Welcome back for the third to last article in this series. This week we’ll port the Lunar-class Cruise from Battlefleet Gothic to Majestic 12 Games latest version of Starmada – Nova Edition!
Starmada – Nova Edition
Starmada Nova Edition (SN) is more than just a minor upgrade to Starmada Admirality Edition (SAE); it is a complete overhaul of the system. It is, in many ways, a backport of Starmada: Fleet Operations down to classic Starmada scale.
One big differences is the new online ship creation tool. Once you’ve signed up for an account, you can save your ships online, letting you access them from anywhere. Overall the ship output is more compact and better looking than in SAE, though it is missing a “weapons library” where you can store your weapon designs. This means you must redesign the weapons on each ship, which gets annoying if you want to replicate the same weapons across multiple classes. If you are a die-hard Excel fan, or find yourself missing the weapon library, there are some fan-based design spreadsheets available on the Majestic Twelve forums.
SN provides “conversion” instructions on how to change you SAE ships into SN ships. But where is the fun in that? I knew I wanted to keep some things the same (e.g. weapon ranges), but I always like to start from scratch in a new system, as some of my previous decisions may have been compromises with the old system I don’t want to carry forward.
Internal damage allocation is different in SN than SAE; technically, there isn’t any. Much like in Full Thrust, after a ship has passed a damage threshold, you make tests to see what happens to its internal components. Imperial ships are supposed to be robust, so I went with double its BFG value for 16pts. I was initially excited to see that SN offers armor as a main defense and not just armor plating like in SAE. Upon further review, though, I noticed that while there is a weapon trait that reduces the effectiveness of shields, there is no “anti-armor” trait. That was a shame, as I wanted Lances to rip through armor. In the end, I decided to model the armor and shields the same way I did in SAE (1pt of shields for every void shield or armor rating over 4+), though I did give the Lunar-class a bit of armor to represent the heavier bow protection (4pts or 25% of its hull value). I could have used the ship trait “directional defenses”, which makes it harder to hit the front of the ship and easier to hit the aft, but decided this was a better trait for the Orks, who are notorious for armoring their bows at the expense of the stern.
I kept the thrust the same as in SAE version, and for the same reasons. Unfortunately, SN offers no way to distinguish between raw engine power and maneuverability.
Weapon design is where the bulk of the changes between Starmada AE and Starmada Nova occurred. Accuracy, rate of fire, impact, and damage are all gone, replaced by a single number: how many dice you roll when firing without modifiers. It represents rate of fire x impact, with multipliers to account for accuracy. Increased damage can be added as a trait (double damage is Dx2 and triple damage is Dx3). From what I understand, these changes were implemented to streamline the system and reduce “math at the table”, but I still lament the loss. When weapons are distilled down to a mere handful of dice, a lot of their flavor disappears.
The changes to seeking weapons, on the other hand, are entirely positive. Instead of building them like disposable fighters, they’re treated as weapons with fire arcs, maximum ranges, and you can more explicitly control the number of seekers you dump on a target. There are still “drones” which are basically one shot “fighters”. This provides some nice differentiation: drones feel like cruise missiles while the new seeking weapons feel like super-fast anti-ship missiles. The new seeking trait is somewhat abstracted (you don’t actually track the movement of it on the table), but is very slick and is probably one of my favorite parts of SN.
With this in mind, I modeled Torpedoes as seeking weapons with only a front arc. I decided to make them slow (fire every other turn), piercing (halves the target’s shields, because torps ignore shields in BFG), guided (no range modifiers) and do double damage (each torpedo does one point of damage in BFG. Since I’ve doubled the hull points, I need to double the damage too).
Lances were similar: accurate (hitting on 4+), double damage, and piercing. The arcs on the ship card show that they are on both port and starboard sides, and that the column should be shifted 2 to the right in each of those arcs. This results in a 2 die attack, which is just what I want. It was easy to model batteries as the no frills weapon that they are. There was no appropriate ship system or defense to simulate the turrets, I made them into short range weapons with a 360 degree arc and the diffuse trait (doubling range penalties) and pinpoint trait (ignoring penalties for targeting seekers and fighters). All this makes it hard to use them effectively against other ships, but since you always get a chance to fire at seeking weapons at range 1, they should work well as point defense.
I had to revise the Nova Cannon significantly from the SAE version as the key trait (increased hits) is no longer available. I was still able to replicate the no minimum range (with the ballistic trait), and used the guided trait to ensure no to hit modifiers for long range. Proximity made it an area of effect weapon like before. To make damage more variable, I added the Catastrophic trait, which means it deals d6 damage per hit instead of 1 damage. While I don’t love the design as much as the one from SAE, it gets the job done and works a lot better than the FT or CB versions.
Nova Cannon Version:
Overall, it’s quite straight forward to design ships in SN. I think the new format and rules actually facilitate larger battles than could be managed in SAE. The only two disappointments are are the blandness of most weapons and the lack of an anti-armor trait. Why would you use shields that can be trumped by “piercing” when you can take good ol’ armor that cannot be thwarted?
That’s all for this week. Tune in next week for the first part of the coverage featuring Squadron Strike.
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.