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arunwe2012

Starship Combat, impressions

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Hi all! I've just run my first big-scale starship combat. The PC's are an Imperial elite group and they have 5 TIE-Defenders, 1 TIE Bomber and a Marauder Corvette. I pitted them against a CR-90 Corvette, 2 X-Wings (one of them an ace pilot) and two Y-Wings.

After a single round of combat, the four rebel fighters were destroyed. I don't know if I've done something wrong, but TIE-D used them all missiles and were able to activate linked property. With the breach property (it does affect to every missile, not the first one shot, isn't it? they were delivering 12-16 points of damage. More than enough to vaporize fighters in a single shot.

The amount of damage sustained by the CR-90 was tremendous as well. It started at 50 and after the first round was 22, and that only because I didn't use oll of the turbolasers of the corvette to prevent the game to go too slow.

Since it was ny first attempt to run such a combat I didn't add complicated terrain except some debris that was providing cover. Maybe I should do that next time?

Opinions? Any advice will be appreciated.

Edited by arunwe2012

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Align shields, boost shields, give the rebels astromech actions, use all the crew of the Y-Wings, evasive maneuvers at least on the ace, better on all fighters and accept that space combat is super quick and deadly. It's is not a slow boxing match with ships wearing each other down with punches, it is knife fighting and people will get fatally wounded in an instant, often simply based on who strikes first and a large dash of luck, just like in a real knife fight. 

Edited by SEApocalypse

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55 minutes ago, SEApocalypse said:

Align shields, boost shields, give the rebels astromech actions, use all the crew of the Y-Wings, evasive maneuvers at least on the ace, better on all fighters and accept that space combat is super quick and deadly. It's is not a slow boxing match with ships wearing each other down with punches, it knife fighting and people will get fatally wounded in an instant, often simply based on who strikes first and a large dash of luck, just like in a knife fight. 

More like a game of rocket tag. Like in Quake? Yeah that was fun...... for 5 minutes. 

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By the way something that happened ... when you get a Triumph one possibility says "do something vital like destroying capital ship's shield generator". But I find this too poweful, I mean, with a critical result you can lower defense until critical is repaired, and now a single triumph totally disables shields?

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Fighters are easy to take down, even with shields, their even easier to kill if you treat them as minions, since then crits will kill them automatically.

I think that part of the problem is that the ships you gave the pcs are some of the best, the Defender is one of the best Imperial fighters in the game, more than a match for any rebel ship, and they outnumbered the rebel ships. The CR90 is also not a very durable ship. One way to minimize dice rolls if you have the AoR core book (which I assume you do since you mentioned TIE-D) is that instead of shooting normally you can have the weapons on cap ships do a "Concentrated Barrage" it makes you need to roll less, and until you get up to ships that have 10 weapons, it can do less damage if you don't roll well. So you would only have to roll twice for all 8 turbolasers on the Marauder then on a hit with 1 advantage (and x successes), the damage would be 9+4+X-(Armor-2), that helps with not needing to make as many die rolls.

I think that if you want you enemy ships to last longer, you'll need to go with bigger ships, even silhouette 6 ships are much tougher than sil. 5 ships. Since players are ment to actually be able to "easily" get some silhouette 5 ships their not that though relatively speaking.

2 hours ago, arunwe2012 said:

By the way something that happened ... when you get a Triumph one possibility says "do something vital like destroying capital ship's shield generator". But I find this too poweful, I mean, with a critical result you can lower defense until critical is repaired, and now a single triumph totally disables shields?

I think that is for narrative uses, so you as the GM would have final say over what "something vital" would be. When I look at that line I think about that A-wing crashing into the Executor in episode VI, if that was an rpg roll it probably would have involved one or more triumphs (and a despair perhaps).

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I have to agree, the rebels in this scenario didn't have a chance even if the defenders didn't use their missiles. I don't know exactly how you did it, but here's some best practices:

1. Minion group the turbolasers. Each round fire either the Fire Arc All OR the Fire Arc Forward turbolasers. Gunners have an agility of 2, and 4 guns mean 4 minions per group for a dice pool of PPA (plus aim boosts, usually) dealing 9+successes, w/ breach 2 on a hit. Use this dice pool with the barrage actions for more options.

2. Blast doesn't do anything if activated on a hit. Note starfighter blast damage deals damage to everything in Short range on the -personal scale- not vehicle scale. Unless the enemy is flying only 15 meters or less apart (a very tight formation indeed) then there's no splash damage. (Activating blast on a miss will still damage the original target, as usual.)

3. Count hull trauma (all damage really) from 0 up instead of from maximum down. It'll help keep things straight when they go over threshold and you don't need to deal with negatives. 

Finally, a CR-90 is honestly pretty weakly armed as far as capital ships go. If your group has all this top of the line equipment, I'd probably look to throw a DP-20 gunship plus at least half a squadron of fighters (3 minion groups of 2) at them for it to be an even fight (assuming you want an even fight). Remember no fighting happens just to fight, there should always be an objective.

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I wonder if they are going to get reprimanded for firing a good amount, if not all, of their missiles at the first encounter.  I don't know their mission, but there may be several more encounters before they get reloaded so those future encounters may be a bit tougher with no ordinance.

 

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1 hour ago, Ahrimon said:

I wonder if they are going to get reprimanded for firing a good amount, if not all, of their missiles at the first encounter.  I don't know their mission, but there may be several more encounters before they get reloaded so those future encounters may be a bit tougher with no ordinance.

 

The Empire can easily afford to spend 1k on concussion missiles to shoot down a 120k x-wing. The Empire can win an attrition battle like that.

