Tabletop Babylon 5 War game?

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Postby chrisweuve » Thu Feb 12, 2004 10:37 pm

Sundog wrote:Just don't make the mistake BFG did with guess range weapons.

It's why I stopped playing the game. A friend of mine is so good at guessing ranges he turned the Nova Cannon from the least accurate weapon in the game to the MOST accurate - which is not good considering it is also the most damaging weapon in the game. I just got sick of having all of my ships explode before I got any of them into range.
I know a lot of people who would never play _Fletcher Pratt's Naval War Game_, one of the grandaddy's of naval miniature gaming, for the same reason.

It gets even worse when you have to guess bearing, too -- lots of people with their heads as close to the ship model as they can get, squinting at a protractor as they sight over the bridge. No thanks!

At some point I decided that I'd like to convert Fletcher Pratt to science fiction, because the damage model doesn't use critical hits per se, and actually makes more sense if you assume that systems are being taken out as screens are being overloaded. It would work really well for a _Lensmen_ game, for example. Maybe when I retire.
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Postby E Nicely » Fri Feb 13, 2004 12:26 am

Mongoose August wrote:Guys, a lot of questions get asked and while we try to get around to them all, please don't be upset if some slip through the cracks. :D

Right now, the game is in the planning stages, so it is hard to tell exactly what it will be like. I would say if you are a fan of either B5 Wars (I am) or the Earthforce Sourcebook (which was also excellent), you should be happy with the end product.

I am taking inspiration from a lot of different sources, so never fear, if there are elements of a given wargame you like, post them here and I'll see what I can do to work them in.

-August
I was a diehard Babylon 5 Wars player for a couple of years. I think the single game mechanic that deined B5 space combat in that game was the various modes of damage (raking,pulse,ect). You could easily envision those nasty Shadow molecular disruptors raking their way across a ships hull. Great game mechanic. Witout a doubt my all-time fave minis game. Too bad it went under. If Mongoose does half as good, they'll still have a 1st rate game. It will be earth Allliance for me. Omegas and Warlocks-oh yeah. 8)

And could you give any hint as to how the League of Non-Aligned worlds will be handled? Seperate fleets or will the Vree be flying next to the Brakiri?
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Postby E Nicely » Fri Feb 13, 2004 12:30 am

Greg Smith wrote:Let me pose another question. Do you like plotted movement? ie writting down you movement in advance.

Personally I don't. I like to have the immediacy of moving the figures, turning to face the position of the enemy ship instead of making a turn based on my best estimate of an angle and distance.
It wouldn't bother me as long as the rest of the rules played reasonably fast. Plotted moves can slow things down.
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Postby E Nicely » Fri Feb 13, 2004 12:34 am

msprange wrote:At the moment, I am thinking a slightly more complicated system than Battlefleet Gothic - what would you guys think of that?
Sorry to post X times in a row, me being a newbie and all, but crunch is good in any science fiction minis game IMO. B5W had the volume and complexity of rules just about perfect with the release of the Rules Compendium. More complicated would be good.
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Postby Vonbloodbath » Fri Feb 13, 2004 7:59 am

I have to counter that...I find the best rules are the ones that can represent (in a necessarily abstract manner) the action on the table-top as quickly as possible, with as few rules as possible, but which allow for tactical expression and development.

Simple to learn, hard to master is the maxim. :)

So while BFG may be a little simplistic, if you overcomplicate it you will put some people off. Far more commonly, people will start playing, but will stop quickly if it's too much hassle to play; especially in a world with x-Boxes &c.

Keep it as simple as you can to avoid rules-lawyering and allow people to concentrate on strategies; focus on what they will do, not what they can do.

And I am so strongly against pre-plotted movement it's not funny. Anything which requires note-taking, book-keeping, map drawing etc. is a bad idea, and will turn off far more gamers than it will turn on.

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Postby E Nicely » Fri Feb 13, 2004 8:11 am

I can respect that, but my own preference in SF minis leans toward a little more detail than what's provided in "Lightning Strike" or "Heavy Gear",2 decent games that run off of the same system. Pretty basic but solid mechanics.I've never played BFG but I have looked at the rules and saw games being played. Looked like it was really "rules lite".

And I guess you'd have to consider that this game will be targetted in part towards people who are primarily roleplayers. A lot of them might not like a lot of crunch. Maybe a level of complexity similar DP9's Silhouette system something like 40 pages of rules. Hope it's good in any case.

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Postby MarkJN » Fri Feb 13, 2004 8:38 am

I'm in the 'no plotted move' brigade. I have to disagree with the notion that it slows down play - it's time spent not playing! Vector movment I can also live without.

I've played a good many starship combat games in the past - Star Warriors, Interceptor, SFB, BFG, Full Thrust, B5W, Fleet Action.
Least Fav: SFB (too much book keeping, clunky system).
Fav: BFG (let's you get on with blowing up other starships).

