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Playing without Drones
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Hamanu
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Joined: 24 Sep 2007
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Location: Opatija, Croatia

PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 10:52 pm    Post subject: Playing without Drones Reply with quote

If I wanted to play only with direct-fire weapons (like what we see in the movies and in TNG, I admit I'm a bit rusty with ToS Smile) would this unbalance the game? Is there an easy way to replace the drone box with an energy weapon or should I just treat it like a hull point and change the damage allocation chart accordingly. Not that I want to exclude drones completely but in games with more than 4 people, the drones seem to be confusing some of my friends Smile
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junior
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To the best of my knowledge, drones were never on-screen even in TOS. But they got in because some old blueprints used as the basis of some of the original ships (specifically, the D7 in this case) included missiles.

So you're correct in remembering that they never appeared on-screen.

Not including them affects the races in various ways. The Kzinti are hurt the most, as they rely heavily on drones. Klingons are affected, although to a much lesser extent. Their drones exist primarily to tie up phasers on enemy ships. And it's not really that big of a deal for the Federation.

Orion Pirates don't need to take them in their option mounts.

None of the other races currently in the game use drones, so that should be the extent of the impact. Of course, there are races that use plasma torpedoes. And if drones cause issues with your friends, then I would imagine that the torpedoes won't go over well either.


After they learn the rest of the game, it might be possible to give your friends some help with drones using the suggested solitaire training scenario in the manual - i.e. the one that has your ship chasing down several drones.
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mjwest
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Joined: 08 Oct 2006
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Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 2:09 am    Post subject: Re: Playing without Drones Reply with quote

Hamanu wrote:
If I wanted to play only with direct-fire weapons (like what we see in the movies and in TNG, I admit I'm a bit rusty with ToS Smile) would this unbalance the game?

Yes, it will cause some inbalance, and skew the point values somewhat, but it won't break the game.

It *really* hurts the Kzinti. They would be severely disadvantaged without their drones. The Feds and Klingons, however, are quite playable without their drones. The Orions already have rules on how to replace their drones, so they're fine.

Quote:
Is there an easy way to replace the drone box with an energy weapon or should I just treat it like a hull point and change the damage allocation chart accordingly. Not that I want to exclude drones completely but in games with more than 4 people, the drones seem to be confusing some of my friends Smile

There is no simple rules for how to convert the drones (and ADDs) to another system and keep things balanced. I doubt there could be, either, as the cases vary so wildly and would need to be addressed individually.

For the Klingons and Federation, I would suggest just leaving them alone, and declaring that the drone and ADD racks are unloaded and cannot be loaded. Let them take damage as normal, but they can't be used.

For the Kzintis, the whole point of them is to use the drones, so I would suggest just ignoring them if you don't want to use drones.
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MikePowers
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Joined: 13 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you just want to play without seeking weapons, the Tholians and Seltorians don't have any. (The upcoming Distant Kingdoms module adds the Lyrans and Hydrans to the non-seeker roster.)

Converting existing ships to non-drone versions has been discussed.

I have to say, though, that if you have problems with drones, then you'll probably have problems with plasma torpedoes, which eighty-sixes the Romulans and the Gorn. Maybe you'd do better to ask us to help you with drones...
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know. If you don't want seeking plasma, you could just play with bolts ...

It handicaps the plasma races some, but it does work.
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defurusu
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Joined: 20 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While Plasma Torpedoes can be bolted, I doubt the players will be overly impressed if that's all they can do with them.

Trying to take "I don't like drones" and come up with a generalised way of avoiding all the seeking weapons - or "moving terrain" as I often call them - in the game is a fool's errand, in my opinion.

Do that thoroughly, and you're left with Seltorians, Lyrans, Orions, maybe the Federation & Klingons.

The Tholians may not have moving terrain, but they have something which may very well be better: a terrain gun.

The Hydrans, Kzinti, Gorns, Romulans and ISC (and the WYN?) all get moving terrain / map clutter of some kind, in varying quantities. (Unless you play fighter-less Hydran ships I guess.)

Drones may feature in the FJ designs, but not in The Original Series itself. Plasma Torpedoes and Web both do.

If people want to stick to things they've seen in the show, then they're probably best just dropping both the drones and the Kzinti. (While some Kzinti ships are pretty tough beasts in their own right, some are just very much worse if they can't use their drones.) And of course not using Hydrans, Lyrans, Seltorians and so forth either.

I don't remember what - if any - new weaponry was used in the animated series, anyone care to remind me?
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Hamanu
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Joined: 24 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We won't be discarding any races, even though at this time we're sticking with Federation and the Klingons and plans are in the works to get the Romulans as well.

We had no problems learning how to use the drones, ruleswise. but when we tried a 2vs2 game the complaint was that not a single drone out of some 20 or so fired actually hit a ship and that so many tokens on the map tripled the workload each impulse (with the mandatory "Did you move that missile?" - "I think so" Very Happy).

Plasma torpedoes would definitely stay even if we do tweak the ships a bit to streamline and speed up the game. Since everyone wants to play the "main players" at this time, it might work for now. I'll try to run some tests in our next game and see what happens without drones.
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Mike
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our group does not really like using drones, either. And for two main reasons.

1. They were never seen in any film. Even in some written novelizations attempts were made to use missiles, but the missiles were "swept aside" by the deflector screens. Because of these things some players have balked at the idea of drones. Another related point that has been brought up is that missiles were equipped with warp drives (like drones are supposed to have) would be very economically expensive to be used as a one-time use weapon.

