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Old 07-25-2018, 11:07 AM   #11
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: [Spaceships] I'm closing on nothing, and 4 other confusions.

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Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post

Based on my sample combats, Spaceship combats is an exchange of beam weapons until a ship loses point defense, and then a barrage of missiles destroys it. In theory, you can overwhelm a ship's PD with missiles, but that's a strict design and force structure question: does your fleet have more missile launchers than your target has PD shots? If you do, your target dies, and if not, you wasted all your missiles.

But the first two sample combats I did were between small spaceships (SM+5 to SM+6), primarily armed with beam weapons, with enough PD that PD couldn't be overwhelmed until the spaceship was damaged. At that point, maneuvering mattered a lot to get good range for their beam weapons.
My sample combats didn't reach quite this clear a result but only 2 of them were for the Basic system.

The first was as much about testing the general design system as I tried to port over some ships from the old Star Frontiers game. Basically the Sathar were sending a dstroyer to attack a Space Station and the Feds had 2 Assault Scouts to defend,

What made sense for the Sathar was to pull a Fast Pass and launch missiles as they screamed by. The Feds decided to Fast Pass the Sathar first in defense. Lesson? Missiles launched during a Fast Pass are absolute killers. It may ahve been hekpful in working out the Fast Pass rules.

In the second I took one of the sample ships called an "Ares-class cruiser" (it ended up in the Designer's Notes) which was said to have trouble v. Missile boats in its' text blurb and test that proposition.

I tokk the Ares and swapped out its' largest gun battery for missiles and ta-da! I had designed the Hydra-class. This is one of the things Spaceships does best.

The first thing I discovered thwas that the Ares had no beams larger than a secondary battery and could not pentrate its' own frontal armor. It could ahve tried to maneuver into position to attack the Hydra's Central armor but the two ships had the same acceleration and crew skill so even in the Basic system only freakish luck would make this possible.

Meanwhile the Hydra's missiles could penetrate the Ares' front armor. if they got past PD. I promptly designed the Ares II with fewer but larger beams. In that battle the Ares II was doing at least a litle damage every round. Lesson? Many smal gusn are not better than a few big guns and use of missiles requires careful tactics.

I did 2 more big sample battles for the Advanced system and missiles dion't figure into those or at least not in ship-to-ship. the ship-to-ship parts invovled big or at least biggish shisp with really long range beam weapons and missiles just weren't fast enough to strike before the beams settled things.

However, the point of the ship-to-ship in one of them was to clear the way for a Nova-class carrier to make a Fast Pass on a Gibralter-class (SM+14) Battle Station. in stead of the Nova's usual complemetn of fighters and assault boats its' hangar bay was filled with 100 TL8 kamikaze ASATS.

When the Nova launched those while going past at 70 miles per second they each launched 3 smaller missiles and even one of them hitting was a -10x HP kill. The Gibralter's normally adequate VRF Tertiary Battery was not enough PD even with larger beams and missile batteries joining in. Lessons? Lots of even amall missiles at Fast Pass velocity can beat almost anything. Kill the enmy bepfre he gets in missile range if you can.
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Old 07-25-2018, 11:14 AM   #12
weevis
 
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Default Re: [Spaceships] I'm closing on nothing, and 4 other confusions.

Thanks mlangsdorf, I appreciate these detailed examples and also the feedback on the flowchart. My point with the chair was to re-enact my initial confusion, probably because I feel (somewhat defensively) that it is not that strange a mistake to make while reading these rules. But who knows, maybe I'm the only one that was confused by this. I'm all set with the gameplay model now.

I do still think (also probably defensively) that some of the things I raised are not very clear. You are justifying the gameplay model and you've done an excellent job. I think I'm stumbling upon what I think are issues with the writing clarity and the naming of things, which led me to have a hard time understanding the gameplay model.

For instance I think my issues with the bonus / "non-bonus" acceleration could have been avoided with some phrasing changes and possibly not using the word "bonus" (which is the word that implied to me that "non-bonus" acceleration was important in the first place).

In the part you responded to I think I was probably struggling with the word "evasive." I'm not saying I have a better word -- you have to call the maneuver choice something in the rules. Still, when I read through these rules the first time I recall thinking about a scenario where ships with big missiles (32cm+) want to stand off at range L vs. beam ships with beams that can't reach that far.

