Skip to Content

dice mechanics combat system

7 replies [Last post]
Joined: 05/06/2015

Hi all,

I'm currently working on a dice combat resolution system for my spaceship battle work in progress. Idea is that there are likely to be 3 different sized ships in general; small, medium and large (funky class names to be invented later).

Theory 1: small ships have an inherent firepower of 2 laser cannons/arrays so roll a custom d4 - blank, one, one, two - as a to-hit roll. This is to determine if one, none or both shots are on target.

Defender then rolls an evasive-manoeuvre 1D6 per on-target D4 result to try to avoid any on-target shots - if the result is equal to or greater than current range in hexes from the attacking ship then the attack hits (so at range 1 - in an adjacent hex - the defender is guaranteed to get hit, and at range 6 the defender will only get hit on a six).

Assuming the attacker rolled a 'two' on the D4 to hit a ship 4 hexes away the defender must now roll 2d6 (one to defend against each on-target hit). The defender rolls a '2' and a '5' so blocks one hit with the '2' and takes a hit because of the '5' being greater than the range in hexes (4).

Now someone rolls one custom designed D4 with symbols to represent hull/shields, hull/shields, engine, sensors (or two if both hits were successful) . This die determines what is successfully damaged on the target ship. I'm currently undecided who should roll for this though. Should the attacker get to do it because of his great shooting or should the defender because he's awesome at flying his ship out the way?

The effects would be:

hull/shields - remove a shield or if none left then a hull hit, (remember, 2 sides of the d4 have this),

engine: movement is restricted until repaired

sensors: firing range is reduced until repaired.

My theory is medium ships have more inherent laser arrays so their to-hit dice would perhaps be d4 with blank, one, two, three or maybe one, two, two three. Large ships probably a d6.

Missiles and torpedoes etc come later. I'd like to work out something with 'torpedo' and 'missile' dice and custom symbols. I like custom symbols on dice which is why I'm trying to do something different to the usual odds based combat CRT.

Any feedback would be appreciated. Take into account though, that I did probability at highschool in 1987 and can't really remember that much about it!

Thanks in advance,


Joined: 05/06/2015
Quick alternative...

In keeping with my 3 ship size idea, small ships have a laser range of 4 hexes, defender rolls a d4 with > or = is a hit, then just go medium with 6 hex range defender rolls a d6 and large ship have 8 hex range so defender rolls a d8. To me it seems like it should scale ok. It's still hard to hit at long range for any ship which is the way it should be.

There will probably be more tweaks as I think of them...

Cheers, Squire

Joined: 01/17/2011
Second option

The second option would appeal to me more, because:
- standard dice are cheaper to produce
- it involves 1 less roll
- it allows range to be part of your strategy
- it allows more flexibility in ship design

You could have long range ships with only 1 laser, and short range ships with multiple lasers, and any other combination.

In general, you should try to make it so that any point in the game where randomisation (rolling) is involved, the players have some way to affect or make informed guesses about the outcome. Otherwise it is just randomisation but no strategy.

For example, having range affect the to-hit roll creates a choice where a player could decide to stay at long range with lower chance to hit, compared to closing in with higher chance to hit.

Dealing damage to systems is, imo, more interesting than just HP damage. Rolling hit location slows down the game, though, so you want to make sure that it serves some purpose other than pure randomisation. Can players take a to-hit penalty to make a called shot? Do some ships have redundant systems? What can you do to make this roll an important element of ship design and/or strategy?

Just some thoughts,

Joined: 05/06/2015

Hi Kos,

I like your idea about the to-hit penalty to make a called shot. Adds an element of specific targeting which I like and reduces the randomness. I'll also have to think about your other idea re close range/more laser thing too. I have already sort of got there with my ideas for different style ships, eg similar to a a science vessel that can repair friendly ships but can only shoot short range, fighters that shoot long range but only straight ahead and troop ships with in-between range and 360 degree firing arc.

I'm hoping my game will be about manoeuvre and tactics, trying to get your ships in the right spot and the randomness of the dice is the 'fog-of-war' aspect; you can do everything right and be in the best position and suddenly your weapon fails, or you run out of ammo or anything else you can think of.

I think as long as there is an element of making informed choices such as where to move, how to move there and whether to shoot or not and with what weapons then the random dice result can be tolerated. It also adds replayability I think, coz you could try the same thing again and it might work this time.

Thanks for the reply,

Cheers, Squire.

Joined: 12/27/2013
For the question of the

For the question of the targeting die (the one which decides where the hits land). The best option will be the one which takes the least amount of "turns", like the attacker rolls twice (first hits and then target) and defender rolls once (saves), or attacker rolls once and defender rolls twice. The worst would be attacker rolls once, defender rolls once, attacker rolls a second time.

This system somewhat reminds me of GW's Man-o-War. It's combat systems goes as follows, maybe it'll give you some ideas:
- Ships have sheets which have systems to hit, indicated by numbers (1-6).
- Attacking player rolls a bunch of D6's, and check the opponents sheet where they hit (usually there is no #1 as it's considered a miss, also small ships might not have #2 or even #3).
- Defender makes saves as the sheet indicates for each spot hit.
- Mark down damage not saved.
That system is pretty basic but it flows pretty fast since there's only to-hit and save rolls, and it only use D6's.

Here's a pic of the sheet to get the idea.$T2eC16N,!zoE9s5nd73zBRpj7L!B1g~~60_57.JPG
Lets see if that image link even works, I don't know how ebay does its stuff.

Joined: 05/06/2015
Systems hit

Hi Jarec,

The fleabay link worked by the way, thanks for that. I've already decided I want to have ship cards that track damage, shield strength and upgrades to its corresponding ship, it's just about exactly what information is recorded on each card, too much and it could get a bit unwieldy, too small means too fiddly with little bits. That Man-0-war system looks pretty good, simple, quick and effective.

And you're right about three dice rolls per combat; too many. Whatever I do I will keep it to attacker attacks, defender defends.

Thanks, Squire

Joined: 12/27/2013
Three rolls per action might

Three rolls per action might not be too much, but it will be faster if player A makes the first two rolls, and player B makes the third, (or the other way around) effectively having two turns of rolling.
Pretty much any number of rolls is easily manageable if the player rolls all his rolls one after another, before the rolling turn is handed to the other player.

Joined: 05/06/2015
Updated version

I have nutted out my combat system dice rolling mechanic.

My game will consist of three ship sizes. Small ships have 2 laser arrays, medium have 3 and large have 4. Small have a range of 4 hexes, medium 5 and large 6. For each attack, the attacker rolls a D6 which is to specify the target of the attack (like engines, sensors, weapons, attacker's choice etc) and an attack strength die. Small Ships use a D4 with faces of miss, 1, 1, 2. The D4 attack strength die obviously shows the number of hits on whatever ship system was rolled. A medium ship uses a D6 ranging from a miss to 3, and large ships use a D8 ranging from a miss to 4.

After the attack roll is determined, the defender rolls a normal D6 and the result must be less then the defender's current range in hexes from the attacker. This works for me as you have more opportunity to evade an attack the further away your opponent is, no matter what size ship is firing at you.

Thanks to all for your comments.

Cheers, Squire

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut