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Bringing 3D Acceleration To TableTop Gaming
Bringing 3D Acceleration To TableTop Gaming

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Since I've got people going "I hope you're not saying meson guns worry about sandcasters..."

Yes, no, kinda sorta.

In Squadron Strike, there are five "standard" defenses:

ECM (makes you harder to hit)
Deflector Shields (Sort of like Car Wars metal armor - it reduces the damage value of the weapon hit by an amount, then ablates, as it ablates, the damage reduction drops proportionately)
Ablative Shields (Think Battletech bubble-wrap armor or Car Wars armor, each bubble is destroyed by one point of damage)
Armor (A subtractive defense that largely doesn't go away for the fight, think D&D DR)
Component Armor (A subtractive defense that's tied to a specific group of boxes on the SSD).

Squadron Strike has three fire phases; Defensive, Standard and Reserve. Within a fire phase, you resolve by ship, and the order you declare the weapons in is the order they're resolved in.

Squadron Strike has, for Traveller, two Super Science Defenses. Nuclear Dampers are all-or-nothing: Roll a d10 and equal or exceed the target number, and the missile doesn't hit. Meson Screens you roll 1d10 per incoming damage point and equal or exceeding the target number reduces the damage.

And then there's sand. [Deleted Exasperated Rant about sand].

Ahem. Where was I? Oh, yes. Sand. Given that there are no fewer than four different ways that sand has been modeled in Traveller games, with it most commonly being used like "chaff" in an aircraft game, I felt that I had some flexibility. Doing it as a die roll modifier for Accuracy (basically ECM that needed ammunition) resulted in too many call backs to the modifier for too many weapon rolls.

Plus, we were noticing that smaller ships weren't getting enough benefit from sand-as-die-roll-modifier.

After treating sand-as-chaff resulted in "Yeah, the first seven turns are nothing but "fire enough weapons that he runs out of sand..." we switched to sand-as-Blocks Damage, which is how it's portrayed in the two more tactical Traveller rules sets. Sand became a weapon with the Blocks Damage trait. This proved to be far too many die rolls with no decisions. You always used maximum sand, you rolled a bunch of dice to find out how much you got to make it work. The net effect of sand is very close to Ablative Shields: You generate ablative hit points outside the armor of the ship, and weapons batter them down. More to the point, this meant that hitting things with enough weapons on a single turn overcame sand and you got some damage through. Sand wasn't synonymous with a cloaking device, for example.

But it was too many die rolls.

What I've done instead is made sand into ablative shields that require the expenditure of a resource to use. Every group of 6 shield bubbles activated requires expending one unit of ammunition. So, if your ship has 30 shield bubbles on the forward facing, that's 5 units of sand ammo expended. It protects you through the entire Combat Phase until it's battered down, and you can run out of sand very quickly.

Because of how meson guns do their damage, it's a good idea to have missiles and lasers and other weapons (but mostly missiles) scrape off the "earlier in the track" hits, so that your meson guns are doing more damage to structural integrity.

This also means those weapons batter down the sand before you fire the meson guns.

While I could put a special rule on Meson guns that says they ignore sand and ignore the (very thin) armor on ships, the net result, because of emergent tactics of the game, is that it's not needed. For people who feel that I'm doing horrible wrongs to the Traveller of their childhood, it's easy enough to house-rule.

As it is, the difference between having a meson screen (as the CS version of the Gionneti has) and not having a meson screen (as the CL version of the Gionetti was designed) is more important than the armor or sand (or really, anything else).

Here's the special abilities list of a Meson gun:

2xHits SI -- when damage strikes the SI track, every point of damage marks off two boxes.
Ignores Component Armor -- Component Armor is the most prevalent (and most useful defense) in SS Traveller. Having meson guns ignore it is bigger than it looks.
No Blow Through -- This means that if there's damage left over after hitting SI, it wraps to the next hit location, rather than being lost.
Chain Fire -- Meson guns are RoF 3; chain fire means that as soon as you hit with a shot, all subsequent shots on the same turn automatically hit. Hit with the first shot, and shots two and three automatically hit. Miss with shot one and hit with shot two, and shot three automatically hits.
Meson -- this is a limiter meaning that the weapon interacts with the Meson Screen super science defense.
OK, enough about meson guns and sand. :)

In Traveller, I had to go "SITS-like" on missiles.

Missiles always hit unless the target does something about them. Because of the shoals of missiles used in Traveller, 'doing something about them' means minimizing the decision-loops given.

So, all missiles have an Accuracy target of 1+. You need to roll a 1 or higher on a d10 to have them hit. ECM adds to the Accuracy target, and the Imperials have ECM 1, so missiles fired at the Imps need to "not roll 1s."

There are two primary defenses against missiles. The first is firing lasers in the Reserve Fire Step of the Combat Phase - you target the midpoint marker of the incoming missiles.

Normally, Squadron Strike has you roll to hit the missile, and then roll for damage, and the missile makes a saving throw against that damage. This is fun when the missile hits are few, and significant. When salvoes are in multiples of 18 missiles, it's less so.

