Deterministic Pilot task

John Boyd was dubbed “Forty Second Boyd” for his standing bet as an instructor pilot that beginning from a position of disadvantage, he could defeat any opposing pilot in air combat maneuvering in less than 40 seconds.

John Boyd said that a pilot going into aerial combat must know two things: the position of the enemy and the velocity of the enemy. Given the velocity of an enemy, a pilot is able to decide what the enemy is capable of doing. When a pilot knows what maneuvers the enemy can perform, he can then decide how to counter any of the other pilot’s actions. 

Deterministic rules

In order to capture the feel of space combat being a contest of wits between two veteran commanders, like a game of chess, I have added variants of the rules where no luck is involved at all. Movement, initiative, sensors, attack, defense and damage are all governed by deterministic rules. Pages 44-45 of the rulebook hold the various deterministic rules but this blog post will focus on one particular section; the Deterministic Pilot task and initiative determination.

The Pilot default table was discussed here and these rules are somewhat similar. You look up your ships Size on a table after having modified the row used by computer pool use, Pilot skill, damage etc. The table gives you the steps of turning allowed this turn if you didn’t turn at all the previous turn. The Usable steps of turning is the value from the table minus half the number of steps you used the last turn.

 

Usable steps of turning

Look up modified Size, subtract used steps from last turn / 2 (round up)
Highest number of Usable steps of turning win Initiative
A ship has a certain number of steps each turn, based on ship Size, Pilot skill
and Crew damage. Subtract the used number of steps / 2 from the previous turn
(rounded up). A good way to handle this is to write down the turn number / used steps of turn for each ship, so you don’t have to remember how many steps was used the last turn.

Deterministic Pilot task 1

Initiative

Untracked ships win Initiative over tracked ships as usual but higher Useable
steps of turning is used instead of the Pilot task or Pilot default.
Initiative is determined as follows (in order of priority):
1 Untracked ships have higher Initiative
2 Higher Useable steps of turning have higher Initiative
3 Higher Ship tactics have higher Initiative
4 Higher crew station have higher Initiative (Bridge > Full > Limited)
5 Break ties with player A wins on even, B on odd turns, note on DataCard.

Deterministic Pilot task 2

Pilot task result

Whenever the rules call for the Pilot task result (Very Good, Good, Fair, Miss, Bad or Very Bad) determine the degree of success or failure from the above chart. Pilot task results are used when Aerobraking, landing, ramming and docking. The Pilot task result is not used to determine initiative; for example two ships, one with 4 steps of turning to use and the other with 5  both have a Fair Pilot task result but the ship with 5 steps win over the one with 4.

The Deterministic usable steps of turning go very well together with the Deterministic hitlocation rules as these make maneuvering even more critical. Feel free to mix and match whatever Deterministic rules you like, as long as both players agree upon their use before the game starts. Although I have taken care to make them as balanced as possible there’s no guarantee that the balance will remain the same, you have been warned!

Pilot duel example

The next post will cover a mock duel between two trader captains using the deterministic pilot task presented above.

There’s only one course of action
Left for me to take
I’ve tried every switch selection
That might control this state
I think for my protection
I better make it straight
Into Ejection
Better tell Base
Ejection
That I think it’s a case
For Ejection
Explode into Space
Ejection
Protect my Face
Ejection

Ejection – Hawkwind

 

 

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