Welcome back to fourth installment of the Lunar Class Cruiser design walkthrough. This week, we’re porting the ship from Battle Fleet Gothic to Starmada – Admiralty Edition.
Starmada – Admiralty Edition
The biggest difference between Starmada Admirality Edition (SAE) and Full Thrust Cross Dimensions (FT) and Colonial Battlefleet (CB) is custom weapon design. This allows greater design freedom in terms of matching the original Battlefleet Gothic (BFG) weapons rather than trying to make do with pre-built weapons. I need to make sure relative effectiveness is the same. I went with a hull size of 12 (150% of the BFG Hull size) because I like the number 12. It also gives me lots of smaller hull numbers for converting smaller escort ships over.
Now, truth be told, my gaming group has actually converted up all of the Imperial, Chaos, Marine and Eldar ships from BFG into SAE. So a lot of the design decisions were made in the context of the setting and went well beyond just the Lunar-class Cruiser.
Our group was really only interested in the “Movement point” option in SAE. We did not use the default pseudo-vectored movement method. For Engine power on the Lunar, I went with a rating of “5.” We picked “5” by dividing the BFG speed divided by 5cm, and adding 1 to the result to cover the free “heading change) in BFG. This gives the ship 5 movement points to spend on turning one hex side or moving one hex forward. As with both FT and CB, there is no way to disconnect maneuverability from engine power.
Defenses were trickier. SAE does not have an armor-as-damage-reduction option, nor does it have ablative shielding in the conventional sense. I lumped the effect of both the BFG armor and Void Shields into SAE’s “shields”. For each point of armor above 4+ and each void shield I gave the ship 1 shield in SAE. This became “shields 3” in SAE. Because the Lunar Cruiser has a more heavily armored prow, I gave it the special ship trait “armor plating”, allowing it to ignore any internal damage roll of 1. SAE also has an option for shielding that varies by hex facing (faceted shields). I thought would be more appropriate for the Orks, that have a more varied armor rating. To represent the 2 turrets I gave the ship 8 anti-fighter batteries.
With those parameters set, it was weapon design time.
First up: Lances. In BFG each lance has about a 50% chance to inflict one point of hull damage to a ship (provided the shields are down), with the Lunar class having 8 hull points. Now in SAE, only about half the hits on a ship will result in “hull” damage, so it takes approximately 24 damage to destroy the Lunar. As a refresher, in SAE, weapons have dice they roll for Impact, having to equal or exceed the target’s shield rating, and a separate die roll for damage. In translating the Lance over, I gave them Impact of 2 and damage of 2, which means each one could potentially do 4 damage each (a bit more than their BFG counterpart). I give them “halves shields” to represent that they ignore armour in BFG. I make them range 12, which is longer compared to their speed in BFG, but feels more right. I decide to make them behave normally in terms of the “to hit” modifiers in SAE (so they will hit on 5+ at long range and 3+ at short range) because I always felt the lack of to hit penalties for Lances in BFG was always just for the sake of staying as simple as possible.
I calibrated batteries based on the percentage of a ship’s fluffy interiors they can hit in BFG. Because they’re less accurate (and more widely variable in their outcomes) in BFG, I went with a 5+ to hit, giving a 4+ at short range and a 6+ at long. The tricky part is getting six batteries to come out approximately equal in hull spaces to two lances. As batteries have a ROF of 2, it allows them to spread their fire. Batteries can also shoot at fighters and missiles, which made me revise Lances to give them the “starship exclusive” trait.
Both weapons are mounted with 60 degree fire arcs to either port or starboard. The groupings of letters reflect each individual weapon and its associated arc. With the 12 individual arcs to pick from this was easy to do. SAE can handle much more complex arcs – MJ12 Games got most of the firing arcs from Federation Commander to port over.
With Lances and Batteries out of the way, we’re down to the torpedoes. To me, torpedoes are things that chase enemy ships on the map, and which can be outrun…and making them in SAE is a bit of a trick. In SAE, torpedoes have to be modeled as fighters if you want to allow them to be shot down before they impact their target. Using the “seeker” trait for fighters requires they be assigned a target and that they must move closer to it at full speed; once they attack, they’re removed from play. While not a terrible solution in terms of how they act post launch, it means that restricting other aspects, like the firing arc or launch rate can’t be done. This size ship can launch 3 flights per turn. Minimum recommended flight size in the game is 4, so that means the Lunar can launch 12 torps a turn, which is double what it is supposed to. We can easily adjust the expected damage by dropping from 2 points to 1 point of damage per torpedo that hits. I’ve given the torps the trait “Halves shields” to the BFG role, where they ignore shields. Halving shields kind of stealthily puts the armor back into the system. Using SAE’s rules, the Lunar-class cruiser can hold nine launch spreads of torpedoes. This translates into three turns of launching at the full rate of fire, before running out of ammunition. This is a decent match for BFG. I’ve also given the Torpedoes the “bomber” trait, so they can only attack other ships and not enemy fighters (or other torps).
This completes the standard Lunar-class. Now, this took a few iterations I’ve glossed over, because I did this with the other conversions over a year ago, and I didn’t record my entire thought process. SAE could get a fairly close match the BFG ships (as can be seen from its 2 lances per side and 6 batteries per side).
Just like in FT and CB, I also wanted to make the Nova Cannon variant. For SAE, there wasn’t a really good fit for the BFG version of the weapon, so I chose to get creative – working from the intended role of the weapon rather an exact match that took the same amount of space that the fighter-like torpedoes took up.
What I got was a weapon using the longest range band (27 hexes), can’t fire in its short range band (9 hexes), has a narrow arc (30 degrees to the front only), is area of effect (can hit anything within a one hex radius) and has the opportunity to really pound the target. The SAE Nova Cannon targets a hex and attacks all units in or adjacent to that hex with a four-dice attack. There is to-hit penalty of -1 at long range, and a second to-hit penalty of -1 versus units in the adjacent hexes.
I dialed up the effectiveness with the “increased hits” trait. Every point I exceeded the to-hit target by adds another hit on the target; shooting a ship at medium range and rolling four “6s” would hit 16 times! While that’s a low-odds result, it’s pretty memorable. It also means those to-hit penalties really mitigate the damage. It definitely fills the same combat role that the BFG version of the weapon does.
The ship design for SAE was done in the publisher provided Excel Spreadsheet. Weapon designs are done on one tab and can be selected from the ship tab. This is a nice feature so that you don’t have to redesign the weapons on each ship. You can also copy and paste ship tabs, which makes it fast and easy if you want to do a variant of an existing ship class. There are also a number of fan created design sheets with added features, mostly prettier outputs.
This wraps up the SAE design. Next week we will review how things have changed in Starmada – Nova Edition.
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.