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Hellbore request
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Dan Ibekwe
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:33 pm    Post subject: Hellbore request Reply with quote

As it stands, the hellbore is unable to combine it's main damage element with other weapons fired from the same ship in the same impulse, making them much less effective in duel situations than they are in SFB. In addition, if used against Andromedan bases, they divide their damage equally across all six PA facings, rendering them effectively useless.

I'd like the direct-fire hellbore mode to be introduced into FC as a firing option. However, I do appreciate that scoring the main damage element against the target's facing shield and losing the 'splash' elements introduces an enormous degree of complexity to the game - the same as the hellgun in the Early Years material in CL 39, which is more or less the same thing - and that it may only increase the hated methane-breathers' current vice-like grip on the top tournament placings.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't see a problem with an empire (your andros) having a particular strength against another weapon, thats just part of the variety of the game. They also have a serious problem as well against hellbores - in that they cannot safely power dump as long as hellbores are around.

I don't have access to my rule book, but I believe your basic statement is incorrect. As I remember you do combine the damage from the other weapons with the hellbore damage that hit the same shield, unless you were aiming. That may or may not be the main damage element, situation depending.

You might need to expand on why hellbore ships (hydrans basically) are at a disadvantage in a duel. I don't really see that the hellbore makes them weak, as always there are probably bad match ups and good matchups, and the hellbore is an odd weapon that requires a bit more thought as to its use compared to other direct fire weapons. It appears to me that the fact that the hellbore will always hit the weak/down shield makes them pretty useful if played right. It also has the highest raw damage output of any direct fire weapon (30 at point blank). Add in the fact that they are found on ships that pack gatlings (usually multiple) and I am not seeing a weak ship at all. Maybe not the stongest, but certainly not weak either.


I'm not sure what it is you asking for (not being familiar enough with SFB), but as to the current tourney format, it is fusion hydrans (and a stinger or 8 ) that are the killers there, partly because fusion ships are so cheap, partly because they are power on demand and partly because the map is too small for the way FedCom plays. They are gauranteed to get a quick point blank exchange where they excel.


Last edited by storeylf on Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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DaveP.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hellbores in direct-fire mode = Hydrans win.
DF Hellbores are a major power boost for the Hydrans. I play Hydrans a lot and frankly I don't see the need.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is actually being asked for specifcially, Hellbores are already a direct fire weapon?
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Dan Ibekwe
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps I did not explain that well.

These are my Hydrans, Lee, not my Andromedans, and the situation mostly affects games against galactic opponents.

Situation - a Dragoon is engaging a Klingon D5W (for the sake of argument) in a duel. The Dragoon has no fighters so both sides have 148 BPV. Both ships fire overloads and phaser 1s and 2s at range eight, at each other's #2 shields.

The Klingon downs the Dragoon's facing shield and inflicts a scatter of internals. The Dragoon scores eight phaser damage points - about average for two P1s and four P2s - and both HBs hit. However, the 20 points damage from the HB's is not combined with the phaser damage as it would be in SFB, but is allocated to the weakest shield at the point of firing. The Klingon's sheilds #2 to 6 are all 26 boxes, so he sensibly takes the main HB element on shield #5. There is no shield penetration, and only one leak point, repaired over the turn break by damage control. That is sixteen points after battery re-inforcement, reduced to eleven by shield box shifting from an adjacent shield over the turn break, less any shield repairs the Klingon chooses to apply.

Given the ability to repair shields much more rapidly in FC than SFB, the Klingon can avoid any shield failing until the Hydran ship has run out of forward shields and is forced to either break off, or make a suicidal unshielded firing pass.

Note that this situation only occurs in duels - in a multiship engagement, subsequent HB attacks will concentrate on the damaged shield before it can be repaired, and collapse it.

Against Andromedan bases (a situation that will hopefully happen in a forthcoming campaign), take our Dragoon against a Satellite base - a significant points advantage (let's say she disposed of the Cobra guardship without undue difficulty).

I fire overloads at range eight - all four tubes, since the base can't avoid being centrelined - and score three hits (average). my 57 points of damage is spread over all six PA panels, for 9-10 points each. The base can radiate and absorb a total of 12 points per panel per turn, so it will have cleared all of that while I reload. If I close to range one and hit with everything, I inflict 20 points per panel, and get some internals from phaser fire. In return the base eviscerates, and quite probably destroys, my ship. In reality, the base probably fires at range 4 to 6 and disables me before I reach optimum range.

