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Re: FB2... hmmmm...

From: stiltman@t...
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 11:36:43 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: FB2... hmmmm...

> wrote:
> >Okay, I finally got in good enough financial shape that I picked up
> >that reserved copy of FB2 that the Military Corner had stuffed away 
> >for me, and I'm sort of looking over the stuff in here.  Lots of
> critiques
> >here.
> It's quite interesting to see how you "critique" just about everything
> forces you to use different tactics when flying/fighting the alien
> than you use when flying/fighting human ships... Sounds a bit odd from
> someone who claims to be used to coming up with counter-tactics to
> extreme designs <shrug>

Hey, hey... that letter was a collection of initial thoughts, nothing

> >Phalons' plasma bolts.... anyone besides me see lots of abuse
> >potential in a custom game?	Is this thing really intended to only be

> >three points per mass?  With a six inch radius... the thing's
> >a higher-end nova cannon that you can just dilute with screens and 
> >PDS.

> A higher-end nova cannon which is easier to aim and doesn't inflict
> "can't do anything else this turn" penalties, but which has only half
> range (and covers about one-fifth the area, since the PB template
> doesn't move) and is quite easy to degrade with point defence. Screens
> give better protection against PBs than they do against standard
> BTW.

Yes, noticed that.

> The important comparison is with Salvo Missiles however. You listed
> quite a few ways to counter SMs; there are at least as many ways to
> counter PBLs. The most important difference between SMs and PBs is
> the SMs have a high rate of fire and tend to hit a few ships hard,
> while the PBs have a low rate of fire and tend to inflict
> light-to-moderate damage on numerous ships.

That's basically my worry about them.  They won't make an entire mess by
themselves, I'm sure, but if you combined them with good backup...

> >Number cruncher note:  A class 5 K-gun on Kra'Vak ships is actually
> >more efficient than a class 6.
> That's intentional. Just like the K3 is intentionally designed to be
> more efficient than the K4, and the K4 more efficient than the K5...
> against targets with at most single-layer armour (eg. humans or
> Sa'Vasku). If you go up against Phalon capitals however, the bigger K
> guns are better since they waste a smaller proportion of their damage
> on the multiple shell layers.

> >In just about any sort of fighter operations, Sa'Vasku are in bad
> >shape. They have to consume biomass to launch fighters of their own
> >or to effect any sort of area defense, and their fighters are all
> >vanilla on attack.

> The Sa'Vasku are able to shred just about any incoming enemy fighter
> strike before it gets a shot off. Given enough time to grow drones, a
> Vas'Sa'Teth Elder Broodship can launch 13 drone groups, and
> afterwards run away at thrust-9 or hit you with the equivalent of 4
> Class-4 batteries... and it costs less than a Fragile-hulled Thrust-1
> human carrier with 13 fighter squadrons embarked but *no* other
> armament or defences.

Point.	Yeah, I was already coming around in this general direction...
Sa'Vasku might be a bit overpowered, yes.
> >On first glance it seems like the Kra'Vak have the advantage since
> >their fighters can all ignore screens without having to pay through 
> >the nose for torpedo bombers, 
> KV fighters never get any damage re-rolls, so they inflict
> less damage than human fighters against unscreened targets (including
> all fighter types) and are only marginally better against targets with
> level-1 screens.

Yes, but the trade-off you get for being able to ignore screens is a lot
less than the advantage.

> Their tendency to go Ro'Kah evens things out somewhat,
> but it is *very* annoying to have an exhausted "victorious" KV fighter
> group wiped out by a crippled enemy fighter squadron :-/

We don't use fighter morale in general (or involuntary striking of

> Firing plasma bolts at an ADFC phalanx means that 1) your own fighters
> can't easily attack said phalanx without getting fried themselves and
> 2) you maximize the number of PDS or equivalent systems available to
> shoot the plasma bolts down.

Positioning fighters together with plasma bolts so that both can attack
shouldn't be that hard.  Position the fighters on one side of where you
expect them to be, position the plasma on the other.

> >Another comment:  at further glance, it seems a bit like Phalons'
> >point defenses are kind of weak.
> Um... First you complain that the Phalon PBLs are extremely effective
> for killing fighters (they aren't, but they *are* very good for
> missiles), and now you complain that their point defences are too
> *weak*...?

