Terrain Discussions

Star Fleet Universe Discussion Board: A Call to Arms Star Fleet: ACTASF Book 1.2 (The ADB Revision): Terrain Discussions
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Archive through February 22, 2014  25   02/23 10:33am

By Charles Lister (Daboss) on Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 04:23 am: Edit

hmm not sure about that - as Lee is saying if the game is assumed to be played with terrain then it should be included.

If the game is assumed to be normally open terrain then the opposite is true.

By Lee Storey (Storeylf) on Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 04:55 am: Edit

Same here. If the game is primarily expected to be an open map game then yes you primarily play test for balance on open maps.

If it is primarily expected to be played with terrain (like 5 out 6 scenarios include a good chunk of it) then you primarily play test for balance with terrain.

Would you play test something like ASL or 40k on a blank map, and claim balance, when large amounts of the board are expected to have terrain. Being a space game doesn't alter things - if the game is expected to play with terrain then so be it. As a play tester you owe some responsibility to future players who pick up the game and play it as they find it, and expect a balanced game. Gamers who are going to shift away from the game as designed are also likely to be experienced enough to work out their own balance adjustments.

At the moment I'll be discussing play test balance on the basis of terrain as that seems the way the game is assuming for the most part. If the game is to be changed to be an open map game then, whilst I don't like that type of game, I'll play test on open boards (assuming I can find anyone else who wants to play like that anyway, not a given).

By Bob Stusse (Lincolnlog) on Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 10:01 am: Edit

Look guys balance needs to be obtained prior to throwing in factors that change in every single game. Terrain changes in every game, players change in every game. Individual tactics change in every game.

You can't determine balance from tactics, to many variables. You can't determine balance from terrain, too many variables, you can't determine balance from players, too many variables.

When I see a GOOD (emphasis not shouting) wargame the balance is evident in the math alone. Examples: Bolt Action (mathimaically simple yet balances and eloquent), SFB and FC (you can see at least the mathimatical attempt). Balance is not always acheived weapon to weapon or unit to unit, the point system is a balancing mechanism.

While I agree, and as does everyone else on the board so far, Terrain makes for more interesting games. But it is not a balancing mechanism unlessed used as such within a scenario. But the new edition rules needs to assume that balance exists prior to selecting a scenario, regardless of players, and with or without the use of terrain. Tactics and unfortunately within ACTA luck determines the tip between success and failure.

Lee, you alsmost reel me in when you put statistics down, that at least is justifiable math. However, where you lose me is when you talk about Kill Probability over Damage Probability. This is why I think devastating needs to go, or disruptors need to have it. First of all, there is a huge probability curve that your math leaves out. If I fire x number of Photons at Y ship, I have P probability of so many hits then there is L probility that some will leak, then there is C probability that some criticals will be produced, the there is D probability that I will inflict enough criticals to just the right location to cause a kill. The probability for complete kill gets lower and lower as you go from layer to layer. That's why it is better to discuss probability from a raw damage stand point. These probabilities don't change. Now, having said that I agree that the Devastating trait does add factor to weapons with the trait.

By Charles Lister (Daboss) on Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 10:17 am: Edit

Yes but if the base assumption is that there is terrain then to ingore it is to balance against a false premise and then have imbalance when you play with terrain?

So assuming that you will always have a clear board changes massively how weapons work - espeically long range ones - no terrain means they can always fire to their fulest extent, some terrain means maybe not.

If Say, you reduce L/R weapons so that they are fine in opon space and the majority of games have terrain - then the L/R weapons suddenly look weak and unbalanced?

By Bob Stusse (Lincolnlog) on Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 10:33 am: Edit

If I have 24 Photons at Range 8 or less, statistically 12 should hit, statistically 3 should be 6's.

So 32 points to shields, might be some leakage if the shields don't have 32. For argument sake lets assume the target had shields 30, so 2 additional eeked through.

So 14 points internal, 2.33 will be bulkheads and 2.33 will be Criticals. I would have to roll 3 x 3 to make the ship explode. 16.6 x .166 x .166 = .457# chance of scoring a kill.

This sceario is as foolish as my 24 Disruptor example. Because what is the chance you would be able to fire 24 photons at range of under 8 at the same target? Your kill probability model doesn't account for the fact that each roll changes the percentage on the next roll. And the probability gets lower and lower. This is the great falacy of photons. First you have to get the hits, second you have to get 6's and then 6's again before the devastating even matters. Then depending on the damage spread, it still may not matter, with devastating I will get for sure 3 more damage (because each is a level 2 critical), the only way this attack will be severely critical is if the ship is already beaten up, in which case why did I waste a full photon baragge on it, or it's a smaller ship, or I get really lucky and will the ACTA lottery.

