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/tg/ - Traditional Games

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I've spent a little bit of time putting together a wargame to handle space combat, and like a typical idiot I've been trying to make it at least semi-realistic.

Before we start down the usual path, let me emphasize the 'semi-' part of that. I'm not trying to make an accurate simulation, nor am I looking to design an entire setting around the kind of technology that'd be needed here. In fact, I've left the fluff pretty much non-existent so far. The only units are in-game units; from a design point of view, I don't care whether you play it as a game about transnational conglomerates fighting with killsats over distant asteroids, kilometer-long colony ships fighting at c-fractional speeds at ranges measured in AU, or Space Ships-of-the-Line exchanging broadsides at the Space Battle of Trafalgar.

What I've tried to do, instead, is write rules that reflect the kind of tactical choices you'd expect to see in space combat, while still allowing there to be actual CHOICES. In other words, ships move according to Newtonian physics, missiles have a limited ability to change their velocity but essentially unlimited range, lasers get more powerful the closer they are to the target, etc.

I'm putting the finishing touches on the rules, but if you have questions, comments, or ideas you'd like to see implemented, I'd love to hear them. Otherwise, I'll just dump pictures for a while.
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>that reflect the kind of tactical choices you'd expect to see in space combat, while still allowing there to be actual CHOICES

Is there some sort of crew stat that you can manage, then? General disorder and failing systems could be seen as "people not working on it" after all.
/tg/ loves its space threads. Always make it to autosage. I have a question for you, OP: how have you classified your spaceships? Do they progress up like wet water navies? What are they like? Are missiles viable or is missile defense just too good?
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You guys, I rilly need space ships and space stations for my folder, I'll post what little I have - help is much appreciated.
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>tfw doesn't know how to write 9 in roman numerals
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aaaand I'm out. Can anyone spare some more? Especially space stations, I only have like two.

No crew stats, and no (explicit) crews, either. Whether fighting spacecraft will have crews at all is sort of a matter of debate. If you prefer to imagine your ships as having crews, whether for dramatic or practical reasons, I'm not going to try and penalize that choice. In terms of damage control, I don't imagine there'd be much time to repair broken systems in even the slowest-paced engagement; maybe I'll fool around with that as an advanced rule or something once I've got the base system working.


Ships (so far) are pretty much fully customizable, beyond the basic frame/engine/total mass (which I'm using to save on calculating thrust/mass/delta-v). The way I have things named follows wet-navy traditions, but only really as shorthand (i.e. a ship that has 100 mass is a 'destroyer', 200 is a cruiser, etc.) - it's not meant to imply anything about how they're used.

As far as what ships are like, I'm leaving that to you. If you want to say that "mass: 100" means 100 tons, that's fine; if you'd prefer it to mean 1 million tons, also fine. Ditto with distances - while it's meant to be played over a pretty large board, it's just a matter of fluff whether your ranges are in meters or hundreds of kilometers. The only real constraint is that I've generally assumed the ships are able to rotate fairly quickly (there's no firing arcs or target aspects involved), and will never run into each other without trying to.

Missiles vs. Lasers is a traditional dichotomy, and while we've all got our theories near-future, I think missiles will win, I've tried to keep a balance here so that there's a meaningful choice to be made. Missiles are still very good, and missile defense, though useful, is subject to being flooded and overwhelmed.
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I have a couple of space themed wallpapers you may like OP.

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I have a bunch of planets and nebulas and stuff, but it seems like you're looking for something a little more wargamey.

In the middle of idle thought I stumbled upon something.

Considering that a missile can, potentially, constantly accelerate, it could potentially constantly build kinetic energy.

Would that not mean that the further away a target was, and hence the greater the time afforded the missile to accelerate and build kinetic energy, the more damage the missile would deliver on impact?
Google "concept ships." There's a blog with a lot of good ones.
If you designed your missile to accelerate very slowly, yes. It'd make more sense to accelerate quickly and leave only enough fuel to adjust course, since you'll end with the same amount of energy anyway.
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In space, there is negligible gravity (except when talking about orbits, that's differnt. This means when there is force generated (for instance, by firing a projectile) in a direction, equal force is exerted on the projectile and the gun, which is in turn attached to the spaceship (or whatever it's on). This is a liiitle different when using gauss type projectiles, since they're mass accelerators - they do not use a propellant. Any weapon that uses an propellant, like liquid/solid hydrogen/oxygen, will push the weapon "backwards" (which is why gauss weaponry is prefereable - they don't push back as hard. Gauss type acceleration is also less wasteful that using a propellant, resulting in less force exertion on the weapon).

>gauss weapon = rail weapon
>sorry, i'm just used to calling it gauss

Thusly I was thinking of having three general types of weapons, with different attributes depending upon engagement range:

Ballistic weapons, commonly rail and gauss guns, deal massive damage at short ranges but have a steep accuracy falloff with distance;

Laser weapons, which do a fair amount of damage and maintain accuracy across most ranges;

Missile weapons, which do damage in between lasers and ballistics at short ranges, but significantly more at longer ones due to kinetic energy buildup.
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Saved - and much obliged. Nebulae and stuff are always awesome, but yeah, at least tangentially military is my main focus.

That second one has fighters in it, which tend to be hot topics in any "realistic space combat" thread. (Of course, those ones look atmospheric, so it's kind of moot). Right now, I'm opting for the torpedo route myself. Unlike missiles, torpedoes have the same sort of drives as ships, giving them lower acceleration but much higher total delta-v. Torpedoes are generally bigger than missiles, and might be used for detached duties - carrying a bunch of smaller missiles in close or serving as a mobile laser platform, etc. Not exactly space fighters in the classical sense, but it's something.
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This force is much more noticeable when exerted on a single person (note that it is the same -amount- of force, it just 'affects' smaller objects more than larger ones; phyzzics), like a guy wielding an automatic weapon. This force is enough to push him around, granted he's in a vacuum/zero-gravity zone. You can do that math to figure it out.

>if you've seen the episode of cowboy bebop where Spike is in space and he's using his gun to push himself around the vacuum, it's kindof like that. Although, the episode is unrealistic because the kickback on such a weapon would break your arm.
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So what can be done? The user of the weapon must have:

A) a way to compensate and push himself back in the right direction - this is cancelling the force by applying the same force in the opposite direction. While not comfortable to experience, it is preferable to being pushed off into the void.
B) something to ground his feet. An easy way to write this off is to make the soles of his boots (or whatever) electromagnets. It'd let him stay more-or-less put while he's firing his gun.

If you're not planted down, combat would get really weird and chaotic, really, really quickly.

hen concerning swung weapons, like a sword, you have to remember the force must -go- somewhere. If you miss, your arm will keep on going until it runs out of force or you apply enough force to stop it. So, if you're not grounded, and you swing a sword, and you're in zero-g, prepare to throw up. You'll spin and spin until the air resistance where you are stops you. If there is no air resistance, enjoy spinning for a very, very long time. You require a way to stop yourself, and it's not easy with just muscular power.

>Evidently it's not if you're Spike.
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At the end of the day, all this makes space-combat a huge pain.

Reduce this pain for yourself by having your players know how zero-g physics work (to some degree, anyway). Use rail-guns, beam weapons, and self-propelled artillery (torpedoes, etc) when you can to reduce the complexity of combat. Remember that in space, there is nowhere for the extra force to go, so if something gets hit by a torpedo, it takes pretty well all the force that is exerted on it. Explosions aren't so bad - they shoot out force in all directions. It's when you want to use rams, and bludgeoning weapons that shit gets real.


Right now, damage from terminal guidance attacks (basically, anything that requires the missile to run into its target) is based on mass and relative vector - that is, the difference between your missile's velocity and your target's. So yes, faster will deal more damage.

The design choice between slow, constant acceleration and short bursts of high thrust is basically represented as the difference between missiles and torpedoes. Both are customizable, just like the ships.


Lasers and missiles are both fairly important weapons systems, and work roughly the way you describe (see above for how missile damage is calculated).

Railguns and such are a little different. I've basically assumed that at combat ranges, dumb-fired projectiles like bullets are too easy to dodge (which does assume a little bit about the ranges, but not too much). Instead of shooting at enemy ships directly, railguns are used to accelerate missiles at them. This lets you give a higher initial velocity to the missile (which, by default, start with the velocity of the firing ship), which also lets them save burn time for closing in on their targets.
Maneuvering in space isn't a huge deal IF you're using high-tech computers and dozens of highly accurate compensaters and thrusters.
If you have a computer that can accurately detect shit like bullets and space debris, it shouldn't be an issue for the compy to figure out how to move the ship in time to get out of the way (provided it moves quickly).
Beam weaponry, like lasers and shit, is more difficult. In theory, you could have the computer calculate all possible vectors the opponent's guns can hit, and simply avoid them. If that's impossible, the ship is going to be bombarded by radiation.
Mm yeah. To be clear, I'm talking about ship-to-ship combat here, so I'm assuming you have as much computing power as you'd reasonably need to do the math involved. Part of the reason bullets are easy to dodge is that they're slow enough that you can see them fired and react before they get to you. Even if you can't track individual shells, all you have to do is take your foot off the thrusters for a couple seconds, and the shots pass in front of you by a few kilometers (or whatever distance suits your scale).

Lasers are pretty deadly in that they're almost impossible to dodge (after all, you won't know you should be dodging until it's already hit you). They do less damage the further away they are, but ones powerful enough to reach out a decent distance are big enough to take up most of your ship's payload (especially if you're bring enough heatsinks and radiators to keep firing it throughout the fight).

One last weapon that shows up: nukes. I'm using that as a general term for large area-of-effect weapons - they might be actual nukes, antimatter weapons, multi-targeting bomb-pumped laser warheads, whatever. They take up mass, but can deal damage to everything in a large(-ish) area of space. While it'd be great if we managed to get one close enough to detonate next to the enemy ship, their main purpose is to clear out waves of missiles and open up an escape route after their missile-buses try to box you in.
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I dunno, I could start pasting some rules, if you'd like. Maybe we'll design a ship together or something?
Sir Issac Newton is the deadliest son of a bitch in space.

But anyway, i noticed you said space ships of the line. And I lurve my old school three decker kinda ships. I'm guessing your setting's warships are built similarly? Well mainly the multiple decks with rows of guns in them?

And as for combat, will the z axis or whatever be taken into account?
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I mostly threw 'ships-of-the-line' out there as an example of how a lot of settings (BFG, Star Wars, Honorverse) handle space combat. The fluff is up to you; if you want to describe Space Admiral Nelson commanding your fleet of first-raters into battle, good stuff.

Mechanically, though, I'm going for something sort of real(-ish). So while they might look like SOLs, and be crewed by bitter Irish pressgangers and fresh-faced teenage lieutenants, the tactics should feel fairly hard sci-fi.

Movement IS three-dimensional, though it's constrained a little to avoid any trigonometry or the Pythagorean theorem. It doesn't actually make a huge difference, until you start trying to box your opponent in with missiles. Having to send a full wall of them at him instead of just a line makes it a lot less viable as a tactic, so escaping from long-range missile-spam should be merely tricky, rather than impossible.
How much is a ship able to take? Are there different defenses (active measures vs kinetic, passive plating vs energy, reactive against damage, etc), or is all transported to one stat?
The three main defenses are ECM, point-defense, and armor. They work like this:
Point Defense - Point Defense protect against missiles in the final stage of their attack. Point Defense takes up 1 mass per point. During the firing step, you may roll up to 1d6 per point of Point Defense, distributed as you choose against specific missiles in the mounting ship's hex. If a 4 or higher is rolled, that missile takes a hit. Each point of Point Defense may only be used once per turn.

Armor - Armor is used to deflect or absorb hits, though it is quickly compromised. Every time a vessel with armor would suffer a hit, roll d6s equal to the number of points of armor it has. If any come up a 6, the hit is negated. Subtract the number of 6s rolled from your armor instead. Armor has a mass of 1 per 1 point.

