Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

The 2009 Billion Credit Squadron Round Robin Tournament Notes

This tournament was run with the classic Traveller Book 5 High Guard and Adventure 5 Trillion Credit Squadron.  Six players entered “squadrons” costing no more than one billion credits.  Three entries consisted of a single frigate.  One entry consisted of a pair of frigates.  One entry consisted of four smaller ships.  One entry consisted of an armed carrier with four fighters.

Analysis of the top 3 Designs

Each of the three winning ships won all of their games except one. The Dagger lost to the Sloepigg, the Sloepigg lost to the Aristinas, and the Aristinas lost to the Dagger. So, the tournament yielded an unexpected paper-rock-scissors scenario with a three-way tie for first place! Let’s look at the designs to see if it was just luck or if there’s more to it than that.

The Dagger has fair agility, a solid missile battery punch, weak armor, and pretty good defenses. The Sloepigg has poor agility, a solid missile battery punch, incredibly strong armor, and no defenses. The pair of Aristinas have excellent agility, a pair of light batteries, okay armor, and light defenses. All of these ships prefer long range, so we don’t have to worry as much about initiative, range, and so forth. These are all straight up slugging matches that have little need for tactical decisions.

The Dagger hits the Sloepigg on 5+ [Base 2+, DM +0 for computer, DM -2 for agility, DM -1 for size]. However, the Sloepigg’s armor means that the Surface Explosion hits have a DM of +12 on the Damage table– just Fuel-1 and Weapon-1 results there and rolls of 10 or more result in No Effect. The Sloepigg’s Radiation Damage rolls get a DM shift of +17… which is a Weapon-1 hit only if the roll is a 4 or less! The Dagger requires 9 consecutive hits in order to wear down the Sloepigg’s combat capability.

The Dagger and the Sloeppigg both hit the Aristinas on 8+ [Base 2+, DM +0 for computer, DM -5 for agility, DM -1 for size]. The Aristina’s sandcasters are useless against this unless they can wear down those Missile-9’s. The missile-9 is sure to cause a critical hit as well. In the actual game, the Sloepigg hit on the first turn and only managed to disable the Jump drive and score a Weapon-1 and a Fuel-1 hit. It could have gone much worse!

The Sloepigg hits the Dagger on 6+ [Base 2+, DM +0 for computer, DM -3 for agility, DM -1 for size]. When he does hit, he has many opportunities to score Computer and Maneuver hits… making the Dagger even easier to hit on future turns. Once the Sloepigg starts hitting, he will tend to keep hitting.

The Aristinas hit the Sloepigg on 8+ [Base 5+, DM +0 for computer, DM -2 for agility, DM -1 for size]. These are pretty good rolls– and they get four of these chances every turn if they can hang on. The Sloepigg lacks any secondary armament, so all weapon hits will be applied directly to the missile-9 battery.

The Aristinas hit the Dagger on 9+ [Base 5+, DM +0 for computer, DM -3 for agility, DM -1 for size]. Even before being damaged, the Aristinas will be doing good to get one or two hits each turn, but they still have to get through the defenses. The first hit will have to roll 6+ to get past the sandcaster… and all hits have to roll 8+ to get past the nuclear dampers. These aren’t good odds– especially if the Aristinas score only one hit on a turn– so the Dagger has plenty of time to degrade the Aristina’s fighting capabilities without taking any serious damage.

The Dagger’s sandcaster and nuclear damper are going to be pretty useless against the Sloepigg’s ferocious Missile-9. However, they turn out to be fairly effective against the hits caused by the Aristina’s Missile-3’s. The Dagger’s lack of armor makes it extremely vulnerable to Computer and M-Drive hits from the Sloepigg. But the Sloepigg’s lack of defenses make it vulnerable to being slowly worn down by Weapon-1 hits from the Aristinas!

So yes, the results do make sense. No amount of “fog of war”, limited tactical intelligence, or role-playing would affect High Guard games played between these three sets of designs. The players won at the engineering stage and the dice rolling was little more than a formality. That may be a bit dull for a role-playing scenario, but it does make it easy to run a game quickly and fairly in an extended campaign or play-by-email environment. Games will, however, have an exponentially greater number of tactical decisions if they feature multiple ships on each side, ships that have more than one active defense that get hit by a variety of weapon types in a single turn, and ships that have a mix of short and long range weapons.

***

Ship: Dagger V3
Class: Dagger V3
Type: Frigate
Architect: Ron Gianti
Tech Level: 12

USP
FE-A333562-140100-00009-0 MCr 993.611 1.1 KTons
Bat Bear    1         1   Crew: 27
Bat         1         1   TL: 12

Cargo: 0.000 Fuel: 385.000 EP: 55.000 Agility: 3 Shipboard Security Detail: 1
Craft: 1 x 20T TL12 Lifeboat 30 person
Fuel Treatment: Fuel Scoops and On Board Fuel Purification
Architects Fee: MCr 9.841   Cost in Quantity: MCr 796.798

***

Ship: Sloepigg
Class: Sloepigg
Type: Armored Frigate
Architect: OIT
Tech Level: 12

USP
FA-A433362-B00000-00009-0 MCr 974.113 1000Tons
Bat Bear              1 Crew: 23
Bat                   1 TL: 12