Because of the number of missiles and number of lasers, each laser kills half a missile at short range, and a third of a missile at long range, and you sum fractions to make whole missile kills. If you have a fraction left over, you can roll a d10 - 6+ kills at short, and 8+ kills at long (or 4+ kills at long with two lasers).

Once your escorts have thinned the shoals of missiles, you roll a bucket of d10s for the Nuclear Dampers. Any missile that survives the Dampers gets to roll to make an attack (usually a 1+ unless firing on an Imperial ship), and do the damage.

I'm still balancing the number of missiles, number of expected lasers for escorts, and the target number of Nuclear Dampers so that missiles do some damage, but not devastating amounts.

Both Lasers and Missiles have a weapon trait called Raking Fire (3) or Raking Fire (2). This means that damage they do is broken up into groups of 3 or 2 damage points and have hit locations rolled individually for each group - this gives the "scrub off the stuff on the outer layers of the ship" feel of High Guard.

Wherever possible, I try to hew to Travellerness. However, I'm also obligated to make a game that's fun to play, and, well, lots of Traveller space combat has been anything but. Making the game fun to play, while getting the feel and narrative of Traveller combat trumps exactly replicating a specific Traveller mechanic.
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Squadron Strike: RocketPunk

RocketPunk uses Ad Astra Games' Squadron Strike Engine to recreate Orion Drive Nuclear Propelled Warships in thrilling ship to ship actions! The Future That Almost Was: 1980s Cold War Conflict in Martian Orbit 6/16/2017 10:00:00 AM 4 Hours Miniature First Look

Squadron Strike: Axanar

Based off of the Prelude to Axanar fan film, this is Squadron Strike tuned to do the Federation and Klingon Empire, not as other games have done them, but as they've been shown on screen! The Four Years War: Star Trek Space Combat in 3D! 6/16/2017 3:00:00 PM 4 Hours Miniature First Look

Squadron Strike: Exille's Stars

In a universe where humans are outnumbered refugees, and in a precarious political situation, survey ships have gone missing. Your task force has been sent to find out what happened! Space Combat with the Space Operatic Content Dialed Up to 11! 6/16/2017 7:00:00 PM 4 Hours Miniature First Look

Squadron Strike: Traveller -- The Battle of Colcis IV

In the latter phases of the Fifth Frontier War, as the Zhodani push towards Regina was blunted and the Imperial forces pushed back, there were several smaller actions, and objectives of opportunity. Cholcis Station was one of these, where the Zhodani expected support from the Aslan fteir...who may have cut their own deal with the Imperials in sector 268. Traveller Space Combat, in 3D, with the added twist of uncertain allies! 6/17/2017 9:00:00 AM 4 Hours Miniature First Look

Attack Vector: Tactical Rocket Rally:

This event combines our traditional Attack Vector teaching scenarios, starting players off with beams and eventually ramping them up to coilguns and kinetic weapons, all with accurate vector movement in 3D. This is as close to playing space combat from The Expanse as you're likely to see on the tabletop! Realistic Space Combat - 3D, vector, beam weapon, chocolates on the map and betrayal! If The Expanse had a space combat game, it would look like this! 6/17/2017 2:00:00 PM 8 Hours Miniature

Physics in Space Combat

The Designer of Attack Vector: Tactical and the author of The Hot Equations talks about physics and space combat, touching on the current Hollywood trend in better scientific accuracy in shows like The Expanse and Killjoys, and movies like The Martian. Award-winning author talks about physics in movies and TV, touching on his experiences in gaming and SF publishing. 6/18/2017 11:00:00 AM 2 Hours Origins University Origins University

Squadron Strike Intros Wanna blow up some chocolates? Come learn the basics of Ad Astra's 3D space combat games in a friendly series of rolling demos. 6/18/2017 10:00:00 AM 1 Hours Miniature
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There's a new AVID Assistant up:

http://services.adastragames.com/avid/ss/

The manual is still at:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1U0t-TOy9bXt8o55hENvPqasI0B_Mj8OUkv8xNsIy0tI/edit#

New feature added: A rendered AVID ball view of your ship in its current orientation, with the AVID globe around it, and the current bearing in the appropriate place.
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We've got a whole bunch of bugs fixed and new features added in.

We've also updated the landing page at http://services.adastragames.com/avid/

Calc Version:

Added in the 3D viewer. This shows a render of a box mini in tilt blocks (and on stacking tiles) that accurately reflects the orientation of the chosen ship.

We fixed a glitch in the firing arcs display; it wouldn't show both windows when the in-game mechanics would give the firing player a choice; now it does.

Legacy Version:

The URL has changed for this, and it's no longer being actively developed.

SS Version:

This is the public beta of the Squadron Strike variant. The Squadron Strike variant has a lot of additional features over the Calc version. It uses an internet connection to go to a very primitive database for data swapping, and as such, it expects you to do some data entry before the game begins.

