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Dafydd

A couple of vehicle/ship combat questions

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I ran my group through their first taste of space combat in the last session (the shuttle v shuttle fight from Operation: Shadowpoint) and a couple of questions arose on the subject of slicing enemy systems and the Gain the Advantage action.

 

1) Since the shuttle had far more weapon mounts than people with the Gunnery skill, the shields on the enemy shuttle were causing a lot of problems for the unskilled gunners. As a result, the team's engineer droid started making slicing attacks the enemy shuttle's systems to reduce its Defence. The way I read the rules, a successful Slice Enemy Systems action would reduce the enemy's Defence in one firing arc by one point, and the effect would last for one round per success - therefore, removing two points of Defence would require two separate successfule Slices. The player suggested that they should be able to spend successes to have a greater effect for a shorter period, e.g. if you get four successes you could remove two points of Defence for two rounds rather than one point for four. Who was right?

 

2) There were repeated uses of Gain the Advantage by both sides in the fight (with the Imperial punching far above his weight, succeeding on a difficulty 5 roll with only two green dice to his name). As I was running it, the fight started as a turning engagement, with both shuttles coming at each other head-on to bring their four forward weapon mounts and stronger forward shields to bear. Ship 1 succeeded at Gain the Advantage, getting onto the Ship 2's tail, then when Ship 2 made a successful Gain the Advantage the situation returned to a turning fight - one Gain the Advantage cancelling out the other, with Ship 2 needed a second Gain the Advantage to get onto Ship 1's tail. Should Ship 2 have got straight on Ship 1's tail after the first GtA, skipping the balanced phase?

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1) Since the shuttle had far more weapon mounts than people with the Gunnery skill, the shields on the enemy shuttle were causing a lot of problems for the unskilled gunners. As a result, the team's engineer droid started making slicing attacks the enemy shuttle's systems to reduce its Defence. The way I read the rules, a successful Slice Enemy Systems action would reduce the enemy's Defence in one firing arc by one point, and the effect would last for one round per success - therefore, removing two points of Defence would require two separate successfule Slices. The player suggested that they should be able to spend successes to have a greater effect for a shorter period, e.g. if you get four successes you could remove two points of Defence for two rounds rather than one point for four. Who was right?

 

Rules are clear: 1 round per success.

 

 

2) There were repeated uses of Gain the Advantage by both sides in the fight (with the Imperial punching far above his weight, succeeding on a difficulty 5 roll with only two green dice to his name). As I was running it, the fight started as a turning engagement, with both shuttles coming at each other head-on to bring their four forward weapon mounts and stronger forward shields to bear. Ship 1 succeeded at Gain the Advantage, getting onto the Ship 2's tail, then when Ship 2 made a successful Gain the Advantage the situation returned to a turning fight - one Gain the Advantage cancelling out the other, with Ship 2 needed a second Gain the Advantage to get onto Ship 1's tail. Should Ship 2 have got straight on Ship 1's tail after the first GtA, skipping the balanced phase?

You're doing this one totally wrong.

 

GtA allows you to pick the Arc you hit, and cancel out evasive maneuvers penalties. That's it. It doesn't mean you're in front, or behind, or to the side of the other guy. Vehicle combat is bigger, faster and more dynamic in this system then that, you're always moving and jockeying for position. Weapon Fire Arcs on Sil 4 and smaller craft are largely narrative, and rarely play into combat unless there's some narrative to explain it (shooting the forward and tail guns at the same target on the same turn is probably a stretch for example).

 

But bottom line: Successful GtA does not mean you are on the other guys tail. He can still shoot you with his forward guns if he wants to.

 

Also, you don't cancel out the other guys GtA with a successful one of your own, you override it. So you GtA on me allowing you to pick the zone you hit and cancel out evasive maneuvers for you, I counter successfully and now I can pick where I hit and cancel out evasive maneuvers for me.

 

 

Also, unless they've been modified with faster engines, last time I checked Lambda Shuttles can't GtA anyway...

Edited by Ghostofman

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Hi Ghostofman,

 

Thanks for the info. The way you've described GtA regarding firing arcs was how I originally read the rules - I modified them because I really don't like how they work as written. Unless I'm missing something, pilot skill plays very little part in space combat as written in the rules; the only time you'd roll it is for GtA, and even that only allows you to negate Evasive Action (both for you and the target, which you may well not want to do in a dogfight) and pick which firing arc you hit so you can bypass shields, which is completely pointless if you're up against TIEs because they don't have any. There's no sense of jockeying for position in a dogfight and no way a skilled pilot can manouevre to deny an enemy a firing position, which to me just isn't in the Star Wars idiom. PC in an X-Wing can't dive into a squadron of TIE Fighters and simply outfly them, avoiding their fire while lining up their own shots. All they can do is plunge into the fight and hope that their superior Gunnery Skill and their ship's greater Defence, Armour and Hull Threshold allow them to kill the TIEs before the TIEs whittle their ship to pieces.

