Skip to Content

Space Battle Mechanics

2 replies [Last post]
Joined: 03/04/2013

Having played many space board games I often find combat to be a very flat experience with little tactical options aside from unit placement. As such I set a goal for myself to design a core combat mechanic that would allow an extremely large amount of variation and options well maintaining ease of use and being simple to learn, to that end I have created the "Modular Stacked Combat" system.

The basic premise is simple and having been designed for space battle I will use them for my example.

-The Set Up-
Ship sheet showing 9 ships, three classes and three series divided into a 9x9 grid

Series 1 Frigate Series 1 Cruiser Series 1 Dreadnought
Series 2 Frigate Series 2 Cruiser Series 2 Dreadnought
Series 3 Frigate Series 3 Cruiser Series 3 Dreadnought

Each ship would feature a design much like eclipse, with each ship being able to be customized with different weapons, power systems, shields, movement, or CnC units.

With merely theses components it is completely possible to build a functional combat system not unlike that of eclipse or TI3. The issue being that optimal fittings would quickly become renown, not unlike vanilla TI3 and fighters and large ships being the optimal fleet composition.

The second component to the combat would be "The Stack". A feature that adds a second variable to combat that would serve to create a massive amount of variation and options. In a regular attacked all ships would form a "Stack" the basic stack being the "Uncoordinated Assault" that follows Frigates-Cruiser-Dreadnoughts. Many variations being possible IE. Cruisers-Dreadnoughts-Frigates, Series 3-Series 2-Series 1 and many more. This second aspect to the fight is what creates the large amount of options.
Units in the stack are then put up against the opposing stack and battle would commence.

-The Battle-
Each weapon would have a range limit with the standard being one, meaning a ship with one range could only it hit ships directly in front of it. So a Frigate-Cruiser-Dreadnought fleet versing a Frigate-Cruiser-Dreadnought fleet all equipped with range one guns would mean the frigates would have to attack first, then the winning frigates could attack the Cruisers behind them and so forth until one player has retreated for is defeated. Both sides would roll hits simultaneously and would decide how to distribute damage across their enemies units, keeping range of weapons in mind.

The combination of modular ships and "The Stack" create a massive amount of options. Do you ship a dreadnought covered in shields in the front with a massive amount of long range cruiser or frigates behind it? So you stack all your ships with range appropriate weapons and hope to merely overwhelm your opposition? With longer range weapons being exponentially more power expensive for a ship leaving them with less defenses or a slower speed.

Simply my musing on a robust variable space combat system. Feel free to voice any advice or opinions, nothing is set in stone.

Joined: 02/01/2013

I agree. I am designing my own Space War Game for this very reason. Most SCIFI games focus on the whole picture of economies, relationships, diplomacy, trade, culture, and yes...combat, hence 4X games. But the combat is watered down, understandably, to allow for other options to consume the time of a player. I am with you. There is a niche to the genre: a war game designed around simple, solid mechanic that will fit the theme of space.

You do have the Star Wars miniature set which is out now, and it may satisfy that itch (I don't have the money to invest in the miniature hobby). But what I want are games that explore the imagination of massive space battles involving fighters, corvettes, bombers, frigates, capital ships, flagships, etc.

What you are imagining is a game that provides for outfiting and asembling an army of ships and sending them out against another's army of ships. It sounds cool.

Keep me updated.

MrBackman's picture
Joined: 11/30/2011
Well, I have a set of rules

Well, I have a set of rules for smaller space combat engagements, skirmishes if you like. This is not the scope you are looking for but you could always take a look at my mechanics and see if any of it might be useable for your design.

The game uses a double blind system for hidden movement with no need for a referee, dummy markers etc, this allow me to play scenarios like blockade runners or smuggling situations in the style of Firefly or Hans Solo.

There is also an optional system for playing entirely diceless deterministic system with enough depth to allow the players to outthink their opponents, rewarding them for predicting what the opponent will do.

Ship design is handled through Excel spreadsheets that allow you to build the ships you want. The design system is compatible with the Traveller rpg but with more detail and realism at the lower tech levels.

Well, enough of this shameless bragging, all I'm saying is that you could take a look and maybe you'll find some parts of it useful in your own system, I especially like how straighforward the sensor system is.

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut