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Is there a way to have Star Wars space combat make sense?
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Pixels
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm not an expert in Star Wars lore, but I could easily see it going down like this:
Palpatine wins enough power in the Senate to be declared Dictator for Life. He installs his own men in military command positions as soon as possible to reduce the possibility of a coup or rebellion. They are chosen not for any ability, but for their unwavering loyalty to the new regime. Fast forward a few years. Talented commanders find that they are denied advancement as the toadies in charge fear being supplanted and are powerful enough to suppress competition. This angers the talent, which gives command even more of a reason to crack down on them, and the entire military stagnates in the process. Palpatine isn't too interested in fixing the situation because it keeps his loyal men in power, and the military need not be particularly elegant if they are overwhelmingly powerful.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

This has to be said - the events as depicted in the movies are not supposed to represent 'normal' outcomes. The rebel fighters destroying a Star

Destroyer by crashing an X-Wing into it is not a 'viable strategy'. It's a one-in-a-million only happened because the force was with them kind of thing.

The Imperial Navy is not ineffective - they are only made to look incompetent to highlight how heroic the heroes are.

Likewise, Obiwan makes a point about how 'only Imperial Stormtroopers' are so accurate but it's a running joke about how rarely they hit.

The weapons/tactics we see need to be believable in the Star Wars Universe, but we shouldn't forget that the reason they're worth putting into a movie is because they're 'unusual' for that universe. Most smuggler's don't evade Star Destroyers - most X-Wing pilots don't destroy Star Destroyers.

If the droids are right, Han faces odds of 3,720 to 1 to successfully navigate an asteroid field. Successfully surviving a direct run against a Star Destroyer are 725 to 1. In-universe, the odds of just those two scenes are approximately 1 in 2.7 MILLION tries.

So, yeah, while the tactics need to be explainable, the specific results we see in the movie are meant to be an aberration in favor of the Rebel Alliance.
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

deaddmwalking wrote:
Likewise, Obiwan makes a point about how 'only Imperial Stormtroopers' are so accurate but it's a running joke about how rarely they hit.

I know I've probably said this before on this board, but it's worth remembering that in ANH, the DS Stormtroopers have been ordered to let the Falcon escape (for tracking device purposes). It actually makes them seem particularly awesome, because they have the discipline to go into a firefight where they have to not shoot the other side, and the enemy has no such restraint. It even explains why Han's freak-out charge works.

In Empire, the stormtroopers are very effective. It's only on Endor that they really embarrass themselves.
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erik
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

deaddmwalking wrote:

If the droids are right, Han faces odds of 3,720 to 1 to successfully navigate an asteroid field. Successfully surviving a direct run against a Star Destroyer are 725 to 1. In-universe, the odds of just those two scenes are approximately 1 in 2.7 MILLION tries.


Riiight. And we should totally put stock in the random statistics that a protocol droid in need of a memory wipe spouts out spontaneously when discussing a ship he knows nothing about, a pilot he knows nothing about, and an asteroid field or tactical situation he knows nothing about.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Clearly the true reason the Empire lost was believing droid statistics of the sorts.
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rasmuswagner
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Zaranthan wrote:
You're just shifting the question: why are the dunderheads in charge?


Politics. I mean, have you seen who's president of the USA? I'd discuss my own country's current slide into racist fascism, but that's hardly international news.
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rasmuswagner
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

erik wrote:
deaddmwalking wrote:

If the droids are right, Han faces odds of 3,720 to 1 to successfully navigate an asteroid field. Successfully surviving a direct run against a Star Destroyer are 725 to 1. In-universe, the odds of just those two scenes are approximately 1 in 2.7 MILLION tries.


Riiight. And we should totally put stock in the random statistics that a protocol droid in need of a memory wipe spouts out spontaneously when discussing a ship he knows nothing about, a pilot he knows nothing about, and an asteroid field or tactical situation he knows nothing about.


So, you're saying that C3PO is just spouting a number from the equivalent of a cracked.com article? That makes the scene so much better.
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erik
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

rasmuswagner wrote:
erik wrote:
deaddmwalking wrote:

If the droids are right, Han faces odds of 3,720 to 1 to successfully navigate an asteroid field. Successfully surviving a direct run against a Star Destroyer are 725 to 1. In-universe, the odds of just those two scenes are approximately 1 in 2.7 MILLION tries.