In the paragraph above I called that "stand off" because it feels more comprehensible to me to say that, rather than to "be evasive" at range L. I understand that a ship is harder to hit if it is accelerating. I understand I could just stop my engines or slow them down (hold course). But I'd probably want to keep those engines on and preserve every single point of acceleration bonus I'm entitled to every turn in case the enemy tries to close. "Evasive action" isn't what came to mind for that. So there seemed to be too few options.

So to beat the dead horse, when you say this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post
if you decide to use all that awesome acceleration, then you need to go somewhere: closer to it or away from it or in a loop, and two of those options are evasive.
I feel like your words "are evasive" would be replaced by "make you harder to hit" if we were just shooting the breeze about about imaginary space battles. You used "evasive" because that's the name of the maneuver in the rules. The first definition of "Evasive" is "to escape." I just looked it up to see if my interpretation was wacky or off-base. "to escape" doesn't fit that well in your sentence with "in a loop." That's probably why it wasn't intuitive to me.

With cover I think the presence of the concept in the rules at all suggested to me that you'd be able to move in relation to it and do something else with it. Since you can use cover while closing as an ambush strategy, I expected cover to come up somewhere else. That's all I'm saying.

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Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post
if your super TL11^ spaceship wants to stay in the vicinity of an asteroid to use it as cover - well, remember, the asteroid is moving pretty fast relative to the sun already
That doesn't seem relevant but maybe I don't see your point. If the gameplay model lets people using a closing maneuver hide behind cover for an ambush, I don't think it is crazy for the reader to expect to see cover show up somewhere else in the movement rules. (Hello Exogorths!) But I think you can't do anything else with it. As a gameplay decision, that's fine. Combat rules need to simplify things. As a reader I didn't think it was ideal.

I think I've got what the rules intended for all of these situations now. Thanks everybody.

mlangsdorf I'll see what I can do with the flowchart edits. Thanks again.

As a minor aside I'll report have a space merchant/pirate campaign and I've been doing playtests with these rules that are 1v1 with lightly-armed freighters. The rules seem to work well and I like them so far. Maybe the ideal usage scenario was lightly armed freighters at TL11^.
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Old 07-25-2018, 11:54 AM   #13
mlangsdorf
 
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Default Re: [Spaceships] I'm closing on nothing, and 4 other confusions.

I'm not saying that the Spaceship rules are particularly clearly written here. There's space for more clarity, and some of the uses of the term acceleration and acceleration bonus could be better handled.

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Originally Posted by weevis View Post
Still, when I read through these rules the first time I recall thinking about a scenario where ships with big missiles (32cm+) want to stand off at range L vs. beam ships with beams that can't reach that far.

In the paragraph above I called that "stand off" because it feels more comprehensible to me to say that, rather than to "be evasive" at range L. I understand that a ship is harder to hit if it is accelerating. I understand I could just stop my engines or slow them down (hold course). But I'd probably want to keep those engines on and preserve every single point of acceleration bonus I'm entitled to every turn in case the enemy tries to close. "Evasive action" isn't what came to mind for that. So there seemed to be too few options.
So this is Newtonian physics in a vacuum: you're going to maintain your speed and heading unless you accelerate. You don't have to have your engines on all the time just to keep up your speed in the face of air resistance.

So this hypothetical missile ship that wants to keep the enemy distant: either the enemy's last Closing maneuver succeeded and he's on attack vector or at better range, or it didn't and he's Neutral to you. If he's on an attack vector, you're going to want to evade to escape his superior position. If he's at closer range, you're going to want to evade to escape out to your preferred range. So in those circumstances, I think it's pretty clear that evasive action is a reasonable name for the maneuver.

But if the enemy failed, but you want to maximize your engines so as to make sure he can't close with you on his next attempt? I'm guessing you're going to change your velocity so you're moving away from him, because that will obviously make it harder for him to close. But you also don't want to move too far away and outrange your own weapons - so you're going to change your acceleration when it looks like you're moving too far away. That sounds like evasive movement to me.

Maybe there should be another name for the maneuver when you just want to stand off at a distance, but it's going to have mechanical the same effect of you stay at a distance and get a lot of bonuses to contest people trying to close with you. Rather than having two maneuvers with different names but the same effects, the book conserves space by using the same name for both.

