Dice Dependence

On the other BBS, it's been noted (again) that the Fed Tourney Cruiser is very dice dependent. Peter Bakija had noted that the range-4 shot is pretty bad for the Fed.

Most people aim for that range because the Photons go from a 50% chance to hit to a 75% chance to hit and it gets inside that always-does-damage threshold of the Ph-1s. On an average hit, (3x overloaded photons at 16 each, 6x PH-1s at 3.833 dmg each) a Fed will do 71 damage - enough to put the opponent on the shy side of crippled *on the first turn*. That's very attractive. Particularly because most ships are unable to blunt the attack by doing significant internals (e.g. kill a couple of photons and some phaser-1s) before the Fed gets his shot.

The reason this is a losing proposition, is because the Fed rarely gets the average shot. More often, he hits with fewer photons (perhaps one was killed on the approach, and he missed with one other), and ends up having done equivilent damage to what he received. This usually puts the Fed in the hole, because of his two-turn arming weapons, lack of auxiliary weapons, poor turn mode and poor position.

Peter suggested that instead the Fed should aim for a range-8 shot on the first turn. On average, he's looking at doing 48 damage and isn't in the hole very much if he only scores one photon hit. He is still able to turn out in order to open the range, and has taken about the same damage.

This seems like a good way to mitigate the Fed's dice dependence: Go for a low-tempo battle where you snipe with overloads from just inside overload range. Most opponents are likely to respect the Fed's willingness to play the slow game (on non-reload turns) because of the huge clout that the Photons demand.

I'd like to see some discussion on unusually dice-dependant Tourney ships and unusually non-dice-dependant Tourney ships. How can we reduce the dependence on dice for those ships which seem to live there. In theory, this will allow a player's skill to shine through, rather than winning or losing through the dice.


I am wrestling with the challenge you have put out.
After thinking about this for several days now, I'm just not sure how to mitigate dice dependence.

It seems to me the only answer is "accept that the luck of the dice is part of the game"...

Why do I feel like I'm missing some element of your query?


Stuff that will never happen...

The Fed is a one-trick pony that lives or dies by the dice. Simple as that. What could assist the Fed?

The Enhanced Photon Proximity rule for both standard and overloaded photons. We've been using this 'alternate' rule for years and it works.

The Warp Gear Shift would help it as well, and of course the opponent too. Again, we've used it for years and it works.

Both are standard rules in our FTF games.

And yes, neither will EVER be adopted in tournament play. However, I point both out for individual FTF groups to experiment with. Nether makes the FED overpowered but it does make it less die-dependent and less of a one-trick pony.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

Dice Dependance

Well Dave, My query was two-fold: How to make the Fed less dependent on dice, and What other tournament ships are unusually dice dependent or non-dice-dependent.

As indicated above, one method to reduce the dice dependence of the Fed (and this is probably true any direct-fire ship) is to go for a low-tempo battle: Spread your dice over several weapon's fire, where an unusual roll of the dice in any one exchange will not make-or-break either player.

The alternative (and most common) is to force a situation where your ship is in a favored position (hit probability, weapon status, speed, etc) over the other. This usually means (for the Fed) finding an optimum range in which to alpha the other guy, then run like a cheetah. This is where the dice tends to laugh hilariously at the Fed, and then we hear again about how the Fed is too darned dice dependent.

So the search is for a better way to fight as the Fed.

Stellar Shadow

I think if the Enhanced Proximity rule was developed to be a canon rule rather than a stellar shadow 'what if' rule it would have done wonders for the Feds. It would make the photon just slightly more worth while in the invent/probability of a miss for at least the possibility of some pay off. It could take the sting off whiffing four OL's. Not many SFB players even know about the rule but I bet it would have been popular.

Figure drones got upgrades. Plasma got upgrades. Disruptors got upgrades. Particle cannons got upgrades. Why not the photon. Again, gives it a slight change of not totally sucking on a miss but doesn't OP the weapon overall. Make it a BP refit if you need to add some balance.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

Photon Upgrades

>>Not many SFB players even know about the rule but I bet it would have been popular.>>

I have seen the Enhanced Prox rules at some point, but don't remember what they do. Wanna describe them?

