Future Friday – Hunting starships in the Gate Wars era

Welcome back to another Future Friday! This week, we’re taking a quick look at how Operation Command: Sol 3’s combat system works, with the Republic Artemius War Destroyer as a lens. First though, to address an issue – we’ve had some delays this week on Star Strike production due to some technical difficulties re: Adobe. The Weapons cards and August Commander Expansion will release together next week as a result. For now – its time to talk about Operation Command!

The primary combat mechanics of operation command operate around a two-step attack process. First, the attacker rolls dice equal to the Firepower (FP) of the weapon they are using (multiples of a weapon may be rolled together, as we’ll discuss below). For each die that rolls equal to or under the Weapon’s Strength Rating (SR), the Attack’s Impact is increased by the weapon’s Damage Points (DP).

Once the attacker’s Roll has been made and Impact is determined, one of two different defense rolls are made, depending on the type of piece that is defending. For today, we’re going to focus on Large Pieces, who make a single die Shield Roll, adding the Impact to the die result. If the total is equal to or below the sum of the Defender’s Shield Hardness (SH) and Shield Power (SP), the attack has been blocked and the attack sequence ends. However, if the total exceeds the SH+SP of the defender, the attack Succeeds. If the defender has an SP of more than 0, its SP is reduced by 1. If the defender has an SP of 0 however, a successful attack reduces the defender’s Hit Points (HP) by the attack’s Impact.

So, assuming our attacker is an Artemius War Destroyer, and our defender is a Paladin Heavy Cruiser (with SH and initial SP of 3, and 7 Hit Points), let’s examine an attack approach, starting with our longest range weapons and moving inward:

24″ may seem short to some wargames players, but while it is the longest effective range in OCS3, you can take shots from up to 6″ further away. At up to 3″ extra, your Strength is reduced by 1, and at up to 6″ extra, your Strength is reduced by 2. The same goes for the other end of a weapon’s range, meaning these Gladiors can attack targets as far away as 30″, and as close as 6″.

For now, let’s assume our passive Paladin Heavy Cruiser is within about 24″ range. Gladiors are of the Cannon weapon type, which increases the weapon’s Strength by 1 when attacking Capital Vessels (like our target). As a result, to attack, we’re rolling 2 dice (ex. results: 2,4), and increasing our Impact by 3 for each result equal to or below 5 (ex. results: 6 Impact). A massive shot like our example is already equal to the Paladin’s SH+SP (3+3), so any defense roll will automatically fail, reducing its SP to 2.

As the ships in our example close in, both move a standard 4″ move directly towards each other (no pieces move faster than 4″ in a single Battle Round). We’re now at roughly 16″ apart, putting our mid-range weapon pair in range. Also a Cannon, these Plasma weapons can cause additional damage after causing a target to lose HP. Unfortunately, our Target still has 2 power left in their Shields, so we need to knock those down first.

After a second Strength 5 Gladior Salvo (Ex. result: 3,6) the Paladin (SH3+SP2) narrowly blocked (Ex. Result: 2+3 Impact = Blocked), our Plasma Bolt Cannons (Strength 4, ex. Results 1,3) hit for an Impact of 4, and our target’s luck doesn’t hold (rolling a 3), bringing its SP down to 1.

One turn later, and we’re now 8″ apart – allowing us to fire every weapon in the Artemius’ forward arc. Our newly available weapon, a Plasma Beam Cannon, is nearly guaranteed to deal damage, even though its out of effective range, thanks to the Cannon bonus.

With lower output on the Gladiors at this distance (now taking -2 to Strength, to SR3), our attack only comes through with 3 Impact, but that’s enough to force the target to need a die result of 1 to avoid losing its last Shield Point. A lucky shot with the Plasma Bolt Cannons (die rolls of 2 and 3 resulting in Impact 4) not only makes it impossible for the target to avoid damage (losing 4 of its HP), but rolling for the Plasma Fire rule removes one more HP. Our Beam Cannon hits, but the target makes lucky roll of 1, its Shields barely containing the torrent of superheated particles.

As the ships pull alongside each other, the Artemius reveals its final card for dealing with troublesome targets – a Firestorm Missile Bank, in its Broadsides arc. While its Launcher type won’t help it here (buffing attacks made against Support Craft such as our War Destroyer here), its still rolling a whopping 6 dice at a high Strength Rating. As the attacks come crashing in (ex. results: 1,2,3,4,5,6), the Artemius scores an Impact 4 hit. Unable to defend itself, the Paladin Heavy Cruiser loses its remaining HP and is Destroyed.

Of course, in a full game, the Paladin not only would fight back – it very likely would avoid engaging with Artemius destroyers, using Guardian Frigates to draw fire and relying on the rest of its Squadron to remove dangerous Capital Ship hunters like the Artemius. Learning to maneuver around the ranges of both you and your opponents weapons is a key aspect of Operation Command, and as you’re commanding multiple squadrons of starships, sometimes balancing Squadron coherency with various weapon ranges can be a puzzle. Next week, we’ll talk about Movement in OCS3, so stay tuned!

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