View Full Version : Starfighter Combat: Batteries v. Fire-Linked

The Brain
15 January 2002, 06:27 PM
Note to all: While I currently play d20, I played d6 for four years and I tried to make this article apply to WEG as well. Also sorry if I explain too much.

For almost every starfighter in both the newer d20 system and the older d6, groups of two or more lasers are ďfire-linked.Ē Take the original X-wing in the core rulebook, for example. Its lasers are fire linked, which means they fire all at once (maximum once a round/turn) and produce maximum damage. However, anyone who has played any of the X-wing series computer games (those of you who havenít pay attention) knows that while lasers can be fire-linked, they can also be set to fire individually, at a much higher rate of fire. While this reduces the amount of damage done by hit, it increases the likelihood of scoring a hit in the first place because of the shear volume of fire.
Such a setup is called a battery in the new d20 core rulebook, and its main benefit is a +1 to the attack bonus for each additional laser after the first, reflecting the better odds of scoring a hit. However, the wording of its definition seems to restrict it to capital ships only. Clearly, it works just as well for starfighters in the X-wing games.
The core rulebook also gives the impression that grouped weapons are either fire-linked, or a battery, not both. I disagree with this because it is the ability to switch between the high rate of fire mode (battery) and more damage mode (fire-linked) which give the starfighter its great versatility. The high rate of fire of a battery is much more effective against the small and nimble TIE Fighter, while the knockout punch of fire-linked weapons is the best setup against the slower, more heavily armed transports and capital ships.
The most realistic setup based upon experiences with the X-wing game series is to allow players to switch their weapons between modes and do it as a free action (flipping a switch isnít terribly hard). The core rulebook acts as though the fire control computer is very complex to setup for fire-linked weapons, much less fire-linked weapons that can also fire as a battery. Yet if the game designers at Lucas Arts can accurately replicate such a system, I m sure that the engineers and computer programmers at FreiTek wonít be working on Saturdays.
Below are examples of how the same weapon system (in this case four Laser Cannons from the standard X-wing in the core rulebook) would appear in game stats in each mode in d20:

Battery Mode*

Fire Arc: Front
Attack Bonus: +15 (+2 size, +4 crew, +6 fire control, +3 battery fire)
Damage: 4d10x2
Range Modifiers: PB +0, S Ė2, M/L n/a

Fire-linked Mode**

Fire Arc: Front
Attack Bonus: +12 (+2 size, +4 crew, +6 fire control)
Damage: 6d10x2
Range Modifiers: PB +0, S Ė2, M/L n/a

*In battery mode, the attack bonus increases by three because of the +1 modifier from each laser after the first (4-1=3, I think). However, damage is scored as if only one laser had hit, thus doing less damage.

**In Fire-linked mode, the Attack bonus stays the same, but the damage is increased by 2d10x2 (add one d10x2 for each doubling of the number of weapons) to a total, of 6d10x2, which is more damage than battery mode, but less likely to hit.

The same stats above are a d20 example, but the same logic also applies to Fire control and Starfighter Gunnery in d6.

An example of this situation in a game (d20 or d6) follows:

GM: Ok, as you approach the apparently defenseless freighter, your sensors light up as two Tie Fighters emerge from behind it and the freighter powers up its shields. Now Pilot One, you act first, followed by pilot Two, and the Ties and the freighter will go last. Actions?
Pilot One: Well, Iíll go after one of the Ties. Iíll switch my lasers from fire-linked as a free action to battery mode and attack with my X-wingís four lasers, so Iíll be more likely to hit.
Pilot Two: We donít want to let he freighter to escape, or worse, become a threat, so Iíll save my torpedoes and attack it with my Fire-linked lasers, which will do more damage.

There it is. So simple. Just record two separate stats for any weapon that can switch, one for battery mode and one for fire-linked. For more information, battery fire and fire-linked weapons are on page 180 in the core rulebook. Thatís it!

PS: for X-wing aces, you can even choose the middle ground and link two sets of two lasers. You gain a greater chance of hitting, although not as great as battery mode, but you donít loose as much damage in your attack!

This is my first post on the Holonet, and any feedback on the system bove would be appreciated. Thanx!

