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FC: Lost Empires feedback/discussion thread

 
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:14 am    Post subject: FC: Lost Empires feedback/discussion thread Reply with quote



(There had been an earlier thread discussing the C6 empires, but I felt it as well to have a clean slate in light of CL48's publication.)

So, now that the two factions from Star Fleet Battles Module C6 (the Carnivons and Paravians, or at least how either force may have looked had they survivied in the Alpha Octant through to the Main Era) each have a sample CA and DW in Captain's Log #48, plus the rules needed to make use of these sample Ship Cards in Federation Commander, it'll be interesting to see how the two factions will match up with, or rather against, their traditional neighbours/enemies in FC rather than SFB.

For the Paravians, they have a very different type of PPD to try and deal with to rimward, but neither the Gorns nor ISC have the kind of enveloper, sabot, or other such plasma torpedo options to present here. So, one could argue that the Paravians are the least affected of the "eastern" Alpha Octant powers by the transition, since the Quantum Wave Torpedo isn't really losing much in the way of functionality from one game system to another. Plus they'd have even more flexibility in arming their QWTs, as they have that much more reserve power to throw about during the course of each turn of play.

Although I suppose the inverse is the case for the Carnivons. Faced with three neighbours (or four, if you count the WYNs) which can run and gun with their reserve power in FC, the need to plan out Disruptor Cannon arming cycles might make things interesting for them. Heel Nippers may prove to have different pros and cons here, given the way that FC impulses (and damage control ratings) are set up. And while the Death Bolt is a much more standardized weapon in FC, so are the drones (and rack types) they will be used against. The differences in DB-ESG interaction may be worth watching out for here, too.

Plus, there is the question of how either faction may fare against the Andromedans. The "burn-through" effect against PA Panels might allow the Carnivons to pile on the hurt against a target mothership in a single turn to a greater extent than their disruptor bolt-armed rivals, but they could choose to alternate DC fire on each turn and press the offensive instead. While I wonder how the Paravians might be best advised to go after any Andros infesting their own space (or trying to get to their intended victims first).
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On first glance, I see this:

The Paravians are going to always have problems. They have weapons that can be easily outrun, but they have no backup at all. No bolts; no carronade, no secondary weapon systems. They will have trouble effectively engaging opponents. Their saving grace is that the QWT is an omnipresent threat, as it can fire every turn. There are no "down time" turns like there can be with plasma ships. They are also hard to phaser down. Paravians would appear to effectively be phaser-boats that have a secondary weapon of opportunity. A hard task, but I have no idea if it is insurmountable.

The Carnivons have the wonderful disruptor cannon. It combines the main strength of the photon (crunch) with the main strength of the disruptor bolt (accuracy). Every other turn they get the effect of an overloaded disruptor without using overloads. (Remember that with directed targeting. Actually, I claim that tactical note right now! Smile) The one disadvantage of the disruptor cannon is that it must be charged in Energy Allocation at the beginning of the turn (like a photon), rather than at the moment of need (like a single-turn weapon). However, that is a disadvantage that can be managed, and the advantages are huge.

Here is another way to think of the disruptor cannon: a disruptor cannon is effectively an overloaded disruptor without being limited to range 8. So, anything a Klingon (or Kzinti or Lyran) can try to do at range 8, a Carnivon can try to do at range 15. It is a really, really cool dynamic (for the disruptor cannon armed ship). (OK, OK. I know that you are going to tell me that the Carnivon can only do this every other turn, while the Klingon can do it every turn. But, if you are fighting at range 15, the Klingon is spreading his damage on multiple shields, and if you are at range 8 or closer, the Carnivon can still overload.)

The death bolts are way better than drones on a one-for-one basis. In fact, I would expect that in a Klingon/Carnivon fight, nearly all Klingon drones would be purely used to kill death bolts. While they are a secondary weapon, they are so dangerous an opponent must deal with them at all costs. Think of them this way: a death bolt will do the same damage as a plasma-S torpedo, but will last for three turns with that same warhead. That is a very dangerous distraction weapon, and they can be launched every turn. At worst they are great damage sponges. At best they can rip off an entire shield and do some damage on their own.

