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Some more comments to the WeapDef archive

From: "Oerjan Ohlson" <oerjan.ohlson@t...>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001 21:52:27 +0100
Subject: Some more comments to the WeapDef archive

Scattered thinking during bus journeys to work:

Resonance Field Generator [Noam Izenberg] 
[OO: Plain weird. Inspired by the SFB ESG, or something?]

FTL Missile (aka "Emergence Missile", "Hyperspace Concussion Missile") 
Damage is exactly as for ships entering the board form FTL in the same
section: All ships/objects in 6" radius around actual point of
emergence takes 1d6 damage (1-5 damage = roll, 6 damage =6*1d6). Damage
is applied as with P-torps. Fighters may escape blast radius by using
reaction move, but will be destroyed if caught within. 
[OO: PSB question: How do the fighters know where/when the missile will
emerge? *Are* fighters affected by ships entering/leaving hyperspace -
the FT2 rules aren't entirely clear on this?]

Globular Shield [Bif Smith] (GZG-L 1-Feb-2001) 
[OO: Conceptually similar to the Phalon vapour glands, but the Globular
Shield gets better the more of it you can carry (ie., the bigger your
ship is). Still, considering its size and penalties it probably isn't
much of a problem - eg., replacing the normal screens on a
Komarov-class SDN with Globular Shields gives the Komarov 7 "free" DP
per turn - equivalent to the average damage its normal screens save
from 21 beam dice - but only if the ship doesn't maneuver or fire. All
in all I'd say this is a Kerr-style system: potentially very powerful,
but so loaded-down with restrictions that it becomes virtually

Interceptors (Earth Alliance) [Sean Penn's B5 Conversion] 
[OO: Way unbalanced, for the same reason the fixed-Mass FT2 screens
were unbalanced: Since the Interceptors are fixed-Mass, they becomes a
very cheap way of providing level-2 screens for large ships (and one
which allows for much improved multiple redundancy as well). Eg., an
ESU Komarov could replace its lvl-2 screens (Mass 22, Cost 66) with 4
Interceptors (Mass 8, Cost 40), saving 14 Mass to carry extra weapons
etc. Sure, it'll cost a bit more, but the extra cost is nowhere close
to how much more powerful it becomes with another 14 Mass of weapons.
Also, the PSB given seems to have little relevance for B5 - the Pulse
Cannon the EFSB Interceptors defend against in the B5 universe fire
relatively slow-moving plasma blobs, and the B5 Interceptors shoot down
those blobs with smaller plasma blobs of its own. No "energy shield"

Jammer (Minbari) [Sean Penn's B5 Conversion] 
[OO: Cost = Massx20... hm.

Massacred table follows:

Probability to get a shot off for varying numbers of FCSs:
Range	1	2	3	4	5	Avg:	Surv.	Value:
0-6	100%	100%	100%	100%	100%	100%	0	0
6-12	67%	89%	96%	99%	100%	84%	19%	2xMass
12-24	50%	75%	88%	94%	97%	71%	41%	6xMass
24-36	33%	56%	70%	80%	87%	54%	86%	15xMass
>36	17%	31%	42%	52%	60%	31%	226%	38xMass

Note: The "average". is weighted by the percentage of the ships in my
design archive which have that number of FCSs (on the 9th of February,
2001). The "Survivability boost" is roughly "how much more firepower
does the enemy need to throw at the ship to kill it", though in this
case it only applies fully if the enemy has no non-jamming targets to
shoot at - otherwise he can shoot at some other target instead. The
"Value" is a rough calculation of how good the system is at that range
(screens = 3xMass).

Hm... yes, 20xMass could work, or could be a bit high (as usual it's
better if the cost is too high than if it is too low!). A ship with
jammers and extreme-range weapons is dangerous if it has enough engines
to keep the range open, but so is *any* fast ship with extreme-range
weapons simply because they're so difficult to catch. Inside range 36
(where considerably more weapons are able to shoot at it) 20xMass would
seem to make it somewhat overpriced, except that I assume that you need
to *dedicate* FCSs to the intended target (ie., if you fail the lock-on
roll you don't get to use that FCS to engage another target). The
jammer-equipped fleet needs to keep the range open at all costs though!
And, of course, this is another system which favours large ships (which
can carry multiple FCSs)...