 

I have the same problem with the melee combat rules as written - superior skill should make you harder to hit, and it doesn't.

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Hi Ghostofman,

 

Thanks for the info. The way you've described GtA regarding firing arcs was how I originally read the rules - I modified them because I really don't like how they work as written. Unless I'm missing something, pilot skill plays very little part in space combat as written in the rules; the only time you'd roll it is for GtA, and even that only allows you to negate Evasive Action (both for you and the target, which you may well not want to do in a dogfight) and pick which firing arc you hit so you can bypass shields, which is completely pointless if you're up against TIEs because they don't have any. There's no sense of jockeying for position in a dogfight and no way a skilled pilot can manouevre to deny an enemy a firing position, which to me just isn't in the Star Wars idiom. PC in an X-Wing can't dive into a squadron of TIE Fighters and simply outfly them, avoiding their fire while lining up their own shots. All they can do is plunge into the fight and hope that their superior Gunnery Skill and their ship's greater Defence, Armour and Hull Threshold allow them to kill the TIEs before the TIEs whittle their ship to pieces.

 

I have the same problem with the melee combat rules as written - superior skill should make you harder to hit, and it doesn't.

 

This system uses talents as part of a reflection of that piloting expertise used in conjunction with skill ranks.

 

That said, you are not the first person to have reservations about the vehicle combat system.  You may want to check out several other threads that have other possible options on how to fix them to your personal liking.

 

My solution is to have more chases than head to head dog fighting, and use the dog fighting as part of a larger intended encounter.

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Regarding melee: talents are also a part of determining skill, not just skill ranks - so talents like dodge, defensive stance, side-step and so on provide defensive bonuses in upgrades, and there are also a few talents that provide defence bonuses.

 

As far as space combat is concerned keep in mind that this isn't a step-by-step, short round (i.e. 6 seconds) I-go-you-go step-by-step system. People throw about the terms cinematic and narrative, but I guess you could simply just say that each Action and Manoeuvre is part of a series of actions and manoeuvres, it requires a different mind set than what we're used to from the various (nefarious) d20 versions of space combat :ph34r: it's less "tactical" in the sense of move-by-move in a chess-like game, and more a storytelling exercise with flexible guidelines. Not everyone's cup of tea, but certainly lots of fun once you get into it, if you've made an effort.

 

As far as GtA negates the Evasive Manoeuvre effects, it only affects the upgrades to your own attacks, not the upgrades to opponents attacks (unless they successfully gain the advantage on their turn). So, when I perform an Evasive Manoeuvre, attacks on my ship are upgraded once and attacks from my ship are upgraded once, next I perform a Gain the Advantage action, let's say for arguments sake I succeed, then attacks from my ship are no longer upgraded due to opponents Evasive Manoeuvre (depending on how you want to rule the effect of GtA it may only apply to the pilot or every gunner on the ship) nor because of my own use of the manoeuvre. Then I can, as already stated also attack whatever defensive zone I see fit, preferably the one with the lowest defence, if any. Now, if the opposing ship doesn't have a defensive value and hasn't acted yet so it can't have performed an Evasive Manoeuvre, it's arguably pointless to use GtA, but that's fine, then you attack first and then perform an Evasive Manoeuvre to upgrade your opponent's attacks, if you don't destroy him/her/it straight away.

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Regarding melee: talents are also a part of determining skill, not just skill ranks - so talents like dodge, defensive stance, side-step and so on provide defensive bonuses in upgrades, and there are also a few talents that provide defence bonuses.

 

As far as space combat is concerned keep in mind that this isn't a step-by-step, short round (i.e. 6 seconds) I-go-you-go step-by-step system. People throw about the terms cinematic and narrative, but I guess you could simply just say that each Action and Manoeuvre is part of a series of actions and manoeuvres, it requires a different mind set than what we're used to from the various (nefarious) d20 versions of space combat :ph34r: it's less "tactical" in the sense of move-by-move in a chess-like game, and more a storytelling exercise with flexible guidelines. Not everyone's cup of tea, but certainly lots of fun once you get into it, if you've made an effort.

 

As far as GtA negates the Evasive Manoeuvre effects, it only affects the upgrades to your own attacks, not the upgrades to opponents attacks (unless they successfully gain the advantage on their turn). So, when I perform an Evasive Manoeuvre, attacks on my ship are upgraded once and attacks from my ship are upgraded once, next I perform a Gain the Advantage action, let's say for arguments sake I succeed, then attacks from my ship are no longer upgraded due to opponents Evasive Manoeuvre (depending on how you want to rule the effect of GtA it may only apply to the pilot or every gunner on the ship) nor because of my own use of the manoeuvre. Then I can, as already stated also attack whatever defensive zone I see fit, preferably the one with the lowest defence, if any. Now, if the opposing ship doesn't have a defensive value and hasn't acted yet so it can't have performed an Evasive Manoeuvre, it's arguably pointless to use GtA, but that's fine, then you attack first and then perform an Evasive Manoeuvre to upgrade your opponent's attacks, if you don't destroy him/her/it straight away.

