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Stealth, with feeling. (looong)

From: "Izenberg, Noam" <Noam.Izenberg@j...>
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 10:50:23 -0500
Subject: Stealth, with feeling. (looong)

I'm home, and I'm sick. Joy to the world. Here I'll respond a little to
10 digest's work of stealth back and forth.

Please forgive me if I fail to attribute correctly. I am also likely to
repeat some things already long dead by list standards. My apologies. 

Re: Stealth fighters
JTL >  While I agree with most of the above, heavy fighters are
considered to
JTL > be at level one screen, not armored.   Kra'vak fighters are
armored not 
JTL > screened.   
JTL >	   The object of 'stealth' is to reduce/eliminate the ability of
JTL > enemy to detect the stealth ship.   Once detected, the stealth
ship is just
JTL > another target!	It is wildly unfair to change the premise of
stealth to equal
JTL > that of a screen simply because you are likely to be shot at.  

I suppose that is so, but I think the granularity of FT is too big to
allow a large number of subtle different effects. All other things
aside, If a fighter is 'stealthy, ' as in harder to target, is it not
logical to reduce the effectiveness of a PDS die to bring that PSB
effect into game terms? The Heavy fighter in MT (p 12.) says it is
"better protected against attack by armored hulls, heavier structural
components, etc.... treeat them as if they had level 1 screens" This is
_exactly_  the same rationale as stealth for fighters. And by this
rationale, each fighter gets this protection, so rerolls are the same as
initial rolls. I'm not quoting rules to be a rules lawyer, but rather to
show that the low resolution of the game allows - indeed demands - this
kind of simplification.

As for stealth 2 being unbalanced, If it turns out to be, I'll happily
increase the cost.

JTL >  This also
JTL > invites the same change at ship level when the ship is likely to
be shot at.
JTL > I personally dislike situational rules, they invite abuse and hard
JTL > feelings.

I also dislike situational rules, but fighter armor and ship armor are
treated differently because of the resolution of FT. Why not fighter
stealth and ship stealth?

JTL > >      In the game the stealth appears to have blocked all
JTL > > sensors on the affected ships and placed the weapons systems
JTL > > a 'local'  fire control mode as all beam weapons were reduced by
JTL > > the same percentage.=20

OER>Depends on how you consider weapon fire to occur.

OER> My view - biased by Starfire, but that's rather unavoidable in my
case -
OER> is that a weapon's effect is gradually attenuated over range. This
OER> attenuatioin is partially offset by accurate enough targetting. "1
OER> of damage" isn't necessarily a *single* hit - it may just as well
OER> several minor hits, combining to make up 1 point... and if your
OER> targetting is poor enough that you can't get enough hits on target
OER> inflict that single point, the weapon is no longer able to inflict
OER> damage. 

Got it in one, Oerjan! The FT turn is anywhere from five minutes to 20+
minutes depending on your preference. Weapons can fire alot in 20
minutes, FT abstracts multiple firings of variously attenuated weapons
over a turn into a singe die roll per weapon. It is the same as the old
D&D style of melee where each 'turn' was one minute of combat, and you
only got one chance 'to hit' per turn.

OER> This explanationi also helps explain how the NAC could see the NI
OER> at all when they were outside maximum weapons range - they just
OER> get a good enough fix on them to hit them with enough shots to make
OER> count :-/


JTL >>	    I am looking forward to the next edition of stealth ships,
JTL >> thrust 6, 2 stealth, 2 screen and all weapons in the AS or AP
JTL >> These should be lots of fun.   JTL

OER> Thrust 6, 2 levels of stealth, 2 levels of screen... that's 60% of
OER> total Mass before you include the hull structure.....
OER> ... especially since you need long-ranged weapons (Class-3 or
OER> to benefit fully from the stealth :-/

Another bingo. Stealth is expensive in terms of mass and cost. Plus its
an easy fix to say that active screens nullify the effects of stealth.
That would be logical to me.

OER> A Strong hull with Thrust-6 and Stealth-1 has used up 80% of its
OER> before putting on FTL and weapons. A Strong hull with Thrust-6 and
OER> Stealth-2, or a Super hull with Thrust-6 and Stealth-1,  has to
OER> between weapons and FTL drive. Somehow I think the restriction
OER> really necessary even though the PSB makes sense.

Ah. True enough. Good point.