ECM Packages - ECM prevents missiles from homing in on you. ECM takes up 1 mass per point. During the firing step, you may roll up to 1d6 per point of ECM, distributed as you choose against any missiles on the field. If a 6 is rolled, that missile is eliminated. Each point of ECM may only be used once per turn.

As far as how much damage a ship can take once hits start getting through, each hit (the smallest unit of damage) destroys 1d6 points of system, distributed randomly. So while that doesn't seem like too much on even a 100-mass ship, you'll probably be losing a few different systems for each hit. And even fairly minor attacks can deal a handful of hits, so once you're under fire, you'll be out of the fight pretty quickly. I haven't written anything up yet for critical damage (hydrogen tanks hit, superstructure breaking up, that kind of thing), but even as it stands, a single solid blow is reasonably likely to be enough to cripple the ship.
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Incidentally, here's a card you'd use for a ship. It's pretty rough - X hours in Paint, etc. - but has space for all the info you'd need. The hex-grid at the bottom is for your vector; in-game, you'd have your current vector written there, and calculate changes by adding your acceleration head-to-tail to find your new vector. I figure you'd laminate the card and use dry-erase markers, or just use pencil and write lightly.

The square above it for your ship's layout. You'd write in where each system is, giving it one box for each point of mass it takes up. Damage marks out these boxes - any system missing a box can't be used at all. I don't have any rules that take advantage of layout like that just yet, so it's mostly for visual reference.
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Good morning, /tg/.
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How's stuff?
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Pretty good, how 'bout you?
Something to consider if you haven't already would be various varieties of screens.

Also, I cannot say horribly much for its realism, but Traveller's base rulebook and High guard supplement both have some fantastic rules for ship combat.
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Doing alright. Just picking up from last night, mostly.

Screens (assuming you mean something like shields/etc.) are something I'm pretty leery of, just because there's not too much promising stuff in the realism department, so the role I'd want them to play is tough to get a feel for.

If you meant more 'screens' as in smaller perimeter craft that guard the big ships, there's probably a role there. I can imagine anti-missile pickets could turn out to be useful, and laserboats can dominate enough space around them to enforce a sort of stand-off distance for escort missions and the like.
>Missiles vs. Lasers is a traditional dichotomy,
Why choose between them? Missiles that shoot nuke-powered x-ray lasers not only exist in sci-fi, but they're based on one of the plans for SDI (granted, the lasers only last a fraction of a second before the blast front destroys the laser apparatus but still). Google bomb-pumped laser some time, it's amazing.
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I dunno, though. Shields are sort of a common element in sci-fi battles, and if there was a good excuse to have them I would. They'd probably be pretty energy-intensive, which is a nice trade-off when you have to worry about radiating heat from your generators and storing everything in heatsinks.

Main problem is the realism factor. It seems like however I crunch it, you'd need orders of magnitude more energy to turn a shot than to fire it, so you're not really getting much bang for your buck. How would you go about designing a shield? What kind of principles does it follow? I just can't seem to get them into the range of acceptable 'hardness', I guess.
>semi realistic
> lasers get more powerful the closer they are to the target
>not even close
>1/10 because I replied

The problem is that you're missing something ; people in the future aren't idiots. They won't design shields to be a big bubble that absorbs energy, it will probably only activate where and when it's necessary. That or knock enemy missiles off course.

This sort of plan would need WAY more thought into it than has apparently gone into it so far.
Depends on how much dust (and other stellar debris) there is where you're fighting, and also on how relativistic the range is. If you're fighting at Star Trek range then there will probably be no dispersal even if you're in the middle of a nebula.

If the beam weapon can't cut through dust and random debris then it isn't an effective weapon. Hate to be the grinch but if this were meant to be even semi-realistic I just couldn't enjoy that.
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They are. This pic's from Project Rho, so you've probably seen it before, but it shows how they expected to use that kind of weapon as a multiple-target missile defense system. Pretty cool stuff. Bomb-pumped lasers are also the main warhead type in the Harrington books, and they show up in Footfall too; I dunno where else they've been used.

In real life, it seems pretty certain that if your tech-base lets you pull off bomb-pumped lasers, they'll probably be fairly dominant. You can (probably) get a better 'laser' this way than you can with a reusable system, at least without having a really massive set-up. It kind of leads to a warhead monoculture, though.

In-game, bomb-pumped lasers fall (roughly) under the same category as nukes. They detonate and shoot energy at every target in range. Basically, if your tech-base can pull off bomb-pumped lasers, assume it can also do practical reusable x-ray lasers, and refluff 'kinetic' weapons as using more traditional warheads. It isn't perfect (bomb-pumped lasers are probably easier to develop than the other techs needed to push engagement ranges out that far), but it keeps the tactical choices open, which I think is important to have in a wargame.
We can beam a laser to a mirror on the Moon and have it rebound back coherent enough to hit the intended sensor. At any range where relativistic delays wouldn't make combat impossible, space debris would be a non-issue.

And anyway, lasers should be used to heat up enemy ships, not cuts holes through them. You don't need a lot of coherence for that.
It isn't a matter of stellar debris, or of losing energy the further out you are. What matters more is spot size. Lasers aren't actually perfect lines: the cross-section of the beam expands the further you get from the source. How quickly it spreads out depends on your lens size and the wavelength of the beam. At long ranges, spot size gets pretty large, while at close range you have the same amount of energy focused on a much smaller area. We're trying to burn through our target here, so the larger the area the energy is spread out over, the longer we'll have to remain on-target to cause some damage.

So while you're right that the amount of energy in the shot hasn't decreased at all, its ability to hurt your target has dropped. Hence, the drop in damage output. (Maybe 'less powerful' was a bad way to phrase it; I was using 'power' in the non-science weapons sense of just 'ability to cause harm').
Heating up enemy ships, though, that's interesting. For that, it seems like you'd actually want a less coherent beam, so that you don't accidentally vaporize the surface and 'lose' all that heat. Could be a firing option, maybe?

I dunno, though. If we're just trying to heat up our target, we're not doing things very efficiently. That energy had to come from our ship, and lasers (currently) generate a lot of internal heat. We're heating ourselves up at the same time we heat them up. I guess we'd know to design our ship around it, though - extra heat sinks and larger radiators. Something like that?
Have you tested the system, and how does it feel?

If they can't calibrate their lazorbeems for range, they shouldn't be using them...

pretty sure present day has this tech already..
It's not a matter of calibration, though. It's just the geometry of the laser itself that puts limits on how small a spot you can get your laser down to. And the limits are fairly hard - if you want a smaller spot size, you NEED a bigger lens or a smaller wavelength. Maybe they'll figure out a way around this using phased arrays eventually, but for now it's something we're stuck with.
I haven't tested it out yet, so I'm basing my balance decisions mostly on guesswork. I'm hoping to get some people together to give it a try some time soon.

Feel-wise, though, it seems like it'll be fairly detailed, with a lot of small choices the player can make that have repercussions down the line. Most of the gambles come in distributing your missile defense and (on the other side) in getting your missiles into position to converge on the target.
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What about hybrids? Railguns and so forth?
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Owait. Railguns instead of purely propellant-based artillery.
if you're being semi-realistic.....
Ballistic/kinetics deal damage based on the relative velocity between them and the target. firing a railgun at a ship accelerating away from you will do less damage, and vice versa. Also, accuracy depends on the target too. against stationary installations kinetic weapons would be devastating.
2. lasers are very accurate, but lose accuracy at very long range. However they have a steep damage falloff as the power of the beam decreases with range.
3.missiles will do damage based on warhead type. explosive or nuke warheads will be constant. kinetic-kill missiles will alter as kinetic projectiles, but be more accurate due to guidance.
Eh, a laser array just reduces the component size, it's effectively the same as using a larger lens.
Well, theoretically there's should be a distance from where it's practically impossible to hit an enemy frigate without a lucky shot with say, a laser. The closer ships gets to each other (in reality they are of course extremely far away from each other). The closer the ships get to each other though, the higher the the probability of getting hit becomes until eventually you reach a point where the two spaceships are practically exchanging broadsides and hoping their armor is better than the other guys.
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this is a rather poor analogy, but why not just have jammers for that purpose, like how bug repellent really only stops mosquitoes from sensing you, so they veer off course. So that you have low energy for good results. But about those lasers, depending on how we're working this, we could just have a sort of electromagnetic dispersal field that looks like a shield to the layman.
What about a projectile that can be made from an easy to carry material, like a metal of some sort that is superheated and expands, to be launched out, providing the heat of a laser, and the power of a kinetic round?
You mean like ME's Thanix Cannon?
Wasn't there a game with simultaneos turns that took into account attitude, bank, and velocity?
ECM is one of the main defenses against missiles right now, and it's fairly useful in limiting extremely-long-range missile fire.

Maybe you could elaborate on electromagnetic dispersal fields, though? It sounds like you have something in mind, but it's not a term I'm familiar with.
purely a half-thought out theory, it hinges purely on the way the laser works, pure lasers would be very hard to stop or disperse, but a sort of underlying static could maybe... interfere with the continuity of the beam. At the very least, this could be discernible if there was a sort of marker placed on the ship in order to determine where the laser would end up, this could then be jammed or redirected
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I think you are approaching this completely wrong.

"space" wargames are bascially about moving discrete elements very carefully in a strategic manner. They are dominated by their movement and facing system, not by the rock paper scissors weapon comparison.

How does this game work? is it secret orders revealed simultaneously? alternating activation? you go I go?

how do ships move? how do you visually represent ships on the field? specifically, how does velocity get translated onto the tabletop, which just shows location?

Are all the ships restricted to a single 2d plane to allow you to put them on a tabletop?

these systems are what I would start with. Admittedly, though, I don't think realistic conservation of momentum is a good idea. Space games are already so weighty that they drive off much of the casual base. If you want a space game to actually take place, you need it to be simple. I prefer naval style movement and rules. It's intuitive and lends itself to the tabletop.

for example, look at the new x wing game (not yet released, fantasy flight). That's a movement system that may or may not work, but has clearly had some thought put into it.
Probably Attack Vector.
You guys need to read "The Lost Fleet" series by Jack Campbell.

It's a great series, written like a 'High Seas Adventure' kind of story, but mechanically there's a lot about how fighting at fractions of the speed of light is like.

Things like how all the stuff the people do is usually finished hours before most shots are fired.

Basically, firing missiles at too great a range will give plenty of time for countermeasures to be readied, or for them to burn too much fuel to correct its course to match moving ships, so they are usually fired a few minutes before contact or immediately after to chase down damaged or incapacitated ship.

'Grapeshot', clouds of steel ball-bearings, are shot into the paths of enemy ships during the pass to short out shields and allow lasers and other weapons to do the real damage.

The book also goes pretty deep into the problems with sensors and commands really only moving at the speed of light, which means that the commanders of ships plan out their orders hours in advance of combat; the actual pass between ships or fleets takes place in a fraction of a few seconds, and computers take charge of most of actual weapons fire. Then the ships separate, and damaged is assessed and repaired and plans are made for the next pass.

Really cool stuff.
Sounds a lot like David Weber's Honorverse. Both have the goal of "and here's how we use fairly hard sci-fi to justify our combat being just like the age of sail but in space"
What you're talking about is essentially what I'm trying to avoid. It seems like most "space" wargames (and you're right to put it in quotes there) don't have anything to do with being in space - they're just reskinned naval games, and carry many of the assumptions that naval games have. Facing being a key element, for instance, and movement with top speeds and easy braking. My whole goal is to make a game that ISN'T those things, and is still playable as a game rather than just being a math exercise.

So, how it works:
Movement is in order by mass - the largest ships move first, on down to the smallest, from 400-mass superdreadnoughts down to 1-mass missiles. In case of a tie, it's simultaneous secret orders. The rationale here is that low-mass vessels are generally move able to rotate and change their velocities, while more massive ships essentially have to commit to a certain course.

The game (as it's written) is played on a hexgrid, though since there's nothing about facing/turning, you could probably replace "1 hex" with "1 cm" and not change anything too much. The third dimension is represented by tracking your height separately, and any changes to it are also treated separately from in-plane movement. There's a bit of a concession to playability there, since it means moving up or down takes more acceleration than it should, but it lets us avoid having to use the Pythagorean Theorem any. If it bothers you, it wouldn't be too hard to do that yourself (and if for some reason it makes a huge difference in playtesting, I might go ahead and do it).

Vectors are tracked on your ship card, using a little hex-grid that you can erase and change as you accelerate. In your movement phase, you change the vector by however much your acceleration allows, and then move your ship's position based on that new vector. Again, there's some rounding going on there, but you don't have to do any math for it to work.
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All of that sounds like stuff I'd much rather have a computer handle for me than have to do by hand.
It'd be a little much for large-fleet engagements, but it shouldn't be too rough for 1-5 ships per side. What I'm more worried about is handling missiles. A smallish frigate could, in theory, bring 40 mass-1 missiles to the fight, and get all of them on the board at the same time. That's a lot to keep track of, and if I can find a better way to handle them, I'd consider it. At the same time, I sort of like that kind of missile-spam as a viable tactic. I just don't want it to take forever. Fortunately, mass-1 missiles only have 1 turn's worth of acceleration, so they're only going to be changing vectors once after they're fired. If I can figure a way to represent it on the table, it'd avoid having to keep a separate record for every missile.
Why not just say that all the missiles fired by a given ship on a given turn must all be controlled as one unit? Say it's a limitation of the fire control software and let there be one super special upgrade to fire 2 independent salvoes.
That would help significantly, but I'm worried about the effect it'd have on tactics. One of the ways missiles are good is that they can be shot off to cover various escapes, so letting you only fire one salvo at a time makes it a lot harder to lock down those routes.

An stopgap idea that might work is just to say that any missiles that have expended all their fuel and don't have any payload are removed at the end of the turn. At the very least, I think we can do without tracking empty missiles as they fly off the board. It'd cut down pretty sharply on how many mass-1 missiles we need to track, and those are the ones I'm most worried about.
You said missiles get one turn of accel before they burn out and go ballistic. If I understand that right that means you shoot them on a vector and then get one chance to change vectors after the enemy reacts to your missiles. So they still have one turn's worth of flexibility.
Hm well, it's a little more complicated than that. Like ships, missiles are customizable, and you're free to take whatever size or payload you want. Missiles can accelerate at 8 per turn, and it costs 1 fuel for each turn of acceleration. So, for instance, you could have a mass-3 missile with three turns worth of fuel, or it could have 2 turns of fuel and a nuclear warhead, and so on. You don't have to accelerate on the turn you're launched - the ship could always 'cold-launch' the missile (basically just pushing it out the airlock or whatever) - because you already start with the vector of the ship you're fired from. So larger missiles have a few turns worth of acceleration in them.

What I'm most worried about is what happens when people spam minimum-size mass-1 missiles. Even your average frigate has 40 mass available for payload, and if all of that's devoted to mass-1 missiles, we have quite a lot of those to deal with. So yes, those would have only one turn's worth of flexibility, but larger ones would be able to have multiple turns, and it gets harder to put them into position to take advantage of those multiple turns if they have to maneuver together. The fire-as-salvos rule might inadvertently encourage spamming mass-1s by making higher masses less worthwhile in terms of coverage.

I think it's something I'll get more of a feel for once I've playtested it a little. I might be missing some key interaction or something, and need to rebalance things to reflect that.

(Also, sorry for the slow responses - I was watching football, so I kept checking in and writing up what I could during the commercials. Game's over now, though.)
Well, the tendency to spam mass 1 missiles wouldn't be different if they could be fired individually since the tactic you said you wanted to keep was shotgunning a bunch of them on all your target's possible vectors. My 2 credits (granted, with only a limited understanding of your rules) would be that the long range use of missiles is to herd your opponents. You fire a salvo, and they either have to move out of the cone of potential areas those missiles can hit or take the damage, and the strategy involved is how much weight of missiles do you use in that salvo.

Also, which game?
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Redskins vs. Bengals. Alas, alas.

But I think you've got it right, more or less, in terms of tactics. Of course, missiles are also plenty deadly on their own, so whether you can survive through the enemy's salvo in order to close to laser range is an open question. There may end up being two design philosophies: one that consists of missiles and pretty much nothing else, and one that consists of bringing everything needed to avoid or survive all those missiles and destroy the enemy ship directly.

Maybe I should just start pasting what I have, though? It's all in a .txt, so it isn't like we'd lose formatting or anything.
Here goes, anyway:

1 - Introduction

At some indeterminate time in the future, people fight in space.

2 - Turn Cycle

Each turn consists of the following phases, in this order:

I. Movement
1)Move Ships by mass, resolving ties simultaneously
2)Move Torpedoes in order of mass, resolving ties simultaneously
3)Move Missiles in order of mass, resolving ties simultaneously

II. Firing
5)Point Defense
6)Terminal Guidance

IIb. Damage
1)Resolving Damage

III. Energy
1)Radiate Heat
2)Generate Energy
3 - Detailed Phase Walkthrough


Before the game begins, decide on the rules for the scenario. This will probably include starting vectors for any ships, too.


The game takes place on a hexgrid, with a number to denote altitude. A hex represents a fairly large area of space, so there is no limit to the number of objects that may occupy it at the same time.

Every object on the field has a vector (marked on a seperate sheet, probably) indicating their velocity and direction. Each turn, they move that many hexes in the direction indicated. Altitude is also noted on the velocity.

Any turn in which an object accelerates, they may first add or subtract up to their max acceleration from their vector before moving that turn. Use the hexgrid thingy to figure out the new vector. Altitude vector always just adds or subtracts directly; we'll keep it easy and ignore Pythagoras for now. Any turn in which an object accelerates, it marks off 1 Fuel.

This game uses phased simultaneous movement. In general, vessels are moved in order of mass, with the largest moved first and the lightest last. In some cases, there may be ties. When this happens, you secretly mark your change in vector, then reveal it (simultaneously with your opponent) and move that object. In the first phase, all ships move. Second phase, all torpedoes. Third phase, all missiles and munitions.

During this step, objects fire their weapons and activate their various systems. Actions within each phase are considered simultaneous. Any damage inflicted is calculated immediately, meaning, for example, that a shot from a laser might destroy a missile before it can detonate its payload.

1)Launches - Missiles, nukes, and torpedoes may be launched in this phase, either using a railgun or simply being released from the firing ship. They are immediately placed on the same hex as the firing ship, and begin moving next turn.
2)ECM - ECM may be used against missiles in this phase. Any missiles effected are immediately eliminated. Roll 1d6 for each point of ECM targetted at a given missile; any 6s remove the missile. Remember, dice are allocated before being rolled, with 'wasted' dice lost.
3)Lasers - Lasers are fired in this phase. Each laser may fire once, provided the firing ship has enough energy available in its capacitors. Lasers deal hits based on their range and strength, as described below.
4)Detonation - Any nukes, whether attached to torpedoes, missiles, or simply 'dumb-fired', may be detonated. Nukes may even be detonated while still aboard a ship (this, obviously, destroys the ship, but also anything around it). Note that objects within the range of nukes are destroyed instantly, and those one hex outside its range take d6 hits.
5)Point Defense - Point Defense may be used against missiles in this phase. Any missiles effected are immediately eliminated. Roll 1d6 for each point of PD targetted at a given missile; any 6s remove the missile. Remember, dice are allocated before being rolled, with 'wasted' dice lost.
6)Terminal Guidance - Any objects in the same hex as an enemy (of any type) of lower mass may use this phase to crash into their opponent. This manuever immediately deals hits equal to the mass of the ramming object plus the magnitude of their differences in vectors to both the ramming and the rammed object.

IIb. Damage
Whenever a hit is dealt to a target, break from the current spot in the order and resolve damage as follows:
1)Resolve Damage - Any object which has taken a hit (the arbitrary unit of damage, here) during the firing step then rolls to see the effects of this damage. For each hit, mark off 1d6 squares of mass at random. Any system which loses a square is disabled. If the ship mounts armor, it /must/ use this armor to save first.
III. Energy
Last, we take care of our energy-management for the turn.

1)Radiate Heat - In this phase, every ship may radiate as much heat from its heatsinks as it is allowed. If for whatever reason the ship still has more heat than its heatsinks can hold, it suffers one additional hit per point over the limit. These hits are resolved immediately, as per the rules above. Excess heat is NOT removed - it carries over from turn to turn.
2)Generate Energy - As the last step in the phase, each ship's power supply generates its rating in power. This energy is transfered into its capacitors, up to its full capacity. Excess energy is lost.
4 - Ships

Ships are the largest combatants, and often serve as the focus of an entire mission. They may or may not be manned, I don't really care. Ships are provided in the appendix, or they can be designed by the players (the latter is more fun). Your frame determines the basic characteristics of the ship, while all the extra systems are more or less customizable on-the-fly.

Each ship frame has the following components:

Mass - total mass, including systems. Shows the amount of 'extra' customization space you have
Engine - provides Acceleration, but uses fuel and energy, and produces heat
Fuel - how many turns of reaction mass (kinda like fuel) you have
Heat Sinks - how much heat you can store
Radiators - how much heat you radiate each turn
Power Supply - how much power you make each turn
Capacitors - how much power you can store

For now, here's a pair of basic frames to get started on:

Destroyer (<=100 mass)
Engine(10 mass) - Acc. 3, req. 1 Fuel + 4 Energy, Generates 1 Heat
Power Supply(4 mass) - 4 power per turn
Capacitors(4 mass) - store 4 energy
Radiators(1 mass) - radiate 1 heat per turn
Heat Sinks(1 mass) - store up to 1 heat
Fuel(20 mass) - 20 Fuel
Payload(<=60 mass) - Contains whatever is desired

Frigate (<=100 mass)
Engine(15 mass) - Acc. 4, req. 1 Fuel + 5 Energy, Generates 1 Heat
Power Supply(5 mass) - 5 energy per turn
Capacitors(5 mass) - store 5 energy
Radiators(1 mass) - radiate 1 heat per turn
Heat Sinks(2 mass) - store up to 1 heat
Fuel(30 mass) - 30 Fuel
Payload(<=40 mass) - Contains whatever is desired
These two frames are used in the sample scenario (see Appendix).

And any number of customizable extra systems:
ECM Packages
Extra Capacitors
Auxillary Powergenerator
Heat Sinks
Extendable Radiators
Fuel Tanks
Mission Pods

Each extra system adds to your ship's mass, and provides some sort of functionality. See below:

Lasers - A common weapon, lasers are multipurpose short-range weapons. Each point of laser takes up 4 mass, and requires 3 power and generates 2 heat when fired. The laser has a range of twice its point total in hexes. Any target in its last hex of range suffers a hit; any closer target suffers 1 additional hit per hex inside max range.

Point Defense - Point Defense protect against missiles in the final stage of their attack. Point Defense takes up 1 mass per point. Each turn, you may roll up to d6 per point of Point Defense against a specific missile in the mounting ship's hex. If a 4 or higher is rolled, that missile takes a hit. Each point of Point Defense may only be used once per turn.

Railguns - Railguns are used to accelerate missiles, torpedos, and nukes toward a target. Each point of railgun takes up 3 mass, and requires 2 power and generates 1 heat when fired. When fired, the railgun launches a missile or nuke with a vector equal to the firing ship's current vector plus up to 10 in any direction. Railguns can launch up to their points value in mass this way.

