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Everything you need to know about Damage

Everything you need to know about Damage (but didn't know what to ask)

Combat plays a large role in the game and as such having a good understanding of how damage is dealt with in the game can prove the difference between victory and defeat. This article deals with all aspects of damage; inflicting potential damage, defence layers, damage assignment and repairing it.

Avoiding being hit
Before looking at how damage is dealt with, first and foremost, it is better not to be hit. There are a few methods of avoiding being hit. Some of the list below may be appropriate for one or both sides:
  • Missiles, torpedoes and space bombers can be countered before the hit. Point defence is useful against all three, while interceptors can only deal with bombers though they are much more effective at this than point defence. There are however many weapons that cannot be countered.
  • The dodge of a position will also count against the accuracy of the attacks against it. Certain weapons are highly accurate but deliver low damage while others are the opposite.
  • Certain weapons can only fire along a line of sight. Ground based systems using these weapons can only fire back against targets that are engaging them with line of sight weapons. An outpost for example cannot fire its photon guns against a ship that is firing missiles at it from orbit.
  • Active platforms attack a round before ships enter combat and if capable to destroying the incoming position, they will avoid being attacked.
  • Bases with starbase shielding cannot activate their weapons so cannot return fire even with space fighters. Their point weapons are however active.
  • Pre-combat ISR stresses can destroy very weak ships such as XL freighters.
  • Fleeing combat before it even starts (dropping cargo gives a speed bonus).

Inflicting Damage
Presuming that the attack was not avoided, the incoming hit will cause potential damage. Damage is delivered either from the weapon system or the ammo that it uses. The simplest case is the Photon Beam (in its various forms). The damage is indicated for the specific weapon. The Photon Gun (50mu) for example delivers a potential of 60 damage every time it hits a target. There are no random ranges involved in determining this potential damage. If 10 photon guns hit, 600 damage will be used as the starting damage before modifications.

Weapon systems that use ammo fall into a few categories:

  • Rail weapons deliver an amount of damage equal to the specific ammo damage multiplied by the specific rail weapon. For example, a Rail Gun (50mu) has an ammo damage multiplier of 4. When launching HE (high explosive) ammo with a damage of 30, each rail gun inflicts 120 damage. 10 rail guns will therefore potentially inflict 1200 damage.
  • Launchers only improve the accuracy of the missiles and torpedoes they launch. In these cases all damage is based entirely on the damage of the specific missile or torpedo.
  • Fighter bays launch space bombers. As with launchers, the damage inflicted is for the bomber.

Ground ordnance is the same as energy weapons in so far as the damage is based specifically on the item.
While there are no random factors involved in determining the amount of damage inflicted, this is however the potential damage and will be modified down through various mechanics.

Presuming the weapon hits, the damage has to pass through the defences of the target before it can inflict physical damage.

First of all, all hits are dealt with individually. This is important because each line of defence has a damage threshold and only damage that surpasses the threshold passes on to deal with the next line of defence. Further each hit has other information with it that determines how effective the hit is going to be against different layers defence and finally how the damage is assigned.

Each successful hit carries with it the following information:
  • Damage – this is the initial amount of damage.
  • Type – based on the weapon system. Photon beams are energy.
  • Armour Factor – is the multiplier to the thresholds of defences
  • Blast Radius – determines localisation of the damage
  • Ground Splash – how damage behaves against multiple items
  • Area Targeting – determines which items will be damaged first

Determining Potentials
Phoenix uses the 3d6 bell curve mechanic for determining averages (familiar to anybody rolling stats for AD&D and a bucket load of other roleplaying games). This is effectively three random numbers generated between 0 and 5 and added together. A total of 15 represents 100% while a total of 0 equates to 0%. Most numbers generated are around the 7-8 value, representing 50%. This is applied to every layer of defence against all individual hits.

