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Moribund

[Mathhammer] Making ship armour count

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I've been unsatisfied with how macrocannons outperform lances.  So I've done an awful lot of calculations to try and find house rules that change the game in a favorable manner and make the choice of lance vs. macro interesting.

Here's what I've worked out:

Armour should count against each macrocannon hit, but armour should be reduced to account for the change.  Specifically armour should be reduced by 12.  That makes an armour 15 Raider have an armour of 3, an armour 17 Frigate gets an armour of 5, and an armour 20 Cruiser has an armour of 8.

The value 12 was chosen because the breakeven point between lances and macros with this rule is between 6 and 7.  With an armour of 6, Dual Sunsears deal more damage than a Titanforge Lance and a Mars Macrocannon.  Once armor reaches 7, the lance is more effective.  By reducing armor by 12 that makes lances only worthwhile against the heaviest frigates, light cruisers, and cruisers.

It takes a little longer to figure damage, but it also makes armour work more like it does in personal combat.

Making this change to the rules does a few different things:

Armour is in general more effective when it gets up to high numbers.  Raiders take a little bit more damage than the RAW, but cruisers, particularly with armoured prows, are nigh invulnerable to macrocannon fire.

The influence of Ballistic Skill on damage is reduced.  This hardly means that BS doesn't matter; you still do more damage as your BS goes up, but the rate at which it increases is slower.  This means that NPC ships can still do respectable damage and your Voidmaster won't blow up everything in a single volley.  Say your ship is equipped with dual Mezoas and is firing on a frigate.  If your BS is 50 the expected damage is virtually unchanged between these rules and the RAW (7.38 vs 7.52), but with a BS of 30 you deal twice as much damage as you deal with the RAW (2.48 vs 1.12).  However, at BS 70 you deal less damage than you would with the RAW (12.56 vs 15.79)

High plus weapons like Ryzas and Pyros effectively become armour piercing, i.e. their relative effectiveness increases as armour increases.

Lances deal more damage against cruisers.  This was the effect these house rules were intended to make and they achieve that without any other changes to how lances or macrocannons work.

Under this system a single cannon has a better chance to deal damage.

Mars Cannons aren't quite so bad.

Other things to consider:

If you change broadsides so that they inflict double the amount of hits (essentially giving them Storm), but reduce their strength to 3 (or 4 in the case of 1d10+1 Sunsears), they work better with this system.  They are also much more capable in the hands on NPC ships without becoming too overwhelming in PC hands.  They are downright frightening to lightly armoured ships though, but that seems acceptable.

Reducing the damage torpedoes deal by 12 makes them function identically under this system as they function in the RAW.

The effectiveness of bombers is subtly changed, and probably requires further examination.  Their damage per hit may need to be reduced.


Reducing Sunsears to 1d10+1 makes them an interesting choice, rather than straight up better than Mars or Heculators. They deal more damage against lightly armoured opponents, but less against heavily armoured ones.

Since armour is more effective, bonuses to armour probably shouldn't stack.  Adding Excess Void Armour, Armour Plating, and a Reinforced Prow together can make even lightly armoured craft extremely resistant to macro fire.  Excess Void Armour may be too powerful all by itself.

Some alien races use variant rules that change effectiveness under this system.  Rak'Gol macros probably need adjusting to deal enough damage.  Eldar are even more fragile than they were and may need a small armour increase or some other change to compensate.

Asymptomatic likes this

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Very interesting idea and a novel take on the problem. Might indeed be worth a try, I will see how it works out in some simulations.

                                                          Friedrich van Riebeeck, Navigator Primus, Heart of the Void

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I love your suggestions Moribund.

Concerning  the bombing runs, I do find them as written a bit lacking RAW, unless your target is 6VU away or less. I'd let their damage as written.

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Hmm, Bombers are fairly balanced in this system if you combine all your squadrons into one wing.  They deal significantly more damage if you only have a single squadron per wing.

I ran numbers for differently armed NPC ships of the same class fighting one another.  A Dauntless-class light cruiser (LC) equipped with Mars Broadsides and a Prow Mars Cannon vs. one equipped with Jovian Escort bays and a Prow Ryza Cannon (The space/power requirements are equivalent).  

The Lunar-class cruiser © is equipped with either Mars Broadsides or Jovian Landing bays.  I assume the Prow contains nothing relevant, like a Torpedo Launcher, to simplify my math.

