Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

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What kind of small craft combat rules do you use?

I use SOLAR rules as they are.
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I use SOLAR rules with my own modifications.
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I use an older set of rules instead of SOLAR rules.
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I use my own set of rules for small craft.
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I don't use armed small craft.
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I don't have experience with small craft under SOLAR.
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Total votes : 5

Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Whitecold on Wed 27 Jan 2016 18:41

That's what I suspected. A lot if people say "squadrons need balance!" when the truth is that they want squadrons to be inferior on their own. Not the same thing. That is NOT the goal of the SDS. That reduces options and makes a race like the Rigellians an impossibility.

First, currently GBs are not on equal footing with anything. They are just the plain best unit possible, with FQ maybe making a dent, but that can be countered with own FQs.
I don't want any 1 ship type only fleet be a competitive strategy, not only CTs, only BBs or only whatever. A competitive fleet should include multiple designs, as this is a game about designing fleets for a big part. Of course you should be able to go heavy on GBs.

There are two game reasons for this:

First, it simplifies play and makes it faster. We found that handling all large units together, small craft together, and then AP together makes combat go much, much faster.

Second, it does give large units an advantage since they fire first.

I am aware of your reasons, except that I don't like the consequence of encouraging pure smallcraft strikes, the RoF issue breaks my suspension of disbelief, and recalculating BASV for damaged units is a PITA, compared to firing normally for damaged units. And the advantage to large units is negligible, as they don't deal sufficient damage to the squadrons to seriously cut into their dmg output.

As you mentioned in another thread, you don't want squadrons to die instantly. However if you have a single round only to shoot at them, that is exactly necessary to bring them down...

But they are significantly (as in multiple decimal places) easier to balance.

Sorry, I utterly fail to see the balance at the moment. GB are by far the single most best unit, with only fighters maybe able to keep up.

I would also like to know who else has experience with using default solar squadrons. Procyon modified the rules for himself as well, I don't know exactly how, but his Age of Dreadnaughts game rules also include nerfs that go exactly in the direction I want, keeping large units viable past EL6.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Cralis on Wed 27 Jan 2016 19:00

Whitecold wrote:Procyon modified the rules for himself as well, I don't know exactly how, but his Age of Dreadnaughts game rules also include nerfs that go exactly in the direction I want, keeping large units viable past EL6.


The three biggest changes made were:

1. To move generations "back" by one. So GBa moved to the SL of GBb, GBb moves to the SL of GBe, etc. Not for FQ. Where current alpha generation is he put GB0 with less DP, no bonus to LRW damage, and only ast internal weapon.

2. L, E, Pt, K -- weapons with negative modifiers when mounted on small craft-- have the modifiers dropped to -0 when shooting at other small craft. This is because those modifiers are for interactions with skipping and point defense, of which small craft has neither. (this was actually my idea and reason)

3. ALL repairs to squadrons cost 4 MCr.

There are other things but this was his starting point and it worked for them.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Cralis on Thu 28 Jan 2016 01:42

NOTE to readers: the following may read a little disjointed because I went back and corrected for an erroneous method I've been using for a long time... see posts below.

So I'm taking a look at your ship designs and calculating the BASV. For the purposes of this analysis I'm not going to look at the relative MCr valuations, I'll take them at face value for the moment.

BASV per weapon is:
Fb = 5 short, 4 medium, 3 long
Ptb = 4 short, 5 medium, 4 long
Db = 4 short, 3 medium, and 3 long

So the total BASV for your designs, assuming NO (XO) are used for anti-squadron duties:

DD = 20 short, 16 medium, 12 long
CA-1 = 48 short, 44 medium, 40 long
CA-2 = 38 short, 37 medium, 31 long
BB = 61 short, 66 medium, 45 long

Looking at Table G7.02, this turns into damage modifiers of:

