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""Dogfights with Battleships"" Topic

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1,652 hits since 5 Aug 2017
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Kealios05 Aug 2017 3:10 p.m. PST

Introduced a friend to Colonial Battlefleet the other night. It was my first spaceship game in over a year.

Other than the deplorable availability of ready-made ships (looks like I'll need to go on a tear and design like a million ships on my own), the biggest complaint was that the game felt a lot like a dogfight.

Honestly, I felt he was right. We were moving and maneuvering in tight circles, and once again I was struck with how hard it is to punch through an opponent's shields consistently, turn after turn, to get the crunchy center…

I know Full Thrust doesn't suffer from this "as much" because turning is limited, and movement is pre-plotted, but it's just not my favorite system either (the biggest gripe is the threshold checks…ugh).

Are there other "popular" games that don't feel like dogfights with battleships? I'm becoming surprised with the lack of spaceship gaming rules…

Toaster05 Aug 2017 6:25 p.m. PST

It's a fine balancing act, my reason for preferring CBF over FT is that there is more manuvering because the ratio of movement to weapon range is much tighter.

Also if your the same guy who was posting this on the Colonial Battlefleet facebook than 4 frigates and a cruiser are hardly battleships and are expected to be more manuverable. Throw a delta 1 BB in on each side and see if they feel more stately while the little stuff screams around trying to get a firing pass without getting obliterated.

And if it still feels too manuverable try the 12 point movement system from the optional rules, that will give a delta 1 ship exactly the same turning arc as a thrust 2 ship in FT.


GypsyComet05 Aug 2017 6:28 p.m. PST

"Ready made ships"
For not-Galactica? Iron Wind Metals and Ral Partha Europe have lines, and there is at least one other inspired line out there.

There are three schools of starship combat game design thought that I've seen. Each is idiosyncratic in its own way:

Speedboat/fighter movement is the "gamiest", with turn modes, fixed rates of movement (frequently), and generally a lot of attention paid to firing arcs. Ships at the central size range move like naval vessels or ponderous fighter jets, while smaller things tend to go where they will and larger things sometimes don't move at all. The maneuvering to keep batteries bearing can easily boil down to what you describe.

Vector movement is rarer, and leads to wildly swinging battles when someone gets a bit too fast to stay in the play area or too slow to determine their own place in a fight.

The third group is often an accidental one, as a rule set that thinks it is one of the other types skews either complexity or lethality to the point where maneuver is pointless as shields go up and down by percentage points, slugging matches are either one-shots or slogging attrition, and so much happens between rounds of movement that you may as well not be moving.

Kealios05 Aug 2017 7:18 p.m. PST

Toaster, yea, that was me. We can definitely see that CBF favors larger ships. Maybe that's one reason why.

Gypsy, I was talking about SSDs that are ready to play. Full Thrust has entire fleet books, for example…

I did like your breakdown of game types. Thanks for the replies.

Toaster05 Aug 2017 7:19 p.m. PST

@ Gypsy Comet, I believe the OP is referring to SSD's not models when he bemoans a lack of ready made ships. Personally I've never had a problem with grabbing the excel builder and churning them out.


Toaster05 Aug 2017 7:27 p.m. PST

Kealios beat me to it.

In all fairness to CBF, FT didn't get the fleet books until 2nd edition had been out long enough to need updating. Harry is producing expansions for CBF just as quick as can be expected for a one man, part time organisation and we have two already, they differ from the FT fleet Books in that they provide variant ways to play rather than just ships to use in the basic game engine.


GypsyComet05 Aug 2017 11:06 p.m. PST

Ah, okay. The question seemed odd and that's why. Starship minis are *everywhere*, but a lot of games are either proprietary with no design rules or the exact opposite with *just* design rules. The several options in the middle are the minority.

Lion in the Stars06 Aug 2017 3:23 a.m. PST

Funny, I actually like the threshold checks in FT! Then again, I played naval warfare 1:1 for a while, and our drills always had one system or another going down due to damage.

