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Using FFG's X-Wing to simulate starfighter-scale combat
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Mikael Hasselstein
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:58 am    Post subject: Using FFG's X-Wing to simulate starfighter-scale combat Reply with quote

I'm about to start running a game - for the first time in a long time - and I'd like to use my collection of X-Wing Miniatures from Fantasy Flight Games to simulate (and stimulate) my starfighter-scale space combat scenes. I want to use this thread to ask the hive mind to help me think about this. Also, writing it down coherently means that I have to think about it coherently to begin with.

X-Wing is clearly simpler than the RPG (which is also simple), which is something I like. However, X-Wing is also more strategic, in the sense that out-thinking one another's moves is much more a feature of X-Wing than it is in WEG. While some might find that more intriguing, I'm not sure it adds to the flavor of a fast-paced RPG. The big thing is that X-Wing has separate steps for deciding how to move, moving, and then shooting, each phase of which all the ships do these things, while WEG has each ship do all those things in their turn. The former captures more of a realistic simultaneousness (to a degree anyway), while the latter is more cinematic, like a camera following slightly longer moments of story. While it is a little less realistic, I think Star Wars has just gotta be more cinematic, given its origins as a movie.

Another significant thing is that X-Wing has a different sense of different ships' capabilities. For example, A-Wings and TIE-fighters do much less damage than X-Wings and TIE Interceptors do. You should determine for yourself what feels more true to SW, but my sense is that X-Wing is meant to create a balanced tournament-style game, rather than 'live' the SW galaxy.

So, what to keep from X-Wing? I like the miniatures, of course, and the range of maneuvers for movement. The shooting and damage parts are not too well suited for the RPG, though. Yet, there are a number of (non-move/shoot) actions that I think make things interesting. These I deal with right here, but with more extensive treatment of the movement and shooting below.


Actions
The way in which WEG does actions is still somewhat complementary with X-Wing. In your turn for actions, you state the number of actions you are going to make. Everybody then goes through their first actions in order of Perception. After both sides have gone through their first actions, the two sides go through with their second actions, presuming they decided on any or did not use those for reactions. (That's all WEG RAW, no surprises for any of you.)

X-Wing also has "actions", that are more than just moving and shooting, which are interesting:
    Focus: is like preparing, but in WEG preparing happens in a previous round. I guess you can use the token as a reminder.

    Evade: is like having an action ready for a dodge. Again, having the token is not a bad thing to have, but the idea is already adopted into the RPG rules.

    Target Lock: Some ships have a targeting computer. In the game it allows you to re-roll any number of your attack dice. In the RPG, it seems more related to the fire control of the weapons. Maybe if you have a target lock, you can use the fire control, and if you don't you can't. In X-Wing you have to 'spend' your target lock to make use of it. In the RPG, that just doesn't make sense to me. A target lock could also be a way for one character to give bonuses to another, by having one do the targeting, and another get the bonuses while shooting.

    A lot of 'secondary weapons' in X-Wing (think proton torpedoes and concussion missiles) require a target lock to fire. I actually really like that idea, and think it should be adopted into the RPG. Not having a target lock would mean to me that you don't have the fire control modifier, and maybe you have to override a safety (an action - Starship Gunnery: 'Easy') to fire them off manually.

    Barrel Roll and Boost: In X-Wing, these are reserved for maneuverable and fast ships. I think that in WEG terms it can represent a form of 'movement' and take the place of the disallowed second movement action (see below). However, this might be something that is harder to do with ships not natively capable of it, because they're too sluggish (re:barrel roll) or do not have afterburners (re:boost). Also, barrel roll strikes me as more difficult than boosting. In X-Wing, these are also possible upgrades, such as the Expert Handling skill and the Engine Upgrade modification.

      Boost should be allowed for the sorts of ships that have afterburners (ie. an Engine Upgrade), but may be jawa-rigged by someone working the engines - with a difficulty roll between difficult-to-heroic depending on the circumstances of the engine. (Can it be accessed?, for example.) For the pilot, if/once the engine allows it, it would be another white move, using the appropriate forward/bank maneuver from the game, and a second action with appropriate penalties.

      Barrel Roll might be a moderate roll for ships that are sufficiently maneuverable to have the barrel roll action in the X-Wing game, but difficult for those without, and one level of difficulty higher for large ships, and another still for huge ships (ie. barrel rolling your Corellian Corvette would be a heroic action).


