Friday, September 09, 2011

Fleet Captain: initial thoughts on weapons systems

Worf: They are now locking lasers on us.
Riker: Lasers?
Worf: Yes, sir.
Picard: Lasers can't even penetrate our navigation shields. Don't they know that?
Riker: Regulations do call for a yellow alert.
Picard: Mmm, a very old regulation. Well, make it so, Number One. And reduce speed, drop main shields as well.
Riker: May I ask why, sir?
Picard: In case we decide to surrender to them, Number One!

I love that sequence.

Most vessels in Fleet Captain have three kinds of weaponry.  You can call these Primary, Secondary and Tertiary weapons if you'd like, but I tend to think of them as Torpedoes, Phasers and Lasers.  Rename them as better suits your own sci-fi universe.  If I was running a Traveller-themed game I'd call them Spinal Mount, Batteries and Turrets, for a Star Wars game I'd trade out Phasers for Blasters, etc.

These weapons are differentiated very simply. 

Torpedoes are Forward Firing Only.  Check out this figure.


The colored hexes represent where the red ship can target a foe with Torpedoes.  Targets in the blue centerline are attacked at ONE DIE BETTER than you normally get when rolling an attack.  So if you have a big battleship with d12 powered to weapons, break out that that d20!  For targets in the purple regions, slightly off the centerline, you get to add a flat +1 to your attack roll.  Plus you get the added benefit of being able to make an extra attack.

The other two weapons systems have 360 degree fields of fire.

Phasers use whatever die you've allocated to weapons.  You get one, two or three vollies of Phaser fire per turn, depending on the size of your ship.  If you have multiple targets in range each volley must each target a different ship, starting with the nearest enemy vessel, unless your captain executes an Alpha Strike special maneuver.

The range of Torpedoes and Lasers is equal to their die type.  E.g. a Phaser powered to a d10 has a range of 10 hexes. 

(If you like lots of fire across large boards, here's an optional rule: Each weapon's range band is based upon its die size.  Die size drops after each band.  That d10 Phaser attacks as a d10 at range 0 to 10, as a d8 at 11 to 20, as a d6 at 21-30 and as a d4 at 31 to 40.)

Lasers are primarily designed to shoot down enemy fighters and missiles, blast away debris, etc.  Most ships get one laser attack per turn.  Swarming fighters and similar targets are attacked at a d6, even if the ship has powered weapons only to a d4.  Using a Laser for anti-ship purposes is allowed, but at d4-1 to a max range of 3.

So if you have a typical big ship with a single foe directly ahead at range 3 or less, you can make up to five attack rolls against the foe.  This is why big ships try to keep escorts handy, to draw at least some of that fire.

Carriers, minelayers, missile ships and other specialty attack craft usually do not mount any Torpedoes.