The critical table as I have said is already too deadly. Weapons are close to being halved. But I'm reduced to 1 shield, my ship damage is 1/3 instead of 1/2, then crippled comes into play, and criticals. Is it really that hard to kill ships with so few damage points and with thin shields. Then there is the whole reload issue. The Feds aren't going to be able to reload unit they have fired. A good opponent (lets say Klingons) should be able to delay this until turn 3 at least. By this time both fleets are starting to get shot up. Survival for most Feddies becomes more important than a low probability heavy weapon. So we're running or re-enforcing shields, all hands on deck is a good one if you've taken lots of criticals.

We could always place a rule on the first page that says "For those that like an short exciting game, roll D6 (Klingons +1 modifier), the high die wins, have a good day. You now have time to play a game like Bolt Action?

By Charles Lister (Daboss) on Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 10:48 am: Edit

I quite enjoyed Bolt Action when I played it - of course the first game I played seemed to have huge balance issues ion that if you had a large numbers of units versus a few units it was very one sided - similar to the In Sink issue of ACTA.......

Criticals - so what do you want instead - at present the strength of the shields means that you plink away for some time hoping for a hit to go through and actually do something.

How do you see the critical chart being changed to but still be something to get exicited about when you get it - as its a cincematic game...........

By Bob Stusse (Lincolnlog) on Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 12:29 pm: Edit

Yeah the balancing issues in Bolt Action revolve around number of activation dice, and the morale level of the units combined with unit strength. If the scenario is well thought out and the ref uses the correct balance mechanisms that game balances quite well (except for LMG's which are over pointed in most players opinions).

As far as the assumption terrain is a balance factor, have you heard that directly from Matthew? Even in Bolt Action terrain is very important to success (he uses terrain poorly will almost certainly lose), but terrain was not a game balance factor in the RAW (rules as written). They are a tactical and scenario play factor.

I would almost like to see Crippled be a standard damage level on all ships. Like the last 5 points of damage. This represents the crew saying, hey forget about everything except repairs and getting the heck out of dodge.

The Critical chart needs less power hits statistically. In FC/SFB, power equals about 1/3 of your ships overall damage. A Fed CA is 102 total damage, 30 Warp, 4 Impulse, 2 Reactor, and I won't count batteries since there is no mechanic in ACTA for batteries and even in FC/SFB they require power to provide power. 36 total power, so power is 35% of the ship. Two Die facings is 33.2%. So I like the suggestion to change to one line for Impulse, 1 Line for Dilithium, 1 line for systems, 1 line for crew, 1 line for weapons, 1 line for shields.

Then each critical level reduces your tactical options. Which is very cinematic. Crippled+Criticals+Lower Damage+Smaller Shields=ships that go boom fast which is ok, but become worthless too quickly.

I have always thought that on the Cripple rolls and the criticals that say lose 1 system were extremely non-cinematic. Gee I just lost all my Tribbles all over the ship from 1 lucky hit (Dang and I was just about to transport them on to the Klingon ship). Systems should be lost incrementally. The critical table and a simple rule change to crippled could fix that. Matt Sprage loves to roll hands full of dice, this he has told me. So when a ship becomes crippled, when making system rolls, why not roll a dice for each system equal to the trait number, to determine how many labs, tractors, or transporter were lost. And I think the roll should be expanded to remaining marines, shuttles, and weapons. That would be cinematic.

By Lee Storey (Storeylf) on Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 12:49 pm: Edit

"Lee, you alsmost reel me in when you put statistics down, that at least is justifiable math. However, where you lose me is when you talk about Kill Probability over Damage Probability. This is why I think devastating needs to go, or disruptors need to have it. First of all, there is a huge probability curve that your math leaves out. If I fire x number of Photons at Y ship, I have P probability of so many hits then there is L probility that some will leak, then there is C probability that some criticals will be produced, the there is D probability that I will inflict enough criticals to just the right location to cause a kill. The probability for complete kill gets lower and lower as you go from layer to layer. That's why it is better to discuss probability from a raw damage stand point. These probabilities don't change. Now, having said that I agree that the Devastating trait does add factor to weapons with the trait."


Working out probability is pretty easy, it is doesn't matter whether it is one number or 6 that combine to give you a probability, there is a probability of the final result. It may not be easy to work out in your head mid game, but is that relevant? e.g. 50% kill chance down to pure average hit points inflicted or 50% kill chance due to a combo of damage and devastating crits etc doesn't matter, it is still 50% kill probability. But you can't realistically just discuss kill probability from a raw damage view point, because the game doesn't work like that.

e.g. 6 NCAs fire their photons at a D5W at long range - ~24% of a kill by my stats. Now switch off the entire crit system, so it is pure weapon damage points that count = ~0.4% of a kill.

So why is it better to discuss raw damage probabilities in a game in which crits and devastating have a huge effect?