DD = -2 short, -3 medium, -4 long
CA-1 = +4 short, +3 medium, +2 long
CA-2 = +2 short, +2 medium, +0 long
BB = +6 short, +7 medium, +3 long

The average damage when rolling on Table G7.03 is 5.5 damage points. With modifiers and FRD, this means that the damage range (and average damage) is going to be:

DD = 0-8 (3) dmg short, 0-7 (2) dmg medium, 0-6 (1) dmg long
CA-1 = 4-14 (9) dmg short, 3-13 (8) dmg medium, 2-12 (7) dmg long
CA-2 = 2-12 (7) dmg short, 2-12 (7) dmg medium, 0-10 (5) dmg long
BB = 6-16 (11) dmg short, 7-17 (12) dmg medium, 3-13 (8) dmg long

So let's take your test #1. If you have 2 x CA-1 and 1 x BB and they are stacked in the same hex, and the GBa (30 DP) move to range 9 (maximum firing range), then you can target three of the GBa (1 per ship). Using the average values (in the parenthesis above), you will do 7 damage to two GBa, and 8 damage to one. This results in the following DP values for your 6 x GBa:

GBa #1 = 23 DP
GBa #2 = 23 DP
GBa #3 = 22 DP
GBa #4 = 30 DP
GBa #5 = 30 DP
GBa #6 = 30 DP

So what damage do they do in return? First LRW, in this case R. At long-range (9 tH) they have +0 for range, -0.5 per DP lost, and +5 for GB. Second, SRW, in this case F. At long-range (9 tH) they have -3 for range, -0.5 per DP lost under 50% of total DP.

So they have the following modifiers:

GBa #1 = R +1 F -3
GBa #2 = R +1 F -3
GBa #3 = R +1 F -3
GBa #4 = R +5 F -3
GBa #5 = R +5 F -3
GBa #6 = R +5 F -3

Now roll 1d10 for each attack and you get the following damage range (and average damage, based on 5 as the average roll value, remember that squadron SRW damage is divided by 2 FRU):

GBa #1 = R 1-11 (6), F -2 - 3 (2)
GBa #2 = R 1-11 (6), F -2 - 3 (2)
GBa #3 = R 1-11 (6), F -2 - 3 (2)
GBa #4 = R 6-15 (10), F -2 - 3 (2)
GBa #5 = R 6-15 (10), F -2 - 3 (2)
GBa #6 = R 6-15 (10), F -2 - 3 (2)

So let's say all six fire at one CA, that will average 48 R hits and 12 F hits. Now we have point defense. There is no modifier for dual-mode point defense to intercept squadron LRW after firing offensively.

Each of the CA-1 have 8 Db. Each Db has 3 shots at 4 to-hit. Let's not worry about doubling and tripling right now (especially with a salvo this high!), and there are 24 shots at 4 to-hit. On average 40% will intercept, FRD, so 9 are intercepted. The total damage inflicted on the first CA-1 is 37 points. This destroys the CA-1.

Now let's see what happens if they split fire, #1-3 on CA-1 #1 and #4-6 on CA-1 #2.

CA-1 #1 will take an average of 18 R hits and 6 F hits. Point defense can double-up on half of those hits for 6 @ 5 and the other 12 @ 4. That intercepts 3 and 5 on average, for a total of 8 R hits mitigated. So a total of 16 damage will take CA-1 #1 destroy down to the Qb right before the first engine room.

CA-1 #2 will take an average of 30 R hits and 6 F hits. Point defense cannot double-up so 24 @ 4 averages 9 interceptions. So a total of 27 damage will take CA-1 #2 down to the Db before engine room 3, destroying 6xDb and 1xPtb.

While my results are still different from yours, it now appears to be more of a losing battle for the large units. With one entire CA-1 out of the picture, or one CA-1 with more than half of it's BASV reduced, the quantity of

Whitecold wrote:The GBs would gut the cruisers with external salvo and beams on the first round in range.