Applying Armour Factors
Armour factor is the ability of the damage to penetrate the various defence layers. The threshold of each line of defence is modified by the armour factor associated with the hit. An armour factor of 0.8 for example means that a defensive threshold of 100 is treated as 80. A threshold of 100 being hit by an armour factor of 5 is treated as 500. Explosive weapons such as missiles (D200, AF 8) and HE (D30xrail weapon, AF 5) are highly damaging but also have high armour factors.

Layers of Defence

Optical Depth
This only applies when using energy weapons to fire through the atmosphere of a celestial body. This applies in both directions. Firing on a surface target from orbit and vice versa will have their damage reduced by the modified optical depth. A gas giant for example with an optical depth of 40 will reduce damage from photon weapons on average by 20.

Scintillators only work against energy weapons. They work by scattering the incoming energy. They are effective against all energy weapons to the same degree. The thickness of the scintillator field is the potential reduction to each and every energy type hit.

A scintillator field of 20 for example has the potential to reduce every incoming energy type hit by 20, though typically it will be around 10 (see Determining Potentials above). Having a scintillator field depth of 50 will on average counter half of all light photon guns (damage 25) hits penetrating this defensive layer will have on average been severely reduced. Some energy weapons have AF factors less than 1, giving them an advantage against targets with scintillator fields.

Shields work in a similar basis to scintillators though with two distinct differences. They can achieve much thicker depths (higher thresholds) and they apply to all incoming hits. Energy weapons that have already been reduced by scintillators for example will be further reduced by shields.
The thickness of a shield(its damage threshold) is based on the quantity of shield factors it has (modified by area of the target and starbase shielding). The greater the quantity of shield factors, the greater the shield depth. As with all layers of defence, the actual depth for each hit will be between zero and the thickness.
While the maximum number of factors is based on the quantity of shields, the generation of factors themselves is due to shield generators. These produce factors either every day or every round of combat, attempting to charge the shields up to a maximum. The drawback with shields is that their factors are depleted by the damage they absorb.

A shield surrounding an outpost has a depth of 80. This means it has potential damage threshold of 80. Presuming it is hit by a typical photon weapon that delivers 90 damage, at least 10 damage will pass through. On average however the depth will be 40 so typically 50 damage will penetrate. On average therefore 40 damage will be used to reduce the shield factors. As the depth of the shield is based on its factors, the shield is depleted.

The above example however does not give the full picture. There are exceptions and special cases:
  • Platforms and bases have better shield systems and are able to absorb minor damage. Only damage that actually penetrates the shield has the damage absorbed by the shields reduce its factors. For example, if the damage is 50 and all 50 is absorbed, then the shield factors are not reduced. If however the incoming damage was 60 and only 50 was absorbed, 10 would pass on and the shield factors would be depleted by 50.
  • Armour factor modifies down the amount of damage used to deplete the shields where armour factors are greater than 1. Example – Missile (D200, AF8) hits a shield with depth of 20. The shield is modified up to 160 due to the AF of the missile. It is then subjected to random modification (see Determining Potentials above) and in this case comes down to 105. 95 damage therefore penetrates. Of the 105 that is stopped by the shields, 13 (105/8) counts towards depleting the shield factors.
  • Starbase Shields increase depth based on the quantity of shielding complexes present in the base compared to other complexes and how long they have been charging for. This depth has a potential of 200 in addition to the thickness attributed to the shield factors.

Platforms and ships can also be covered in armour. The quantity of amount plates is dependent on the type of hulls used in the construction of the hulls and the size of the vessel. The overall thickness of the armour is determined by the quantity of plates (in proportion to the maximum) and the type of armour.

Armour behaves like shields in that as it absorbs damage. The primary differences are that while damage absorbed by shields depletes its factors, in the case of armour, the armour is burnt off. As it burns off it is no longer effective at absorbing (stopping) damage. The armour thickness therefore decreases. Unlike shields, armour is not restored through generators. Lost armour needs to be repaired, requiring sending the ship to the docks. Heavier armours (producing greater depths) such as ablative are more easily damaged.

