Saturday, June 4, 2016

Simple Rules For Space Ship Battles

This is a recap of my basic rules.
They are simple and can be used on squares, hexes, or on an open starfield, it's up to you.
Movement is kept under 6 for miniatures.
Most warships move 3 or 4, slow freighters move 1 or 2 and fighters and shuttles move 5 or 6.
Weapons are largely limited to a 6 inch range, although big guns on a planet or starbase can reach out farther if you wish. Small weapons like those on fighters or shuttles are limited to a range of 3. They have 6 torpedos and 6 beam weapons. All roll individually in an attack on a ship. So an undamaged squadron of 6 would roll 6 dice if firing beam weapons. 6's are hits. as an example, 6 fighters roll 2-6's, therefore the attack strength is only 2.
Fighters firing torpedoes need to roll a 6 per fighter to hit. Each 6 rolled is a hit on the ship which is resolved individually as a hit with the strength of 6 points.
Some torpedos can have multiple movement turns of 6 if you wish.
NOTE: Ships must have a Sensor lock to fire at a target. Fighters do not need to roll for a Sensor lock.
Beam Weapons:
Range 0-3 cause 2 points damage
Range 4-6 cause 1 point damage
Fighter weapons only cause 1 point damage.
Each ship has 6 internal systems, and some external defence systems.
Defence Systems:
Shields: These are set at a maximum of 6 points. However larger ships can have multiple layers of shielding.
I took the idea for this from Lou Zocchi's "Alien Space" game.
An attacker has to equal or exceed the shield strength to cause any damage.
If a defender ship has shields with a strength of 6, and it receives 6 points of damage, the Shields will lose 1 point of strength. There is no internal damage.
If a defender ship has shields with a strength of 5, and it receives 6 points of damage, the Shields will lose 1 point of strength, and 1 point of damage will be applied to the defender's internal systems.
If a defender ship has shields with a strength of 4, and it receives 6 points of damage, the shields will lose 1 point of strength, and 2 points of damage will be applied to the defender's internal systems.
Pretty straightforward, I hope!
Armour: These are set at a maximum of 6 points. However larger ships can have multiple layers of shielding.
These are basically free hits to soak up damage.

Internal Systems:
When a ship receives internal damage, the player rolls one d6 per point of damage to assess the effect.
There are 6 systems:
Each internal system has a maximum of 6 points.(as with Shields, large ships or bases can have several layers of 6 points.)
If the hull points are all lost, the ship is destroyed.
If the crew is destroyed, the ship is a derelict and can be tractored and towed away or boarded and taken by a new crew.
Sensors reflect the "to hit" ability of the ship. The ship must roll equal to or less than the sensor number to fire the weapons. Once destroyed the ship can't fight.
Weapons is straightforward. Once destroyed the ship can't fight.
Cargo can be anything. Extra crew, supplies, spare shuttles, etc. Basically a free hit in most games.
Engines reflect the speed the ship can move. A ship with 4 boxes can move 4 spaces. Once destroyed, the ship explodes. Count up all the unused boxes from all systems and apply that number as damage to any ship within 2 hexes. Half that number within 3 hexes.
Any hit on a previously destroyed system is applied to #1 Hull.

That's pretty much it.

I do have a more "complex" set of damage rules, where the hit on #6-Engines- causes a second roll on internal systems. I created that for space carriers and to differentiate between missile weapons and beam weapons.
These secondary systems are:
1-Torpedo (this makes the first weapons (#4) Beam Weapons hits.)
2-Shields Down! Any remaining shielding is destroyed for this scenario.
3-Life Support Out! - ship crew is dead
4-Shuttles/Fighters A box is destroyed meaning the ship can't land those fighters or if not yet launched, those fighters are destroyed.
5-Fire! Roll 2-d6 damage and apply to the following in this order: Shuttles, Cargo, Hull, Crew
6-Warp Core Breach! Ship explodes with resulting damage to nearby ships.

Some Conventions:
I don't allow multiple ships to add up their attacks to overpower an opponent. Each ship makes its own attack and is resolved.
Fighters are treated as a squadron, up to a strength of 6 per model. Hits generally are applied as a kill, so fighters are pretty vulnerable to ships.
However, they can have a real punch with torpedos. I allow fighters to launch torpedoes or strafe ships with beam weapons.
I break the fighters/shuttles into three categories.
First, fast combat fighters
Second, slower torpedo fighters
Thirdly, Shuttles

Fighter/Shuttle Combat:
Fighters vs Fighters roll 1 dice per fighter, 5 and 6's are hits.
Fighters vs Torpedo Fighters 4, 5, 6's are hits.
Fighters vs Shuttles 3,4,5,6's are hits.
Torpedo Fighters vs Fighters 6's are hits
Torpedo Fighters vs Torpedo Fighters 5 and 6's are hits
Torpedo Fighters vs Shuttles 4, 5, 6's are hits.
Shuttles vs Fighters not allowed
Shuttles vs Torpedo Fighters 6's are hits
Shuttles vs Shuttles 5, 6's are hits.


If a ship or fighter wants to leave the game because of scenario objectives or if it has too much damage, it can warp out. As long as the ship has a functioning engine box, it can double its movement until it leaves the board. Simple. While it is warping out, it cannot fire its weapons, but its shields and armour are still working if available.

I hope this made some sense.
Tinker with the rules all you want, they're basically the Bang Yer Dead! variety, but I've had some fun with them.


  1. I wish I hadn't read this post. Its been more than 30 years since I played Starfleet battles and all of a sudden I'm nostalgic!

    I'd better go lie down in a dark room before I start scratchbuilding space fleets!

  2. Thanks Ross. About 25 years ago I had a couple articles published in the English Solo Wargame Association publication, Lone Warrior. Basically it was rules and balsa wood ship plans. But then an American took over and he sent me a letter saying he wasn't interested in these kind of articles. I'm always late to the party.