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Direct Fire Drone Rules
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:20 am    Post subject: Direct Fire Drone Rules Reply with quote

(5QM3c) Special Drone Rules: To avoid "map clutter", players may elect to use these special rules. When a fighter launches a drone, do not track the drone's movement on the map. Instead, record the hex from which the drone was launched and the identification of the target. If the drone was launched from four or fewer hexes, then during the final sub-pulse of the next impulse, the drone "impacts" the target on the shield facing the original launch hex. If the original range was five-to-eight hexes (or the ship is 5+ hexes from the launch hex at this point), this is done on the final movement sub-pulse of the second subsequent impulse. After impact, the drones are treated as normal drones except other units (allied to the target) may fire normal offensive weapons fire at fighter-launched drones (to reflect those units firing at the drones before they impacted).
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The above is the direct fire drone rule from CL#37. It describes how to abstract out fighter-launched drones. (Presumably, fighter-launched Pl-D would work pretty much the same.)

Steve asked for this to be posted in its own thread so we can have a discussion on what works with this, what doesn't work, and what can be done to fix it.

[EDIT: Should have stated this earlier: This is only for Borders of Madness. ADB will be releasing a Borders of Madness Briefing product this year, which will include drone-armed fighters. This rule is in support of that.

This is ONLY for Borders of Madness. It is not for Federation Commander proper.]
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Mike
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some observations:

I think it is important to emphasize that the DF drone rules are ONLY FOR FIGHTERS and that the fighters can ONLY LAUNCH AT TARGETS 8 HEXES OR FEWER AWAY.

I assume from this that fighters in scenarios using DF drones cannot launch drones at ships farther away.

I also assume that fighters will have no capability to launch normal drones.

The target ship has no capability to outrun DF drones. They WILL impact.

DF drones cannot be shot at by any ship (including the target ship) during their flight path before they impact. This may be offset by the exception that allows them to be fired at AFTER impact by ANY ship. Obviously, the ships that fire at them will need to be pretty close to the target ship to be of effective help.
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Requete
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first question that comes to mind is: why are these rules only for fighters? It stands to reason that if you can put this weapon system on a fighter, you can put it on a ship.

It's not that I'm advocating this (though it would be an interesting choice for drone races like Klingons and Kzintis)... it's just the first thing that jumps to my mind. As if you said "You can't put a Ph-3 on a Base Station"... I would immediately wonder why.

Just a thought.
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem for ships is that trying to extend these mechanics outside 8 hex range becomes totally unmanagable.

So, restricting fighter drones to 8 hexes isn't a problem. Restricting ship drones to 8 hexes isn't going to work.
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Kang
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Without getting in to the fighters arguments, I would say that this rule - while it definitely will de-clutter the map - removes one of the [already reduced] defences that a ship has against drones, namely speed.

I say 'already reduced' because T-bombs are not in this game.

As you say, you can't outrun them. If, then, towards the end of the turn, a target has used up all its power, then there will be no defence at all against the drones unless the target has anti-drones, whereas in 'real' terms the ship could perhaps have outrun the drones. Particularly if one of the reasons why he was low on power was because he was going speed 24+1 for much of the turn.

My personal opinion is that this rule will lead to unrealistic tactics and situations where the drones will be able to hit a target that they otherwise coulnd't have hit.

For example, what about a fast, receding target 8 hexes away? Should the rules not allow for that target to escape? This could lead to all sorts of complex relative velocity tables and such.

In short, while I appreciate the motivation here, I don't like the idea at all.
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Kang
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kang wrote:
while it definitely will de-clutter the map

Of course, the map would be far less cluttered - and this rule would not arise - with no drone-armed fighters on it Wink
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the idea in principle of direct fire drones, as I like to keep things uncluttered.

The bit I primarily dislike is the delayed hit, as it adds another thing to keep track of. I like to be able to see what is going on by glancing at the map, not having to look at side tracks. Even plasma and drones become a pain once there are more than a small handful of them (check which drone is following whom and for how much longer, or which plasma is following whom and when was it launched). Now we will need to check what drones are en-route and which shield they will hit.

The issue about whether a ship may have been able to out run is also an issue, not to mention some concern about what can or cannot shoot the drone 'en route'

I have the following suggestion that attempts to resolve them, probably no better than what is currently proposed, but maybe a different slant on doing direct fire drones.


1) The basic point is to make them even more like direct fire weapons:

Fighters may fire from range 8(?), The drone will impact on the target that impulse. Put the drone counter on the target as though it had hit through the hex side that a directfire weapon would have. It will be resolved as a drone impact during defensive fire as 'normal'.

The idea is obviously just to get rid of the tracking stuff that results from the delay.

