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Author Topic: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!  (Read 1309 times)

abou

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Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« on: 25 September 2022, 15:13:59 »
I've never had a chance to use the Chaos Campaign system. I know it has been present in the vast majority of books published since the early 2000s and featured prominently in the Jihad books. Overall, I want to know what those who are familiar with it think of it: pros & cons, likes & dislikes? How do you look at it and implement it?

One of the big pluses of the system seem to be that you make your own force and are not tied down to concrete scenarios with forces dictated to you. I imagine that appeals to a large number of players. The branching tree system also makes it so that the end of the scenario is not necessarily the end. But it does mean more paperwork too.

I'm interested in what the community's experience with CC is so I can maybe implement it with my small group.

Daryk

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #1 on: 25 September 2022, 15:17:46 »
I would characterize it as a "light" campaign system.  Personally, I prefer full on AToW and AccountantTech.

Lanceman

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #2 on: 25 September 2022, 15:38:07 »
I love it. I've been playing through Total Chaos with a unit via MegaMek and the bot, hitting high and lows. I just went through Falcon Ptomaine, and the unit is reeling a bit at the death of their commander. What grand drama!

One thing you will find is that between all the products that utilize or collect the Chaos Campaign rules, all of them do some things a little differently (for example, Warchest to Support Point conversion is handled differently between Total Chaos, Battle of Tukayyid, and Campaign Operations. The first two are tailored to their specific product, while Campaign Ops is supposed to represent a more generic approach). So, with that being said, I think it's definitely better to look at it as a framework that you can build you own system with, rather than a rigid system in its own right. For example, you might want to also utilize the contract generation or peacetime operating cost rules from Campaign Ops or you might want to change how you advance your pilots' skills as some folks find that getting veteran and elite pilots is too easy using the base Chaos Campaign system.

The same applies to the missions. You have the generic missions and the named tracks, but even the named tracks are designed in such a way that you can take a Jihad-era scenario from Total Chaos and convert it to another era/planet/etc easily by just swapping some details out. Take one of the ComStar vs Steel Vipers scenarios from Tukayyid and make it SLDF against Pirates, etc. etc. Again, it provides a framework for you and your group to work with.

If your folks want to track every nut and bolt they buy, or how much water the unit uses every day with endless spreadsheets, then they'll probably find Chaos too abstract. But if you just want something that will let you track your units with some degree of logistics and budget limitations while also getting a good framework for missions, then it's a great system.
« Last Edit: 25 September 2022, 15:49:17 by Lanceman »
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Daryk

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #3 on: 25 September 2022, 15:41:01 »
Spellcheck fails again... that should be "tracks", not "tracts"...  8)

DevianID

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #4 on: 27 September 2022, 01:03:34 »
I use both.  For the chaos campaign, I just adapted the free version for my clan campaign, which I have been posting the missions for under the fan scenario section under the Turkina Keshik clan invasion.  The reason I use the chaos campaign is that for a 5 player group, its easy to have just 2 numbers to track for each player post game, their XP (1 xp per mission with MVP right out of the core rulebook) and their campaign points (fluffed as honor points instead of warchest points or support points).  Each player has a number of points for their individual, which they use for mission options and buying new mechs and pilot abilities, and its easy to track.  The mission format is also easier to make custom missions for once you get the hang of it, with track cost/bonus/map/objective/forces making a nice neat template to plug your ideas into.

For my 1v1 solo campaign with just me and 1 other person, we use the full campaign ops book with MekHQ handling the spreadsheets.  So their are techs and maintenance and cbill costs for everything, with contracts and multiple missions et all.  Its only doable cause its A: 1 other person and B: mostly handled by the computer, though we have to pull rulebooks out chasing down obscure things from time to time.

Sartris

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #5 on: 27 September 2022, 09:51:08 »
Huge fan. I’ve run a half dozen campaigns in the past in almost every era.

Pros:
-No fuss accounting
-Infinitely flexible with adjustable scope
-CampOps gives you a pile of ideas and options for objective play
-Mission construction takes minutes, especially once you learn to balance warchest point costs and rewards
-Easy to follow mission flowchart gives campaigns shape so they don’t become unending slogs
-very easy to houserule aspects without breaking the system

Cons:
-Pilot hits are heinously expensive to heal
-Cost of units is based purely on tech and tonnage so you get really wild situations where a putrid TRO 3050 Quickdraw costs more than an introtech Mad II
-Pilot skills are paid for rather than gained organically
-Losing streaks are basically game over
-Sometimes it is very difficult to profit from missions (the total chaos campaigns are brutal in this regard)
-creating missions that are properly costed and rewarded has a tricky learning curve.
-Repair is all or nothing so a nick triggers the full armor repair cost. This has a silver lining: a mech with a busted XL costs the same to repair as a unit that took a few focused shots they went internal on an arm. It probably is a wash in the macro but the mechanic bugs me