The MC column is the average Damage Per Round for the Macrocannons.  ES is bombers against an equally skilled opponent , and CC is against a competent crew.  CS is combined squadrons and SS is single squadrons.

% indicates crew rating, all squadrons consist of only bombers, and I'm using my suggested broadside rules.

LC MC ES-SS CC-SS ES-CS CC-CS
30% 1.94 2.77 2.77 2.38 2.38
40% 3.09 4.09 4.65 3.42 3.75
50% 4.28 4.79 6.36 4.06 4.96
60% 5.49 4.87 7.90 4.31 5.99
C
30% 1.36 6.05 6.05 3.95 3.95
40% 2.30 8.40 10.08 4.66 4.79
50% 3.28 9.41 14.11 5.38 5.63
60% 4.30 9.07 18.14 6.05 6.47

18 damage per round with an elite crewed cruiser, ouch!  If you don't have a good crew, single squadrons tear you up.  It's not that terrible though, because there is a balancing factor.  Using single squadrons makes your bombers much more likely to get shot down, so you won't be making many runs at full strength.  You'd have a 40% chance that at least half your squadrons were shot down with that run.  As opposed to the 0% chance that more than two squadrons were shot down with a combined wing.

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As it costs a lot to get/repair/  bombers & fighters, even if single runs are more deadly, I'm not sure players will use that.  You can't easily resupply in pilots and small crafts when you are in the middle of nowhere, exploring  unknown systems.

Your % are based on your new armour system, I suppose ?

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A great modification to the Armour system. I like it.

So we're now left with the question of how Torpedoes are affected by this. The obvious choice is to simply drop their damage by 12 and continue using the rules as written- but the maths you've used might show some deep flaw in that idea so I'll wait to hear what results they get.

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All of my above numbers were using the armour house rules.  With the original rules, it's generally more effective to combine bombers into one big wing than to break out into single squadrons, so you don't really run into that dilemma of choice.

Getting hit with a bunch of individual bombers means certain death for a Raider (like 60 points of damage death), but my broadside rules are also extremely deadly to Raiders.

If the bomber damage still seems too high for you, reducing the damage per bomber hit drops the above 18.14 damage to 12.96 for 1d10+3 and 8.64 for 1d10+2.

The 1d10+2 seems like too much of a nerf, the light cruiser doesn't deal as much damage as the macros even with single squadrons.  I didn't run the full numbers on 1d10+3, but that seems like a happy medium for the numbers I looked at.

But you also have to keep in mind that the game changes a little when you introduce PCs into the equation, because bomber runs are based on Command tests, which are easier to raise than Ballistic Skill.

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This rule change does absolutely nothing to Torpedoes if you subtract 12 from their damage.  It does feel really weird to roll 2d10-7 for Vortex torpedoes, but the math is identical.  I'm not saying that torpedoes are balanced, but this doesn't make them any more or less so.

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 These rules sound like a really great solution to the macrocannon/lance/armor problem and the ease of conversion to the new rules has an elegance that appeals to me. I'll have to test these out in game.  

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 So let's look at torpedoes and see if they are scary.

I did damage calculations for each type of torpedo. Plasma (P), Boarding (B), Melta (M), Virus (V), and Vortex (X).  For Boarding and Virus I listed the chance the effect will go off per torpedo, and the others are damage per torpedo against different armour values.

15 17 20
P 12.10 10.10 7.12
B 99% 96% 80%
M 13.40 11.40 8.42
V 96% 87% 64%
X 3.90 2.40 0.79

Note that this is just damage per hit, not damage per round so it doesn't include Ballistics Skill, Guidance, Enemy Crew Rating, Enemy Turret Rating, or Salvo Size.  I also don't factor in critical hits which will improve damage, particularly in the case of Vortex torpedos with their 75% crit chance.

All this to say, I think torpedos are fine.  Though I'm not sure Meltas are really worth the cost damage wise, and Vortex torpedoes are just quirky.

(Meltas do have an increased chance of inflicting crits: 28% vs. the plasma's 13%)

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I like this concept.  Simple and ellegant solution.  The idea of halving the strength of broadsides but granting them storm is an interesting one.  I was becomming tempted to class batteries as semi-auto fire (+10 to hit, 1 bonus hit per 2 degrees of success) and broadsides as full auto fire (+20 to hit, 1 bonus hit per degree) to reflect the saturation of fire meaning that you should be able to hit with something.