(Remember that old tactic of just randomly launching a drone at a ship that enters cloak? Well, instead of a guaranteed 6 points of damage when it hits, the cloaked ship is looking at 15 points. Pretty nasty.)

The heel nipper is a tertiary weapon that is at worst a damage sponge and at best can get some firing opportunities. I figure their primary purpose is to protect those death bolts. Any chance to actually fire them for effect is just bonus.

In my view, the Carnivons are a real threat. They get three weapons systems, one of which is the bee's knees, one of which is quite useful, and one that still isn't horrible. I expect Carnivons to be very popular once people get used to them. The Paravians are a one-trick pony with a trick that isn't necessarily that good.
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the current Death Bolt setup proved too powerful (and I'm not saying it is or isn't at this point), there may be some degree of justification in C6 for, say, restricting launches here to once every second turn.

In SFB, loading a DB requires a "deck crew action" (which, under normal circumstances, takes a full 32 impulses' worth to do, unless one assigns additional deck crews to the task), and there must be an eight-impulse delay between the launching of the first DB out of a given rack and the arming of a second. (Technically, you can also prevent DB launches by killing the deck crews, but that is a degree of detail which would count as overkill for SFB.)

So, in principle, one could justify a two-turn launch limit for DB racks from an in-universe perspective, if such a limit was worth considering at some point.

Of course, it would be up to people actually playing the Carnivons as they are currently written and seeing if they work well or not, before opening the toolkit to see if anything needs fixing between now and formal publication.


As for the Paravians, one thing which is handy about the Ship Cards is how there are double the tracks per QWT launcher, to cover turn-break launches where both sets of torpedoes would be on the board at once.

(Which could get quite busy for some of their larger ships. The 8 QWTs of the Paravian Heavy Dreadnought would need no less than 16 damage tracks to cover all options, which might make things interesting when fitting everything else the DNH would need onto a standard-sized Squadron Scale Ship Card while still remaining legible.)
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Steve Cole
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"TEST IT IN COMBAT."--Jim Kirk
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the record, I was providing my initial observations. I was certainly not proposing or even hinting that any changes are needed. I think disruptors cannons are awesome and that QWTs are going to suffer like all plasma does in FC. But I don't think either needs any changing.
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rfeceo
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found that in Early Years at fleet scale, Carnivon ships fared very well, especially in packs. One-on-one it was difficult to deal with enemy ships like the Kzinti who were faster and could knockout Deathbolts with ease.

During the early years at fleet scale, however, the Heel Nipper was a potent weapon, fired en masse against a single target usually guaranteed that the target was doomed, and the Carnie fleet could alternate DC firings so that you always had half firing each turn (which tended to be more effective than firing every turn and hoping for the best - usually a torpedo hit would knock out the DC and you're done.)

I am looking forward to flying "modern" Carnivon ships in our next Fleet Game, and see how they stand up to others.

-Peter (rfeceo)
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2014 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I forgot to note this earlier, but one handy thing about C6 is that it includes the various refits on the "pre-war" hull types (such as the CAs, CLs, DDs, and suchlike) for both empires.

So if one were to work up a "Briefing #2A" expansion to the Middle Years setting in FC, each of these fleets would have enough unrefitted hulls available to allow them to be added to the mix, if the door was open for them.


Indeed, since the presence of a Middle Years Paravian fleet on Mapsheet P would drag the Inter-Stellar Concordium into the fray much sooner than was the case historically, one could even work some of their own pre-refit hulls into such a file.

If the base hulls still had too much power to play fair with their neighbours even without the side phaser and plasma refits, perhaps an ISC "reactor refit" could be reverse-engineered for these purposes? As in, one could say that the mapsheet P ISC would not have been able to install those reactors into their hulls until after the Middle Years period, while the historical Concordium was in a position to do so from the outset.

There hasn't really been a chance to explore the Middle Years for the ISC historically, since they fast-forward from the Early Years to the Main Era afer 2560. But perhaps the Middle Years Paravians might give them the opportunity to take part in the pre-refit era, if the right balance can be struck for them power-wise.