I’ve come up with a variety of houserules to adjust and tweak things I don’t like. Feel free to PM me for ideas on that front

pokefan548

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #6 on: 27 September 2022, 10:04:09 »
-Pilot skills are paid for rather than gained organically
Note that for most Chaos Campaign setups, it's pretty easy to just nix this and use the simplified XP system from Total Warfare instead.
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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #7 on: 27 September 2022, 10:39:47 »
I’ve tried several different XP models, yeah. Almost any aspect can be swapped out for something you like better

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #8 on: 27 September 2022, 10:54:41 »
Cons:
-Pilot hits are heinously expensive to heal

Oh so much this! Really, the point cost can be managed. The "only one point per month" limitation is the real kicker. It makes sense, injuries take time to heal, but man one rough battle and you can have a pilot sidelined for a long time.
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jasonf

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #9 on: 27 September 2022, 11:22:29 »
I also love the Chaos Campaigns!  :thumbsup:

Like Daryk, I also like AccountantTech, but not for parts, repairs, etc. So for me, the nice thing about Chaos Campaigns is it really simplifies that part of campaigning.

I agree with Sartris, though, that there is a learning curve to balancing tracks, WP costs, etc., to maximize your enjoyment of it, especially if you use some of the older sourcebooks that don't give too much guidance on what to do. I would say that from Battle of Tukayyid forward, the campaign sourcebooks have gotten better on giving guidance on putting together a Chaos Campaign specific to that sourcebook or era.

Another nice thing about Chaos Campaigns is that it's pretty easy to tweak to your campaign play preferences.  For example, I have a bunch of house rules that streamline going back and forth between a Chaos Campaign and the Campaign Ops/AccountantTech rules.

I'd say the main hurdle is that balancing the overall campaign takes some experience if you aren't working from a sourcebook that has figured those balance issues out for you.


Daryk

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #10 on: 27 September 2022, 18:01:13 »
Thanks jasonf!  :thumbsup:

You might like what I wrote up for my Glenmora Planetary Militia (even though it's pending revision since Shrapnel threw infantry balance to the wind)...  8)

abou

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #11 on: 28 September 2022, 23:16:12 »
Thanks, guys. I find my copy of Campaign Ops and will be giving it a read. I'll also look into your extras based on recommendations to fill any holes in the system.

Fallen_Raven

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #12 on: 29 September 2022, 00:46:40 »
One important thing I've found is that running the Generic missions between main scenario tracks is important. It gives you a way to pull in a few extra WP on some low risk ventures and time to repair between battles. Fighting Green militia in a Recon mission slows the pace of heroic story telling, but its what keeps the unit from collapsing in back to back missions against WoB elites.
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jasonf

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #13 on: 29 September 2022, 11:49:36 »
You might like what I wrote up for my Glenmora Planetary Militia (even though it's pending revision since Shrapnel threw infantry balance to the wind)...  8)
That's very cool! Have you ever thought about revisiting the Glenmora militia in the Dark Age/Disputed Region era? Though even with upgraded units and tech, it might not be that fun to go against the 32nd century Wolf's Dragoons...

One important thing I've found is that running the Generic missions between main scenario tracks is important. It gives you a way to pull in a few extra WP on some low risk ventures and time to repair between battles. Fighting Green militia in a Recon mission slows the pace of heroic story telling, but its what keeps the unit from collapsing in back to back missions against WoB elites.
+1 on this. Depending on how you are playing your campaigns, the generic ones (aka Mission Tracks) can help quite a bit with balancing. If needed, they can also go the other way, too (i.e., you can use them to wear down the player force and their opponents, so that there are some interesting tradeoffs on what to deploy, repair, etc., for the final battles)

Thanks, guys. I find my copy of Campaign Ops and will be giving it a read. I'll also look into your extras based on recommendations to fill any holes in the system.
You're welcome! The main point is that you should not be afraid to tweak things to how you prefer to play a campaign. The only real constraint is making sure you don't screw up game balancing in the process, but there's a bit of trial and error in doing so.


OatsAndHall

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #14 on: 29 September 2022, 12:34:04 »
If you've got some room for a combined forces lance, here's a fun little grouping for TAG and semi guided ammo:

Two Griffin 3M
Two Archer 8Ms:
Lance of Sprint VTOLs

Hide your mechs, TAG with the VTOLs (you'll get five-seven rounds out of them), pummel with SG LRMs and then close in and finish 'em off.




