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RE: The interception challenge

From: Mark Harvey <mark@b...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 12:18:04 -0700
Subject: RE: The interception challenge

What about this take on ambushing convoys...
>From the FT rulebook.	The longer the distance involved in an FTL jump,
more unpredictable and dangerous they become, thus fleets attempting to
from point A to point B will take a series of smaller jumps.  There is
story example of an FTL jump in the rulebook that suggests that the FTL
engines require a cool down/warm up between jumps.  I do not have the
rulebook in front of me, but it was at least 20 turns of game time
FTL jumps for a military grade ship.  Lets imagine a universe then where
this holds true.  How would a merchant fleet operate?  Well, max
survivability would seem to indicate that if you could make the distance
a single jump, this would be the best way, assuming the regular merchant
fleets only operate between friendly controled worlds.	Of course, the
longer the distance, it becomes too risky to attempt a single jump, so
several smaller ones would be necessary.  The convoy would calculate a
number of jump points, and proceed to make them.  While at each
location, it
is not cost effective to even fire the engines, but rather wait at the
jumped in spot until the FTL drive and crew have recovered for the next
jump.  Any manuvering would be to regroup within the convoy for those
which were off target by too much.  Fuel is just too expensive, if not
actual price, then in the space it takes up, space better used for cargo
that can be sold to pay the bills.  For this reason, the manuverability
such ships would be limited.  They would likely carry a small reserve to
used in emergencies, but I bet a cocky, hurting for finances captain
occasionaly skip this in order to gain more cargo space.  
An empire setup like this would probably map out routes, simular to
plans of today.  These would be jump in points that were policed by
ships for protection.  And probably also be more stable pockets of
low gravity fields and no debry in the area.  Merchant captains would
have to also log their flight plans to ensure that these jump points
not be flooded to the degree that collisions could occur (we all know
busy airports can be).	Given the inexact nature of FTL travel, these
jump points suddenly start becoming rather large.  For this reason they
start becoming a little harder to protect.  A raiding party could move
said area undected in some fashion, and wait for a convoy to jump in a
little too far away from the regular patrol so that they think they have
chance at taking it.  This could make for a fun scenario, where the
in cargo ships must survive for X turns (until it can FTL jump again)
both sides bring in reinforcements to the battle.  Most merchant vessels
will opt for the defence of just accelerating as fast as they can in a
single direction when they see enemy contacts, for a fast vessel,
on when contact is made, this will probably be defence enough.	But the
larger the merchant ships, the slower they will become, (and the more
relient on the protecting fleet).
Of course the downside of having set points like these, is that raiders
predict where to find merchant vessels.  Perhaps things are not setup
this, or many Merchant captains (especially those with a faster fleet)
prefer to take there chances by plotting their own jump points.  This
make it very difficult for raiders to find a merchant fleet, given it is
only in a particular spot for a couple of hours, and given the vastness
space.	In order to give reasons (excuses really, because we all want to
play an occasional shipping raid scenario) for the possibility of
"intercepting" said fleet, we can think of a couple ideas.  Jumps are
to detect, even at long range.	Certain points in space are preferable
jump into than others (due to known mapped out areas where debry fields
not pose any problems and gravity fluxes are low).  A raider fleet is
limited to luck mostly, but captains of Merchant fleets would likely
into a patern of always picking the same jump points out of habit, and
laziness (who wants to do the necessary calculations to find a safe jump
point several times a day).  An ale loosened tongue in a tavern or two,
Raiding fleets may start finding that certain locations have a higher
probability of being a jump point than others.	Put a couple sensor
and some likely sites.	When these bouys detect jump signatures they
send a
signal to the raiding fleet, who then jump into the area themselves.  In
this situation, the Merchant fleet likely will hire its own escorts. 
raiders have to be cautious, as they likely will not know the size and
strength of the fleet until they get there, so they have to be ready to
if the odds are not in their favor, they also must be careful not to
jump in
so far away that the merchant fleet can evade them until they can jump
As far as Merchant Ships being faster, this is a problem for the
No raider can be successful if its prey is faster than they are. 
you will likely only see small fast ships for the raiders, Frigates and
Destroyers mostly.  Perhaps a larger ship class would jump in to handle
large escorts, or to give the raiders a point to rally to if things
going badly, but it definatly would not be part of the chase.
Think of Cheetahs in Africa, they jump into the hurd, the hurd scatters,
they chase down the slowest/weakest vessel and take it, leaving the rest
get away.
Some ideas on how to setup a viable Raid on a Convoy scenario.	As far
two fleets intercepting, this just isnt going to happen unless BOTH
want it to happen.  There can be ambushes setup though, but this
intelligence and stealth on the part of the ambushers.	Setting an
trap could be done.  I remember a B5 episode where the alliance fleet
led to a planet under false pretences, where it was set upon by a large
shadow fleet that decimated a large part of the alliance fleet before it
could make it back to the jump point (or in FT terms, before the FTL
could be charged up again).


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Matthew Seidl []
> Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2000 6:53 AM
> To:	gzg-l@CSUA.Berkeley.EDU
> Subject:	Re: The interception challenge 
> On Wed, 14 Jun 2000 08:41:35 -0400 (EDT), Roger Books writes:
> >On 14-Jun-00 at 05:21, Mikko Kurki-Suonio ( wrote:
> >> Ok, time to put your money where your mouth is.
> >
> >A sits at C.
> >
> To quote the rules:
> > Interception must happen before B is within 20 turns of movement
from C
> In vector, I come swooping in at an extreme speed.  If you accel
> toward me, we simply pass that much faster.  If you don't, I get to C
> with you still on it.
> In cinematic however, intercepts are much easier.  Since I can turn
> around with no speed loss in a turn or two, I can full thrust to meet
> you head on.	If we have the same thrust (or I'm no weaker), I can
> match your velocity, and meet you in the middle (between C and the
> jump in point), with your velocity vector and the opposite direction.
> I turn (1 turn), and we're in the same region of space, same speed,
> same direction.  Really, I probably turn a turn before we cross, so
> I'm not behind you, but thats tactics, not strategy. :) The trouble
> with this would be that we would be moving at such extreme speeds that
> actually hitting would be next to impossible.  Even being within the
> 36" range of a class-3 would require guessing your turns, if we're
> moving at speeds of 1000" a turn or so.  If I guess wrong, we'd be
> 100s of inches apart.
> -=- Matthew L. Seidl		email:
> =-=
> =-= Graduate Student			Project . . . What Project?
> -=-
> -=-	   -Morrow
> =-=
> =-=
> -=-

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