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Big Guns and Small Ships (was Re: house rules/offline)

From: Jerry Han <jhan@i...>
Date: Sat, 18 Oct 1997 12:59:42 -0400
Subject: Big Guns and Small Ships (was Re: house rules/offline)

Some thoughts on the Big Guns/Small Ships idea:

Status: RO

One thing we have to be careful about drawing analogies is that the
technology curve doesn't necessarily apply in all cases.

I've seen a lot of analogies drawn between WWII battleships and 
destroyers, and the need for smaller quick-firing guns to compensate
for that. You also have to remember that the big disadvantage of big
guns against small ships was that they took so long to cycle; a
small ship, with its maneuverability, could maneuver out of solution
before the guns had a chance to shoot again.  (Compare this to the
large "fast" battleships, which were only four to eight knots slower
than destroyers, but took several counties to turn.  (8-) )  

Unfortunately, in FT and most sci-fi universes, guns are lasers, or
phasers, or rapid-fire rail cannon; things where reload rate is
irrelevant, and the speed of the projectile is so high that even if
you miss with the first shot, you can easily compensate and tag the
bugger with the second.  End of Story.	(Examine Starfire, or 
the Honour Harrington Books, or the B5 Universe.  You're small, you
die easily in the line of battle.  HH is the strongest example of 
this; I would not want to take a destroyer, or even a squadron of
destroyers, against a Superdreadnought.)

Thus, in these other universes, the construction of small ships must
be justified by other factors; expense and numbers.  Unfortunately,
these are only factors in campaign style games, where you need 
destroyers and the like as convoy escorts, pickets, scouts, and
"distractions."  (While somewhat callous, it is a role that small
ships have fulfilled from time immemorial.  WWII is full of examples
of destroyers and cruisers taking on opponents twice their 
displacement, to let the convoy get away.)

While trying to fix the system so that a "balanced" fleet will win 
against a "Munchkin(tm)" fleet is admirable, and highly desired, I 
don't think it's possible.  What I will suggest though is this: why
not fight a destroyer or destroyer/cruiser only action?  Precedents
exist in large numbers from that Pacific War in WWII, and in most
modern conflicts from that point on.  (The Egyptian Osa II patrol
boats that sank that Israeli destroyer in '73 is a good case.)	
Sure, it isn't as sexy, but it's a lot more fun.  (Mark K. might 
even be able to hit something with his pulse torps. (8-) )

Sorry for the ramble.


*** Jerry Han - - ***
"Turned away from it all, like a blind man.  Sat on a fence but it 
don't work.  Keep coming up with love, but it's so slashed and torn.
	    Why why why? " - Queen, "Under Pressure"

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