And in the Main Era itself, one other advantage of a lingering Paravian presence on Mapsheet P is that it could oblige the Concordium to start building their "war" classes much earlier than they did historically (during the Andromedan invasion). So a set of published Paravian Ship Cards might make it that much more reasonable to add the HCW, CW, and DW to FC, so they can mix it up with their Paravian and Romulan counterparts.
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was looking back over some of the rules in Module C6, and I noted that, according to (FD20.311), each Carnivon ship upgrading their speed-12 death bolts to speed-20 (from Y168 to Y179) has to pay a BPV premium of 0.5 points per death bolt in the initial loading - or 2 points per four-space rack (or 3 points for the six-space racks they get in the Y175 refit). Also, (FD20.312) ups the DB speeds to 32 from Y180 onwards, charging 1 point per death bolt in the initial loading (a cost which incorporates the previous upgrade, so you don't pay 1.5 per DB overall) - or 6 points per six-space rack.

(Which means that for the death bolt cruiser in SFB, you'd be paying a +12 BPV cost prior to Y175, or +18 BPV from Y175 to Y180, or +36 BPV thereafter - on top of the cost of the base hull's plus and Y175 refits.)


To go back to FC, the sample CA in CL48 has a Squadron Scale PV of 133 (72 in Fleet Scale), while the war destroyer costs 92 Squadron Scale (or 50 Fleet Scale) points. These equate to the CA+ and DW costs in SFB - but do not account for the upgraded (speed 24) death bolts assumed to be in use in the Main Era.

Therefore, should the Squadron Scale CA Ship Card cost 137 points instead (and the Fleet Scale ship 74), and the Squadron Scale DW cost 94 (52 in Fleet Scale), to account for this?


The upshot here could be that, if there was to ever be a Middle Years version of the CA Ship Card, it would not need to account for the DB premium, since it would presumably have slower (speed 16 in FC terms) death bolts to work with, akin to the slower drones in (4G3a).

And if one were to offer a DB equivalent of the Late Years (Speed 32) drones from (4G3b), it could be handled based on (FD20.312) - in this case by requiring an additional 0.5 points per death bolt, on top of the adjusted cost above.

So the Middle Years CA would cost 130/65; the Main Era CA would cost 137/74; while the Late Years upgrade would up those figures to 141/76.
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ctchapel
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reguarding death bolts: on some non ADB board it was pointed out that using deck crews aggressively a doggie CA could get 6 death bolts launched inside 4 turns. You may want to look hard a launch rates.
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2014 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since deck crew actions have been abstracted out of FC, I would prefer not to allow the Carnivons to go crazy with their death bolt launch rates. (Indeed, I would still rather they only be able to launch one per rack every second turn, as noted further up the thread.)

So, has anyone here had a chance to try out the CL48 rules and Ship Cards yet?
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Steve Cole
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Petrick says this about the SFB rule....
============
Yes, the Carnivons can launch their death bolts at this rate.
The tradeoff is that it means they cannot use their deck crews to work on their shuttles and all of the launched death bolts are revealed as standard unmodified deathbolts. Yes, they take 10 points to destroy and will do 30 points of damage, but they will not have any anti-tractor capability, or anti-drone capability (to shoot down counter drones), or armor (taking more damage to destroy). And they still have the problem that a hit on a death bolt rack kills any deck crews working there, so it is possible for a Carnivon heavy cruiser to have both of its death bolt launchers knocked out, and find itself in a situation where it can repair a death bolt rack, and has plenty of death bolts to load on such a rack, but it has no deck crews to operate the rack because they are all dead.
========
Since FC doesn't have deck crew actions it would mean that the Carnies could launch six death bolts AND do whatever else SFB uses deck crew actions for. That might mean we need to change that in a future update.
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another topic that came to mind from C6 is the issue of Orion (and WYN and other) option mount usage.

So far, the playtest FC rules restrict all four new weapons systems to their respective operating empire only. However, in SFB, quantum wave torpedoes and disruptor cannons are allowed to be used by the Orions and others (in timelines where the Carnivons and/or Paravians still exist in the Alpha Octant) - yet death bolts and heel nippers remain unique to the Carnivons.

At a point where the "lost empires" may move closer towards formal publication in FC, would it be worth re-addressing the question then as to whether or not the Orions should be granted access to QWTs and/or DCs here?
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