>>Figure drones got upgrades. Plasma got upgrades. Disruptors got upgrades. Particle cannons got upgrades. Why not the photon?>>

The problem with the photon is that while a single ship firing a single volley of photons is very prone to suffering from bad luck, in a grand scheme, photons tend to be very effective. Especially en-mass. Like, if you have even a small group of Fed ships firing a significant number of photons, the dice tend to flatten out the more you roll, and minor variance tends to not matter. For 500 BPV (i.e. a modest squadron with 4 or 5 ships), you can easily fire 16 overloaded photons. Which at R8 is expected to result in 8 hits (assuming neutral EW; EW rules are one of the things that helps make photons almost reasonable in squadron/fleet fights). Which is going to basically blow up anything that is hit, and minor variance in either direction is not likely to have a significant, ahem, impact on the outcome; hitting with 6 of 16 OLs at R8 is still mission killing anything it hits; hitting with 10 of 16 OLs at R8 isn't going to blow up the target *more*; with 16 dice, the likelihood of an average result is a lot higher than with 4 dice. As such, in groups, photons are really powerful. And making them better for a single ship fight makes them *much* better in groups. Which is why it is really hard to tweak them.

With standard prox photons, at R30, a fleet of ships is still going to mangle something--let's say a dozen ships firing a total of 36 prox photons. You are likely to (again, assuming neutral EW) hit with 18 of them for 72 damage, plus another pile of damage from phasers. Which, again, is demolishing something, at R30, reliably (compared to disruptors which do half the damage when concentration of fire is very significant, and with a fleet of a dozen ships, not all of them can reach R30 anyway). If you make the prox photons even better, that becomes nuts.

So while a single ship could probably benefit from photon upgrades one way or the other for single ship battles, and it wouldn't have a large impact on the game, if you port those same (even minor) upgrades to photons in squadron or fleet fights, photons become super nuts.

JE1.2 Overloaded enhanced

JE1.2 Overloaded enhanced photons: Photons have enhanced proximity fuse technology built into the warhead. This does not guarantee a hit, but slightly improves the possibility of the photon detecting enough reflected scanner energy from the target to turn a clean miss into at least a proximal hit due to the warhead exploding. A roll of one over the required to-hit provides this possibility.

Using R8 as an example for an overloaded shot:

*Die roll of 1-3 indicates a normal hit that yields full warhead damage.
*Die roll of 4 is a miss but has the potential of the enhanced proximity fuse going off as the warhead is passing close enough to the target to provide the opportunity.
*Die roll of 5-6 indicates a clean miss by a country mile.

Results of a die roll of 4: Roll a second die. Die roll of 1-3 indicates the enhanced proximity fuse didn't detect enough reflected scanner energy to explode. So it is still a clean miss. Die roll of 4 = 2 points of damage as the warhead detects the target and explodes at the farthest point from the target that still allows damage to be scored. Die roll of 5 = 4 points of damage as the warhead detects the target and explodes at normal proximity ranges from the target. Die roll of 6 = half warhead (up to 8 points if the warhead was fully overloaded) as the warhead missed the target but detected the reflected scanner energy of the target very close to the target and explodes.

For a standard loaded photon, same principle applies but as follows:

Again using R8 as an example, 1-3 indicates a normal hit. Roll of 4 allows for a second roll as detailed below. A roll of 5-6 indicated a clean miss.

*Die roll of 1-3 = miss
*Die roll of 4 = 1 point of damage
*Die roll of 5 = 2 points of damage
*Die roll of 6 = 4 points of damage

In this way, the to-hit is not changed but does allow for a small possibility that the warhead will be somewhere between slightly effective to somewhat effective. Again, makes the photon less of a one-trick pony and puts a little excitement into it with the second die roll.

A secondary rule:

JE1.1 Enhanced photon proximity fuse: The to-hit is not changed.