Also, a single-ship duel IRL does end up something like a dogfight, as both sides close in to detection/shooting range and try to get weapons into arc. And this is stately submarine warfare I'm talking about, where the speed of the ships was <10 knots!

Personal logo Inari7 Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 8:44 a.m. PST

I like Starmada Fleet Ops. You can also use Starmada Unity for more detail.

Part time gamer17 Aug 2017 11:18 p.m. PST

While playing (ST 'Star Fleet Academy' IIRC was the name) now a very old comp game, I realized that Yes.
When you get right down to it, 'all' star battles are fought as dog fights.

Regardless of ship size, these only effect the ships speed and maneuverability. You are fighting in a 3D battle field. Same as combat pilots find themselves in.

I know some games consider the incredible 'vastness' of space, there for dont allow ships to block line of sight.
The idea being, Space is huge, ships small, it would be very unlikely a vessel would be in 'just' the right place to protect a smaller / or more valuable ship from attack by being between the two.

As for myself, I like 'pre plotted' movement. To me its entering your intended course/speed into your 'ships navigational computer'.
Then movement must be carried out as written. Makes it more of a chess game. 'whats the other guy going to do and how can I best counter it.'

Aotrs Commander19 Aug 2017 12:40 p.m. PST

Well, in "1-5 business days," there will be a new alternative out (meaning it will not be out tomorrow for the convention I was frantically working towards it for, getting three-quarters through typing up my release post and then upon hitting "make public" finding the aforementioned delay, but them's the breaks), when my Accelerate and Attack finally materialises after fourteen years of work…!

That said, given that maneouver is kind of a big thing, I'm not sure that if AccAtt still doesn't sort of fall into the "dogfight" sort of issue.

Though probably the closest sort of analogue (if you squinted a bit and look dramatic liberties with the timescale) would be Jack Campbell's lost Fleet books[1]. So more like a series of passes, I would say, than a dogfight.

(The easiest way to describe is to say the turning-to-board-share is a bit like Full Thrust played at centimetes (though AccAtt's turning system describes arcs a bit better at the expense of being one operation or so more than FT's "move, half turn half, move half turn half."))

But like Part time gamer says, unless the combat is very "fly slowly towards each other shooting" I think all starship combat sort of comes down to that, a bit.


@Part time gamer, AccAtt is one of those systems that says you will only hit somethng if you deliberatly try, 'cos space is Big. (Exceptions for terrain (e.g. asteroid fields/planets), but by my own admission, that's purely to make terrain have a point in breaking up the open board.)

While AccAtt does not have planned movement (it divides you fleet into four movement alternations and alternating initative), it does aim more towards the sort of tactical decisions making you decribe.


On the other hand, by design, like what I consider it's spiritual ancestor Full Thrust, it's primarily a make-your-own fleet sort of game (though there are a couple of sample fleets included with the main rules).

(Also, while Full Thrust was by its own admission, a "six pack and boldy go" sort of game. AccAtt is… Not that, shall we say. It is, in the interests of full disclosure, the sort of game that will appeal to the sort of keen ladies and gentlemen prepared to sink some time into it (like Maneouvre Group (whose stable house it resides quite close to) or perhaps even the aforemention chess.)


[1]By complete co-incidence and to my great hilarity when I was introduced to that series. I realisd AccAtt would model every weapon system in the books without trying. (Which I also felt meant I had done a good job with modelling my weapon types.)

emckinney10 Sep 2017 2:53 p.m. PST

"As for myself, I like 'pre plotted' movement."

JD Webster, fighter pilot and designer of some of the best air combat games ever, said that as a pilot, "You don't look around, decide what you're going to do, and then close your eyes for 12 seconds while you fly!"

(I had asked him why he didn't use plotted movement in his designs.)

TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2017 5:27 a.m. PST

Funny, I actually like the threshold checks in FT!

If I were going to point out one thing I don't care for, it's probably that. Feels a bit like a speed bump, but most folk I know, once they've taken a bit of damage already, can tick off systems fairly quickly.

I've considered trying to rework it, so you trade wild results with simpler distribution, was but never satisfied.

