phavoc wrote: ↑
Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:19 pm
My experience with gaming is that if you want to track individual systems per ship, fleet battles bog down quick. Traveller ships have far too many individual weapons, they'd need to be grouped into batteries and ships given a strength number. SFB could be fun with 1-3 ships per player, but after that trying to track energy every turn and then allocating damage on your SSD could get tedious. Renegade legion had pre-printed starship charts you just marked off showing ammo usage, fighter squadron status, armor and systems. It was easier to track than SFB. If anyone played starfire the damage allocation was pretty easy - shields, then armor, then you marked off the systems from front to back. Since Traveller is more RPG than wargame the fleet combat would need to be drastically changed into something much simpler. Depending on fleet sizes it might be easier to just have ships with Beam and missile strength, a damage factor (incorporating armor first) and how fast they go. Tracking newtonian movement is a big pain and its better to just hand-wave that on the playing board to make it less tedious and more fun. Spreadsheets-in-space is really best left for a computer.
Starfleet Battles (old Starfleet Battles or Federation Commander, not A Call To arms) creaks with more than a single division of 2-3 ships.
Full Thrust maybe twice that, with Armada being about the same.
A Call To Arms and its descendants.....maybe a dozen or more major ships and it gets awkward to track damage and (especially) criticals.
Battlefleet Gothic was suited for slightly more but about the same scale - mostly due to the preponderance of ordnance and blast marker counters littering the board.
Starfire I've never played much of. It seems okay, but I've only played the intro game. Much like ACTA and BFG I feel you wouldn't want too many ships. Yes, the 'damage order' is fixed which makes it faster but you're still having to track individual weapon loss on each ship. Essentially, if you can't track the damage state with a couple of coloured D6 next to the ship, you're going to struggle with big games of more than a dozen or so major combatants.
The game I've seen most suited to large engagements was Spartan Games' Halo Fleet Battles - using a single 'base' as a destroyer squadron or a cruiser or battleship plus attached screen, and having combat capabilty degrade with 2-4 'damage levels' rather than individual criticals.
Whilst I agree that Apps do help a lot, they do have issues. Power, as identified, is a big one, and there is a tactile element you lose. One thing to admire about X-wing is the precision of movement of ships - such that, in theory, you can rewind several turns with complete accuracy.
I would like to see a 'good' newtonian movement game but I undertand how awkward it is. As you say, hand-waving it away and simply giving ships a mandatory speed (the 'ease' of changing speed seen in Victory at Sea and Starfleet A Call To Arms seems wrong) and making a change of base course require reasonably significant effort instead of being free might work.
A big part of it would be deciding the scale of the combat you want to represent. If it's major 5th Frontier War engagements, then the fleet units are big.
214th Fleet (would only be a single unit for a '5th frontier war' strategic board game) consisted of
1 Colonial CruRon
(6 'units' is not unreasonable for a tabletop game but it's going to be incredibly abstracted.....)
A BatRon consists of
2 Fleet Carriers
12 Escorts (Destroyers, Destroyer Escorts and Fleet Escorts)
A CruRon consists of the same mix but replaces the battleships with heavy or light cruisers and the fleet carriers with strike carriers
Thing is, a 'game piece' could be a single dreadnought or a formation of cruisers, and you'd look at about the same tonnage of metal.
A single Kokirrak
(200,000 dTons) is equivalent to 6 Gionettis
(30,000 dTons each). The escort screen - even if they're all big, new destroyers or escorts like Midu Ashgaams
- is only at best equivalent to a single cruiser in mass. Small ships will disappear into the noise in fleet engagements and provide little more than extra point defences and hit points.
If it is covering larger games, then abstracting away manouvre, individual weapons, arcs of fire and damage makes a lot more sense, and as you say basically abstracts it down to a single line entry for a given class of weapon. Much as with Traveller, arc of fire is irrelevant if you're looking at several minutes to a combat round because you can spin at will to line up any given battery - requiring a specific special action to fire spinal mounts (and hence not doing another special action, like changing your base course, more-than-normal evasion, or yelling "oh dear that's quite a lot of torpedoes
" and hiding inside a black globe) making more sense than trying to measure a 0.1' wide boresight arc.
A game of range control and strategic movement and orders feels more interesting than 'who rolled initiative this turn and therefore gets to line up the infinitesimally thin boresight or boundary between two arcs of fire' - the initiative system combined with the precise directional edges of arcs of fire and the ease of moving 'just so' is probably the main weakness of the B5/SFB ACTA system - it really surprised me that the problems were imported wholesale into Armada (including initiative sinks)