Help me enjoy ship to ship combat...


Starfinder Society

1/5 *

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So far, in my limitted SFS play, I find myself ambivalent towards Starfinder as a whole, and I have yet to have a fun experience with ship to ship combat. My experiences are as follows.

Into the unknown:
I honestly don't remember hating this one, maybe because the GM soft balled it, maybe because the dice were in our favor, but I don't recall much other than we fought in space

Cries from the drift:
This one went quickly because we were able to put the enemy ship into our rear arc so they couldn't fire, and the gunner hit often enough. Since it wasn't a duel to the death it wasn't terribly long, and it wasn't terrible

Yesteryears's truth:
This was enough to make me consider quitting SFS. We played the initial space combat for nearly 2 hours. The gunners could not seem to hit the mothership with any regularity. Eventually the GM just moved on.

Skittershot:
This was today, and it was a frustrating end to an enjoyable game. The only pregen with a pilot skill is easily outclassed by the enemy vessel. This time I was in the Gunner's chair, and I could not ever seem to roll well enough to hit this thing. I had to roll a 13 or better to hit, unless the pilot made the near automatic evade check, and that made it a 15 or better

Basically it all boils dow to " If the gunner misses, nothing else for the round matters." And "If the gunner hits, all the previous actions are irrelevant."

I know someone is going to mention the tactics of putting your ship in an unmanned firing arc, but every ship we fight is either more maneuverable, or can shoot in every direction. And it seems like ships never seem to be out of range no matter what happens.

The other roles are support or reactive, but cannot meaningfully effect combat if the gunner misses.

I've gotten to the point that when the hex map comes out, I want to pack up and go home.

So, I'm asking all of you, how do I have fun with what seems to be a funless black hole of a minigame?

5/5 5/55/55/5

I definitely feel your pain. A few things mitigate it

On the player end, role play it out as much as you can. This is really hard in SFS where at least one person will be new to starship combat and people are still working out how to get it moving smoothly.

Since i often wind up in the engineers position and either fix shields or add more dakka, i usually amuse myself by writing out what exactly the engineer is doing to try to fix things. It helps that they're ysoki.

From a mechanical perspective, the captain engineer gunner science officer paradigm just doesn't work. The captain and science officer are almost superfluous on a starfinder society ship that has guns pointing all over the place. you have a pilot, you have an engineer
(they can science officer it up on round 1), then you fill out the guns. If you do that the spaceship combats will be over quicker less draggy and less excruciating.

It doesn't help that gunner is a very important position but it seems to get relegated to "the guy that can't do spaceship combat" If you have a turret and the other ship doesn't have a nuclear arsenal in their front arc considering putting mister uberdex pilot there and slugging it out

1/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Oregon—Portland

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I completely agree. I created my -701 as an Ace Pilot and was really excited for starship combat, but its just.. not.

Rolling skill checks (or gunnery checks) every round is not fun. There's some slight strategy to piloting, but really - not much.

There's no magic, no equipment modifiers, very little in the way of tactics, everything special about your PC is watered down to a single D20 bonus and a set of DCs.

Have spells? Doesn't matter. Even Make Whole can't repair the ship (even though it works on wooden ships in Pathfinder), and none of the crew are really in danger so Mystic Cure isn't useful.

Have a computer? Doesn't matter, the ships computer gives what it gives. Your personal computer, if it can interface with the ship at all, gives no bonuses.

Have a drone? Don't count on it, almost a year in there's still no official clarification on whether they can participate in starship combat so its up to the individual GM.

I could rant on, but I'll summarize with this; the #1 reason I've seen people lose interest in Starfinder is Starship Combat... And every time, I pull out the excuse that many scenarios don't have starship combat. Its not a great excuse, Starship combat is a stain.

The best you can do as a GM is minimize the boring by speeding things along. Done right with experienced players, most starship combat can be resolved in 15 minutes or less. Then the actual adventure can continue.

5/5 5/55/55/5

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asically it all boils dow to " If the gunner misses, nothing else for the round matters." And "If the gunner hits, all the previous actions are irrelevant."

The pilot matters.

1) it puts the ship out of the enemy's good firiong arc
2) it puts the gunner on the side of the ship with the most damaged shields. Punching through those shields asap and causing glitches matters.

2/5 5/5

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I think part of the problem is the very mechanical step-by-step repeat of Engineering/Science Officer/Pilot/Gunner each round. Frankly, it's not exciting to sit through the automatic (or almost automatic) rolls to repair shields, target systems, etc., round after round after round on both sides. I think it would be a lot more fun it was handled more like ground combat, where each character acts on their turn (with enemy ships acting all at once) for a faster paced, more dynamic, and unpredictable game. That, and making critical hits do double damage would add a lot. I loved starship combat in Star Wars Saga Edition, but unfortunately after a year of Starfinder sessions I just haven't grown to like how the system handles it.

