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 Post subject: SS Tactics for dummies
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 5:36 pm 
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Location: Idaho or Indiana, depending
Hi,

I just purchased the SS rules today (to provide a set of spaceship combat rules for an RPG I'm running actually) and I was wondering if there are any "rookie mistakes" or obvious tactical hints that would be useful to know. Since I will be teaching this to my group I kind of need to be the best at the game, at least to start.

One thing I can think of offhand are that, in the battle reports I've read, new players always build up too much thrust and shoot past each other. Also, I would imagine that most new players effectively play the game in 2D unless they have no other choice.

Are there any cool strategies that involve 3D movement that could demonstrate that it is useful? I realize that anything you could do in the "vertical" plane you could also do in the "horizontal" plane. I guess just breaking to the top or the bottom on an attack run and getting out of the arc of their weapons would be a good thing to do at least once.

Maybe I should make some "learner ships" that have tons of armor on the fore, aft, port, and starboard arcs; but none on their dorsal and ventral...that might help get the "3d maneuver" aspect going from the very start.

Keep in mind that I don't actually have the rules yet, so any extremely specific strategies will probably go over my head right now (that doesn't mean you shouldn't give them, just that I won't be able to understand them until the box gets here).


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 Post subject: Re: SS Tactics for dummies
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 8:28 pm 
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Location: Fayetteville, PA
Learning to think in 3D will give an undeniable advantage but for most people it only comes slowly and after much practice. In the short turn the best thing to learn is how to predict your enemies' movement (especially when using Mode 2) and then using his predicted location and your own expected location at that time to know how to point your ship so your best weapons will be pointing at him (or your best defenses, if need be). This involves being able to shoot a bearing (preferably in your head) from where you will be to where you think he will be, and then map that bearing from your AVID onto your firing arcs. Then you can figure out how much pivot and roll you will need in order to aim your ship.

It's a skill that takes practice, but the payoff is immense, especially if you fly ships with fixed weapons or keel mounts.


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 Post subject: Re: SS Tactics for dummies
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 9:23 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2005 10:00 am
Posts: 5095
Location: Milwaukee, WI
SS has three movement modes. Nobody I have ever heard of uses Mode 0.

Mode 2 is Newtonian
Mode 1 is "Lucasian"
Mode 0 is Aristotelian

Your single most basic skills you need to learn:

1) Learn how to orient your ship on the AVID.
2) Shoot bearings.
3) Map bearings to Firing Arcs.

Everything else builds off of these three skills. My experience is that 15% of the players pick them up in some form or another like water off of a duck's back. 65% of people pick them up with a varying number of repetitions, with many just deciding "It's the rules, sure, I don't need to understand it if I get the right answers."

20% of the people will either fail on skill 1, or fail on skill 3. Those two skills require that the player have, for lack of a better term, "3-D wiring" in their brains. 3-D wiring doesn't always correlate to "glibness" or being smart. I've had players who cannot reliably subtract a singe digit number from another single digit number who could do the 3-D aspect easily. I've had players who are very very bright who can't quite "get" the 3-D stuff at all.

I generally contend that RPGs need space combat rules like fish need bicycles...I'd rather do something more narration-focused for handling space combat. than break out another game. Or if I were going to do something RPGish with spaceships, I'd use Gorilla Games' excellent BattleStations game because the important decisions are allocating the right people to the right jobs in a fluid environment, and they give everyone something cool to do.

The number one skill is learning to read the map - looking at where an opponent's ship is, where their future position marker is, and where your future position marker is - and making sure that when you get where you're going, you're facing where the other guy will be when he gets where he's going. Steve is absolutely right - no other skill will pay off for you for mastering it as much as that one.

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 Post subject: Re: SS Tactics for dummies
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 11:14 pm 
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Location: Redwood City, CA
Ken Burnside wrote:
Mode 2 is Newtonian
Mode 1 is "Lucasian"


And Isaac Newton was once the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge...


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 Post subject: Re: SS Tactics for dummies
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 8:17 am 
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Location: Milwaukee, WI
Erich Schneider wrote:
Ken Burnside wrote:
Mode 2 is Newtonian
Mode 1 is "Lucasian"


And Isaac Newton was once the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge...


Is it bad that I've been waiting more than four years for someone to get that joke? :)

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 Post subject: Re: SS Tactics for dummies
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 12:40 pm 
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Posts: 26
If our group uses Mode 0 are you going to come after us and take our rules away? :shock:

To be honest, I imagine we will have most wanting to use Mode 1, one or two with Mode 2 but there will be those who will stick to Mode 0. Fortunately this is one of very few games that lets you mix things like this!

That being said, Ken I have to say that I find the 3d aspect of the game to be much easier to grasp than Mode 2. I guess we will see how the group does when we introduce it to them. But really, the AVID and the vertical/horizontal plotting tools make moving and getting bearings in 3d very possible.

