We made a rogue trader test fight using the Extended Combat homebrew.
In preparation of an upcoming session, we took a closer look at the Extended Voidship Combat Rules. This is a Wrath & Glory Homebrew by ELH from the Micatrix Maledictum Blog that adds to the voidship combat (obviously) rules from the Core Rules.
Anyways, I will give you a brief overview of how the rules went, what we found good, what bad, and some thoughts on our own adjustments.
The Hombrew contains handy quick reference chart and a summary of the official base rules. Additional house rules are added and noted as `Expanded` rules. The main (best) part is the introduction of the - so called - `Scale`: introducing multiple ship sizes using a simple formula.
The official rules only contain a single ship class for imperial, ork and aeldari ships. This brew contains 6 ship sizes, from Escort to battleships. While `Defense` goes down with larger ships, `Resilience` and `Wounds` go up. Ork and aeldari ships just get a modifier on those values (and speed) to reflect there evasive or sturdy nature. Clean, fast, simple. I like it!
Larger ships do not get additional weapons, but their scale value goes into the Weapon Damage. The Prow Lance (Base Damage 2) of an Escort (Scale 3) has a Base Damage of 5, while the Lance of a Battle Cruiser (Scale 6) has a Base Damage of 8!
The brew also adds a new Weapon -> Torpedos: Brutal, voidshild-ignoring weapons. But adding +1 to the attack DN for each 2 fields (KM) traveled. So the DN goes up really quick.
Also, the Hangar Bay System has a better Weapon profile, allowing it to be an actual threat. In the Core rules, its (just) a Range 10, Damage 5 (no ED!) weapon, that has a hard time wounding anything. Here, it allows for two attack modes:
Additional Action Options
The rules also contain some additional options, e.g. some Movement Options that allow for better positioning (bonus to attack), a short (10km) mini warp jump and the casual warp extraction to flee the battlefield (coward!).
Finally, the rules contained four qualities of crew rating for NPC ships that determine their dice pool, ranging from 5 dice for beginners to 11 dice for seasoned and exceptional veterans.
Note: we will use this rating for some of the skill checks on the PC ships as well. More on that later.
The Test Scenario
A plain simple scenario, 2 (player) escort ships will face 3 a mix of orc escort ships and light cruisers (read Ork Rok's). We used the space gaming mat from the preorder (?) Deal. The ships started around 22 km (I'm using squares for range from now on) apart. The Player ships where tasked with fending off the approaching orks and prevent that they reach the planet the PC's have sworn to protect.
The players will field two ships and we assumed that six players would field them. We decided to put the Lady Anastasia with one player rattling on the Golden Goose. The Goose would have a crew rating of 8 (dice). The remain 4 players would man the Rising Phoenix which comes with a crew rating of 7 (dice).
The Goose is a plain imperial frigate (from the core rules) represented by a Scale 3 ship, with a basic loadout (Lance, Macrocann, Hangar).
The Phoenix is also a scale 3 ship, but with a different weapon loadout. It has no Hangar Bay and 2 macro cannons and torpedos. Thus, missing a little of the long range weapons of the Goose (Lance and Interceptors) but having more punch (or so we thought). The Phoenix also had 1 additional Wound, raising the value from 6 to 7.
A note on the Actions each ship will have. By default, each ship has at a minimum 3 (crew) actions, in case, not enough players are manning the ships. Thus, the Goose would have 2 player and 1 crew action, while the Phoenix has 4 player actions.
Time for a little house rule
We made some changes. Normally, the players will just make (personal) skill checks when doing ship actions. And, while we find this good enough for Skills that use Piloting, Leadership or Tech, we found it a little unfitting for firing void ship weapons to use Agility + Ballistic Skill. The rules would make the most pumped sharp shooter the best Weapons Officer, and that just feels good. Also,
Ballistic Skill is already a mighty skill. So we changed the way ship weapons are fired. In short, the crew will fire the weapon (using their crew rating) and the commanding officer (player char) would grant +1 or +2 bonus dice, depending on the fitting
Keywords he had. We call those Command Actions and the others Personal Actions.
An example, the Space Marine would grant +1 dice from his
Adeptus Astartes Keyword, representing the Aura of Command and Warfear Experience. The
Rogue Trader or
Imperial Navy keywords would grant +2 dice. Which Keywords grant what bonus id up to the GM, but we usually give a +1 for Military Keywords like:
Astra Millitarum. A fitting oponent keyword might also help, in this case,
Firing a void ship weapon (or making a sortie attack) are Command Actions, that uses the ships Crew Rating instead of the players skill pool. If the players possess fitting Keywords, the GM may grant +1 to +3 bonus dice.