1/5 *

BigNorseWolf wrote:

asically it all boils dow to " If the gunner misses, nothing else for the round matters." And "If the gunner hits, all the previous actions are irrelevant."

The pilot matters.

1) it puts the ship out of the enemy's good firiong arc
2) it puts the gunner on the side of the ship with the most damaged shields. Punching through those shields asap and causing glitches matters.

1) every single ship I have faced is able to fire in every direction, usually with it's most dangerous weapon being turret mounted. While from a design perspective I understand this is the best tactical option, it does limit the importance of picking which side of the ship you land on.

2) I have yet to see the time when the enemy has failed to divert power to restore shields and then also failed to balance them. So where I hit does not matter much at all.

Everything matters except that the whole turn leads up to the one d20 roll that the gunner makes, and that determines success or failure for the whole ship, so does anything else really matter at all?

5/5 5/55/55/5

medtec28 wrote:


1) every single ship I have faced is able to fire in every direction, usually with it's most dangerous weapon being turret mounted. While from a design perspective I understand this is the best tactical option, it does limit the importance of picking which side of the ship you land on.

In society play ? They've all got the big dakka stuck on the front. Precisely to avoid this.

Quote:
2) I have yet to see the time when the enemy has failed to divert power to restore shields and then also failed to balance them. So where I hit does not matter much at all.

If you don't move around they're going to rebalance the entire shield array in the way of your blast. You are waiting for them to fail one of the checks though

Quote:
Everything matters except that the whole turn leads up to the one d20 roll that the gunner makes, and that determines success or failure for the whole ship, so does anything else really matter at all?

It should be GunnERS. You want bursty damage to punch through their shields and then hit some hull, hopefully causing a glitch in the process that occupies their engineers for a round. Again, trying to do the pilot captain sci engineer gunner thing doesn't work, you need more gunners.

The Exchange 1/5 5/5 **

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I personally both playing and GMing have not had an UN-fun Starship combat. I guess I have been lucky, but I just haven't. It always boils down to how good the GM is rolling vs the party, like every RPG ever. I have ran Yesteryear's Truth 2 or 3 times once before it was adjusted, and my parties all conquered it handily. Tactics matter like BNW mentioned. YMMV

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

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I will second, third and fourth the opinion that Starship Combat is my least favorite part about Starfinder, to the point where I was questioning whether I wanted to continue as a subscriber. But I took a step back and looked at the system as a whole, and saw that everything else was extremely enjoyable, so I set out to make myself enjoy Starship Combat.

(you should never *have* to force yourself to like something, but at the same time it's rare in life to have something you love linked to something you hate)

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with Starship Combat.

My first few Starship Combats lasted HOURS, and I was left absolutely drained. And then one Combat just happened to end quickly, and I felt relieved. It was short because the GM knew the rules in and out and paced us quickly. If the GM hates Starship Combat, the players will hate Starship Combat. If the GM is quick and knowledgeable, the players will have a better experience.

Step 2: Get yourself some visual aids.

Unique miniatures rather than dice. Counters for shields and hull points. Laminated Starship Combat Role Sheets. If you're just using two six-sided dice on a black hex map, there's nothing exciting to see.

Step 3: Know your ship.

I've played every scenario thus far, and tactics can absolutely make or break a combat. If you're not familiar with what the difference is between maneuverabilities, or weapon ranges (5 hexes is short, 10 is medium, etc), or Pilot actions, then yeah two ships are just going to end up next to each other and blast away for 2 hours.

Step 4: Give every PC of yours at least *one* skill for Starship Combat.

I have a Str-based PC with Perception, Athletics and Profession. Fun to RP with, absolutely terrible for Starship Combat. I should have given him at least a rank in Engineering or something. If you do the same, you'll alleviate sitting on the sidelines while everyone else contributes.

Worst case: unexciting visuals, an unknowledgeable GM, players who don't know their roles, nobody who knows tactics, and nobody has a skillset that can contribute.

Best case: a couple painted ships, a GM who maintains pace, players who know their DCs, and Players/PCs who can coordinate.

Then, if you've tried that with an open mind and you still hate Starship Combat, just avoid the scenarios that have it. Paizo will take note of the reduced reporting rate and may simply release fewer Starship Combat scenarios.

5/5 5/55/5

I've never been in a Starship combat that lasted more than an hour. I've played them all up to 1-15 and the AP books 1 to 3. I've GMed most of the scenarios also.

I think it's really important that the GM keeps the pace going and does his side quickly. When I play I also speed up the pace by calling out the phases if the GM seems to be slowing down.

At first I didn't like them that much. I think they are OK now. At the stores I play everyone is familiar with the rules so they go pretty quickly.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Melbourne

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I really want Starship Combat to work, but our groups is having problems with it too. One of the big issues is that it can take twice as long as a normal combat. Part of this has to do with typical RPG power structure. Because TTRPGs are supposed to be about group enjoyment and group participation, most groups do not have a true 'party leader' that calls all the shots and everyone just does their job. What this results in in Starship Combat is several of the party members having long discussions on where the ship should be maneuvered to and how to get it there, rather then the Captain barking out, 'Get us into it's rear' and the Pilot doing its best to follow that order. The best Starship Combat I have seen was one where everyone took the rolls and did what their rolls would do in a real starship situation, i.e. doing their best to follow the Captain's orders, rather than trying to run the combat as a group consensus.

Another thing I think might help is to have a more graded success system. With the exception of the Science Officer's Scanning, all of the checks are a Yes or No situation. Things like how good the Engineer gets determines how much shields he repairs could go a long way to making individual rolls feel more important.

Ship Combat also suffers from the typical Starfinder situation of a PC's chance to hit with an attack can frequently be less than 50%. This is okay when the whole party is attacking the monster. But when you only have 1 party member making 1 or 2 attacks a round, Starship Combat can take forever.

5/5 5/55/5

We don't run into a situation where no one is in charge. With us the pilot is charge of moving the ship. Sometimes he will listen to advice from others but he has the ultimate say in where it goes.

If it got too long as a GM I would likely step in and say within the game you don't have the ability to have this much discussion lets get going.

Dark Archive 4/5

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I've done a few combats and found them fine, I think one of the biggest things not mentioned is the GM should make liberal use of calling the fight. With targeted criticals and a few other options it is not that hard to have an enemy really out classed after a few turns. Not wasting the 3-4 round it would take to completely wipe out the hull points can be a big help.

5/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

In general the starship combat is OK, but not great.

I found their decision to have 4 (uneven) shield/weapon arcs very strange (since you're using a hex map. Why not 6 arcs (one for each face) or 2 (front and back)? 4 arcs is just a bizarre choice.

Combat can move slowly. I think this is, in large part, because it's designed so that everyone participates. This gives the crew a lot of choices and those all take time.

If the captain actual gives general (strategic) guidance for the round that can help, though each position can ultimately do what they want. Additionally, the positions could briefly say what they need to (hopefully) cut down discussion throughout the phases. For example, a gunner on a FWD gun might say, "Get me in arc and I'll blow him out of the sky" or the captain might say, "Engineer, get us more shields if you can."

As GM I try to move it along by a few things:
1) Try to set the stage up front by saying something like, "We've got several distinct phases. I'll try to step through them smartly to keep this moving. Try to keep any guidance/direction brief and preferably at the start of the round"

2) Trying to drive/facilitate the phases with questions:
- Does anyone move positions?
- Captain, when are you acting?
- No one in engineer so no engineering
- Science Officer, are you going before or after the pilot?
- Pilot, roll off. Ok, you go first -- move.
- Ok, gunnery -- shoot

3) If the ship gives 1 or more pluses, just let people use them when it comes to their roll or have someone allocate at start. Otherwise, that can turn into a whole discussion, "Wait, should I use that +1 here or should we save that for the pilot?"

Those steps help, but you don't want to dictate so it can still get really slow sometimes, especially if the crew is debating.
--------

A few things I'd like to see them change in any updates:
- Critical hits do double damage (it gives more variability and excitement and moves things along).

- Simplify the critical damage to just "damaged" or "destroyed."

- Shift to either 6 arcs or 2. Note, you could have 2 shield arcs, but have 4 (or 6) weapon arcs.

- Change to 5 distinct phases:
1) Position and guidance -- characters move positions and make quick requests. Captain states when he's acting.
2) Engineer
3) Science Officer
4) Helm
5) Gunnery

- Add a limit on how far away (from the launching ship) a seeking weapon works or how many rounds it runs. As it is now, you could launch a missile at a ship and have it literally follow them across the entire universe (as long as it doesn't hit, maintains target lock, etc.).

5/5 5/55/5

Nice suggestions but I would point out that splitting Science and helm would lengthen the combat, since you have one more back and forth between player turn now GM Turn.

Most combats I see the same player flips back and forth between Engineer and Science and the party maxes out the gunners. Putting the Science and Engineer phases together would speed things along in these cases.

First one I thought of is Suggesting the character to stip on the the street and run back and forth thought the colony shouting something embarrassing.