Missiles - Missiles are the smallest class of object, and act as miniature vessals that home in on enemy ships with lethal effect. Missiles come in all types: see the section on missiles for more details.
Nukes - Typically nuclear warheads. Carried in missiles or launched using railguns. Nukes come in three sizes. Small nukes take 1 mass, mediums 2, and larges 4. Nukes can be detonated in the firing phase. When detonated, each nuke deals d6 hits to any target up to 1 hex outside its range, and immediately destroys anything within its range. Smalls have a range of 1, mediums 2, and larges 3.

Torpedoes - Torpedoes are the medium class of object, and differ from missiles in that they use the same style engines as larger ships (and tend to be larger as a result). Torpedoes as a category also cover ECM probes, AKVs, and so on - see the section on torpedoes for more details.

Armor - Armor is used to deflect or absorb hits, though it is quickly compromised. Every time a ship or torpedo with armor would suffer a hit, roll d6s equal to the number of points of armor it has. If any come up a 6, the hit is negated. Subtract the number of 6s rolled from your armor instead. Armor has a mass of 1 per 1 point.

ECM Packages - ECM prevents missiles from homing in on you. ECM takes up 1 mass per point. Each turn, you may roll up to d6 per point of ECM against any missile on the field. If a 6 is rolled, that missile is eliminated. Each point of ECM may only be used once per turn.

Extra Capacitors - Extra Capacitors increase your ship's ability to store energy. Each point of extra capacitors has a mass of 1, and stores 1 additional energy.

Auxillary Power Generator - Auxillary power generators let you generate more power each turn. Each point of auxillary power has a mass of 4 and generates 1 additional power each turn.

Heat Sinks - heat sinks let you store more heat internally. Each point of heat sinks has a mass of 1 and stores 1 additional heat.

Extendable Radiators - Radiators let you radiate more heat each turn. Each point of radiators has a mass of 2 and radiates 1 additional heat per turn.
Fuel Tanks - Fuel tanks store extra remass (which isn't technically fuel, but whatever man). Each point of fuel tanks stores an additional 1 remass and has a mass of 1.

Mission Pods - Mission pods don't do anything; they can represent supplies being transported, expeditionary forces, diplomats, satelites, orbital bombardment nukes, whatever. In missions where the objective isn't just 'destroy the other guy', your success depends on getting the mission pods through the fight safely. Scenario Rules (which will vary from mission to mission) will fill in the details.
5 - Torpedoes & Missiles

'Torpedoes' is the general term used to describe all smaller disposable-type vehicles that might detach from the main ship and perform some specific mission. It might be to carry a warhead into the enemy ship like a traditional torpedo, or it could house a point-defense array or ECM suites, or perform laser-picket duties.
The term 'torpedo' is used to distinguish it from missiles. The main difference between these two objects is their drive system. Torpedoes use the same general drives as larger ships do, which are designed for slow, sustained acceleration at economical fuel rates. Missiles, on the other hand, are designed for short, fast bursts of acceleration at the expense of fuel economy. This makes missiles dangerous but short-duration weapons, while torpedoes are a more persistant threat. A missile that misses has probably run out of fuel and sails off into space; a torpedo that misses turns around for another pass.

Torpedoes and missiles are both designed in the same style as ships, with the exception that they use different base frames and act on a different phase during movement. In addition, torpedoes get 5 remass per fuel tank as opposed to 1. A basic torpedo frame consists of:
Mk.I (<=5 mass)
Engine(1 mass) - Acc. 4, req. 1 fuel
Fuel(1 mass) - 5 Fuel
Warhead(<=3 mass) - Contains whatever you want

Mk.II (<=10 mass)
Engine(2 mass) - Acc. 4, req. 1 fuel
Fuel(1 mass) - 5 Fuel
Warhead(<=7 mass) - Contains whatever you want

Mk.III (<=20 mass)
Engine(4 mass) - Acc. 4, req. 2 fuel
Fuel(2 mass) - 10 Fuel
Warhead(<=14 mass) - Contains whatever you want

The maximum size for a torpedo is 20 mass; past that it's essentially a ship. Note that engine mass is about 1 per 5, but fuel doesn't scale proportionally. That's rough, and kind of a side effect of ignoring F=ma when it comes to acceleration. Maybe I'll rework that later on.

So torpedoes cover drone fighters and - if you want - even manned fighters. That's an actual, realistic portrayal of a "fighter" like craft; essentially an auxiliary gunship, less fighter-y and more gunship-y as you increase the size.

Hey, all this stuff? It's fucking fantastic. Especially the focus on producing a core system that works well, and leaving the fluffing to whoever uses the mechanics; so they can fluff the technological background to produce the setting they want. No matter what your technological background is, simple physics are going to keep certain elements the same, which your engine focuses on.

Color me impressed. Keep up the good work, make sure it gets a 1d4chan page when you're done.
Oh, hadn't thought about 1d4chan. Thanks for the reminder. Last little bit of rules:
A missile is so simple it almost doesn't need a frame. Here's all you have to work with:

Missile (<=1 mass)
Engine(0 mass) - Acc. 8, req. 1 fuel
Fuel(1 mass) - 1 fuel
Warhead(<=0) - Contains whatever desired

So in theory, you could have a missile that totals 1 mass. What's the point of such a small small weapon? Remember the rules for Terminal Guidance attacks.

During the movement portion of the game, torpedoes act much like ships, albeit on their respective phases. During firing, torpedoes and missiles act the same way as ships. Note that, in the absence of being launched from a railgun or similar, missiles and torpedoes launched from a ship begin the next turn with the same vector as the ship that launched them.
Most commonly, missiles/torpedoes will use either the Detonation phase (to explode nukes in their warhead) or the terminal guidance phase to crash directly into an opposing target. In the latter case, remember that terminal guidance can only be used against a target of higher mass.

For purposes of 'campaign' games and the like, assume all missiles fired are lost. All torpedoes fired can be recovered, provided they have enough fuel to accelerate onto the same vector as their mothership at the end of the game.
And that's all. I hope it's more or less consistent internally - sometimes I'd mention a rule multiple places, change it later on, and forget to correct it everywhere. There's probably also some weird phrasing in there, for similar reasons. Still pretty rough-draft, but I think I've got the basic idea I want down.

Also, I posted this way earlier in the thread, but
is my rough version of a stat-card for a ship. It's blank, for now - maybe I'll work up a few sample ships next.

Thanks for the kind words, Anon.
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>mfw reading these interdasting game mechanics, fapping to pics of delicious hard scifi spacecraft and listening to Severed Dreams from the Babylon 5 soundtrack

You have my undivided attention
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I'm working on some sample ships right now, but you've got the rules. Go ahead and make some of your own!

Template is >>20830963
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I'll definitely start building ships with these rules later next week when I have some free time. Thanks for your hard work.

Now now, Mr. Cotto, don't get ahead of yourself
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I lulz'd
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Here's an example to get things started:

The Exeter-class frigate is designed to be able to operate solo, mounting both a strength-2 laser for close engagements (and missile defense) along with 12 mass-2 kinetic missiles for combat at stand-off range. Its power supply, capacitors, and heat sinks have also been upgraded to handle the extra load the laser places on them when fired. Even so, it cannot use both the engine and the laser at the same time, and its stock radiators. An group of 5 point-defense arrays is the ship's only other defensive measure, but should be enough to ward off the odd missile that manages to get within range.

(Since I didn't really go for a dedicated role, this ship's probably awful. Designing generalists is pretty difficult, while designing specialist classes seems fairly easy. That probably reflects real-world ship design, but I'm worried this might take it to an extreme...)
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Oh no, don't encourage the minmaxing munchkins with careless comments!
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Speaking of minmaxing...!

The Orion-class frigate, by comparison, features a much greater missile load, at the expense of any kind of energy armament. In addition to 10 mass-1 missiles and 10 mass-2 kinetic missiles, it carries 4 nuclear-warhead mass-3s. In addition to providing a surefire way to beat enemy point defense, these nukes are also the Orion-class' best defense against enemy missile salvos.

(So the Orion is a little more minmaxy, and would differently fulfill the role of dedicated missile-boat in a fleet engagement. One-on-one against something like the Exeter, it would have to decide between holding back some missiles to use as interceptors, or just going for an all-out swarm attack. And in the case that both ships survive the missile duel, the Exeter wins almost by default once they're into energy range.)
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Here's one final ship, going in the other direction from the Orion-class. This one's a destroyer, which is a little slower and less powerful than the frigate frame, but provides more payload space.

The Hoplite-class destroyer follows an all-energy weapons profile, managing to mount a strength-4 laser. Designed as a hard-hitting forward unit, the Hoplite's powerful laser can swat down missiles gunning for vulnerable units in the rear, and it powerful enough to keep lighter ships at a distance. Meanwhile, its thick armor allows it to weather a few hits from opposing laserboats.

(Both laser- and missile-focused ships can be tricky to design, it turns out. For missileers, picking the right distribution of sizes and payload is important. For knife-fighters like the Hoplite, it's all about getting the energy balance right so that you can fire the main laser without running into power shortages or heat management issues. I realized after I saved the file that I screwed up a little, and the Hoplite won't be able to get a decent rate of fire as it is. I'd probably go back and trade some of that armor for bigger power plants, next time.)
Why include relative height at all?

I can't think of a reason why there would be a difference between another ship being 50,000km "above" you or 50,000km "below" you.

It would make more sense if you had rules regarding gravity wells, giving ships closer to massive objects (like planets) certain advantages and/or disadvantages for being deeper in. Like say you can use them for slingshot effects but achieving a higher orbit costs more energy than going to a lower one.
I was considering not including the third dimension at all for a while, based on the same reasoning they use in Battlefleet Gothic: basically, that it's a lot more complicated for something that essentially boils down to a range modifier.

But actually, BFG provides a good example of why that doesn't work. If you've ever played against an Imperial fleet, you know you're going to be looking across the table at a solid line of torpedo waves that, no matter how you move, are going to hit you eventually. It works because in two dimensions, the number of torps needed to block off a whole side goes up linearly with the amount of displacement you need to avoid it. That is, if you make a line of torps 20cm wide, the enemy ships have to move 20cm to either side to avoid it.

In three dimensions, though, you need to form a WALL of torpedoes rather than just a line. Basically, you need your missiles spread over a whole area, but the target only needs to move out of its way by the radius. So blocking off an area gets a lot harder - the number of missiles needed increases quadratically with the displacement needed to avoid it.

Er, I hope I phrased that properly. Basically, tactics that work in 2-d work differently in 3-d, and not just for psychological reasons.
When it comes to the effects of gravity wells, that's more difficult, and starts to depend pretty heavily on scale. For smallish ships fighting close to planets, gravity is obviously a dominant effect, but when you're dealing with ships that have very powerful drives it becomes less of an issue.

Inversely, for relatively near-future fights, the scales involved can be almost be assumed to put orbital calculations into the realm of strategy rather than tactics. Say, for example, two ships fighting in intersecting orbits going the same direction around Earth. While it's true that they're rotating relative to the Earth, it's a fairly decent approximation to consider them to only have relative velocities toward one another. Accelerating 'up' might be slightly more difficult than 'down', but since you're already in orbit, your rotational motion is accounting for most of the force due to gravity.

There may be certain situations where gravity matters, but for now, I'm just assuming a simple, open-space environment. Keeping gravity at a strategic level (for now) makes things simpler, though eventually I might screw around with 'terrain' features like that.
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Lego, but still cool.
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The only spaceship pictures I have are of Kerbal Space Program...
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There's an unnecessary "but" in the middle of that sentence.

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> transnational conglomerates fighting with killsats over distant asteroids
> kilometer-long colony ships fighting at c-fractional speeds at ranges measured in AU
> Space Ships-of-the-Line exchanging broadsides at the Space Battle of Trafalgar.