Having said that I'm a fan of starfighters and I liked the idea of them having missions in Fllet Action.

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Re: rainbow

Postby chrisweuve » Fri Feb 13, 2004 12:36 pm

MarkJN wrote:I'm in the 'no plotted move' brigade. I have to disagree with the notion that it slows down play - it's time spent not playing! Vector movment I can also live without.
And if you've got 5 players per side, doing sequential movement, what are you doing while waiting your turn for the other 9 guys to finish moving and shooting?
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Postby Vonbloodbath » Fri Feb 13, 2004 3:54 pm

yeah, but most games wont be 5 a side. You shouldn't add a mechanic to speed up games that are played rarely with multiple opponents, that also slows down the game for the majority of 1 vs 1 games.

Most games have side specific (or fleet / army whatever) activation, so all 5 would go at the same time.

A better mechanic, IMHO, is the alternate unit activation found in Warzone / chronopia / vor etc, where sides take turns to actuvate and use one unit.

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Postby Guest » Fri Feb 13, 2004 4:17 pm

Vonbloodbath wrote:yeah, but most games wont be 5 a side. You shouldn't add a mechanic to speed up games that are played rarely with multiple opponents, that also slows down the game for the majority of 1 vs 1 games.
I don't even think it slows things down for the majority -- it depends a lot on the specifics of the initiative system, and the personality of the players. And for the minority of the games it does slow down, I find it gives a better gaming experience.
Vonbloodbath wrote: Most games have side specific (or fleet / army whatever) activation, so all 5 would go at the same time.

A better mechanic, IMHO, is the alternate unit activation found in Warzone / chronopia / vor etc, where sides take turns to actuvate and use one unit.
Ummm, doesn't the second sentence sort of negate the point made with the first one? It's precisely when all of the units on one side D)N'T move simultaneously that play slows down -- and when they DO move simultaneously, you get weirdnesses like an entire fleet being able to put themselves in an advantageous position simultaneously.

But, to each his own.
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Postby redlaco » Fri Feb 13, 2004 6:39 pm

Vonbloodbath wrote:Simple to learn, hard to master is the maxim. :)
So while BFG may be a little simplistic, if you overcomplicate it you will put some people off. Far more commonly, people will start playing, but will stop quickly if it's too much hassle to play; especially in a world with x-Boxes &c.

Keep it as simple as you can to avoid rules-lawyering and allow people to concentrate on strategies; focus on what they will do, not what they can do.

And I am so strongly against pre-plotted movement it's not funny. Anything which requires note-taking, book-keeping, map drawing etc. is a bad idea, and will turn off far more gamers than it will turn on.
I totally agree with that; since this is aimed at roleplayers, I say keep it simple. I would like it to use hexes with the system August and chrisweuve hinted about (allow facing on points as well as sides). That would give a good amount of precision without too much hassle.
Just my 2 cents.
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Postby Vonbloodbath » Fri Feb 13, 2004 7:21 pm

Anonymous wrote:And for the minority of the games it does slow down, I find it gives a better gaming experience.
Cool, I guess that's just a personal opinion then: you love it, I hate it: c'est la vie! :)
Vonbloodbath wrote: Most games have side specific (or fleet / army whatever) activation, so all 5 would go at the same time.

A better mechanic, IMHO, is the alternate unit activation found in Warzone / chronopia / vor etc, where sides take turns to actuvate and use one unit.
Ummm, doesn't the second sentence sort of negate the point made with the first one? It's precisely when all of the units on one side D)N'T move simultaneously that play slows down -- and when they DO move simultaneously, you get weirdnesses like an entire fleet being able to put themselves in an advantageous position simultaneously.

But, to each his own.[/quote]
Sorry, my bad...I was really unclear there (and I'm an english lit student: for shame!).

Basically, I was referring to the two main turn-sytems presnet in most TTG's; the "you go, I go" or the "alternate unit activation".

"You go, I go" is like Warhammer, 40K, BFG, and most large scale games. 1 side does all their movement, then does all their shooting, then anything else (CC, Psychics, rallying, whatever) then play passes to the other side, and theu do the same.

"Alternate unit activation" is found in smaller scale, skirmish style games, like Warzone, Chronopia, Void, Vor etc. 1 side activates 1 unit, moves, shoots, does everything with that unit, then play passes to the other side, who pick a unit and do the same. So on and so forth thill all units have gone once, then it's a new turn, start again.

There are some games which go for a sort of hybrid, 1 side does all its movement, other side does all its movement, 1 side does all its shooting, other side does all its shooting.

There are pro's and cons to all systems..."you go, I go" is very fast, and keeps the flow of the game well regulated. Downsides are it's extremely abstract and you have to sit there waiting for your opponent to finish which, if you don't have any active defense rolls to make, can be tedious, especially in big games.

