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"Best Vector Movement Mechanic for Space Game? (Newtonian)" Topic

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2,087 hits since 21 Jun 2010
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evilleMonkeigh21 Jun 2010 6:08 a.m. PST

I have noticed space movement is usually 'naval movement with asteroids and afterburners'

As Newtonian physics is the one thing that sets space apart from naval games (or air games for that matter), can you suggesr:

(a) simplest, easiest mechanic you have seen in a game, that even vaguely approximates Newtonian physics of a ship in space

(b) the mechanic that BEST represents vector movement, irrespective of complexity

(c) the best marriage of (a) and (b) you have seen in a wargame?

*Minimal record keeping please (counters or dice markers are fine)
*No 3D games please


jizbrand Inactive Member21 Jun 2010 7:04 a.m. PST

I'm a staunch fan of the movement system from Triplanetary. All it requires is a ruler/measuring device, and some way to mark positions on the playing surface. Back in the day, using Superior Models and Valiant:Stardate 3000 figures, I marked positions with straight pins. Nowadays, I have an acrylic playing surface, so I use grease pencils.

It was originally designed for hex movement but is very easily adapted to non-hex playing areas.

It works like this: say that your ship is currently travelling at a speed of 6" and has an "thrust" of 2". To move, you do these steps.

(1) Place a mark in front of the ship in its direction of flight.
(2) Measure its current speed in that direction and place another mark there (in this example, 6").
(3) From that second mark, you can place another mark in any direction up to the ship's "thrust" (in this example, 2"). Typically, you burn one unit of fuel for each inch of thrust used.
(4) Now, move the ship along the line from the point in front of the ship to the third point you marked, facing along that line. Measure the length of that line and that is your speed for the next turn.

What is elegant about it is that it is fast and easy. Second, you can travel in the same direction at the same speed forever and not burn fuel. Third, there is no limit to a ship's speed, but the faster you go, the longer it takes to turn. Fourth, speeding up and slowing down is done by the same mechanism -- to slow down, for instance, just move your third mark behind the second mark (up to your thrust distance, of course). Fifth, if your speed is low enough and your thrust high enough, you can reverse direction in a single turn.

nvdoyle21 Jun 2010 7:05 a.m. PST


a) Triplanetary. Hex grid, large scale (the as-written map makes no sense at all, but modding it is easy) so things like displacement don't really enter into it much. Draw out your vectors on a wipe-able mat, move your counters, etc. Something of a slow, stately game, where fuel and delta-V limits can be ferocious enemies.

b) Well, once you get beyond endpoint changes and displacement shifting, there's not much else you can do before going to 3D. And since you don't want to do that…there really isn't one.

c) Voidstriker, by Irrational Designs (one of my faves, and closest to what I think you might be looking for), Endpoint counters, displacement, and a pretty good construction set.

d) Other Good ones: Slag! from BTRC (an odd one, it's a 'scale step up' as it takes in vectors to some degree, but assumes a lot of activity inside the hex itself), Full Thrust (Fleet Book 1 has the vector movement rules, and they're all free from GZG), Starmada (sorta vector, sorta not, great customization), and there's plenty more I've missed.

Personal logo Only Warlock Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2010 7:11 a.m. PST

the Best 3D (b) is probably going to be Attack Vector by Ad Astra.

the Best and easiest 2D is probably Hard Vacuum by Fat Messiah.

ming3121 Jun 2010 7:50 a.m. PST

I agree with Warlock . Hard Vacuum is the way to go .
Old school lots of counters and impulses is" Shooting Stars" by Yaquinto Long out of print .

Battle Works Studios Inactive Member21 Jun 2010 8:13 a.m. PST

Hard Vacuum for hexgrid. Gridless the Fleet Book version of Full Thrust is tops – although you'll want some toothpicks for vector tracking.

Personal logo CorpCommander Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2010 8:16 a.m. PST

Starmada had an optional vector system with precalculated tables. It worked pretty well and gave a reasonable approximation. I don't like altitude in space games as it is a really uninteresting addition to the combat. If you track altitude then you also have to track attitude, pitch and yaw. No thank you. Save that for video games.

The Starmada system made a reasonable assumption: 1 turn and burn. This keeps the calculations simple and the fact that the math was already done out and in a chart meant the game could progress without plotting out all of your vectors!