Movement
Movement is essentially a compulsory action for the pilot, but if the pilot chooses not to do anything (or is prevented), then the ship/pilot become increasingly 'stressed' (see below). Also, the ship goes a straight move at the same speed as the most-recent maneuver (suggesting that the flight stick reverts to center). Having an autopilot would avoid this, but the autopilot essentially means that a very dumb droid with a given piloting skill is doing the movement actions, doing little more than attempting to maintain course and avoid obstacles. Autopilots probably have piloting skills of their own.
I think that there can be a scheme that makes the maneuvering color (green, white, red, black - where black is not on the dial, but still among the templates) connect to difficulty. Piloting (be that Starfighter piloting or Space Transports) is still a skill that not just anyone can do, and so the scale starts at Easy, rather than Very Easy. It represents that in addition to the flight stick, there are other things in the cockpit that you need to keep track of. Also, this represents combat maneuvers, not just 'flying straight without distractions'.

Green - Easy ( 5-8 )
White - Moderate ( 10-13 )
Red - Difficult ( 15-18 )
Black - Very Difficult ( 20-23 )
No Template - Very Difficult+ ( 25-28 ) or Heroic ( 30-33+ ) depending on how bizarre the maneuver proposal is.

The second number in each of the ranges is the real target number for complete success. The lower number means that you can complete the maneuver, but it leaves you 'stressed'. Being stressed means that you complete the next maneuver at the next-highest level of difficulty.

Failure means that another maneuver is used, with the Wild die determining in what way the failure happened (1-4 = understeering, ie. the maneuver is less tight than it would have been; 5-5 = oversteering, ie. tighter than intended. Tighter means that a stronger template (turn is tighter than bank, small turn is tighter than wide turn) is used, less tight that a weaker template is used (reverse of stronger). For straight/K-turn

Excessive success (if the maneuver was successful by 10 or more), then the player gets to place the ship where desired, within 25cm/1 inch of where the template placed the ship.

I do think that it's necessary for such piloting to be just possible one in a round, and not possible to be done twice, though still in combination with other actions. (This is similar to a rule in X-Wing regarding actions.)


Shooting
In X-Wing, shooting is represented by a single roll of a number of red dice, with a series of modifiers (added/subtracted rolls or values, or altered facings, including re-rolls). It essentially combines a pilot or gunner's shooting ability with the power of the weapons in question. That's easy to do because the pilot/gunner and the ship they're shooting from are constant combinations. But that just doesn't fly for the RPG. What still matters, however, is range, since the use of models implies where different ships are in relation to one another.

As such, it's good IMO for shooting to be done as it is done in WEG, with gunnery rolls against targets. However, there is a range and arc-of-fire aspect that can now be done with the miniatures offering representation. In X-Wing there are also three ranges, but all those ranges are the same for each ship, though there are some weapons on 'huge' ships that are longer than long-range. In WEG, by contrast, each weapon has its own range definitions, depending on how accurate/powerful it is. That, I think, should be preserved, meaning that range measurement needs to happen with a tape measure (or ruler) rather than X-Wing's range tool. It also means that range needs to be defined in terms of those units. I'll be using metric, below, but feel free to divide cm by 2.5 to get your inches - or figure out your own scale.
    Range
    For my sense of scale, using the standard starfighter laser cannon range (1-3/10/25) as the gold standard, and making use of the standard small-base (40mm) as 'the thing' to base things on, short range is good as 3 base-lengths, 10(40cm) base lengths is the end of medium range, and 25(1m) as the end of long range feels right to me - more right than X-Wing's native sense of range-scale. While inches don't quite measure the same way, I would be adjusting it to make things easy - and just translating straight from 'space' units to inches. None of it is perfect, but making things quick and easy is preferable to perfection, I think.

    Firing arcs
    Since the X-Wing game is fundamentally about maneuvering and arc-dodging - getting others into your arc of fire, while keeping yourself out of theirs. In this respect, the miniatures game really shines in helping this come to life before the players' eyes. If a ship is out of another ship's arc of fire, then it cannot be shot at by the other. For partial arcs, cover rules can be used to complicate the chance to hit.

    A difference with this aspect of the miniatures game is still the fact that pilots act in sequence with one another, reacting to one another's movements, rather than deciding those movements based on anticipation. Maybe X-Wing is a little more realistic in that respect, but - again - this is about being cinematic, IMO, YMMV.


Damage
Regarding damage, in WEG, hull and shield values help you diminish or nullify damage, whereas in X-Wing they are hit points. Personally, I do like the shield tokens, and it might be an interesting idea to use those shield tokens to represent how many shield dice are available, and/or on which arcs the shields are raised. However, other than that, I don't think X-Wing has much added value for the RPG.