2) The second point is to add somewhat more anti drone defense:

At the point of firing the drone any ship in range of the fighter may 'me to' fire at the drone with any weapon that can affect a drone, the range is the range to the fighter, the drone is affected accordingly (damaged or destoyed). After this is resolved the drone proceeds as above (hits the target). During defensive fire, as per the initial proposal, any ship in range of the target can fire any weapon that can target a drone at the drone in addition to the ship. This fire takes place before the usual ADD part if defensive fire, so the target ship gets to add/phaser/tractor etc after all fire has been done (this represents that they really shot it before it reached the target.

The idea is here is to allow ships that are more likely to have been in range of the intial drone launch to shoot down the drone as opposed to only those near the target, or who would have been better at the launch position rather than the target.

3) Again making them more like direct fire weapons and also somewhat addressing the evasion/outrun issue.

The drone must hit the target with a to hit roll before being placed on the target. The hit roll is variable depending on the situation, but simple enough that most should be able remember it without checking up after a couple of goes. The roll is on 2 dice, with the number or less being needed

a. Basic hit chance = 12
b. subtract half range (round down)
c. speed difference, if speed this impulse lower than drone = +1, if greater than drone = -1
d. Heading, hard to show in text, but.
Attack on shield 1 (front, so heading directly at drone)= +2
Attack on shield 2 or 6 (oblique but towards drone)= +1
Attack on shield 3 or 5 (oblique but away from drone)= -1
Attack on shield 4 (rear, so heading directly away from drone) = -2

So if you are heading directly away from the drone at 24+ being fired at from range 8 then the hit roll would be 12 -4 -1 -2 = 5. Whereas heading directly at the drone from range 6 at speed 16 would be 12 -3 +1 +2 = 12.



Combining all elements together;

A fighter declares fires at a ship 7 hexes through targets shield 3, ship moving speed 24, Another enemy ship is 2 hexes away. First the enemy ships have a chance to fire at the drone based on the range to the fighter, the nearby ship may well do, but the target probably does not. They have to decide before the hit roll (assumes the drone will 'hit' unless it is evaded, which you do not know yet). If the drone is not destroyed the hit roll is made, It hits a on 12 -3 +0 -1 = 8 or less. if the drone hits it is placed straight on the target as a drone that has just impacted. During defensive fire the 2nd ship or the target can shoot at the drone with any weapons based on the range to the target. The target gets to do this as well as he also may have shot the drone before arrival. This fire has to occur before any 'standard' defensive fire from the ship itself (ie before ADD/phaser/tractor). After this point there is no further difference to a standard drone.
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Steve Cole
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the speed thing has to be accounted for.

1-If the ship is moving away faster than the drone (or the same speed as the drone), then you cannot launch the drone.

2-If the ship turns away (not sure how to sequence that) you might end up cancelling the drone in flight. or something.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whilst i feel something has to be done about ships that may have been able to outrun a drone, it should be borne in mind that not everything is bad for the target. Whilst he can't avoid the drone hit (or under my suggestion a chance to hit), neither does he actually have to run away. In many cases it is not the drone hits a drone vessel is trying to achive but the attempt to force the target to manouver in a way that is beneficial for the shooter, e.g. in multi vessel fights shooting at one ship out of 2 or 3 can force that ship to run away from for a turn or 2, and although he may not actually get hit, or get hit by far less than was originally fired, the very fact that he has been temporarily forced away was always the aim.

Under direct fire drones this would not apply, as the ship never actually has to manouver or run after the drone is fired. The target loses by not being able to avoid the drone, whilst the shooter loses by not being able to make the target turn away or run. It could be a bit galling to not be allowed to fire drones only to watch the ship turn straight at you at speed 24+ - where was the run away that was claimed avoided the drone fire!
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Requete
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kang wrote:
Without getting in to the fighters arguments, I would say that this rule - while it definitely will de-clutter the map - removes one of the [already reduced] defences that a ship has against drones, namely speed.

I say 'already reduced' because T-bombs are not in this game.

As you say, you can't outrun them. If, then, towards the end of the turn, a target has used up all its power, then there will be no defence at all against the drones unless the target has anti-drones, whereas in 'real' terms the ship could perhaps have outrun the drones. Particularly if one of the reasons why he was low on power was because he was going speed 24+1 for much of the turn.

My personal opinion is that this rule will lead to unrealistic tactics and situations where the drones will be able to hit a target that they otherwise coulnd't have hit.

For example, what about a fast, receding target 8 hexes away? Should the rules not allow for that target to escape? This could lead to all sorts of complex relative velocity tables and such.

In short, while I appreciate the motivation here, I don't like the idea at all.


Very much agreed. One reason I thought the system would be attractive for full-sized ships is that these are super drones (they actually stand a chance of hitting, for one thing!). I wouldn't mind Range 8 drones if they were guarranteed hits like this... I'd take a Kzinti and fly straight down somebody's throat. Zero-cost overloaded photons that can't miss? I'll take 'em. Sure they can still be tractored, phasered, etc. But it's not hard to angle for a shot with low phaser coverage, and typically toward the end of a turn everybody is low on power from acceleration and the like. Such a system would be good, perhaps too good.