Hevy Phyzx Inactive Member21 Jun 2010 8:30 a.m. PST

Full Thrust has a very good "Inertial Movement" system in the optional rules. I have adapted it for use in my physics classes. I have a lab in which my students "race" my minis around a table top course. It takes a few rounds, but soon the kids start understanding why they have to point the ship sideways to the direction they are traveling in order to turn it.

Full Thrust's vector movement system is very simple to use and does not impede the game noticibly.

Here is a link to my adaptation of the FT "Inertial Movement" rules: link

Andy Welkley
"Your Phrendlee Hevy Phyzx T-chrr"

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2010 8:38 a.m. PST

Only Warlock is right in that Attack Vector Tactical is the best 3D space game out there(in terms of simulating 3D movement), but there is a HUGE learning curve. I don't see how anyone could say it adds an uninteresting aspect to space games, which is like saying altitude doesn't matter in WW2 or jet air to air combat!

I think SPI did a game like that(was it Delta Vee?), but it was complex as well and not much fun. I'm not sure if you can do true Newtonian 3D movement without adding a layer of complexity.

Caesar21 Jun 2010 9:08 a.m. PST

"As Newtonian physics is the one thing that sets space apart from naval games (or air games for that matter)"

It's just so hard to get past this statement, honestly.
Newtonian mechanics are just as important in naval movement as they are in air or space movement.

"The one thing that sets space apart from naval games" is in fact three dimensional movement and combat, which you've discounted.

Vector movement in two dimensions does not make a space game more realistic. It just makes it more math intensive.

Personal logo flooglestreet Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2010 9:44 a.m. PST

@aegiscg47 Delta Vee was a hex grid 2D game with vector movement. You might be thinking of the space combat system in Battlefleet Mars which used 2 square grids to show an X-Y and an X-Z axis. It also used vector speed chits like Delta Vee. The chits had a pointer to show direction and a number to indicate speed. The movement system was simple but fiddly, once you succeeded in visualising what the two grids were showing. However finding range to targets involved finding the hypotenuse defined by thepoints, firing ships actual location, a point where the firing ship would be if it was on the target ships plane and the actual location of the target ship. To further decimate the fun factor, the craft were relatively primitive, using existing technology and a hypothetical laser weapon.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2010 10:05 a.m. PST

flooglestreet, no the game(I just found it) was Vector 3, which is now available for free to download by going here:

Battlefleet Mars, Starforce, and Starsoldier was the trilogy of complex space games that SPI had out in the 70s. I can remember many hours spent playing those which have not aged well.

So much gets added to space combat when you do introduce the 3D aspect. You can roll to use undamaged weapons or to protect damaged areas, escape incoming kinetic projectiles or missiles, and maneuvering for shots is an art form. Now notice I didn't say any of this is fun! Personally, I love masses of ships slugging it out using Full Thrust, but playing AVT really opens your eyes to what 3d space combat is all about.

AdAstraGames Inactive Member21 Jun 2010 10:06 a.m. PST

Here are, in decreasing importance, the things I look for in a vector movement game:

1) Momentum persistence and independence of facing.
2) Tracking of displacement during constant thrust – the cumulative error of not doing this gets huge.
3) Segmented movement (or short movement turns) to minimize the teleporting ship problem.

For space combat (as opposed to vector movement), I also want to track the following:

4) Three D movement. With two ships and a fixed referenced frame map, 3-D matters. I can make a fairly common situation that either needs 3-D or constant reference frame shifts, which are even more difficult.
5) Damage from kinetic weapons based on relative rate of closure between the projectile and the targeted ship.
6) Fuel tracking. Bonus points for doing the actual delta-V integrals. :)
7) Changes in maximum thrust as you burn fuel and decrease the mass of your ship.
8) Orbital mechanics around planets that actually work right, where increasing your prograde velocity also generates a force that alters your orbital eccentricity, and the effects of angular momentum conservation impact your tactics.

Now – you can play AV:T, SITS and SS in 2-D. Just prohibit rolls entirely, and don't allow people to pivot out of the 0 degree pitch ring. Honestly, the complex part of 3-D isn't the movement, it's firing arcs…but once you've got a solution for one, you've got a solution for the other.

Attack Vector: Tactical hits all 8 of those points.

Squadron Strike and Saganami Island toss out item 3 (mostly), keep item 4, don't do item 5 at all. Item 6 is an optional rule in SS, and not present in Saganami Island, neither does item 7 or item 8.