I think your math on Vortex torps might be a bit out.  They ignore armour.  Shouldn't they be imune to your proposed -12 damage for torps due to this?

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 Oh, I missed the rule on Vortex Torpedos ignoring armour.  That makes their damage make WAY more sense.  Weirdly tacked on in a paragraph about Morale damage, though.

They would deal 2d10+5 damage then regardless of armour (or any house rules that alter armour) for an average damage of 18.5.

The text implies that all Vortex torpedos inflict a critical hit, but the way Terminal Penetration works doesn't guarantee that they do.  Do you think they changed Terminal Penetration to its current form after they wrote that?

I examined semi-auto before I settled on this rule.  Those changes severely limit the damage NPC crews can inflict, and put more emphasis on Ballistic Skill than the original rules.  A competent crew with dual sunsears inflicts an average damage per round of just 0.44 against armour 15.  When you get up to 70 BS, the DPR increases to 10.79.

My rules give you 2.48 and 12.56 respectively.  A five fold increase rather than a twenty-four fold increase.

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The vortex torp rules are a little more... obscure to find than most.  Glad to help.

And thankyou for the SA/FA math!  Consider that thought dropped well and truly!  I guess what I am after is a method of making "normal" BS broadsides better than a battery.  Your storm rule should do that, but I am still leaning towards a bonus to hit with broadsides instead.

If I could be so bold as to request a math-hammering, how does a sunsear battery at BS 40 compare to a Sunsear broadside (half str and storm) and a broadside (full Str, no storm, +20 to hit).

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Edit: Hmmm....  My tables aren't set up to give me accurate values for a single weapon.  Let me get back to you.

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 Okay tables are working for single weapons now.  (This increases the damage light cruiser carrier does over what I stated, because the Prow Ryza does more damage than originally calculated).

To answer Hygric, for a single Sunsear Broadside with the standard armour rules you get the following values against different armours (A) and voidshields (V) at BS 40:

A15V1 A17V1 A20V2
RAW 0.93 0.67 0.02
+20 4.68 4.02 1.38
Storm/HS 5.26 4.68 2.04

 

With my armour rules you get:

A3V1 A5V1 A8V2
RAW 2.70 1.68 0.30
+20 6.75 4.20 1.00
Storm/HS 6.30 3.92 1.00

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Thanks for that number crunching.  Interesting results.  I'm liking your mods more and more.  :-)

Looking over other races ships, I can't see too many problems implementing your changes, Orks are fine, Chaos is fine, Eldar go *splat* if you can catch them with a broadside (good luck with that!).  A bonus for Eldar, lances really are a poor weapon choice against them.  With only 2 or 3 points of armour, a lance is really not worth it against those tricksy elveses.

Rak'Gol, not so good.  Without the ability to combine shots, howler cannons are useless versus any imperial cruiser, and quite a few frigates even. 1d5+3 averages to 6 damage per hit, maybe changing them to a flat 1d10 damage? roughly the same average damage, but at least they have a chance to score damage against heavy Imperial armour.

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Ork and reinforced Imperial frontal armour might be a tad problematic though. If we substract 12 points from 23 and 24 bow armour, we have a hefty 11 and 12 points remaining, implying that macrobatteries will hardly stand a chance against it. While I do like the fact that frontal armour will again really mean something, near invulnerability might be too much of a good thing.

                                                                                               FvR

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van Riebeeck said:

Ork and reinforced Imperial frontal armour might be a tad problematic though. If we substract 12 points from 23 and 24 bow armour, we have a hefty 11 and 12 points remaining, implying that macrobatteries will hardly stand a chance against it. While I do like the fact that frontal armour will again really mean something, near invulnerability might be too much of a good thing.

                                                                                               FvR

Depends. How close to BFG do you want to be?

Prow armour halved all damage from the front (Unless its a lance). So near invulnerability is ok, maybe it gets reduced to 3? 2 is a minimum though.

 

How would you change Lance batteries around? I really like your idea for broadsides, works even without changing the armour rules! And how would you modify the Sun-flare lance and the Voidsunder lance(useless as it is right now)? Storm is too much (everything or nothing). How about reducing the DoS needed for hits to occur by one? This is gut feeling though.

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Maybe I don't get it, but...why lower the ships' armour ratings to give an 'adventage' to lance weapons?

 

Aren't, at base, lance supposed to ignore armour, making this whole exercise a little..redundant and more work for GMs?

'course there might be something I miss in all this...

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Braddoc, the base rules have the flaw that one can stack all battery hits together, in essence making the armour redundant against a stacked salvo once the armour value has been beaten. A simple example, if you manage to do 21 points of damage against an armour 20 ship with your first sunsear battery, the second sunsear battery stacked with it will not be hindered by armour at all, which makes lance weapons almost completely useless. That second stacked sunsear can do its full four hits without the armour coming into the equation at all, as if it were a STR 4 lance, but then one with a fraction of the power cost and far easier to mount on a ship. The idea here is to ensure that armour is dealing with each individual hit, so that lances are getting efficiency back, especially against well armoured ships.

                                                                                                            FvR

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I don't really see an issue with having some ridiculously tough prows, as long as the whole ship isn't too tough.  That just makes maneuvering to get the right shot more important, and if you are equipped with the right weapons, like lances, bombers, nova cannons, or torpedoes, you don't even need to do that.

Admittedly Orks have an advantage here since they still mount weapons with their armoured prows, but I think these rules accentuate flavor and tactical nuance that is already present.

I've been trying to think about what to do with Rak'Gol, but for the life of me I can't determine what the design intent for their weapons is.

Under the original rules they are effective against void shields and deal a fair amount of damage.  I don't know exactly how much, because the mechanic of 1 hit + 2 hit per DoS makes them a pain to calculate.

Is there something I should strive for in the mechanic?  Where should the Howler fall in comparison to other Macros?

 

Using lance batteries as they are works okay.  It's benefit is pretty dependent on BS, so NPC crew don't get much out of lance batteries vs. lances.  Here we have Dual Ryzas (DR), Titanforge Lance + Ryza (L+R), and Titanforge Battery + Mars Macro (LB+M) against a cruiser.  

DR L+R LB+M 2DoS 1DoS
30% 0.67 0.78 0.67 0.96 1.24
40% 1.76 1.77 1.72 2.10 2.48
50% 2.94 2.95 3.15 3.63 4.10
60% 4.20 4.32 4.96 5.53 6.10
70% 5.54 5.60 7.15 7.83 8.48

As you can see, you don't get much benefit out of the lance battery, but it's better once you get past a BS of 50.  Reducing the required degrees of success for additional lance hits to two (2DoS) lowers the barrier of entry to gain benefit from a battery without increase damage unduly.  Dropping it all the way to one DoS per additional hit (1DoS) doesn't make the damage too ridiculous, but does make them a better choice than dual Ryzas against moderate armour for NPC crews.

Reducing DoS needed to hit to two, makes the Voidsunder and Starflare lances (down to 1 DoS with pinpoint accuracy) pretty impressive.  The Voidsunder only really benefits from it once you reach PC level BS though.

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Cool stuff you have there. Thanks for the calculation.

 

Hrmm seems like dropping it to 2 DoS seems like a fun idea then. Helping NPCs aint too bad...

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 Mo' math mo' problems...

Okay, Howler cannons under the original rules are ridonculous.  The 7 strength cannons outdamage every Imperial macro.  The 5 Strength Howlers are somewhere between Mezoas and Ryzas, but still way up there.

Changing them Rak'Gol macros to 1d5+6 per hit make the 5 strength ones comparable to Mezoas, and quite a bit better on the NPC side of the spectrum.  But 1d5+6 doesn't make the Strength 7 howlers as good as they are in the RAW, where they fill you full of tiny little holes.  Still pretty good though.  Here's how the 1d5+6 strength 5 (+6H5) and strength 7 (+6H7) Howlers stack up at Armour 17 (5):

Mezoa +6H5 +6H7
30% 2.48 3.56 4.36
40% 4.90 5.44 7.04
50% 7.38 7.40 9.80
60% 9.936 9.44 12.64
70% 12.564 11.56 15.56

 

There are a few more problem children in the arsenal that don't function quite as they should under these rules.

Stygies cannons should probably deal 1d10 damage and reduce armour by 2 for the turn when they get at least one successful hit.  It makes them interesting to combine with other weapons in order to punch through armour, without being overpowered by themselves.

 

Jovians do too little damage with the armour for each hit (AfEH) rule.  Giving them a strength of 2 and Storm, makes them fun but not overpowered with their drawback.  It changes the function of them though.  Jovians used to be better than some other macros at really high BS especially against multi-void shielded targets, as the poor man's broadside.  This rule change makes them good for NPCs against light targets, great for transports that want to fire and escape from raiders.

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