OK, so my request is this. In SFB, hellbores can be fired in what is refered to as 'Direct Fire' mode. This is available to all HBs at any period. It (SFB rule E10.7) reads "Hellbores can be fired without their implosion detonators. This is known as the "direct-fire mode", even thought all hellbores (direct-fire or enveloping) are direct-fire weapons....When fired in this mode, the hit probabilities are the same, but the warhead strength is reduced by 50%...round fractions down...Score all resulting damage on the facing shield, internal damage is combined with that of other direct-fire weapons, not with enveloping hellbores. The arming procedure is the same, the player designated which mode he is using at the instant of firing the weapon..."

My apologies for quoting chunks of the SFB rule book, but some readerrs may not be familiar with that game.

This is already in FC; it is the Early Years Hydran hellgun in Captain's Log 37. Basically, you take the second of the hellbore damage elements and apply it to the target's facing shield; the remaining damage is lost.

Note this is purely optional; in multiple ship engagements it is more or less irrelevant, but it does address a major weakness in duels that hellbore ships did not suffer from in SFB.

And it's also useable by those much sexier HB using empires, the Orions and the WYN.


DaveP - splendid response! Patronising, condescending and with a sweeping, unsupported assertion replacing any form of argument. Keep it up, that man! I have been playing Hydrans as my main empire in SFB since the 1980s. Have you?
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Kang
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dan, I know you're a Hydran expert but isn't one of the things with the Hellbore that it gradually wears down the opponent's shields? Similar to enveloping plasma 'sandpapering' in SFB.... except that with Hellbores, one shield cops for the most damage and then that shield continues to absorb Hellbore damage in later exchanges. Once one shield becomes weaker than the others, it's just a matter of time.

So, to continue your example of the Klingon/Hydran scrap above, next time you fire your Hellbores, won't that #5 shield catch most of the damage, and likely fail?

The other thing, as I'm sure you already know, is that scratching a facing shield with phasers the impulse before using the Hellbores will usually help to get the damage onto that shield, won't it? And now we are on to tactics rather than your original request, for which I realise that the above example was for illustration, so I will stop typing now....
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Dan Ibekwe
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kang, those points are valid. Except for the bit about me being an expert (about Hydrans, or anything else for that matter).

Firing phasers on a prior impulse is feasible, but usually means firing before range 8. Given that Hydran destroyers and cruisers generally only carry one or two P1s, this damage can often be bounced by battery re-inforcement.

If you fire phasers at range 8, you are giving the enemy an unanswered alpha strike at that range, and he may well be able to open the range before the HBs shoot. I'm particularly thinking of wide D5 style firing arcs here.

In the example above, if I the Klingon does not repair the shield, it would be fifteen boxes strong on the following turn (26 - 20 =6, +4 battery re-inforcement, + 5 transferred shield boxes). Say my Dragoon hits with her two previously-unfired HBs, overloaded. Twenty points damage, less four battery re-inforcement...one internal. I've just lost another shield and taken more internals from the Klingon's four o/l disruptors and six p1s. I now only have shield #1 left in my forward arc, and if I open the range to reload all four HBs I allow the Klingon time to repair his down shield. I'm not saying this is hopeless, but it does seem unbalanced.

This *is* a fairly narrow set of circumstances - it only affects duels, and only fighterless Hydran hellbore ships, Cuirassiers, Knights, Rhino Hunters, Tartars and Dragoons (which are often forced to fight without their Stingers due to their bizarrely high BPV, but that's a separate argument).

There again, my requested remedy is a minor change, porting over a long-established SFB rule and allowing the HB the option to fire as an EY weapon which is already in FC. It only requires a note in the next rule update, no changes to ship cards, points costs et.c.

Terry O'Carrol attempted to achieve a similar effect a while ago by firing the HB ship's phasers in directed-damage mode so that they were resolved as a separate volley from the HB damage, but that was ruled illegal.
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Against Andromedan bases (a situation that will hopefully happen in a forthcoming campaign), take our Dragoon against a Satellite base

Satellite bases have twelve panels in two panel banks. BATS have six panel banks, but they are 500 points.