All of the games have your mini and a future position marker. Thrusting accumulates a vector change that will be added to your velocity on later turns, long enough/high enough thrusts will add a bit of displacement to your ship's current future position marker.

Personal logo flooglestreet Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2010 10:54 a.m. PST

You are right Aegiscg47, I quite forgot Vector 3. However, it is very much the same game as Battlefleet Mars space combat.

The SPI trilogy I recall was Starforce:Alpha Centauri, Starsoldier and Outreach.

John D Salt21 Jun 2010 12:51 p.m. PST

Caesar wrote:

"As Newtonian physics is the one thing that sets space apart from naval games (or air games for that matter)"

It's just so hard to get past this statement, honestly.

Indeed. Thanks for saving me from having to say it.

I will add, though, that since space combat implies interplanetary and probably interstellar travel, and since that seems to require movement at quite large fractions of c at least, then presumably any sensible movement system should allow for relativistic effects.

Anyone care to devise a set of rules for relativistic movement? Or am I still to be disappointed at the terrible lack of imagination shown in most SF games?

All the best,


Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2010 12:59 p.m. PST

I have to agree with Only Warlock. Attack Vector Tactical is probably the best game out there under your criteria (b), but I'd recommend Squadron Strike instead. SS is a little simpler to learn, and is better for multiple ships.

If you are serious about your 2d requirement, then I think your best bet is Full Thrust.

Another option is Dream Pod 9's Jovian Chronicles game, which runs vectors in 3 or 4 directions (hexgrid or hexgrid+altitude), depending on your preference for math.

Lentulus21 Jun 2010 1:07 p.m. PST

Do any of the 2-D systems really get at P'=P+V*T+.5*A*T^2 correctly? The ones I (vaguely) remember, in the Triplanetary mode, assume the acceleration is an instantaneous impulse.

Not that this is the end of the world; a really accurate system allowing for arbitrary-duration continuous burn (especially within a fixed turn length) would be a bear.

AdAstraGames Inactive Member21 Jun 2010 1:13 p.m. PST

John D Salt:

Most space combat is, depending on your baseline assumptions, anywhere from horribly unrealistic to "Of course the Japanese Zero fought in pike square formations, wingtip to wingtip" :)

Even AV:T makes unwarranted assumptions about the feasibility of high thrust, high temperature reaction drives.

For interstellar combat without a magic FTL system, war is probably impossible as we understand it. Travel times in centuries or millennia make it hard to prosecute a war at all.

For interplanetary travel, you can get to just about anywhere inside the orbit of Jupiter with about 10 km/sec of reaction mass. It may take you several months or more than a year, but it can be done.

Closing velocities of about 20-30 km/sec might (or might not) be the norm.

Truly realistic space combat is probably not fun to game.

1) You'll have plenty of warning before you get into gunnery range.
2) Your ship will probably have thrust measured in single digit milligees (not the bone crushing 125 milligee increments of AV:T).
3) Your ability to change vectors relative to what you're closing on is, at best, trivial.

The best way to describe it is this:

You and your opponent are glued onto the top of trains going in opposite directions. You have laser pointers and can try to blind the other guy from 35 miles away.

If you fail to blind the other guy, you can throw hand grenades at each other as the trains make their closest approach. Those hand grenades are small nuclear weapons…and if you're very quick, you can shoot them down with the laser pointer.

You have no real way to change the speed of the train, or to take it off the tracks.

AdAstraGames Inactive Member21 Jun 2010 1:15 p.m. PST

Lentulus: The mechanisms that I use in Squadron Strike and SITS will work just fine for that.

In essence, if you thrust in a straight line, on the turn of thrust, you get displacement equal to half your thrust amount. On the following turn, the whole thrust amount is added to the velocity.

AV:T has a more detailed mechanism that handles this – and handles it cleanly – if you're willing to do segmented movement.

evilleMonkeigh21 Jun 2010 1:45 p.m. PST

3D combat is limiting in regards to the amount of ships you can use and (in the ones I've seen) stands and tracking. I'd argue it's far LESS important in space than in, say, a WWII flying game where gravity plays an important part. I'd argue this makes 3D far LESS important than inertia, in space.

For those who 'cannot get past' the Newtonian comment(.. I notice this seems to have prevented them from contributing any useful suggestions…), let me clarify: "when thrust is applied in space, an object will continue to move in that direction until thrust is applied in another direction."