So, all that written, what sort of thoughts - criticism, suggestions, applause - might you all have for me?


Last edited by Mikael Hasselstein on Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:13 am; edited 2 times in total
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome back. I don't know enough about the X-Wing system to offer a meaningful critique, but I'm interested to see where this goes. Have you looked at the Star Warriors system at all? I bought a copy, but haven't really sat down and groked the system yet.
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Mikael Hasselstein
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
Have you looked at the Star Warriors system at all? I bought a copy, but haven't really sat down and groked the system yet.


Thanks for the welcome. I can't say that I've ever heard of it.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mikael Hasselstein wrote:
CRMcNeill wrote:
Have you looked at the Star Warriors system at all? I bought a copy, but haven't really sat down and groked the system yet.


Thanks for the welcome. I can't say that I've ever heard of it.

It's a boxed set for Star Wars tabletop space combat. It used paper minis (IIRC) and was released as part of 1E. I'll PM you with details.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
Mikael Hasselstein wrote:
CRMcNeill wrote:
Have you looked at the Star Warriors system at all? I bought a copy, but haven't really sat down and groked the system yet.


Thanks for the welcome. I can't say that I've ever heard of it.

It's a boxed set for Star Wars tabletop space combat. It used paper minis (IIRC) and was released as part of 1E. I'll PM you with details.


I think I've actually seen this 'in the cardboard flesh', but it was a long time ago, in a country far far away. Well, not as far for me anymore, but still a distance. At any rate, it comes from a time when miniature (cardboard or otherwise) games were frequently hopelessly complex. FFG does a really good job in making these games much easier to manage.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How would you say break down the multiple stations on a freighter.. Someone in engineering, 2-3 people on the bridge (one on the pilot, one co-pilot/shields and 1 on sensors)?
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
How would you say break down the multiple stations on a freighter.. Someone in engineering, 2-3 people on the bridge (one on the pilot, one co-pilot/shields and 1 on sensors)?


Essentially each person is just doing their thing. The benefit is that they don't have single pilots stretching themselves thin across a lot of different actions per round.

I suppose where it gets interesting is the point where people start to need to be coordinated in combined actions. One reason I think that should already start to get hairy is when gunners want to shoot at the enemy, and need that short moment to do so, but they don't know when the pilot is going to jank the ship. Thus far as I've written things that's not a problem, but maybe I need to introduce a rule that creates more of a need for coordination.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That could get cumbersome as pilots are presumably always dodging and gunners are likewise trying to atomize the opposition. Plus, X-wing is limited to 2 dimensions so there's that.

Pilots could try to announce their intentions, e.g. 'Turning to 147 mark 8' but that could get tedious. I'd only have maneuvers throw off own-ship gunnery if the pilot does something really wild and unexpected.
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Mikael Hasselstein
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
Welcome back. I don't know enough about the X-Wing system to offer a meaningful critique, but I'm interested to see where this goes.


Looking at your rules, I think that this is sufficiently close to the 'target lock' concept from X-Wing:

CRMcNeill wrote:
Lock-On
While establishing an active sensor lock on your target is not essential to successful starfighter combat, it does provide certain advantages. What's more, it is absolutely essential to the firing of almost all guided missiles and torpedoes.
Skill: Starship Sensors
Time To Use: 1 standard action for guns and rockets, varies for missiles & torpedoes.
How To Use:
-Target must be in your Front fire arc, and must be within Search Range.
-Make a Sensor Focus roll, with a base Difficulty of Easy.
-A Lock-On attempt automatically shows up on your target's Passive sensors, so your target may try to evade the Lock-On just as if it were an attack (roll Piloting + Maneuverability against the shooter's Sensor Focus roll).
-The Lock-On holds for one round. If the target continues to evade, you must re-roll every round to keep the Lock.
Effect:
-Guns: +1D to Fire Control (this can also be applied to unguided bombs and rockets)
-Missiles & Torpedoes: Starfighter can fire Guided Missiles and Torpedoes at a target.
Note: When firing at targets of a higher scale, the gunner can attempt to lock-on to specific points on the target's Hull.


Though, I'm thinking that a target lock allows/disallows for fire control, rather than an added die. I'd like to maintain a balance towards maneuver and evasion, rather than making space combat a shooting gallery. But I'd like to hear your thoughts on that matter.

