As the question comes up a lot, I have decided to collect all the gripes and possible solutions and house rules people have reported using in Starship Combat into kind of a FAQ that would be useful for new players that are having trouble with this part of the game.
Things people have done to try and improve Starship Combat
Changed starship combat to a skill challenge, not quite certain how this would work for a few fighters against one PC ship, would higher numbers rack up successes faster or failures?
Adding asteroids the players can use as cover or to create an ambush, Nebulas, and Gas Clouds with special buffs extra weapon damage, debuffs to sensors or shields, Changing the environment counter boring shootouts in empty space.
I use asteroids, comets, and other space phenomena to shake up combat. I could add to the DC of piloting with an asteroid storm. I could give cover with an obstruction. Even engineers I could add to the DC with spatial distortions or plasma fields that mess with the shields.
Cheat Sheets for every Starship Role
I’ve found adding extras to the starship sheets is helpful (like noting in advance how many shield points can be restored each round, etc).
Starship Operations Manual added an optional starship budget to keep people from taking no armor and just sinking all their BP into big weapons and hundreds of points of shields.
To ensure some balance one GM broke shields into tiers (every 4 levels) PCs had to choose from shields within their tier it matched the AP/CRB ships much closer, which kept the game challenging.
Hillary Moon Murphy wrote an article on GMing Starship Combat in Wayfinder #19
A lot of people say that system mastery is the key to enjoying starship combat, by making it different from character combat Paizo created another learning curve and I’m not entirely certain the extra wargame-y-ness of having distinct phases in combat makes it better than vehicle combat using character rules.
Lethal Ship Combat rules from Star Empires Compendium
Adding starship’s special role abilities to the hulls made them stand out more. Removing the “expansion bay” requirement from some modules gave players more choices. This eliminates the Fighters can’t have an ejection seat problem.
Starfinder Society labels scenarios with starship combat so players can know to avoid them.
Lack of meaningful choices for each player, Ken Burnside of Ad Astra games described it as a Driver’s/Pilots? dilemma, basically, the pilot gets all the good choices and everyone else is along for the ride.
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