 

I usually have my NPCs attempt to gain the advantage as their first round.  Not only does it give the players time to escape, it also makes sense when doing anything except fighter vs fighter dogfights.  Larger ships can take more punishment and usually don't go boom in that first round.

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Thanks for the info. The way you've described GtA regarding firing arcs was how I originally read the rules - I modified them because I really don't like how they work as written. Unless I'm missing something, pilot skill plays very little part in space combat as written in the rules

Yeah, not the first time that's come up, but as others have said this system works differently then is more typical.

A good combat pilot in this system need to have skills, but also really needs talents, and a player that gets the system and maneuvers and actions. Without all three you'll never stack up. So yeah, at starting level your pilot won't be mopping the floor with the enemy (why Luke likely had to use the squadron rules in ANH). But some skilled jockey, some defensive driving, a little full throttle, and a working knowledge of the system. You can get deadly.

 

Also part of the issue you may be having may be that FFG has raised the general level of competency of all pilots in this system. In other systems they assume that if the pilot doesn't make a piloting check every turn, he crashes. FFG assumes everyone knows how to "not crash" and so they only require checks for actually doing things, be they GtAing, or driving through rough terrain (where theres... well... stuff to actually crash into). But just driving down an open road, or flying through open space, why bother with a check? Just move the vehicle and make the action check that really matters.

 

That said if you just can't get your head around the system as is, there's lots of alternatives on the forums if you're willing to look. Some of em aren't too shabby. But be warned... some are very shabby.

 

 

the only time you'd roll it is for GtA, and even that only allows you to negate Evasive Action (both for you and the target, which you may well not want to do in a dogfight) and pick which firing arc you hit so you can bypass shields, which is completely pointless if you're up against TIEs because they don't have any.

Which is actually kinda the whole point there.

 

See most games (video games especially) make TIEs disposable so the players can murder them by the bushel. They made them a flying joke to give the players a power trip (which when you're talking things like video games... yeah players do kinda like that)

 

Now FFG took the TIE and said "this isn't a piece of junk... it's a Japanese Zero!" So the TIE has great Speed, Great Handling, and it's designed to use them. No shields? No Problem. The TIE swoops in fast, takes evasive action and GtA's to minimize the target's shields. If the target is dumb enough to try and GtA back, the TIE will likely maintain the advantage and be set to shoot the target. If the target is smart enough to just man up and shoot, there's a possible Despair in it for him.

 

TIEs are what they are to leverage the system. Something you may want to try is putting your players in a TIE and see what it takes. I'm actually getting annoyed enough I may write a mini campaign where that's the whole point.

 

 

There's no sense of jockeying for position in a dogfight and no way a skilled pilot can manouevre to deny an enemy a firing position, which to me just isn't in the Star Wars idiom. PC in an X-Wing can't dive into a squadron of TIE Fighters and simply outfly them, avoiding their fire while lining up their own shots.

Well first question is: Why do you think Diving a lone P-51 into 12+ Zeros is a good idea? Heck Even in Rogue Squadron or X-wing flying a single craft headlong into more then maybe 3 enemies was suicide.

Second: When did they do this in the movie? Because I can't think of one. At best there's a quick scene in RotJ that Might be considered that, but is just as likely a difficult terrain check.

 

Moving on though you actually CAN do it in several ways, but again, it's about knowing how, not just rolling a bucket of dice and hoping for the best results.

 

As an observant newbie noticed here, it's about leveraging the system and controlling your actions. This isn't an unlimited option, and it only works in open space, but you can move-shoot-move to dump fire on a target and get clear. Of course next turn they can move up and fire and there's not a whole lot you can do about except plan ahead and hope for the best. But the option is there...

Another method assumes you're actually talking Squadron rules, In which your target is technically a single opponent leading a squadron, in which case again, it's possible. He'll be a lot tougher then you, and may be able to kick out a lot more firepower depending on his rolls, but again, it's doable and a little more survivable. If you are smart enough to bring a squadron of your own it'll actually be a pretty good scrap...

 

 

I have the same problem with the melee combat rules as written - superior skill should make you harder to hit, and it doesn't.

Again, it's about talents, skill ranks, and know-how, not just ranks. Especially of value in the form you seem to reference is the Parry talent, and while it's attached to the Lightsaber trees it does not require a lightsaber or a force rating, so any idiot can do it. The Shii-Cho tree is probably the most cost effective as it only has something like 2 or 3 force talents on the entire tree, with everything else being useful to any character with a pointy stick and a desire to use it.

Edited by Ghostofman

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