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Made in us
Battlefield Tourist




MN

This topic came up in the News and Rumor thread as we were talking about the new Dystopian Wars. In the previous versions, Escorts tended to be on the table to simply soak up one round of shooting and be blown away. I commented that this type of game play was very unsatisfying to me, and hence why I avoided Dystopian Wars in the past.

I find this unsatisfying for a few reasons:

- I tend not to like buying and painting models for them to get removed from the table early or even half way through.
- In the game strategy, there is little reason to take them as larger ships can tank better leading to all big-ship forces
- Escorts have specific roles and duties that other ships can not do in history and practice
- I selfishly want variety and not the same 2-3 ships facing off every game

Enough about me!

So, what are your ideas for making Escorts and smaller ships useful/survivable in Naval games?

Do you like Free Wargames?
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Made in gb
Decrepit Dakkanaut




UK

I think one of the best ways is to break up weapon types into greater numbers of groupings.


This way a larger ship might have bigger and more powerful guns, but at the same time they can't aim those big guns at smaller faster ships. Perhaps the main guns get a negative modifier to hitting smaller craft or even can't hit them at all.

Of course a big ship also has many smaller guns so you have to balance that in too. Either forcing the ship to have only one target per turn; or a resource limiter (eg energy to fire) meaning that it can focus its attention on one target type, but not all target types. Meaning its more likely to gun for whichever is the greater threat nearest rather than always shooting the best weapons at the best targets


You could also pair evasion mechanics to hull type. A big hull has low evasion (everything hits it) a smaller hull has a much higher evasion so even the many smaller guns of a big ship have a hart time hitting them. Perhaps even going as far as to say a big ship aiming at a smaller one as a negative modifier compared to a small ship aiming at a small one.


Of course the risk with splitting the damage and aiming like that is you can run a foul of ending up with a system that can have too many niches. 40K had that when they added dedicated flying units and anti-air as the counter. Ideal situation; except at 40K scales it meant that if you didn't bring an ainti-air unit you were dead if the enemy took air units as you had nothing to counter.

So in some way I think it depends a lot on the scale of the game. Whilst smaller scale games can go deeper on mechanics, at the same time they have to be cautious of creating too many distinct niches otherwise you run a risk of players getting auto win/loss. Bigger armies might require simpler mechanics to be functional, but they can have a greater variety of distinct niches because there's more room to fit them into each army (Within reason and such a system might well need measures to stop someone just spamming one option).



Another angle is to give escorts their own weapons; they might die easily but if they've got powerful torpedoes nd other weapons that perhaps aren't mounted on bigger ships; then the escorts can provide niche functions. Of course in a sea game the risk is that whilst an escort might be great at its niche; a battleship can still do it all.



At that point things like helix army building can come into their own. Restricting things to build from battlegroups rather than from individual models. Thus meaning if you took, for example, an aircraft carrier, it might come iwth 3 anti-air escorts. This helps ensure that they remain part of army building; but also means you can't just load up on big ships with all your points.

   
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Seattle, WA USA

 Easy E wrote:

- Escorts have specific roles and duties that other ships can not do in history and practice

So, what are your ideas for making Escorts and smaller ships useful/survivable in Naval games?

I think this is the biggest key. In most naval games, you wind up with it really not being much more of "who blows the other up first" as far as how the game actually functions. Sure, you can have various scenarios, but in my experience most of them don't do anything to really alleviate the "eh, just blow 'em up" path to victory.

Being nothing more than a bullet catcher for a round or two often just feels like a sunken (pun intended) cost, so you're totally right that unless forced to take them via FOC, people generally won't. I think there needs to be mechanics that will allow any of the special duties to actually be done, so there's a reason to take them.

Star Fleet Battles has a few ways of doing this, one of which being "lending" of electronic warfare points by Scout ships. There's a few others, too (e.g., carrier escorts can also provide reloads for fighters that their carriers deploy), and it does really help justify taking those ships. It's also very useful for escorts to be there to provide anti-seeking-weapon defenses, as well as offering a little bit of other firepower (though in most cases that's not the full point as the cruisers and larger ships typically have much stronger weapon load outs).

Depending on the setting (sci-fi, fantasy, historical), what special duties might be available definitely change, but without any rules that let you apply them...

Interestingly enough, a friend and I are doing early design work on a "naval" fantasy game right now, so these are things I'm actively considering.
   
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Decrepit Dakkanaut





Halifax

Make them bonuses to bigger ships that they escort?

   
Made in no
Longtime Dakkanaut






I can think of only two ways currently

A; add secondary capturable objective points to all game plans, and at the same time only allow escorts to be able to capture.
B; add negative hit modifyers. smaller the ships the more agile they are and big guns cannot keep pace with the gun movement. But at the same time thouse ships cannot have weaponry that will deal big damage to large ships, unless it kinda becomes mandatory that fleet building follows the rock,paper,scissor idea.

Deffo some flaws whitin both systems but i dont tinker with creations of rules/games systems and thus cannot see the flaws.

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My post from the previous thread -

There's always the Federation destroyer in Star Fleet Battles, which is basically the Heavy Cruiser's saucer (including the bulk of its weapons) with a single warp engine. It's an anomoly, though. SFB also had the Fast Patrol Ships (or PFs), and a PFs versus regular ships scenario called Piranha.

But yeah, it's a problem. The trick is to give the smaller ships a role without having them eclipse the big ships. Historically, torpedoes balance out because they were tricky to use (I'm not aware of any destroyer-launched torpedoes hitting a battleship in WW2, though Yamato did have to turn away from some when fighting Taffy 3; contrast with USS Laffey performing a *crazy* close approach of Hiei at the Solomon Islands, and completely gutting her bridge with gunfire). [\quote]
   
Made in gb
Wight Lord with the Sword of Kings






UK

 Easy E wrote:
This topic came up in the News and Rumor thread as we were talking about the new Dystopian Wars. In the previous versions, Escorts tended to be on the table to simply soak up one round of shooting and be blown away. I commented that this type of game play was very unsatisfying to me, and hence why I avoided Dystopian Wars in the past.

I find this unsatisfying for a few reasons:

- I tend not to like buying and painting models for them to get removed from the table early or even half way through.
- In the game strategy, there is little reason to take them as larger ships can tank better leading to all big-ship forces
- Escorts have specific roles and duties that other ships can not do in history and practice
- I selfishly want variety and not the same 2-3 ships facing off every game

Enough about me!

So, what are your ideas for making Escorts and smaller ships useful/survivable in Naval games?


Have you tried ACTA? Whilst its a space ship game - like many of those its basically wet water warfare so easy to convert

Ships have both damage and crew so don't die that quickly - unless say a batttleship unloads its full armament into it.

Due to the way its Iniative system works - small ships are important as In sinks but also there are a number of types of Escorts, also small ships are often much faster and much more agile - although terrain also helps.

L/R Bombardment: Heavy Torpedos, Energy Mines, Missiles - often slow and lightly armed but exceptions such as the Elutarian which can hold its own against ships of its class due to heavy armour and reasonable guns.
Gunships: Usually fast and agile with powerful guns but light armour - Ships like the Vorchan and White Star, rely on keeping out of heavy gun arcs and sometimes advanced defences like Dodge. Also good against opposite numbers.
Escorts: Ships that provide anti-fighter support to nearby large ships, Maximus can even intercept enemy fire.
Scouts: Lightly armed but important to provide to-hit re-rolls and reduce stealth

I AM A MARINE PLAYER

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I've heard that ACTA is similar to Victory at Sea.

But since I never played ACTA, and haven't really had a chance to dig into Victory at Sea, I can't comment on it.