"This scenario is as foolish as my 24 Disruptor example. Because what is the chance you would be able to fire 24 photons at range of under 8 at the same target?"

Certainly, I think we both know that any discussion of averages has to make assumptions, or simplifications. I'm happy to try and account for anything you want, if I can. I think you and Dan were saying your entire fleets are all at X range, then Y range and then Z range when talking Feds vs Klingons in open space, and others like me were pointing out how unlikely that is. But if that is what you want to base averages on then fair enough, I merely went with that assumption.

On the basis that all ships are magically at the same range, which can only happen if each sides ships occupy the same spot, I updated my program to cover explosions. That is amusing when klingons start exploding and every other klingon ship is caught. Of course it is not realistic, but a fun experiment never the less, and it does show the Feds are the ones gaining from the explosion rule on the whole, even if only the odd ship is really going to be caught in practice. It is still the Feds doing extra damage due to the larger crunchiness of volleys. This is one of those things like devastating, a benefit form the weapon that may not be readily apparent when looking at just hit number and multi hit number. Unlike devastating you can counter it of course, but that has affects in game - do you really go spreading all your ships 5" from each other, and finding that only half your fleet is in effective range etc.


"Your kill probability model doesn't account for the fact that each roll changes the percentage on the next roll. And the probability gets lower and lower. This is the great falacy of photons. First you have to get the hits, second you have to get 6's and then 6's again before the devastating even matters. Then depending on the damage spread, it still may not matter, with devastating I will get for sure 3 more damage (because each is a level 2 critical), the only way this attack will be severely critical is if the ship is already beaten up,"

Again I'm not sure what you mean by my stats don't account for this (barring a bug you spotted, or the labels being confusing). Within the simplifications I state, my stats are based on running ACTA:SF exactly as the rules work, or at least to my understanding. Each weapon rolls to hit, leaks, rolls for bulk head etc, roll on crit table etc, does end of turn repairs etc. It accounts for ship number 1 doing damage, then ship number 2 shooting through down shields if that is what you saying. It even accounts for order of each weapon system on a ship, e.g. do I phaser first or photon first as it accounts for crits done in one weapon system affecting the next weapon system etc. It runs it tens of thousands of times and averages the results.

Again you are misunderstanding probabilities, it is irrelevant how many rolls are involved, there is still a probability of the final result. It is you yourself who keeps saying we should look at the averages. Averages are blind to how they occurred. It doesn't matter whether you need a 6 followed by a 6, that just resolves to 1/36 if it is just 1 roll followed by another. Of course photons are not 1 roll then another, they are 1 roll followed by 4 or 8 attempts at another 6. If we are talking leaks then there is a clear probability of criticals - ~8.2% per photon of 1+ crits via a leak, you can readily work out the chance of 2,3 etc if you really want.


"the only way this attack will be severely critical is if the ship is already beaten up, in which case why did I waste a full photon baragge on it,"

I didn't think you wanted to discuss tactics, that seems a pretty tactical decision to me. Is it a waste? - do you risk the misses, or try to make sure you get the kill, do you want to max your chance of an explosion and catch other ships or min your chance of an explosion because you are close (both happen when we play).

By Lee Storey (Storeylf) on Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 01:29 pm: Edit

"Systems should be lost incrementally. The critical table and a simple rule change to crippled could fix that. Matt Sprage loves to roll hands full of dice, this he has told me. So when a ship becomes crippled, when making system rolls, why not roll a dice for each system equal to the trait number, to determine how many labs, tractors, or transporter were lost. And I think the roll should be expanded to remaining marines, shuttles, and weapons. That would be cinematic."

No thanks, why do I want to record all that. I have FC for such record keeping style games. The system as it is works well.


Your assertion there should be less power hits 'statistically' seems dubious. So just out of interest I picked up a D5W SSD and went around the FC DAC with 60 damage (row 1 then 2 , 3 etc for an 'average'), about 20 damage in ACTA based on the current conversion logic.

The end result was 40% of the damage was power systems, that left it with just 19 power. What exactly do you think a ship hit like that is going to do in FC? Max base speed is 16 (-4 move in ACTA) but that leaves naff all for anything else, so really if you are assuming you can still fire weapons, EM, boost shields etc then -6 move is probably more accurate.

On the way to 20 hull damage in ACTA you probably took 3 or 4 crits, for those to provide a -4 move you would need 2 power hits out of those, to get a -6 move you would need 3 of them to be power hits/dilithium. The existing power crit chance is quite arguably too lenient on that basis.

ACTA isn't FC/SFB. The system is very different, and looking at what % of a ship is what system type and trying to base crit systems on it is not going to work. ACTA works well, it is fast and fun IMO. Why change it so much when what you are wanting to change it to is as many miles from some uber conversion as what you complaining about in the first place.


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