RE: HEavy and stealth fighter costs
Oerjan, I wouldn't bet against your statistical analysis. Raising the
cost of heavy (and stealth) fighters wouldn't bother me in the least if
that would balance them better. Can you figure in the increased
probablility of stealth or heavy fighters being drawn into furballs by
interceptors? If they are known to be that much more effective, they
will surely be the primary targets of interceptors, which will reduce
their cobat effectiveness against ships to zero while they are engaged
in dogfights. Perhaps this would shave a couple points off? Hm? ;)

JTL >	 The stealth ship is 22 inches from my ship.   I fire a type 3
JTL > because the ship is within the range where I can see it on my
sensors.   The
JTL > type two beam cannot hit the stealth ship because it cannot see
the stealth ship
JTL > using the same sensors.

Heeere's the problem. The stelath ship is harder to lock on to. The
class 3 beam can't pinpoint it well enough tto hit with any accuracy
until 24", ath that point, it's destructive potential would normally be
twice that at 36", but since it's still not easily able to lock on to
the stealth ship, it can't connect witht he full power of the weapon.
The class 2 beam _can_ see the ship, but at it's maximum normal range,
the addintional difficulty in locking onto the stealth ship means it,
too will not be effective at this range.  It's a subtle but important
distinction. Oerjan did a much better job with this than I with his
message of Jan 26.

JTL > The stealth directly affects the performance of my weapons on my
JTL > even when I have a sensor lock on the target ship.
JTL > Do you see a problem here, I do.

But you don't have a sensor lock. You have a probable location of the
enemy, but even at range 22" you're still not locked. That's why class
3's get only 1 die from 16-24". By the PSB of stealth, the only time you
have a _true_ lock on the enemy is when it is within 8" (for stealth 2)
and all weapons fire full dice against it.

Re: Stealth battles and range:
OER >  On a cramped playing area with fixed
OER > borders, long-range and stealth ships are crippled. (Note that the
OER > Iceberg-Kochte battle was fought on the floor - ie, a
comparatively large
OER > playing area.)

Too true. I wouldn't play the kind of scenario I played with Indy on
just any pair of gaming tables unless we were using cm as our units.

Re: Fighter Costs:
OER > This gives a total cost for Heavy squadrons including bay of 98
OER > (using standard re-rolls) or 101 pts (using "screened" re-rolls),
ie a
OER > cost increase of +11 or +14 pts (both of which are pretty close to
OER > current +12), and for the Super-Heavies 114 or 123 pts, ie +27 or
+36 pts
OER > (both of which are higher than Noam's +24, particularly since he
OER > used "screened" re-rolls - but very, *very* much lower than my
OER > +63 pts of yesterday :-) ).=20

The number wiz strikes again. I'll buy this striaght up. I'd easily cost
stealth 1 fighters at +14 per squadron, assuming that rerolls are vs.
stealth 1, adn stealth 2 and +36 per squadron. To clarify the class 1
vs. stealth, I'd say they were unmodified vs. stealth 1 (even a few
glancing hits from a class 1 would destroy a fighter), and hit on a 6
vs. stealth 2.

Re: Back to weapon range
JTL >	   With the target at 22 inches in the prior example, and the
JTL > stealth ship on the sensors, and the 'A/3' battery able to fire
JTL > normally, I just cannot justify the inability of the 'B/2' to
JTL > fire/hit.   The stealth aspect of the target ship is gone!
Remember, the Class 3 batt does _not_ fire normally. It's effective
range _bands_ are reduced (0-8", 8-16, adn 16-24). The stealth does not
magically disappear for some weapons and not for others.

JTL >	  This all sounds more in the area of ECM (WW) than stealth.  

Just different PSB.

JTL > Stealth is a passive system and has no value once defeated.
JTL > ECM (WW) is an active system designed to fool/mislead the enemy=20
JTL > sensors. (and thereby degrade the performance of the enemy

I see stealth doing the same thing you see ECM doing. I have no problem
envisioning passive hull modifications/materials that are designed to
fool enemy sensors, and work at all ranges.

LAS > I understand Oerjan's "lots of shots in the right area" concept
and agree
LAS >with it; however, I have to side with John's p.o.v. on the way
LAS >should work.  The function of stealth is to prevent the enemy from
LAS >you are there.  

Not in my book. The enemy can know where you are (to within the mu) all
he wants, he just can't lock his weapons on to you. Hiding your location
is the job of the cloak. In my original description of stealth I said
that it would affect detection, but left it non-specific, since
detection and sensor rules are a value added part of FT anyway. I'm not
going to make a case for how stealth would affect general sensor
detection any time soon. I want to get the combat effects clarified and
balanced first.