In Victory at Sea, at least, most of the smaller ships have torpedoes (USN heavy cruisers do not), and are also useful for pre-battle scouting. Smaller ships also tend to be harder to hit. The full rules will also have rules of some sort for submarines, which will likely require destroyers to deal with.
   
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Wight Lord with the Sword of Kings






UK

Eumerin wrote:
I've heard that ACTA is similar to Victory at Sea.

But since I never played ACTA, and haven't really had a chance to dig into Victory at Sea, I can't comment on it.

In Victory at Sea, at least, most of the smaller ships have torpedoes (USN heavy cruisers do not), and are also useful for pre-battle scouting. Smaller ships also tend to be harder to hit. The full rules will also have rules of some sort for submarines, which will likely require destroyers to deal with.


Victory at Sea is based on ACTA - has some very similar elements - not played it much but Torpedeo Destroyers are apparently very good.

Looking at the playtest documents (on the MGP forum) submarines are a bit of a issue in normal games.

I AM A MARINE PLAYER

"Unimaginably ancient xenos artefact somewhere on the planet, hive fleet poised above our heads, hidden 'stealer broods making an early start....and now a bloody Chaos cult crawling out of the woodwork just in case we were bored. Welcome to my world, Ciaphas."
Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Ordo Xenos

"I will admit that some Primachs like Russ or Horus could have a chance against an unarmed 12 year old novice but, a full Battle Sister??!! One to one? In close combat? Perhaps three Primarchs fighting together... but just one Primarch?" da001

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Da Head Honcho Boss Grot




New Jersey, State of Perfection

I believe the new edition of Victory at Sea was rewritten using rules from Blavk Seas and Cruel Seas, don't believe the ACTA pedogree is evident any longer

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2020/12/24 23:15:58


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Longtime Dakkanaut






I like the idea of ships size coming into play, where a large ship will struggle but a small one will not.

I would be looking to make small ships more difficult to hit the closer they are, which is fair as a large gun can only swivel so fast, and if the target is at a longer range it is far easier for the large guns to draw a bead on them. I would also be looking to make short range vs small ships impossible, giving the small ships a goal of getting in close, and the large ships a goal of staying further away. Then the escort ships come into their own as they will be there to take on the smaller craft at short range, and also present little of a target at long range. I would also be happy to give the escorts a "spotters" role, where the large ship can shoot as if from the escort, provided the large ship can also see and the escort is within a range (4" for old dystopian wars), effectively boosting the long range of a large ship by up to 4" whilst it has escorts in good positions.

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MN

So many good ideas here. Thank you.

Here is how I have tackled the issue in the past:

1. Some specialty weapon systems that allow escorts to "snipe".

2. Escorts adding bonuses such as extra dice for Command rolls for initiative, bonuses to command and control, point defense overlap, and being able to draw LOS.

3. Weapon classes that match-up or align with ship classes. Therefore, a 14" battleship battery will have the best chance of hitting against other battleships, and the further you go away from the class, the less effective they are at hitting.

4. Role-player functions such as mine sweepers, mine layers, torpedo carriers, etc. They have a specific role that other, larger ships do not do as well.

5. Speed and maneuver advantages that other ships can not match.

6. Scenario design. If you make games about more than blasting other ships, then escorts are useful for achieving objectives that other ships can not accomplish.


I am really intrigue by several ideas in this thread though, and look to expand on my ideas further.

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Dakka Veteran





Fog of War would be an interesting design mechanic, split the board up into various sections (so 12" for the old GW 4x6' ones) and have ships only be visible in the section you are in and the adjacent sections (with submarines being invisible to almost everyone unless surfaced and something like an island blocking LoS).

Ships that are off board have been reported in the area, with perhaps even a certain percentage of points spent on extra ships that are in the area but not in this engagement. So if a game was 2000pts - you've got 2250pts visible in your deployment zone at the start and the enemy isn't sure if there's a pair of battleships or if the carrier fleet is headed this way.