Cargo: 5.000 Fuel: 330.000 EP: 30.000 Agility: 2 Marines: 10
Craft: 1 x 30T Ship's Boat
Fuel Treatment: Fuel Scoops and On Board Fuel Purification
Architects Fee: MCr 9.541 Cost in Quantity: MCr 783.291

***

2 x Aristina Frigate Class Frigates
Ship: Aristina
Class: Aristina Frigate
Type: Frigate
Architect: Skyth

USP
FF-5435662-640000-00003-0 MCr 548.782 500 Tons
Bat Bear    1         2   Crew: 12
Bat         1         2   TL: 12

Cargo: 8.000 Fuel: 180.000 EP: 30.000 Agility: 5
Fuel Treatment: Fuel Scoops and On Board Fuel Purification
Architects Fee: MCr 5.488   Cost in Quantity: MCr 439.026

***

Notes on Running the Games

The following tricks will help the High Guard referee maintain his sanity:

1) Make your own reference cards/sheets for each game showing the basic to-hit and penetration for each main combination of ships.

2) Make your own referee reference screen with the charts and tables from pages 45 to 49.

3) Send out sit-rep emails (bcc’d of course) with the exact same text to both players– with blanks where ever a player is required to specify something. The subject line of the email should be in the format of “Event Name, Game #, Turn #”. Gmail threads things such that it is easy to tell at a glance when you’ve received responses from both players.

4) Optionally, keep a template for each game. Get a list of die rolls and just go through and fill in the blanks of your template. Resolve defense rolls all at once… and then damage rolls all together. Alternately, write a program to do this.

5) Players need to have standard operating procedures that specify range (long or short), missile types (nukes or high explosive), and weapon-hit prioritization. If those things are clear, the only thing that’s tricky is weird combinations of hits and defenses… though weird orders of “target such and such if such and such otherwise such and such” can get very difficult to keep track of.

5 Rules to Remember

1) There does not appear to be clear rules on tactical intelligence in High Guard. In TCS tournaments, stats are public once combat is engaged. In role playing scenarios, Leroy Gautney (in a JTAS article) suggested players discover things in the process of battle, but admitted that players would know most of a ship’s specifications in a couple of turns.

2) Weapon damage: the rules for this are actually laid out in the entry on screens on page 49. “Damage must be divided as evenly as possible: no screen may receive two hits until all other screens have a t least one, or three hits until all others have at least two.”

3) Don’t forget the DM’s for relative computer size on the penetration rolls!

4) Don’t forget the automatic criticals when a large weapon hits a small ship.

5) The hardest rule to apply in a PBEM game is the sequence of play of alternating ships for targeting starting with the player that has initiative. Basically, there’s a slight advantage in getting shot at first: you know exactly what’s hitting you before you fire so you can specify your defenses without worrying about wasting laser shots when you go on the offensive. These benefits tend to wash out in larger fleets, I suppose, but it can be a significant nuance in one-on-one battles.

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7 responses to “The 2009 Billion Credit Squadron Round Robin Tournament Notes

  1. Robert March 16, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Hey Jeff,

    Thanks again for running High Guard tournaments. It’s so refreshing when people put their money where their mouths are. Only by playing the rules do we learn what the *real* rules are.

  2. Richard Perks March 26, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Jeff

    Thanks for the analysis, any chance of the USPs for the three lossing ships and their rankings in the tournament?

    Cheers
    Richard

  3. Charles May 9, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I’ve been a lurker of your blog for awhile as I’m trying to get back into Car Wars and convert a few people.

    I’m not trying to derail but I’m in dire need of the Compendium 2nd Edition rules and cannot find a copy anywhere. I know no one locally who plays the game and can’t even find a PDF of the damn thing. Would anyone be willing to Photocopy their book for me and mail it to me? I will definitely reimburse you.

    Please contact me at theelcharles@hotmail.com

    Great blog jeffro and I apologize for going off on a tangent but I’m getting desperate.

  4. Steve May 26, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I just came across your blog. I am an Ogre Fan and see you have played on occasion.
    Where are you located. I am in Madison WI.
    If you are nearby shoot me an email.
    I am looking for a game.
    Thanks

  5. DEATHSKULL August 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    It’s good to see that classic traveller high guard(!!!),old school car war,and ogre/gev tournaments are ALIVE AND WELL!!!…These young kids who do nothing but play magic the gathering/final fantasy 8-9,10(HOWEVER FAR IT GOES/WHATEVER…!!!)Have no idea what their missing!!! Of special interest to me is old school/CLASSIC TRAVELLER HIGH GUARD,Thanks for posting the stats of the various ships…IS THERE ANYWAY TO RUN A HIGH GUARD TOURNAMENT BY E-MAIL???…I would appreciate some info on this…AWESOME JOB,JEFF!!!…P.S.CHECK OUT CYNTHIA HIGGINS HIGH GUARD TOURNAMENT-IT HAS TO BE SEEN TO BE BELIVED!!!-ALSO YAHOO GROUPS CT-HIGH GUARD SITE…ONCE AGAIN,AWESOME JOB,JEFF,YOURS TRULY,DEATHSKULL…A.K.A-eihwazrune@hotmail.com

  6. Pingback: Rock-Paper-Scissors in Warfare and Game Design | Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

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