Appendix 4-The Battle Manual

The Battle Engine (BE) is a remarkably flexible number cruncher for abstract combat. Through the use of its tag system, a wide variety of units and battlefield conditions can be simulated.  In a recent rant  to George Velez (sorry George), I expressed how the BE can be used for more than just one gaming system.  With the wave of a hand, one point of damage can be a 20 KTon blast, a single point of fighter scaled damage, or even a single hit point in a role-playing game/mass melee system.


Just a little history, the original BE was designed and coded by Robert Boettcher and Greg Ellis.  I took over the project, ported it to VB, and added a little user interface to the front.  This became version 2.0 of the original BE.  Over the next few years, we've had 20 releases and gradually increased the detail of units, given the players more control of their units, and expand the special effects of offensive and defense systems.



The current incarnation of the BE reads in two CSV (plain text comma separated values) files that describe two fleets, armies, mobs, etc. and pits them against each other.  The format includes group information and unit information.  Version 4.0 can handle 9,999 units per side, a unit can range in size from a nano missile on up to city-sized space stations.


The first line of a CSV describes the fleet.  The values (in order) are RaceName, FleetName, Break off, ShipsTotal, FleetStrength, ShipsLeft, TargetBonus, TargetPriority, Reserve.  All fields are required, the first are strings of characters and should be in quotes so that punctuation or numbers will not confuse the program.


"G'runge Empire","2nd Strike"


The next six numbers control various fleet-wide attributes.  Break off  is a percentage value that represents the minimum break off point of the whole fleet.  A value of 20 is 20%, ShipsTotal is the number of ships in the fleet.  FleetStrength is the total hull points of the fleet. ShipsLeft is normally the same number as ShipsTotal.  TargetBonus is a fleet wide modifier to combat that can be set to a non-zero value for a number of reasons: fleet control units, exceptional admirals and commanders, general technological advantages, etc.  TargetPriority is similar to fleet wide hull targeting without the ability to set the scope of the hull search.  Reserve used to be a fleet wide reserve trigger, but it is now replaced with per unit RESERVE tags, leave it set to zero.


Assuming three ships with a hull of 10 each, we can have a fleet data line like this:


"G'runge Empire","2nd Strike",20,3,30,3,0,0,0


The unit data lines take up the remainder of the CSV file.  The fields are all numbers with the exception of the first and the last which are strings of characters.  As before, all strings should be in quotes to prevent the program from tripping on numbers or punctuation.  The fields are ShipStr, MaxBeam, CurBeam, MaxShield, CurShield, MaxTorp, CurTorp, MaxHull, CurHull, CurDam, Status, Ammo, and Special.  The reason for maximum and current ratings are to allow for damaged ships in a fleet.  Status and Ammo are no longer used since TAGs in the special string of characters allow for better design and control.  They should be set to zero.


Our generic G'runge cruiser has a 10 hull with 20 equipment spaces.  This allows room for six beams, seven shields, six torps, and one space for whatever specialty equipment is desired at design time.


"G'runge cruiser A",6,6,7,7,6,6,10,10,0,0,0,""


Note that the Special field is present even if there is nothing there.  All data lines much end in a carriage return or the program can not read it.  This is especially important for the last line of the file.  If this were a missile-launching unit, the unit data line might look this:


"G'runge cruiser A",6,6,7,7,6,6,10,10,0,0,0,"MIS0011 AMMO 10"


The full CSV file would be:


"G'runge Empire","2nd Strike",20,3,30,3,0,0,0

"G'runge cruiser A",6,6,7,7,6,6,10,10,0,0,0,"MIS0011 AMMO 10"

"G'runge cruiser B",6,6,7,7,6,6,10,10,0,0,0,"MIS0011 AMMO 10"

"G'runge cruiser C",6,6,7,7,6,6,10,10,0,0,0,"MIS0011 AMMO 10"


In the battle report, it would show up as:


Battle Round 1

Attackers are the G'runge Empire, 2nd Strike Fleet.