Oh god my pants
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I'm confused on two points.... What is vector and how do you limit your ship? I mean their has to etheir a cost or a weakness to putting so much stuff on your ship... if missed ir could someone tell me? Just need clarification.
A vector is a direction with a magnitude (usually a speed); It basically says "You are moving in this direction"

As for putting more things on your ship, the price you pay is mass. More mass means you accelerate more slowly, means you are less maneuverable and use more fuel to get anywhere.
Is there a formula to calculate mass cost?
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This is getting into an area (or two related areas) that I'm less satisfied with at the moment, so bear with me if the explanation seems a little cumbersome.

In 'real life', mass is expensive in terms of price, for the raw material price and bringing them into orbit (or gathering it from asteroids or whatever). There's also the cost of researching and building the components themselves (radar dishes and ECM packages probably cost more than equally-massive slabs of metal). Once the ship is launched, there's a performance cost for mass, too - the more mass the ship carries, the less acceleration it can manage. Finally, in game terms, there (should be) the balancing point-cost - a measure of effectiveness based on the idea that two groups of equal points-value ought to be roughly evenly matched.

What makes this especially tricky is the complexities of mission planning in space. Most (real-ish) ship drives require a large percentage of the ship's mass to be reaction mass: stuff for the drive to throw out the back in order to accelerate. Because of this, over the course of a mission, the total mass of a spaceship varies significantly - its mass as it reaches its final destination is probably only a small fraction of what it started with. And when the mass decreases, the amount of acceleration the engine can provide in a given time period (one turn, whatever that happens to be) is similarly increased. F=ma, and all.
(con't - so much 'Field too long')

Trying to build that kind of mechanic into the game gave me a lot of problems, though. For starters, it depends a lot on your assumptions about drive efficiency and scale, which I'm trying to avoid as much as possible. It also (probably rightly) places a large emphasis on the stage of a given mission that the combat encounter takes place in - strategy concerns, when this game focuses on the tactics. Lastly, it's sort of cumbersome to take decreasing mass into account over the course of the game - recalculating your acceleration every turn as you fire off missiles and burn through remass. Especially because the fairly coarse scale of the game (you can move 3 hexes or 4, but not 3.65) means that the sudden changes would be fairly unrealistic anyway.

Instead of all that, I've opted for an approximate solution via the use of set frames. A frame is basically an engine and the bare essentials for running it, along with some remass to power it. They have a fixed payload - if you want more space, you'll have to use a different frame. In exchange, you get constant acceleration. So rather than attaching 140 tons of mass to a 100-ton-rated 4 acceleration engine and then trying to figure out what 2.86 hexes a turn looks like (and no, don't round - that incentivizes putting on just enough mass to stay in the best acceleration possible), you keep everything fairly simple at the cost of some realism.
A slightly more detailed explanation of vectors for those who aren't familiar with them:

The "easiest" way to write a vector would be in the form <x, y, z>, where those numbers are your speed measured in each axis. That's basically the way you'd do it on the hex grid cards that got posted earlier. It's super easy to calculate changes in vectors, whether by numbers or by drawing them on a grid. In numbers just add them together. In drawing arrows, draw the second arrow starting where the first left off; the result is a third arrow that goes from the start of the first one to the end of the second one (you can then erase the first two and just keep the result).

The way in >>20847669 requires another math step: if you calculate the total change represented (x squared plus y squared plus z squared = distance squared), you can factor it out so that you have a total speed and a unit direction (the vector part has been scaled to equal a distance of 1). This would be a PITA to have to do manually at a gaming table, because it's punching multiply multiply multiply add add squareroot divide divide divide into a calculator... but a quick skim of the ideas in this thread shows that they're only suggesting that for ship vs ship ramming. They're mostly using vectors just to keep track of motion and location from game round to game round.

It's the sort of thing that sounds scary in text, but it's actually simple to show in person - anyone who already understands it can explain it in five minutes by drawing a few arrows.

In terms of balancing individual games, then, the frame is a fairly easy way to handle that for now. I'd like to keep away from system-by-system points costs, if I can (and at any rate, I haven't done nearly enough playtesting to be ready to price that kind of thing), but it shouldn't be too hard to say "destroyers cost X, Cruisers cost Y, etc."

I'd also like to emphasize scenario- and campaign-gaming, which both help address the issue of balancing against gamey tactics. They also help add the kind of flavor and relation to the strategic level that would otherwise be missing.

What I mean by that is this: "500 points vs. 500 points, total annihilation" is pretty bland, and even if it's a good fight, it doesn't really feel like it's connected to anything else. Furthermore, the simplified "kill them before they kill you" format basically puts your entire ship design process in the context of "does it help me kill stuff better?", which leads to fairly one-dimensional designs.

Something more asymmetrical would be both more interesting and more plausible. Defending a convoy of landing craft to support a planetary invasion, penetrating an enemy picket to bomb their major cities, performing routine cargo inspections when one of the 'freighters' suddenly goes hot, etc. Scenarios both help ease the balance issue (or at least, shift the burden onto the scenario designer...) and favor more well-rounded ship selection, and make the game more interesting to boot.
apologies for not scrutinizing every post before asking, but has any consideration been made for the likely fragility of radiators on these vessels? The heat generated by a ship-mounted laser (as opposed to a nuke-pumped laser carried by a torch missle or torpedo) could quickly become the biggest threat to a vessel, and blowing one's wad by firing too many lasers in too short a time could lead to boiling out your crew (or other sensitive systems).

Perhaps having an option to extend or retract radiators would be of tactical interest? Cool that shit off before we all die in here, Lieutenant!
Heat-management is definitely a big issue, especially on all-laser ships, and filling your sinks past their capacity is a quick way to taking some serious damage. Extra radiators are one of the various systems you can put on your ship, and in some ways they face many of the disadvantages you mention. They're somewhat vulnerable, and getting a few damaged can leave you unable to fire lasers or even the engines without risking an overheat.

Adding in modelling for extendable radiators might be tough, though. While it'd be interesting tactically, I'm a little doubtful as to whether there's much advantage to keeping them inside. Combat is already assuming an 'everybody sees everyone' situation, and shooting works with the assumption that lasers are as accurate as sensors (so roughly perfect) and kinetics don't work at all, so taking into account the increased target area radiator provides isn't likely to change any of that. Plus, there are some fairly clever ways around using vulnerable extendable radiators - droplet sprayers and the like, for instance. That said, I do like the idea of adding that kind of decision-making during a fight, so I'll play around with it a little when I get the chance.
Thank you for the explanation.... but one thing still confuses me... in game terms how does mass affect accelaration a graph of these ratios would be nice
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Here's a (very) rough graph. I feel kind of bad: even my pictures have too many words in them.
>modeling radiators
Please, let's not make a Heat Transfer course a prerequisite for the game.

Haven't read through the entire thread, but suffice it to say missiles are far from certain to hit. Not only will there be directed energy point-defense, but at long ranges the envelope in which a ship can be by the time the missile arrives is huge.
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Don't worry - it's no more complicated than the heat management in Battletech. Though honestly, "no more complicated than Battletech" might not be a great pitch, generally...

And you're right: missiles can be avoided by getting clear of their maneuver cone, by shooting them down with point-defense, or by jamming them with ECM (I'm a little skeptical of how useful ECM will be in space, but I'm willing to admit it's not my area of expertise and accept the Red Queen's Race argument for it roughly matching missile tracking capability). Aside from that kind of thing, though, I'm assuming that if a missile can get close enough to a ship to go into its terminal attack, it can always make the hit.
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Diaspora has a fairly realistic take on space combat, heat is one of the most dangerous things, and little hits can be absolutely devastating.
That just makes it seem like ECM is waaaayyyy overpowered though, unless your enemy is using Lasers/Gauss Cannons
A question, OP; have you thought of a name for the system other than "Semi Realistic Space Combat"? Because that's a bit of a mouth full.
This very much depends on the mass fraction of fuel of the vessel...

The thing with missiles is they have to constantly adjust their heading in response to where their target is headed, and at long ranges, even small adjustments in the target's course will result in large changes given enough time. So this forces the missile to burn fuel.

Don't really know the specifics of EW, but direct energy weapons will definitely be a game changer for missiles. It wouldn't surprise me if they evolved into some sort of drone-type thing - pack them with enough firepower to do damage and don't bother armoring them. Fire them off and let them get close enough to damage the enemy ship but not so close that they get destroyed by the enemy ship's attacks. Produces a relatively cheap credible threat while allowing the mothership to stay at a safe range.
Also, just thought of something for cooling... Highly pressurized... something is stored on the ship. Let it depressurize and expand, which brings the temperature down and allows it to be used as a working fluid to absorb heat and carry it off the ship. Better yet, if you're still using reaction mass engines, you can use fuel for this. Not only does it save volume and allow you to carry more fuel, it also carries heat away from the ship.
Part of what limits ECM's usefulness is that you have to allocate it to each missile individually. So you have to pick and choose between really focusing on blacking out a few missiles each turn, or settle for picking them off at random. And no matter what you do, you'll be hard-pressed to burn down a salvo of 10 or 20 missiles in less time than it takes them to get to you.

I dunno, though. What kind of situations did you imagine that made you think it's overpowered? I could be missing something.

I've got the title as "Terajoule," which (at one point) was about the energy I was estimating for a smallish hit ('Petajoule' would be a little more impressive, but I don't think it has the same ring). It's still quite a lot of energy.

But I'm open to suggestions.
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Not intended as a WMD, but at 0.92c, what isn't?
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best part of avatar right there

agreed, so nice to see an actual realistic looking spaceship for once
Could have area effect ECM acting as a "shield"
having to make a bit more of a difficult roll than standard ECM. Maybe roll a 6, and then another 6+, getting better for ever 5/10/20/etc mass put into the system?

Just an Idea.

It sounds like all you have to do then is not include stuff like torpedoes, which don't make a lot of sense anyway.

Wouldn't dumb fire projectiles that weren't traveling at near light speed be useless anyway? Don't include them and then you don't have to include rules for height and then have to keep track of it for every thing that's on the table.
Torpedoes in BFG were only dumbfire at the tabletop level - fluffwise, they turned to engage enemy ships once they got within striking distance. Remember, ships only occupy the stem of the base.

But you're right, dumbfire projectiles would be probably be pretty close to useless. In our case, we're talking about missiles, and our 'wall' is a lot looser and more spread out - just close enough that a few missiles can converge on any target trying to get through.

That said, I'm sure you could just play with a gentleman's agreement not to go three-dimensional. If you don't mind running into some questionable tactics, it'd be a good way to keep things a little simpler.

Hm I kind of like the effect AoE countermeasures might have on tactics - it encourages ships to group up for mutual protection. ECM as it currently is kind of ignores range, which theoretically lets you stick all your ECM on a separate ship and just fly that away from the fight the whole time. I haven't decided whether that's dumb enough to need fixing, or just something you shake your head and say "bad form" at, but I might consider putting a range requirement even on current ECM systems.

If I understand you right, your Area Countermeasures would give you an ECM roll against every missile in its range, correct? Something like that could probably work. I'll try to figure out the balancing and get it in the next draft.
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Okay, some confusion came up then, maybe I missed something. Didn't realize ECM had unlimited range, I just thought it acted as a different type of point defense.
I was thinking more along the lines of a second ECM acting as only a shield for that ship, protecting from all attacks but at worse rolls than individual ECM. A PECM (personal ECM)

But having the AECM (Area ECM) would also provide some interesting tactical capabilities.. Basically giving a few ships a missile umbrella.

So maybe 3 types of ECM?
TECM (targeted) to provide long range defense, and provide a better roll.
PECM (personal) to give a roll against all missiles about to hit, acting as more of a personal shield for the ship.
AECM (area) giving an area defense at an even worse roll, but potentially protecting more vessels.

