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Designer's Notes: Defenses & Damage

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Lieutenant JG

Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 60
Location: Milwaukee, WI

PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:50 pm    Post subject: Designer's Notes: Defenses & Damage Reply with quote

In previous editions of Starmada, the requirement has been that all ship defenses conform to the same "shield saves" mechanic. In other words, whether a ship's "in universe" explanation for its defensive capabilities was "shields", "armor", "interceptors", or what-have-you, they all operated in the same way. (This discounts special equipment like "armor plating", "point defense systems" and the like; although many ships used such traits, their primary defensive system was still "Shields".)

With this new edition -- not least because of the shift to an attack-dice centered combat system -- it is now possible for ship designers to select from three different forms of defense, each of which operates in a different way:

1) Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) make it more difficult for the enemy to hit the ship -- defending the ship by avoiding damage in the first place.

2) Shields make it more difficult for enemy weapons fire to impact the ship's hull -- defending the ship by deflecting damage as it occurs.

3) Armor makes it more difficult for enemy attacks to kill the ship -- defending the ship by absorbing more damage than its hull could otherwise survive.

Players are, as always, encouraged to focus more on the effect than the description -- for example, in a setting where ships deflect incoming weapons fire through use of "interceptors" rather than "energy shields", the shield mechanic can be renamed as appropriate.

These different systems can be used to give individual fleets a different "feel" from one another. Alternatively, they can be combined on a single ship: thus, it is possible to have a cruiser of 12 hull points with ECM 1, Shields 5+, and Armor 5. In starship construction, the different defenses are balanced with each other depending upon their contribution to the relative survivability of the ship. For example, ECM 2 is the same as Shields 4+ is the same as Armor = Hull, and all three options would affect construction in the same way. The same goes for combined/overlapping defenses: our sample cruiser with ECM 1, Shields 5+, Armor 5 would have (roughly) the same point cost as if it had ECM 3, Shields 3+, or Armor 22.

Of course, once defenses have been overcome, our attention shifts to the effects of weapons fire. In previous editions, there has always been a damage roll required. In early editions, it was as simple as "1-3 = Hull, 4-5 = Weapon, 6 = Shields". In SAE, it was significantly more complicated. With this new edition, we're taking a step back towards simplicity...

For each point of damage inflicted, one hull box is checked off the target's ship display. That's it. No die roll is required. However, once a ship has been reduced to 2/3 of its starting hull boxes (and again at 1/3), a "damage check" is conducted to determine the effects of that accumulated damage.

To accomplish this, each ship's Thrust, ECM, and Shield values are expressed as a sequence of five numbers. For example, "THRUST 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - 1". The first number is the ship's starting value: the subsequent numbers are 70%, 50%, 35%, and 25% of the starting value, rounded off.

When conducting a damage check, one die is rolled for each system:

1-2 = Check off two values
3-5 = Check off one value
6 = No effect

For example, a ship might have the following on its ship display:

THRUST  4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - 1
ECM     2 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1
SHIELDS 4 - 5 - 5 - 6 - 6

When conducting a damage check, the player rolls a 5 for thrust, a 2 for ECM, and a 6 for Shields. As a result, its ship display now looks like this:

THRUST  X - 3 - 2 - 1 - 1
ECM     X - X - 1 - 1 - 1
SHIELDS 4 - 5 - 5 - 6 - 6

For weapons damage, two options are provided. The first is more abstract, and works in the same way as Thrust/ECM/Shields damage:

1-2 = -2 weapons fire penalty
3-5 = -1 weapons fire penalty
6 = No effect

The second is more consistent with previous editions of the game. Roll one die for each weapon bank:

1 = Destroyed
2-3 = Damaged (-2 penalty)
4-6 = No effect

A second "damaged" result means the bank is destroyed. The nifty thing is that, because each option has the same average results (a loss of 33% effectiveness), you and your opponent could use different methods and the game would still be balanced...
Daniel Kast
Majestic Twelve Games

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Lieutenant Commander

Joined: 08 Oct 2006
Posts: 395
Location: Plano, TX

PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks buggly unches for posting these insights into Starmada/Klingon Armada.

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