Current group Break-off level is 20%

The Ships are currently listed as:

G'runge cruiser A Bm=6 Sh=7 Tp=6 Hl=10 "MIS0011 AMMO 10 "

G'runge cruiser B Bm=6 Sh=7 Tp=6 Hl=10 "MIS0011 AMMO 10 "

G'runge cruiser C Bm=6 Sh=7 Tp=6 Hl=10 "MIS0011 AMMO 10 "


While I used ships and fleets in these examples, I could have easily used cowboys and indians, dinosaurs, or WWI dreadnoughts.  Some of you may have noticed the references to 'Fleet' and 'Ships' in the report.  You can use whatever you want.  There is a pick list of the most common choices or you can make your own.  [I recently typed in "Flarg/Snorgats" and it worked just fine.]


Current Unit Tags as of version 4.2:


AF #        anti-fighter only targeting    1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


The AF tag is similar to the SCAN tag except that it searches for presence of the FIGHTER or MINE tag and if it fails to find such a tag if does not fire.  This allows the BE to model fighter scale point defense and mine sweeping systems.  AF can be used in brackets, it is all lower case and there is no need for the scope field since it only applies to that attack.


AMMO ##     unit can only use torps/batteries for X rounds


The AMMO tag only affects the torp rating.  It represents the number of salvoes that a unit can fire.  If a ship is surprised or disabled, it will not expend ammunition needlessly.  In brackets, AMMO is used for any type of attack beam/torp/energy melee weapon, whatever.


AR #        resistant armor of X strength


Resistant armor is the uber defense of the BE.  It stops all forms of damage up to its rating per attack.  It is never depleted.  Its one weakness is critical hits.  HEAT, VIBRO, DIS and other special effects can 'work around' heavy resistant defenses. Resistant armor is usually reserved for advance races or supernaturally tough units. AR is not used in brackets.


ARTILLERY # unit can fire from reserve    1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


The ARTILLERY tag allows units to fire from the back of the group. Units with the RESERVE tag can not normally fire until activated. The tag does not affect normal attacks and has none of the properties that are associated with the LONG tag.  Think of the difference between pack howitzers and full blown artillery units. ARTILLERY can be used in brackets, it is all lower case and there is no need for the scope (beam/torp/both) field since it only applies to that attack.


BIO         use the bio-ship crit table


This is not the 'critter' tag.  BIO units are large enough to be boarded by marines and generally react to damage as a starship does.


BP ## ##    Boarding party of X attack strength and Y defense value


Boarding parties range from wicked spores to marines in power armor.  Their attack strength in compared against the defenderís  hull and defensive BP value.  If they can overwhelm the defense, they roll on a special 'critical hit' table and can possibly capture an enemy unit.  BPs can not attack targets with the FIGHTER, SOLID, MINE, or GROUND tags.


If the unit is using brackets, weapons can be turned into 'bp' attacks.  Bracketed boarding party attacks can take advantage of special tags such as pen.


  "Sample CA",10,12,8,15,"BP 0 6 [10][10][3 bp][3 bp]"


BREAK ##    break off percentage


The morale of the fleet can be determined by its break off percentage.  The lower the number the less damage the fleet or army as a whole can take before fleeing.  So, a break off percentage of 100 means fight to the death and a break off of 1% means flee after being scratched.


BUILDING    use the ground facility crit table


When the 20/40/60/80/100 percent break points are reached the unit takes a critical hit as normal, but they are rolled on the building table instead of the default starship table.


CAPTURED    ship captured


Similar to being crippled, the unit is generally protected from attack by both sides.  Actual ownership of the unit after the battle is determined by the game master. 


CARRIER     ship is vulnerable to hanger hits


When the 20/40/60/80/100 percent break points are reached the unit takes a critical hit as normal, but they are rolled on the carrier table instead of the default starship table.  Some crit tables can be nested, for example a bio-ship carrier would have the BIO and the CARRIER tag.


CLOAK       unit is cloaked


This can be psionic, magical, or electromagnetic cloaking.  Being invisible in a buffalo herd is different from the whole herd being invisible.  For a unit to gain tactical surprise (a free round of fire) the whole fleet must be cloaked.  If the fleet consists of mixed units, cloaked units become very difficult to lock on to, but this does not mean that they are immune to attack.  The effect only lasts for one combat round.


