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Old February 10th, 2008, 03:44 PM
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Default Back to Reality: Starship Combat System is Crap

Wow. It's been a long time since I've read a system that has as many bad ideas packed into so few pages.

I've worked through the MGT starship combat system. It's crap, of course. Although it is incomplete, there's enough framework there to confirm that this system will stink up the joint. Here's why:

1. The power usage system is an embarrasingly bad attempt to bolt a Star Fleet Battles type power allocation system on top of Traveller. The full details are at http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Dis...ad.php?t=14985 . It is clear to me now that the design team has little competence in designing wargame rules. Their most execrable design decisions are wargame systems like the initiative system and the power allocation system. OK, they're no great shakes on straight RPG mechanics either, as the T/E system shows.

2. Apparently, they are gonna use the initiative system for starship combat as well. As bad as that system is in modeling skirmish combat, it is far worse in modelling spacecraft vector movement. And as a bonus, we get to *also* use that crapweasel of a system for PC's during space combat as well.

3. Clearly, the design team has not bothered to actually test these rules before unleashing them on an unsuspecting public. Here's how damage works:

a. Weapons that hit the target do damage just like in the absurd personal combat system. So the basic TL12 beam laser does 2x+2. Assuming a +2 modifier (pretty easy to get) and uncapped effects, the majority of the time, the weapon will do 16 or 18 points of damage.

b. Armor reduces damage. For every 5% of tonnage devoted to armor, you'll get 2, 4 or 8 points of armor depending on TL and material.

c. You don't simply roll for each point of damage. This is MGT, for cripes' sake and you know what that means. First, a time-wasting "innovative" and fiddly intermediate step. 1-6 points of damage produces 1 hit. 7-9 produces 2 hits. 10-12 produces 3 hits. 13-16 produces 4 hits. Every six hits after that produces 1 hit. How's that for intuitive and straightforward?

Say...I have an idea. Why not simply rate weapons for "hits" rather than "damage". Well, that would be a lot faster and produce the same result, but it wouldn't let us use our precious damage multiple system. So, can't have that.

d. Anyhow, the typical beam laser will wind up scoring 5 hits. 8 points of armor (5, 10 or 20% of ship's tonnage) will reduce this to 2.6 hits. 16 points of armor will reduce it to about .6 hits.

e. A ship gets 1 hull and 1 structure hit per 50 tons. Hull is destroyed first and the ship is incapacitated after all hull points are gone. The ship breaks up when all structure points are gone.

f. So...If a 400 ton ship takes 8 hull points, it's incapacitated. Since about half of all hits are hull hits, this means that an unarmored 400 ton ship will be incapacitated with only 4 beam laser hits. Even if well armored (10% of tonnage at TL 10), 6-7 hits will render it incapacitated. in other words, MGT ships are eggshells armed with sledgehammers. Of course, the poorly conceived armor system does make it possible to make a ship completely invulnerable to damage. A TL15 ship can render itself effectively invulnerable to lasers for 10% of its tonnage. Missiles are pointless; see my Starship design thread for details. It is obvious to me that the design team did not analyse these numbers carefully; I predict a slew of "invulnerable" designs.

4. Particle Beam bays are worthless; they consume 50 tons but only do x3+8 points of "damage". A triple Particle Beam turret does x3+4...times up to 3 weapons.

5. Mechanically, the combat system is even more clumsy than the personal combat system (as hard as that is to imagine). Imagine having to go through all that effort for 4 triple turrets...

Crap, crap, crap and crap.

I feel like Kurtz at the end of "Heart of Darkness"...

Last edited by tbeard1999; February 10th, 2008 at 04:14 PM..
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Old February 10th, 2008, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
c. You don't simply roll for each point of damage. This is MGT, for cripes' sake and you know what that means. First, a time-wasting "innovative" and fiddly intermediate step. 1-6 points of damage produces 1 hit. 7-9 produces 2 hits. 10-12 produces 3 hits. 13-16 produces 4 hits. Every six hits after that produces 1 hit. How's that for intuitive and straightforward?

Say...I have an idea. Why not simply rate weapons for "hits" rather than "damage". Well, that would be a lot faster and produce the same result, but it wouldn't let us use our precious damage multiple system. So, can't have that.
This is the compromise between CT-simple and TNE-rich: How to model penetration versus damage. I agree that it's annoying to have a little table lookup everytime your weapon hits.
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Old February 10th, 2008, 04:11 PM
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This is the compromise between CT-simple and TNE-rich: How to model penetration versus damage. I agree that it's annoying to have a little table lookup everytime your weapon hits.
I think that the MGT damage/hit abomination exists for the sole reason that it allows the designer to shoehorn his beloved damage system into a completely inappropriate system. Its results do not meaningfully differ from a straightforward armor-reduces-hits-taken system.

And you do *not* need a fiddly, time-wasting system like that to produce the same results.

<sigh>

Why couldn't the designer have fallen in love with some mechanics that actually work?

Last edited by tbeard1999; February 10th, 2008 at 04:15 PM..
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