Their _point_ defenses seem a bit weak.  The plasma, perhaps not.

And don't take _anything_ that I'm saying here as "complaining",
I'm giving initial thoughts, nothing more.
> >Their pulsers are nowhere near as efficient as PDS, scatterguns, or 
> >Sa'Vasku variants thereof,

> Compare the amount of PD dice a Phalon ship can fire with the number
> PDS systems on comparable human ships (particularly from FB1), and
> you'll usually find that the Phalons have more PD dice available than
> the humans.

Yes, with the designs in FB1... however, IMHO, the designs in FB1 are
poorly equipped in the PDS category.  It's extremely rare, for instance,
that any given front-line dreadnought/battleship in our games does _not_
have somewhere between three and five times as many PDS as the FB1

> >Granted, in the official designs nobody except the Kra'Vak
> >has particularly good defense against fighters... but the Phalons'
> >defenses seem to scale up the worst if you want to improve them.
> During the half-year of Phalon playtest battles I fought, I never saw
> enemy fighters inflict serious amounts of damage on the Phalon ships.
> Only one SM salvo did more than 5 points of damage, and that was after
> I rolled 5 '1's for Pulser PD fire... In my experience, the main
> of fighters or missiles against Phalons is to draw enough Pulser
> firepower away that the enemy combat ships don't get shredded. OK,
> these battles were only 1500 points so there obviously weren't 40+
> enemy squadrons, but OTOH there weren't 5000 points of Phalons to
> them down either <shrug>

Well, 40+ fighter squadrons would annihilate the Phalon designs in the
They just don't have the pulser firepower in there to shoot down the
fast enough.  I don't have the FB2 in front of me, but IIRC the largest
Phalon warships had about 12 pulsers and you could get about five of
them for
5000 points.  Extreme examples probably are not going to put up too many
more pulsers than that... and just 60 dice, even in a phalanx, is
near enough point defense to protect yourself from 40+ fighters.
> >Sure, against other _ships_ they're probably worth it, but if you
> >just piled enough fighters and missiles on them they'd get blown 
> >away fairly easily.	
> Missiles can't dodge, so they die *very* easily to plasma bolts -
> you're prepared to let your fighters (or PDS-armed ships) risk suicide
> shoot the plasma bolts down first. It is quite difficult to use massed
> missiles effectively against a well-handled Phalon force.

Okay, take aside the missiles remark. :)

> Massed fighters work somewhat better than massed missiles, but again
> you need *lots* of fighters if you want them to do the actually
> - enough that you won't have any supporting combat ships to speak of.

Yes... and if I'm flying that many fighters, the only supporting ships
going to worry about is the needle-armed craft to take out ADFC.
> >It's probably I'm missing something... 

> You don't seem to have actually played the Phalons yet, so you may
> missing reality :-/

Hey there... what say we switch our game from Full Thrust to "let's
this is an impersonal discussion", okay?

> >My primary infamy among my Full Thrust circles is for my carrier
> >forces.
> <chuckle> Now I suddenly understand why you seem to dislike FB2 so
> intensely :-/

If I didn't say it, I didn't say it.

> >I'm envisioning a giant "Death Star" like varmint to neatly fill out
> >the full 5000 points of one of my custom games.  The present version
> >from FB1-only tech is at mass 1200 and fills out a nasty fighter 
> >complement.	As I was driving to work in the morning I was 
> >pondering how plasma bolts might make it even nastier, and arrived at

> >something like this: 
> >1200 mass
> >Structure:  360 (Avg)
> >Thrust: 1
> >FTL
> > FireCons (13)
> > Armor (30 or so)
> >Plasma Bolts (8 x 4 dice each)
> >Fighter Bays (41 or so, all normal fighters)
> >Class 3 batteries (10 x 3 arcs)
> >Needle beams (15)
> >PDS (about 30)
> Rounds out at Mass 1232, 5109 points including fighters.

Here's the actual math I did when I sat down to do it... if you don't
a fixed-width font on your mailer this may come out looking funny...