IMO Andromedans HATE Hellbores, almost as much as they hate PPDs. The thing is, Andros have less "shields" than Galactic ships do. Hellbores are very power efficient (as high as 3.3 damage per unit of power) and therefore very good at filling panels. The Andros don't really have enough punch to deter overruns.

Quote:
Terry O'Carroll attempted to achieve a similar effect a while ago by firing the HB ship's phasers in directed-damage mode so that they were resolved as a separate volley from the HB damage, but that was ruled illegal.


You sure? I'm pretty sure I got that published, and it would not have been published if illegal.
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Dan Ibekwe
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry, if your directed-damage phaser thing is still legal, strike all the foregoing, I'm using *that*.

But I'm fairly sure that Mike West ruled against it at some point, unfortunately.

HBs are very effective against Anromedan ships, I agree. You are correct about the SatB's PA panels. I don't think a four-HB ship can kill one one by range 8 o/l bombardment - average three hits, 28/9 points damage in each panel. The base clears 24 of those over two turn breaks. It takes about twelve turns to fill a panel, by which time the (Andromedan) cavalry will have arrived. An overrun attack with anything short of a DN is likely to lead to mutual assured destruction, but there may be other more subtle approaches.

As for their larger bases, well, there's always fusion ships and Stingers. At least they can't run away.

(Edited twice for incompetent typing).
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
These are my Hydrans, Lee, not my Andromedans, and the situation mostly affects games against galactic opponents.


I was referring to your reference to the andro base. I don't see that as being overly relevant - andros are just very different, the base happens to be good at absorbing hellbores, but the fact that is so is just one of the things that make the game interesting - not all weapons are equally useful against every opponent.

Your main example was saying what I was thinking you were going to say, but I wanted to be sure.

In your example, assuming this is the first shots of the game, then no your main hellbore element doesn't hit the same shield. That, however, is somewhat different to saying it will never do so. Had the number 2 already been weakened that wouldn't be the case.

As Kang notes, this is more a tactical issue.

Was there any reason to fire at 8 when his expected damage is only in the mid 20s. Could you wait until you are closer where your firepower is far more effective, especially with 2 gatlings.

Then there is the fact that the hellbores will keep hitting the same shield where as the klingon firepower won't. The same argument about the klingon being able to shift shield damage applies to the hydran. The hydran can take at least 3 range 8 volleys on front shields before worrying overly about getting really hammered internally. Over 3 impulses, and assuming similar range 8 volleys, the klingon averages mid 70s in those volleys, that is takeable on the 3 front shields if played right. That's the same damage as 6 hellbores (2 per turn) will also average, but 40 of the hellbore damage will all be on one shield.

Also as noted, why not just fire phasers at range 8 and then fire the hellbores the impulse after. They should be hitting the same shield by then. Combined with the above the klingon is looking at a probably down (or very close) shield on turn 1 that he can't hide afterwards (and you still had 2 hellbores left). Whilst you will also be looking at a similar shield state you can keep that shield safe the following turn.

I'm not sure how the klingon keeps up with the shield repair rate to avoid shield failure until after the hydran has a down front shield. If the klingon repairs that much shield then he has either stopped effective fire and/or given up manouvering, neither seem indicative of taking out the hydran front shields. Slowing down just makes it so much easier for the hydran to go for the gatling overrun.

Quote:
Firing phasers on a prior impulse is feasible, but usually means firing before range 8. Given that Hydran destroyers and cruisers generally only carry one or two P1s, this damage can often be bounced by battery re-inforcement.


You have ph2s as well. In your example you only need to do 5 damage to be sure of having the shield the weakest, and it may not even be that much. If you are expecting full overloads and phasers then the other guy may not have that much left, depending on how much he has used in the turn on other things.

Quote:
If you fire phasers at range 8, you are giving the enemy an unanswered alpha strike at that range, and he may well be able to open the range before the HBs shoot. I'm particularly thinking of wide D5 style firing arcs here.


Certainly in your example the unanswered alpha is not exactly massive. With your batteries you should be able to survive it with only burnthrough. There is a minorish chance you will lose hellbore. The payoff is that you then get to drop the shield hopefully, which sets you up for a better turn 2 and 3 than he will get. Risky, but sometimes that is the way it goes.

