It is not simple, any try to make it realistic also makes it rather complex the code to implement it, the explanation to understand it and the thinking to predict outcome of battles in-game.
The following is the mechanics after some iterations of simplification and redesign.
Speed Combat Mechanics:
1. Combat ship speed is equal to the speed of the slowest ship in its fleet.
2. Combatants pick targets randomly but trgetting conditions consider what is under range and what is not:
- Long Range (LR) and fighter/missile weapons: all targets always on range.
- Short Range (SR) weapons: slower targets on range from bout 1, equal speed targets from bout 2, faster targets with only LR weapons from bout 3.
- Close Range (CR) weapons: slower targets on range from bout 2, equal speed targets from bout 3, faster targets without CR weapons from bout 4.
- Variable Range (VR) weapons:
- faster targets with only LR weapons count as one range further whole combat
- faster targets with SR but no CR count as one range closer on bout 1 and one range further on bouts 3 and 4.
- faster targets with CR and slower targets of any kind count as one range closer whole combat.
- equal-speed targets: standard range whole combat.
If VR weapons are removed from the mix, it takes half the space to explain it. And maybe VR isn't worth it: they are a sort of analogic SR weapon. Their purpose is to give some flavour to the Crystal weapons (Mech:Missiles, Cyber:Fighters, Energy:LR-Multishot, Bio:SR&CR, Crystal:VR).
First micromanagement issue: if you have less CR/SR damage than your slower enemy and more LR damage than him, you should prefer to behave as a LR-only ship and stay away from SR/CR enemies instead of close in.
However, if you have ships of different speeds and your slower ships are going to receive strong SR/CR damage if your faster ships stay away, you might prefer your faster LR-only or WeakerSRCR ships to close in to help soak damage or cause more damage earlier, if that benefits you (it depends in many factors). KISS god forbids such complex decision-making.
So damage inflicted/taken depending on pushing/pulling should not be considered in combat targetting, and all ships will take advantage of speed (extra bout shooting and possible more damage taken).
However, there is a simple decision that we could let the players to take: always push or always pull, set via the aggressive/passive fleet toggle if it is extended to aggressive/defensive/passive:
- Aggressive always initiate combat and always push to enemies.
- Defensive always initiate combat and always tries to shoot from afar.
- Passive will not initiate combat but if triggered will try to shoot from afar.
Stealth Combat Mechanics:
1. Undetected ships can't be targetted until the bout after they fire for first time.
That's it. That's really simple. I wish the speed part was as simple and brief to describe.
Second micromanagement issue: faster ships with SR/CR weapons must decide between attacking sooner and being targetted sooner or the opposite. If they or their combined fleet have more LR damage than enemy but less CR, these faster SR ships should prefer to stay away from enemies. Also SR and CR cases have different gains from each option: SR gets +33% damage dealt and +33% damage taken from LR weapons, CR gets +50% damage dealt and +100% damage taken from LR (2 shots taken from bout 3 instead of only one on bout 4). Another decision to forbid. So lets make one of speed or stealth to override the other depending on the fleet toggle:
- Aggressive always initiate combat and always push to enemies (speed overrides stealth).
- Defensive always initiate combat and always tries to shoot from afar (stealth overrides speed).
- Passive will not initiate combat but if triggered will try to shoot from afar (stealth overrides speed).
Geoff, is this too complex for FO?