Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More Mulling Space Combat

So here's the thing. I like book 2 combat for individual, commercial ships. For groups it's tricky. For groups operating at military ranges it's really unwieldy.

In fact, I really like how Book 5 combat works, and I think it matches how I think combat between large fleets in space might happen.

They'll use missile-probes to identify their targets, so there's not much reason for probing with ships - fighters or otherwise. The fleet's will then close to engage with missiles, then lasers.

This being the case, there's plenty of good reason for a fleet to stick together. Individual ships are meat for small groups; small groups can be defeated piecemeal by the main body of a fleet.

Not necessarily that the fleet stays in formation, but that it engages the enemy simultaneously: the easiest way to do this is to stay in a group, but no matter how scattered or 3-d it might be, those ships that are in striking distance of the enemy are in the line, and those that are not can be considered to be in the reserve.

Fighters are good at delivering large numbers of missiles to a battle, possibly for a very short period of time. They're not good laser platforms, because warships will have more powerful computers than fighters can contend with (using the book 2 computer rules, no military ship should have anything less than Maneuver/Evade 6, giving a -5 to hit. Any fighter's going to need a dedicated gunner and a computer that can provide at least a +1 to be able to hit at all. A 1/bis might work...). And because they can't survive long in a fight, they're not really good at maintaining contact with an enemy fleet and leading its own fleet to the target.
This is book 2 I'm talking, here...

The really interesting thing will be to see whether a carrier, using fighters as a striking force, can defeat cruisers of the same value and remain an effective force without having to go for replacements. IN any case, fighters might be usable in a strike capacity but might not be actually all that good at scouting. Which, itself, is better done with missiles.

I think I have an experiment ahead of me. If I stick to a small TU universe, and keep the budgets small; if I keep to a "Dark Room full of Daggers" sensibility about governments and the need to concentrate fleets at home, can I use High Guard without breaking the Festerian Empire?

It might be possible. Those big ships that make things no-fun-at-all for PC size ships might all be concentrated in bases and on the homeworlds - the ships afforded for patrols might still be the small, cheap T ships built for the purpose. It might not really change life all that much.

My difficulty is more with the changes wrought by Mercenary, High Guard, Scouts and Merchant Prince character design than anything else.

Oh, and I don't really like that Scouts and Merchant Prince are so specifically tied to the Official Traveller Universe. If they'd stayed just that more generic, I'd have little problem with it.


Blogger Omer Golan said...

Changing to HG changes ship design considerations even for smaller ships - it uses a different TL progression for jump-drives (higher TL means better jump for all ships, not just bigger ships, and at low TL you can't have high jump even for small ships unlike LBB2); it has different tonnages for some ship parts; it uses energy points (so the more energy weapons you carry, the bigger the PP you need); it has armor; and it has more energy weapons. So some basic assumptions would have to change, especially in regard to jump drive availability.

Also, be warned that the HG combat system fits big ship engagements, not small ship ones; it could be quite boring for a single Free Trader vs. a pirate ship or two.

Alternatively, you could use LBB2 (with HG jump-drive TLs) for small ships on the frontier, and let politics keep the big (HG) fleets at home... But then again in such a case you could just use GM fiat for the homeworld dreadnoughts and just LBB2 for the small frontier ships and ignore HG altogether.

HG unleashed in the PC's "sandbox" is bad for a game - even "smallish" (in HG terms) warships such as Destroyers totally outclass anything the average PC has access to.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Festeria said...

The way HG changes things on all levels is certainly one reason I've avoided it here. (In its defense, at the very least it does what it does better than what Merchant Prince did for trade. Ick.) We're in total agreement in terms of of what happens when ships of the line invade PC play, whether they're HG or LBB2.

I've had a lot of fun in the past building HG fleets and blasting away: but yeah, I remember being unenthused the first time I tried using it for a S vs TP encounter.

I think that in terms of actual play I'm liable to go with the GM Fiat fleets.

9:44 AM  

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