Another one would be hit them at night and Suggest to the character to immediately get tools and start tearing down the colonies walls.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Given the forum, "how do I home brew starship combat to be fun" isn't much of a solution.

1/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Oregon—Portland

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Consider virtually any scifi or sci-fantasy show or movie. Pick one, it really doesn't matter which.

Where is the camera pointed? Does it spend a majority of its time focused on the ships doing cool maneuvers around each other, or is it focused on the bridge or pilots of small gunner ships?

Whether consoles are blowing up, smoke is erupting from the engine core, air is venting out of bullet holes in the hull, or the crew are getting bloody noses and near passing out from the heavy Gs - the focus is almost always on the actors.

Why? Because watching ships shoot each other is boring. You might see short clips of it, but more than a few seconds makes for bad TV.

The PCs in SF starship combat aren't even in the frame. They're assumed to be bucked up safely in their seats, they're in no real danger.

The ship gets hit? Oh well, keep blasting. Critical hit on the power core? Oh I'm sure the engineer is alright, no worries about engine shielding or radiation flooding the deck. Life support is glitching? Oh well, nobody is going to suffocate.

Players can basically put their PC sheets away for starship combat.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I will agree with the O.P. that the ship combat in 1-03 is an absolute slog. My very first GenCon, I GMed that one and the combat went on and on and on. Since then, I have upped my GM game, and found most of the other ship combats aren’t that brutal. Indeed, the most recent ship combats in 1-12 and 1-16 were fantastic.

(Shameless plug: my friend Rosc - aka Nate Wright - wrote ship combat for 1-16 and it rocks. One of the most entertaining and interesting combats ever.)

★ ---- ★ ---- ★ ---- ★

THE GROUP CAN HAVE A GREAT TIME IF THE GM IS READY TO GIVE THEM ONE!

As a GM, here is what I do to make ship combat fun:

1) I use visual aids, including a variant on Gary Bush’s simple table tents to cue everyone what phase they are in.

2) I make sure every member of the party has a copy of their own space ship stats in front of them, as well as handouts explaining what their character can do. If I think they may be switching roles, I give them handouts for all the roles they might do.

3) I cue clueless players. “Quonx, you’re acting as engineer! Do you want to soup up guns or divert power to the engines?”

4) I roleplay the living snot out of it. My opponent captains taunt, and players can hear the chatter on the other ship’s crew whining over the com.

5) I also use sound effects. Sure, in space no one can hear you scream. I get that. But it’s all so much more fun with sound effects, and I figure that Starfinder’s combination of tech and magic allows everyone to hear cool stuff in space. “Pew-pew!” and “Smash!” and “POW!” and even the bass beat of an incoming jaws-style shark.

6) I give voiceover commentary describing the things my crew does and make them sound even cooler. “Then Quig curses, diving under the bridge’s keyboard interface, trying to figure out how to rewire his patch...”

7) I keep it moving, moving, moving. If the pace is fast, there’s no time to get bored or feel useless!

★ ---- ★ ---- ★ ---- ★

There are things that I cannot help — such as players who did not build for space combat at all — but I do my best to keep it all cinematic and keep my group engaged. Make the players feel like the heroes they all are!

Hmm

4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Agent, Minnesota—St. Louis Park

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I have done a fair amount of the Starship combat and had to adjust my opinions a few times as I found what did or did not work for me.

Pilot
To me the Pilot tends to make the biggest difference in the Starship combat. They are the ones that can adjust the ranges and make sure you are in the best arc while the enemy is in the worst arc for them.

Anyone who can pilot also makes a good Gunner.

Science Officer
Early in the combat, I think having two crew man the Science Officer station can be useful. Get off those scans so you know what their most dangerous weapons are. Find out how tough their shields are and track where you did damage. Once you’ve got all the weapons scanned, you probably do not have to do another scan.

Knowing the capabilities of the enemies means you can decide if more speed or damage is important. The engineer can adjust one or the other, not both.

Knowing the shields, hull points, and PCU allows you to track approximate damage and guess what they might be doing during their own phases.

Don’t forget that if you expect to go over a critical threshold on the enemy vessel during a turn, targeting systems can make it count! Being able to repeatable hit the same system (such as engines or PCU) wrecks any patches they put in and gives penalties to their actions.

Captain
The captain provides a buff to the positions that need it. In my experience that is usually the Gunner, although the Pilot might want it if they do the Flyby. If the Gunner isn’t hitting, perhaps you need to give them a computer node and encouragement!

Keep in mind that the Captain can also attempt to de-buff the enemy ship! If you just hit the enemy hard, the Captain can try to mess with the enemy Engineering or Science Officer!