What does it do to missiles etc.? (I assume that missiles can't be
jammed since they only aquire targets within 6mu anyway.) How does it
interact with enhanced/superior sensors?]

Parasite Fighter Rack [Mike Wikan] 
[OO: The "Parasite racks may be used on civilian transports" and "a
parasite rack may launch at any time" bits are irrelevant in FBx, since
*any* ship can have fighter bays and *any* ship can launch all its
fighters in one turn. Balance-wise, I dunno... Put it like this: I can
put an entire fighter squadron on a single TMF 4 scout. Yes, it is
expensive - but it is considerably *less* expensive (about 75% the
cost) of a normally bay-carried fighter squadron. The proposal says
nothing about rearming and reorganizing fighters (FB2 rules), but IMO
the rack shouldn't be able to do either during combat (or else it
should take very much longer than for bays).]

Targeting Lidar[Noam Izenberg] 
[OO: Looks interesting. Why "each full 10" of range" instead of the
normal 12mu bands? Or, if you want to include the various P-torps, use
each *begun* 12mu band (so a PT can benefit from 3 TLs)? Also, since
this is a piece of targetting electronics I think it should cost 4 just
like FCSs - for simplicity only, not really based on balance

Structural Analyzer [Andrew Ayres] (GZG-L 3-Feb-01) 
[OO: Too expensive? If the target has no armour it improves the damage
from all beam-style weapons by 17%... 5 Mass/25 pts is certainly a bit
much for a DD, but it is quite a bargain for a SDN. 

The description is incomplete. What does "System penetrates 1 layer of
armour. Rest of damage is done straight to ship." mean? The system
itself doesn't inflict any damage whatever...?]

Needle Pod (G) [Nick Garbett] (via e-mail) 
[OO: This Needle Pod is *extremely* powerful. Also, a Mass-1 critter
being able to pin-point target an unlimited number of target
ships/systems, but only one system on each one? Why not allow it to
target every system on a single target instead - that's the same number
of target systems, and just as unbalanced?] 

Reenforced hull  - Bif Smith and Charles Taylor
[OO: Thought I had commented this on-list, but appearently not :-/
Charles is quite right in that you can achieve almost exactly the same
effect BIF aims for (except vs K-guns) simply by replacing some of the
hull boxes by armour; similarly you can spend the 49 points BIF spent
on some 11-13 extra hull and armour boxes, making the first row
"effectively" 16 boxes long and the other rows 11-12 boxes each. 

Another problem with BIF's suggestion is that it has very different
effects on larger or smaller ships. His example ship (40 hull boxes)
looks like a TMF 120-130 BB (transformed a 10/10/10/10 hull box layout
to 16/9/8/7), but if you do the same thing on the ESU Komarov it'll
cost 97 pts and transform it from 22/22/22/22 to 28/21/20/19, (a
relatively much smaller effect but at twice the cost). On a small ship
the effect is much bigger instead; do the same operation on the NAC
Huron and it goes from 4/4/4/3 to 10/3/2/0 - the last row disappears
entirely, and the first row becomes 2.5 times as long! - but it only
costs 26 points.

Charles's suggestion works... sort of, but his guesses at points costs
are off by about 100% in both cases: getting 2 hull boxes per Mass is
worth 6-7xMass, while getting 1 box per 2 Mass is worth 0xMass
(actually it is worth even less, ie. *less* than 0 pts per box, but I'm
not too keen on negative points costs...).

I'm still playtesting my "variable number of hull rows" idea, but so
far it
looks reasonable:

Instead of giving all ships 4 rows of hull boxes, they can be designed
with 3, 4 or 5 rows. Apart from the different number of hull rows, the
hull boxes are distributed between the rows as per the standard FBx
rule. Thresholds are taken as normal (ie. systems are damaged on 6+
after the 1st row, 5+ after the 2nd, 4+ after the 3rd, and 3+ after the
4th). The costs for these hulls are:

3 rows of hull boxes - cost 3xMass.
4 rows of hull boxes (FB standard) - cost 2xMass. 
5 rows of hull boxes - cost 1.5xMass

I'm not too happy with the fractional points costs for the 5-row hulls,
1xMass is definitely too low :-( And no, I don't have any figures for
1, 2
or 6 hull rows :-/]

*Targeting beacon 
[OO: Interesting. No idea if it is *balanced*, but it looks like a kewl
<g>. PSB-wise DCPs should have a chance to remove them though.]

