STAR FLEET BATTLES PBEM PB5 - STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES (SOPs)

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(PB5.0) STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES (SOPs)

SOPs are your way of telling the Moderator what you want your ship(s) to do for the turn. This will include everything; from where you want them to move, to when you want to fire your weapons, and which weapons to fire. EVERYTHING that is done during the turn goes into the SOP.

Note that you should combine multiple ships onto a single SOP, if you are controlling more than one ship.

(PB5.1) LENGTH: The turn will normally be broken up into two "halves" of 16 impulses each. Each halve will have it’s own separate "initial" SOP. This is known as the SOP Period. Breaks which occur during the half-turn will not "reset" the Period.

In other words, the first SOP Period of the turn would be for impulses 1-16. If it is impulse 9, and a break occurs, the rebid would be for impulses 9-16. (The rebid starts on IMP 9 because the break will have occurred on a specific action, and other actions could be taken to respond to that break condition later in the Impulse Activity Segment of that impulse.)

Note that each and every rebid MUST include a FULL SOP for the impulses it covers. A "FULL" SOP is considered to be ALL movement, impulse activities, and any other instructions, just like the original. The Player is not allowed to submit alterations or "amendments" to their previous SOP's. So, in the above example, a rebid for impulses 9-16 would consist of a COMPLETE SOP for impulses 9-16. This means rebids consisting of statements like; "Use my old SOP, except change my break conditions to..." would NOT be allowed. (This is done to make the Moderators' jobs a little easier, and reduce the likelihood of Moderator errors.)

A Moderator receiving a partial SOP, alteration request, or amendment request should immediately notify the Player that a FULL SOP for the impulses covered must be submitted before the orders can be processed.

Once impulses 1-16 were complete, the Moderator would ask for new SOPs (from both Players) for impulses 17-32. (The second SOP Period)

The Length of the SOP Period can be changed only with the approval of all Players, and is assumed to be 16 impulses, unless otherwise specified.

(PB5.2) RECORD KEEPING: Essentially, the Record Keeping requirements for EAFs (PB4.1) apply to SOPs. The exception is in the length of time you need to keep them.

While EAFs are required to be kept the entire game, SOPs only need to be kept until they are resolved.

Being "resolved" means that a Sitrep covering the impulses relevant in the SOP has been posted by the Moderator, and both Players agree with the results. There is not necessarily a formal agreement by the Players. As long as they accept the Sitrep, and repost new SOPs, agreement can be implied.

This way, if there are discrepancies (no one is perfect... even Moderators!) they can be discussed while you still have a copy of your latest SOP.

Basically, once you’re satisfied that the portion of the turn which applies has been run according to your SOP, you can dispose of it. Obviously, you are not required to dispose of it. Feel free to keep it as long as you like.

NOTE: If any discrepancies are noted AFTER the players have accepted the Sitrep and submitted new SOPs, then those discrepancies may or may not be corrected at a later time, based upon the situation and at the discretion of the Game Director. Note any discrepancies to your Moderator IMMEDIATELY.

(PB5.3) FORMAT: The format of the SOP is laid out to make viewing and processing it easier for everyone concerned. If a "standard" format is used, then new Players (and new Moderators) won’t be surprised by an unknown format. Another benefit of a standard SOP is that the required information will be less likely to be accidentally left out.

(PB5.31) SUBJECT LINE: The Subject Line format is identical to an EAFs subject line, (PB4.21), with the exception that you put "SOP" in the TYP slot, rather than "EAF".

(PB5.32) HEADING: The SOPs heading is similar to an EAFs heading, (PB4.22), minus the Speed Plot. (You must still include the ship in a multi-ship force.) The Format is as follows:

Gxx.T.im RAC TYP
YOUR NAME & ADDRESS
SHIP (If there is more than one ship of your race.)
IMPULSES COVERED

The SHIP is included to differentiate between two ships of the same race. This applies even if the two different ships are on opposite sides. (Such as a ROM Tournament KE and a Tournament KR battling in a Tourney Duel.) This would also apply if there were two Players on one side. (i.e., a 3+ Player game)

SOP Heading Example:

02SFA17.2.09 ROM EAF
Christopher Pike / cpike@somewhere.com
ROM KR
IMP 9-16

(PB5.33) CURRENT POSITIONS: The Current Position shows each of YOUR unit’s starting locations and their starting speeds. (Beginning with the first impulse of THAT SOP.) For instance; For SOP 2.09, the starting situation would reflect the ship’s starting locations and speeds on IMPULSE 9 of turn 2.