Could also have them all leveled to provide more range/better rolls.

Just an idea.
ECM is interesting because in real life there's so many different techniques for it. How are missiles/torpedos handled right now? If they move across a grid and have their course adjust, one possible mechanism would be a chance to disable their ability to adjust heading while ECM is effecting them (depending on range?).

Btw, disagree on proposition that missile defense is easily overwhelmed. Even without directed energy weapons, as long as anti-missile missiles can be fired off as quickly as inbound missiles are, there's really no problem. Computers are good at this sort of stuff. Anti-missile missiles are also smaller since they don't require as much range or payload, making them more maneuverable too. Today, the only thing stopping us from deploying an effective missile defense shield against even a large scale nuclear attack is lack of political will.
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Alright. See here, are scans on a "Theory of Space Combat" from the VF-1 Master File book.

Needs translation, of course.
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Next page. I'm hoping if these get translated, they'll be useful.
> Today, the only thing stopping us from deploying an effective missile defense shield against even a large scale nuclear attack is lack of political will.

There are legitimate logistical issues too. Unlike spaceships with tight mass limits, large numbers of decoy warheads are economically viable for attackers, forcing the defender to have a much higher anti-missile capacity. Plus there's atmosphere, which means warheads can spend some time tumbling for free - something they can't do in open space without burning lots of fuel.

Oh, and the best anti-incoming-ICBM weapon? That'd be using a smaller nuke - that mitigates a lot of problems with aiming. But that'd also require detonating a lot of small nukes over your own country, which is more a matter of insanity than a matter of lacking political will...

MAD was always so much cheaper and easier. You already needed the attacking systems anyway, and they're so freaking horrifying that they ended up being the ultimate defense by way of deterrence.
Sorry for being so slow to respond.

I was thinking of retracting the radiators more as a means of keeping the vessel's profile smaller. If ECM were to cause a kinetic weapon to veer a hundred meters off-course and avert a hit, not having huge radiators fanned out all over the place would tend to make such countermeasures more effective.

For a vessel that relies heavily on laser weaponry (either offensively or as point-defense), this would only be useful during the opening salvo (before you've done anything that seriously tests your heat sinks), but improving your survivability on a first salvo should probably improve your effectiveness on subsequent passes.

So I'm suggesting that a retractable radiator system would cost some amount of additional mass (for the motors and such), and result in two modes for a vessel: small profile/poor heat management and large profile/good heat management.

That's my thinking on the matter, at least.
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>There are legitimate logistical issues too. Unlike spaceships with tight mass limits, large numbers of decoy warheads are economically viable for attackers, forcing the defender to have a much higher anti-missile capacity. Plus there's atmosphere, which means warheads can spend some time tumbling for free - something they can't do in open space without burning lots of fuel.

This isn't true. There's a number of things a defender can do to discriminate between actual warheads and decoys - material, shape, temperature, rotation, etc. If we let them get into the atmosphere, then you can spot any difference in mass the decoys might have by how they decelerate. So to have effective decoys, you need decoys that are essentially identical to the actual warheads, at which point you might as well make them an actual warhead.

In any case, small nukes going off far overhead is still preferable to large nukes coming down right on top of you.

Just by introducing uncertainty into the attacker's plans will force him to limit the amount of targets he can attack with any given amount of missiles. Ignoring defense in favor of offensive is most certainly not cheaper when you factor into how expensive having to rebuild a city is.
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I'll post a few more of these two series, always good to see that what i posted is of some interest to you guys :)
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The artist doing these data sheets added a few ones during summer.
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I don't have all day, i'll stop here for Vir Inter Astrum universe, the wiki is easy to find if you want more.
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Fuck i hope i'm not alone here...
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Scharnhorst cruiser and Thetis frigate, because fuck they look good. Can't tell were to find more of it, though, and can't remember the name of the artist.

Here's the cruiser.
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And the Thetis.
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I like the hull's shape, but that's almost too much dakka to my taste.
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Iron Sky had some awesome ship design.
I fail to understand how any of these designs would survive combat even if they won... so fragile.
They're awesome, though.
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MOAR, good sir!
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The multiple factions have different ways of designing their ships. iirc traditonaly the crew compartiment of British Commonwealth ships are pretty much as armor-heavy as an entire american ship. There are also ships of different generations, i really dig the "retro-future" ones compared to the more modern ones. Here's the modern-era equivalent of the Galmorgan, it's fully armored (but i really dislike its overall look, that's why i didn't post it)
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i meant "as an entire american ship's armor",
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Space Soviets!?
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btw for the ones interested to read more, this is a real British project, named Skylon.
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Close enough to space
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If the Orion program existed, we would have Helium3 extraction facilities around gas giants by now. Or maybe we would have slagged the planet to the ground with nukes carpet bombing from orbit...
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If you're interested in the Orion project you can give a look at this link, seems somewhat interesting but i didn't buy it myself yet.

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Not really a spaceship, but looks cool and may give you ideas, PLUTO project was probably the most fucked up idea E-VER.
Long story short, the most recent version of the projects were in the shape of a nuclear-driven cruise missile 27 meters long for the smallest version, put in the air by conventionnal jetissonnable chemical rockets, surfing its own shockwave at Mach 3+, 10000m above the sea-level, circling in endless loops above the Pacific Ocean to avoid interception, until targets were designed, then it would blast through the air and fly as low as 300m above ground, killing population below by the sheer power of its supersonic shockwave (ruining actually almost any structure in its wake) and contaminating the ground thanks to its open nuclear core achitecture leaving a trail of highly radioactive particles, until over the targetted objectives, and eject behind him fourteen to twenty-six, depending on the version, nuclear warheads on its targets, before ending its life by crashing, well, wherever his mission planners may want to, preferably something valuable as well.
Kerbal Space Program has made me want a scifi series/game that actually handles space combat wth realistic physics and orbital mechanics.
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Thankfully, the advances made in ballistic missiles technologies, with great range and almost impossible to intercept, while they were still struggling with the heat resistance of the ceramics which were planned to protect the nuclear core and the airframe, concerns about public health and opinion (you know, having an amok nuclear-disaster-in-waiting hovering above your head might upset the electors...), and more than that, the fear of what may be the Sovietic answer to that engine of destruction, put an end to the project. Basically someone said something like "well, guys, that might be a little bit over-the-top, don't you think?" and thankfully had the power to shut the project down ^^
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Fuck i love Orion ships.
And with this i'm done. See you later guys.
Just realized that wasn't the PLUTO picture i meant to post, but a drawing of the HOTOL british concept. Pretty cool stuff as well.
>small ship is a destroyer

OP, you're winning. I want to see the sperg rage of whoever tries to play this.
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>ctrl+f Full Thrust
>0 out of 0

/tg/ I am dissapoint. FUll Thrust is exactly what OP is going for, and is rich with ideas for the looting.Try to get the supplement, "More Thrust" as well.

>Death to the FSE, NAC 4EVAR
>tfw someone else has heard of Erma Felna, EDF
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Destroyers were historicaly small ships.

Wet navy designations are retarded as fuck anyway, as well as designation by size, since it's not a factor. It should be designed by Delta-V / Specific impulse, armor mass and weaponry, like, say, Interceptors for ships emphasizing on high acceleration, Space Superiority for ships putting their firepower and combat durability above other concerns, Patrol for ships with the highest reaction mass, etc...
It will help both the GM and the players get away from the usual navy tropes and quit treating these ships like what they are definitely not.
>cruisers bigger than destroyers
I see no problem here - what exactly were you sperging about?
Because that dude probably knows nothing but StarWars. Destroyers are big, SuperStarDestroyers are even bigger, and all that stuff.
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Modern destroyers are pretty large, though.
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Anon, I like how you think...
Ship classification has gone to shit recently.

For fuck's sake, America's new Zumwalt class destroyer is going to be substantially longer than WWI era battleships were.
Look at displacement, not length. There's not too much difference between destroyers and cruisers any more either.
>It will help both the GM and the players get away from the usual navy tropes and quit treating these ships like what they are definitely not.

The whole navy thing is pretty much a work of fiction. In real life, space exploration terms were either invented specifically for space exploration, or were taken from aviation.

Just like how some tried to treat early tanks like "land ships" but in practice, they ended up taking most of their cues from cavalry.
general-purpose screening (and other duties)
air screening (and other duties)
>submarines & aircraft carriers
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Man, I'm happy this thread's still around. Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I'm almost out of space-combat images; here's a bump while I answer questions from the last few hours.
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>>20863534 (and others)
You're generally right that it's sort of silly to use wet-navy designations, since they were only really meaningful for a relatively brief period, and even then were used pretty inconsistently. In a vacuum (ho ho), using WW2-era designations for spaceships is about as logical as using tank designations to describe fighter aircraft ("Sir, platoon of MBTs at at 3 o'clock high!").

We're not in a vacuum, though, and a lot of people are pretty consistently comfortable classing spacecraft by the destroyer/cruiser/battleship/etc. system. Maybe naming things differently would help people overcome (or at least recognize) their misconceptions about space combat generally, I dunno. But in terms of shorthand, it's easier to keep people on the same page using something they're familiar with. If I say "dreadnought," they immediately know I'm talking about a big, tough, slow warship, whereas "System Defense Monitor" (though more indicative of intended role) doesn't give me a clear minds-eye image of the vessel.

In terms of ship design, though, you're right: people should probably build around what they want to ship to accomplish, not around what perceived role that particular class is 'supposed' to fill. Classifying by role would be interesting (could take advantage of the analogue with aircraft, maybe? Interceptor/Escort/Superiority/Bomber...).

At the end of the day, though, the only place that mass-based designations come up is in the names of frames, and those (due to other game-design choices; see the three-parter beginning with >>20854234 ) kind of have to be based on the mass/acceleration tradeoff. Aside from that, I don't think naval designations will come up much; they certainly wouldn't be used in-universe (unless that's your thing, in which case get those frigates back in formation to screen the task group, Commodore!)
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> based on the mass/acceleration tradeoff
About that... Does that apply to the Alcubierre Drive that people have been fapping over the last few weeks?
Well, if I understand the Alcubierre drive correctly, then the answer would be "maybe." While the drive is reactionless (it doesn't work by throwing material out the back of the ship), the size of the bubble and the 'steepness' of the bubble wall (and thus, speed[?]) seem to effect the amount of exotic matter needed to power the drive. Which, depending on the calculation, is either a few metric tons or several times the mass of the known universe (and we haven't found any exotic matter at all just yet, so...). So with an Alcubierre drive, the tradeoff might actually be volume/acceleration rather than mass/acceleration. Or I may be completely wrong; does anyone happen to be an expert on this topic?

At that point, we're getting pretty far afield from the Newtonian physics I'm trying to handle here. Any truly revolutionary technology is bound to become a deciding factor in how space battles are conducted, and I'm intentionally limiting my scope to what we can reasonably predict from current technology. That is, while I'm obviously assuming much more efficient lasers, drives, sensors, and so on, they all work basically the way our current examples work. Taking something as revolutionary as reactionless drive with FTL capability into account would probably require significant reworking.
> There's a number of things a defender can do to discriminate between actual warheads and decoys [snip] So to have effective decoys, you need decoys that are essentially identical to the actual warheads, at which point you might as well make them an actual warhead.

Not really. The live nuclear fuel is by far the most expensive part of the warhead; all the rest is amenable to mass production. By the way, the US and Russia have ICBMs that used to carry 10-12 but are now treaty limited to 4 each. Guess what that means? They both already had all the parts to make decoys identical to the real thing, because they already had that many of the real thing.

> small nukes going off far overhead is still preferable to large nukes coming down right on top of you
In a very Pyrrhic way. Remember, this was about all out war, so that means *thousands* of incoming real nukes.