Engineering
Divert power is a wonderful thing. It allows you to adjust the speed of the ship, repair shields, or pump the damage of your weapons systems. Of course, it helps if your Science Officer has already determined the enemy capabilities.

To do the best job, you will need to coordinate your actions with the other crew members.

If you start taking heavy damage, you will need to know the difference between Hold It Together and Quick Patch. If you are at this point, perhaps the Science Officer can come help you in engineering so that you can both divert power and patch.

Gunner
Know your weapons and their arcs! Although the turret is a great weapon, you may want to switch to a different weapon depending on arcs and enemy status. EMP doesn’t work through shields, but is great for wrecking havoc with the enemy vessel. Missiles have limited ammo, be careful in choosing when to use them.

If you know the weapons, you can tell the pilot what the optimal range and where your ship has an advantage.

Oh, and don’t forget to ask the captain for some inspiring words of encouragement when you need them.

Be flexible!
It works best if you have at least a couple of people that can move from station to station as the fight progresses. I gave an example of having two Science Officers — which is great at the beginning of a combat but I wouldn’t recommend you do that the whole combat! Having some ability for people to move where they are needed can make a huge difference!

In some battles, we have had the captain switch to gunnery to get an extra shot at the enemy! We have seen a lot of movement between Science Officer and Engineering as the fight progresses. Having someone who can switch positions will give you more options for how to handle things during the combat.

SFS Boons
There are also some things that are specific to SFS Organized Play that change things.

When you get to tier 1 in a faction, buy the Starship boon! Track the Starship boons everyone has and pick a good combination that works with the ship you plan to use.

There are boons available that allow you to change some of the weapons. Look at them, make sure you understand when they might be useful!

1/5 *

Thanks for the advice guys, I'll be sharing this thread with my group.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I’m glad we can be helpful! Another thought. Encourage experienced players to flow between roles. In the space combat last night, I encouraged my newbie playing Navasi to serve as Science Officer in the first round to help the team get those crucial scans, and then flex to backup gunner. Players can even flex in and out of the Captain role, with the best intimidater taking the Captain Seat in round one, and best diplomancer taking the Captain seat in round two.

Doing that flexing can be fun, and allow people to enjoy more aspects of the combat. It works best with players who have built for more than one thing, and who enjoy teamwork, but I have found that works great with the SFS players at Dreamers and in Play-by-Post!

Hmm

Liberty's Edge 1/5

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm going to be running our first starship combat scenario for our home group next week, to make sure we have one under our belts before the Gen Con special (tier 1-2), and I agree this thread (and the starship combat role sheets Nefreet linked to above) is tremendously helpful. HMM, thanks in particular for pointing out the way players can switch roles mid-combat.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **

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Tusk, have you run Into the Unknown? It has two very different ship combats, both low level. It’s a great one to learn as a GM as well as a player!

Hmm

Dark Archive 1/5 5/5

Yesteryear's Truth is the ultimate SFS starship combat nightmare. That one taught the writers a lot about what not to do. I'm not looking forward to that part of the scenario when I run it this Sunday, especially since they won't have our group's A team for it. It has been fun playing starship combat with this group, but unfortunately our -701s have all leveled out. I'm just hoping that they have a decent pilot, and remember the tactical tricks we have developed.

The best thing for starship combat enjoyment is to not let that one scenario define your experience.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 * Venture-Agent, Georgia—Atlanta

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01-03 Yesteryear's Truth's starship combat is so strange. Huge table variation on how things work, you have to read the tactics and mechanics closely, and if you don't prioritize things, it can take forever. I know people where it has taken more than 3 hours. Both times I have run it, and when I played it, It took maybe an hour and a half on the long end.

I think Yesteryear's Truth has a bad reputation it does not quite deserved.

4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Agent, Minnesota—St. Louis Park

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Glen Parnell wrote:
I think Yesteryear's Truth has a bad reputation it does not quite deserved.

I think it deserves the bad reputation, but some GMs have learned ways to work around the worst problems and prompt the group.

5/5 5/55/55/5

"Hey guys, not for any reason but has anyone here ever played gauntlet...."

1/5 *

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World of Dim Light wrote:
The best thing for starship combat enjoyment is to not let that one scenario define your experience.

When the only positive thing I have ever said about starship combat is either "It ended quickly" or "I didn't hate it." And two of my 4 experiences were negative, I hardly think I'm letting one bad scenario define my experience.

It seems like there is a lot of onus on the GM to make a boring dredge exciting. It seems like they made gunnery too hard in most cases. And if the shot misses, the whole turn was wasted.

4/5

medtec28 wrote:
World of Dim Light wrote:
The best thing for starship combat enjoyment is to not let that one scenario define your experience.

