Power Armor

Power Armor
Khurasan power armor infantry with conversions

Monday, October 10, 2016

Rail Gun: Fire Combat

I will continue talking up my space combat game Rail Gun with a post today about how the rules handle fire combat.  Short version---Rail Gun dispenses with numerous categories of weapons to focus the rules down to two main types, Guns and Missiles, and a sub-type, "ship killers."  More after the bump. Thanks for reading!

Carrier, by Andy Nelson.

Older versions of Rail Gun had included different "levels" of weapon systems, to indicate general weights and power of attacks---big laser cannons vs. small, high-yield warheads vs. many smaller missiles, etc.  This grew cumbersome so I threw it out. I also discarded a big juicy weapon chart, with all manner of different things (macro-cannons, rotary guns, multiple-warhead missiles, etc) and instead streamlined weapons down to two broad categories: guns and missiles.

Each "weapon system", noted on a ship's data card as one weapon entry, has a number of firing arcs (front, left, right, aft), a range (expressed in M's, to fit whatever movement multiple you want), and a strength.  The "strength" is how many attacks the system gets when you fire.  I figured this alone was a good enough way to represent different kinds of weapon systems. High strength could equal more powerful weapons, or more weapons period, or some better form of munition. No need to distinguish between phased plasma pulse cannons (in the 40 watt range, of course) or 16mm rail guns. Just roll the dice.

Guns and missiles behave differently, though.  Guns are generally short ranged, between 3 and 6Ms.  Missiles have much greater range, usually 20-30, but are subject to enemy defense systems and are therefore somewhat less effective.

Rolling to hit is easy: take your ship's MCQ (see my previous post about that) and modify it by the target profile.  Roll that or less on a D6 to hit.  There are only a couple other modifiers

If hit, the target sees if its defense systems can shoot down any of the incoming missiles---though multiple missile attacks against the same target will gradually degrade its defense system capability.

Once hit, the target rolls MCQ tests against the hit---failures result in Stress, and any 6's result in a damaging hit noted on the ship's data card.  Most ships can't take much in the way of damaging hits (even battleships only have 6 or 7 such points).

The only other subcategory to weapons are "ship killers"---in my imagination, these are large-caliber rail guns, high-power energy weapons, or massive-yield nukes capable of badly damaging or destroying a ship with a single hit.  These weapons roll to hit as normal but inflict special damage---either multiple damage points per hit or multiple dice rolls per hit.

I have kept the firing rules fairly simple: modify your CQ with your stress and the target profile, and try to roll that or less on D6s equal to the strength of your weapon systems.  The handfuls of dice are relatively small, 3-6 at a time--just enough to iron out probability but not so many as to be burdensome.  Firing is quick and decisive and once the stress starts to pile up on your ships, their ability to withstand damage dramatically decreases, forcing players to manage their ships' stress levels.

The playtest version for Rail Gun is available at the Wargame Vault for $1.99.  Getting the playtest version will get you all the updates for the final version, once that's available, plus some awesome 2-d print-and-play spaceships by Andy Nelson, designer of Table Air Combat and other games.

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