Riiight. And we should totally put stock in the random statistics that a protocol droid in need of a memory wipe spouts out spontaneously when discussing a ship he knows nothing about, a pilot he knows nothing about, and an asteroid field or tactical situation he knows nothing about.


So, you're saying that C3PO is just spouting a number from the equivalent of a cracked.com article? That makes the scene so much better.


Pretty much. I mean I don't even know what he would be basing those statistics on. Probably very generic data that isn't applicable. Like publicly reported statistics of generic ships trying to bypass any asteroid field or star destroyer.

Even if you believe that an erratic protocol droid could be capable of extremely complicated probabilistic prediction, he is obviously shit at it anyway since he is continually wrong.

I attribute the complete ass-pull statistics as an effort to discourage dangerous behavior, and it is part of C3-PO's eccentricity from being long overdue for a wipe. He lies to his masters out of a cowardly impulse.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Whether his calculations are correct or not, the larger point is that the Rebels succeed at what appear to be impossible odds. It's supposed to be an underdog story, not parity between the sides. When we see the Rebel Alliance 'nearly even' with the Empire, or holding their own 'toe-to-toe', it's clearly implied that it is because they are individually super-awesome or lucky beyond belief.

This is the same 'Frodo versus Mordor' - the chance of success hangs by a single thread and the odds look impossible. But it's also heroic fantasy, so of course fate prevails and the heroes win.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

One destroyed death star may be luck. Three planet busting weapons of the empire being destroyed as soon as rebel x wings show up is definitely not just luck.
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Emerald
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Zaranthan wrote:
You're just shifting the question: why are the dunderheads in charge? We're running an empire that's willing to commit genocide, the practically-minded lieutenants would have the feebleminded generals "tripped over a mouse droid" into one of the numerous bottomless pits with no railings that litter their ships.


Pixels wrote:
I'm not an expert in Star Wars lore, but I could easily see it going down like this:
Palpatine wins enough power in the Senate to be declared Dictator for Life. He installs his own men in military command positions as soon as possible to reduce the possibility of a coup or rebellion. They are chosen not for any ability, but for their unwavering loyalty to the new regime. Fast forward a few years. Talented commanders find that they are denied advancement as the toadies in charge fear being supplanted and are powerful enough to suppress competition. This angers the talent, which gives command even more of a reason to crack down on them, and the entire military stagnates in the process. Palpatine isn't too interested in fixing the situation because it keeps his loyal men in power, and the military need not be particularly elegant if they are overwhelmingly powerful.


While the idea of the whole Empire being run by idiotic and/or cartoonishly evil officers isn't really supported by the canon, regarding the Imperial Navy in particular the "most leadership positions are full of brown-nosers and ladder-climbers trying to make a name for themselves while the talented ones stay in support positions or try to avoid notice" picture is pretty accurate, actually, thanks to one person: Darth Vader. Several books (most written by Timothy Zahn, who had a pet peeve about it) mention that the Imperial Navy had a bit of a brain drain issue in that the Navy's rising stars would be promoted to the most prestigious positions in the fleet, which happened to be on the Executor, Darth Vader's Super Star Destroyer, which was rather appropriately named because Vader had that annoying habit of executing officers who made mistakes.

So the officers who had more sense than ambition would keep their heads down and try to avoid getting promoted too high while those with more ambition than sense would rise through the ranks, screw something up, get choked out, and get replaced. The leadership thus had high turnover and less practical experience, and incompetent ship captains wouldn't have "convenient accidents" because then the talented people would be moved one rank closer to an untimely Force Choke.

Contrast Admiral Ozzel, a brazen officer who talks back to Vader condescendingly, glares threateningly at Captain Piett when Vader agrees with the captain, disobeys Vader's direct orders when jumping to Hoth, screws up the Imperial attack (apparently the last in a long line of failures), and is choked for his mistake, to Captain Admiral Piett, who is more reserved and respectful, obviously knows when to obey orders and when to raise objections, and happens to be the only Imperial officer named on-screen to survive from Empire Strikes Back to Return of the Jedi. The Executor churns through less-than-competent admirals repeatedly until a competent officer is forced into the role, who finally ends up getting killed by the Rebels instead of Vader.