-Tim


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 Post subject: Re: SS Tactics for dummies
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 12:57 pm 
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Tim White wrote:
If our group uses Mode 0 are you going to come after us and take our rules away? :shock:

To be honest, I imagine we will have most wanting to use Mode 1, one or two with Mode 2 but there will be those who will stick to Mode 0. Fortunately this is one of very few games that lets you mix things like this!


Are you up for some playtesting of a set of Mode 1 ships on a reasonably short time frame?

Quote:
That being said, Ken I have to say that I find the 3d aspect of the game to be much easier to grasp than Mode 2. I guess we will see how the group does when we introduce it to them. But really, the AVID and the vertical/horizontal plotting tools make moving and getting bearings in 3d very possible.

-Tim


Mode 1 is more familiar, Mode 2 requires a tiny bit more record keeping, and requires remembering two special rules for addition and subtraction (180 degree, 120 degree) and Mode 2 doesn't let you "fly by the seat of your pants" that well. Whereas everyone knows how an airplane moves. :)

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 Post subject: Re: SS Tactics for dummies
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 1:13 pm 
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Ken Burnside wrote:
Are you up for some playtesting of a set of Mode 1 ships on a reasonably short time frame?


Sorry can't help you for a bit. I will PM you when we can if its not too late.

Quote:
Mode 1 is more familiar, Mode 2 requires a tiny bit more record keeping, and requires remembering two special rules for addition and subtraction (180 degree, 120 degree) and Mode 2 doesn't let you "fly by the seat of your pants" that well. Whereas everyone knows how an airplane moves. :)


I can see the advantages of Mode 1 - you can get much higher speeds than mode 0 because your thrust is now "acceleration" instead of "top speed". Mode 1 (and 0) both give you the ability to select your exact horizontal and vertical movement within a cone of possibilities.

What is the advantage of Mode 2? You can generate a lot of speed for sure, but you can also easily overshoot where you want to be as you don't bleed speed the way mode 1 does when you turn. Your EoT position is also far more predictable. I guess the ability to pivot and your ship one way and travel in another is what makes you unpredictable.

-Tim


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 Post subject: Re: SS Tactics for dummies
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 1:23 pm 
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Tim White wrote:

What is the advantage of Mode 2? You can generate a lot of speed for sure, but you can also easily overshoot where you want to be as you don't bleed speed the way mode 1 does when you turn. Your EoT position is also far more predictable. I guess the ability to pivot and your ship one way and travel in another is what makes you unpredictable.

-Tim


In ship designs, pivot ratings for Mode 2 and thrust ratings for Mode 2 are MUCH less expensive than they are for Mode 1. Other than that, yes, being able to fly backwards (and usually pivot faster) is the key.

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 Post subject: Re: SS Tactics for dummies
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 11:56 am 
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Location: Idaho or Indiana, depending
Tim White wrote:
If our group uses Mode 0 are you going to come after us and take our rules away? :shock:


Actually, I have some plans to try and convert some ships from a rather popular spaceship-based MMO game into Squadron Strike rules (EVE online if I'm allowed to say that. I'm not actually linking ship designs or anything). The "peculiar mechanics of the FTL drive" on the ships causes them to move through space as if it had friction (aka the devs didn't want to make a fully realistic space simulator for movement).


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 Post subject: Re: SS Tactics for dummies
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:33 am 
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Tim White wrote:
That being said, Ken I have to say that I find the 3d aspect of the game to be much easier to grasp than Mode 2.

-Tim


See, this is where people are interesting, I picked up Mode 2 in a snap, but I have a hard time in 3D (too much Gravity Well(?) as a kid I think). Where as when I went to teach my girlfriend to play, she couldn't get Mode 1 at all because "That's not how space ships move." I was more to blame though because I have the Mode 2 rules so ingrained I got them mixed up. :roll: We both agree though that if we were going to play for real we would both use Mode 2. The fun part is that before I lost my hard drive I had some SFB stuff statted in Mode 2, I would love to see the Enterprise really fight like that. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: SS Tactics for dummies
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:40 pm 
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Location: Tri-Cities, WA
Justin Colley wrote:
Tim White wrote:
That being said, Ken I have to say that I find the 3d aspect of the game to be much easier to grasp than Mode 2.

-Tim


See, this is where people are interesting, I picked up Mode 2 in a snap, but I have a hard time in 3D (too much Gravity Well(?) as a kid I think). Where as when I went to teach my girlfriend to play, she couldn't get Mode 1 at all because "That's not how space ships move." I was more to blame though because I have the Mode 2 rules so ingrained I got them mixed up. :roll: We both agree though that if we were going to play for real we would both use Mode 2. The fun part is that before I lost my hard drive I had some SFB stuff statted in Mode 2, I would love to see the Enterprise really fight like that. :lol:


Sounds like someone has an Awesome girlfriend.

Yes, my eyes are glowing green, why do you ask? :P


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