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polyheadronman

Question re: starship combat. Who likes it? who doesn't? Why?

142 posts in this topic

I'm starting this as an opinion poll.  Who likes starship combat?  Who doesn't?

 

More importantly, how are you using or house ruling the system at your table?

 

My group went through the beginner game krayt fang vs. TIE fighter encounter and everyone thought, "huh.  That wasn't as much fun as we thought it would be."

 

Since then we haven't had any more, but as I am going to take them through the published adventures (core, GM screen and BtRim) they will likely encounter it again.

 

Any advice to share, or stories would also be appreciated.

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we like to use the x-wing minis for range reference, and tend to time things with our phones so it moves along. we like it because of the frenetic pace, and the "make the call now or get blasted into oblivion" aspect of it. i think it's great. 

 

I like this idea, what sort of time limit do you use for a round? We're about to do a major chase scene in our next session (this Friday night), and I would love to ramp up the tension.

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I really like it. It's super narrative, which means that you have to bring the excitement to the table. If you just have a space combat in open empty space, then it's probably not going to be any more exciting than a gun battle in an open empty field. Exciting narration is a big key, as is giving the PC's all something fun to do, or at least the options for fun.

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I've found the system to be quite good once you figure out how it works and implement that into the encounter design.... But I do think the Krayt Fang vs TIEs is a rather bad intro, its just too simple. The system works far better when the encounter is more complex and cinematic in scope. When its just the players ship fighting the adversaries ship to the death in open space the system is a little flat.

I'm hoping there will be a smugglers pilots and drivers supp in the future that will havea GMs section with tips on how to better leverage the system.
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We've not done a proper space fight yet, so I cant say one way or the other. The few brief scraps we wound up in wound up costing us some pretty hefty coin to repair the ship, so if there's anything I have to say bad, it's that the repairs seem too expensive.

 

I'll have to see if I cant get a proper starfighter combat in a game soon just to try it out.

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I'm a bit mixed between loving and hating it. Here's why:

 

The good:

1) Narration Rules. As long as the players decribe it, it works, and with vague range bands, things can move along smoothly without constant number crunching.

 

2) Quick Resolution of Actions. My bigger gripe with older versions was trying to have "fun for the whole family" (i.e. everyone having something to do). Now I can do that pretty easily without bogging down the game too horribly much. Now the pilot can pilot, the gunners can shoot, the engineer can do some repairs/tweaks, the techie does some slicing and the last one supports wherever needed. . .all at the speed of description and a quick die roll!

 

3) Faster Combat Resolution. In older games, you basically had to get through the shields by dishing out enough damage to breach shields and hull (WEG, I'm looking at you) or basically dish out enough damage against the shields before hitting hull (yay double HP! WotC, I blame you for this). Now, you get a Triumph and the ship could be out of the fight, and the damage output is pretty deadly overall.

 

 

What I'm hating:

1) "I can travel at 1,000 km/h, and that ship can only move at 800 km/h, so why are we both at Speed 4!" This gets nasty with some number crunchers, and I'm not digging that so much.

 

2) Abstractions; Abstractions Everywhere. Just like above, EVERYTHING hits the abstraction point, which can make things far too vague at times, and makes giving bonuses for good maneuvers (i.e. narration) a problem.

 

 

 

But so far, I'm liking more than I'm disliking, so I'll stick with it until something better comes along.

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I'm not fond of the way it interacts with the initiative system. Try three or four ships each with multiple (3-4) significant crewmen and it can really become a headache.

As written, its also a bit too deadly to have PCs get into the cockpit of a fighter. Sure, some say this is modeling the movies, but then I look at hoe much more survivable personal combat is and I have a disconnect. Edited by HappyDaze

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From what I've experienced so far, I dislike it. It's probably just a case of me getting my head around it, but right now it feels more like everyone's gone through the motions.

 

Pilot: I move

Gunner 1: I aim, I shoot

Gunner 2: I aim, I shoot

Mechanic: I repair

 

Repeat.

 

Plus the fact that you have to calculate all these things into your combat: silhouette, speed, maneuverability, type of pilot, type of weaponry, ... I can't keep track. Narration just goes right out of the door because it feels more like doing math than playing a space battle. Besides, how much can you narrate when you sit in a chair, manning a turret. Sure, you may come up with something the first time, but you can't keep it going. It gets kinda boring fast.

 

But like I said, might just be that we need to discover a good way to play it.

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Keeping everyone involved in space combat gets tricky when you have a large (5+ players) group. There's only so much each position can do, and some - namely the co-pilot station - can get pretty boring. When a PC is basically taking up the role of Leia or C3PO on the Millennium Falcon's flight from Hoth, it takes real effort to get them involved.

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Have the hull strain be represented by small fires or electrical shorts and so on, perhaps something comes loose and needs to be put back into place, or a micro air leak needs to be patched. Let some people play off the Crit table and mitigate or reduce the effects of the various sufferings.

 

Maybe someone needs to jam communications so that the bad guys don't get reinforced or warn the other bad guys or provide some ECM modulations and variation to confuse missile lock on's.

 

When I ran the Krayt Fang I had the engineer needing 6 advantage to fix the hyperdrive motivator and the astrogator needed 6 advantages to figure out a cross system escape route. Each turn they would get one roll and the pilot and gunners were then engaged by the 4 Tie Fighters.

 

I actually enjoyed the system as it was possible to keep a whole range of activities for the players to deal with.

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I can't give a yay/nay on whether combat rules suit me personally, as I've yet to include them in my campaign. Inevitably they will make an appearance, though, especially since the crew is on the verge of being joined by a gutsy pirate who's a master pilot.

 

For a play-by-post game, I've never noticed any big issues with "role on the ship" - because RPing or providing interesting posts can happen regardless of what you're contributing to the battle through dice rolls. Could just be my take on things, but I've never been in a space combat where I'm sat yearning for it to be over.

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I really like the system on paper. In play it has been less exciting than I had hoped. Part of this may be that I have a large group who also don't fully take advantage of the rules. Our combats have been fast and kind of flat.

I think this is one area where as a GM I need to up the quality of my game. I am looking for aids to help the players get more involved and know their options each turn.

Our group is also much more focused on planet side adventuring so in future I may downplay space combat in general.

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Well, its no secret that I like the space combat system, even if I've had few large scale and long winded hectic battles, it seems to me to represent what we see in the films and the tv-show(s) pretty well, even a lot of the stuff we read in the novels and comics.

 

Now, I've made a simplifying decision when it comes to the initiative, not sure whether it breaks with or corresponds with RAW in any way, but I've decided that each ship, or minion squad/group, acts on one initiative count.

 

For the players this means that they act as they want, but have to act together, the initiative count is for the ship, based upon pilot, co-pilot or sensor operator checks (depending on how it starts), a gunner already in a turret could also decide the group's initiative I guess... any way, so whether the gunner shoots before or after the pilot executes Gain the Advantage is up to the group to decide upon. This can probably mess with some other things (like the Field Commander talent series), but so far it has worked perfectly well for my planned encounters, even though they always escape.

 

It gives the crew some freedom, but it is also easier to apply pressure to the group as a whole, as they all become more engaged, in my experience, than when "waiting their turn" in the initiative order. They also have to cooperate differently, and make decisions in a different manner, but also that much clearer as to in which order they go. It has been messy a few times, but I find it less messy than to let the crew's initiative be spread all over the round, perhaps less "realistic", but makes for better, or easier, story telling for high-octane chases and short battles.

 

This simplification does give the GM a responsibility of not ganging up and piling damage upon the players' ship like a MMO-playing moron, but rather think narrative, story and fun - not giving in to rational choice, game theory and utilitarian despotism. Remember that social contract Jay Little mentions in interviews? He didn't invent it, Grotius sort of did (and was helped along by Hobbes, Pufendorf, Locke, Rousseau and Kant up throughout the centuries), any way, this isn't Risk or Monopoly those are crap games, we all know it... - that social contract, more Little's version than Grotius' perhaps :ph34r:, is imperative for this game I think (any game really, but that's another matter), and moves perhaps even more to centre stage during space combat, particularly using a simplified initiative count that can easily be exploited by the GM when s/he controls many minion groups and other opponents.