When the only positive thing I have ever said about starship combat is either "It ended quickly" or "I didn't hate it." And two of my 4 experiences were negative, I hardly think I'm letting one bad scenario define my experience.

It seems like there is a lot of onus on the GM to make a boring dredge exciting. It seems like they made gunnery too hard in most cases. And if the shot misses, the whole turn was wasted.

One of the best pieces of advice I had for ship combat is to make sure gunner (or at least your primary gunner) is not just a default role you put someone in who can't do anything else, or you will be set up for a very long combat. Decent ranks in piloting may be even more important here than for your pilot if you don't have a Dex based high BAB character to handle the guns.

5/5 5/55/55/5

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medtec28 wrote:

It seems like there is a lot of onus on the GM to make a boring dredge exciting. It seems like they made gunnery too hard in most cases. And if the shot misses, the whole turn was wasted.

This is why you avoid having "the shot" and make it "the shotS". Even in a four person party you have pilot engineer gunner gunner. You absolutely HAVE to break the captain science officer engineer pilot gunner paradigm .

Starship combat can be fun but not for two hours, which is how long its going to take you with one gunner on an SFS ship.

With two gunners

A) you progress almost every round
B) You do bursty damage to glitch the other ship through the shields
C) engineering needs to take the glitches off and doesn't regen that round
D) you'll end the fights faster.

Imagine a vampire with 100 hit points and fast healing five.

If you do 10 damage per round it takes 20 rounds to kill him.

Increasing that to a mere 12 damage per round drops the rounds to 15.

Increasing that to 15 (which assumes your envoy is half the gunner as your other gunner) drops it to 10 rounds.

Embrace the autonomous collective. Small crews work better with more hands on the shovels and less supervisors. You don't need a captain. I can't guarantee it will make starship combat fun but it will make it less onerous with a chance of fun.

1/5 *

The problem is, we have a balanced party. Android ace pilot operative who built his character to fly starships, who doesn't want to be in any other role, Strength based human Solarian with social skills, but no technical skills and a 10 dex, Ysoki Engineer with no piloting skill, but high computers and engineering, Vesk Soldier/mystic, with no social or technical skills, I think he has 2 ranks in pilot and a 12 dex, and my envoy who has ranks in computers, diplomacy, engineering, and pilot, but only a 12 dex. The best gunner we have is our pilot, but he built the character to be a pilot, so wants to pilot, Solarian says he doesn't have the ability to do anything but captain, The Vesk grabs a gun at the outset, our Ysoki flips between science and engineering as necessary, and I jump on whatever console is most useful.

Since nothing ads to gunnery(it only uses ranks in pilot) and dex mod), and a tier 1 ship has an AC 13(15 is they make the trivial roll to evade) we have a 40-50% chance that the round matters(about 75% if I'm not diverting, balancing, targeting or filling some other role on the ship). And, most of the enemy ships are running with +7 to +9 gunnery checks, so more often than not I'm going to be in one of those other rolls.

It's great to say you need more gunners, but not everyone is a dex based soldier or operative, so the math doesn't work out great for that.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Being good at being the captain is like being good at cheerleading.

Its really not going to help your team win the game much. Brad might not make the best lineman but if you're 3 players short he's better on the field than waving pom poms on the sidelines.

You don't need to be a dex based soldier/operative/envoy to have more effect by grabbing a gun. The D20 will do most of the work. I will try to math this out later if i with a mock fight (if i can still move after gym) but there's a lot of variables to go through.

Your complaints about starship combat are perfectly legitimate, but following the normal group layout makes them worse.

Manifold Host 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **

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Getting that second gunner is awesome and essential. It does not require poiloting as a class skill. It merely requires making your dex better and putting ranks into pilot.

Charli has over time become an excellent second gunner because:

1) She started investing full ranks into pilot
2) She bought a dex personal upgrade as soon as she could afford one
3) She put one of her fifth level attribute boosts into dex.

Sadly, though she’s been built for Captain, she doesn’t always get to be Captain in an SFS scenario. But I built her for versatility.

I agree that you should always have a second gunner. The other thing that you should always do is pick up your faction-related starship boons. After three adventures, everyone can grab one. If you’ve worked for more than one faction, buy ship boons from both so that you can offer a choice when it’s time to slot boons. Being able to bring wider targetting arcs or other awesome boons can shorten the fight too!

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
medtec28 wrote:
It seems like there is a lot of onus on the GM to make a boring dredge exciting.

One can say that about most things in gaming. A great GM can take a turkey of a scenario or a lackluster low level melee combat with mooks and make it fun with snappy dialogue and a bit of showmanship.