That's it. Now the adversaries.
Ork, ork, ork, ork
The three adversary ships consisted of one Scale 3 escort and two scale 4 Roks with 3 weapons each. The rough values are:
Defence: 6 (escort), 5 (roks)
Resillience: 4 (escort), 5 (roks)
Note: those ork ships did not had shields
Wounds: 7 (escort), 9 (roks)
At the start of the game, we only got markers on the field. A successful Deep Scan Action would reveal the ship type and additional information (Wounds, Speed, Weapons).
Short Recap of the combat
I wont go into to much details (read, every turn), so here is a short overview of how the combat went.
Round One, Fight!
We used the same initiative system as personal combat, read players had the first activation. Instead of characters, ships would be activated.
(1) The Phoenix closed in, and scanned one of the enemy ships (it's a Rok!), but couldn't fire because they where out the range, thus she harden the shields and readied one torpedo shot to be fired on the approaching enemy ship.
(2) The enemy Rok approached, was not hit bey the torpedo and also didn't hit the Phoenix, with anything but warm, dried air.
A note on torpedos, the have a good range (8 squares in our case) but suffer a +1 DN for each two squares traveled. This is huge! An example, a shot at range 8 would suffer a +4 DN. Shoots beyond that range would (at least as we read it), suffer additional +2 DN for long range plus the respective + 0.5/square.
(3) The Goose approached the left enemy ship, didn't bother to scan and the Lady (Rogue Trader Keyword => 10 dice) made an excellent lance shot (against DN 7) with many shifts, that resulted in enough damage, to obliterate the unidentified ork ship.
(4) The remaining enemy ship moved. And thus, the first round ended.
Round Two, Fight!
Players turn again, at least one enemy was relatively close to the Phoenix.
Phoenix reduced the distance to the enemy, moving 4 squares, turning by 45°, moving another 2 squared and then, doing a *Bank* maneuver, that allows to close the gap to the enemy Rok by another square bringing it into good fire position for its macro-cannons (the torpedos would not hit gain, even with such a close range). But to be fair, also the cannons shoot poorly, and only minimal damage was done.
The Goose made some lucky hits against the remaining Rok near the Phoenix, dealed not much damage but landed some critical hits, that disabled the weapon systems (lucky you).
The remaining two ships (1 Rok, 1 unknown) closed in, tried to shot and the Rok almost rammed the Phoenix but didn't succeed on the piloting skill (due to being wounded at this time).
The exact whereabouts of the last round(?) fades into darkness due to memory loss. But in the end, the Goose suffered a decent hit and only the captains soaking roll let it stand with 2 Wounds (of 6) remaining. The Players then destroyed the remaining ships and victory was secured (for now).
Overall, the combat went well and we took around 1.5 - 2 hours to pull it off with (remember, this was a test run with only 2 persons involved, i expect a round of 6 players to be a little... slower).
The command action for the weapon attacks worked well. This would give a relatively stable attack dice pool for this essential part of space combat. We will use this rule in future fights.
The buff for the Hangar attacks are good. But we concluded that with that change, we would remove one of the main weapon systems for escort ships. We think 3 weapon systems is a little to much for a small frigate or escort ship. This would also force more support actions from the players.
Note: We tinker with the idea of, instead of making the hangar a weapons system (using pilot skill), it will allow for (Defence decreasing) Interaction Attacks using piloting (aka the athletics interaction attack of ships). We will check how this works.
With 3 weapon systems and 3-4 actions per ship, it was mostly moving and shooting actions and only an occasional support action here and there. On a single ship with 6 players, this dynamic might be a little different, so keep that in mind.
The torpedos, worked not as we wished, but maybe the intention is not clear. From the RAW, they only have slighter better damage than the other weapons but DN increase is to much. They ignore shields and thus might be a little better against potential ships with big void shields. For now, we will not use torpedos.
The Scale and adjustments for xenos ships are fine and we think that this would also work well for larger ship types. IMO, this is the best part of the brew.
There are some additional maneuvers that we did not use and from my part, would not include them in my round:
Attack Maneuver (aiming but with pilot)
Micro Warp Jump (10 square blink, while cool, I would limit this to desperate attempts)
and Rally (Leadership on DN 5 to give +1 die to the rest of the turn? To good. Also there already is the Supply Vault Support action (with leadership) that would allow the captain to do stuff.
That being said, this brew is a fine addition that gives some really needed ship and (a little) weapon variance. Give it a look!
I would like to have some more utility systems (like the teleporter system from the core rules). And also some weapon differences, but we will see.