Thanks for the suggestions guys I will hunt up some of those games (especially Hard Vacuum and Triplanetary) I'm looking for a simple system to set my space games apart from the 'naval combat in space' or 'air combat in space' movement rules I currently use.

AdAstraGames Inactive Member21 Jun 2010 2:10 p.m. PST

I publish three 3-D space combat games, and one 3-D jet combat game.

Trust me when I say that the space combat games bear little resemblance to the jet combat game. :)

In terms of quick and simple vector movement:

1) Are you using a hex grid or open movement?
2) Do you care about A) displacement or B) fuel?
3) How many units at a time do you want to be able to handle? If it's more than 6 per person, I agree – 3-D is going to limit your audience.

The overhead from vectors is high enough that the overhead from 3-D movement is minimal by comparison.

Where 3-D exacts a cost is in firing arcs, particularly with pitch and roll factored in. Even then, the cost is more a conceptual load rather than procedural repetition.

nvdoyle21 Jun 2010 6:46 p.m. PST

In essence, if you thrust in a straight line, on the turn of thrust, you get displacement equal to half your thrust amount. On the following turn, the whole thrust amount is added to the velocity.

IIRC, Charles Oines' Voidstriker does something similar. You might want to check that one out, too, eville.

DesertScrb Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2010 8:13 p.m. PST

Galactic Knights uses "drift markers" for each ship on the table. There's a drift phase, in which you move your ship according to your drift marker, and then a thrust phase, in which you can move or turn your ship (while the drift marker stays in the same place) or move your drift marker closer or further from your ship. The effects of your thrust phase are felt in the next turn.

For example, if you drifted three spaces and then thrust two more spaces the previous turn, in the next drift phase you would drift five spaces, and still be able to thrust further.

TheDreadnought Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member21 Jun 2010 9:13 p.m. PST

evilleMonkeigh -

Colonial Battlefleet uses inertia you keep going the same direction and speed until you apply force to change it but not vectored inertia because we made different assumptions about drive systems than the typical "really big rockets with limitless fuel and magical inertial compensators" that many of the most popular games out there use. So the physics on our game works the way it should just for different assumptions than most space games.

That said, you'll probably see a vectored inertia system released in one of our upcoming fleet books. I developed about three of them before I just trashed the idea due to my personal disgust with "inertial compensators." I wanted more realistic physics in my game. . . by which I mean:

Drive systems that if we could build it, work according to the scientific principles we understand.

As opposed to. . .

Drive systems that even if we could build it require us to break or ignore inconvenient aspects of physics.

Some may find that to be splitting hairs. . . but for me, a drive system that creates an effect that uses known laws of physics is "more realistic" to me than a drive system that creates an effect intended to violate the laws of physics. YMMV.

Erik M Inactive Member21 Jun 2010 10:38 p.m. PST

I agree with AdAstra~ in that "accurate" spaceship combat would be extremely boring. Reason is G's… You can't turn, you can't acc or dec. And you most definitely wouldn't be able to sensor your enemy.

And I still want that vectorian movement… :O
So dispense with newtonian concepts! Keep them in mind, but move further. Move beyond actual time and vector; look at results rather than effects.

Stewbags Inactive Member22 Jun 2010 2:05 a.m. PST

Ha, i misread the subject as "best vending machine mechanic for space game"!!!!!

evilleMonkeigh22 Jun 2010 2:52 a.m. PST

Stew, the best vending machine mechanic? Dr Freud suspects you were hungry when you read the post…

"True" accurate spaceship combat would, as Erik suspects, be very boring. AdAstra makes some very good points.

Which is why I am looking for simple/accurate simulations.
Like the DBA rules. With much simplicity (in the first edition anyway!) it 'approximated' many factors and arguably gave a decent feel of the period gamed. It wasn't 100% accurate by any means, but it was easily playable (people without wargames experience picked it up almost instantly).

I guess I am looking for the 'DBA' of space mechanics. I am interested also in the 'best but possibly more complicated' rules to serve as a comparison. (I.e. to choose a balance between realism and playability)

The 'Galactic Knights' drift markers sound interesting.