So let's look at your test #2. There you had 1 x CA-1 vs 2 x GBa.

We already know that the CA-1 will have the following damage track:
CA-1 = 4-14 (9) dmg short, 3-13 (8) dmg medium, 2-12 (7) dmg long

Thus, on the very first round of combat the squadrons will look like this:

GBa #1 = 23 DP
GBa #2 = 30 DP

Based on the same values above, here are the final modifiers:

GBa #1 = R +1 F -3
GBa #2 = R +5 F -3

Gives the GBs a damage track of (remember SRW damage is divided by 2!):

GBa #1 = R 1-11 (6), F -2 - 3 (2)
GBa #2 = R 6-15 (10), F -2 - 3 (2)

So at the end of the first round of combat, the GB's will average 16 hits by R and 4 hits by F. Now the point defense is much different. There are 24 shots so we can double-up on 8 R. That means 8 @ 5 for 4 interceptions plus 8 @ 4 for 3 more interceptions.

The final damage by the GB squadrons is 9 R and 4 F. That damages the first Qa inside the armor.

So now your GB squadrons have a choice: they can go back to the carrier and rearm and try again. Or they can close and try to destroy the CA-1 with F. If they do this, the CA-1 will do another 7 DP to one of the squadrons (either crippling one so the CA-1 can run it down, or damaging the other to reduce how much damage it can do with R). If they go back and repair, and the carrier has (SQnM) then Procyon's complaint will take effect: given enough time the gunboats could reduce the CA-1 a little bit at a time and the CA-1 has to find a repair dock to get fixes. So they'll eventually win the battle of attrition unless the CA-1 can escape.

Either way, this battle is much closer than in test #1. I'm not sure the GB would actually win by closing to F range, and if the CA-1 crippled a GB and destroyed it trying to run away then it could win. But if the GB's had time to repair back to 23 DP, they could keep it up indefinitely until the CA-1 is destroyed.

I'd also like to point out that I did not use Escorting [E7.07], EM [C8], or Detuning [C9]. All of which would change the results better or worse for either side depending upon how they are used.


P.S. You're complaint that BASV takes some time to calculate is valid. It certainly does take more time than using standard to-hit and damage charts. This is one area where I think that balance is more important than ease of play, and you can write the BASV values on your ship data sheets to make it a quick look-up to determine BASV values. But I can't fault you for disliking the mechanic. In the end it matters only if you want the more balanced approach. You can (as you've suggested here) always home rule it out.

EDIT: Whitecold pointed out that I forgot the -0.5 per DP on beam weapons does not count until under 50% of DP. I fixed that and it added a couple extra points of damage in each scenario (4 points in test #1, and 1 point in test #2)
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Whitecold on Thu 28 Jan 2016 02:30

Several things that I did differently:
First, on the BASV value table is a note: Includes all shots Example: 3 Db at range 3 have a BASV of 9.
I read this that the BASV value is per D system, not D shot. If this is not the meaning, please reword this note.

Second on G7.05 is a note
–0.5 point per DP *attacker* has below 50% of total DP (FRU)
The damaged GBs thus still do almost full damage with their beams

Also from another discussion with you I assumed a -1 penalty on dme intercepts.


What galls me most about the firing twice besides not being able to wrap my head around why that should be possible is that it punishes using large units and squadrons together. Doing that simply means you take damage twice for no benefit, and combined operations are precisely what I want.
Mono-GB are not a strategy that should ever be competitive. It is plain boring, you don't have to give any consideration to fleet mix anymore, more is just always better.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Cralis on Thu 28 Jan 2016 09:32

Whitecold wrote:Several things that I did differently:
First, on the BASV value table is a note: Includes all shots Example: 3 Db at range 3 have a BASV of 9.
I read this that the BASV value is per D system, not D shot. If this is not the meaning, please reword this note.