You should include Ships, Shuttles / Fighters, PFs etc. (but not seeking weapons) here. An example follows:

SHIP  HEX  SPEED
================
KR   1708C  15
WE   2010D  12

Note that the HEX location of a unit is shown as it’s actual hex number, with it’s heading immediately after. i.e., A ship in hex 0515, facing direction B is said to be in hex 0515B.

(PB5.34) MOVEMENT: The Movement Section contains the locations of all ships during the course of the SOP, on an Impulse-by-Impulse basis.

For each impulse that one of your ships is to move, simply put the new hex location (including heading) under the appropriate ship. If you want to take other actions during that impulse, that will be listed in the Impulse Activities Section. (i.e., If performing an HET, just list the new hex location in the Movement Section, while listing the HET action itself in the Impulse Activity Section.)

Movement Section Example:

IMP ROM KR ROM WE
===================
1    ----   ----
2    ----   ----
3    2321B  ----
4    ----   2422B
5    2420B  ----
6    ----   ----
7    2419B  ----
8    ----   2421A
9    2519B  ----
10   ----   ----

Notice that during Impulse 7, the KR sideslipped. This information does not need to be spelled out, as the plotting of movement will make it apparent. Also notice that the WE turned during Impulse 8. This is also apparent, and does not need to be specifically noted. The movement plot itself is sufficient.

(PB5.341) PBEM NON-PLOTTED MOVEMENT: Occasions will arise when you will want your moderator to move your ship in response to your opponent’s movement. The Pre-Plotted Movement section ((C1.32) in SFB Rulebook) has some movement options that have the same names as those shown below. THESE ARE NOT THE SAME RULES, and are NOT interchangeable. When playing PBEM SFB, the definitions of the terms below will be used.

Note that there should be very little confusion, as PBEM Movement is plotted only as much as is necessary to play the game. (C1.32) is used when you are using SFB’s Pre-Plotted Movement, which must all be plotted at the beginning of the turn, and cannot be changed, except by using (C1.32).

The terms PURSUIT PLOT, EVASION PLOT, & STATION KEEPING PLOT are used in PBEM to describe basically what you want your ship to do relative to your opponent’s ship. When you want to use one of these methods, you can tell your Moderator to adopt the plot on your opponent’s ship. Except as noted below, use (C1.322), (C1.3223), & (C1.3224) to determine actual ship movement criteria. (THESE rules take precedence for PBEM Games if there is any conflict.)

The requirements and limitations are:

  • You MUST state a target unit.
  • You MUST state a period to maintain the Non-Plotted movement. (i.e., IMP 10 to IMP 16, or based on certain conditions.)
  • You MAY state any other clarifications. (i.e., Try to stay on his #3 shield, or Keep my #2 Shield out of his arc, etc…)
  • You may BEGIN and END this at ANY TIME, as specified in your SOP. (There is NO delay period between announcement and implementation.)
  • You MAY use conditional orders to initiate or terminate PBEM NON-PLOTTED movement.

(PB5.35) IMPULSE ACTIVITIES: This is where all other actions are spelled out. Weapons Fire, Shuttle / Fighter launches, Seeking Weapon launches, Tractor use, Transporter use, etc... ANYTHING you want to do during the turn (except normal movement) is done in this section.

The Format of this section is simply; Impulse #: Activity. That’s it. List each impulse separately, and each activity separately. It makes it easier to sort the actions out when the Moderator processes the turn.

Impulse Activity Example:

IMP 24: WE Launch Pseudo R Plasma at FED CA+.
IMP 24: WE Begin Cloaking.
IMP 26: KR Launch Two Type S Plasmas (A & B - Standard warheads) at FED CA+.
IMP 26: KR FIRE 4 PH-1’s (#1-4) at FED CA+.
IMP 27: KR Launch Wild Weasel.
IMP 28: KR Begin Cloaking.

Note that when listing weapons fire / launching, MAKE SURE you include which weapon (A,B,C,D,1,2,3,4) is being fired / launched. It may be obvious in most cases, but sometimes it isn’t. It’s better to get in the habit. Otherwise the Moderator has to delay the game to request the information, or pick one out at random.

(PB5.36) BREAK CONDITIONS: Break Conditions are your requests to interrupt the game under certain conditions so that you may reassess the situation and "Rebid". (Rebidding is simply the act of submitting a new SOP.) Once a break occurs, your old SOP is considered "dead" at that point, which means that you can change any of the orders you had originally put down (from that point forward).

Break Conditions are listed after the Impulse Activity Section.