Die roll of 1 indicates full damage (8 points) as the reflected scanner energy of the target was strong enough to attract the photon for a direct hit. In other words, even though the photon was fired with a proximity fuse it exploded close enough to the target to cause full damage.

Die roll of 2 indicates partial damage (6 points) as it exploded in VERY close proximity.

Die rolls of 3 or 4 indicated normal proximal hit (4 points)

Die roll of 5 or 6 indicate clean misses.


Die roll of 1 = 6 damage.

Die rolls of 2 or 3 = normal 4 damage.

Die rolls of 4-6 = clean misses.

As noted, the normal to-hit charts are not changed nor is the damage chart. This simply allows for a small possibility that a miss does a little damage and 4 or 8 points of warp energy aren't automatically flushed if you missed.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

So continuing...

Yes, photons in fleet action can really ruin the enemies day. No dispute. Looking at the above optional/SSJ rules;

*The to-hit is not changed. So no SSD needs to be changed.

*The damage is not changed. Again, no adjustment to the SSD.

*The tweak offers a 1 in 6 chance of doing a little something. In reality, a miss is likely to still be a miss but it does offer the opportunity to possibly do something. That offers the element of 'maybe' to the game. Whereas whiffing with all four OL's just simply sucks (or even 3 out of 4), with the proximity rule you may just get a bit of damage to stick thereby making the phasers a bit more effective. The possible damage isn't overwhelming but gives you something, perhaps in the neighborhood of a standard disruptor. Makes wasting 8 points of warp power a little less of a sting.

So breaking down the numbers a bit, using R8 as an example, you've got a 50% chance of missing. If you miss, a roll of 4 (1 in 6 chance) might give you something. If you do roll a 4 then you roll again with still a 50% chance of missing completely. But you do have a 50% chance of at least doing something i.e. 2, 4 or 8 points of damage. So again, we're not talking a greatly improved chance of hitting nor are we talking the potential for a great amount of damage.

So you're flying your Fed CC around and whiff half the photons. So you do 32 points of damage with the two that did hit. Of the two that missed, well you are likely to still have them miss. But...if you happen to roll that 'one-over' you at least have that momentary thrill that it wasn't a total waste.

Worse case scenario, given 4 OL's fired is 4 complete misses. Best case scenario (given four misses but each was a one-over roll) is 4x8 = 32 damage. But the odds are definitely against actually doing 32 damage. More likely you'll maybe get lucky on one....maybe two misses and do 2 or 4 points of damage, but again, not likely.

So after looking at the SSJ rules, playtesting them in our FTF games it looks like the best type of tweak that doesn't affect the SSD/to-hit/damage yet offers a non-overwhelming possibility. Could turn an 'aw damn' moment into at least 'well, better than nothing' moment.

Also, deep into a battle where shields are already ripped up or down it could offer the FED the opportunity to turn a miss into a point or two of internals that may open up an opportunity. Probably not...but could make a forgone conclusion into an exciting fight. And that makes for a better game.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

Enhanced Photons

Do these rules come with some sort of cost/energy cost increase, or are they just free upgrades?

Like, the upgrades are pretty minimal, if I understand correctly--an overload hits with the same to hit number, but if you miss by 1, there is then a 50% chance of doing a little damage anyway (At R8, if you roll a 4, and then a 6, you do 4 of the 16 damage; I'm just reiterating to make sure I understand the rule). Which is a pretty minimal upgrade to be sure, but still some sort of an upgrade--with 4 full OL photons at R8, your expected damage is now marginally more than 32, but probably only a point or two more. Which comes at the cost of a whole lot more die rolling :-)

The Enhanced Prox rules seem a lot more of an improvement--you are just doing more expected damage with no added cost at all (at R30, instead of doing 4 damage half the time for an expected damage of 2 per prox fired, you are doing 6 or 4 damage half the time, for an expected damage of 3.33 per prox fired).