And anyone competent enough to get promoted high enough to catch Vader's attention might be executed because something goes wrong through no fault of their own for reasons they can't control, like Captain Needa being executed for letting the Millennium Falcon escape when no one else in his position could really have done better.

A description of the situation from a post-Endor perspective, from the Thrawn Trilogy:

Heir to the Empire, p.5 wrote:
"Yes, sir." Spinning around with a reasonably good imitation of a proper military turn, the lieutenant headed back toward the communications console.

The young lieutenant...which was, Pellaeon thought with a trace of old bitterness, where the problem really lay. In the old days--at the height of the Empire's power--it would have been inconceivable for a man as young as Tschel to serve as a bridge officer aboard a ship like the Chimaera. Now--

He looked down at the equally young man at the engineering monitor. Now, in contrast, the Chimaera had virtually no one aboard except young men and women.

Slowly, Pellaeon let his eyes sweep across the bridge, feeling the echoes of old anger and hatred twist through his stomach. There had been many commanders in the Fleet, he knew, who had seen the Emperor's original Death Star as a blatant attempt to bring the Empire's vast military power more tightly under his direct control, just as he'd already done with the Empire's political power. The fact that he'd ignored the battle station's proven vulnerability and gone ahead with a second Death Star had merely reinforced that suspicion. There would have been few in the Fleet's upper echelons who would have genuinely mourned its loss...if it hadn't, in its death throes, taken the Super Star Destroyer Executor with it.

Even after five years Pellaeon couldn't help but wince at the memory of that image: the Executor, out of control, colliding with the unfinished Death Star and then disintegrating completely in the battle station's massive explosion. The loss of the ship itself had been bad enough; but the fact that it was the Executor had made it far worse. That particular Super Star Destroyer had been Darth Vader's personal ship, and despite the Dark Lord's legendary--and often lethal--capriciousness, serving aboard it had long been perceived as the quick line to promotion.

Which meant that when the Executor died, so also did a disproportionate fraction of the best young and midlevel officers and crewers. The Fleet had never recovered from that fiasco.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

If there had been competent officers left at the Executor, it would not have fallen to some random x wing kamikaze. They would have raised the shields or fired the lasers to intercept it or, wel, something.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
One destroyed death star may be luck. Three planet busting weapons of the empire being destroyed as soon as rebel x wings show up is definitely not just luck.


I also offered 'personal awesomeness', but I have to ask, have you even seen the movies?
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Mord
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
If there had been competent officers left at the Executor, it would not have fallen to some random x wing kamikaze. They would have raised the shields or fired the lasers to intercept it or, wel, something.

I'm not sure if you're being facetious here, but does the order to "intensify forward firepower" ring any bells?
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

How about the report "we've lost our bridge deflector shields?" Like, seriously, the first suggestion is something they'd specifically lost the ability to do, and the second suggestion is the thing they immediately tried to do in response. I'd assume that having specifically picked out the two things that are explicitly raised in dialogue is a result of facetiousness, but it's maglag.
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Surgo
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Alternate way of bringing down capital ships: forced boarding.

This was awesome in Battlefront 2 (before it got repetitive anyway) and if the only small ships that can harm capital ships are bombers, might as well have some dedicated sabotage teams while we're at it.

If shields form a bubble around the capital ship that the bombers go under to damage with missiles that would be destroyed by shields otherwise, this makes more sense. Since it stops enemy fighters from flying around and destroying your stationary boarding ship.
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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Emerald wrote:

While the idea of the whole Empire being run by idiotic and/or cartoonishly evil officers isn't really supported by the canon, regarding the Imperial Navy in particular the "most leadership positions are full of brown-nosers and ladder-climbers trying to make a name for themselves while the talented ones stay in support positions or try to avoid notice" picture is pretty accurate, actually, thanks to one person: Darth Vader. Several books (most written by Timothy Zahn, who had a pet peeve about it) mention that the Imperial Navy had a bit of a brain drain issue in that the Navy's rising stars would be promoted to the most prestigious positions in the fleet, which happened to be on the Executor, Darth Vader's Super Star Destroyer, which was rather appropriately named because Vader had that annoying habit of executing officers who made mistakes.


We can go back to the French Revolution and see a similar talent drain in both the Army and the Navy, albeit for different reasons.