> Just by introducing uncertainty into the attacker's plans will force him to limit the amount of targets he can attack with any given amount of missiles
That's entirely backwards. Knowing the attacker has decoys introduces disproportionate uncertainty into the defender's attempt at a missile shield - the defender doesn't know which sites are going to get targeted by what balance of live and fake nukes. For every decoy the attacker has, the defender has to have EVERY protected site's defensive capacity go up.

> Ignoring defense in favor of offensive is most certainly not cheaper when you factor into how expensive having to rebuild a city is.
It's still the only workable tactic when large numbers of nukes are involved. Again, read up on mutually assured destruction.
Realistic space combat in a realistic future is mostly going to have to be about computers making split-second decisions in an attempt to land nuclear weapons (or the equivalent) on strategic targets. It gets very weird very quickly.

The best setting for semi-realistic space combat has an alternate history where neither computers nor nuclear weapons got developed. Which should probably mean no understanding of relativity or quantum physics either.

Nobody measures things closely enough to realize that there's more to the world than newtonian physics. They know the chemical elements, but there's not any very sophisticated theory of chemistry.

Let's say that the first World War happened earlier, and the bad guys won. There was a brutal purge of academia, with all the great minds of science killed off, leaving only slightly dull pragmatic engineering types.

But rocketry, electric power, and concentrated solar power *did* develop, to very high levels of sophistication. So there are people living on the moon, building power stations and catapults, and making Al/O rocket fuel from lunar soil. Others are starting to expand to Mercury, and the outer solar system.

Instead of WW1 and WW2, we get (earlier) the World War and (later) the War of Worlds.
>In real life, space exploration terms were either invented specifically for space exploration, or were taken from aviation.
One of the few counterexamples: 'astronaut' literally means 'space-sailor'. You're right that it was coined after the aviation term 'aeronaut', though.

Meh. With pretty much the same base assumption i can arrive to a totally different setting. Firstly, space combat may happen at ranges of several seconds to several light-hours of distance, between ships of several hundreds of meters long, you won't have split second decisions to make in that case, nor you will be able to, given the delay time to simply send an order from an end to another of your ship. It will however mostly indeed be a matter of statistics and, if you don't have an hidden card, you can predict the probable outcome of the battle from the beginning. Still, you may get lucky and overcome the odds simply by getting killing shots earlier than estimated, so the battle can still be worth commiting to.

Secondly I do think that military command will want to have a human in the decision making process, or at least overseeing it. Then it will need to have at least one crew (ranging from 1 to fuck if I know how much) in at least one ship of the expeditionary force, even if all the other ships are uncrewed robot. But they will have to all look 100% the same, otherwise it will be easy for the ennemy to target the crewed command ship and, even if that doesn't cripple the strategic power of the ennemy fleet, will still count as a victory if you kill the single humans of the fleet.

So, since, you have all ships to be pretty much crewable, both in term of dimensioning, shield mass, limit of acceleration, and the price of the crew-sustenance equipment being really low compared to the price of the ship, why not put a redundant command and control crew in each ship and spread the role through the entire fleet?

There are other advantages in having a crewed warship. It doesn't have the same political impact if you commit a crewed or uncrewed ship to force an orbital blockade, or into any diplomatic bravado, secondly, there are many other roles a warship may have to attend, like enforcing a blockade into a civilian-heavy orbit, for example, where there is no way in hell you will let computers do all the work and the decision making process in rule of engagement decisions.

I reading my text to correct it and it seems a little messy to me, not sure if i'm really clear, but still you'll get the global idea.
Sounds fun, if a little loose with the history. Sign me up for service in the Kaiser's Weltraumwehr.
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>Just another day on Space Station 13
Beat me to it.
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The real cost isn't in the warhead, or even the missile itself, it's in all the systems and infrastructure that support it. When you have realistic decoys, not making them live warheads is just a bad value/cost proposition, especially when you already have the launch facilities and missiles. All this decoy talk also assumes you have to target RVs, instead of just popping the missile before it can separate.

>In a very Pyrrhic way. Remember, this was about all out war, so that means *thousands* of incoming real nukes.
You take what you can get. By the way, modern ABM systems are no longer nuclear... because we have enough confidence in them to hit-to-kill.

>That's entirely backwards. Knowing the attacker has decoys introduces disproportionate uncertainty into the defender's attempt at a missile shield - the defender doesn't know which sites are going to get targeted by what balance of live and fake nukes. For every decoy the attacker has, the defender has to have EVERY protected site's defensive capacity go up.
Sorry, you're wrong. Once the ICBM is launched, it can't be re-targeted. That means if they want to almost-certainly destroy a target, chances are it'll be overkill. A missile defense system can do shoot-look-shoot or shoot-shoot-look and plug the leakers on the fly. Something like GMD can cover like half the US, so the point is moot.
I've never seen a space combat system where missiles were NOT depicted as "fire loads and loads of missiles and hope you get past their defenses." The closest to not being that was Full Thrust, which is a system I adore, but it was still "fire a bunch and hope you hit."

Well, technically, the amount of exotic matter you'd need would be in /negative/ metric tons...

Free for download straight from the creators
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Nice :)
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Lego Spaceship best spaceship.
I can't even begin to imagine the chore it must have been to make the four helium tanks spheres out of bricks...
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That ship... now I see what the designers at Blizzard used as the basis for their Terran Battlecruiser.
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It's beautiful...
I see it as being more along the lines of loading an unmanned cargo ship with nuclear-pumped laser munitions and putting it on a course to scatter them over the widest possible region of space.
Made it through another night!

Missiles work roughly along those lines, yes, though because you can control each missiles over the course of its flight, the tactics can be a little bit more complex than simply putting as many missiles on-target as possible. I'm hoping for a fairly interesting missile/counter-missile interplay, though whether it works out in practice is an open question.

Awesome! Thanks much.

This should also be a viable tactic, and might be an interesting scenario to set up. Space-mines - either explosives or missiles sitting idle waiting for someone to pass in range - are fairly good for space denial. One player is the 'freighter', one is the patrol ship sent to stop it from mining their routes.
This thread has made me think about how space combat is inseperable from space economics.

It's like trying to talk about WW2 without knowing what kind of problems blowing up all of the enemy's ball bearing factories causes, or understanding where the oil fields were.
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No Freespace? I admit the lack of realism, but it did have good ships.
That's a good point. The sort of mission objectives that would be most prevalent are completely dependent on how economies function. If interplanetary/interstellar trade is a thing, then blockading or commerce raiding make sense in the early stages. If planets develop more self-sufficiently, there'd be less of an incentive for this kind of action (it'd still happen, probably, but there'd be less of a pressing need to lift the blockade or risk transports on risky routes). Ships capable of delivering quick strikes on major cities or other land-based targets might be in high demand, or the technology might dictate more of an 'artillery siege', with attackers forming a sphere around the inner solar system and lobbing asteroids and the like at the inhabited planets over a longer period.

Likewise, how ships are employed probably depends on how replaceable they are. If building new ships is (relatively) cost-efficient, their use might be more risk-tolerant, while expensive ships would encourage more of a fleet-in-being/deterrence approach. Really expensive ships would only be used for a 'sure thing' military expedition (or where not using them means losing the war outright), and ships might be designed specifically for that one mission.
It's not just strategic stuff either. Economics determines the tactical environment as well.

The reason Japanese soldiers ended up making bayonet charges against American soldiers armed with semi-automatic rifles and submachine guns was the huge American logistic advantage. This was also how the individually drastically inferior American tanks beat German ones: not just more tanks, but more gas and ammunition, and the freedom to treat tanks as expendible because they know replacements are coming.

I think one of the basic matchups in space combat has got to be a more advanced, purely military force coming in at relativistic speed, with its kinetic energy as one of its main resources, to attack a largely unprepared system, which nonetheless has all the resources of a star and several planets at its disposal.

When is the invasion detected? What do the invaders accomplish with their initial shock of impact? Is there any parlay? What do the defenders start with, and how do they try to improvise weapons from it? Does it settle down into a competitive production-based war?
Interesting scenario. A lot would depend on the effects of the initial attack. High kinetic energy is great for dealing more damage and getting your attack through whatever defenses there are quickly, but it also limits your ability to adjust your aim: the less time you have as you're closing on the target, the less time you have to correct your lateral velocity to hit precisely what you're aiming at. So targeting precision is inversely related to attack velocity.

Also, once your attack force finishes its initial pass, it has to start slowing down to avoid flying off into space. If they're trying to make as fast a first pass as possible, they won't start decelerating until they've passed the planet, and won't complete the turnaround until they're quite far out into the outer solar system. At this point, they'd be vulnerable to a counterattack: their velocity is low, and anything sent after them by the planet (assuming it was sent fairly soon after the first attack) would be able to make the same kind of high-velocity pass on the assembled taskgroup as they used against the planet.
>>20878767 (con't)
How's this for a strategic situation: The attackers come into the outer solar system at high velocity, with a clutch of long-range missiles or mass-driver-equipped asteroids moving in formation with them. They immediately start decelerating, while the asteroids continue on toward the unsuspecting planet. The asteroids hit with predictably devastating results while the main attack force is still a few months/weeks/adjust-as-appropriate away, hopefully crippling the planet's defenses. The attack force continues decelerating as it passes by the planet a few months later, still carrying some of its velocity advantage with it, for precision strikes on remaining infrastructure and to (hopefully) accept the surrender of the planetary government. If all goes well, they cancel out their initial velocity shortly after passing the planet, reverse course, and come into orbit with the planet sufficiently subdued to land peace-keeping forces and prop up the transitional government.
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Full Thrust explicitly says it doesn't even bother with 3d movement.

Does it include maneuvering, ie have a wargamey mode, or is it like Traveler?

By the way this is from Torchships, which had a pitiful kickstarter and is now on indefinite hold. I don't know if it will end up being released for free or at all, but fyi.
Consider that most of the invading force's mass may consist of missiles, and they may decelerate themselves by catapult-launching them.

A major strategic matter might be how cheap and easy it is to throw giant pieces of thin foil toward an enemy system.

Is there an invasion force behind it? No one knows. Do we spend our entire industrial output and dig deep into our savings to gear up for a defense? How do we decide?
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I see someone here who read Redemption Ark.
Damn we didn't have such a good space thread in months.
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For the few of you who don't know it yet:

this is a motherfucking good thread OP. you make sure to post more of these, i would beta this so fucking hard. put a page up on 1d4chan and keep going, very promising stuff.
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>This was also how the individually drastically inferior American tanks beat German ones

Please stop. Most of what a tank does is infantry support, tank vs tank is only a small portion of it. American tanks had better reliability, maintainability, and availability. They were cheaper to build and operate. They had superior operational range. They could take on the German tanks at closer distances. They were most certainly not "drastically" inferior, even on a per tank basis.
>A major strategic matter might be how cheap and easy it is to throw giant pieces of thin foil toward an enemy system.

Use wavelengths that can penetrate the thin foil. Fire off something to penetrate it.

>Interesting scenario. A lot would depend on the effects of the initial attack. High kinetic energy is great for dealing more damage and getting your attack through whatever defenses there are quickly, but it also limits your ability to adjust your aim: the less time you have as you're closing on the target, the less time you have to correct your lateral velocity to hit precisely what you're aiming at. So targeting precision is inversely related to attack velocity.

Mmm. But the target also has less time to react and defend. I'm not convinced precision is really a problem when good computers and sensors are involved.

You also sort of assume the attack force is going to make a second pass... If we're talking about a war between large empires, then they may very well just keep going and pick another system to hit instead.
Don't be a dick. It's obvious what I meant.

>Use wavelengths that can penetrate the thin foil. Fire off something to penetrate it.
It's coming in at 0.9+c. It's not particularly bright or attention-getting. You don't have a lot of time between seeing it coming and it getting to you.