A ship with Ablative Armour will have an armour thickness of 120 compared to 80 for a ship Armour Plates and is on the face of it the clear winner. An armour plate however will typically absorb 1,000 damage before it is burnt off while an ablative armour plate will only absorb 150 damage. In other words ships with Ablative Armour will be undergoing near seven times the repairs (and costs) of Armour Plated ships. This said, the extra armour in a short combat can be the difference between winning and losing.

Damage Assignment
Damage assignment is dealt with differently for enclosed structures (ships and platforms) than for positions consisting of standalone objects (ground parties and bases). In the case of enclosed structures, the damage is split into two sets of damage based on the ratio of internal volume to overall area based on the hulls used. In other words, hits are attenuated by the hulls of the ships and platforms. For heavy hulls 23% (30/130) of the damage of each hit is pushed into the interior of the ship, the other 77% is channelled into the hulls.
Damage is now assigned to items. This is based on Targeting assigned to the damage though with a special exception. If no targeting was opted for, damage assignment is random. Where random assignment occurs in the case of ground parties and bases, there is an initial spread check to determine if ground zero is empty space (indirect hits).

If an attack had targeting assigned (Structure, Weapons, Lifeform Disable), the chance to hit has been modified. If the attack succeeded in hitting, the damage passed on for assignment will have the appropriate target tag. If the attack failed to hit, a second check was made without the targeting penalty. If this attack succeeded, the damage passed on does not have the target tag. Some weapons (tractor beams, proximity torpedoes) have highly accurate but are flagged as unfocused. They ignore targeting.

A position is a collection of items each with a location. This can be structure such as in the case of hulls that form a ship or complexes that form a base. There are other areas such as cargo, installed etc. Further items can be assigned to groupings, such as lifeforms and weapon systems.

When assigning damage to a discrete type for example structure, all the items are sorted, pulling out the appropriate ones. The chance of the damage being assigned to a specific item is based on the relative size of the area compared to the overall area of all the appropriate items.

A Dome complex for example has a size of 20,000, compared with 1,000 of a mine. Damage is 20 times more likely to be assigned to a dome than a mine. Armour has a very low area. This means that any damage that penetrates a ship’s defences has a small chance of being assigned to the ship’s armour through random assignment.

Installed Area Modifiers
Installing items can necessitate putting them on the outside of a ship or deep within it. This equates to a modifier to its area when installed. For most items this is 1 but a few have higher values. This makes them more vulnerable.

Special Exceptions
Bases that have actively participated in naval combat will have all incoming damage assigned to their weapons irrespective of targeting. Once these have been eliminated, all damage is assigned normally.

Items with Defence
Before damage is actually assigned there is a check to determine if the item is speficially defended. Bunkers for example have the ability to defend lifeforms while magazines defend ammo. This means that any damage that would normally be assigned to the defended item is instead assigned to the defending item. In the case of damage that would be assigned to a missiles in the cargo section of a ship, the incoming damage is instead assigned to the magazine. This will only be the case where the total cargo space of the defending items is greater than the mass of defended items. Where there is insufficient cargo space, the % coverage determines whether it will be defended or not. For example, having 100mu ammo cargo space and 200mu missiles means that the first hit has a 50% chance of being assigned to the magazine.

Destroying Items
At this point there should be a specific item, e.g. Metals(1) and a remaining amount of damage to assign to it. If the item has Damage Reduction, the damage is reduced by the modified (see Determining Potentials above) Damage Reduction. In this case the bell curve is centred on the damage reduction value, i.e. if an item has a Damage Reduction of 2, it will on average stop 2 damage. This equates to the items ability to simply absorb small amounts of damage. If this has not reduced the damage to zero there is now a check against the defense of the item.

If damage is greater than item defence, the item is destroyed, the quantity is reduced by 1. Excess damage is carried over.

If damage is less than item defence, there is a % chance that the item will be destroyed based on damage: item defence, e.g. 50 damage against 200 defence equates to 25% chance of destruction. If the item is destroyed, the quantity of the specific item is reduced by 1. Due to the mechanics of averages, the overall damage soaked by items will be equal to their defences.

