This has happened twice now – I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to find a half-baked idea churning into a full-fledged system. Last time it happened I came up with Silent Fury’s Impact / Boost dice system which replaced the damage tables we had been previously using.
This time it applies to how you obtain those dice – for years we’d settled on a power/defense ratio calculation and that has served us very well overall.
But recently I was mulling over what I might do for ECM rules if we were to include them, and I came up with something odd:
A ship that has an ECM rating of X can only be fired at within X hexes. Simple and effective (as written rules go, it’s untested in practice so far).
But how to handle ECCM?
If your ship has ECCM, add your ECCM and the target’s ECM together to get X.
It felt really weird to be adding traditionally opposed systems together, but conceptually it works and it’s dead easy to do.
So since I came up with that several weeks ago, I’ve been mulling over whether it’s possible to do something similar with weapon attack dice. Instead of numbers and a ratio calculation that involves simple division, can I add together a weapon’s ‘natural’ attack dice, plus additional dice granted by the ship I am targeting?
Yeah that definitely sounds weird, but mechanically I expect it’ll be simpler than what we’re doing.
So, simple example to compare: Say I have a power 4 weapon attacking a ship. That ship has a front defense of 6, a side defense of 4, and a rear defense of 2.
Against the front of the ship I have power at least half of the defense – I get one impact die.
Against the side I match – that’s two impact dice.
Against the rear I double – that’s three impact dice. And that’s what the calculation boils down to – give me some number of impact dice, and more will translate into better damage.
So instead, how about my weapon rolls a base of 1 impact die all the time, and my opponent’s front is 0 impact dice, their side has 1 impact dice, and their rear has 2 – and I just add them together depending on the side I attack.
The end result (at least for this example) is the same as before – same number of impact dice. But the process of getting there is much simpler – now I’m just adding some dice to my roll rather than doing even simple calculations.
Nathan is skeptical and thinks that we’ll lose some weapon granularity, and he’s probably right. I’m hopeful that that loss is outweighed by benefits in simplicity, speed, and intuitiveness of the game – if we’re representing weapons though icons of dice you actually roll instead of the numbers we currently use, then players trying to determine how many dice to roll is even easier than it is now.
From about 3 AM until I went to work this morning my brain churned non-stop to get that basic idea integrated with our existing systems – how do Shields play into that calculation? What else does this allow us to do with weapons (we can combine d20s and d12s into the same attack now, for one)? Can point defense fit into this mad scheme? What about weapons currently ‘blocked’ by shields? Boarding equipment? Missiles? Strike craft?
I genuinely think I worked out the main problems with it (and I suspect playtesting will prove me wrong about that). I’ve typed it all up and redesigned the Duel ships and weapons to use the system and I’m hoping we can playtest it soon, because if this works the way I hope it does then I’ll be over the moon.
And if not then it’ll be another in a long line of failed experiments.