I found 'Renegade Legion' free on the net today. I remember it had hideous damage account-keeping but at least some approximation of physics/inertia. Anyone played it 'back in the day?' (or even now)

TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2010 5:01 a.m. PST

I'll agree with many of the points above, but try getting a look at Power Projection. In essence, the old GDW mechanic in Triplanetary, Mayday, and a few others, married to Full Thrust.

wminsing Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2010 5:27 a.m. PST

Which is why I am looking for simple/accurate simulations.

In this case Triplanetary would definitely be my top recommendation.


Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2010 11:36 a.m. PST

I found 'Renegade Legion' free on the net today. I remember it had hideous damage account-keeping but at least some approximation of physics/inertia. Anyone played it 'back in the day?' (or even now)

You mean the old FASA gravtank game? I played it a bit when I first found it. The space-combat side of the house is marginal for large numbers of units, but it's playable. I consider it better than Battletech, but the damage mechanic from Jovian Chronicles is much cleaner (exceed 1x armor, do light damage, 2x armor = heavy damage, 3x armor = overkill). The caveat to JC is that capital ships are in multiple sections, so you have to roll for hit location.

I much prefer Full Thrust or Jovian Chronicles to that FASA dinosaur.

evilleMonkeigh22 Jun 2010 2:47 p.m. PST

Jovian Chronicles (aka Lightning strike) is my favourite space game so far actually.

I am planning on marrying the DP9 damage system (standard units, not multi-part ships) to a decent movement system. Perhaps Triplanetary.

Renegade Legion was a space fighter game. Available still on the net free. Centurion(?) was the tank game?

DarkWingDuck Inactive Member22 Jun 2010 3:42 p.m. PST

Since we're talking mechanics, prior to Full Thrust "codifying" it in the Fleet Books there were a number of house rules concerning Vector Movement. This is one of those.

I was always partial to the use of drift markers.

Prior to play,
get a number of drift markers, each drift marker comes in a pair, and you need one pair for each ship (I used the chits from Dirtside 2).

When moving a ship,
1. Place a drift marker where the ship is at.
2. Move the ship the distance between the two drift markers in the "direction" of the drift markers (or not at all if there is only one drift marker on the table).
3. Move the ship following it's orders.
4. Pick up the older drift marker (or none if there is only one on the table).

Works great for a small number of ships and I always found it much more accurate than keeping track of vectors and velocities.

WarpSpeed22 Jun 2010 7:18 p.m. PST

GDW,s Mayday pioneered this many years ago ,but still a fun little game.

Erik M Inactive Member22 Jun 2010 10:19 p.m. PST

DWD~ You could skip one marker actually. It makes turning a b harder but removes two markers really.
Place a die at the direction of drift, with the current drift speed.
Then you got both direction and speed with one marker. Which in turn makes it easier to use dice as movement-markers for each ship (instead of writing each down, ie each ship stat card can be one small re-usable/static card).

(Jake Collins of NZ 2) Inactive Member23 Jun 2010 3:47 a.m. PST

GDW's Brilliant Lances and Battle Rider – 2D vector combat

TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2010 5:54 a.m. PST

Renegade Legion was FASA's 'we wrote these rules but West End Games got the Star Wars franchise' universe. Centurion was for tanks, Interceptor for space fighters, Leviathan for space ships and HUGE fighter-groups-as-single-chits.

Followed by boardgames, an RPG, video games, yada yada yada.

WarpSpeed: I think Triplanetary uses a very similar, and earlier by a fair amount, system. That's why I mentioned the more recent Power Projection, which I think marries same to Full Thrust. It might give you pointers on how to do your combination.

No disagreement on Mayday being a small gem!

Doug (bit strange cleaning up the disinformation for a change)

wminsing Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2010 6:56 a.m. PST

I am planning on marrying the DP9 damage system (standard units, not multi-part ships) to a decent movement system. Perhaps Triplanetary.

Hmmm, I'd be very interested in seeing this- it sounds like a cool idea. Let us know when you have something!


evilleMonkeigh23 Jun 2010 7:36 a.m. PST

Been experimenting with a Triplanetary/DP9 mix.
Rule #1: a hard sci fi flavour
Rule #2: Keep it simple
Rule #3: No record keeping if possible besiudes the odd counter on the game table; no hexes necessary

Some key aspects of it are:

-Simple Triplanetary movement. No fuel tracking for ships.