Heavy hulls and platform hulls also provide internal protection for items due to the increased use of internal bulkheads as part of their design (items get x3 defence which can be increased up to x4 through officer damage control training). This can mean that even penetrating damage may appear to be less effective against warships.

Damage Carry Over
Excess damage after an item is destroyed is randomly assigned based on the weighted areas of the position. For example, targeting a few humans in a base that is little more than a massive ore stockpile means that excess damage after a human is killed is very likely to be assigned to ore.

The excess damage is modified by the blast radius of the hit. For most naval weapons this is 1 though for some it is much less. A weapon with a blast radius of 0.7 for example with 50 damage remaining after destroying an item will have 35 damage to assign to another item.

Before this damage is assigned however the spread of the target needs to be taken into consideration. A target with a packed spread has this damage assigned to the next item, though with increasing spread there is a chance that the damage will be assigned to empty space. There is only a 20% chance that damage will hit another item in a dispersed ground party for example. In other words, 80% of all excess damage is effectively lost. The chance of hitting another item is: Packed 100% (5/5), Close 80% (4/5), Normal 60% (3/5), Open 40% (2/5), Disperse 20% (1/5)

In the case of a ground party being the target, if it is in space it will be considered disperse, which means 80% of all excess damage has hit empty space instead of being assigned to another item even when the damage has a blast radius of 1. There is a chance that something else could be nearby. The damage is attenuated to the spread, i.e. reduced by 80% in the case of being dispered and a new hit check is made. This continues through iterations until all the damage has been attenuated for all hits. When attacking however the ground party has a spread equal to the position it is engaging. This makes ground parties attacking a packed base vulnerable to damage. While the packed base is equally vulnerable to damage, excess damage is more likely to be assigned to structures and other non-combat items simply due to its relative mass compared with the defending force. A packed base does however make it more vulnerable to orbital bombardments.

One further modifier made to excess damage is Ground Splash. This increases chance of excess damage being assigned to another item by the ground splash %. Missiles for example have a ground splash of 20%. This means if the target has a spread of Normal, there is 80% chance of excess damage being assigned to another item. In the case of disperse, this increases from 20% to 40%. Further, as all damage that fails to be assigned is attenuated to 40% of its damage and tested again, there can be significant quantity of casualties even in disperse targets.


Two attacks against a disperse ground party consisting of mercenaries; 100 kinetic missile(D60) and 100 missiles (D200, GS25%). Presuming averages. While in both cases 100 strikes hit the ground party, the quantity of direct hits on items is based on the spread plus ground splash.

Kinetic –20 direct hits (80 indirect) 60 damage kills 20 mercenaries. 20 direct hits of 59 damage and 80 indirect hits of 12 damage carryover. 20% chance of it hitting another, 20 more die. 4 hits of 58 damage, 16 hits of 11 damage, 16 indirect hits of 58 damage, 54 indirect hits of 2.4 damage carryover of 58 damage. 16 more die. The iterations continue and maybe another one or two die.
Total kills: 60 on average.

Missile - 40 direct hits (60 indirect) 200 damage kills 40 mercenaries. 40 direct hits of 199 damage and 60 indirect hits of 80 damage carryover. 40% chance of it hitting another, 40 more die. 16 hits of 198 damage, 24 hits of 79 damage, 24 indirect hits of 74 damage and 56 indirect hits of 32 damage. Basically, each pass up to 200 hits (direct and indirect) and passed on until each chain has less than 1 damage.
Total kills: 260 on average.

Against vehicles
Two attacks against a disperse ground party consisting of light tanks (defense40); 100 kinetic missile(D60) and 100 missiles (D200, GS25%). Presuming averages

Kinetic – 20 direct hits (80 indirect) 60 damage destroys 20 tanks. 20 direct hits of 20 damage and 80 indirect hits of 12 damage carryover. 20% chance of it hitting another, 2 more destroyed from 20 damage and 5 from 12 damage (=20%x12/40) due to having 40 defence. No more kills.
Total kills: 27 on average.

