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ArchonTurtle

So we all kinda hated space combat...

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Hey gang,

 

Ran my first game of EotE tonight. Everyone on both sides of the table were new to the system. Generally, there were very favorable feelings about the game system...except for space combat. 

Now it may partially have to do with the fact that we ran the whole beginners box (with custom characters) in one sitting, so when we got to space combat we were at hour sixish and everyone brains were a little melty... But the general thought was that the space combat system was bloated and confusing.

Is this a common feeling? Does anyone have any suggestions for streamlining space combat, or have a simplified ruleset that you use in favor?

 

Thanks!

 

Steph

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I've heard many things said about this system, but "bloated" has never been one of them. I think the space combat rules are as pared-down as they can possibly be without disappearing entirely; most complaints I've seen run in the direction of "we need more detailed rules for space combat". What exactly was it that seemed bloated?

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The starship combat at the end of the Beginner Box is pretty sub-par in terms of running a starship combat.  But rather than find it "bloated and confusing" I found it be overly simplistic.  Which given it was pretty much an anti-climax to the adventure at that point, was probably intended, though I've heard tales of GMs where the TIEs blew up the PCs' newly acquired ship to bring the session to a downer ending, mostly as they didn't have a PC that was any good at Mechanics to get the hyperdrive part installed fast enough.

 

Now, I've run a fair number of starship combats in this system, both my semi-regular game as well as in playtesting for Stay on Target.  A lot of it depends on the PCs, and frankly there are some PCs that aren't really suited for starship combat.  Now the core rulebook does have a table of additional actions that PCs who aren't the pilot or a gunner can undertake to help out, but it can be a tad daunting for a group of new players with a GM that's also not overly familiar with the system (which is what sounds like was the case).

 

My advice would be to ask a few of your players if they wouldn't mind running some mock combats just using the NPC stat blocks for fighter pilots so that you and them can get a better feel for how starship combat works instead of just writing the whole thing off based on a single sub-par encounter.  Try a couple cases of fighter vs. fighter, as well as a couple smaller minion groups (2 pilots each) vs. a freighter, and see if that helps you get a better handle on the system.

 

One big thing to bear in mind though is that like personal scale combat, vehicle scale combat in this game is also about the narrative, so it's not going to be a perfect tactical simulation.  That's one thing that's tripped up a number of gamers that came to this system after years of experience with "crunchier" systems like D&D/Pathfinder, Shadowrun, or even WotC's Star Wars Saga Edition.

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Space combat does get easier as one gets more familiar with it, it just takes practice.  You might find GM Hooly's play aides a boon to your sessions since they put all the necessary rules onto a concise, pretty page.

 

It does sound like a 6-hour session might have done your crew in, that's a long time to play in my book!  

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I use it as filler, mild distraction, magic carpet ride.  I just don't find ship combat to be a good role play setting anyway.  You immediately get rules heavy and transition to a tabletop tactical simulation game.  The problem with that is of course immediately an entire session can be frittered away on a single small scale ship encounter, and I think the devs wanted to keep ship combat as quick as personal scale, not sure you can be quick and detailed.  I certainly don't look at it as bloated though. For me, it's good enough, since there isn't much in story advancement going on in ship combat, and if I really felt a need to kick it up a notch I would just use Armada or X Wing.

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Ship combat can get tricky.  One of the biggest problems you can run in to is if the PCs have a decent ship but the PCs themselves aren't suited for it.  For instance, if no one has put experience into Gunnery it can make for a lop-sided or drawn out combat since shots may keep missing.  At times like that the GM may have to step in and get creative with environmental effects like asteroids, gas clouds, debris, etc. to help move things along and keep the narrative interesting even if shots keep missing left and right.

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One of the real problems with most vehicular combat is having all of your eggs (PCs) in one basket (ship). Unlike personal combat, where one PC may go down but the encounter can still be resolved successfully, ship combat frequently places all of the PCs in one vessel and, if it is taken out, the scene changes dramatically for the worse.

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I can attest to that -- I know swoops and AT-STs are a different thing altogether than space combat, but I had my players on different swoops and they had a blast. Especially when they were taking out the Scout Troopers by essentially just knocking them off their bikes or doing enough damage for the engines to shut down. It was a variant of the Age of Rebellion beginner's box chase scene and it was really cool and fun. So long as the players all have something to do, I think it's more fun. With these guys, I probably won't put them through any real space combat until they have the option for other ships as well.

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Trying to encourage my party to have a ship with a hanger is my next goal as GM. currently they fly a YT1300 which, with the Dorsal and Ventral guns, plus requirement for techs to repair, is a good single ship for everyone. problem is only 1 player gets to fly the thing. i would love to get to the point where every time they drop out of hyperspace 2 or even 3 are already in the hanger, ready to get into whatever fighters etc they have at the moment.

 

i do like the way that the AoR beginner box essentially forces the party to be on separate vehicles, its narratively well designed and has the effect of a fairly epic finally, with time pressure added.