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22 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

The Empire can easily afford to spend 1k on concussion missiles to shoot down a 120k x-wing. The Empire can win an attrition battle like that.

Just because they can doesn't mean that they want to or that the rank and file get to just spend money without approval.  The US military can afford a lot of things but they still have to fill out the forms and get three quotes from different sources to buy a box of pens.

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4 minutes ago, Ahrimon said:

Just because they can doesn't mean that they want to or that the rank and file get to just spend money without approval.  The US military can afford a lot of things but they still have to fill out the forms and get three quotes from different sources to buy a box of pens.

What does that have to do with the game mechanics?  As if Imperial pilots are going think "Death is preferable to paperwork!" to rationalize not using a missile...  When people start talking about those kinds of rationalizations, you know the mechanics are crap.

Fact is, the OP is right, starship combat is ridiculously lethal in this system.  By "lethal" I mean incapacitation comes quickly, it doesn't necessarily mean the fighters necessarily explode in a fireball, but still, the PCs are effectively out of the game until rescued/captured.

I've simply avoided running traditional space combat.  If there is combat in space, it is supposed to be temporary until the PCs can get to cover (hyperspace, clouds on the planet, hiding in an asteroid or debris field, etc) or achieve their goal.  By "temporary" I mean a couple of rounds, and not against the total potential opposition, but a wing of opposition with more on the way.  The PCs need to have a clear goal and not plan to stick around.

There also needs to be terrain, something that can potentially damage or deflect the enemy.

If you do want to have the PCs in an extended space battle (more than a few turns), they have to have plot armour.  A couple of wingmen (aka disposable NPC allies) that count as a Hull Point soak (but don't contribute to attacking) are essential.  The longer the battle, the more wingmen you'll need, or the PCs should have a chance to get reinforcements if their wingmen are taken out.

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Wow, really good advices here guys, thank you, much appreciated. I am newbie in this type of combat and coming from sw: saga I expected it to last a little bit longer: I reckon that due to time matters I didn't prepare the combat in advance that much and made some mistakes. I agree the first was opposition, I should have given the rebels more firepower (the idea of using the dp20 instead of the cr90 is a really good one) and I am going to take a look to the Gm Kit and Stay on Target to look for squadron maneuvers and astropilot droids, next time I'll use it. Also good one the idea of minions - although I provided good stats for rebel gunners so that shouldn't be that important -

I think that initiative also was key. Pc's manage to populate nearly all main slots of initiative so they moved and fired first. Given the level of lethality I think that was also crucial.

Edited by arunwe2012

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16 hours ago, Daeglan said:

It is no more deadly than personal scale combat.

Can't agree with that.  Hull points and strain on star fighters are considerably lower, damage output relative to defences is higher, and you can't exactly take a moment to inject a stimpack if you need it.  Plus, Linked is rather ubiquitous and easy to trigger, whereas in personal scale combat it's more rare.

Statistically, star fighter combat resolves much more quickly.

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56 minutes ago, Daeglan said:

The ones I have seen are around 10 to 12. I that is about the same as persoonal scale. Not lower. 

Fighters tend to be armour 2-3, most personal-scale combatants will have soak 3-5 from brawn + armour.
Fighter HT tends to be around 10-12, most personal-scale combatants will have WT 11-15 from 10-11 base + brawn.
Weapon-wise, laser cannons and blaster pistols are basically the same, and a linked 2 weapon is probably about equal to a blaster rifle, but most fighters also have a damage 6-8/breach 4-6/linked 1 missile or torpedo weapon, which can one-shot most other fighters if you roll a hit with 2A.

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No of it bothers me. Dogfighters require very skilled pilots. Its both a game balance for strapping rockets/torpedoes onto them and a genre trope. The best most skilled pilots are the dogfighters. Red Baron, Luke, Wedge Antilles, ect. Name the pilots for Admairl Ackbars cruiser. Or leias blockade runner. System working as intended in my opinion

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5 hours ago, whafrog said:

Can't agree with that.  Hull points and strain on star fighters are considerably lower, damage output relative to defences is higher, and you can't exactly take a moment to inject a stimpack if you need it.  Plus, Linked is rather ubiquitous and easy to trigger, whereas in personal scale combat it's more rare.

Statistically, star fighter combat resolves much more quickly.

Instead of common linked weapons we have autofire weapons on personal scale, completely with mods like spin-barrel, etc to increase the damage into around 12-14 base damage. Meanwhile those linked laser canons are usually around 5 or 6 base damage.  Now the difference about stimpacks is true. At the other hand a quick escape is often just one jump to lightspeed or crash landing onto the next planet away. So the players have different options to deal with a losing fight compared to the ground combat, which is imho the whole reason why the designers decided on even introducing stimpacks at all. 

Torpedos and Missiles at the other hand are anti-capital weapons and if you use those as base line you might as well mention thermal detonators, ewebs, and personal missile launchers as personal weapon options. 

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43 minutes ago, thecowley said:

No of it bothers me. Dogfighters require very skilled pilots. Its both a game balance for strapping rockets/torpedoes onto them and a genre trope. The best most skilled pilots are the dogfighters. Red Baron, Luke, Wedge Antilles, ect. Name the pilots for Admairl Ackbars cruiser. Or leias blockade runner. System working as intended in my opinion

Skilled pilots are not required. Good Gunnery and a high initiative result beats a good pilot almost every time, especially if your weapon has Firing Arc All so it can bypass that tired GtA argument.

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7 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

Skilled pilots are not required. Good Gunnery and a high initiative result beats a good pilot almost every time, especially if your weapon has Firing Arc All so it can bypass that tired GtA argument.

That just means the GM has to set the scenario up right.

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