Daryk

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #15 on: 29 September 2022, 18:25:01 »
Thanks jasonf!  :thumbsup:

I have yet to fully accept the clanner invasion era, so anything after that is far off...  ^-^

abou

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #16 on: 02 October 2022, 20:27:41 »
So if I were to keep things relatively clean using CampOps, does using the force creation in the Chaos Campaign to play a narrative campaign sound good?

Looking at including things such as support personnel in the Force Creation appears to me to be a turn-off for relatively new players.

jasonf

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #17 on: 02 October 2022, 21:00:42 »
So if I were to keep things relatively clean using CampOps, does using the force creation in the Chaos Campaign to play a narrative campaign sound good?

Looking at including things such as support personnel in the Force Creation appears to me to be a turn-off for relatively new players.
Are there explicit force creation rules for Chaos Campaigns? I thought the basic version just days "pick 12 'Mechs" and give them all the same P/G skills, and didn't see much guidance in Campaign Ops.

Honestly, I think you can just use BV or whatever system to outfit your force and its skills, ignore support entirely, and be good to go.

If you want to play a narrative campaign where your force fights through multiple Chaos Campaigns, you should probably choose a force size where you would only bring a fraction of it to most Campaigns. For example, I'll often have a narrative campaign for a battalion sized force. On raiding Chaos Campaigns, I'll usually only have a smaller campaign that uses only a single company (so most tracks would likely use only a lance), but for a planetary assault Chaos Campaigns, I would likely use the whole battalion (so most tracks would likely use a company, on average).

Daryk

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #18 on: 03 October 2022, 03:29:36 »
Campaign Ops outlines the support you need, both technical and administrative (which includes medical).

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #19 on: 03 October 2022, 07:03:04 »
Does that part apply to Chaos Campaign, or just the more detailed campaign rules?
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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #20 on: 03 October 2022, 07:37:37 »
Technically, that's the more detailed rules that are really designed to pair more with large-scale A Time of War campaigns (even using TP as a cost multiplier in many cases), but as with anything you can choose to integrate those rules into a Chaos Campaign if you so choose.
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Colt Ward

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #21 on: 03 October 2022, 09:58:06 »
So if I were to keep things relatively clean using CampOps, does using the force creation in the Chaos Campaign to play a narrative campaign sound good?

Looking at including things such as support personnel in the Force Creation appears to me to be a turn-off for relatively new players.

My understanding- and realize some of this depends on where you are using the Chaos Campaign set up/rules from- is that support personnel are just expected to exist.  This is why you do not have to track how many techs you have and how many man-hours of repairs/maintenance they can generate.  Same with medics, supply, and anyone else not on the board in the tactical game . . . the inherent assumption is that if you have the SP/RP (substitute for c-bills) you will be able to find the workers somewhere.  The ONE part where I do not think this applies would be acquiring a experienced admin/negotiator since in the merc's contract negotiations they can give you some benefits when working out a contract with a employer.

I have some meta negatives with the Chaos Campaign along the same lines as Daryk, but I do have to say I have used the track modifiers regarding things like reinforcements, environmental surprise, or even the adjusting/additional mission objectives in 'AccountanTech' style games.  Honestly, part of the reason I prefer 'AccountanTech' is over Chaos Campaign is that it makes me get creative and forces some interesting decisions.  One of the ones I remember most was repair triage . . . next battle is in 6 hours, here is how many tech man-hours I can generate in that time frame which means I can repair X damage on mechs and tanks, I have to leave lightly damaged Y mechs, armor and BA out as a screen/picket, and for the final decision I can . . .

Repair Mech #1 using new parts but the normal pilot is medically out, so a sub has to step up
Repair Mech #2 but I have to remove (maybe permanently, maybe temporarily) salvage a UAC/5 off Mech #3 to replace the damaged one (replacement was faster/easier rolls than repairing)
Repair Mech #3 which will go into battle with half it's long range ammo stocks- it is the only design that uses X weapon, and it has been in heavy combat w/o the unit getting a resupply yet- dang it, it is due in next week
Repair Tank A & Tank B instead of mechs

I put that decision on the board and got a lot of really interesting responses from forum members.


To expand and address some of Sartis's cons that I think really mess with the feel of the game or adding . . .
-Cost of re-podding Omnis . . . basically assumes you sell the weapons back each time you change configs, negates some of the advantage of Omnis.  Yes, it cost tech man hours to swap the pods but if you fielded Config A and switch to Config B, then it should not be the full original cost of Config A to switch back.  IMO the really effects the Clans as they are the prime beneficiaries of Omni-tech.  This also applies (and is worse) on Battle Armor with the modular weapon mounts.