When the counter-revolution swept through France and the denunciations began, many of the officers in the military either left the country (being part of the Old Sword Nobility who were offended at getting equalized) as well as flat out being denounced, tried, and executed.

When the Committee for Public Safety started sending out special envoys to the battlefronts, they had some real Warhammer 40k Commissar levels of bullshit going on. They basically could pull rank on anyone up to and including Generals, and if you didn't conduct yourself to the Special Envoy's wishes, you got shipped back to Paris to stand trial. So there were instances of the Special Envoys ordering attacks and tactics, the army trying and failing because the Special Envoys didn't have any military experience, and the general in charge getting denounced and sent back to Paris for trial and execution.

While eventually promoting through the ranks cured both brain drains, it basically permanently put the French Navy on a defensive posture they never quite recovered from. Napoleon eventually came along and he was a genius when it came to land warfare and inherited a superbly capable army from both the Levee en Masse and from the mixing of veteran troops with fresh troops to bring the fresh troops up to veteran capabilities faster, but he never really figured out Naval strategy. By the time of his Egypt expedition, the French had recovered from their command brain drain somewhat but Napoleon still treated the navy like a floating wagon train.

Maybe that's a good way of looking at the Empire here: The emperor, and even Vader, are not good naval strategists. Much like Revolutionary and later Imperial France, they built superior navies, had the resources of a continent to build *giant* armadas, but lacked the touch necessary to really assemble a first class navy, and so Thrawn-like talent would go unrecognized or not exploited to it's best.


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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
If there had been competent officers left at the Executor, it would not have fallen to some random x wing kamikaze. They would have raised the shields or fired the lasers to intercept it or, wel, something.


That wasn't a kamikaze, that was a freak of battle. Someone winged an A-wing, it was spiraling to it's death, and the pilot might have steered it right at the bridge. It's hard to tell. The entire sequence from the bridge shields going down to the pickup truck kool-aiding through the bridge (seriously, go through it in slow motion) is seconds long.

Murphy's law and the fluid nature of combat is to blame for the Executor. Could have happened to anyone. Shitty day is just shitty.
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Surgo
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Executor going down like that is bullshit that I wouldn't want in any sensible Star Wars space combat system; I don't care if it featured in the movies or not. It means it's pointless to have an Executor at all if that's all it takes to kill it.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Executor went down after Admiral Ackbar ordered the entire Rebel fleet to concentrate firepower on it. Even then, the A-wing crashing into the bridge in the brief moment between the shields going down and the order to intensify foreward firepower going through is hardly something you could reproduce in fights with other super star destroyers.
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Harshax
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

the narrator's voice bugs me so ...

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Lokathor
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
The Non-Canon Expert describes how a single Rebel A-wing was ultimately able to take down the Super Star Destroyer the Executor in the Battle of Endor and the events surrounding the Executor's final moments.


Dunno bout this.
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Zaranthan
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Jesus, five and a half minutes to say "the unshielded engines were shot up by X-wings," which still doesn't explain why a ship with 300k crew didn't have a second helm somewhere else, nor why destroying the bridge caused the damaged engines to finally lose power.
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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Surgo wrote:
The Executor going down like that is bullshit that I wouldn't want in any sensible Star Wars space combat system; I don't care if it featured in the movies or not. It means it's pointless to have an Executor at all if that's all it takes to kill it.


"All it takes" was the loss of several cap ships, a whole fleet focus firing on it, a squadron of fighters managing to get close enough to take out a subsystem, and then a freak accident requiring a pilot to sacrifice his life.

That actually sounds exactly like a chain of tasks/events that are reasonable from an RPG system. Maybe not a flat out simulation of space combat, but from a narrative, that's reasonably powerful. If the sacrifice was a PC made more or less voluntarily, it'd even be a good end to a PC character.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Zaranthan wrote:
Jesus, five and a half minutes to say "the unshielded engines were shot up by X-wings," which still doesn't explain why a ship with 300k crew didn't have a second helm somewhere else, nor why destroying the bridge caused the damaged engines to finally lose power.


Plus lots of references to EU content without actually citing what books it's from. An X-Wing squadron and an Imperial captain are namedropped, but no indication is given as to what book they're actually from, let alone an actual quote to back up his conclusion.
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