You may include a set of "Break Conditions" in your SOP so that, if your opponent takes certain actions, or if events develop a certain way, you will have the opportunity to rebid your SOP. They are here so that your initial SOP doesn’t have to be 12 pages long to cover every response to every event which may possibly take place. They are also here to give you a chance to react to actions or events that would make you want to change your ship’s orders (either movement or impulse activities.)

For example; Let’s say that you are approaching an enemy ship with your drones "leading" you. Rather than list all the possible responses to all their possible actions, you could put in a request to break if (s)he sideslips away, or tractors some drones. You could then look to see what (s)he actually did, and respond to it.

Also, when a break condition occurs, it is that specific event which triggers the break. This means that you may still take any actions which occur later during the Impulse Activity Segment of the SAME IMPULSE as the event which caused the break.

For example; Let’s say that you originally had an SOP that had you firing phasers on IMP 9. Your opponent launches drones at range 2 on IMP 9, which triggers an Auto-Break (PB5.37) This means that you now have the opportunity to fire some of your phasers at the drones, and adjust your SOP to split your fire, because Direct Fire comes AFTER Seeking Weapon Launch in the Impulse Activity Segment.

(PB5.361) BREAK CONDITIONS FORMAT: The Format of Break Conditions is basically a description of what would make you want to reassess the situation. Try to make it brief and to the point, so the Moderator doesn’t have to wade through it to get to the point. For example:

BREAK CONDITIONS: (BREAK IF...)
FED CA+ Drops a shield.
FED CA+ Activates transporters.
FED CA+ Tractors drones.

There are two major dangers with Break Conditions; not enough, and too many. First is the danger that you’ll overlook a possible action, and miss an opportunity (or worse, fall into catastrophe). It’s a very real concern, and one which you have to keep in mind. Second is the problem of loading up with every conceivable break condition, and bogging the game down to unacceptably slow speeds by having every other impulse trigger a break, and an SOP rebid.

The trick is to balance these two situations out. The easiest way to do that is to update your break conditions with EVERY SINGLE SOP! By updating, we mean add those breaks which are now applicable, and DELETE THOSE WHICH ARE NO LONGER APPLICABLE.

The situation is changing all the time, and there are very few break conditions that are applicable throughout the game. While some inapplicable ones may actually trigger a break, I have found a few instances where a break was triggered, and the Player rebid with "Just go ahead and use my old SOP." This is usually an indication of an unnecessary break.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times when a break is valid, but when (upon consideration) you decide that your original course of action is the correct one. Far more often, however, it turns out to be just a "I wanna look around and see what’s up" or a "I forgot to update my Break Conditions Section" situation.

Remember, there are (at least) two other people involved in the game, too. It’s not fair to them to have the game drag out just so someone won’t miss any conceivable event. That’s part of the "skill" of playing PBEM SFB. Having a streamlined SOP that will break the action when it counts, but not when it doesn’t.

(PB5.37) AUTOMATIC BREAKS: Automatic Breaks are breaks which will occur without any request from the Players. Auto Breaks are for those events which most Players would request a break for anyway. The number of "Auto-Breaks" is purposely kept to a minimum, so that they don’t unnecessarily bog the game down with unneeded delays. It does include some of the most common and continually asked for breaks, however.

Auto-Breaks will be assumed to be in effect unless it is agreed upon by all Players (and the Moderator) PRIOR to game start.

There are two basic classes of Auto-Breaks. First, is the "Universal" break. This is a break which allows all Players to rebid. An example of these types would be along the lines of internal damage, so that the both Players could see what was damaged, and then decide what action to take based upon which systems were destroyed. In other words, the events which trigger a Universal Auto-Break are ones that all Players (even the one who initiated the action) would normally want to see the results of before proceeding.

The second type is the "Singular" break. This kind of break would only allow the Player who DID NOT cause the event to rebid. For example; Drone Launch: The Player who launched the drones already knows about them, so there’s no reason for that Player to need a rebid. The other Player, however, would like to take action in response to the drone launch (namely... KILLING THEM!).

For either type of Auto-Break, the Player(s) can state in their SOP that the Moderator can skip any upcoming Auto Breaks that won’t affect them. For instance; You and your opponent have played many times before, and you KNOW that once (s)he unloads their plasmas, cloaking will follow. If you see them unload, you can let the Moderator know that you don’t need the "Opponent Cloaks" Auto-Break, and plan for them cloaking. (Of course, you would then put in a Break Condition so that the action would break if (s)he DIDN’T cloak after a specified period of time.) This would also apply near the end of that SOP Period, when certain actions won’t change your plot anyway, (for those last few impulses).