BFG Lances: "stranger"
[OO: Lots of comments posted on the mailing list]

Skunk Works Weapon Tech [You've seen most of these comments before <g>]

Raking fire
[OO: What does "+1 to hit" mean for weapons which don't have a to-hit
roll? +1 do the beam die (ie., inflict 1 point on rolls of 3-6? This is
always worse than standard beam fire against level-0 and -1 screens
(unless the target has only 1 damage point left and you know it, which
isn't that common), and is always better than standard beam fire
against level-2 screens. Since it has no penalty associated with it,
its only real effect is to reduce the value of every lvl-2 screen in
the game. Oh, OK, you get a better chance to kill BJs with a single
hull box with a single shot too...]

Spread [Still in Active Playtesting] - for Torps, SMs. + 1 to hit (or
that hit), reduce damage by 1/3 (round down). 
[OO: How do you "spread" a single SM submunition...? The description
suggests that you're doing just that since its damage is reduced!]

Focused Fire [Still in Active Playtesting] - Group multiple batteries
type) or other groups of like weapons under a single die roll: roll one
die, determine its damage, and multiply with the number of dice grouped
together. Reroll die follows same pattern. Can use with rake. 
[OO: No effect on average damage, but makes "extreme" results (in both
directions) far more common than normal.]

Ortillery Anti-ship mode - Ortillery systems can be fired against ships
in a limited fashion. The precision beam batteries, munitions, and
canons are focused for very short range, atmosphere-piercing attacks,
and their open-space effects reflect this. Range is 6" in the 180
degree front arc. Damage is 2 beam dice, ignore screens. 
[OO: Should be a OK. The main value of Ortillery is in ground/space
interface games anyway.]

Programmable PDS Modes 
Programmable modes can have a severe impact on one-off scenarios. 
[OO: Not only *can*; they *do* have a severe impact on one-off
scenarios. They essentially have to be priced to reflect their best
performance, not their average one.]

Meson Flechette
[OO: OK. Though given the recent "Meson Gun" discussion, the name might
be a bit confusing <g> ]

Weak Arcs
[OO: Sounds very complex, and is also rather vaguely defined.]

Planetary Defense Missile (PDM)
[OO: Sounds relatively easy to take out with massed fighters, but could
work. More of a strategic weapon than a tactical one though.]

Dedicated FireCon 
[OO: *Seriously* unbalanced. Improves already-long-ranged weapons
vastly more (for a fixed Mass) than short-ranged weapons. The
Targetting Lidar is a similar concept, but much better balanced - use
that instead!]

Gravitic Shields 
[OO: See my comments to Brendan Robertson's K-shields.]

Evasive Maneuvers -
[OO: The first notice you have that you're being targetted may well be
the beams burning through your hull. Might work against sublight
weapons - missiles, K-guns, P-torps etc., but not against light-speed

Side-Slip - Common house rule - allows 2+ point turn to be port then
starboard (or opposite). 
[OO: Recommended. Should go into FT3 or FB3 (whichever comes first),
provided I can find a big enough club to bash Jon over the head with

Starburst Attack
[OO: With the fighter re-arming rule in FB2, this has gone from
somewhat unbalanced to very unbalanced. Spending excessive amounts of
EPs is no longer a serious penalty - heck, on several occasions my KV
fighters have gone Ro'Kah, rearmed, returned to the fray, gone mad
*again*, rearmed *again*, and had time for a third attack - and that in
battles 7-8 turns in length. If KV fighters can rearm this often, human
fighters can do it too. 

Besides, it effectively gives non-KV fighters the same benefits as
those of going Ro'Kah, but without the restrictions - the humans can do
it at any time rather than when the dice force them, and they only pay
3 EP rather than all remaining EP.]

Design Tech 
Miniaturization - (From FT list) Systems take ½ mass and cost 3x as
Maximalization - Systems take 2x mass and cost 1/2 as much. 
[OO: Both should be OK. Note that "cost X as much" means that the
POINTS COST is X times that of the normal system, not that the
COST/MASS is X times that of the normal system. Example: a system which
normally is Mass 2, Cost 3xMass = 3x2 = 6 will be Mass 1, Cost 6x3 = 18
(not (3x3)x1 = 9) if miniaturized and Mass 4, cost 6/2 = 3 (not (3/2)x4
= 6) if "maximalized"]


Oerjan Ohlson

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

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