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The way I see it, the pilot is determining the relative position of the ships and jockeying for position.  This in turn leads to whether there are any bonuses for the gunners or extra protection regardless of whether they specifically perform Gain the Advantage or Evasive Maneuvers.

 

Like with most skill checks, the player loosely describes what they want to do; they roll the dice; then the dice outcome results in the description of what happens.  In the case of piloting where the PCs ship is being followed, my player might say "I want to kill the engines, flip the ship 180, then employ retro-rockets so that our ship is ahead of the enemy but facing them and keeping the same distance."  Depending on how well the piloting check succeeds, I would likely give the gunner a boost die to their attack since the enemy was likely not expecting this type of maneuver and wouldn't be able adjust their shields fast enough for a forward assault.

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It occurs to me that there was an episode of the Order 66 podcast wherein they talked about space combat and actually had a live play session of stock NPCs & ships.  If I recall correctly and can read the index correctly, it's episode 25.  It's a detailed episode and definitely worth the listen.  

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If there isn't anything to believable throw in the way of the big vehicle combat (space station, debris, cap ships, asteroids, etc) then I make sure to keep the combat under 3 rounds with a very clear goal (get here, protect them, etc).

 

If I can throw in some kind of environmental factor then it gets fun and we'll spend most of a session on that combat.  

 

For example, toward the end of one story arch my PCs had two ships and were flying above a junkyard planet getting chased by Ties.  They found a huge "junkyard jungle gym" that was tons of spire, holes and caves in the junk and fled through there; lots of piloting checks were made to avoid the junk and get around stuff.  The party felt great because it was an opportunity for them to out-fly the Imps with their skills and creative thinking. 

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It occurs to me that there was an episode of the Order 66 podcast wherein they talked about space combat and actually had a live play session of stock NPCs & ships.  If I recall correctly and can read the index correctly, it's episode 25.  It's a detailed episode and definitely worth the listen.

It definitely is when they get down to it. Before that there's a lot of waffle.

Don't get me wrong though, it's one of my favourite casts relating to this system, and I don't listen to every episode.

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If there isn't anything to believable throw in the way of the big vehicle combat (space station, debris, cap ships, asteroids, etc) then I make sure to keep the combat under 3 rounds with a very clear goal (get here, protect them, etc).

 

I second this, clear space combats are nothing particularly interesting, particularly if the player's are not inspired in their own telling.  One of our most memorable space combats took place on Nar Shadda, where the PCs (in their nice, large, lumbering Wayfarer) were ambushed by weeque bounty clan in a Marauder corvette (modified with Ion cannons).  Hideously outgunned and not having even started their astogation calculations, they turned into traffic and dove back down to planetary level, with the marauder chasing them.  The descriptions of these two bloated, oversized craft trying to do a starfighter-style canyon run through Nar Shadda traffic and sky scrapers was just classic.  Ion blasts flying everywhere into buildings, delivery trucks and what-have-you.

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I use a hybrid of the RAW and a pared-down version of X-Wing Miniatures (mostly for movement, firing arc, and range).  I did that for two reasons.  (1): My players were all coming from a tactical combat system (D&D or Pathfinder) and I thought that putting some cool looking miniatures on the table might help scratch that tactical itch a bit, and (2): I have a LOT of X-WIng Miniatures and that game doesn't make it to the table nearly as often as I'd like, so this give me an excuse to bring out the minis (and, if I'm being perfectly honest to buy even more).  I'd be more than happy to share my work-in-progress system, if anyone's interested.  It works fairly well, for our purposes.

Edited by cupajo

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With my group, I think the biggest jar was that it was run like ground combat - but essentially you had a brand new character to play. Sure, it still was the action/ maneuver dichotomy, but you then had to figure out 'what actions do i have' 'what maneuvers can i do' 'what guns can i shoot'. If I were to try it again, knowing what I know now, I'd preface it with something like 'okay, so as you guys are lifting off, you're treated to a short tutorial on how space combat works'. No stellar terrain, limited opponents (who were basically minions anyways) and a pre-established set of action options.

 

TL;DR, it was basically an extended example of how it's supposed to flow, and all the fun stuff gets added on later.

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Yeah. I think Cameron was having problems with his mic on this episode or it could be the editing, but Brian's pretty good at editing so I'm not sure that's the case.

 

It sounded like a few things, actually - first off, yeah, that mic isn't doing him any favors.  Second, there was some sort of audio codec artifacts likely due to bandwidth issues, and third, the transcoding of both vocals stripped away a lot of the sparkle and introduced some warble. Some of this is likely due to the producer trying to make it work, and I can't fault him there.  The compression artifacts from transcoding are likely due to trying to save space, which is what it is.  

 

Er, yeah, I have some knowledge of this subject.   :)

 

p.s. this is no indictment of the podcast, I will be a regular listener from here on out. 

Edited by themensch

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