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Originally Posted by weevis View Post
I feel like your words "are evasive" would be replaced by "make you harder to hit" if we were just shooting the breeze about about imaginary space battles. You used "evasive" because that's the name of the maneuver in the rules. The first definition of "Evasive" is "to escape." I just looked it up to see if my interpretation was wacky or off-base. "to escape" doesn't fit that well in your sentence with "in a loop." That's probably why it wasn't intuitive to me.
Back to my two hypothetical jet fighters: if one of them of was doing loops during a combat situation, you'd probably say it was making an evasive maneuver. You wouldn't have an issue with the idea that flying at a high speed while doing loops made it harder for other people to successfully attack the plane. What's the difference in deep space?

A ship that's just using a lot of acceleration to increase its velocity vector away from the main engagement is starting to escape, so again, an evasive maneuver (and one that sets up the Retreat maneuver). If you just want to keep the range open when no one is closing on you, you perform a Controlled Drift or Hold Course maneuver. If someone is closing on you by performing a successful Closing maneuver and you would prefer to fight at a longer range, then you'll need to escape by performing an Evasive maneuver.

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Originally Posted by weevis View Post
With cover I think the presence of the concept in the rules at all suggested to me that you'd be able to move in relation to it and do something else with it. Since you can use cover while closing as an ambush strategy, I expected cover to come up somewhere else. That's all I'm saying.
Sure, there's room for expanding that kind of stuff.
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Old 07-25-2018, 01:50 PM   #14
weevis
 
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Default Re: [Spaceships] I'm closing on nothing, and 4 other confusions.

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Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post
if one of them of was doing loops during a combat situation, you'd probably say it was making an evasive maneuver.
Heh, thanks again -- I don't disagree with any of this, but it isn't responding to my reading of the book. I didn't say I imagined "doing loops," I said a ship was "in a loop" around something at long range. I said that being in a loop around something at long range didn't sound like escaping to me, so I thought (at first reading) the word "evasive" didn't fit, since evade means "escape." I didn't find this clear. I think more detail won't budge me, since I'm reporting a reaction I already had.

It sounds like when you read the rules that being in a big loop around something wasn't the scenario that came to mind for you, or maybe it did and it *does* sound "evasive" to you. Either way, more power to you. The book's writer thought it fit too. You had different scenarios or word connotations in mind than I did. Which is cool.

I appreciate the help figuring out what the rules intended.
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Old 07-25-2018, 03:34 PM   #15
Ulzgoroth
 
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Default Re: [Spaceships] I'm closing on nothing, and 4 other confusions.

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Originally Posted by weevis View Post
Heh, thanks again -- I don't disagree with any of this, but it isn't responding to my reading of the book. I didn't say I imagined "doing loops," I said a ship was "in a loop" around something at long range. I said that being in a loop around something at long range didn't sound like escaping to me, so I thought (at first reading) the word "evasive" didn't fit, since evade means "escape." I didn't find this clear. I think more detail won't budge me, since I'm reporting a reaction I already had.

It sounds like when you read the rules that being in a big loop around something wasn't the scenario that came to mind for you, or maybe it did and it *does* sound "evasive" to you. Either way, more power to you. The book's writer thought it fit too. You had different scenarios or word connotations in mind than I did. Which is cool.

I appreciate the help figuring out what the rules intended.
Yeah, um, evasive maneuvers meaning maneuvers to evade enemy attacks isn't something GURPS Spaceships came up with. It goes at least back to original-series Star Trek. I can't prove whether it actually originated in military usage or whether it's something SF writers invented, but it's common coin at this point either way.
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Old 07-25-2018, 06:51 PM   #16
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: [Spaceships] I'm closing on nothing, and 4 other confusions.

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I can't prove whether it actually originated in military usage or whether it's something SF writers invented
With the British spelling ("manoeuvre"), Google Ngram shows a case as far back as 1836, itself a record of a Parliamentary debate from 1810. The phrase was used in reference to a political debate tactic, so presumably it was common enough currency to have been adopted into that sort of generalized use.

Under the US spelling, Ngram takes off in 1940. The British spelling shows sporadic spikes until about 1940 as well, when a larger climb ensues.

The 1810 date is early enough that it probably lets SF off the hook, even for a generous definition of SF. I'd guess that the phrase was popularized during WW II, thanks to all the servicemen that got exposed to it, and simply adopted into SF.

I don't have access to the OED, but I'm now curious as to what they have to say.
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