Durian Keldrona
15 January 2002, 07:22 PM
sounds really good to me :)

Random Axe
16 January 2002, 06:51 AM
Thanks a lot for the expose, I always wondered what the term "fire-linked" really meant, since d6 NEVER explained the term or how it applied in the game, or how it could have been altered.

I'll be going over the ships used in my game to see how this can apply to them.

16 January 2002, 07:06 AM
Actually, in d20, battery fire and fire-linked mean two different things. Capital ships use turbolaser batteries, while starfighters use fire-linked weapons. I suggest you reread the section with tha in mind.

Un-fire linking a starship weapon causes the weapon to perform as a rapid-fire weapon, thus giving you more shots and a greater chance to hit. Battery fire is used on capital ships due to the large number of weapons on the ship. Since starfighters don't have a huge number of weapons, there's no need for battery fire. Fire-linking works just fine.

16 January 2002, 07:09 AM
I completly agree. after playing x wing aliance(pc) and rouge squadron (n64) battery fire should be allowed on starfighters. i Have been using the baterry fire rules in my campaighn.

My rules---
If a player is in an x wing that player can opt for the above as " the brain" has writen. or take his multiple attacks in that round example a level 16 solider has a base attack of 16/11/6/1 the player could have one attack 6d10x2 dmg or 2 attacks at 5d10x2 or 4 attacks (max he is allowed) at 4d10x2 dmg.

So in a a wing the player could have up to to attacks
e wing up to three
ect in others ships

The Brain
16 January 2002, 10:28 AM
I see what you mean, about batteries, Moridin. Batteries are several different weapons that cover the same section or space around a ship and are rolled as one. But I think that the ability to unlink lasers and fire at a higher rate of speed is still advantageous because of the better odds of scoring a hit on a small maeuverable fighter. However, once a player's ranged attack starts getting higher though, you are less likely to need to "unlink" your lasers. This rule system is more beneficial to pilots with less experience.

I think Un-linking or single fire is a better term (actually it has to be the term, batteries are different than what I said above).

I just got caught up with how similar batteries seemed to the X-wing games (I'm addicted)

16 January 2002, 11:57 AM
Keep in mind that linking weapons also increases damage, and that un-linking them reduces it. This happens in BOTH d6 and d20 rules.

In the d6 2nd edition revised book, page 127:

Fire-linked weapons can be rigged to fire separately, but subtract damage, using the rules on combined fire. (Let's use the X-wing example. The four fire-linked laser cannons do 6D damage. The pilot decides to fire each cnnon separately. Using the "combined actions" rule, four characters working together get a bonus of +1D+2. That means subtract -1D+2 from each cannon's damage: the cannons individually do 4D+1 damage.)

Ok, switch books. In the d20 Core book, page 180:

Each doubling of the number of fire-linked weapons (two, four, eight, etc.) adds 1 die of damage (before multiplication).

Thus, if two weapons that inflict 4d10x2 damage were fire-linked, they would attack together and inflict 5d10x2 damage for the pair. If another pair of weapons were added to the link (bringing the total to four fire-linked weapons), the set would do 6d10x2 damage.

Only Identical weapons can be fire-linked.

Brain, I know you mentioned this in your post, but there was a lot of information in there, and since I had the books handy, I thought I'd put up the actual mechanics in both systems just for good measure. And in fairness, your math was spot-on.



16 January 2002, 01:17 PM
My point is just that you CAN unlink your lasers. You just treat them as a rapid fire weapon, which gives you 2 more attacks at -6 penalty, and subtract 1 damage die.

Durian Keldrona
16 January 2002, 02:11 PM
where specifically are these rule... what page. :) would like to read over that.

16 January 2002, 02:27 PM
My point is just that you CAN unlink your lasers. You just treat them as a rapid fire weapon, which gives you 2 more attacks at -6 penalty, and subtract 1 damage die.Yes, quite. I was not disagreeing with things posted above, only adding a bit more detail to it.

And Durian, just scroll up. Page numbers are listed for both rulebooks.



17 January 2002, 06:56 AM
While we're on the subject of batteries, can someone explain to me why a capital ship would EVER use battery fire ??? The measly to-hit bonus is totally insignificant compared to the extra damage potential of separate shots. Or did I somehow misread the rules :raised: ?!?

I've tried some modifications, including giving a +2 to hit for every extra weapon in a battery, and on top of that increase the critical hit range by one for every extra weapon in a battery, and STILL think separate fire is better most of the time.

I'm considering giving battery weapons the same benefits as fire-linked weapons on top of the above modifications, to justify the existance of batteries ( actually, since battery weapons each have their own power systems, unlike fire-linked weapons, I'd even be inclined to give +1d per extra weapon in the battery, instead of +1d / doubling of the weapons. )

Any thoughts on this ( beyond "Capital ship combat should be cinematic, not rule-determined", that is ... ) ???

17 January 2002, 07:23 AM
Before any of you asks, yes, I:
doubled huge ships', tripled gargantuan ships', and quadrupled colossal ships' hull points;
quintupled shield points (for EACH shield quadrant);
added shield DR in the order of 1/10 to 1/15 of the new shield points maximum (still examining whether the DR should lower as the shield looses shield points) ;
greatly increased shield regeneration rate to about their new DR every round;
allowed for energy transfers between shield arcs at a ratio of 1 gained per 3 lost, up to a maximum gained of the recharge rate per round;
, and am happy to report that a fight between an ISD-I and a MC80 now actually last several minutes, instead of 12 seconds.

I'm still not entirely satisfied with the modifications I've made so far, however.

PS: This entire thread is getting pretty d20-specific, methinks.

Rogue Janson
18 January 2002, 10:39 AM
I think I like the idea of +1 on the attack roll better than getting multiple shots because of its simplicity, although I think it might be such a minor difference players wouldn't bother with it. Also, the rule book is rather vague about multi- and auto-firing, especially with regards to vehicles and starships.

On the capital ship side - well, the D20 rules are just completely and utterly screwed. An Impstar takes an average of 18 seconds to disable a mon cal, and 24 to destroy it. Would have made the battle of Endor a bit shorter.

Battery fire would be of marginal use against a target of high defence, but since the defence of capships is really low, it's useless. Obviously there's a need for some way of grouping weapons, since you don't want to be rolling 120 attacks each turn, but you would think it would have a bit more effect.
Can you choose not to fire battery fire? If not, you could have massive differences in power simply depending on how your weapons are grouped (this doesn't come out in the Core book, but presumably it's addressed in SotG).

Anyway, I'll stop there before I carry on into a massive rant about how bad the starship rules are (and I can't even get the new rules from SW gamer because they don't sell it here on the rim).

18 January 2002, 12:12 PM
Just a quick drop in the bucket.

From what I remember, capital ships began using battery fire in an attempt to hit starfighters. Rather than have each weapon shoot at the target and miss all the time, they grouped weapons together and flooded an area of space with turbolaser fire. Hopefully the fighter would get hit with such dense laser fire in the area.

So, the battery was given a bonus to attack, so simulate the likelihood that ONE of the weapons in the group would hit. Which is also why you only get to roll normal damage for ONE weapon.

I don't believe that capital ships would use battery fire when targeting another capital ship.

But as to the value of capital combat rules, well, you're on your own there....



18 January 2002, 05:15 PM
Very true. I was always under the impression that the "Battery fire" was much like a "GOALKEEPER" AMS, (this is a british anti missile weapon system, much like the vulcan cannons on us ships, but instead of 7 barrels with a high ROF, it is more like 144 barrels in a large grid), where it fires and blankets the area ahead/above/to the side of the target.

19 January 2002, 01:27 AM
The problem with the rules as stated is, that even in the case that you stand the most to gain from theincrease in to-hit chance ( i.e. when you need a 20 to hit, because 20 always hits ), battery fire at best matches separate fire in it's damage potential. As the separate fire to-hit range increases, battery fire becomes progressively worse.

(e.g. 1) With a +2 weapon in a battery of 5 vs. an 18 defense, you need a 20 to hit (this is as difficult as it gets. No matter how much higher the defense gets, 20 always hits). That's a 5% hit chance. If you fire 5 of these in a battery, you get a +4 to hit, so you'll hit on a 16-20 (Again, at best. If the defense were higher, this range would get smaller too). that's 25% chance. If you choose to fire each of those separately, the chance that you hit at least once = 1 - (1 - 0.05) ^ 5 = 22.62%, and you have a chance (albeit small) of hitting a second time.