Missile - 40 direct hits (60 indirect) 200 damage destroys 40 tanks. 40 direct hits of 160 damage and 60 indirect hits of 80 damage carryover. 40% chance of it hitting another, 40 more destroyed. 16 hits of 120 damage, 24 hits of 20 damage, 24 indirect hits of 64 damage and 56 indirect hits of 32 damage. Basically, each pass up to 200 hits (direct and indirect) and passed on until each chain has less th damage.
Total kills: 115 on average.

Empty Space
Platforms retain something of their structure during a combat which means that as they are damaged, there is an increasing chance that items targeted are already destroyed and as such the damage is ignored. Once combat is over, the platform is updated to its new size and empty space is ignored.

Damage Report
The report for each type of weapon comprises a few lines. The important line is the second in the below examples, indicates the quantity of the weapons that hit, the actual damage that penetrates all layers of defence and the potential damage in [].

Round 3:  3 Photon Cannon mkIVs

- 3 hits - 360 [360] damage - 95%
5 Photon Gun mkIVs
- 5 hits - 1091 [450] damage - 95%

The damage from the photon guns is interesting as it suggests that the damage inflicted was superior to potential damage of the photon guns. This occurs when items targeted explode or in some way causes more damage by its destruction. Examples including exploding ammo (unprotected by magazines) and collapsing caves. In these cases the damage from the exploding items is added. On the damage report for the position suffering the damage there is an entry such as this:

Civilian Damage: 1 Cave (1021) [+500 Internal Damage]

Explosion Damage
Exploding damage is added to existing damage still to assign and takes on all the qualities of the damage such as blast radius and ground splash. HE's hitting a base with a large stockpile of ammo without sufficient magazine coverage can prove pretty devastating.

Is open for business...
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New pirate threat rocks Corward Arm.

Several large pirate ships have been spotted in outer rings of Corward systems. Reports forwarded to us at the SSS allow us to exclusively tell readers that traders should keep their wits about them when moving through these areas.

No existing pirate menace has yet claimed ownership.

In a possibly unrelated event one of the FET cartel members claimed nothing was happening in the outer ring of Coptov shortly afterwards. But it could be that they are still trying to catch Empire backed pirates and have nothing to do with the new sightings.
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DEN continue to shoot innocents

The Dewiek have made themselves busy shooting at the peaceful and innocent traders of the SSL. Leader of Solar Spices and Liquors Mr TOAD has been vocal pointing out that the Beast-DEN are being totally unfair. News of a go-fund-me appeal are yet to surface though.

This office is sure that it must have provided the DEN light relief after picking on the equally defenceless Felini. Word is that the DEN faced such an uphill struggle in these recent actions they had to take up Felini inter-breeding to provide some entertainment as the battle reports were rather boring.
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Return of the LiQuans

A close associate of the Baron LiQuan has been haunting the Corewards periphery and like the old Baron it is said he has a meklan connection. It's unclear whether he obtained his meklan nanites via the CIA but there are rumours that the DEN may be helping the Liquan relative in a bid to sow discontent in the Stellar Empire. Exactly why they would start in Corewards is unclear although with DEN allies, the DOM, having strong positions both in the Sol system and the old Harcorp systems of Harlong and Coptuv they may be the linking factor.

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Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).

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Who is behind the AFA?

Following the large scale holiday attack by the AFA against the FET the question of who is behind the attacks has been raised once again. What is clear is that the AFA is using ships that were transferred from the GTT to the IMP. The organisation and expertise of the operation also reduces the pool of potential candidates. Few can go from commanding a handful of broadswords to half a thousand warships and significant army logistics without a long stint in one of the more combative affiliations. With the DEN’s allies the HEX in close relations with the FET and no recent history of animosity between the aliens and FET, at least since the departure of former one-eye big-bun Norozov, it would be a bizarre turn of events if they were behind these attacks. Frankly, there’s no point dancing around it. The IMP are clearly behind the AFA. The question is what can anybody do about this move of significant Imperial resources to a black-flag agency?

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Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.

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Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.

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Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.

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Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.


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I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).