What I'm wondering, however, is why the target ship would have to be in the front arc, rather than in scan, or whichever direction the sensor array might be pointed.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mikael Hasselstein wrote:
Though, I'm thinking that a target lock allows/disallows for fire control, rather than an added die. I'd like to maintain a balance towards maneuver and evasion, rather than making space combat a shooting gallery. But I'd like to hear your thoughts on that matter.

The Target Lock rules were primarily intended to resolve both the lock-on seen in the films, as well as the old X-Wing PC games. I never got the impression that either one disallowed making "snap shots," as it were, but that Lock-On both made cannon shots more accurate and was essential to using guided missiles and torpedoes. It's important to remember that the Lock-On itself is a Sensors function that improves Fire Control, but that MAPs still apply (although astromechs and weapons officers in the rear seat can handle the Sensor function if available), and that the Target Lock itself can be dodged, just like a weapon. Does that answer your question?

Quote:
What I'm wondering, however, is why the target ship would have to be in the front arc, rather than in scan, or whichever direction the sensor array might be pointed.

Again, that's more a function of the source (the original film and the X-Wing PC game), where targets pretty much had to be in the Front Fire Arc (and appearing in the fighter's HUD / viewscreen) to get a Target Lock. It's not inconceivable that a fighter could achieve target lock in pretty much any arc; advanced fighters today have helmet-mounted sights that allow them to fire missile "off-bore." It just seemed in keeping with the flavor of both sources that a target had to be in "front" of the targeting ship to even attempt it.

IIRC, I did state somewhere that Capital Ships could use Targeting Locks in all four arcs.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2018 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pel wrote:
That could get cumbersome as pilots are presumably always dodging and gunners are likewise trying to atomize the opposition. Plus, X-wing is limited to 2 dimensions so there's that.

Pilots could try to announce their intentions, e.g. 'Turning to 147 mark 8' but that could get tedious. I'd only have maneuvers throw off own-ship gunnery if the pilot does something really wild and unexpected.


It does add complexity to the game, I think, but I think that the visualization that the miniatures offer (which helps us have a copacetic understanding of that is going on, because it's physically represented) is worth that complexity.

I don't really care about the 2D vs. 3D element. Yes, it's space, but it's cinematic space.


I played with this system on Friday night. I think it was fun, but the biggest problem was that the PCs flying in a large-base vessel (Firespray) were able to get away from the small-base vessels (incl. a Z-95 and Y-Wing), even though Firesprays are much slower in the RPG. The X-Wing game speed is a factor but maneuverability is much more important. In the RPG speed is more important than in X-Wing.

This means that I think the maneuvering system needs to be overhauled if the maneuver templates are going to be used. I can imagine that the RPG's 'space' (ie. speed) value could be a combination of templates adding up to the total (e.g. an X-Wing could fly 2 3-speed maneuvers and a 2-speed maneuver for a total of '8', and then have to role some target number based on the combination. I wonder if that would make it too complex and table-space inefficient though.

Maybe it could be done that straight maneuvers could be added up like that (as a 'free' action), and banking maneuvers with a maneuvering roll and action, but ships have to slow down in order to do turns.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2018 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is an interesting suggestion. Sort of like the RAW for SWd6 already has it where you can increase or decrease a ship's speed by 1 category from slow to normal to fast to very fast, or visa versa..
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
That is an interesting suggestion. Sort of like the RAW for SWd6 already has it where you can increase or decrease a ship's speed by 1 category from slow to normal to fast to very fast, or visa versa..


Hm, that's not what I was suggesting, but maybe I was not doing so because I was not thinking about it from the perspective of deviating from the SWd6 RAW, but from the perspective of the X-Wing RAW. I really should be doing more of what you're suggesting, deviating from the D6RAW where X-Wing makes it possible and desirable to do so.

Given the scale of speed from D6RAW, it seems like in escape scenarios, where one party is trying to get away from the other - which seems to be the usual case - the physical representation of X-Wing may be too small of a scale (ie. the ship models are too big), and maybe Armada models do that more justice. However, using Armada models does not offer that much added value, though it might be a nice visual aid.

Another thought is that in X-Wing, terrain is represented by actual asteroids/debris on the game space. In that sense, terrain is not something to be abstractly navigated with a roll against a difficulty; it's a matter of not putting your ship and/or movement template(s) over an asteroid/debris. With Armada, the obstacles are asteroid/debris fields, not individual asteroids/chunks of debris. At that scale, it makes more sense to abstract the mechanics a bit more.
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