Off board ships move from sector to sector in an abstract way. You put 'steam' tokens that have a compass direction on top of a 'last sighted' token face down, with different ships needing different numbers of steam tokens before you can place a new 'last sighted' location down (face down). Escorts have one whilst larger carriers etc might need three. Once you hit your threshold you can choose to add a new location, or fake it and carry on adding steam tokens.

Once a ship has been spotted, it's placed on the board and it's 'last spotted' token is turned face up until it's able to get out of LoS with the enemy spotter at which point the model is replaced with the 'Last spotted' token on the board, and further steam tokens are then placed next to it.

You could even have things like radar stations and passive sub sonar adding these tokens to the board (so you know something is there and how fast it is going), or even just have all the tokens on the board at the start and assume the battle has begun following a recon flight making contact with the enemy fleet. It'd save space around the table to have all the tokens on the board.

It's very much a game of finding the enemy fleet and engaging with the right units in the right place, rather than a straight ship wargame. But there's definitely a role for escorts there - either looking for the enemy, taking out spotter planes or submarines or just buying time for the carrier/etc to turn to a new heading as the enemy starts to close in.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2020/12/30 01:44:56


 
   
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I have the beginnings of a fog of war mechanic for Battle Fleet Gothic. You have cards that let you do things like switch ships (We thought that cruiser was the battle ship!), shift position by large or small amounts. As the battle goes on you have to discard them, and getting scouts within range to get a clear picture of the enemy disposition forces you to discard cards. Eventually you have none left and no more tricks up your sleeve. Escorts, being fast, disposable and hard to hit would be the ideal choice for this duty.

Not sure it can be made into a workable mechanic, but I'll give it a try at some point.
   
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Legendary Dogfighter





An idea I had for a Fog of War effect was each unit being represented by two or even three tokens - one representing the real position of the unit and two dummies.
When a dummy token is revealed, simply remove it.
When a real token is revealed, replace it with the model and two the two corresponding dummies if necessary.
You could then vary how spotting works for each class of ship.
   
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New Jersey, State of Perfection

Thats an old idea thats been done many times in the past. Personally, I play tabletop miniatures games for miniatures. Any game that involves playing with a token in place of a miniature for some period of the game is a nonstarter, and most modern designers would tell you that fog of war mechanics along those lines should be avoided.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/01/14 12:07:02


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 kirotheavenger wrote:
An idea I had for a Fog of War effect was each unit being represented by two or even three tokens - one representing the real position of the unit and two dummies.
When a dummy token is revealed, simply remove it.
When a real token is revealed, replace it with the model and two the two corresponding dummies if necessary.
You could then vary how spotting works for each class of ship.


Dropfleet had a detection mechanic which was interesting - but not sure it actually helped the game or balance.

So you have a targeting range based on the size of ship, any stealth technology, the sensors of the ship and what the target is doing.


I AM A MARINE PLAYER

"Unimaginably ancient xenos artefact somewhere on the planet, hive fleet poised above our heads, hidden 'stealer broods making an early start....and now a bloody Chaos cult crawling out of the woodwork just in case we were bored. Welcome to my world, Ciaphas."
Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Ordo Xenos

"I will admit that some Primachs like Russ or Horus could have a chance against an unarmed 12 year old novice but, a full Battle Sister??!! One to one? In close combat? Perhaps three Primarchs fighting together... but just one Primarch?" da001

www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/528517.page

A Bloody Road - my Warhammer Fantasy Fiction 
   
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Da Head Honcho Boss Grot




New Jersey, State of Perfection

Detection mechanics != Fog of War. They are two different concepts. Detection mechanics are typically just an additional layer to the targeting/ranged combat mechanics intended to represent the interaction of sensors and stealth systems, etc. In Dropfleets case, its less a detection mechanic and more of a "ranging mechanic" - the weapons are assumed to have unlimited range, but you can only target something that is within detection range which is a factor of your own sensors and your targets signature.