Most of us know how to do melee fights in RPGs because we have tons of practice at it. I did my first one at age 13 (and I’m 52 now.) When I started, melee combat seemed to take FOREVER, and it primarily involved my party and the GM rolling dice and then sitting around adding math.* I thought... “Why would I EVER do this AGAIN?”

Despite this we kept going because the rest of it was fun and we got to be elves and do magic. We developed our skills over time, and got good at it. Pretty soon we were multi-tasking, and adding bits of description to our attack rolls, and started enjoying exchanging quips with the enemy. As we figured out the teamwork of fighting, we started to enjoy fights and look forward to them, right?

Star ship combat is new. Many of us are still learning how to be better at its unique brand of teamwork. If the whole party — including the GM — treats it like it’s going to be a drag, than that is exactly what it will be. However, with a little work on the GM’s part, and some small character investment for the players, it can be awesome.

Hmm

___
* As a bright person with a learning disability when it comes to calculation skills, you can imagine how fun I thought THAT was.

5/5 5/55/55/5

The Pegasus Vs the Winged Pony.

The pony is a ship from the alternate universe where everyone wears cowboy hats.

The pegasus has the captain encouraging the gunner. The pony has the captain making with the pew pew lasers

STARFINDER SOCIETY PEGASUS TIER 2:

Medium explorer
Speed 10; Maneuverability good (turn 1); Drift 1
AC 12; TL 12
HP 55; DT —; CT 11
Shields basic 40 (forward 10, port 10, starboard 10, aft 10)
Attack (Forward) light laser cannon (2d4)
Attack (Port) light laser cannon (2d4)
Attack (Starboard) light laser cannon (2d4)
Attack (Turret) coilgun (4d4)
Power Core Pulse Green (150 PCU); Drift Engine Signal Basic;
Systems basic medium-range sensors, crew quarters
(good), mk 1 duonode computer, mk 2 armor, mk 2 defenses;
Expansion Bays cargo hold, escape pods, science lab,
tech workshop
Modifers +1 to any two checks per round, +2
Computers, +1 Piloting; Complement 4–7

So both ships have a functional AC of 16 (12 +2 for ranks in piloting +2 for evasives)

The pegasus can either fire once for +6 (+1 dex +2 piloting +2 captain +1 computer) with an average damage of (.5 * 10 damage=) 5 damage (with a hit that low im pretty sure full attacking makes it worse)

The Winged Pony , being from a universe with cowboy hats, prefers to shoot em up whenever possible. The captain yeee haaaws and gets on the gun with more gusto than skill.

The Winged pony fires once for +4 (+1 dex +2 piloting +1 computer) +3 (+1 dex +2 piloting) with an average damage of ( .4 * 10 damage=) 4 damage from the vesk + and (.4*5) 2 damage from the the captain for 6 damage. (slightly better if you also give them a +1 from the computers)

That doesn't sound like a lot but remember that they're regenerating their shields. The pegasus is only making any progress when they hit AND do above average damage. With 2 guns the damage is also burstier: you'll get through the shields to the hull faster and cause glitches that will occupy the engineers for a round which is like doing an additional 5 damage. You also have twice the chance to crit.

4 people and no one has a dex bonus to speak of is kinda odd. Unless you have a melee envoy they as much to combat equally by shooting as with their buffs.

If you want to enjoy starship combat someone is going to have to get better at it. Dex augments are cheap and level 5 with its stat bumps isn't too far away.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Melbourne

Looking back at the Starship combats I have enjoyed, these mostly revolved around the GM having a different mindset for Starship combat than from normal combat. In normal SFS & PFS combat, GMs tend to focus on making the combat challenging the letting the challenge be a large amount of the fun. There are ways of making them more fun and sometimes the authors can include things that just make them more fun, but for the most part, it is a straight forward run.

When it comes to Starship combat, however, this style creates the typical combat drag we have been experiencing. The Starship combats I have enjoyed the most were where the GM focused more on other elements of entertainment than simply beating the challenge.

Cries from the Drift:
The GM we played this under is tactically smart and we initially were playing this out normally, with both ships jockeying around and avoiding the explosive asteroids. When we reached the point where the combat was starting to drag, the opposing captain made a 'tactical error' and placed himself too closed to several asteroids. We took advantage of that and fired multiple weapons arcs to detonate as many asteroids as we could, crippling the enemy ship in a classic movie style.

