when ships are so easily "destroyed", which invokes the image of mass death.

Change the wording to "if a model's Hull Points reach zero, the ship is disabled and removed from play" invokes a different image and yet has the exact same effect on gameplay. You no longer envision every ship as disintegrating into a field of debris or exploding with a few lucky crew member escaping in life pods. Now ships are drifting in space waiting to be towed back for repair with some crew losses.

I think that makes for a richer background and lends itself to campaign play without requiring WC to create campaign rules.

It's really hard to say what the best phrasing in the rules would be.  While I would definitely classify a ship whose atoms are taking millions of separate vacations along every conceivable vector as "disabled", it tends to soft sell the situation.  Of course, a lot depends on what classification of ship and what class of weapon is hitting it, too.

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This is a great thread.  I think we can all get most of what we want and make FSA a really unique game in the process.

If you want to annihilate ships that should be a valid strategy and objective.  If you want to grab objectives and then leave and preserve your fleet that is a valid strategy too. 

We should be allowed to Fold Space Escape single ships and do so faster than ever before.  It’s really exiting to imagine a game in which ships shunt in, blaze guns, and then make the tough choice to either blink out when damaged or stay one more turn to risk it all!

PS.  I’m going to order one of the Lost Fleet books now. 

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11 hours ago, alextroy said:

 

  • How do I have hundreds of thousands of ships when even a corvette is an expensive project to create?
  • If I have hundreds of thousands of ships, why would I be fielding just 20 at at time?

Final points, and Im not trying to change your mind just maybe convince you that this isnt so far fetched. Im looking through books and I cant actually find anything that says a corvette is an expensive project for a system, I just remember that coming up in the first couple pages of this thread and I took it as gospel.

You control patrol to grand fleets because the commitment of hundreds of thousands of ships is also spread across thousands of systems in three seperate major clusters. That commitment of crew and vessels to a war is for the securing of intergalactic borders and the lightyears long lines within

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