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deeminllama

A fleet battle system for Board, Table-top or PC games

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Introduction I write this in conjunction with my Fleet Composition and Structure piece. It is however not important to have read it to understand this – it will only illuminate things more. What you basically need to know is that I divide ships into different Levels (or groups or types or classes or call them what you want) like most space games do or strategy games have done. In short... Level: 1. Fighter Class 2. Corvette Class 3. Frigate Class 4. Destroyers & Cruisers 5. Battleships & Carriers 6. Stations This battle system is intended for or originated from board games and table-top gaming. As such it is intended to be a “simple” yet strategically deep system that can be resolved with dice. It can however also be applied to PC games. In order to understand the system you need to grasp two basic concepts: priority, level-dependant hit, and level-dependant “damage”. Priority down My basic reasoning is as follow: in a space battle the largest ships will fire first – they generally tend to have the biggest and long range guns. Subsequently, within the battle order there is a priority list working from the highest number downwards. To illustrate: Game Round starts. Is there any Level 6 (Stations)? No. Are there any Level 5 ships? Yes. 3 Battleships: 2 VS 1. Dices roll, 2 Battleships go down (one on each side) and one remains. Are there any Level 4 ships? Yes. 1 Destroyer. It has no corresponding Level target so it searches for a Level 3 target. Are there any? Yes – 2 Frigates. They fire, the Frigates do no damage but the Destroyer kills one Frigate. Are there any Level 3 ships? Yes. 2 Frigates – 1VS1. The one has already fired (at the Destroyer) so it skips its turn, gets hit and killed. Etc. This is continued until Level 1 has been reached after which the system loops back to Level 5. Priority with regards to order of play is always down, i.e. higher level ships attack first. Level-dependent hit In short: damage dealt to a Level is dependent on the Level of the ship doing the damage. To conceptualize: the way I see it is if two equal level ships go head to head there is a 50/50 chance of survival. Fighters are the best example. You either destroy your opponent or he destroys you. Likewise, if two Battleships go at it only one is walking out alive and they only have one shot at. To illustrate: working with a Level 5 ship (Battleship) it will have a 50% chance of destroying another Battleship. In board-game-dice-terms, on a 20-sided die, this would be a throw of 10 or higher. If it attacks a Level 4 ship it has, let’s say, a 60% chance of destroying it – roughly 8 or higher in dice terms. If it attacks a Level 3 ship it has, lets say, a 70% chance of destroying it – roughly 6 or higher. If it attacks a Level 2 ship: 80% chance, 4 or higher. If it attacks a Level 1 ship: 90% chance, 2 or higher. Thus, to illustrate: a Battleship has a 70% chance of hitting a Frigate and 90% chance of hitting a fighter – which sounds about right to me. The same level-dependent damage formula applies for all level ships. If a Level 3 attacks a Level 3 ship it has a 50% chance of destroying it for it is equally matched – 10 or higher in dice terms. If it attacks a Level 2 ship: 60% chance, Level 1: 70%. The reverse of this formula is also true: if a Level 1 ship attacks a Level 2 ship: 40% chance (12 or higher). If it attacks a Level 3 ship: 30% chance (14 or higher), Level 4: 20% (16 or higher), and Level 5: 10% (18 or higher). Thus, to illustrate: a fighter has a 40% chance to take out a Corvette, and a 10% chance to take out a Battleship. I know my previous concept was Priority Down but that was only to illustrate the order of play. If you prefer to set the battle system up for choice then you could choose to let your Level 3 ships (Frigates), during their round, attack the Level 5 ship (Battleship) in play despite the other Level 3 or 4 ships that are around. You can do so due to numerous strategic reasons. Perhaps you have a lot of Frigates or you know the loss of a Battleship will hit your enemy harder in the long-run and you are willing to sacrifice your few Frigates for the chance. Your chance of hitting is thus depended on the relationship between the attacking ship’s level and its target. Level-dependent “damage” Level-dependent “damage”, in short, is the concept that the lower Level you go, the more chances you get to fire. To illustrate: A Level 5 ship attacking a Level 4 ship gets 2 shots – either 2 on one target or 2 different targets. What this means is that a Battleship has a very good chance to take on a Destroyer and a reasonable chance of taking on 2 of them – if the captain knows what he’s doing. Reversely: a Destroyer is brave to take on a Battleship alone due to its disadvantage – it has a 40% hit chance, and is attacked twice. Destroyers do however have a reasonable chance of taking out a Battleship if they are 2, and can be almost certain of it if they are 3 or more. Continuing, a Level 5 ship receives 3 shots against Level 3 ships, 4 against Level 2 and 5 against Level 1. What this translates into is: a Battleship can likely stand its ground against 3 Frigates (who have a 30% chance of hitting it). For a group of Frigates to take out a Battleship you would probably need at least 5. Battleships will however make mincemeat out of Bombers and Fighters, attacking them 4 and 5 times respectively. Therefore you don’t sent them against Battleships unprotected. Once again, the system applies throughout. A Level 3 ships attacks its own class once, a Level 2 ship twice and a Level 1 ship 3 times – i.e. a Frigate attacks Bombers twice and can handle about 3 fighters on their own.   Some remarks • Because of the priority down concept, and dependent on the game setup, what I like about this model is the fact that battles can span multiple turns. Battles do not have to be fully resolved the moment 2 fleets enter the same sector. The battle can be worked from Level 5 to 1 and then the next person can play. The, at start of the next game round or the start of the opponent’s (who is in the fight) turn you can run the loop through again. This spans battles across multiple turns and giving you a chance to bring in nearby reinforcements if you so desire. • The battle system as set forth here originated from board games and my own ideas for one (ideas which I do not have the time to explore now). Subsequently, it is very simplistic and aimed at resolving battles quickly through the use of die. The basics behind the system can however be implemented in a PC game and then somewhat drawn out. Adding hit points and attacks to ships and thus removing the “one-hit-kill-dice effect”. • With regards to the PC. If this idea is used in a PC game I would like to add another one to the system: priority lists. This adds an extra strategic dimension to battles for it is employed before battle. To explain: before the battle begins you are shown a number breakdown of the enemy fleet. You can then select your own ships, say a Battleship, and a list comes up containing all the other ships in the game. You can then move the ships up and down this list with regards to priority as to who should be attacked first if given the chance. You could therefore see beforehand that he opposing fleet has a lot of Frigates and Instead of attacking the one Destroyer there is you would rather have your Battleship attack the Frigates first – being open to the Destroyer but possibly taking out more Frigates along with it and thus doing more damage to the enemy fleet. This is a pre-battle strategic element that could be employed if you do not whish to give the player full control over the fleet during battle (where he/she can specify on a turn or attack basis who should be fired at) because the player has more important things to do like running an empire. At the same time however it helps prevent the battles from feeling completely numerical, mathematical and lifeless. • The Level system can of course be expanded. There does not have to be only 5 Levels. Sub-levels can also be introduced. These could include, as example, Drone Frigates (Homeworld anyone?) that would be Level 3 but are specifically built to take on Level 1 and 2 fighters and corvettes. As such they could possibly come with one extra hit (roll) (thus you don’t have to pay the price of a Dreadnought for it) but at the same time you can make them more vulnerable to other Frigates and Dreadnoughts. For example, giving them a 70% and 80% chance of being hit by Level 3 and 4 ships respectively (in contrast to their usual 50 and 60%). Concluding... I hope that my idea gets used somewhere or atleast inpsires others. It is not copyrighted in any way what so ever so you are free to use it as you see fit. Although I do not have the time to play games these days, be they on a table or on a pc, I do like to see what is happening in the gaming world. As such, please drop me a line or let me know if you use or implement my idea somewhere. Money contributions are however also always welcome – I do have a study loan that I need to repay ;). Thanks. p.s. I had some very nice tables to illustrate everything but it does not want to show it correctly :ob [Edited by - deeminllama on March 16, 2010 8:59:59 AM]