(e.g. 2) With a +2 weapon in a battery of 5 vs a defense of 16, you need an 18-20 to hit, i.e. a 15% hit chance. Battery fire increases that hit chance to 35%, whereas separate fire will get at least one hit in 1 - (1 - 0.15) ^ 5 = 55.62% of the cases, with an now already substantial chance for a second or even a third hit.

If you want to "blanket" the area, fire separate shots. you might get lucky and hit those pesky starfighters. My opinion of battery fire is that it should be used to "batter" opposing capital ships, through concentrated firepower. And currently, that's not what battery fire does. I'd go as far as to say that the to-hit bonus is irrelevant; Battery fire needs (significant) damage bonusses to become viable.

PS: As far as I know, a ship can always elect to not use battery fire, there are only rules to frevent it from using it at close range or point-blank range, depending on ship size.

PS2: To all of you who can't get their hands on the SWGamer magazines, same here. I however heard of Noble Knight Games (http://www.nobleknight.com), who have every issue available for backorder. So I went ahead and ordered all of them (needed some Dragon Magazines as well, and added some WEG SWRPG modules they had, too). Is a bit pricey, but that's what you pay to get the all-spiffy new combat system 4 months early (then again, that system will probably suck too...)

Rogue Janson
19 January 2002, 03:30 AM
I forgot about that point - an extra shot gives you at least the extra 1 in 20 chance of hitting, plus the chance to get more hits.
But I still don't fancy doing capital ship combat of any scale without some way of streamlining it and not having to roll roughly a million dice each round (hmm, I think it's about this point I feel I have friends studying programming).
$6.95+minimum $8-$15 postage for SW gamer 8 on that site. I don't think I'm that desperate, I can always make my own rules. I think I might just come up with ever more implausible excuses to avoid using starship combat (luckily the Impstar seems to have had a malfunction in its targetting computer, so can't fire any of its guns).

19 January 2002, 03:57 AM
Actually, most of my insights are based upon some tools me & my GM are co-writing ... it's a lot easier when you just have to click "Fire" i.s.o. digging out all those d10's :D

When it gets any good, maybe we'll share it with the rest of ye. Could be hard though, with everyone using different rules...

19 January 2002, 10:34 AM
Just a quick note, I cant post it for copyright reasons but any of you poor poor people who live outside of the US and would like a copy of the gamer8 Starship rules just shoot me an email at landsknecht@yahoo.com and I can get you a set that I took the time to scan in.

19 January 2002, 11:52 AM
The problem with the rules as stated is, that even in the case that you stand the most to gain from theincrease in to-hit chance ( i.e. when you need a 20 to hit, because 20 always hits ), battery fire at best matches separate fire in it's damage potential. As the separate fire to-hit range increases, battery fire becomes progressively worse.Hey Sid, I agree with you. I'd always prefer to take two shots at +3 each, rather than one shot at +5.

But like I said, I was just dropping into the bucket the rationale behind the creation of battery fire. I was NOT trying to say that WotC got the mechanics right, or even that anyone should use those rules. :)

Think of mine as sourcebook text, without the stat block to support it.



21 January 2002, 01:41 AM
Just reviewed the SWGamer #8 article on Starship combat (you're da man, Forlorn !!! & before anyone starts whining about copyright infringement : I ordered all 8 of them at Noble Knight Games, it just might take another week to get here)

Though they didn't change anything on the defense side (hull points, shield points, DR), except making the "DR applies to shields too" rule official, they did fix battery fire quite nicely. In short, the to-hit bonus stands, but for every 3 points you roll over what you need to hit, another of the weapons in the battery hits, inflicting it's damage too. It's a bit difficult to do an analysis of this system, but I like the sound of it. (

If it still doesn't work out, we can always try letting extra hits come in every 2 you went over the required #, or every 4, depending on whether battery fire is now still not viable, or too good.

The rest of the article seems quite good as well (bye bye, starship combat template), & it's too soon to speculate on other changes that will be in the revised core rulebook (& even if they don't change anything else, this system is fully compatible with any house rules you might have made concerning Hull points, Shield points, & DR(s)).