-Alternating ship turns. (No plotting)

-You can engage with kinetic weapons if your move takes you within 1" of an enemy model OR your move over their projected course (i.e. between their velocity marker and their base)

-You can react to attacks any time but risk having your kinetic weapons overheating (a la jams in Space Hulk)

-Halve firepower if you are approaching target front on (i.e. both closing with each other)

-EW, decoys and CIWS more important than armour. (I base this theory on modern warships and tank active defences)

-DP9 Damage (Stunned/Crippled/Destroyed)

The bits I am not sure of:

I was thinking of giving them 6 thrust (so it could be tracked on a dice) which they can expand in any way they want, and using them to 'herd' targets.
I may need to increase the fuel but then tracking that becomes a pain in ze a-holes, to quote Borat. Can be guided remotely from ship.

Better ships can control more drones, further away.

Drones fired in salvoes of 4-12 similar to WWII sub torpedo salvoes to overwhelm defences. Only a few salvoes carried. (To avoid slowing the game down).

More a 20-ton-ish 'fighter' sized vessel, but used more like ASW naval choppers. Unmanned due to crew risks. Guided remotely from ship. Variety of weapon/sensor fits. Only a few on the bigger ships. No fuel issues, but no FTL either. Can be used in EW/AWACs/Drone control role.

-Modifiers to be hit vary if you are using lots of thrust, weapons, or active radar (I'm thinking of just using a counter that says 'Illuminated' to cover all such circumstances)

-EW/spoofing and jamming

-Some drones have nuclear warheads, some have EMP warhead that blocks all sensorss and attacks, some have anti-drone kinetic cannon. (You choose the payload before you launch…)

MrBackman Inactive Member25 Sep 2012 4:04 p.m. PST

Well, you could also try Intercept, which is my free vector movement space combat system. Its main features are:

Double-blind hidden movement without a referee
Easy to use Excel based design system, compatible with Traveller.
Gravity with stable orbits.
Optional deterministic (dice free) rules.

It is free.

infojunky25 Sep 2012 5:06 p.m. PST

a & c, Core movement Battlefleet Gothic, (GW made a Good game and dropped it…). The second best was a little template based game whose name I forget which came out in the early 80s.

-Edit-> Found it Deep Space Navigator

b, Traveller Book2, best played on a BIG piece of paper or a floor that you can use chalk on (did it with different colored Chalk-line markers once, it was a hoot).

zircher25 Sep 2012 6:24 p.m. PST

Since some kind folks kicked some life back into this thread…

I've got a hex based vector movement game called Tactical Command. It's a step up in complexity from Triplanetary with rules for flipping and rolling. It's currently going through a re-format (as soon as I code a new drag and drop ship design tool.)

RTJEBADIA25 Sep 2012 8:50 p.m. PST

These are always interesting threads….

As some may know I'm working on 5150 Fringe Space.

It has three different movement systems, with one being "true" vector movement… including ^X=X1+ViT+.5AT(T), different types of thrusters (including thrusters that are, in the scale of a turn, instantaneous but need time to get rid of waste heat and transfer new propellant to a given thruster… the maneuver drives, as well as the main drives that are more like an electric drive in comparison). The game also uses Fuel/Propellant, but due to the RPGish nature character/ship AI can result in expending too much propellant to get a desired effect… not something common in these sorts of games.

Kinda puts you in the pilot seat. Personally, I don't use 3d but there is nothing stopping you from using it, and I've used it a few times before. Like evilmonkeigh said, I find 3d less important in space (where up is no different than right) than in air combat games (where gravity plays a much more important role).

I kinda agree with the idea that Newtonian physics are in air, navy, and space games, but its missing the point to say that the essential difference is 3d (air and naval combat is 3d too). The essential difference is that you are in a vacuum using extremely high speed (and relatively low acceleration) vehicles that may be going in opposite directions with lots of long range weaponry and sensors and (in the vast majority of cases) no meaningful terrain.

Orbital combat is a tricky one to really get right. My personal preference (though again there are other options in the rules) is to treat orbits kinda like how RTS games sometimes treat buildings… something that a unit can "occupy" that gives it certain characteristics (increased speed when coming out of orbit, a "cover" like bonus, etc) and requires certain characteristics to go into (the right approach). You can play it with a Newtonian understanding of gravity, though, and it still fundamentally works (though its more like a vague generalization of how gravity works than a detail to detail simulation).

