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Episode 25 of the Order 66 Podcast is UP! Starship Combat with Sam Stewart...


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#1 GM Chris

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 08:49 AM

Things rarely get THIS epic on the Order 66 Podcast.

 

Our most recent episode tackles a highly requested topic: Starship Combat. How does it work? How do you do it WELL?  To answer this quandary, we invited special guest and FFG Lead Developer, Sam Stewart, into the cockpit.

 

The resulting show is almost too awesome for words (I squeed inside the whole time). Over three and a half hours of discussion on just how starship combat works, how both players and GMs can play in and design excellent starship encounters, and we cap it off with an actual live play starship encounter - right on the air. We also get tipsy with the Skill Monkey, and return to the tech yard of the Moderator to discuss starship enhancements. So strap in, GamerNation. Begin your launch sequence and fire up those engines – as we tackle Starship Combat on YOUR Order 66 Podcast!

 

This episode is up on iTunes, but you can also download it directly from our feed:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/Order66

 

(Direct Episode Download Link Below:)

http://feedproxy.goo... Get Cocky!.mp3

 

 


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#2 R2builder

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 09:00 AM

No will listen to it! 

No one wants to hear from FFG Sam Stewart talk about Starship combat!

Epic indeed. 

(By the way, it was an awesome episode again of Order 66, even though I didn't, or even listen to 66)

 

Thanks GM Chris, GM Dave, and Sam!!

 

 

*This episode is not endorsed by the Gungan Anti-defamation League.


Edited by R2builder, 28 January 2014 - 09:06 AM.

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#3 Yivrael

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 09:35 AM

Things rarely get THIS epic on the Order 66 Podcast.

 

Our most recent episode tackles a highly requested topic: Starship Combat. How does it work? How do you do it WELL?  To answer this quandary, we invited special guest and FFG Lead Developer, Sam Stewart, into the cockpit.

 

The resulting show is almost too awesome for words (I squeed inside the whole time). Over three and a half hours of discussion on just how starship combat works, how both players and GMs can play in and design excellent starship encounters, and we cap it off with an actual live play starship encounter - right on the air. We also get tipsy with the Skill Monkey, and return to the tech yard of the Moderator to discuss starship enhancements. So strap in, GamerNation. Begin your launch sequence and fire up those engines – as we tackle Starship Combat on YOUR Order 66 Podcast!

 

This episode is up on iTunes, but you can also download it directly from our feed:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/Order66

 

(Direct Episode Download Link Below:)

http://feedproxy.goo... Get Cocky!.mp3

Thanks for this.  I appreciate the effort and time put into it.  



#4 MaddockKrug

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 09:47 AM

Don't anyone dare to listen ... !


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#5 2P51

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 11:17 AM

A transcript is way too laborious but a synopsis of the high points would be great.



#6 KRKappel

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 12:17 PM

Yeah this was an amazing episode!


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#7 MrDodger

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 03:52 PM

Yeah this was an amazing episode!

 

Completely agree.  Or would do, If I ever listened.


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#8 troy70

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 05:57 PM

Another great episode.



#9 Grimmshade

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 08:16 PM

I wish it had been more of a "tips on running starship combat" from Sam, rather than just a refresher of the rules. Hopefully it does help some people who are struggling with ship combat though, so that they learn how to play it rather than complaining it's broken. (Which it's not.)

 

The example of ship combat was a good idea to show people how it all comes together narratively.

 

One suggestion for the podcast team: When doing an example of play to help people learn rules, I think it's super distracting and unhelpful to gloss over rules, or include houserules. Any example of play should follow RAW as closely as possible. (I'm specifically talking about not knowing how the flying through debris rules worked, handling collision with Hull Trauma rather than how the Core does it with Crits, and stating that shooting at Prone is an auto upgrade which I still don't understand)

This is of course my opinion, but as someone who has written a few examples of play for rulebooks, following RAW so that readers can follow along with the rules seems the most helpful.


Edited by Grimmshade, 28 January 2014 - 09:18 PM.

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#10 Colyer

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 08:21 PM

A transcript is way too laborious but a synopsis of the high points would be great.

I actually didn't really pick up anything new on this one. Slightly disappointed, to be honest. It really came down to "Run it almost exactly like personal combat" and then showed an example.At the same time, I haven't had any problems with starship combat at all, so maybe this wasn't really intended for me.

