Nova playtest rules -- damage location

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mj12games
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Nova playtest rules -- damage location

Postby mj12games » Wed May 25, 2016 4:42 pm

Over the past few days, I've been working on some ideas regarding the inclusion of a "damage location" roll to Nova. Here are the results so far; feedback is much appreciated. :)

When using this rule, the ship display is modified as follows: draw a box around the middle group of hull boxes; these are no longer "hull" boxes. Instead, these are "system" boxes. Next, divide the number of system boxes in half, rounding up. Place a bullet (•) in that numbered box. Finally, place a second bullet in the last system box. For example, the Imperial Majestic-class BC has 17 hull boxes, divided into groups of 6-6-5. When using this rule, the middle group of 6 boxes become system boxes instead. Bullets are placed in the 3rd and 6th system boxes.

Note that if a ship has armor boxes, these are unchanged on the ship display (although they will operate somewhat differently).

Because this modification increases the relative worth of each hull box, all weapons fire is conducted with an additional +1 bonus to the attack modifier.

When applying damage, any armor boxes possessed by a ship are checked off before moving to any "internal" damage -- this is a change from the current system in which the first group of armor boxes are checked off, then the first group of hull boxes, then the second group of armor boxes, and so on.

Once all of a ship's armor boxes (if any) have been checked, instead of automatically checking off hull boxes, roll one die per hit: 1-3: check off one hull box; 4-5: check off one system box; 6: no effect (the shot was deflected at the last second, or struck a non-essential section of the target).

When you check off a system box containing a bullet (•), immediately conduct damage checks as described on p.14 of the Nova Rulebook. Once all of the system boxes are checked off, any additional rolls of 4-5 have no effect.
Daniel Kast
Majestic Twelve Games
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Re: Nova playtest rules -- damage location

Postby Blacklancer99 » Sat Jun 04, 2016 6:44 pm

After mulling this about for a couple of days I have a couple of thoughts.
First off, I feel like this process kind of runs counter to the simplicity of the Nova damage rules, not in what they do, but how to get there. I haven't run them through to see if the feeling is reality. It seems to me that adding something in the construction of a ship is fine, but the additional things to keep track of and roll through in game-play seem kind of clunky in Nova.

Second, I really don't like a "No Effect" roll on a hit. If I miss (or some other hand-waving of last second deflection/non-essential hit) that's one thing, but it is deflating to me to "score a hit" and roll a no effect.

Lastly, I would like the damage allocation to skew in favor of systems damage over hull damage. It seems to me that in naval combat and science fiction battles it is more common to score a "mission kill" on a vessel by damaging or destroying key equipment and either forcing it to retreat, fight on at a reduced capacity, strike colors, etc...While everyone wants their attack to result in a brilliant fireball and drifting debris, I think it is more interesting for ships to reduce each other with hits. Ships in Nova already feel too fragile to me most of the time (it's a scaling thing) so I would prefer to see hits that are less likely to result in complete destruction but may force different decisions on a player.
Of course these are just my opinions, but since no one else raised their hand I figured I would jump in here and give my two cents.
Cheers,
Erik
Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.
Mark Twain.

mj12games
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Re: Nova playtest rules -- damage location

Postby mj12games » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:33 pm

All good points. Maybe I should explain some of the thinking behind this:

First of all, this wouldn't be a change to the basic Nova mechanics, necessarily. Just an optional rule you could use.

Why would you want to use it? Well, I've grown to believe one of the problems with Nova is that it is too predictable when it comes to damage resolution. If I have a hull size 12 ship, I know that it will take a systems check after 4 and 8 hits, and die after 12. There's no variance. Further, I think the "every hit scores a hull point" mechanic contributes to the psychological belief that Nova ships are more fragile than their Admiralty equivalents (they aren't, but as you say, it FEELS like they are).

What this system does, in theory anyway, is retain the effects of damage, while randomizing the sequence. You might not make a damage check until 50% of your hull is gone, or you might make one before you've lost a single hull point. I like the uncertainty.

Finally, I think I made a tactical error in designing Nova by altering the definition of a "hull point". Ever since the Compendium, a hull point was (on average) equivalent to two damage points -- in Nova, that was altered, while at the same time the space provided by each hull point was reduced. When the dust settled, I ended up with a situation where one hull point in Nova is worth only about 0.75 hull points in Admiralty. That bothers me, and this system was the best method I could come up with to even the scale without requiring wholesale alterations to either the ship card or the damage resolution mechanic.
Daniel Kast
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Re: Nova playtest rules -- damage location

Postby Blacklancer99 » Sun Jun 05, 2016 12:09 am

I can see what you are saying about varying the damage allocation. I'm not math savvy (and my gentleman's C in statistics and probability was over 20 years ago) so I could never break down the numbers reasoning.

This has led me to a couple more questions...including this rule would seem to open the door for systems damage only/no hull damage weapons wouldn't it?
Second, is there a practical or mechanical/math reason why you couldn't continue to divide the armor as normal Nova, roll for "location" first and then hit armor if it is present? There are plenty of justifications for armored systems (armored bulkheads, armored turrets, etc...) I assume you must have a reason for using "ablative" style armor exclusively with this optional rule. I personally use that style armor a lot to model "hard" shields and use Nova Shields to model armor because I like the way it works better. However, I was just wondering why it would be the only way to go here.
Cheers,
Erik
Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.
Mark Twain.

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Re: Nova playtest rules -- damage location

Postby mj12games » Sun Jun 05, 2016 2:06 am

You could certainly model it any number of ways -- I just know that many players have long wanted to see truly ablative defenses in Starmada for a while now, and this is as good a time as any to try it out. As it stands right now, armor in Nova is really just "extra" hull. It pads the amount of time you have between damage checks, but that's it. By "front-loading" it you are giving the ship all that extra time at full strength.
Daniel Kast
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Re: Nova playtest rules -- damage location

Postby Blacklancer99 » Sun Jun 05, 2016 10:30 pm

Ok, I just wasn't sure if there was some arcane mathematical, square root abusing, reason for it to work that was with the damage allocation model you have come up with :D
As I mentioned I think that "front-loading" the armor is excellent at modeling "hard" shields. I have also found that when designing or converting ships I almost always use Nova Armor (front-loaded or regular) to represent shields because it prevents a Hull hit and I use Nova Shields to represent Hull Armor. But that's a conversation for another thread!
Cheers,
Erik
Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.
Mark Twain.


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