2. They slow down the movement part of the game.

I thought it very interesting that you mentioned the ordeal of players remembering whether they had moved their drones or not. We've had that problem. Once players get used to using drones, that is not so much of a problem. When you realize that a drone can be a valuable part of your arsenal you tend not to forget about it. New players don't think of them that way and can tend to forget about moving them.

We have tried substituting Ph-3's for drone boxes, but that really changes things. Kzintis tend to try to get to really close range to fire. They can take a lot of damage, though.
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defurusu
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Joined: 20 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bear in mind that ADB's license to use Star Fleet, the Federation, Klingons, and so forth predates the movies (including the first film, I believe - anyone care to correct me on this?), so you'd have to look only at the original TV series and the animated one for on-screen precedents.

The Franz Joseph publication on which the original designs were based included missiles/drones, so they were included in some of the earliest ship designs by ADB.

It's amazing how much ire drones can inspire - this isn't SFB where one could literally have a hundred or more on the table at one time!

That said, if you don't like drones by all means don't use them - only the Kzinti will feel dramatically different to play, and even then only some of the time.

If putting warp engines on missiles is economically dubious, where does that leave the plasma races? Those big nasty balls of fire travel at warp speed too don't they? I'd love to see the handwavium which allowed extensive use of plasma torps while discouraging use of drones!
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Mike
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only time a plasma torpedo went at warp speed was when the Enterprise in the TOS episode Balance of Terror went into "emergency warp." Some have theorized that the torpedo was close enough to be pulled into its wake somehow and got ever closer due to its relativistic velocity at the time both the ship and the torp went into subspace mode.

If plasma could go warp speed all on its own, why could it be seen by the base's monitors as it traveled toward them? It would have been there instantly.

And, if the Romulans were so clever as to outfit torpedoes with warp fields, why couldn't they do that with their ships as well? That was the best ship they had at the time and it was sublight.

Just some questions to consider.

Neither SFB nor FC will change and that is okay. They've been wildly successful as they are.
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OGOPTIMUS
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Joined: 10 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

defurusu wrote:
The Franz Joseph publication on which the original designs were based included missiles/drones, so they were included in some of the earliest ship designs by ADB.


This still eludes me. I recently purchased the first printing (maybe 2nd) of the 1st edition in 1975 (vinyl cover and all) and there are no ships besides the Fed DN, CA, DD/SC, and Tug in it, just like my 20th anniversary edition, and none of them have anything but phasers and photons.
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junior
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure where the Klingon blueprint came from, but SVC mentions it in his notes in the SFB manual.

Quote:
The only time a plasma torpedo went at warp speed was when the Enterprise in the TOS episode Balance of Terror went into "emergency warp." Some have theorized that the torpedo was close enough to be pulled into its wake somehow and got ever closer due to its relativistic velocity at the time both the ship and the torp went into subspace mode.


Er...

Isn't that the only time that a plasma torpedo appears on-screen in TOS?

And did they ever appear in any other series? For some odd reason, all of the ship stats that I've seen for TNG and later era ships have the Romulans using disruptors as their heavy weapon.

Go figure.

Keep in mind, also, that TOS is the only time we ever see ships actually *gasp* fighting at warp speed. Apparently the various stellar nations forgot how to do that by the time TNG rolled around.

Quote:
And, if the Romulans were so clever as to outfit torpedoes with warp fields, why couldn't they do that with their ships as well?


Possiby because the plasma torpedo doesn't need to stay at warp speed for longer than one turn (however long that is). The warp drive on the torpedo might be unstable, and either explode or burn out if used for a longer period of time.

In short, it's not hard to come up with a good explanation for it even if the rules, the game designer, and the PD background information don't spell it out.

Quote:
We had no problems learning how to use the drones, ruleswise. but when we tried a 2vs2 game the complaint was that not a single drone out of some 20 or so fired actually hit a ship


That's actually quite fine. In some cases, drones are used when you don't care whether or not they hit. Instead, they discourage a ship from moving in a particular direction. Seeking weapon hits in FedCom are harder to come by than in SFB due to the fact that it's easier to go faster in FedCom. But that doesn't mean that you can't use the drones to influence how your opponent moves. If you don't want a ship moving toward you, then a stack of drones can sometimes be quite persuasive in convincing someone to keep their distance.
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Fusilier
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Joined: 02 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, TNG did show fighting at warp speeds. Particularly in the case of the first encounter with a certain cube-shaped spaceship. Or rather the running away afterwards.

However, they only used photon torpedoes at warp, not phasers. According to the TNG technical manual the casing of the photon torpedo contains a warp-sustainment drive, not a true warp drive. A warp field is created by the firing ship, and the torpedo sustains that field for a short interval (like a capacitor holding a charge) long enought to hit the target.

Drones and Plasma's (which have a solid component I think) could presumably use a similar technique.

Not that TNG is related to Federation Commander, or that Federation Commander combat is superluminal.

***

On the drone subject, I find one good way of using them is to build a stack over a turn break (launch on impulse 8 and then again on impulse 1, remembering command limits) and follow them in. Your enemy then has a choice of whether to shoot the drones, or you... Er, unless he's playing Tholian.
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djdood
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Klingon blueprints weren't by Franz Joseph, but were done by Michael McMaster around the same time (1975) and almost certainly inspired by the FJS Enterprise blueprints.

Scans of them are available for viewing from HERE.

These prints reference a drone launcher in the shuttle bay and are presumably the original source for drones in the SFU.
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defurusu
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Joined: 20 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My mistake on the source of the Klingon stuff, apologies.

And thanks for the link!
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