Hmmm... I need to look into this. If I've been doing this wrong, I've been doing this wrong for a long, long time. It would explain a few discrepancies in my tests vs. what other people see. Nobody has pointed this out before in our tests in the SDS section, and BASV is copied from ULTRA. But I've been doing it this way since ULTRA...

Second on G7.05 is a note
–0.5 point per DP *attacker* has below 50% of total DP (FRU)
The damaged GBs thus still do almost full damage with their beams


This I *did* forget. I fixed it in the scenario above. It only increases damage by 4 points in test #1 and 1 point in test #2.

Also from another discussion with you I assumed a -1 penalty on dme intercepts.

What galls me most about the firing twice besides not being able to wrap my head around why that should be possible is that it punishes using large units and squadrons together. Doing that simply means you take damage twice for no benefit, and combined operations are precisely what I want.


Actually, there is an advantage of combined arms. E7.06.1, third paragraph, states that if the point defense is used defensively (to intercept warheads fired by large craft, since that's the only thing that can happen in the large craft subphase of the combat phase), then there is a -1 to offensive fire against squadrons.

There is a credible argument to say that it should ALSO apply to defending against squadron warhead attacks. Of course, that wouldn't have helped in your scenarios above.

Mono-GB are not a strategy that should ever be competitive. It is plain boring, you don't have to give any consideration to fleet mix anymore, more is just always better.


That's a decision for your campaign. Again, I point out that this would make a race like the Rigellians nigh impossible.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Morpheus on Thu 28 Jan 2016 11:38

Cralis wrote:Hmmm... I need to look into this. If I've been doing this wrong, I've been doing this wrong for a long, long time. It would explain a few discrepancies in my tests vs. what other people see. Nobody has pointed this out before in our tests in the SDS section, and BASV is copied from ULTRA. But I've been doing it this way since ULTRA...

When I look at G7.01, I interpret it the same as Whitecold: Db BASV (Short//Med/Long) = 4/3/3 (3/2/2 +1 for the a-b generation increment). Was the design intent for Ultra/Solar that Point Defense be stronger (than my and Whitecold's interpretation of the BASV) against small craft (possibly making up for the lack of the AFM/AFMc that is available in 3rd Edition)?

Cralis wrote:Now roll 1d10 for each attack and you get the following damage range (and average damage, based on 5 as the average roll value, remember that squadron SRW damage is divided by 2 FRU):

Just a nit... The dividing by 2 is VERY easy to miss (at least it was for me) with it hidden in small print at the very bottom of Table G7.05. I missed it and was doing small craft SRW wrong for the first year or so after Ultra came out.

Cralis wrote:My issue is that the range envelope doesn't change as technology advances. I've already said that I am changing it so the ranges increase as the tech advances.

Can you share the mechanism for doing this? Is there going to be a generational increase to the upper limit for each range band (short/med/long) in the BASV table or are you going to do something else? If definitely be interested in play testing what this method will be.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Cralis on Thu 28 Jan 2016 12:31

Morpheus wrote:When I look at G7.01, I interpret it the same as Whitecold: Db BASV (Short//Med/Long) = 4/3/3 (3/2/2 +1 for the a-b generation increment). Was the design intent for Ultra/Solar that Point Defense be stronger (than my and Whitecold's interpretation of the BASV) against small craft


No, as per the rules *I* am wrong. This is the reason I don't answer technical questions from work, I go home and make sure I'm remembering the rules from the correct version. In this case, I didn't look at the footnote because I've been doing it this way for as long as I can remember, as long as ULTRA has been out, so probably more than 10 years. It's really odd that I haven't called out on it.

(possibly making up for the lack of the AFM/AFMc that is available in 3rd Edition)?


Different philosophies. Actually, the BASV system presumes that LRW are firing soft-modified warheads that are like AFM instead of regular warheads.