MWS > The FCS system in FT is, quoting from FT2 pg 7:
MWS > "... a suite of sensor systems and computer facilities to direct
the f=
MWS > ire of a ship's offensive weaponry ..."
MWS >	 "Each FreCon system permits the ship to engage ONE target ..."
MWS > Now, while this is very basic stuff, it does very strongly imply
that the
MWS >  FCS system work in a very similar manner as the Fire Control
systems on modern
MWS > jets.  
[Snip modern analog]
MWS > The range of the weapon used is independent of the range and
MWS > ability of the FCS, since you can use *any* FCS mounted on a ship
to fire
MWS > *any* weapon.

No argument here.

MWS > If your "stealth hull" affects the FCS of an opposing ship, then
the only=
MWS >  two main game effects that make any sense given the PSB of the
FCS are as fol=
MWS > lows:

MWS > 1) It can degrade the ability of the FCS to "lock on" to the
target at all
MWS >	ranges. This would reduce the "to hit" roll of all weapons, not
the range 
MWS >	(in a manner similar to standard screens vs beams).

That's a matter of interpretation. If you look at it the way I do (and
Oerjan, too, I think', degrading the lock on can _instead_ be
interpreted as reducing a weapon's effective range bands.

MWS > 2) It can "hide" the ship from the opposing FCS at range.  This is
the effect that MWS > you are trying for.  

Actually, no. It is effect 1 that I am looking for. Effect 2 is a
co-incidental result of the reduction of range bands.

MWS > Unfortunately, the weapons range reduction as you have proposed
just doesn't
MWS > fit in using the PSB provided <g>.

I'll bow to the higher authorities on this, but I think I've got a
reasonable case.

MWS > A single FCS can be used to direct any number of weapons against a
MWS > target - subject to individual weapons restrictions, of course
(Pulse Topr,
MWS > Needle Beam, etc.).  If so, how can a single FCS lock on to a
stealthed ship
MWS > at 20 MU well enough to fire several Class 3 beams at the target,
and yet
MWS > still be confused enough to not be able to fire its battery of
Class 2 beams
MWS > at the same target?  It *has* target lock, otherwise the Class 3's
MWS > fire - so why can't the Class 2's smite the stealthed ship as

Again, Oerjan has said it better, but. At 20 MU, the FCS has _not_
locked onto a stealthed ship. It's got a better idea of where it is -
good enough that the 20 minute	barrage of class 3 beam fire abstracted
into a single die roll for that weapo for that turn may in fact be able
to hit enough to do some damage. But the class 2's are still not
effective, since they're more attenuated and weaker at this range, and
their barrage is too spread out to accumulate a 'point' of damage. When
firing against a stealth 2 ship _no_ FCS has a _lock_. It only has a
better or worse idea of where the stealth ship is. The closer the range,
the tighter the focus, but only when the stealth ship is very close (8"
for stealth 2) can all beam weapons fire at it without penalty. Your
assumption seems to be that you can't fire and hit without a 100% lock.
My assumption is that you can (and must) fire at stealth ships without
100% lock. 

Once more with feeling:
JTL >	 Having pinpointed your position when your ship crossed the 24
JTL >  line, my 'A/3' can fire at your because you are 'target locked'
at 22 inches.  
JTL >  There is no logical reason that my 'B/2' cannot fire on you at 22
JTL >  because you are 'target locked' and within range.    JTL

1) The A/3 is _not_ target locked. 
2) The A/3 does 1 die damage because it has to cover more sky with the
same power to hit the probable location of the target target at all.
3) B/2 is also not atarget locked
4) B/2 can fire, but, since it also has to cover more sky with the same
energy, it can't total enough damage to do a single die damage until
range 16"

JTL's sensor rules:
Interesting, and probably would work in the campagn setting. The part of
Minbari stealth I'm modifyinginto FT is the ability to almost see them
visually, but still not target them with weapons. The Earth Force dhips
_knew_ the Minbari were there, but couldn't get a lock with weapons.

That's quite a few mouthfuls. Sorry to have taken so much list space
with it. John (and Mark Shurtleff, and Laserlight) we may simply have to
agree to disagree about this, or maybe hash it out with a beer or three

" But if its locked on, it can hit"
" But it can't lock on"
" But it can do damage, so it's locked on to _something_"
" Not necessarily..."

Noam R. Izenberg

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