So your answer is "do nothing until you've probed it"? That doesn't give you a lot of time to get your economy on a war footing if the answer comes back, "Yup! There's enough shit back there to fuck us up proper!"
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I'm thinking: If your energy weapon uses a phased array emitter, does it need external cooling? From what I understand of how they work, the array is basically a flat panel with the beam generation being distributed over the entire surface, so with the right materials it should be able to work as its own radiator.
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Nexus: The Jupiter Incident has one of my all-time favorite ship designs. Shame you only get to use it in a select few missions.
I'm pretty sure they still need cooling... I think even our current AESA has active cooling requirements. No matter what, you're talking about very large amounts of energy over a small area.
Good point about the defends having less time to react; I was only looking at it from the attacker's side. But in terms of precision targeting, I think the situation favors the defenders. It's a lot easier for a land-based sensor to pick up a 'hot' incoming missile against the background of space than it is for that same missile to pick up an interceptor missile silo, ground-based radar array, or whatever its targets are. Unless those targets are really big (say, major cities, or maybe even the planet itself), but then we'll have a warcrime on our hands. Or not; those damn Arachnids never signed the Geneva Convention, after all.
Sure, but I think a kinetic warhead is less vulnerable to any point-defense, since it's just a solid slug of something and hard to deflect. You should also take into account how quickly computational power grows... that computational power will allow for complex signals processing and pattern matching to find targets.

Not sure I buy the idea of warcrimes. There's no international agreement against nuclear war, despite the fact that one would utterly devastate major cities.

See above.

In truth, you'll probably just see a standing military like we have today because any war that's going to take place will be decided by the time anybody can ramp up production.

Full Thrust abstracts out the z-axis in the same way OP is doing. Ships never collide in FT unless one of them is making a ramming manouver (invariably fatal to both ships). And since we're constrained by 2d tabletops to play the game on, dropping a dimension isn't a big deal.

On relativistic combat: A ship coming in a healthy fraction of c would not only be undetectable until it was already "on top of" the target, it would have so much kinetic energy that simply ramming it into a planet would be an extinction level event. This being the case, I cannot see an advanced race choosing to live on planets, they are simply too vulnerable to attack. I would envision space bases and ship-based societies, orbiting planets to extract resources from them but not bothering to build up a full settlement there.
To be clear, I haven't exactly abstracted the z-axis away - ships can still move up and down. Like you said, though, we're constrained to the 2d tabletop, so those height changes are just tracked on the stat card. I might screw around with other ways of representing height on the table. Stacking chits under the markers may work, though it gets out of control as people move up to height 10 or further...
I agree with the above posts discussing how economies shape military design.

I haven't read everything in the thread, but it seems you don't have a setting in mind. If you're in need of someone to assist in writing I'd love to help.
Not really though. Cost effective is cost effective, no matter how large or your small your economy is...
You could use different rules for combat in a planetary system (in orbit) and in deep space.

In deep space combat would resemble submarine warfare. The one who is detected first dies (by laser). Only passive detection mechanisms would be used, since sending out a radar ping (or using basically any power consuming devices) wold be announcing your location. Sure there is no stealth in space, but I'd imagine your setting could have some cloaking devices. Ranges would be extreme (astronomical units).

In orbit the situation varies depending on many factors. Are the ships orbiting the same body? The other could be orbiting a planet and the other it's moon. Is there planetary defense on the other side? Also the ships would change course when on the other side of the planet (out of sight) to avoid missiles. Planets with moons would be significantly easier to invade than the ones without. Invading fleet would have a place to hide temporarily behind the moon.
That isn't true at all. The Toyota war showed us that armies can very considerably and still be effective.

Attaching a nuclear pulse drive to a 100 ton shuttle and using it as a kenetic missile platform could be situationally as capable as a 1,000,000 ton starcruiser in destroying a target.

On another note, it may be more economical for certain powers to spam cheaper ships than building a few fully armored vehicles.
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Billion-ton battleship diplomacy can be pretty effective when the people of a planet under siege look up from the surface and see a gargantuan warship plainly visible in size and shape or an even more monstrous machine eclipse their sun.
Actually I think the whole notion of "tech level" or "powerlevel" being irrelevant is very much not true.

The reason is, that available trust and power (especially in electric drives where the two are linked) can greatly dictate the "shape" of combat as a whole.

You might wanna read the space war posts on Rocketpunk Manifesto if you don't know what I mean.

The gist is this:
1) The higher the tech-level, the "flatter" space is to the combatants and the less "position" (within a gravity well) matters compared to sheer spacecraft capabilities.
2) The higher the tech-level is, the less and less relevant kinetics are. It becomes easier and easier to dodge stuff.
3) How missiles relate to spacecraft is really dependent on what sort of propulsion is used (on either/both).

Anyway, for less "magitech" levels of refinement, you might end up with something not quite like Attack Vector.

A really good phrase from Rocketpunk Manifesto was a remark about spaceships resembling trains:

>The way they (spaceships) actually get around resembles self-propelled artillery shells. Once they fire themselves into a particular orbit they can change that orbit only by another burst of power, expending more propellant in the process.
>It is so easy to forget that this applies not only to tactical maneuvers but to strategic or 'operational' movements, and to commercial traffic.

See what I'm implying? Space combat, at least unless you have "magitech" drives (sustained deci-G thrust and above) strategic maneuvering is all about resource (propellant) management and jockeying for position and actual engagements could be drastically asymmetric given the different objectives of the combatants.
You'd think someone would have written a computer analogue to something like this or Attack Vector by now. Even an amateur effort.

There's Paradox and Matrix Games for grand strategy and ground tactics, but nothing for space.
It wouldn't even have to be graphical, a textbox is fine too.
Or maybe a very rudimentary radar-screen looking thing.
>Implying you can enter laser range without being spotted
>implying lasers will be useful weapons at that range
Rail guns have recoil.
Detection range exceeds engagement range, even for lasers. Practically lasers won't be effective against an active target more than a few light-minutes out, but its more likely light-seconds, and even more likely less than the radius of the Moon's orbit.
Especially, since to be effective at such ranges, the laser would need an enormously big focusing mirror, we're talking about keel mounted stuff with a diameter in excess of 10 *meters*.

Something "fun": while a big spot-size can make lasers useless for hard-kills, they'd still have enough energy density to make them ideal for destroying optical sensors well outside their effective "combat" range.

There are some tricks to make your sensors protected against such attack, but these come with bulk and weight... so yeah. Life must be interesting for space warship engineers.

Another tidbits to feed your mind:

1) Kinetics are *cheap*. This means *any* ship with a decent drive can wreak 90% of orbital installations in existence. Cargo or rocks can do fine if you gotta improvise.
2) The line between drone ships and missiles is a blurry when... especially as you add more and more complex drives to the missiles or more and more automation to your drone ship / kinetic-killer- or missile-bus.
Now which is better? Expensive (and fragile) lasers or cheap kinetics?

-Laser makes damned good point-defense weapons.
-Kinetics could have a hard time to dodge. Either they don't have a drive, or are constrained by propellant... or even if they can, it's kinda hard to dodge a light-speed weapon in its engagement envelope.
-Just because they can hit, doesn't mean the laser can destroy/divert the kinetic round before it delivers its payload/impacts.
-A laser can only hit one target at once. So if you just throw enough rocks at it, some of 'em will get through...
-*Enough* being a qualified statement. A 5 meter infrared laser is one thing, a gigantic X-ray laser another. The later can literally evaporate stuff several light-seconds away... the former not-so.
-At the same time, huge lasers (with big mirrors and long effective ranges) would be slower to pivot from target to target (though some magic with optical arrays - phased laser array? - or adaptive optics might mitigate this).

-Kinetics - when they *do* hit - do tons more damage then lasers. This is because lasers are blast-furnaces that also happen to create coherent light as a byproduct... creating all that waste-heat you need to get-rid of with bulky and/or heavy radiators.
-Lasers can do pin-point, *precision* damage by comparison... like only destroying a wing of that station's radiator array instead the whole damn thing, giving the inhabitants a chance to reconsider.
I'd expect a big push towards using carbon in military spacecraft wherever possible. A component made of pure carbon could potentially run almost 4 times hotter than one made of steel, and if your ship can run 4 times hotter it can radiate 256 times as much waste heat for the same surface area.
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>This is because lasers are blast-furnaces that also happen to create coherent light as a byproduct.

Not neccesarily
Day seven, still kicking!

I definitely agree with you, so let me clarify: I'm assuming a tech-level-neutral approach to designing the /game/. In real life, naturally the technology involved will matter a great deal, but by the same token it's very likely to be 1)completely unbalanced (there's basically one right answer to any tactical question) and/or 2)strongly dependent on technology I have no way of predicting. And even if I spend a great deal of effort making a setting where the technology is such that it's still interesting to play as a wargame, you're basically guaranteed to wind up with people who want a /different/ setting - one with larger crews (or without crews at all); one that covers warfare between alien empires (or one that's fought entirely within our own solar system); and so on.

But adjusting for those technologies from whatever my 'default' setting would be probably results in breaking the game badly. So rather than describing in great detail a certain set of sci-fi technologies and then calibrating that into a playable game, I've tried to make a playable game (that essentially respects physics) and then let you sort out how you'd like it fluffed.

You're right that this method doesn't work perfectly. In my own estimation, I'm probably overrating how effective lasers and ECM will be, along with the comparative thrusts of ships and missiles (at least for a medium/near-future scenario). And a more distant future might have technology I can't dream of, so I'm probably just as wrong there. But that's what makes for decent gameplay (I hope), so that's the rationale behind the decisions.
>>20901738 (con't)

Anyway, about your specific concerns:

1) I really like the phrase "the 'flatter' space is" to describe this effect. But in scale terms, remember that two objects in similar orbits are at rest relative to one another. So if we're worried about the low-tech end of the scale, note that even though the gravity-well is still fairly 'steep' in low orbits, your ships (or probably kill-sats, for that era) still behave as if they're mostly weightless. It's still approximate, but as long as you're aware of the assumptions, it isn't an awful approximation.

2) As far as kinetics go, I'm basically just jumping to a certain minimum tech-level and saying they're not effective at all. Railguns are used only to launch missiles (giving them a more flexible starting vector), and direct-fire is done with lasers. Point-defense might or might not be kinetic as well, but I haven't bothered to distinguish there.

3) My major distinction is between the classes of 'missile' and 'torpedo': torpedoes use the same style of drive as ships, which is imagined to be low(-ish) thrust and high exhaust velocity. Missiles are assumed to be high-thrust, low exhaust velocity weapons - probably still chemical rockets in most settings. I'm very probably overestimating the ratio of comparative thrusts - missiles have more acceleration, but not orders of magnitude more - in the interest of having missiles that function as discreet objects rather than simple ranged attacks.
(con't - damn field-to-long errors!)

I've been staying away from the strategic side of things, in that it's very much a tech-level dependent area. I think the best way to include 'realistic' strategic situations is in your scenario design, which includes the use of ship vectors in both set-up ("Ship A starts with a vector of 9 velocity toward the opposing board edge") and as victory conditions ("Win when you exit the opposing board edge with a vector no greater than 8 velocity"). An especially non-speculative setting might have very high starting velocities, as the ability of ships to change their vector with low-thrust drives will be fairly limited. So generally, these kind of strategic considerations are handled in scenario parameters, while the game itself deals with tactical-level decisions.
This is the basic assumption that I've made, as well: that even if some degree of sneakiness can be achieved at long ranges, at the tactical level everyone can see everyone. (That it greatly simplifies the game design may or may not have played into this decision...) So as a rule, 'stealth', such as it is, would give you the advantage of local superiority or a more favorable vector (very high for laser-armed ships, very low for missile-carriers).
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