CRACK #     shield cracker weapons  1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


Also known as shield disruptors, CRACK attacks inflict double damage to shields and zero damage to hulls.  Ships with shield cracking weapons usually have some back up weapons to inflict hull or bodily damage.  CRACK can be used with brackets, the tag is all lower case with no scope field.


CREW ##     determines crew levels  default is 100


Ships are assumed to have 100% of their needed crew onboard. Due to critical hits and special weapon attacks, this level can be reduced significantly.  If the level reaches zero, the crew is incapacitated and the ship is crippled.  Units with SOLID, FIGHTER, MINE, or GROUND tags are immune to crew levels. CREW 100 tags are not required.  The BE will generate a crew tag, if one is needed.  In theory, a ship can be over-staffed and have a CREW level higher than 100%.


CRIT ##     selects a specific critcal hit table to use


The default for any unit that can take a critical hit is table five.  Tables 6 through 11 correspond to the building, carrier, orbital, volatile, bioship, and vehicle tags.  Custom critical hit tables allow for unique units and abilities.  For example, if you have a race that can live in a vacuum, you can add a custom critical hit table will all the hull breech flags set to zero.


CRIPPLE     unit is crippled, no weapons fire


Bad news.  Can't shoot.  Can't move.  And, unlike the CAPTURED tag, the enemy can still attack you.  This effect lasts for the remainder of the battle or until the unit's destruction.


DAMAGE ##   this is a unit's personal break off percentage


Unlike the break off percentage where low is cowardly, the DAMAGE tag checks against the hull or shield remaining.  This value can be higher than 100%.  So, a value of 1 means fight until you are 99% damage.  A value of 100 means fight until your shield rating is reduced to zero.  And, a value of 150 means fight until you have lost half of your shields.


DEFENSE ##  defensive bonus a miss is a clean miss


Used for ECM, magic spells, psionic defense, or agility, each point directly subtracts from the enemy's chance to hit you.  In a base 50% system, a DEFENSE of 49 or greater means that only 1% of attacks might hit, baring other modifiers.  [The BE has a minimum chance to hit of 1%.]


DELAY ##    reserve unit for specified number of rounds


DELAY is used as an additional trigger for the RESERVE tag.  It can used to form multiple waves of fighters.   A delay of one will activate units on round two and remove them from the reserve. DELAY does nothing without the presence of a RESERVE tag.


DIS #       disabling weapons  1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


DIS is part of the family of weapons that can generate spontaneous crit hits on the enemy.  DIS stands for disabling and disruption. It can be used in weapon brackets, the tag is all lower case with no scope field.


DL A        Data Link to group 'A', values range from A-Z & a-z


Data links allow units to slave their weapons together and attack a single target, each attack is treated individually.  Currently, data links can not be used with attacks in brackets.


DRIFTING    unit's engines are temporarily disabled


The DRIFTING tag prevents a unit from fleeing for one combat round.  This can be the result of shell shock, a blow to the head, or the engines being taken off line.  The unit can still fight if it has any functional weapons.


FEARLESS    unit is too brave (or too stupid) to flee


Normally, when a unit loses any chance to be combat effective, it immediately tries to flee.  But, some units are too stubborn to let go that easily and are willing to take a bullet for a friend that can still fight.  Robots, insect hordes, and orc berserkers could all take advantage of the FEARLESS tag.  This tag is also helpful in creating special units such as a ship loaded with boarding party attacks or a decoy.


  Note:  A FEARLESS unit will still follow orders and obey break off and damage thresholds, if they are set.


FIELD #     field effect attacks  1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


The FIELD tag creates a form of attack that strikes every unit on the enemy's side of battle.  Field effect attacks can be very unbalanced and are usually reserved for GM usage.  They represent hostile environments such as gravitic and ion storms, radiation pulses from a star, or the killing chill of a blizzard.  It can appear as part of an alien artifact boobytrap or an invulnerable 'storm generator' placed on each CSV file.  FIELD attacks are usually combined with the LOW tag or the AF tag to localize or minimize the kinds of units that are affected.  The FIELD tag can be used with weapon brackets.  In such a case, the scope field is not required and the tag is in lowercase.