 

The biggest issue I have is that a few of the most common issues people have with space combat were left mostly alone. Speed is apparently important because Gain the Advantage is important. But then I never felt a good case for Gaining the Advantage was made, and it didn't feature heavily in the play example either.

 

But don't take that to mean I didn't enjoy the show. I very much did.

 

I wish it had been more of a "tips on running starship combat" from Sam, rather than just a refresher of the rules. Hopefully it does help some people who are struggling with ship combat though, so that they learn how to play it rather than complaining it's broken. (Which it's not.)

 

The example of ship combat was a good idea to show people how it all comes together narratively.

 

One suggestion for the podcast team: When doing an example of play to help people learn rules, I think it's super distracting and unhelpful to gloss over rules, or include houserules. Any example of play should use follow RAW as closely as possible. (I'm specifically talking about not knowing how the flying through debris rules worked, handling collision with Hull Trauma rather than how the Core does it with Crits, and stating that shooting at Prone is an auto upgrade which I still don't understand)

This is of course my opinion, but as someone who has written a few examples of play for rulebooks, following RAW so that readers can follow along with the rules seems the most helpful.

 

Yeah, that surprised me. Specifically the debris rules, which had already been mentioned earlier in the show and I thought the debris' inclusion was specifically to call those rules out. The Knocked Off Course = Space Prone seems fine to me, and he called that out as specifically a House Rule, so I didn't mind. When the collision happened you could really tell Dave didn't like the result (neither would I) as it was pretty brutal.


Edited by Colyer, 28 January 2014 - 08:25 PM.


#11 whafrog

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 08:21 PM

That podcast was hugely useful, especially the last part.  I can see, probably for the first time, how it can work narratively.  A question I wish I'd posted:

 

why do starfighters suffer strain when punching it?  That's what they're designed for.  But they have the same acceleration as everything else, and suffer a higher percentage as strain from punching it than a freighter.

 

I was a bit confused during the sample game.  First, I didn't think you kept track of facing relative to the other ships, but only Gain the Advantage let you decide which facing to present.

Second, I didn't think minions could suffer strain (...I'm assuming the Z95 pilots were minions...) but their ships apparently can still suffer strain, which is I guess how TIE fighters can still catch you.

Third, and more generally, I'm having a hard time seeing how to keep a player from just fleeing the scene.  My son has a tricked out Firespray with Speed 5.  If he gains the initiative, there's no way he can be caught if I put him at medium range from an SD launching TIEs.


Edited by whafrog, 28 January 2014 - 08:24 PM.

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#12 Grimmshade

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 08:35 PM

Oh yeah, Whatfrog reminded me of one more thing I didn't like about the example. The facing thing kept coming up, which is in clear contradiction to the rules stating that facing does not matter unless gaining the advantage or opposed piloting rolls are made. (Capital Ships being the exception) Otherwise the facing rules come down to the target chooses the facing unless the attacker has the advantage (or loses opposed roll) and this is explained as being due to the fact that ships are always jockeying for position.

In the example play session, the NPC's are being described as flanking the PC's, even though no NPC makes a roll to do so (in fact the NPC fails his Gain the Advantage roll!)

Also, Sam begins to describe turning to let the gunner fire a Torpedo before the PC's turn tail and race away, something that seems like it should all be possible in the narrative rounds of EotE, but instead the GM makes him spend his action then turning to face the oncoming NPC's.


Edited by Grimmshade, 28 January 2014 - 08:36 PM.

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#13 KRKappel

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 08:39 PM

Frog, the most obvious answer is to have some sort of objective that forces the PCs to stay in the area a while. They might be escorting another ship, or something else. The other thing to do is have the ISD drop out of hyperspace between the PCs and their jump point, so they have to go past it. Another option, especially in the case of a Firespray, is to add in an asteroid belt or debris field or massive space traffic lanes that either force the PC to slow the ship down to maneuver, or risk a crash.

That said, the ISD should not always be dropping out of hyperspace on the party and launching TIEs. Try to mix it up and have a lot of scenarios where the ISD is already there forming a blockade with TIEs launched and on patrol. This allows you to have some TIEs come out from behind an asteroid at short or close range early in the chase. Also consider that the TIEs don't have to do the work. The ISD can engage at long range, and if the Empire is expecting to find the PCs, you can consider it an ambush, giving the empire a chance to launch TIEs or blaster cannons as a free attack before combat even begins.