The Enhanced Non Prox rules seem mostly harmless, but not something that would help the Fed TC measurably--if you get to R4 and only hit with 2 of the OLs, you are probably doomed; the extra 4 damage you might do from rolling a 5 and then a 6 on one of the photons isn't likely to improve you chances of survival much. The Enhanced Prox Rules are similarly not something that would really help the Fed TC--using the R12 option, you are likely to do more damage, but not so much more that it makes firing prox photons on a tournament map a good idea. But in fleet fights, the Enhanced Prox torps seem like they would make a fleet of Fed ships downright terrifying at R30--you fire 36 Enhanced Prox photons, and instead of doing, what, 72 expected damage, you are now doing 84 expected damage? Yeah, ok, not insanely better, but still an upgrade.

Like, these rules seem pretty reasonable. I, again, don't think they really help the Fed TC at all, but if you were just using them in squadron/fleet fights with some modest BPV penalty (as they are just a pure, if modest upgrade); something like 2BPV per tube or something, they are probably fine.

I'd have to check the SSJ

I'd have to check the SSJ again if there is a BV upgrade cost. But 1 or 2 points per tube is reasonable.

Yeah, definitely doesn't OP the photon. But it gives it just enough, without changing charts and such, to make it more interesting and occasionally possibly being worthwhile.

It's like which would you prefer, a turd sandwich or a turd sandwich with mustard? I'd go with the mustard but it's still a turd sandwich. :)

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

Checked the SSJ and didn't

Checked the SSJ and didn't see a BV upgrade. However, it would be reasonable to include one or two points per tube. Although, one could argue a BV increase is unnecessary since it is simply an enhanced function of the proximity fuse already incorporated into the photon technology. Like DERFACS and UIM for disruptor technology.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

BPV upgrade

DERFACS (E3.6) doesn't have a BPV cost, but UIM costs 5 pts per unit. DERFACS is probably free because it helps so rarely (outside of range 22, where disruptor ships rarely engage.)

Thank you for the

Thank you for the clarification. And you're right, DERFACS isn't used nearly as much as UIM and even when it's used the damage that results is on the lower end of the disruptor spectrum.

Same thing could be argued for the EPP/OEP (Enhanced Proximity Photon/Overload Enhanced Photon). It has a 1 in 6 chance of hitting the number needed to be in effect. Now for the EPP it could be more effective than normal, but this is only a 2 in 6 chance (after the initial 1 in 6 chance). So in essence it would be a fairly rare occurrence during normal play. The OEP again needs the 1 in 6 to be in effect and then only has a 50% chance of doing a smaller amount of damage. So again, in normal play you 'may' see it effective once in a game (though dice can sometimes be feast or famine). And even when effective it will be less than what you'd planned for in the attack run. But a small hit is better than a clean miss.

I can't really think of anything else that would slightly tweak the photon without changing tables and SSD's and not make it OP in the process. I submit that this is something that SVC/SPP should have incorporated as standard practice decades ago. And even though it is a likely bet that they never will, I think at least FTF games could/would benefit. Ours has.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser


I'm pretty sure that DERFACS cost something originally (before it was just standard on all disruptor ships past a certain point in history); it might technically cost something on the ships that get it, but that cost is buried in the BPV (as, well, all ships with disruptors get DERFACS automatically at a certain date; maybe all disruptor ships have an extra point built into the cost?).

Not that it is particularly important to the discussion, but possibly interesting as a historical footnote.


Totally reasonable that the cost of DERFACS is baked into the BPV of the disruptor ships. You see other things like that also, such as the ESG capacitor refit, the Fusion holding refit, and Plas-F stasis boxes.

So the question becomes;

So the question becomes; should an 'enhanced' feature of the proximity fuse be baked in or added on? If added on, would a point or two per tube be reasonable?

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

BPV Upgrade

Yeah, I suspect a point or two per tube for the enhanced photon rules seems reasonable--like, again, they are hardly game breaking, but are just a pure upgrade. The non prox photon upgrade is incredibly minimal (but still just pure upgrade with no other cost added); the prox photon upgrade is much more significant, but not so huge as to make prox photons that much better than they already are en mass (you are, what, going from 2 expected damage per photon to 3.33 at R30?), and on a single ship basis, it probably doesn't matter at all.