Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fleet Captain: fighters & missiles

Gameblog reader pavo6503 asks:
...It is generally accepted as the rule that air power made battleships obsolete in WW2. The US and British Navy kept their battleships in safe harbors until air superiority was established. Now, some say aircraft carriers are obsolete because of submarines and anit-ship weapons like the Chinese DF-21, a ballistic missile with 900 miles of range and attacks from above with incoming meteorite speed. It doesn't even have an explosive warhead, just a concrete slug! Small missile launchers are the new awesome as far as naval power goes.
How well do the rules for your game hold up to this modern situation? Do squadrons of fighters and torpedo attacks have the same devastating effects? ...
I know you're concentrating on speed and fun with workable rules being the desired outcome but have you found that fighters and missile attacks are the way to go?
Any resemblance between Fleet Captain and modern naval warfare is purely coincidental. There's got to be fighter rules in Fleet Captain simply because Star Wars is fighter heavy.  However, they can't be quite as awesome or important as in Star Wars, because original Star Trek is another heavy influence.  So try imagining the Battle of Jutland involving a few biplane-launching carriers and you get the vibe I'm going for.  I want to have bigass anti-ship missiles as well, simply because I want the possibility of launching a missile and striking a friendly vessel by accident.  But big, dumb, slow capital ships exchanging wildly inaccruate laser cannon barrages will still be the focus of the game.

Right now I'm trying to figure out whether I want my fighter rules just plain simple or so mind-numbingly simple the Rogue Squadron fans spit and call me names.  For example, here are two possible movement rules I am considering:

Alternate 1: All fighters not already engaged in a dogfight roll a large die (d12 or d20 maybe) and move up to that many hexes with no regard to facing changes or anything like that.  Just roll and move that many hexes, no big whoop.

Alternate 2: All fighters not already engaged in a dogfight just plain go wherever they want.  Pick up the piece and set it down somewhere else on the board.  Fighters are just so many orders of magntiude faster and more maneuverable that they all but teleport for our purposes.

Missiles will definitely move on some sort of die roll.  If they end their move adjacent to an enemy vessel they automatically attack it.  If they end their move adjacent to a friendly vessel there's a flat 1 in 6 chance they misidentify the ship and attack.

Either way, fleets will be limited on the number of carriers or missile boats they can deploy.  I'm imagining maybe 2 to 4 stands worth of fighters or missiles per specialty vessel and probably only 0 to 2 such vessels in any fleet.

(Also, I have a different game idea that's all about the fighters as opposed to the capital ships.  In that game all vessels above fighter/shuttle size occupy multiple hexes, functioning as terrain.  The fighters buzz all around them, with the capital ships involved basically stationary or nearly so.)