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Re: FB2... hmmmm...

From: "Oerjan Ohlson" <oerjan.ohlson@t...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2000 23:11:37 +0200
Subject: Re: FB2... hmmmm...

This got a bit long, since I'm replying to two posts at once. wrote:

>>OK, this explains a lot. The fighter morale rule is *the* major
>>balancing mechanism for human/Phalon fighters; removing it 
>>roughly doubles their firepower.  ("Balance" as in "don't need to 
>>pick exactly the right super-specialized gimmick fleet to have a 
>>chance against my enemy's super-specialized gimmick fleet, but >>have
a fighting chance with a fairly wide selection of fleet styles".)
>Oh, that's _much_ too harsh a description of the situation,

Not at all. It is a somewhat toned-down version of how I read your
previous descriptions of your situation, and it is my own experience
against "immoral" human fighters.

>The adjustment that's been made to facilitate this is that ths bulk of
>our fleets that don't carry large numbers of fighters have their
>individual ships -- all of them, not merely the escorts -- designed as

>cogs for an area defense phalanx.  Each large battleship is built with
>good 10-20 PDS and an ADFC.

According to your own previous post, your opponents usually "don't do
that because of your _other_" [infamous design, don't remember your
exact words here], ie. the one with neither missiles nor fighters but
level-2 screens and lots of P-torps. IOW, you force them to guess which
gimmick fleet you'll use in order to pick the correct counter-gimmick
fleet to have a chance to win. They, of course, try to do the same to

This is exactly what I referred to as a "pick exactly the right
super-specialized gimmick fleet" and what Mikko calls "counter-move
designs" or "GW gaming". OK, maybe not "super-specialized", only "very
heavily specialized", but it's still a very good example of what I

>>Without the fighter morale rules human/Phalon fighters should have
>>a base cost of 8 points each (48 per squadron, rather than the 
>>current 18). All costs for heavy/attack/ long-range/torpedo fighters
>>rise in proportion (+2 pts/fighter for Attack or Long-Range, +5 
>>pts/fighter for Heavy, +7 for Torpedo).
>That's not balance.  That's neutering them.

It is not balance in *your* games - because, as you have described
previously, you're already into countermove designing. It is, however,
quite well balanced against the FB-style ships in my archive in the
absence of the MT fighter morale rules.

>They're _already_ one of the most expensive weapons in the game.  

Sure. And they're also one of the most powerful, particularly if they
are used en masse the way you do and they aren't limited by the morale
rules. Powerful weapons tend to be expensive.

>If you don't want to worry about fighters, build a phalanx with about
>100 PDS. If your opposition doesn't pile the fighters well into the
>fourties they're not even going to significantly touch you.  Even if 
>they do, they're going to need to bring backup help to last more than
>about three turns.

And if my opposition doesn't bring offensive fighters or missiles but
up on direct-fire weapons instead - ie., I guess wrong about which
gimmick fleet to use this time - I lose the battle before it has even
started. Not particularly interesting IMO, but YMMV.

[On KV fighters]

>>The big gain is their Ro'Kah ability, and that's a rather two-edged
>>sword. They effectively treat all targets, screened or not, as
>>having level-1 screens (or level-0.95).
>Well, beam fighters do 4 26/36 points of damage per six dice to
>unscreened ships, 3 26/36 points to level 1, and 2 26/36 points to
>level 2.

Unless you have modified the re-roll rules (to not re-rolling re-rolls
come up with a "6"), the correct values are 4 4/5, 3 4/5 and 2 4/5.

>K-gun fighters do 4 points to everything. The damage drop to 
>screened ships is, IMO, well worth being able to combine the extra 
>attack power against screened ships with no sacrifice at all in
>to-fighter attacks (where the K-gun fighters are identical to 
>everything else).

Beam fighters get to re-roll 6s in dogfights, so inflict 4 4/5 hits per
dice vs non-Heavy fighters and either 3 4/5 or 3 3/5 vs Heavies
depending on how you interpret the rule. Interceptors (which are a
sub-set of beam fighters) inflict 7 1/5 hits per 6 dice vs non-Heavies
and either 6 1/30 or 6 damage vs Heavies. Kra'Vak fighters inflict a
flat 4 per 6 dice against all targets. "Identical"?

>>>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.
>>And where exactly do you expect a high-thrust (or 
>>Kra'Vak/Sa'Vasku) ship starting at speed ~24 to be? <g>
>If you're flying that fast, I won't care about predicting.  Your guns
>have one arc.


That was news to me, actually. I was quite unaware that any Sa'Vasku
ships only had one-arc weapons, and I also didn't know that the
high-thrust (6+) human and Phalon ships were so restricted. Must've
done something seriously wrong the past six or so years...


My gaming table is slightly larger (in measuring units, not in physical
size) than your floor, and at speed 20-24 I can maneuver thrust-4 human
or Phalon ships comfortably without having to float the table. Thrust-6
ships are comfortable at speeds around 30. On your slightly smaller
gaming area I may need to slow down the thrust-4 ships to on average
speed ~20 and the thrust-6 ones to on average speed ~24, but I'll still
be up to around 30 during the attack runs.