The above example points out one of the issues with Starship combat compared to regular combat. In regular combat, individual character powers, equipment and tactics usually have a wide variety of ways of changing the course of the combat, and thus allowing each individual to shine in their own way, keeping the experience enjoyable. But in Starship combat, individual options are limited to small subset based on your crew position with you character build only effecting the possibility of success with those limited options. You cannot build a character that, for example, has more or different choices of options. It’s like playing an RPG with only 5 character classes, with no options choices in a class when leveling up, i.e. with the exception of stats, every character of a given class has exactly the same abilities and equipment.
So it becomes more incumbent on the author and GM to find ways of giving additional tactical options that can increase variety and enjoyment.

Dark Archive 1/5 5/5

Took about 90 minutes. I cannot emphasize enough the critical importance of prioritizing which positions to fill. As far as my experience, the priority starts with Pilot, especially if you have a fixed big gun. Win initiative, and a good pilot can make sure that big gun is in-arc. Lose initiative, and the enemy will avoid that arc every time. Next is primary gunner, usually on the turret to ensure they are firing every round. Third is engineer. Fourth is second gunner. Fifth is science officer. Sixth is Captain, and it really helps if that Captain can do computers and engineering as well. They will then be able to become a second engineer if you take a big hit (one diverts power to shields while the other patches the glitching system), second science officer (one rebalances shields while the other gets a target lock), or. if you have three weapons in arc, and everyone is succeeding comfortably, they become a tertiary gunner.

So with the crew medtec28 is talking about, the Ace Pilot SHOULD be the pilot, Vesk as primary gunner (You can use BAB in place of piloting ranks), Ysoki as Engineer following initial scans, and Solarian as secondary gunner.

5/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:
medtec28 wrote:

It seems like there is a lot of onus on the GM to make a boring dredge exciting. It seems like they made gunnery too hard in most cases. And if the shot misses, the whole turn was wasted.

This is why you avoid having "the shot" and make it "the shotS". Even in a four person party you have pilot engineer gunner gunner. You absolutely HAVE to break the captain science officer engineer pilot gunner paradigm .

Starship combat can be fun but not for two hours, which is how long its going to take you with one gunner on an SFS ship.

Embrace the autonomous collective. Small crews work better with more hands on the shovels and less supervisors. You don't need a captain. I can't guarantee it will make starship combat fun but it will make it less onerous with a chance of fun.

I agree. In most situations, you need (at least) 2 gunners.

I think having a captain is often a complication (since they can pretty much decide to act at any time) with little benefit. I'd agree that it's usually better to have that character be a gunner.

The only required position in starship operations is pilot (unless you're just floating). If it's combat, you need gunner(s). Everything else is situational.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

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I'm starting to feel like the pilot role may be overappreciated compared to the gunners. If there's only one computer bonus to go around, I see it going to the pilot. If the captain is encouraging people, it's usually the pilot. And given a choice where to sit, the person with high Dex + Pilot ranks will usually be... the pilot.

However, fly around the enemy all you want, if you're not hitting more than they are, you're just losing sloooowly.

If only one of your guns really packs a punch, or your second gunner has only indifferent stats, sending the second gunner to captain the main gunner may be better.

I think the trick here is: you need to be flexible. Most crews seem to pick a position and keep it the same the whole combat. After a couple of rounds of combat, you have an idea of how hard the enemy is to hit, how important it is to stay in a particular arc etcetera. And then you need to think about trading seats.

Dark Archive 1/5 5/5

The deltas for exchanging primary gunner and pilot should be taken into consideration if hitting is difficult. Lately, our pilots are dead last in priority for receiving optional computer bonuses and encouragement, unless the checks for initiative seem close, since they auto-succeed on maneuver checks. And the next potential pilot is usually much worse as a pilot without being nearly as bad of a change at gunnery, or being the only choice for engineer. Of course, our usual setup involves an Ace Pilot Operative, a Sharpshooter Soldier, and an Envoy who tends to be better than anyone but a Mechanic or Operative at Engineering. And if we do end up with a Mechanic, I'll slide down to that 6th slot I listed. Aside from my Envoy, we do tend to have fixed positions, but then our core four players are very well suited for our roles, with the Mystic actually being one of the better gunners most of the time.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Texas—Houston

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Lau Bannenberg wrote:

I'm starting to feel like the pilot role may be overappreciated compared to the gunners. If there's only one computer bonus to go around, I see it going to the pilot. If the captain is encouraging people, it's usually the pilot. And given a choice where to sit, the person with high Dex + Pilot ranks will usually be... the pilot.

However, fly around the enemy all you want, if you're not hitting more than they are, you're just losing sloooowly.

This seems like a commonly made mistake. Given that's its easier to get bonus from theme, class, and feats to skills (which pilot checks are and gunnery checks aren't), it often makes more sense for the captain to encourage the guy on the biggest gun rather than the ace pilot operative at the helm.

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