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Re: Kra'Vak 'house' rules for FB, long

From: "Oerjan Ohlson" <oerjan.ohlson@n...>
Date: Fri, 2 Oct 1998 20:05:29 +0100
Subject: Re: Kra'Vak 'house' rules for FB, long

Chad Taylor wrote:

> First, you are correct, the cannon should hit armor first (like
> should always behave in like ways).  This is a very good example of
> can happen when you send something off without having *someone else*
> it for you.  

Don't I know it :-/ We have these very problems in Starfire too - there
are always some new details turning up, new interpretations of our rules
that we hadn't expected, etc. We do our best to write clearly, but,
well... <sigh>

> > > Mass Caster Charge
> > > 
> > > Mass:  1	  Cost:  10
> > > 
> > > The Mass Caster Charge is designed to give a ship suffering heavy
> > a
> > > short term means of defense.  When used it blows a large quantity
> > > small/fine mass (sand, ice crystals, etc) into one arc.  For the
> > remainder
> > > of the turn (until the ship moves) 
> > 
> > [snip]
> > 
> > Given how vulnerable a ship which doesn't maneuver - ie, uses its
> > thrusters or main engines to change its course and/or heading - is
> > missiles, salvo missiles and fighters, I don't mind letting the ship
> > its mass cloud for as long as it doesn't spend any thrust. The cloud
> > the same velocity as the ship when it is launched; if the ship
> > change its velocity, it'll stay close to the ship. 
> That was actually the original concept.  It got dropped because it
> caster too useful (one shot at long range and you had protection for
> several 'closing' turns) and was a bit of a pain to keep track of.

Counters are nice for this one. I vaguely remember seeing one player
using tufts of either (metal wool? The stuff you scrub *really* dirty
kettles etc with, anyway) or silver-sprayed cotton to mark ships
"streaming air" once. Not sure which game system, but it looked good.

As I said above, if you don't maneuver you'll get *badly* hit by
missiles, provided the enemy have any - the higher maneuverability is
#1 Kra'Vak anti-missile defence IMO!. Getting the equivalent of level-1
screens isn't that powerful in comparision to losing that protection :-/

>  I like LARGE fleets so even minor things (re-rolls, etc) become a bit
of a pain
> and I try to get rid of them. 

How large is LARGE?

To me, large fleets are 40+ ships. 20 or so are standard. (Fielding
my ships... not that's a HUGE fleet, but unfortunately I don't have any
table big enough to even deploy them on, much less maneuver :-( )

> > > Armoured Hulls
> > > We were using 1 mass gives 6 points of protection to
> > > balance it against the mass 3 ft/mt shields.  
> > 
> > *6* points? Ouch... The most I've gone was 2 armour points per Mass,
> > that proved quite a lot better than the screens except for very
> > vessels. 

> remember, that number was only for the ft/mt rules. 

Doesn't help much, see below...

> I came up with that
> number by going through a set of ship/mass/screen calculations.  I
> it was mass: 20, 40, 60, 80, 100.  I then figured out how much damage
> screen would absorb before the ship was destroyed at each mass/screen
> (1,2,3) and then divided the whole to get an average of how much
> a screen mass gave.  I think that was the way I did it, anyhow, the
> I got was huge.  I cut that down to 6 since I hadn't allowed for
> being taken out by threshold checks.	What you got was the reverse of
> screens, small ships benefit from armor far more than large ships.  I
> never comfortable with it, and since I play the Kra'Vak and I never
> the situation....................

Uh-oh - you woke the number-cruncher within me again...

If you take the treshold checks into account but ignore damage control
crews (since their impact depends on how long they are allowed to work
and how many of *them* survive the treshold checks, etc), you get the
following numbers of damage points saved by the screens in the FT2

Mass:	   lvl-1:	lvl-2:	      lvl-3:
  12	     1.8	  5.4	      17.3  (Note: Escort hull, only 1
  20	     2.6	  7.3	      19.5  (Note: Cruiser hull, only 2
  40	     4.4	12.4	     32.6
  60	     6.5	18.0	     47.0
  80	     8.9	24.7	     65.2
100	   10.9       30.3	   79.5
There may be some errors here - the figures are old, and I haven't
re-checked them, but they shouldn't be off more than .2 or so at most..

As you see, the really horrendous value is for level-3 screens and for
large ships. (This is, of course, the reason why level-3 screens were
disallowed in the FB and why large ships pay more Mass for their screen

Taking the averages of the (extra damage points/screen Mass) for the
20-100 ships in the table above, I get a value of 3.6 rather than 6.
adjusted for damage control parties (the MT variant), I don't think you
could get higher than 4. If you ignore the treshold rolls, you get the
value 6.2 damage saved/mass of screens instead - quite a difference. I
strongly suspect that you seriously underestimated the impact of the
treshold checks on the screen efficiency; I know I did initially.

Because of this miscalculation, your value of 6 extra armour boxes per
Mass beats all values in the above table except those for lvl-3 screens
on Mass 80 and 100 ships - the "break-even point" where armour and
screens give equivalent protection is somewhere around Mass 70 for
Mass 120 for lvl-2 and a whooping Mass 165 for lvl-1 screens. Below
Mass values, the 6-box/Mass armour is flat out better than using screens
- so unless your opponents regularly use either *very* large or
screened, relatively large ships your Kra'Vak have just gotten a very
powerful boost.