					Mass	 Pts
					----	----
1200 mass					1200

Structure:  360 			 360	 720
Thrust: 1				  60	 120
FTL					 120	 240

FireCons (13)				  13	  52
Armor (11)				  11	  22

Plasma bolts (32 dice total)		 160	 480
Fighter bays (41)			 369	1107
   Fighters (41)				 738
Class 3's (10 x 3 arcs) 		  60	 180
Needle beams (15)			  30	  90
PDS (17)				  17	  51
					----	----
					1200	5000

> >Now then... what you'll have coming at you is 32 dice of plasma bolts
> >and 41 fighter groups.
> The Dreadstar is virtually immobile, so assuming a reasonably large
> gaming table the only weapons able to reach the enemy are its fighters
> - unless the enemy either screws up, or allows you to shoot him for
> some reason. You can play on a small table with fixed edges in Vector,
> of course; that'll make your above design quite effective.

We play cinematic on a table where about 70MU usually seperates the two
sides at the start and about 15-20MU behind each side is the boundary.

> >It wouldn't necessarily be invincible... but off the top of my head
> >right now,  _I_ sure can't think of too many (broadly sound) tactics 
> >that would stop it.
> On a fixed-edge table, the easiest options are to take a Kra'Vak fleet
> (kiss your fighters goodbye and watch your PBs miss <g>),

Not convinced of that at all.  To take down that many fighters, you're
to need about 80 scatterguns.  If I hold back the fighters until the
has burned away either your fleet or your scatterguns, then pile on at
this isn't a foregone conclusion in the Kra'Vak's favor at all.  Once
down to less than about 20-30 scatterguns the fighters can quite
dogpile your ships at will.  The plasma bolts won't miss _all_ day, and
you're zigzagging that badly (or dividing your fleet up to keep them
hitting everything at once) I can either not worry about their main
or let the fighters pick off individual ships at a time without caring
scatterguns much.

I'd make a battle of it. ;)

> or a Phalon
> fleet with decent Interceptor support (8-12 squadrons is enough to
> break up your squadrons enough for the Pulsers and PBLs to deal with
> the rest) and all Pulsers set to C configuration.

8-12 squadrons of interceptors would get annihilated by 41 squadrons of
regular fighters... and with only about 60 dice of point defense, the
remaining fighters and plasma together probably wouldn't be terribly
worried there, either.

> On a floating-edge table, any ship with a single Class-4 or bigger
> and a thrust rating of 2 or more will eventually pick the dreadplanet
> apart once your fighters have been swatted - unless it hypers out
> of course, but in that case it has conceded defeat anyway.

This is more feasible if you have large enough space (we don't usually,
play on a floor with inch-scale and if you go off the board, you're
and if you know what I'm doing in advance (which, again, we don't).

> >>>If we opened the door to mixing alien tech in here, my worry is
> >>>that the plasma bolts could pretty quickly make a mess of things.
> >>It could, Oerjan and others put many hours in to costing the
> >>various weapons so as mixing shouldn't be a problem, but it wasn't
> >>actually ever tested on the table, thus the cautionary note Jon 
> >>included in FB2. 

> To tell the truth I'm a lot more worried about the Sa'Vasku than about
> the
> Phalons or Kra'Vak. Plasma Bolts are no harder to counter than Salvo
> Missiles - different counter-tactics, certainly, but I doubt it'll
> any
> longer to figure out than the couple of months the SMs were thought to
> be invincible after FB1 was published :-/

Heh... I don't doubt that plasma bolts will have a counter, and that
will be able to deal with them in some way or another.

And I agree with you... the longer I think about the Sa'Vasku the more
imbalanced they potentially seem.
> >>>The main mess that I see is, if you can't establish fighter
> >>>superiority, it's usually not worth it to bother with fighters at
> all....

> When you use the fighter morale rules, a smattering of Interceptors is
> quite useful for breaking up enemy fighter squadrons (or for
> intercepting missiles). Killing half the fighters in a squadron
> its combat effectiveness to less than a quarter :-/

We don't use them, and we also allow recombining of wounded groups into
wholes even if we did.	When there's 240+ fighters out there with you,
three of your buddies doesn't seem like a reason to panic to us.  :)

> [On Sa'Vasku]

Most of this is granted.  My initial thoughts on this subject appear to
been completely wrong. :)
 The Stilt Man
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   < surrender your money.  Antitrust law is irrelevant.	>
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