But generally speaking, if an ISD drops out of hyperspace a medium range, and you want to leave, and the ISD didn't know it wanted you, or that you'd be there, theres a good chance you will get away. That said, the ISD is probably going to have sensor readings and transponder codes on you. THe next time you try and pull into an Imperial port, or pass near an ISD, your ship might flag as wanted for questioning. If you have a captains accredited license, that wanted tag might apply to you as well. This can create story issues that teach the players that maybe running like blatant criminals is not always the best way to handle the Imps. Sometimes its better to fly casual and see what happens.


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#14 Colyer

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 08:43 PM

Yeah, that's not how I play facing, and I don't feel that's how facing is supposed to be played RAW. (EDIT: And I sent in a Rules Question regarding it. We'll see what, if anything, comes of that)

 

As far as minions suffering strain, I think they were probably Rivals (which you are allowed to track strain for). But even if they weren't, you can just take them as wounds. Since the pilots are unlikely to be hurt themselves, taking these extra wounds doesn't really impact the game all too much.

 

Let them from time to time. No reason not to make him feel like his upgrade was worth it. But when you don't want him to run away, you have to ask what he's doing there, and maybe make something a bit more narratively interesting than just "You have been attacked by other ships!" My last space encounter was a rescue from an Imperial Prison ship. The idea was to jump in, fight through or evade the escort, board the ship and recover the prisoner, then fight their way back out. They could use their speed if they wanted to (they did) but it wasn't them running away from the encounter. So give them a goal that isn't simply "kill or be killed."


Edited by Colyer, 28 January 2014 - 08:56 PM.

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#15 whafrog

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 09:23 PM

As far as minions suffering strain, I think they were probably Rivals (which you are allowed to track strain for). But even if they weren't, you can just take them as wounds. Since the pilots are unlikely to be hurt themselves, taking these extra wounds doesn't really impact the game all too much.

 

I thought minions couldn't voluntarily suffer strain...but I guess in this case they actually wouldn't have to, they're just limited to two maneuvers (no action), and the ship itself can suffer strain from the second maneuver.

 

Yeah, it was the first space combat I'd tried since running the beginner set ages ago.  I wasn't really prepared, and I didn't really know what I was doing, how far to place the threat, etc.  He was supposed to land on planet, and got some threat on the Astrogation, so I put the ISD out there, but at long range.  He just turned tail and fled instead of attempting to land.  I should have put him in the middle of some debris...maybe a ship the ISD just finished taking out with TIEs all around.  Next time...



#16 Colyer

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 09:53 PM

 

As far as minions suffering strain, I think they were probably Rivals (which you are allowed to track strain for). But even if they weren't, you can just take them as wounds. Since the pilots are unlikely to be hurt themselves, taking these extra wounds doesn't really impact the game all too much.

 

I thought minions couldn't voluntarily suffer strain...but I guess in this case they actually wouldn't have to, they're just limited to two maneuvers (no action), and the ship itself can suffer strain from the second maneuver.

 

Yeah, it was the first space combat I'd tried since running the beginner set ages ago.  I wasn't really prepared, and I didn't really know what I was doing, how far to place the threat, etc.  He was supposed to land on planet, and got some threat on the Astrogation, so I put the ISD out there, but at long range.  He just turned tail and fled instead of attempting to land.  I should have put him in the middle of some debris...maybe a ship the ISD just finished taking out with TIEs all around.  Next time...

 

You are correct. Minions cannot voluntarily suffer strain. I haven't been playing it that way, but that is indeed the RAW. They were acting alone though, so I would definitely have called those guys Rivals.

 

If your player is too jittery, then add a reason why objectives are time sensitive. He can try and come back when the ISD is gone, but the Empire is here for the same thing you are. Do you really want them to get it first and sacrifice your payday? Or maybe the ISD will be here for a few weeks and a braver crew got in there and took your loot. Maybe the ISD identified them, and an order to detain the ship for questioning has been issued (if you can make that further your story somehow). You are in control of the universe, make it a bad idea if you think it should be (while still being fair).