I DO like the pre-plotted, and that's it is simple. Short of a straight line, simplest way of mimicking a curve. ;->=

I do have CBF, MvM, and SR, but have yet to sit down and play.

Hardly surprising. I have a heck of a list to give a shot, and, with retirement, now may be the time. ;->=


Lion in the Stars11 Sep 2017 9:59 p.m. PST

Well, my other big-starships game was Star Fleet Battles, so the threshold checks are a huge improvement over the random-damage locations there. Much faster damage resolution.

As to why you'd pre-plot movements in space, well, Newton. These aren't small planes doing 3-5 (or WW2 dogfighters doing 7) gee turns, they're multi-kiloton ships that can barely accelerate at 1 gee if they point the main drives that way.

Only Warlock Inactive Member02 Oct 2017 7:03 a.m. PST

Starmada Unity and Starmada Fleet Ops for rules.

LOTS of manufacturers of BSG ships. Studio Bergstrom makes old and new Series ships (As well as fleet scale fighters), Iron Wind Metals are larger (And more expensive).

Ravenstar had several excellent ones as well.


TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP02 Oct 2017 7:27 a.m. PST

As to why you'd pre-plot movements in space, well, Newton.

Actually, my answer is fog-of-war. You commit to a maneuver with incomplete knowledge.

In SFB, where each turn is possibly/probably a number of maneuvers, each step is, in the main, but a small part. However, in Full Thrust, each maneuver IS a turn, and the fog comes from pre-plot.

Agreed about the damage system, but if you want REALLY simple, I'd envision something Aeronef-like, with stepped damage. Dividing up systems instead of percent of gun dice would be a bit of a headache…


GypsyComet02 Oct 2017 9:25 a.m. PST

Did the Ravenstar BSG line get a C&D letter, or did they get sold off?

demiurgex03 Oct 2017 9:45 a.m. PST

Sold off – IIRC starfighter shipyards has them now.

Daricles03 Oct 2017 8:54 p.m. PST

Starfighter shipyards has them now. They may be having a problem with their online store front. I tried to place an order last week, but the PayPal payment never went through when I tried to checkout. I was going to try again later this week.

GypsyComet03 Oct 2017 9:00 p.m. PST

Aha! Cool beans.

To correct a mistaken statement I made above, it appears that the Wolfstar Yards line of not-quite Galactica is solely at Iron Wind Metals, and not at their cousin company Ral Partha Europe.

Part time gamer29 Nov 2017 12:12 a.m. PST

Starfighter.. has them now. I tried to place an order.. but the PayPal payment never went through.. I was going to try again later this week.
Did you place that order and did it go through?

SF Shipyards makes some great looking BSG ships, but Ive never worked w/ resin so leary (and no spaceship gamers around here) but still tempted to get some of the more TOS ships.

Daricles07 Dec 2017 2:18 p.m. PST

I got distracted by some other projects and never tried again. Once my bank account recovers from those distractions I hope to try again.

Resin isn't difficult to work with at all. I actually prefer resin models to lead now. It's easier to glue, pin, paint and modify if you are into kit bashing and it weighs a lot less when you are packing entire fleets around or trying to base a large model.

Some people claim resin is brittle, but I've never had any issues with that and find the model durability about the same.

Covert Walrus09 Dec 2017 3:15 p.m. PST

@Daricles, have to agree with you there – Modern resin spaceships and such are dreams to assemble and paint. Slightly more so in assembly than metal, anyway.

Been a long time since I played CB versus FT ( With Toaster, funnily enough ) but yes, that's one of two major differences in the rules sets – CB ends up with much more maneuver than firepower, and in CB fighters are handled in a much smoother way when resolving attacks than FT. But I do have a preference for FT personally :)

GypsyComet13 Dec 2017 7:03 a.m. PST

Some people claim resin is brittle, but I've never had any issues with that and find the model durability about the same.

Resin is different, and varies quite a bit. Some resins are pretty resilient to table top conditions, while others are brittle and nasty. The cheap fillers some companies have used in the past have had unfortunate effects on durability, and sometimes on cure fidelity, smell, and other factors.

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