Welcome back to the third installment of the Lunar Class Cruiser design walkthrough. This time, we’re porting the ship from Battle Fleet Gothic to Colonial Battlefleet, by Steel Dreadnought Games.
Colonial Battlefleet (CB) comes with a download link to its integrated ship design worksheet. This sheet is complete – it’s got everything needed to design ships, and is used by Harry Pratt, the designer, to make the ship he sells as completed products. It’s well supported, and the Steel Dreadnought Games forums are always happy to answer questions.
Before you design ships in CB, you make a few broad-strokes choices about your faction, though you can disable this and just go into “free design” mode. There are pre-built factions and the ability to make trade-offs between factions and design your own. I’m definitely in the “design your own faction” camp, which means I started by setting my factions levels in the 6 different technologies. This set of decisions constrains what weapons, defenses and other systems are available for all Imperial ships. I won’t detail those selections here; suffice to say they were driven by what I wanted the Imperial ships to be able to do. They are shown on the SSD below in the “Notes” section. The existing factions all have faction-specific advantages and disadvantages. Unfortunately there is no list of advantages or disadvantages to pick from when designing your own faction. The game designer suggests you can just make them up, but I was worried about balance, and so skipped it.
After selecting the faction I just made on the ship design tab, the next step is picking the class, mass, and role of the ship. Logically, I decided to make the Lunar class Cruiser a “Cruiser”. I chose a relatively high mass within the range of available cruiser sizes, both because the Gothic Ships are large and hulking, and to provide more space at the bottom for small escort ships. The Lunar class is supposed to go toe-to-toe with enemy ships, so I gave it the “Battleline” role, giving the ship a bonus point of Fire Control, which would allow the ship to use all its weapon banks at once.
The difference between “power that moves your ship: and “power used for other things the game abstracts” is called “Delta.” For the Lunar-class cruiser, I chose a Delta of only 1, which is quite slow. While this may seem harsh, bear in mind Delta is extremely expensive for anything size class 3 or larger , CB has no speed cap, and each point of Delta permits the ship to make a 60 degree turn. Imperial ships are intended to be lumbering behemoths, so I decided anything speed 20 or slower in BFG could have a delta of 1. This leaves room for faster ships with a higher Delta.
Standard Lunar Class Cruiser:
Colonial Battlefleet has a default of 3 armor on ships. To keep with the “armored behemoth” theme of an Imperial ship, I felt that needed to increase, so I dithered between adding 3 and 2. Ultimately, in the interests of leaving more head room for future ships in this conversion, I kept it at adding 2, for a total 5 armor. If I were building a Space Marine ship I would give it 6 armor, and if it were a Chaos cruiser I could have given it 4 armor, while an Eldar ship would’ve kept the default of 3 armor value. and an Eldar would have gotten no extra armor at all. CB mandates minimum armor values, because in some ways, it’s a derivative of WWI/WWII naval games. Even the fragile Eldar ships would’ve had more armor than I’d've liked.
When looking at shielding, I wanted about 20 points of shields on the bow (10 times the BFG void shield rating). The bow shield strength is determined by multiplying the class size (3 in this case) by the shield rating, so by giving this ship a shield rating of 7, I got a bow shield strength of 21 – close enough! CB uses a similar method to generate the side and stern shield strengths, as well as the shield regeneration, so I couldn’t tweak those values. I also gave the ship a pair of point defense installations to match the two turrets it has in BFG.
There are two entry points on deciding weapon loadouts: Fire control limits and simply stuffing them on the ship. I chose the latter. Weapons in CB have accuracy that just falls off with range and you roll dice and exceed the range to the target to hit. Batteries and lances have 30 cm ranges in BFG, which is medium-short range for the game. I looked at medium range weapons in CB, which means d6s for the attack die. This lets me use d10s for the longer ranged stuff coming later.
I went with Heavy Autocannons for the batteries and Anti-Neutron Torpedoes for Lances. The autocannon are relatively light, so I could mount a lot of them to whittle an opponent down. The Anti-Neutron Torpedoes are direct fire weapons (I’d expect a seeking weapon from the name) that penetrate armor very well, much like lances do in BFG. The Anti-Ship Guided Missile (ASGM) was as close a fit to the original BFG torps as I could find.
I wanted to have one set of ASGM in the front, and a set of each Anti-Neutron torps and Autocannons on each side. Firing all those weapons, on the other hand is tricky. It would require a fire control rating of 5. Even with the bonus fire control rating from the Battleline role, I simply couldn’t afford any extra.
I decided to max out the Heavy Autocannon bank by giving it three weapons, and then give it both Port and Starboard arcs so it could fire to either side, but not both simultaneously. I then balanced out the rest of the weapons based on the mass available. The final design had a point of mass left unused.
Nova Cannon Variant:
This completed the standard ship design. CB has a fairly short list of equipment options, and aside from wishing I could get more fire control without gutting the rest of the ship, there wasn’t a lot I wanted from it. All ships come with an integrated security force, so I didn’t have to buy that – and I’d save buying marines for BFG forces with battle pods, which the Lunar-class doesn’t have.
So, onto the Nova Cannon! Or maybe not…
I was unable to find a good choice for the Nova Cannon. The only area affect weapon in CB is the “Spatial Torpedo”. That wasn’t available based on the Techs I had chosen for the Imperials, and I didn’t want to make the compromises needed to get it to fit. If forced to pick a weapon at gunpoint, I’d probably pick phasers. These have a high accuracy die (D10), which would represent the long range of the Nova Cannon fairly well, and they also do a fair heap of shield damage, but are really nowhere near the capabilities of the Nova Cannon. Also because of the Fire Control limits and the limitations on the amount of weapons you can cram into one bank of weapons, you’d have to really mess with the other aspects of the ship to get it where it should be. So no Nova Cannon design.
CB is a fine game, but the constraints the designer put on the ship design engine to keep it “unbreakable” also mean that it’s not a “toolkit” game. You’re basically making CB ships that sorta-kinda meet the parameters of different settings. Now, I know you can’t do everything with one game engine, but on the trade-off between player flexibility and the designer curtailing broken designs, I’ll take flexibility eight times out of ten.
That’s all for this week’s installment. Come back next week for a look at Starmada.
For links to all the posts in Tim White’s first series comparing five popular 2D squadron level space combat games, see here.
For links to all the posts in Tim White’s second series working through a complete ship design in each of those games, see here.