"alternate unit activation" is perhaps a bit less abstract, and certainly makes for more tension and drama...but in large games it becomes muddy and confusing very quickly and will drastically slow down any large games.

The hybrid is more balanced, but as gamers tend to prefer one over the other, the hybrid satisfies no-one.

But I don't think one fleet moving simultaneously will have an overly detrimental effect on game balance; as long as movemement values will prevent perfect placing in turn one.

that's one thing I like about BFG (although it is inappropriate to B5); the ships weren't actually to scale as such, weaponry and repative speeds meant that they were attacking from really, really far away. The actual ship, for the purpose of contact and LOS was the center of the flying stand.

Of course, some gamers didn't like that, as they felt it was a fairly arbitrary way to deal with the miniatures.

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Postby E Nicely » Sat Feb 14, 2004 2:32 am

As far as which side goes forst has anyone considered an initiative system? Each ship (or specific class of ship) makes a roll and each has it's own initiative modifier. High mod. for fighters and ships like the White Star, low for the big capitol ships. The big clumsy ships activate first, the agile ones last. It would simulate the more manuverable ships flying circles around the big ones. Then simultaneous fire.
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Postby Mayhem » Sat Feb 14, 2004 7:58 am

Isn't that exactly what B5Wars Does?
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Postby Dag'Nabbit » Sat Feb 14, 2004 8:22 am

It is but the only way I see making that really useful is if you divide your fleet/side up into movement groups (white star squadrons, carrier groups, etc.) so that you don't get bogged down in the intitiative/movement phase.
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Postby Mayhem » Sat Feb 14, 2004 12:22 pm

Yeah - get a large game going and tracking random initiative order every turn can be a pain in the posteria.

In multi-player games especially, I got so fed up with having to ask "right, who's next?" that I actually designed a spreadsheet for randomising Initiative, adding modifiers, and then sorting the list of ships by initiative order (with the player's name next to it) but not everybody can bring a lap-top to the table.
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Postby E Nicely » Sun Feb 15, 2004 1:33 am

Mayhem wrote:Isn't that exactly what B5Wars Does?
Yep. It works really well. I think the "my ships move, your ships move" method is just too unrealistic. I suppose that a players whole side moving at once could work if there was some kind of initiative mechanic that allowed the order to change based on a die roll each turn with mods for technology, experienced captains, whatever. The way the Warhammer games do it isn't something I like.

But like Dag Nabbit said, initiative based on squadrons would work well. B5W kind of bogged down when the forces were larger than 8000 or so points.
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Well, for my 0.02cr worth...

Postby Traveller-61 » Sun Feb 15, 2004 8:56 pm

In my game I use an initiative based on the captain's tactical score, winner of the contest gets to choose whether his or the opponent's ship goes first. It is then alternating movement - all capital ships first, medium next and fighters last.

My vote goes for hex movement as well.

As for the complexity of just more that BFG – that sounds about right. I was using the Full Thrust / EFSB system but always thought that it did not do justice to smaller craft. B5W is a good game but far too complex for a RPG.

Mongoose – please keep it relatively simple and consistent (no more having the same ship in two supplements with very different stats!!).

Oh and hurry up! My fingers are itching to get hold of it already!! :lol:

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Postby Jal » Sun Feb 15, 2004 9:23 pm

In my game I use an initiative based on the captain's tactical score, winner of the contest gets to choose whether his or the opponent's ship goes first. It is then alternating movement - all capital ships first, medium next and fighters last.

My vote goes for hex movement as well.

As for the complexity of just more that BFG – that sounds about right. I was using the Full Thrust / EFSB system but always thought that it did not do justice to smaller craft. B5W is a good game but far too complex for a RPG.
nice idea with regard to determining start initiative, a good incentive for all the players. :)

hex movement seems to be the popular choice, so long as it is made easy and quick to understand for all us hexless VMS players out there. :wink:

fighters in FT/EFSB were basically ignored, which seemed reasonable given the size of battles you could get with it.

with this tying in closely to the RPG, focusing on the smaller craft is a lot more important.
some scenarios could be entirely fighters, eg Starfuries going after raiders etc.

i was wondering if you could have a scale to this part,
that is; if all player characters were on larger ships, then fighters fights could be resolved at a more simplistic level,
but if characters were piloting fighters or other small craft a more detailed set of damage rules could be slotted into it for that situation.

in FT/EFSB you just rolled a die to determine number of fighters destroyed, in B5Wars you had to destroy several systems per fighter for a kill,... a relaible way of swithing between the two, depending on wether any characters were involved, might help the speed of play for the game.

probably didn`t express that last bit too well, but i hope you get the general idea! :wink:
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Postby Vonbloodbath » Sun Feb 15, 2004 11:04 pm

I think, if hex is used, a non-hex conversion should be available, or a hex-mat should be included. I don't own one, and wouldn't buy one; I'd far rather use free movement.
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