Gonzo idea:
What about a To Hit chart for Direct Fire Drones where you cross-index range to target with the target's current speed? The chart could be very favorable if the target is only moving at 8, but impossible (a "-") if the target is moving at 24 or better. Then you just roll to hit like it's a photon or disruptor.

If you wanted, you could even stipulate a column shift on the chart. Say, one shift higher (unfavorable) if the firer is in the RA arc of the target, and one shift lower (favorable) if the firer is in the FA of the target.
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Goonius
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:03 pm    Post subject: Questions and answers for direct fire drones Reply with quote

I have some questions regarding direct fire drones:

Are direct fire drones subject to the rule (sorry, don’t have my book to quote the number) limiting the number of units able to fire direct fire weapons on a single target from a single hex to three?

Would the direct fire drone rules apply for gun boats as well? IIRC, a flight of kzinti gun boats can put out as many drones as a fighter squadron, for similar points. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)

What happens when direct fire drones are fired into or through an asteroid hex?

Are direct fire drones affected by EW effects?

Will there be some parallel direct fire plasma rule for plasma fighters? Or will plasma fighters need to fire bolted plasma's?

I don't like to ask questions like this with out having some suggestions. My comments on direct fire drones:

I like the idea of having a limited life span on the fighter mounted drones (2 impulses), and leaving them on the board to having direct fire drones. While that does not help the board clutter in the short term, they will only be able to move six times, max, before they are removed from the board. This helps the board clutter over time.

However, if we must have direct fire drones, make them something like Storyelf recommends. Stop pussy-footing around with "almost" direct fire drones and make them full on direct fire weapons. Ues Storyelf's hit chart with the following changes to standard firing of a direct fire weapon:

1) Place a drone counter on the targeted ships SSD and note the hex and impulse it was fired. Allow the drones to have a range of eight. This is one of the proposed suggestions for the PPD, so there is some precedent for it.
2) Apply terrain effects for every hex the drone would have taken to get to the targets hex (asteriod damage, dust damage, hitting a moon). The drone must follow normal drone rules while following this path. Only the drone’s original hex and the target’s hex matter for this. If the drone is destroyed during this step, ignore all the other steps.
3) After one impulse, the drone impacts. Use the original firing hex to determine which shield is hit.
4) Determine a hit as per Storyelf's chart during the indirect weapons impact phase. Ignore EW effects except those that affect drones specifically (Orion stealth does count, where EM and terrain does not). EW would provide a shift as per the normal rules (ie shift of one, +1 to the die roll). If the drone misses, ignore the remaining steps
5) Allow defensive fire from the targeted unit only. These are fighter drones and we are making it hard enough on them as it is. If four points of damage is scored on the drone by a combination of defensive fire and terrain effects, ignore the remaining steps.
6) Score 12 points of damage on the shield determined in step 3.

The only change to Storyelf's chart would be to allow a bonus to hit for each step the target's effective speed that impulse is under the drone's speed. This makes the targeting of bases by fighter drones much easier (as it should be).

These rules could work for direct fire plasma's as well, using a range of six or four.

What do you think?
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eunderko
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think what I would like to see is

1. A simplification of the defensive fire on Direct Fire drones. Basically defensive fire is at the entire group and every 4 points of damage kills a drone (eliminates the need to guess and calculate what to fire at each individual drone)

2. A chance to miss based upon range. The farther apart the units are, the easier it is for ships to avoid real drones, so it would be nice if something similar existed for Direct Fire drones.
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve Cole wrote:
I think the speed thing has to be accounted for.

The other thing I thought of for taking speed into account is to do it this way:
- Regardless of the range at launch, if the target ship can get to 5 hexes from the hex of launch, the drones will not hit on the first impulse after launch.
- Regardless of the range at launch, if the target ship can get to 9 hexes from the hex of launch, the drones will not hit on the second impulse after launch. (I.e. it misses entirely.)

The disadvantage of this is that you still have to keep records. That problem is not solved.

The advantage is that this takes the target's speed into account, makes this not a sure hit, and can influence the target ship's movement. It also makes the drones work a lot more like normal drones without putting anything on the map.
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Barry Kirk
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the whole idea is to reduce map clutter. How about reducing the duration of fighter launched drones to 2 FC impulses? Yes there are a lot of drones out there, but they don't last very long.

It kinda of makes sense. In order to keep fighters light, the drones have to be made lighter. Therefore, reduce the amount of fuel on board the drones.

Yes, I know that it turns the drone armed fighter from a long range weapon into a short range weapon, but shouldn't fighters have limitations like that.

For PF's increase the duration of the drones to 3 to 4 impulses. Making them a slightly better standoff weapon.

OK... Ducks...
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