Fog of War mechanics on the other hand are chiefly concerned with principals of uncertainty - i.e. uncertainty about where your opponent is, its direction and speed, what your opponent is, what they are doing, etc. the goal of fog of war mechanics isn't so much to prevent you from interacting with or shooting at something, but rather to force you into a situation where you have to make choices based on limited available information, which may or may not backfire if it turns out your interpretation of the information provided is incorrect.

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I would agree that I don't love counters in a miniatures game - which is why any fog of war I'd be really excited about would have to based on something else, hence cards.



Automatically Appended Next Post:
The problem is I'm not sure it can be made useful enough to be worth the trouble. Also, since you would be playing the cards yourself it wouldn't feel the same as most fog of war mechanics since you don't have to commit to where units actually are.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/01/14 21:14:46


 
   
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MN

chaos0xomega wrote:
Any game that involves playing with a token in place of a miniature for some period of the game is a nonstarter, and most modern designers would tell you that fog of war mechanics along those lines should be avoided.


Huh, that is news to me as I can think of a few commercial games that use that very mechanic!

I can see the logic behind that thought process though. Why get into a miniature wargame if half the game the minis are not going to be on the board?

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New Jersey, State of Perfection

commercial wargames are not synonymous with modern wargames The only games I can think of that still use those mechanics are largely 5-10 years old minimum, or are otherwise smaller works iterating on an older design

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Cheltenham, UK

chaos0xomega wrote:
commercial wargames are not synonymous with modern wargames The only games I can think of that still use those mechanics are largely 5-10 years old minimum, or are otherwise smaller works iterating on an older design


Infinity 4th dropped last year and still uses this mechanic. I mean, I agree with you: if I've put the effort into painting a mini, I want it on the table, damnit. But Infinity players use a lot of camo markers and others that leave minis off the table. And I like Infinity, too.

   
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New Jersey, State of Perfection

So like I said, a game system thats at least 5-10 years old, regardless of whether or not they refreshed it with a new edition 1-2 years ago. Infinity is a game I really wanted to like but couldn't get past the complexity of its rules

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New Jersey, State of Perfection

Follow up - I picked up Gamma Wolves over the weekend, and to my surprise it uses "contact markers" - basically blank bases to mark the position, etc. of a model up until the point that the model is fully spotted.

Only part of the game that I don't mechanically care for, but I will concede that (apparently) more modern games are still using it.

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MN

Yes, it is also in Blucher which is specifically designed to be a competitive, Nappies game. I also saw it in All Quiet on the Martian Front which is a bit more dead, and Infinity which we have all ready talked about.

I am pretty sure it is also common in hex and grid games BUT most people are not playing those for the look!

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New Jersey, State of Perfection

I've only played a demo game of Blucher once, but from what I recall of the concealment system, all the units/minis were on the table during the course of the game, the only thing that differed was that there were unit cards under each unit base, and when the unit was "revealed" it sometimes wasn't the same as what the unit of minis on top of it made you think they were.

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MN

Close, all the unit cards are on the table, but once revealed you are suppose to replace it with the unit OR just the other side of the card since the game can be played with JUST cards if you want.

However, I am sure people play it all sorts of different ways.

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UK

There is also the re-position once everyone set up option.

So the side with better Command and Control/Scouts/ECM/ sensors can swap /redploy x number of ships after both sides have deployed.

GW have done it few times with special characters

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/01/18 20:09:20


I AM A MARINE PLAYER

"Unimaginably ancient xenos artefact somewhere on the planet, hive fleet poised above our heads, hidden 'stealer broods making an early start....and now a bloody Chaos cult crawling out of the woodwork just in case we were bored. Welcome to my world, Ciaphas."
Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Ordo Xenos

"I will admit that some Primachs like Russ or Horus could have a chance against an unarmed 12 year old novice but, a full Battle Sister??!! One to one? In close combat? Perhaps three Primarchs fighting together... but just one Primarch?" da001

www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/528517.page

A Bloody Road - my Warhammer Fantasy Fiction 
   
 
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