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One thing I see as a problem is that ships no longer serve roles: a battleship having a 90% chance of hitting a fighter? Battleships serve as front line damage dealers; hence large, slow tracking weapons suited for capital ship fighting. A destroyer would serve as anti-fighter duty (or more likely, anti-bomber duty; a fighter wouldn't have much of an impact against a captial size ship).

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I like designing and developing ships, so it seems to me that is a part the player should do. A Battleship, Carrier or Cargo vessel could all be about the same size/tonnage, with the player deciding what to call it. No specific damage/tohit is assigned to a 'class' of ship, only to the weapons onboard. Then a ship that has ten guns is designated a heavy fighter by player arbitration.

The AI could classify the player's ships according to algorithms based on relative strengths, instead of pre-determined comparison to template ships. Also, with a componant-centric system, the possibilities of what a ship "is" expand to the roles that player designate for them, rather than the few AI templates. An advanced system might also include some sort of verbage as to what the ship was seen "doing", and include that in the categorization.

Classification of player ships could become a form of AI mini-science. What dimensions are available? Speed, range, weapon types, cargo capacity, defenses. For each group of installable technologies, a level-meter that shows relative strengths of that ship, compared to other ships in that player's fleet. Then comes the Principal Componant Analysis, which grabs maybe the top three categories this ship is rated for against the rest of what the player designed.

Then the AI could rank a ship as {HighSpeed, HighCargo, <MediumRange> } without using a user/programmer supplied name. In so doing, the AI would basically obtain an impression of the strengths and even purposes of each ship encountered. Early on, ships could be compared to the AI's fleet, until a variety is witnessed.

Also of merit, the AI could use the same system to rank enemies on their weakest attributes, so as to design counters against player designs. It might even surprise the developers with the types of ships it invents.

[Edited by - AngleWyrm on March 16, 2010 1:25:34 AM]

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Esys: "One thing I see as a problem is that ships no longer serve roles: a battleship having a 90% chance of hitting a fighter? Battleships serve as front line damage dealers; hence large, slow tracking weapons suited for capital ship fighting. A destroyer would serve as anti-fighter duty (or more likely, anti-bomber duty; a fighter wouldn't have much of an impact against a captial size ship)."

The way I understand/see/argue it is as follow: Battleships are built to enter any battle and make their presence known. They are there to mop up anything that is too much smaller than they are. If you went through all that effort to build a battleships without A.having it carry atleast 2 fighter squadrons to protect it against enemy fighters and bombers OR B.equip it with atleast a few fast-tracking turrents to keep them at bay...then you built a crappy battleship. Think Battlestar Galactica here: it has long-range, tactical, nuclear missles; it has close-range machine-gun turrets to set up an anti-fighter screen and it has fighters onboard to take care of those coming through.

Granted, battleships in my system do not have that much "role variation" for that is not why they are designed and built for. They are designed with the singular role of blowing the crap out of everything - and that is what they do. My "roles" lie somewhere eles: Frigates. There is a saying that goes: "Frigates are fleets". Ie. they form the backbone and bulk of any fleet. Battleships are the exception. Frigates are centered in the middle of this system and as such they serve as the cheapest and best option to engage both fighters and battleships. You could have for example a Heavy Frigate that is specifically designed to engage Level 5 ships. As such, it gains a defense and attack bonus against them - lets say Level 5 ships can only roll once against them (versus the usual 2) and the have a 40% chance of hitting Level 5 ships instead of their usual 30. Perhaps I should post my fleet composition and structure idea here as well so that you can understand. I have there 8 different Frigate types - and that is just to start with. Frigates are fleets.

Furthermore, like I said at the beginning: its inteded to be a "simplistic" yet strategically deep model. Secondly, its also a "fleet" battle system. I was looking for something that can brake down a large, complex, 1000 ship battle into manageable bites. As such, the system is not so much built on different "roles" - building one of each ship to counter the type of ship the other player has.
It is built on numbers: On understanding that you will need about X amount of units to take down Y. Thus you need a fleet and not just one specialized ship.
It is built on lack of control: On not being able to control the entire battle 100% because as galactic ruler you cant. You can however easilly control fleet composition in response to the enemy fleet. The actuall fight is dependent on level of research, the captains and pilots, and that is to some extent random (dice) and out of your hands.

Lastly, in my understanding/system Destroyers & Cruisers (Level 4) were specifically designed to counter this frigate focus. To furter explain: fighters and corvettes are not independent ships/entities. They need to be carried into batle by either Cruisers (Level 4) or Carriers (Level 5). As such any fleet is, from the start, composed of Level 3 ships - Frigates are fleets. A fleet does not begin with a Fighter or Corvette. They only come in to play when you start building Level 4 and Level 5 ships. Therefore, in my mind, you won't have a destroyer on anti-fighter duty when 20 frigates are bearing down on it.

I hope this explains or opens the possibility for "roles" for you.

Thanks for the comment.

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