The Real Chris26 Sep 2012 3:10 a.m. PST

I read a sci fi series with an interesting take on it. No rules of course… In essence anyone could avoid combat by simply accelorating to to high a speed to be intercepted with any degree of certainty so battles occured where both sides felt strong enough and on the way to an objective (enemy world, jump point etc). The battles lasted fractions of a second with weapons triggered by computers and pre planned firing points. The trick for a commander was to get the best formation (ships consisted of a trade off between armour and weapons so you wanted to get them in the right pattern and wave) with the shortest response time from the enemy commander and pick the right micro adjustment to direction to clip the enemy formation. Weapons were missiles and grapeshot.

billthecat26 Sep 2012 10:16 a.m. PST

a) lots of math…
b) lots of math…
c) forget it…

MrBackman Inactive Member26 Sep 2012 1:47 p.m. PST

The largest hurdle for vectormovement games is the huge mapsizes required as th ships easily fly off the tables and you have to add awkward rules about the borders.
Logaritmic range could maybe be fixed but that would only work for a two ship duel. My game solves this by using 5 mm grid A4 mapsheets during the hide and seek part and optional larger scale gameboard when ships detect each other and start firing. It also helps to have an objective that is not simply annihilate each other.
Instead the objective could be:
Intruder getting close enough to a planet to image its secret intsllations and then fly off again.
Intruder shall take out a number of beam ppower sattelites and then leave.
Intruder must drop an undetected pod into the planets atmosphere deploying their two fisted diplomat for derring do deeds.
The defender must get from planet to jumprange escorting a civilian ship.
Lowly armed merchant must escape to jump with his two passengers and avoid any Imperial entaglements.

MrBackman Inactive Member26 Sep 2012 2:02 p.m. PST

Some people seem to revere Attack vector and argue that it is more 'right' than other vector games on the strength of its complexity, something I don't agree with. Attack vector is similar to the old SPI game Air war, so complicated mechanics that you really have a hard timer just flying, never really knowing where your ship/plane will end up.

The Attack vector system is somewhat better at simulating movement mechanic than say, Mayday or Battle Riders.
Attack vector is far worse at simulating the player as the commander of a space vessel than those games. Why? Because it is hard to move your ship to a particular hex on the map, so hard that the designers themselves suggest one should just ballpark things. This does not in any way resemble a commander who knows how to fly his ship from years of service.

Brilliant lances and MayDay play more like the Avalon Hill game Flightleader which in my opinion simulates real air combat tactics without getting bogged down in slide-ruler mechanics, the game was originally made as a training tool for real pilots way back, at least according to the designers notes.

Feel free to like and love Attack vector. It is cool and their take on how to do 3D with firing arcs is quite good, just don't use it as an argument for being more right than other serious space combat games. Its assumtipns are rock solid but the gameplay where flying the ships themselves is the main skill needed.

Just my 10 cents.

zircher26 Sep 2012 6:09 p.m. PST

Heh, this thread has motivated me to kick out the draft of the Tactical Command 4.0 rules. Tried to streamline the document some. I really should do a quick start with just the minimum set of rules for play with no design or campaign stuff in it.

Now to get cracking on an updated DAT Builder so there are some working ship files to play with that folks don't have to craft on the fly.

evilmike01 Oct 2012 7:41 p.m. PST

Backman, I can teach 10-12 year olds how to play Attack Vector, with all the bells and whistles, in under 30 minutes.

And I have then watched the little brats fly those damn ships and hit every nav point I put on the map.

So just because you can't seem to fly a ship in Attack Vector doesn't mean no-one else can; you just suck at it, as do I.

RTJEBADIA01 Oct 2012 9:10 p.m. PST

I've never bought the argument that AV:T has the problem of being "too" complex. Its more complex (and harder to use) than a lot of rulesets, including other rules that are basically as realistic (from the perspective of newtonian physics).

I think the only problem with it is that people think of it as the "ultimate" hard SF/Newtonian system, when in reality its pretty specific to its settings assumptions. This is what allows it to be harder than most (ie by using "actual" data for the ships). This is in no way a bad thing, but it does mean that you are a bit more constrained by one vision of SF combat… when really, you should be trying many rules sets for different visions. And some of those sets are going to support more than one vision more strongly.

Tim White Supporting Member of TMP02 Oct 2012 9:21 a.m. PST

Squadron strike is complex enough for me – and the beauty of it is that one player can play with ships that use vectored movement and if its not the other players thing, he can use one of the other modes.


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