FIELD attacks can be very complex and actually have several sub tags to help the BE decide what to do in a given situation. Currently, there is one sub-tag accessible:


FCAPTURE tells the BE to attack even captured units. 


  As more capabilities are added, additional sub tag will created.


FIGHTER     unit is fragile


Fighters are units that are killed when they take one point of damage.  They can not be boarded by BPs.  While one generally thinks of space fighters, this tag can be applied to other units such as flying knives or insect hordes.


FLAK #      flak weapons  1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


Certain weapons can have dual firing modes.  An example would be Green Lantern's ring which can fire multiple zaps at a horde of mini-bots (with the FIGHTER tag) or switch to a single big zap when the threat is gone.  The presence of a FIGHTER tag in the enemy squad will trigger a 'MULTI 1' effect until all the enemy FIGHTERs are gone.  Since there is not specific targeting of fighter sized units, FLAK is more of a scatter beam effect.  The FLAK tag can be used in weapon brackets, the tag is all lower case with no scope field.


[Green Lantern is the copyright and trademark of DC Comics.  Its usage here is for illustrative purposes.  No challenge is intended or implied.]


FLED        unit has disengaged (if it has survived)


Normally used by the Battle Engine internally, FLED units are using hard evasive maneuvers and maximum speed to leave the battle.


FLEE        unit is running (this is FLED with a one round delay)


Normally used by the Battle Engine internally, FLEE units have lost their weapons or have reached their breaking point and will leave the battle after the next turn (if they survive.)


FLICKER ##  flicker shields that are impenetrable X% of the time


Only works if a unit's shields are still up.  FLICKER shields represent some form of impervious defense (like a flickering stasis field.)  A value such as 40 indicates that any single attack will be completely ignored 40% of the time.


GLOBAL #    fire without regard to reserve status of enemy


This tag is usually reserved for fast medium to long range weapons that can strike anywhere with the enemy formation. Jump torpedoes would be a good example of this kind of weapon.The GLOBAL tag can be used in weapon brackets, the tag is all lower case with no scope field.


GROUND      unit can take 'hull' damage, but no crits


GROUND units can range from individual troops and critters to whole battalions.  They are immune to critical hits and cannot be attacked by boarding parties.


HEAT #      thermal weapons  1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


HEAT is part of the family of weapons that can generate spontaneous crit hits on the enemy.  HEAT weapons are so powerful and so hot that they can possibly inflict damage even if the shields of a target are not breached.  Examples would be plasma flame throwers or enveloping fusion bombs, explosive shells and lasers would not normally qualify since they only attack one spot and not the whole unit.  It can be used in weapon brackets, the tag is all lower case with no scope field.


HULL ## ##  hull target value, 2nd value is the scope of the search


HULL targeting can represent mission orders or weapon effects. Units hunting for the Bismarck might be temporarily given Hull 15 0 orders so that if they see a unit that is exactly hull 15 they will target it.  This tag can also be used to give weapons a 'favorite' target.  For example, "[2 hull 2 1]" would favor hull 1, 2 or 3 units.  As indicated by the previous example, the second value in the HULL tag acts as a modifier to the base hull target value. The larger the second value, the wider the range of acceptable targets. Like most targeting schemes, if a unit within the target range is not found, the attack will accept whatever target shows up within range.  The HULL tag can be used in batteries if it is lower case.  The second value is not removed.


LONG #      long range/first strike  1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


LONG range weapons get to strike first, if the unit firing them is not surprised due to tactical situation or enemy cloaking.  After that, it functions as a normal weapon.  If both sides have LONG range attacks, a LONG range only duel ensues and then combat begins as normal.  On a 14th century battlefield, a company of archers could have the LONG tag to model their ability to fire before being over-run. The tag can be used in weapon brackets, it is all lower case with no scope field.


  "Helm's Bowmen",18,0,0,12,"GROUND [18 MULTI 3 AMMO 1][6 offline]"


Here they are modeled as having a powerful, but scattered ranged attack backed up by a more focused but weaker hand-to-hand combat attack.


LOW #       low intensity weapons  1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


LOW intensity weapons can not penetrate shields, but otherwise can damage units normally.  Examples of such attacks would be wide angle particle beams, high velocity sand/gravel, etc.  In normal FOTS, a one point LOW attack is a good example of a fighter scale weapon that can tear apart other fighters and gnaw on shieldless targets.  The tag can be used in weapon brackets, it is all lower case with no scope field.


MESON #     meson weapons  1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


MESON is part of the family of weapons that can generate crit hits on the enemy.  MESON weapons are radiation-based attacks that can possibly pierce shields and inflict damage to electronics and the crew.  It can be used in weapon brackets, the tag is all lower case with no scope field.


MINE        unit is a mine


MINEs are small units that can not be boarded.  Later editions of the BE will introduce mine sweeping units that are designed primarily to hunt and kill mines.  Currently, minesweeping is done prior to battle either as a strategic action or part of a  pre-battle conflict.


MIS####     spawn missiles with BSTH attributes, values zero to Z


Missiles use trihexadecimal codes to determine their warhead type and strength.  In TriHex, 0 to 9 are numbers and A to Z represent the numbers 10 to 35.  They inherit appropriate tags from their bracketed attack or main UDL depending on if 'MIS' or 'mis' is used.  Currently, shield and hull rating do not affect missile survivability, but a minimum of one hull is required.  Larger warheads may require larger hull values and thus reduce the number of missiles carried on a ship.  Missiles follow their own rules for targeting so the tend to scatter.  The can inherit

  HULL and SCAN tags from the launcher.


  "Ragnor",5,9,12,13,"[5][6 mis0021 ammo 7][6 mis1001 vibro ammo 7]"


The Ragnor is this example has a 5 point primary beam, and two 6 point missile batteries.  One battery is loaded with 2 point torp warheads and the other has a gravity distortion beam that might cause structural damage to the target.  The second battery is also an example of a missile inheriting a tag from the launcher.  The first bank of missiles will not have vibrational warheads since they are separated by brackets.


MSL         this is the 'I am a missile and can be shot down' tag


Used by the point defense tag to find missiles and intercept them before they can inflict damage on the target.  Units with the MSL tag are also considered suicide units and are removed from play before the next round.


MULTI # #   break fire up into X sized chunks


The multi fire tag breaks up large attacks into small independently targeted packages.  The first value represents the packet size for beams and the second value is for torps.  When used in brackets, multi is lower case and just one value is needed since the scope of the multi-fire is within the brackets only.


NOBEAM      no attack for one round


Not used for bracketed weapons, this tag forces a one turn delay on beam weapon fire.  It is not stackable like the offline tag.


NOMOVE      unit can not move until repaired


The unit can not flee the battle.  It is often used for immobile units such as artillery, sentry daemons, star bases, or castles.


NOTORP      no attack for one round


Not used for bracketed weapons, this tag forces a one turn delay on torp weapon fire.  It is not stackable like the offline tag.


OFFLINE     used to deactivate a weapon battery for one round


Used only in weapon batteries (and is thus always lower case).  Multiple uses of the OFFLINE tag can be done in order to model short ranged weapons or weapons that require a warm up time before firing.


  "Cheap defsat",3,0,0,1,"[1][1 offline][1 offline offline]"


On turn one, the cheap defense satellite has a 1 point attack.  On round two, it has two 1 point attacks, and if it survives, it will have three 1 point attacks.


The ONLINE tag is also used to model internal damage to units such as weapon shorts or fire computer malfunctions.


ORBITAL     use the orbital base crit table


Used by orbital bases and defense satellites as an alternate list of critical hits.  It can be used in conjunction with tags such as CARRIER or VOLATILE.


PD ##       point defense accuracy rating of X percent


Currently, point defense is a rapid firing 360 degree suite of weapons designed to intercept missiles before they damage the ship.  They can not engage fighters, run out of ammo, or get swamped by large waves of missiles.  Any hit by a PD system will destroy the incoming missile.  There are plans to upgrade the PD system to make it match the proposed mine sweeper weapons suite. (SWEEPERs can only attack MINEs and PD will be able to attack MSLs and perhaps FIGHTERs.  PD will become cheaper, but will not be the unlimited shots/ammo 'missile shield' that it is now.)


PEN #       penetrating weapons  1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


Penetrating weapons are unusually intense attacks such as needle beams or phasing/tachyon weapons that partially skip through a ship's shields.  Against unshielded units they act as normal weapons.  But against an active shield, the first point of damage in the attack leaks through and strikes the hull directly.  When used in brackets, PEN is lower case and no scope value is used.


REGEN # #   regenerating rate for shields and for hull


If a unit with this tag survives a round of combat, it will automatically heal itself up to its maximum shield and/or hull rating.  Such units can still be affected by critical units and no regenerating unit can come back from the dead.  High values of this tag can be used to simulate magical or energy creatures that can only be destroyed and not wounded permanently.


RESERVE ##  reserve activation percentage, unit is in reserve


Units with the RESERVE tag are sitting in the second wave or the back of the fleet.  The RESERVE value is a percentage trigger similar to the break off percentage that determines when a unit joins the battle front.  Sitting in the back of the fleet is not a perfect defense, if the main fighter or other unit screen is too thin, stray shots can strike the reserves.  Also, if the screen is destroyed, reserved units will be thrown out of reserve status and into the main battle.  RESERVE is normally used to set up a second wave of fighter/missile attacks.


Note:  If Reserve percentage is greater than the Break off value, the reserve units will NEVER engage.  Handy when you're trying to protect something like a badly damaged capital ship or freighters and the GM says they're vulnerable to attack.


RESIST ##   subtract this number from the damage roll


Resistance is an alternate tag for supernatural toughness (see AR and FLICKER.)  Many units such as werewolves or neutronium armored battle cruisers have the ability to shrug off damage.  The method is straightforward.  The RESIST value is used as a percent deduction from the weapon damage roll.  For example, if a 10 point attack rolls an 80%, the target normally takes 8 points of damage. With a RESIST of 20, the roll would become 60% and the target would only take 6 points of damage.  If the original damage roll had been 20%, the target would have taken no damage.


ROF # #     rate of fire


The first value is the reload delay and the second is the first shot delay for staggered volleys.  For example, ROF 2 0 fires every other round and starts firing on round 1.  ROF 2 1 is the same but starts firing on round two.  The ROF tag does not support rapid fire weapons.  To model that simply multiply the damage done or break it up into packets, such as [10 multi 2] for five 2 point attacks.  ROF can be used in tags, it will be lower case with two values for rate of fire and start delay.


SCAN ## ##   100% hull searching


Identical to HULL targeting, except that instead of random looking for a hull, it chooses a random starting point in the fleet and searches from there for an appropriate match.  The first value is the targeting value, the second value reflects the scope of the search.  SCAN can be used in brackets, it is lower case with no values removed.


SHOTS ##    unit can only use beams for X rounds


Similar to the AMMO tag but only for beam weapons.  It can be used as a replacement for the ammo tag in a bracketed attack.  So, [10 ammo 5] and [10 shots 5] are identical in usage.


SOLID       unit can not be boarded


Commonly used by large units that can not be boarded by troops. Cyber tanks and other AI units can be SOLID at the GM's call. Energy based creatures and constructs might be considered SOLID as well.  SOLID is different from GROUND in that the unit can still suffer critical hits.  Crew hits against a SOLID unit are usually construed as a decrease in vitality and may require prolonged healing or a ready reserve of energy in order to recover.


SPECIAL # ##  special weapons  1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


Special weapons activate 20% of the time when they strike a target. Values 1 to 4 correspond to the dis, heat, meson, and vibro crit tables.  As a example, I've added table 12 to the be_crit.txt file. Using "SPECIAL 1 12" or "[5 special 12]" would create a psionic beam weapon that has a chance of causing additional crew casualties or disrupting operations on the target vessel.


SPLIT       split fire mode (separate beam and torp into two attacks)


Not usable for weapons brackets, SPLIT is the precursor to MULTI. The assumption is that the fire control systems of the unit can fire on two target, if it uses two different classes of weapons.


SR #        resistant shields of X strength


Similar to resistant armor (AR), resistant shields are very tough shields that can shrug off minor blows.  However, once the shield collapses (due to overwhelming damage or critical hit) the shield loses its ability to ignore minor damage.


STASIS      stasis snap shields


Stasis snap shields are the ultimate defense, but they have some serious limitations in their use.  When the shields on a ship fall, the stasis shield kicks in and all additional damage is ignored.  However, the effects lasts only for that combat round and if the shields are dropped exactly to zero, the snap shield dissipates before the next turn.  STASIS is a powerful tag for hit and run units as they can take a tremendous beating and then run for the hills.


SUICIDE     unit is suicidal (random increase to yield)


SUICIDE attackers gain a +1d100% to their targeting roll at the expense of not being able to dodge enemy defensive fire.  SUICIDE units automatically take a single point of damage from these defenses.  Thus, suicidal fighters always die and suicidal ships are quickly whittled down.  AR and SR do not negate this damage although hull regeneration can recover from this damage.


SURPRISE    unit is surprised


Surprised units can not attack for one combat round.  Total surprise (where the targets do not even get shields) requires manipulation for the CSV data and is extremely rare.


TARGET ##   targeting bonus counters ECM and may increase the yield


A fixed bonus to a unit's targeting roll.  Like all exceptional hits, and modified roll that is greater than 100% adds a small YIELD bonus to the attack.  Like the yield tag, this bonus can not exceed the maximum damage of the attack.


TIME ##     unit flees after X number of rounds have elapsed.


A fixed trigger for disengagement that is not based on fleet or unit damage.  Frequently used by missile heavy units that want to flee after they have burned up all their ammunition.  Can also be used to simulate ships that want to flee, but have an engine warm up delay.  The TIME tag can be used in conjunction with other tags such as RESERVE.


VEHICLE     take crits on the ground vehicle table


Depending on the scale, normal vehicles are considered GROUND units and do not take critical hits.  Some vehicles are so huge, they are considered starship grade units (Ogres, CSUs, and Bolos to name a few.)  These megatanks (as they are referred to in NTV4) can take multiple hits from nuvlear-grade weapons and keep on fighting.


VIBRO #     vibrational weapons  1=beam, 2=torp, 3=both


VIBRO weapons cause structural damage through intense shaking and can stress internal structures to the point that they can fail even if the shields are not breached.  Tractor repulsion beams, gravity warps, and temporal disruptors can all cause these effects. When used in brackets, VIBRO is lower case and no scope value is used.


VOLATILE    unit is explosive in nature and is vulnerable to damage


Commonly assigned to tankers and missile colliers.  Air sharks and other gas bag creatures can also be considered VOLATILE.



YIELD ##    add this number to the damage roll minimum


The math can get complicated, but the concept is simple.  YIELD increases the minimum damage that an attack can do.  It does not increase the maximum, so values greater than 99 are treated as 100% damage.  Ships can gain a temporary YIELD bonus for rolling greater than 100% on their attack rolls.  Certain weapons can be given a high YIELD value to represent all or nothing weapons that either smash the target or are a clean miss. 



The current TO-DO list or the future of the BE:


Of course, the list is not written in stone and is frequently subject to change.  Greg usually gets into some weird battle situation and needs a new feature quickly added to solve the problem.  When that's not the case and I have time to add stuff to the Battle Engine, this is the list I refer to.


Add Command/Leader tag, grants attack/defense bonus to ships and fleets but it is lost when the bridge/CIC is hit or the ship flees.


   Add an AEGIS tag, used for real area effect point defense that is lost when the AEGIS unit is knocked out.


Add the SQUADRON tag, used to simulate a flight of fighters on a single UDL while still keeping its normal properties like fractional damage as units are destroyed, or representing a large target for screening purposes.


Add the MINE tag, needed for in-combat mine sweeping.  Version one is already in place and prevents BPs from attacking a MINE just like the SOLID tag.


Add the AA/aa tag, AA are weapons that can not penetrate shields and might add search for unshielded targets such as damaged ships, fighters, squadrons, space monsters, mines, etc.


Target load balancing, makes it so that 18 fighters in a SQUADRON are just as big of a target as 18 fighters in a loose formation.


   Add HOT and SINK tags for BTech or steam punk support.


   Add BALANCE tag that causes break offs depending on the enemy to friendly hull point total ratio.


   Add TENACIOUS for single minded attacks and attackers.


   Add a BE summary report:


     # of Ships on Side A Break off %

     # of Ships on Side B Break off %

     Total Ships Engaged Total Hull Pts Engaged

     # of Ships on Side A Destroyed

     # of Ships on Side B Destroyed

     # of Ships on Side A Fled

     # of Ships on Side B Fled

     # of Hull Pts on Side A Destroyed % of Total Engaged

     # of Hull Pts on Side B Destroyed % of Total Engaged


     Summary Post-Battle Ship Listing for Side A

     Summary Post-Battle Ship Listing for Side B

      (list crits on surviving ships)



Version History


   4.2 - added low intensity weapons and fighter/mine only targeting added the field effect weapons tag and the fearless tag


   4.1 - assorted bug fixes and added support for larger battles added the ability to select the combat duration


   4.0 - added datalinks for weapons batteries

       added boarding parties to weapon batteries and changed their logic to make them more weapon-like

         added the DELAY tag to allow for more control over the timing of waves of fighters and other units

added SPECIAL and CRIT tags for custom weapons and criticals see the Battle Engine manual and be_crit.txt for details

         added the CREW tag to track casualties, a ship with no crew is marked as a CRIPPLE


   3.9 - fixed toothless units logic

         fixed ammo not last in bracketed weapon bug

         add ROF tag for weapon batteries


   3.8 - fixed two stupid typos that had partially messed up

           defense data links and attacker RESERVE logic

           added debug logic for file IO errors


           added the MINE tag, similar to SOLID - it will also allow for future use of the SWEEPER tag


           changed CRACK into a shield disruptor


           renamed MOVE and CAP tags to NOMOVE and CAPTURED


           Added DRIFTING as a temporary movement penalty


           Fixed a bug in the missile spawning code where it would get confused if a malformed weapon tag existed.


   3.7 - a few bug fixes and a new process for cloaked combat

           For a unit to gain tactical surprise the whole fleet must be cloaked.  If the fleet consists of mixed units, cloaked units become very difficult to lock on to. This does not mean that they are immune to attack and    the effect lasts for one combat round.


           In the name of space opera, I've added a 1% chance of always hitting and a 1% chance of always missing.


           Added an option to always inflict maximum damage.


   3.6 - added the SOLID tag, and weapon batteries

Weapon Batteries are like arrays of custom weapons that are built into a hull at design time.  The format for weapon batteries is [damage weapon tags]...

           The three dots means that you can repeat the pattern.

           The current maximum number of weapon batteries is 200.


           Only certain tags will appear as weapon tags.  They are all lower case.  Those tags are ammo, artillery, bp,

           crack, dis, dl, flak, global, heat, hull, long, meson, mis, multi, offline, pen, rof, scan, special, target, vibro, and

           yield.  Since each weapon tag only applies to a specific battery, there is no need for scope fields.


   3.5 - Battle Report reform, queue attacks so that they can be processed in batch mode, added the TIME tag.


   3.4 - added the ARTILLERY tag, user configurable group and unit names, fixed friendlies latching on to a LONG tag, made changes so that stand off missiles can use the MSL tag,and fixed a bug in the FLEE logic.


   3.3 - added the RESIST and YIELD tags in support of the new random damage model (because massive combat modifiers were skewing the damage results too much.)  Maximum upped to 5,000 total ships, units, and missiles.


   3.2 - more bug fixes


   3.1 - added FLEE and DAMAGE, fixed a few bugs


   3.0 - added armor, point defense, missile spawning, splitting, multi, disabling, vibro, meson, heat weapons,

           split fire, special crit tables, and resistant defenses


   2.8 - add penetrating damage and suicide attacks


   2.7 - added data links


   2.6 - added boarding parties


   2.5 - added reserve attack percentage and stasis snap shields


   2.4 - added static fleet header data to the status page


   2.3 - added an interactive status page so you can see the status codes in English and tweak their values


   2.2 - added status code interface for the Shield Cracker


   2.1 - added assorted status codes


   2.0 - converted to Visual Basic




















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