Below is a list of all the Auto-Breaks. If you don’t see it here, then you’ll need to specify it in your SOP. If you DO see it here, then you don’t need to clutter your SOP with an identical break.

(PB5.371) "UNIVERSAL" AUTOMATIC BREAKS: These events will trigger an Auto-Break. Each Player must submit a new SOP in response to these breaks, or inform the Moderator to continue on with their most recent SOP.
  • SHIELD DAMAGE on any ship which leaves 5 or less shield boxes (on damaged shield) intact.
  • INTERNALS scored on any ship, excluding seeking weapons, fighters, or shuttles. (Except see next break.)
  • Any Fighter or Shuttle becomes crippled or destroyed.
  • Any UNIT FIRES Heavy Weapons.
  • Any ship shows DOWN SHIELD to any enemy unit in range & capable of firing.
  • TRACTOR initiation that targets a unit able to resist via Tractor Auction.
  • Andromedan ship DISPLACEMENT FAILS.
(PB5.372) "SINGULAR" AUTOMATIC BREAKS: These events will trigger an Auto-Break. Only the Player NOT responsible for the below actions is allowed to rebid. If that Player does not desire a rebid, they must let the Moderator know that.
  • COURSE CHANGE by enemy ship (excluding fighters & shuttles). This includes HET’s, TAC’s, or any other situation that results in a course change.
  • SPEED CHANGE announcement by enemy ship (excluding fighters & shuttles). This includes Emergency Decels, Tournament Barrier impact, or any other situation that results in a speed change.
  • NEW COUNTER on board. This includes Shuttle/Fighter launch, Seeking weapon launch, Web Casting or Laying, Satellite Ship appearance, reinforcements, Transported T-Bombs, etc.
  • Enemy ship announces or cancels CLOAKING / DE-CLOAKING.
  • HIT & RUN RAID conducted against any friendly ship.
  • Andromedan announces or completes DISPLACEMENT.
  • Enemy ESG Activation announcement or cancellation when any friendly Ship or Shuttle/Fighter is within 10 hexes.

(PB5.4) CONDITIONAL ORDERS: Conditional Orders are orders you put down to react to the developing situation without using a Break Condition. In other words, they are "IF X THEN Y" Impulse Activities. Conditional orders can be used to do the following, based upon certain conditions you specify:

A Conditional Order allows the game to proceed (without a break), under certain conditions which you anticipate. They are normally used to eliminate a Break, and keep the game moving .For example;

If FED CA+ turns to direction C, then place KR on PURSUIT PLOT on FED CA+.
If ROM KR announces cloaking, then FIRE 6 PH-1’s at ROM KR, and have CA+ on pursue KR.

Conditional Orders also take precedence over, and CANCEL, Auto-Breaks. For example; In the above examples, the first Conditional Order would also cancel the COURSE CHANGE Auto-Break, (for a direction C turn only), while the second example would cancel the CLOAKING/DECLOAKING Auto-Break and instead fire the weapons shown.

(PB5.41) FORMAT: The format for Conditional Orders is similar to Impulse Activities. It can be a simple IF / THEN statement, or it can be a paragraph on what your intent is. Just keep in mind that the more specific you are, the more likely it is that it will happen the way you want. If you give the Moderator a lot of leeway, (s)he may not do exactly what you wanted. Here’s some examples:

If ROM WE moves to 1220D, Then launch Suicide Shuttle at speed 6 targeted on WE. [This is pretty specific and clear cut.]

If ROM KR sideslips or changes course, then keep them lined up along my centerline, using sideslips (if possible) or turns, if that’s the only way. [This is relatively specific.]

I want to keep away from the FED’s centerline. Move me so I don’t line up on it. [This leaves a LOT to the Moderator... actually, too much. According to the letter of this Conditional Order, the Moderator could theoretically move you anywhere (s)he wants... EXCEPT lining you up with the FED’s centerline, and you would have no recourse if you considered it a "stupid" move.]

The more specific approach is usually best, but you can "talk" your way through what you want to do... just be careful.

(PB5.42) LIMITATIONS: The biggest limitation of Conditional Orders is that it can be difficult to anticipate much of what’s going to happen in the next few impulses. Conditional Orders are not meant to replace Break Conditions. They are simply meant to enhance them. It’s just another tool for you to use when constructing your SOP.

As such, if you load your SOP up with a LOT of Conditional Orders, you may be able to catch enough of the upcoming events to avoid a break altogether. However, the poor Moderator is going to have to wade through your 34 Conditional Orders to make sure (s)he didn’t miss anything, which will take some time to do.

On the other hand, there are enough times when the courses of action your opponent can take are limited to two options. In these cases, try to use Conditional Orders instead of Break Conditions. Your game will speed up considerably.