>All I'd worry about in that case is making sure that arc isn't
>pointed at me without it either hurting you or forcing you to burn
>scatterguns. If you were flying that fast, I'd probably halve my
>plasma output per turn and fire half my guns alternating every other 
>turn so that I can keep 16 dice of plasma going out every single turn,
>to keep you dancing.

You would have to. You would also have to sit absolutely still and not
move at all in order to keep all your one- and three-arc guns trained
at me, or you'll very soon have my entire fleet in your blind arc;
however, if you don't move at all it is trivial for me to execute my
attack run at the time and from the direction of my choosing. More
comments on this further below.

>However... on that note, I'm going to set up a game with my wife to
>try this out.	I'm going to probably do a nice fleet math design and 
>give her five 1000 point off-Kra'Vak megabattleships with a total of 
>around 95 scatterguns (which is about twice what normal Kra'Vak 
>ships in the FB2 book will sport for 5k points).

Curious about your maths here. The average number of scatterguns in a
5000-point vanilla FB2 KV fleet is in the 60-65 range, and last time I
checked 95 was only about 50% more than that..? 

By choosing your ships carefully you can get about 90 scatterguns for
5000 points of unmodified FB2 KV designs, though it'll be a bit light
in big-K strength.

>That will give her enough scattershot to annihilate half again the 
>monster's total fighter complement. 

That's assuming rather lucky die rolls, unless you regroup the fighters
the very instant they take losses. With no carry-over of excess damage,
2 scatterguns per squadron (82 in total) give an average kill rate of
"only" of 91% since overkills against each squadron is wasted, and
she'll want some scatterguns against your PBs as well.

>We'll see if she can keep the things away from plasma well enough to
>take out the mothership before I can dilute her scattershot enough to
>let the fighters shred her.  That'll be a tough fight.

Depends on how good she is at maneuvering. I'm quite certain I can do
it - if I can do this to a squadron of Voth-class Phalon heavies, a
ship with
only half the maneuverability and firepower shouldn't be *that* much
harder <g> - but if she hasn't flown Kra'Vak before it might take her a
couple of battles to learn how to handle them well. At least that was
the general experience during the FB2 playtests.

>>Not really. The main difference between the FB1 ships and the
>>currently ~800 player designs from all over the planet I've collected
>>over the years since FB1 was published is that the custom fleets 
>>tend to have more units with ADFC,

...and three of the four "official" FB1 fleets also have more ADFC
units than are shown on the SSDs; some of these are explicitly
mentioned in the background blurbs, and others are hinted at.

>>However, most or all of those designs were created for use with the
>>fighter morale rules just like the FBx ships were; I'd be quite
>>interested in adding your designs to the archive as examples of
>>ships designed for other types of games.
>I've got a good sized notebook full of both my own designs and a few
>of my brother-in-law's.  I can probably put up some sort of sampling 
>of  them.

Please do :-)

>>[On Phalons vs. fighters]
>>>...with 15 needle beams, that's two and a half hits per turn.
>>With 15 needle beams on a thrust-1 ship in Cinematic, you're lucky
>>if you get to fire three needle beams per turn. If all of your needle
>>beams are in the same fire arc you'll get to fire them at best once
>>during the battle. Not very "sustained" fire IMO, but YMMV.
>Ah... here's where the subtlety comes in.  :)

It is also where maneuverability comes in...

>As I mentioned in response to Roger, 

Commented below

>those needles aren't there with
>the expectation that they'll be fired every turn or even every game. 
>They're there to give you a reason _not_ to park any ships you can 
>get past the fighter cover at point blank range and try to trade shots

>with the thing's ship-to-ship armament. They'll be aiming for fire 
>controls.  If you park your ship anywhere near it, I'll park and spin

This is a quite different idea from your suggested "two and a half hits
turn" above. It is also based on a very false assumption about Roger's
or my tactics.

I won't "park" near you and give you an opportunity to spin to face
since Roger is a fairly recent convert to the Ohlson high-speed school
of flying I strongly doubt he will do so either). Instead I'll do a
series of high-speed attack runs - start outside the dreadstar's
effective weapon range
(preferrably beyond range 36), end up in the close range band, fire,
and get out on the next turn. 

At the close-range point, my fleet can be in any of about 4 of your 6
arcs, and you'll have to guess which one if you want to spin to face.
you've concentrated all your needles in one arc you have about 25%
chance of being able to fire them; if you don't, you'll get to fire 2-3
of them during each attack run. Half a hit per attack run isn't nearly
enough to discourage me :-/

Of course, since you play with fixed table edges you can always sit
your ship in a corner and use the "edge of the universe" to protect
your flanks and rear. You won't even have to spin to face since you
know exactly where I'm coming from, so in this case I'll be in trouble.