Quote:
I now only have shield #1 left in my forward arc, and if I open the range to reload all four HBs I allow the Klingon time to repair his down shield. I'm not saying this is hopeless, but it does seem unbalanced.


In that example you wouldn't be retiring to reload 4 hellbores would you? You have fired 2 then 2 and will have 2 more next turn. So whilst you have a front shield left that you may be able to present, the klingon has to take another hellbore volley against his down shield.

Obviously one of those has probably missed before hand. 4 out of 4 hits at range 8 is not to be assumed. It is not an easy fight by no means, but I don't see that it warrants an option that gives you the best of both worlds - choose to hit the facing shield or the weakest shield. I think I agree with the earlier poster, that just seems overpowered.

Quote:
Quote:

Terry O'Carroll attempted to achieve a similar effect a while ago by firing the HB ship's phasers in directed-damage mode so that they were resolved as a separate volley from the HB damage, but that was ruled illegal.


You sure? I'm pretty sure I got that published, and it would not have been published if illegal.


What is said is legal - if you aim the phasers they hit as a seperate volley. What it doesn't do is alterr which shield is hit. The shield determination is made before any of that ships fire is actually resolved. OH and of course to do that you have to not overload the HB, else you cannot aim the phasers anyway.


PS Dan, if you are on FCOL then I'd be happy to play the hydran against the klingon, and see how it goes.


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Dan Ibekwe
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do agree that it is a tactical issue. The Klingon can counter preliminary phaser fire by presenting shield#1 during his approach - admittedly a bit counter-intuitive, but it won't be possible to reduce that to 'weakest shield' with less than five points damage (after battery re-inforcement).

I'm assuming my gatlings are largely busy shooting down his drones - I should have stated that.

Whether I get to range 8 at all lies in the klingon's gift - his ship is at least a fast and agile as mine, and has much wider combined firing arcs for her main armament.

In the example above, if I fire on the following turn with two hellbores, his weakest shield will have five shield boxes transferred from an adjacent shield, plus four batteries; it is very likely that he will at some point get a full close-range p1 plus overloaded disruptor volley through my (presumably similarly five-box) shield #2 or #5. Not a good exchange.

Trying to fly both sides in this battle is making my ears bleed!

I have not tried FCOL. I'll happily give you a game sometime, but please be prepared for long turn delays due to me having no idea what I'm doing.

Edited for innumeracy.
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple points ...

I don't see anything that prevents Terry's tactic of using directed fire with hellbores from working, as long as the other rules conditions are met. Namely, the range of fire must be 10 hexes or less, and the hellbores cannot be overloaded.

Instead of looking at the weaknesses of hellbores, remember that hellbores in FC gain one huge advantage (and it is huge) over hellbores in SFB: half of the damage is always applied to a single shield. That means that when firing at a ship with multiple equally weak shields (like any undamaged Klingon ship), the hellbore's damage is not diffused around all of the shields like it is in SFB, but you are guaranteed that half will strike a single shield.
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Dan Ibekwe
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I don't see anything that prevents Terry's tactic of using directed fire with hellbores from working, as long as the other rules conditions are met. Namely, the range of fire must be 10 hexes or less, and the hellbores cannot be overloaded.


Oh, good. I was sure I'd seen that disqualified, I remember being rather disappointed about it. I must have been having a bad dream.

Right, as you were, request withdrawn. Onward to sunlit Lyran-free uplands et.c. et.c.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MWest may wish to clarify the confusion.

What Terry is said is correct, you can aim phasers as long as you don't overload hellbores. These are then seperate volleys.

However, that does not change the fact that the hellbore shield determination is made prior to the volleys being resolved, so they will hit the same shields as they would have normally.

can't remember off hand the rule book wording, but:-

mjwest wrote:
The weakest shield determination is made before applying any damage from the volleys from a single ship.


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Dan Ibekwe
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now I am confused. Since the object of the exercise was to use the directed-damage phasers to combine their effects with the main HB damage element, that would seem to render it pointless.

Also, Mike, in SFB the hellbores could be fired in a later volley than the ship's phasers in the same firing step. This meant that they would *always* combine their damage, unless the target had done something extremely clever with massive specific-shield re-inforcement. I can't recall ever seeing anyone actually manage to pull that off, although I'm sure it must have happened somewhere.

In any event, DF'ing the hellbores would have countered that countermeasure.

Request provisionally re-instated...
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