#17 Jegergryte

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 03:48 AM

The facing bit worked I think. While strictly speaking there are rules on deciding which defensive zone is hit, it makes narratively sense to keep track of these things when it comes to requiring some sort of movement to repositioning the ship to let forward, or aft (or dorsal or ventral), weapons fire at a target (see sidebar on page 228). Whether this movement is part of the accelerate or evasive or stay on target manoeuvre doesn't matter in my opinion, but it requires some sort of narrative, and perhaps a manoeuvre, to reposition the ship to face the target. Gain the Advantage would be more complex manoeuvring and getting to decide what defensive zone was hit, not necessarily what fire arc is able to hit the target - of course that too, but failing that action what fire arcs are facing the enemy? shouldn't that be somewhat up to the narrative? Of course, failing GtA means the target gets to choose which zone was hit (if target is small enough), but choosing the forward defensive arc may let the target spend one manoeuvre to aim (or two if available strain), and an action to attack, without having to reorient the ship, which in my mind should require some sort of narration, and therefore, in most cases at least a manoeuvre of some movement sort (not necessarily fly/drive no).

 

A simple 180 of a stationary starfighter (as in the O66 example) shouldn't really require a manoeuvre perhaps, but some stuff should, or could, require more, unless the ship is just gong straight forward or in some "holding pattern" of some sort.


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#18 GM Chris

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 08:51 AM

So - thank you for all the feedback, guys.   :)

 

As for the play example - the collision in the debris field was a complete brain flub on my part (managing sound/production/GMing all at the same time).  THANKFULLY, Sam turned it into an excellent learning moment!

 

The real hope for the example was to illustrate highly cinematic and narrative play.  That was our primary goal.  As Sam alluded to, the GM has the authority to "make things fun", and we wanted to illustrate that, too.


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#19 Colyer

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 11:09 AM

Jegergryte: I agree that it worked, and made sense. My concerns are that it takes away from the Gain the Advantage maneuver, and I feel like it's really important for Gain the Advantage to be an effective option (It's the only thing that really makes speed an advantage in combat). But I am certainly not saying it was bad.

 

GMChris: And you succeeded. It was fun to listen to and I'm sure it was very helpful to some listeners.

 

As far as my facing question to Sam, he has responded. (Aside to gush about how awesome it is that I can directly ask the developers a question and get a next day response!) He more or less says that the letter of the rules is that facing is fully abstracted, but implies that tracking facing was the right choice for this encounter as it allowed for interesting choices in that they had to sacrifice their ability to run away in order to shoot the enemy.

 

One of the aspects of the more narrative nature of space combat means that facing matters exactly as much as the players and GM wants it to, especially for smaller vessels. During that combat, GMChris decided that he would like us to use the Move maneuver to bring ourselves around and line up shots. This is perfectly acceptable given that there was only one PC ship we needed to track, that our objective was to flee (meaning any attack runs we lined up would sacrifice our chance to move further away) and that it forced myself and GMDave to work in tandem to eliminate the targets (I lined up the shots, and GMDave made the kills). 

 
The letter of the rules do state that facing in small craft is completely narrative, and if you want to hit a specific spot on another small ship, you have to Gain the Advantage or succeed at an opposed Piloting check. So you are correct. However, if you want to introduce a certain amount of tracking facing and direction into your game, you certainly can, and starship combat can accommodate that. My advice is just be relatively consistent with your players, however you choose to do things.

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#20 Jegergryte

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 11:26 AM

Yes. I agree. My take on this is that when it comes to fire arcs and defensive zone is to follow the abstracted rules and the available Actions and Manoeuvres, but I will also deem narration imperative in this.

 

For instance if the pilot narrates Gaining the Advantage to end "above" and behind a target vessel, any Dorsal turrets won't be able to attack unless he also narrates a spin, which would restrict the ventral turret. Of course one advantage or two, would allow both turrets to fire if he so chose, or just narrate that the ship rotates 90 degrees or there about. Any aft or side mounted weapons would not be able to attack the target vessel either, unless good narration or advantages. Threats can subtract from good narration and ideas, like the spin not allowing both turrets to attack - or having one of them only being able to target a different defensive zone.

 

Basic idea: encourage and reward good narration in space combat, and let this guide the game. The pilot decides what defensive zone hit and such things in my mind, the gunners don't. Of course, without Gaining the Advantage the narration should also lead, but at that point advantages or threats could also help determine what turrets (ventral and/or dorsal) or fire arcs can hit the target, but the target determines defensive zone (if small enough or having succeeded an opposed pilot check).

 

Bear in mind I'm considering a YT-1300 or similar ships when talking about this, for starfighters some of these issues won't ever arise.


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