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Re: Real Space Combat Help:

From: Samuel Penn <sam@b...>
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 1997 09:29:49 -0400
Subject: Re: Real Space Combat Help:

In message <> you wrote:

> Samuel Penn wrote:
> > Sounds good, but I don't like Renegade Legion itself too much,
> > and getting hold of it is a real pig anyway.

Having said that, I wandered into my local game shop this morning,
and saw both Prefect and Leviathan for sale. I've bought them both.
>From the quick skim read I did of the tactics section, they seem
sensible enough.

> Not like RenLeg?  Heretic!  He must be burned!  The Terran Overlord
> Government will see you crucified, Commonwealth scum.  ;)

Only ever played Interceptor, and I found the damage system
interesting, but I didn't think it added enough to the game given
its relative complexity. It's definitely not unplayable, but
could do with a few tweeks.

> > There's also drive systems to take into account - ask any Kzin :)
> > (a reaction drive puts out lots of energy, over a reasonable
> > range, so even an 'unarmed' freighter has at least one weapon).
> Depends on what you consider reasonable range.  If you're using
> Hydrogen or Helium for acceleration mass, you're probably not going to
> be throwing enough out to provide a decent impediment to someone not
> /incredibly/ stupid, flying up your tailpipe, as it were. 
> take it to less than the density of a nebular area darn quick.

For a standard drive yes, though a big freighter could probably put
out quite a punch. If the drive has been designed with this feature
in mind, its use might be practical. Unfortunately, I don't know
enough physics to do the maths. If someone is trying a boarding
action against you though, it could be a last ditch option.

> > For kinetic kill, you probably want railguns rather than missiles,
> > they're a *lot* cheaper giving that success ratio is going to be
> > extremely low in either case. If you've got a guided missile,
> > it's probably best putting a nuke on it.
> For the mass invested, a smart missile is going to be a /lot/ more
> efficent for /you/ to carry around.  Successful hits will be much more
> oft seen because the seeker will take the missile in as close as
> possible before turning loose the submunitions.  Gauss cannons have to
> compute based on the information /you/ can see, not from far closer to
> the target.

Each gauss cannon round is much less massive, and also a lot
cheaper (and lower tech) than any single missile. Stopping a
single missile is also a lot easier than stopping a thousand
lumps of depleted uranium.

I don't know what the cost difference between a smart KE missile
and a smart nuke missile would be, but it may not be worth going
just for a KE missile, when a nuke is more effective.

> Think of fighters as drones with organically produced seeker modules
> with recoverability.	All a missile really /is/, at core, is a drone
> aircraft/spacecraft that carries some means of dealing death to the
> target.
> If its difficult (for whatever reasons) to build sufficently smart
> seekers, pilots will be the guidance system to take death from the cap
> ship to near the enemy, within the maneuver sphere to where the AI
> seekers are good enough to impact.  If AI's are sufficently
> to take the death there themselves, there won't be much need or use
> fighters.  Its a function of sensor and intelligence technologies.

I don't expect space combat to occur at this level until at least
the late half of next century, by which time we should have decent
enough AI (as in targetting and tactical skill, not personality)
systems. If we don't, then yes, fighters are definitely useful.

> > I tend to see ships as going for heavy armour rather than
> > manoevrability, with lots of direct energy weapons. At any
> If you go for heavy armour and plodding maneuvers with laser weaponry,
> my fleet that's built on fast maneuvering and projectile weaps will
> /always/ be able to get around your maneuver sphere, stay out of your
> effective range and throw things into your maneuver sphere that you
> won't be able to dodge.

But if I'm protecting a planet, I can afford to have high thrust
low efficiency drives, massive arrays of active sensors (so what
if I give away my position? You knew I was here anyway), and well
dug in laser and missile silos on a moon, or in a conviently
captured asteroid. Assuming of course that I'm going for a purely
defensive posture.

If I'm attacking a planet, then I'm going to that planet. I don't
_need_ to manouevre a great deal. So you send out half your forces
to outflank me, so what? In space, if my armour and point defence
systems are as good on my rear (and top, bottom and sides) as they
are in my front, it doesn't grant you that much of an advantage.

Where manouevrability does come into it (as described in Prefect),
is that you can move your defences from other outposts to the
one I'm attacking in time to help defend it. Also I don't have
the delta-vee to keep options open for many targets to force you
to split your defences between all of them.

> a balanced interstellar fleet should make use of /both/.

As always, very true.

> > If the enemy controls orbit, then don't *ever* fight an open ground
> > battle, unless you're absolutely positive all enemy weapon platforms
> > will be over the horizon.
> If the enemy controls orbit, you're done for /anyway/.

Not true. America lost in Vietnam despite having air superiority,
better technology etc etc. Iraqi forces were decimated because
they had to fight a war in the open, and stealth bombers and
what-not-else could pick them off at leisure.

If you have the guts to continue fighting a guerilla war, hitting
soft targets, performing terrorist actions within cities etc, then
there's not much that orbital superiority can do (unless it's
_really_ good).

The only way you're only ever going to kick them off your planet,
is to keep on nibbling at them until they get fed up and go home,
or you get extremely lucky. Don't ever think of building big bases,
moving large amounts of equipment and supplies, or performing any
long (where 'long' could be as short as a few seconds) engagements
though, because you'll loose.

> attacker is understrength, you might as well give in.  If the enemy
> understrength, their best tactic is to take and hold local orbital
> and consolidate through ground forces.

Or build Archangel Michael (if you don't understand that reference,
then why haven't you read _Footfall_ (Niven and Pournelle) yet? :) ).

> (Prefect models this /very/ well.  You can take any strategy you like,
> but unless you have at least temporary orbital local control, you're
> about to get pasted.)

Guess what I'm going to be reading this afternoon? :)

> > If attack a world, this is of course what you'd use. A world can't
> > dodge, and follows a totaly predictable orbit. Launching the rock
> > two years ago isn't implausible.
> Of course, you may want to /inhabit/ the world after, but for
> genocidal bombardment, big rocks down the well are perfect.

The rock may be an improvement. Chuck a big ice asteroid at Mars,
you wipe out it's unwanted colonists, and give Mars a bit of
surface water and atmosphere as well, ready for _your_ colonists.
 :) :)

> All you know is where they are /right that minute of the burn/. 
> Directional information is something you /don't/ have.

The burn has to be for a period of time greater than zero though.
If it's long enough, I can plot the ships course. How long
'long enough' is depends on available sensor systems. You want
to make a high-thrust short burn to reduce my information as much
as possible. If the ship is crewed, then you've got a limitation
on how high a thrust you can safely achieve.

In practise, I should have a good idea of your vector, but there
will be a fair amount of uncertainty.

> > On top of that, they *will* be detectable. If you know where to
> > look, it is very easy to detect something in space. If the enemy
> > isn't expecting you, creeping up on them undetected may well be
> > an option.
> Space is a big place.  Looking is hard.

Looking is easy if you know where to look. If you don't know
where the enemy is, or even if they're there, then looking is

Be seeing you,

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