>>I assumed that you used the fighter morale rules and the standard
>>re-organisation rules. With them the 8-12 Interceptor squadrons
>>will certainly be annihilated, but they'll cripple enough of your
>>fighter squadrons to give them problems with their morale checks.
>>Without the fighter morale rules, dump all Phalon interceptors and
>>bore straight in. You need to kill the entire Phalon fleet in approx.
2 >>turns, or lose the dreadstar. Without the dreadstar, the fighters
will >>die eventually <shrug>
>If the fighters pile up on the Phalons, their pulsers will need to
>concentrate on them or they most likely _will_ die in approx. 2 turns,

>probably before they've had a chance to fire a shot.  And if their 
>pulsers concentrate on the fighters, the monster can can handle 
>what's left of their ship-to-ship weaponry with its own.

It'd be quite interesting to see it handle 30-40 strength points of
plasma bolts with only 17 PDSs <g> And, well... if the Phalons are
desperate/ sneaky enough, you'll need to devote at least some fighter
squadrons to shoot down the plasma bolts which cover the Phalon ships
so you don't lose all your fighters before they've fired a shot. If
your own plasma bolts hit true you'll need quite a lot of fighters to
clear the way for the others. It's an interesting trade-off :-)

>>>>[On Sa'Vasku]
>>>Most of this is granted.  My initial thoughts on this subject
>>>appear to have been completely wrong. :)
>>Easy to do with the Sa'Vasku. I'm afraid we underestimated them too
>>during the playtests :-(
>I'll have to tinker with them a bit.  It's possible that we may be
>coming up with a few house rules either limiting the number of drones
>that can be launched from a single womb

That's already limited by the amount of bio-mass on the ship. The big
problem is in Cinematic battles on large or unlimited tables where they
can run indefinitely and nibble the opposition to death from range 60+;
in Vector or in Cinematic on fixed tables they don't seem to be too
unbalanced. Unfortunately virtually all my social battles are fought on
unlimited tables in Cinematic :-/ also replied to Roger's post:

>>1.  High speed.  High speed can negate fighters.  At 30 fighters
>>just can't keep up, and in order to guess where the ship will be you
>>have to spread them out so the point defenses are leveraged.
>At 30, that's borderline out-of-control.

Simply not true. See above.

>>2.  SMs.  You are thrust 1 so targetting is easy.  If you stop I 
>>don't even have to worry about any small ships getting in the way.
>>If you can put out 40 Fighters I'll be able to put out what?	80
>>SMs?	:)
>Not on an FSE fleet with only "minor mods", you won't.  An FSE fleet
>is likely to have no more than about ten.  If that. 

A 5000-point FSE fleet which replaces some beams with ADFC and/or PDS
but doesn't change engines or missile armaments can be all thrust-6 and
have about 30-35 launchers, 50-80 salvoes in the magazines, a bit over
100 PDS systems, ADFC on all ships and enough back-up beams to outgun
the dreadstar by some 60% up close and very nearly match its beams in
the 12-24mu range band.

YMMV of course, but IMO 30-35 is a bit more than "about ten. If that."

>A salvo _launcher_ with typical ammo is just as much mass as a
>fighter bay, so you're not going to have significantly more missiles
>than I will fighters.

He won't have significantly more missile salvoes *per turn* than you
have fighter squadrons. He'll most likely have about twice as many
missile salvoes *in total*, though. You can't afford to let him launch
more than one full salvo unless you keep your fighters as point defence

>Which leaves me quite happy to have the fighters hang back and 
>screen the main ship while it just spins and keeps its plasma and 
>beams coming back at you.  I'll _probably_  last the three turns
>you're a lot luckier than me... 

If you use all your fighters for point defence, you'll probably last
turns without losing more than 50-75% of your hull boxes. On average
you'll be somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd thresholds when the enemy
magazines have run dry in this case. The big question then is whether
or not your fighters can damage the FSE ships enough that their
secondary beam batteries don't finish the dreadstar off :-/

>and then nothing's stopping the fighters from cutting down your 
>ships one after the next.

Modified FSE ships with extra PDS and ADFCs, remember? You were the one
who claimed that ~100 PDS + good ADFC support could take on the
fighters <shrug>

>to suffer in resilience, firepower, or both; FSE ships are simply
>outgunned by this monster by a solid two-to-one margin,

Why are you counting the fighters and PBLs into the monster's firepower
but *not* counting the missiles and PDSs (which seriously reduce the
power of the fighters and PBLs) into the modified FSE fleet's

>which means that unless they were given a really big table or a 
>floating edged one, they'd get pulverized by this thing.

"This thing" won't be able to train more than half of its weapons
from the fighters) at the FSE unless it sits still and spins in place,
and if it
sits still it won't be in range of the FSE ships unless they want it to
be. I'll
do this battle during the week-end, along with the Kra'Vak-vs-dreadstar
one :-)

BTW, which fire arcs do you suggest for the various 1- and 3-arc
weapons on the dreadstar, and how fast would you fly it?


Oerjan Ohlson

"Life is like a sewer.
  What you get out of it, depends on what you put into it."
- Hen3ry

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