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I guess the thing I dislike about ss combat is that the tech matters more than the people using it, at least for defence.

An excellent pilot in a fighter seems to have next to no chance against a mediocre gunner in a bulky transport.  They really should have made the nippy, agile, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants fighter more of a pain to deal with (but then you couldn't have the heroes blow through squadrons of TIEs, I guess).

[shrug]

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Most All of our space have revolved around how quickly we can get out of the fight.

 

And that generally makes sense, becuase unless your group has really suped-up their ship like the Falcon, most civilian ships (frieghters, scouts, etc.) are not designed primarily for space superiority.  their armaments are more to deter and hold-off aggressors than to go on the offensive.

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I suppose this merely plays to the fact that even the greatest pilot can only do so much with mediocre equipment. An engine will only work so well, or the ship turn so quickly; shields will only sustain so much impact before going off-line, etc.

 

You could, I think, also say the same about land combat with regards to weaponry. The best fighter with a hold out blaster or vibroknife will only do so well against an opponent with a disruptor rifle.

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I like what's available so far but I haven't run much in space, to be honest. A lot of my AoR sessions will hopefully be space heavy, and I'm hoping for a few more bells and whistles to be released between now and then, primarily in the fleet-based department.

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Most All of our space have revolved around how quickly we can get out of the fight.

 

And that generally makes sense, becuase unless your group has really suped-up their ship like the Falcon, most civilian ships (frieghters, scouts, etc.) are not designed primarily for space superiority.  their armaments are more to deter and hold-off aggressors than to go on the offensive.

 

We stole our ship from some horrible port on a horrible world.  Five minutes after the theft, our pilot - an alcoholic with memory "issues" - claimed that we hadn't stolen it, but that we'd recovered it from a Tradoshan Bounty Hunter who'd stolen it from him.  Five minutes after that, he claimed it had never been called the Krayt Fang, and that its name had always been The Ancipital.

 

The Ancipital now has an enhanced Ion drive, an additional weapon (a salvaged, forward facing quad laser) and enhanced shields (tweaked).  Next improvements will be replacing the Medium Lasers with Heavy versions (to discourage people from pursuing us while we flee).

 

EDIT: Oh, and a Transponder Mask (we appear to be called The Wandering Grace while its active), just in case we have to go somewhere we're not welcome anymore*.

 

*A list that grows with every session...

Edited by Col. Orange
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I suppose this merely plays to the fact that even the greatest pilot can only do so much with mediocre equipment. An engine will only work so well, or the ship turn so quickly; shields will only sustain so much impact before going off-line, etc.

 

You could, I think, also say the same about land combat with regards to weaponry. The best fighter with a hold out blaster or vibroknife will only do so well against an opponent with a disruptor rifle.

 

Dammit Shakespearian_Soldier, that's reality talking!

 

Nah, on paper you're 100% right.  But Star Wars is wrapped firmly in the land of romantic ideal.  Plucky Rebels with cobbled together gear use their skill, pluck and ingenuity to overcome a better organised and technologically superior Empire.

 

Fighter vs. Transport should (dipping into HERO / Champions parlance) be like a Martial Artist vs. Brick fight.  The Brick survives by being able to take a lot of punishment (they lose by getting chipped away);  The Martial Artist survives by being hard to hit (and gets knocked out - usually on the front cover - by one lucky blow).

Edited by Col. Orange

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Nah, on paper you're 100% right.  But Star Wars is wrapped firmly in the land of romantic ideal.  Plucky Rebels with cobbled together gear use their skill, pluck and ingenuity to overcome a better organised and technologically superior Empire.

 

Tread lightly, this is a conversational topic that could bring in certain members of the board.

 

 

We've only done spaceship combat once in all our games so far. Everyone seemed to enjoy it despite the fact that I messed up the rules pretty bad.

 

There are still a lot of the rules for space combat I am not clear on, so I hesitate to do more until I make sure I know what I am doing.

Edited by kaosoe
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