-Mixed tech design repair costs . . . this becomes especially glaring as you move forward to Dark Age timeframe . . . should a Timber Wolf, which is tech that the IS has been exposed to for over 100 years cost more to repair than a Inferno Prime- compact gyro, MMLs, and RE-Lasers?  Or should a old Timber Wolf cost as much to repair as a Savage Wolf w/ XXL & Ferr-Lam armor?

-Salvage becomes generic . . . no longer are you trying to knock down/out a specific mech because it might have parts you want (the old Defiance ML that had a bounty on their salvage) or could get you a weapon upgrade (Marauders & Warhammers wanting to knock down some Clan design with a cERPPC) for your own designs.  Or even like some units get fluffed about grabbing a shot off arm as you retreat on a hit & run strike.  AFAIK, the mechanic does not even have you getting salvage and stripping off weapons . . . so your IS mercs salvage a Warhawk Prime in 3055, and the arms are intact but the CT got cored . . . you cannot strip the ERPPCs to upgrade your merc's Warhammer and Marauder by the Chaos Campaign rules I know about so far.
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Sartris

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #22 on: 03 October 2022, 10:42:24 »
support personnel are part of the abstracted Support Points. Pay SP equal to tonnage and the astech gremlins appear from the shadows to repair armor. they then return to whence they came, awaiting their next payment.

Colt Ward

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #23 on: 03 October 2022, 10:58:43 »
I was not sure it was all the Chaos Campaign materials through all publications, but for mercs the bonus having a negotiator would IMO be the only reason to go through that recruitment for someone who is not sitting in a mech, vehicle, cockpit, on a DS or strapped into a suit.
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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #24 on: 03 October 2022, 15:21:52 »
-Salvage becomes generic . . . no longer are you trying to knock down/out a specific mech because it might have parts you want (the old Defiance ML that had a bounty on their salvage) or could get you a weapon upgrade (Marauders & Warhammers wanting to knock down some Clan design with a cERPPC) for your own designs.  Or even like some units get fluffed about grabbing a shot off arm as you retreat on a hit & run strike.  AFAIK, the mechanic does not even have you getting salvage and stripping off weapons . . . so your IS mercs salvage a Warhawk Prime in 3055, and the arms are intact but the CT got cored . . . you cannot strip the ERPPCs to upgrade your merc's Warhammer and Marauder by the Chaos Campaign rules I know about so far.

The upside of this is, that as long as it's not truly destroyed (which in your example it is, I guess, under current rules), you pay your SPs and have yourself a shiny new Warhawk. Campagin Ops has some extra stuff about repairing damaged vs crippled units, but it only applies when using Warchest Points alone, and didn't get carried over to when you choose to use the Support Point system. But yeah, anything more granular than that when it comes to salvage or even customizing `Mechs is going to have to be at the discretion of the GM. 
« Last Edit: 03 October 2022, 15:24:22 by Lanceman »
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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #25 on: 03 October 2022, 15:23:49 »
Doh, meant to hit modify and hit quote instead. Ignore.
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Daryk

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #26 on: 03 October 2022, 18:05:59 »
The more detailed game also brings up raiding and defending repair facilities.  With a company, you may find you need to leave a lance back to defend your techs or risk coming back to a bloodbath and no repair ability.

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #27 on: 03 October 2022, 18:13:50 »
easy enough to simulate with force size penalties built into tracks. want to bring the whole force? roll to see if the enemy's recon notices. No or limited repair between this and the next mission if they do.

CC's flexibility is only limited by a GM's imagination
« Last Edit: 03 October 2022, 18:15:40 by Sartris »

Daryk

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #28 on: 03 October 2022, 18:15:40 »
True, but so is the more detailed game, and it at least feels like it gives you more options.

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Re: Talk to me about the Chaos Campaign system!
« Reply #29 on: 03 October 2022, 18:52:09 »
True, but so is the more detailed game, and it at least feels like it gives you more options.

Nothing in Chaos Campaigns prevents or makes more difficult the scenario you've presented. Nothing stops you from including your rear elements in your force creation. How would you determine if your rear elements get attacked when using the more detailed rules? Do the same thing, and then set up a track accordingly. There's already some give and take built into OpFor generation in Chaos, in the Succession Wars campaign you get penalties or bonuses depending on what missions you've done prior to the current one. Like if you're going on the attack without doing recon beforehand, you might end up facing larger or more skilled opponents. Some of the Turning Point books are designed for two players to face each other, with force rosters defined as detailed as they want. It's easy to set up a scenario where if Player A meets X criteria, he can choose a track raiding Player B's rear area and if your repair facility is destroyed then Player B can't repair between tracks for the rest of the campaign.

All Chaos really does is cut down on some of the paperwork, everything else is there for the player and/or GMs discretion, it's just not always laid out in a "You must do this" kind of way. As I said earlier, it's a framework.
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