You'll start by entering a game name and clicking the "Game ID" button. A 10 digit game ID will be generated. Everyone at the table has to use the same Game ID and Game Name.

You'll want to click the "Lock" and "Full Screen" buttons on your phone to make the setup more usable. In addition to keeping you from changing the game name and game ID button, "Lock" also filters out the ships that aren't yours from the top selection bar, and filters out your own ships from the bottom selection bar. The "Page" button regulates how swipes left and swipes right are managed on touch screens, and the "Rotate" versus "Fixed" button changes how the orientation symbols are shown on the AVID.

The upper left bottom button defaults to "Normal" - which means that every player has to manually sync their data to the database. Once everyone's entered the Game Name and Game ID and pressed the "Lock" button, we recommend that the player in charge of calling the steps of the Sequence of Play set that button to "Leader" and everyone else in the game be set to "Follow."

Next, you'll add ships. Enter your ship's name, class name and hull ID number - for example, the Enterprise would be a Constitution-class and would use the number on the Box Mini for the hull ID number. Or the number on the EoT Tent.

You'll also enter the ship's maximum movement, pivot and roll, and then its position as an offset from a defined hex on the hex map. and its initial speed. If you're adding multiple ships with the same maneuverability stats, click the button that says "Clone Ships."

Once you've entered the ships, click on the "Ships" button and set their initial orientation on the AVID. You can also change the facing of the AVID by hitting the "rotate hexagon" icon on the lower right. (Having the bottom button with the triangle highlighted lets you pivot, having the button with the star highlighted lets you roll.)

When setting your ship's orientation like this, you can also update the ship's position relative to your hex map reference point, and update the speed.

The "List" button shows all ships in the game; ones controlled by you are highlighted. Clicking on the ship will show you a rendered 3D view of the ship; your ship's orientation is shown in the notation used in the rulebook: Nose direction (Top position). A ship with an orientation of A/B(+++) is has its nose facing in A/B and its Top pointed straight up.

The "About" button shows the current version, and cycles through all of the Kickstarter Backer's names at about one per second or so.

Now click on the light blue "menu" button - you'll see four new buttons arrive at the top of the screen.

The tool has full support for the Squadron Strike Sequence of Play, and will walk you through the steps. The Plotting view allows you to enter movement plots via your device, including pivots and rolls, increasing or decreasing thrust, defining your vertical shift, and defining your horizontal shift. Hopefully, the iconography on the buttons will make this easier to read.

If you're using your phone during the Plotting phase, you may not see the entire Plotting window at once - use the button with the right pointing triangle to see the vertical and horizontal plotting tools.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The app expects you to pivot and select thrust, THEN plot vertical shift, then plot horizontal shift. If you go back and adjust your thrust or your horizontal shift, your later steps will be re-set to zero. We're working on a suitable notification for this; for some reason using the app causes players to forget to do this in the order in the rulebook!

When playing the game, you'll spend most of your time in the AVID view (the "AVID" button) or the Arcs view (the "Arcs) button. In both views, there's a green area and a pink area.

The green area has your currently selected ship in the middle. You can cycle through your ships by pressing the "<" and ">" buttons. The pink area has your targets, and you can cycle through them the same way. One special option when cycling through targets is "Freestyle Target" - this is entered as an offset from your ship, and it shoots a bearing. Use this to figure out what weapons can fire at missiles and torpedoes by entering offsets.

If you're still in the Plotting Phase of the Sequence of Play, there will be a purple crosshair icon on the AVID (or a purple window on the Arcs view). This is a predictive bearing, shot from your EoT tent to the target's EoT tent. Use this to figure out where to plot your movements to get your guns in arc.

If you're in the Movement Phase or Combat Phase, you'll see two crosshairs. One crosshair is red; that's the bearing from your ship to their ship. The other crosshair is blue; that's the bearing from your ship to the target's EoT tent, useful for launching torpedoes or missiles. The corresponding windows will be highlighted on the Arcs view.

A more detailed writeup of the features of the program can be found in the feature documentation.

If you have feedback, suggestions, or find a glitch, please email your reports to: avid@adastragames.com
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Some of you may need minis...

These are fleet scale (about 1:7200) and are the same sizes as the other minis that I sell. I've also got a product in the works for this setting.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/twilightgamedesigns/stars-reach-space-ship-miniatures
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+Charles Oines does good work....

This is a cover comp for an Orion Drive Alternate '80s setting we've got in development.
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Ethan McKinney is running an Attack Vector full immersion game in the LA area on Saturday the 18th. Newbies welcome!

The location is the Coffee Connection, 3838 S. Centinela Blvd. (Mar Vista just South of Venice). There's a $5 admission fee, the game will run from 10 AM to about 7 PM. Please support the venue and buy some food at the restaurant.

"We will be in the Gallery Room. When entering the Coffee Connection, turn LEFT and go through the coffee shop and across the courtyard. PARKING: Free parking in parking lot across the South side-street."
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