The issue we had with AFM -- in fact with a good portion of all weapons in Classic Starfire -- is that the "next" tech would significantly outrange the last, allowing turns of unreturned fire. If you could set it up so you annihilated your opponent in that time span, you would finish the battle with minor or no damage and losses. The answer was always "rush to the next tech to get even footing." It made large, rich empires always a step ahead because they would often have enough MC to research more tech than the losers."

I'm not saying that it was the end of the game (at least, until the got a TL or two higher than you) but it was extremely annoying.

Don't take that as a criticism... if you like it that way, play it that way! Some players enjoy the game working that way. And it works well enough for singleplayer campaigns and stories. The SDS (and Marvin) just didn't like that style and found it much harder to balance.

Just a nit... The dividing by 2 is VERY easy to miss (at least it was for me) with it hidden in small print at the very bottom of Table G7.05. I missed it and was doing small craft SRW wrong for the first year or so after Ultra came out.


Complete and total agreement. The player has the chart in front of him, not the actual rule, so it needs to be clear. I've already marked an edit to push it into an actual note of it's own.

Cralis wrote:My issue is that the range envelope doesn't change as technology advances. I've already said that I am changing it so the ranges increase as the tech advances.

Can you share the mechanism for doing this? Is there going to be a generational increase to the upper limit for each range band (short/med/long) in the BASV table or are you going to do something else? If definitely be interested in play testing what this method will be.


We have been debating it on the SDS forum. There appears to be three lines of thought on this:

1. Simply have the range categories change with SL (which branch?) or with the generation of the smcft weapon. The. weapons can fire out to their maximum range as per the weapon tabled (Pg and GM are good examples of weapons that would have a shorter range than the smcft max range could be). The opposition to this method points out that this would require a lot more calculating.

2. A modified version of 1 would have the long-range category maximum increase with SL or generation. My opposition to this is that it leaves beams in a lurch as they'll get weaker and weaker as long range changes but short and medium do not.

3. The third suggestion was to have the range categories change based on weapon code. Allow capital and heavy versions of smcft weapons and give the different ranges, and perhaps even pick up the durability and EM qualities of those versions. Opposition says this would leave each category the same despite increases in SL, for example Ra and Rm would be the same despite more than 10 SL between them.

We have not decided yet. You have any thoughts or other ideas?
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Cralis on Fri 29 Jan 2016 04:08

Ok I've adjusted the values in the math in my previous post.

Without finishing the tests, it does appear that the GB are going to win in test #1, and may win in test #2 as long as the GB's don't make a mistake or the CA-1 gets a lucky full damage hit. Of course, a lucky full damage hit by the GB's will have exactly the opposite effect.

Thank you for working through this with me. Hmmm... now I have some thinking to do. While my goals aren't the same as yours WhiteCold, it seems obvious there is an issue. I need to run a bunch more sample tests.

P.S. I will say that I looked at how the point defense would work out with the erroneous method I used, and I think it's actually overpowered. Taking the test branches one more step shows that the large craft have a clear advantage, especially in test #2. And down the road, D and Dc with higher shot numbers spell a grim end for all squadrons.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Elminster on Fri 29 Jan 2016 04:21

Cralis wrote:P.S. I will say that I looked at how the point defense would work out with the erroneous method I used, and I think it's actually overpowered. Taking the test branches one more step shows that the large craft have a clear advantage, especially in test #2. And down the road, D and Dc with higher shot numbers spell a grim end for all squadrons.

Maybe we can use your "faulty" method but adjust the BASV value of the D/DC. This way you can fine tune the result and higher tier get better results against GB automatically.
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Re: Nerfing Squadrons to reasonable levels

Postby Cralis on Fri 29 Jan 2016 05:15

Elminster wrote:Maybe we can use your "faulty" method but adjust the BASV value of the D/DC. This way you can fine tune the result and higher tier get better results against GB automatically.


I've been thinking about that, but I think using one number will take an entire step out of calculating BASV (or more correctly, not add a step to the rules as they are now).

We are already in the process of rebalancing with the changes under discussion.
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