Another limitation of Conditional Orders is that they can get very complex. If you try to do too many things in a Conditional Order, the Moderator has the option of requesting clarification, or just triggering a break, and letting you rebid from there.

Keep in mind that Conditional Orders are NOT mandatory. Everyone involved will benefit from their proper use, but if you feel too uncomfortable, then just use Break Conditions. Of course, you can ask your Moderator for advice, too. They can help you turn your Break Conditions into effective Conditional Orders.

(PB5.43) RESERVE POWER SHIELD REINFORCEMENT (RPSR): RPSR instructions should be included with EVERY SOP. If a Player does not include any RPSR orders, then the Moderator MUST break and ask the Player for RPSR decisions, even if there is only one point of damage done to their shields. Needless to say this will slow the game up considerably.

Note that a Player who does NOT include RPSR decisions will be giving away some information to his opponent. Since a Moderator does NOT have to break if the Player has NO reserve power left, any RPSR breaks will let your opponent know that you DO have reserve power left. (Assuming there was no valid Auto-Break at that time.) The Player who does put RPSR orders in will usually not get a break for RPSR, leaving his opponent guessing as to whether he is out of RPSR, or was smart enough to designate RPSR in his SOP.

RPSR orders follow the same format as other conditional orders. It specifies under what conditions you want to use reinforcement, and how much to use. An example of RPSR orders:

Use RPSR as necessary to protect the last shield box of any shield about to be dropped by damage. DO NOT use RPSR if last shield box cannot be saved.

IF shield cannot be saved, then use RPSR points to stop ANY AND ALL internals.

IF internals cannot be prevented, use 3 points of reserve if I take over 15 internals. (To take battery hits on emptied batts.)

In all other cases, DO NOT apply RPSR.

(PB5.5) GUARDS: This is where you list any guards on vital systems. Simply list which boxes you want guarded. For example:

GUARDS:
1 Guard each on:
Hellbore A&B
Both PH-Gs

NOTE: Guards are ONLY assigned on the FIRST SOP of the turn (IMP 1-16) per (D7.83) of the SFB Rulebook. After that, Guards can ONLY be changed in response to a Hit & Run raid (D7.86). At NO other time may Guards be reassigned during the turn.

(PB5.6) SOP EXAMPLE
HR4199.2.17 HYD SOP
Christopher Pike / cpike@somewhere.com
IMP: 17-32

START:
=======================
SHIP HEX    SPEED
-----------------------
LM   1614C    4
RN   1414C   15

MOVEMENT:
IMP  LM       RN
---------------------------
17  ----     ----
18  ----     1515C
19  1615C    ----
20  ----     1615C
21  1716C    ----
22  ----     1716C
23  1717D    ----
24  ----     1717C
25  ----     ----
26  1718D    1817C
27  ----     ----
28  1719D    1818D
29  ----     ----
30  1819D    1819D
31  ----     ----
32  1820D    1820D

IMPULSE ACTIVITY:
IMP 18: LM Announce speed change to 14.
IMP 25: LM FIRE PH-1s #1-4 and Hellbores A & B (both overload / enveloping)
        at ROM KE. (Resolve Hellbores second)

CONDITIONAL ORDERS:
IF LM is within 2 hexes of ROM KE and it begins cloaking,
then FIRE LM’s PH-1s #1-4 and Hellbores A&B (Both overload / enveloping)
IMP 32: IF RN is within 2 hexes of ROM KE,
        THEN FIRE RN’s PH-G (all 4 shots) and two Fusion Beams at ROM KE.

GUARDS:
LM: 1 Guard each on:
Hellbore A&B
Both PH-Gs

(PB5.7) BLANK SOP FORM:

Below is a standard version of a Blank SOP form:

Gxx.T.im RAC TYP
YOUR NAME &ADDRESS
SHIP
IMPULSES COVERED

START:
=======================
SHIP HEX    SPEED
-----------------------

MOVEMENT:
IMP  SHIP    (SHIP)
--------------------
1    ----    ----
2    ----    ----
3    ----    ----
4    ----    ----
5    ----    ----
6    ----    ----
7    ----    ----
8    ----    ----
9    ----    ----
10   ----    ----
11   ----    ----
12   ----    ----
13   ----    ----
14   ----    ----
15   ----    ----
16   ----    ----

IMPULSE ACTIVITY:

BREAK CONDITIONS:

CONDITIONAL ORDERS:

GUARDS:

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Copyright 1996-1999, 2005 Amarillo Design Bureau, All Rights Reserved Updated 15 November 2006