Under the FB design and combat rules where everyone takes 3 treshold
checks, screen masses depend on the ship mass, lvl-3 screens are
disallowed, and provided you use the re-rolls, the corresponding numbers

DP:	 lvl-1:       lvl-2:	
  6	 1.2 (3)    3.1 (6)
10	1.8 (3)    4.9 (6)
20	3.5 (3)    9.0 (6)
30	5.4 (3)  13.8 (6)
40	7.0 (4)  17.9 (8)
50	8.9 (5)  22.8 (10)

The figure in brackets are the minimum Mass needed for the screen
generators assuming the smallest hull (ie, the highest hull integrity)
which can cram them in together with an FTL drive and a Thrust-2 engine.
(The only case in the table above where you *can't* use a Super hull
under these restrictions is the 6 DP/lvl-2 screen one, but in that
particular case it doesn't matter for the screen size anyway.)

The average damage saved/Screen Mass value for the DP 10-50 ships in the
table above is 1.44. If you assume Average hulls instead of Super, you
get a measly 1.06; Weak and Fragile hulls give even lower values.

In both these cases, the damage control parties should increase the
figure somewhat - but then again there are several weapons which ignore
the screens completely while being at least partially absorbed by the

To paraphrase Monte Python: "6 is right out..." <g>

Small ships (or ships with fragile hulls) benefit more from armour than
from screens as well, which would make the NSL designs with strong hulls
*and* armour seem a bit strange had their arch-enemies the FSE not
so heavily on (screen-ignoring) salvo missiles. On average, I think
armour is a little worse than screens on a per-Mass count, but it is
somewhat cheaper. The two balance reasonably well IMO.

> > My thoughts are more along the Theban vs Federation lines from
> > Crusade
> > - ie, the humans use armour, but the Kra'Vak have had far longer to
> > develop efficient armour materials than we. OTOH, the Kra'Vak/Theban
> > armour is more expensive - a *lot* more expensive - than the human
> > version. I've experimented with 2 armour boxes per Mass at a cost of
> > per Mass (ie, 3 per damage box), but this points cost may well be a
> > too low.
> I think for this you will need a higher cost than 6, maybe 9.

Hm... maybe. Let's see - each Mass of armour is supported by some 0.5-1
Mass of hull, engines and FTL drive, so in effect human armour "costs"
about 4-5 points per armour box (with a slight discount for the fraction
of a hull box included in that supporting Mass). 1 Mass of Kra'Vak
armour, with 2 boxes for the Mass of 1, "costs" 8-9 points using my
and 11-12 points using your, ie, 4-4.5 and 5.5-6 pts per armour box
respectively. You're right - 6 is too little (makes it slightly cheaper
than human armour); 9 is better. I don't want to make it too expensive
either, though - if it is cheaper to simply get another ship, people
won't use it. Screens, using the same vague way of counting, cost 5-6
points per Mass (which, as we saw above, is roughly the same as the
amount of damage they stopped) as well.
[Railgun discussion snipped for now - I'll take that in another post]

> > > High maneuver
> > > An alternate method would be to cost it as an additional cost to
> > thrust,
> > > making each point of thrust cost 6% or 7% of MASS instead of 5%. 
> > > would probably be best, but just prefer working with multiples of 
> > > call me a math wimp.
> > 
> > <g> I've used 7.5% Mass per Thrust point for Kra'Vak/Centauri
> > long as you only use even thrust values, you end up with multiples
> > anyway (OK, multiples of 15, really). It seems to work OK, but it
> > the Kra'Vak ships feel rather undergunned. 
> > 
> > However, I more and more lean towards using the points system
> > using the same Mass% value for the Kra'Vak drives but costing them
> > points or so per Mass rather than the 2 human drives cost. I haven't
> > time enough to test it thoroughly, but so far it looks as if it
> > work. (And it makes the points system more useful - instead of just
> > a 3.4x multiplier of the ship Mass <g> The FB NPV/TMF varies between
> > and 3.5, IIRC.)
> > 
> either of these would probably be better.  In fact I had also
> increasing the cost of thrust points for the high maneuver engines. 
> honest, I'm a little timid about doing that sort of thing since FB
> out. Most things, by and large, are balanced by mass and that seems to
> the preferred method. 

Don't be timid. The entire point with the FB points system is that it
doesn't really tell you anything - FB balances most things by Mass
than by points. The big exceptions are the Nova Cannon and Wavegun, the
Reflex field and the Cloaking field, none of which have been extensively
playtested AFAIK (since they aren't included in the GZG human universe).
This is all because it is so much easier to figure out game balance if
you only have one balancing factor... but it also means that you can't
have any small, super-lethal ships (such as the Kra'Vak tended to be
under the MT rules). Having small, lethal (but correspondingly
ships would be markedly different from the human tubs.

> I would rather use a more expensive thrust though -
> just cleaner and easier to calculate.  I had it figured at cost 3 per
> engine mass (going with the concept that they are 50% more effective),
> cost five would probably be better now that I think about it.  I just
> balance concerns because mass isn't part of the cost.  

The entire engine cost issue is a bit vague. IMO the FB *mass* balance
between engines, weapons and hull works pretty OK, but I don't entirely
agree that more engines (at the expense of weaons) should *lower* the
cost of the ship - which is the case now.

Also, even if you increase the cost of the engines by 50%, it only
increases the cost of your *ship* by 10-15% - and that is if the ship
Thrust-8 engines (which don't gain as much efficiency from the High
Maneuverability as, say, a Thrust-2 ship). Similarly, increasing the
*mass* of the engines by 50% makes the ship *cheaper* (though in this
case the weapon payload is *seriously* reduced for high-thrust ships,
which is why I'm leaning towards small but expensive engines instead). 

> It wouldn't be hard
> to get me to change my mind though  :)

> Thanks for the reply.  This is the sort of thing that helps out an
> amount.

<g> That's what playtesters are for, isn't it?


Oerjan Ohlson

"Life is like a sewer.
  What you get out of it, depends on what you put into it."
- Hen3ry

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