BattleTech - The Board Game of Armored Combat

BattleTech Game Systems => Aerospace Combat => Topic started by: Reaved on 06 July 2021, 16:35:31

Title: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Reaved on 06 July 2021, 16:35:31
Following the discussion around using Small Craft as tankers a number of other roles spring to mind:-

- Carrying Naval Comm Suite to provide sensor detail further away from the task force?
- SAR (is this a viable thing with space combat)?
- Do they have the thrust to allow interplanetary interception?
- A small group could provide fuel and sustenance (as well as bunks) for an ASF deployment on either a station-keeping mission or roving brief (if either would be useful)?

Are these roles useful / viable?
Any other ideas for roles?

Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: AlphaMirage on 06 July 2021, 17:19:48
I think SAR is one of the best military roles for a small craft, you don't go rescuing until the fight is done so they don't need heavy armor or ordnance. The second best would be as a low intensity 'border patrol' vessel carrying marines and some guns to investigate jumpships and merchant dropships for contraband, hostiles, etc...

Additionally there are a few other roles they serve well. All of which I have used in my fiction
Deployment of a special ops or hazardous recon team to austere environments for moderate duration operations
Carrying moderate sized tanks and up to mechanized infantry as part of a 'space to ground assault' operation. One of the Ares VII landing craft's stated purpose is to carry a Patton into combat. Particularly when you don't have a Triumph or Gazelle available
Resupply of a remote outpost in theater where there is minor fighter threat. Think Vietnam firebases supplied by helicopters
VIP or Picket Transport so you don't need to use a full dropship to move a small number of people or parcels
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 06 July 2021, 17:31:41
NCSSs are too heavy for Small Craft, but SAR is something they're absolutely suited for.  Other sensor systems will fit, but you really need a DropShip for an NCSS of either size.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: CVB on 06 July 2021, 18:14:45
I seem to remember that SC have better inherent ECM and/or sensors and/or comms than ASF?
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 06 July 2021, 18:21:57
Yes they do... just not as good as any NCSSs...
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: CVB on 06 July 2021, 18:29:47
Considering the price tag of the NCSSs, they damn well should beat the inherent systems ;D
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 06 July 2021, 18:51:22
Don't forget to double (or worse) those NCSS price tags once you actually install them either...  ^-^
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: CVB on 06 July 2021, 19:28:38
Tell me about it. 2 billion on a Pueblo for a small NCSS. A large one would be 9 billion. But still a steal compared to the mobile HPG at 36 billion  :o.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Reaved on 07 July 2021, 08:43:18
NCSSs are too heavy for Small Craft, but SAR is something they're absolutely suited for.  Other sensor systems will fit, but you really need a DropShip for an NCSS of either size.
I think it's possible if you build the Small Craft around it. It'd be painfully slow, poorly armoured and likely unarmed but fighting wouldn't be what it was there for.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: ravensword on 07 July 2021, 10:31:56
I think it's possible if you build the Small Craft around it. It'd be painfully slow, poorly armoured and likely unarmed but fighting wouldn't be what it was there for.

I've done that design study.  The big killer is the crew requirement for the CSS:  thirty tons at steerage quarters.  It works for a JumpShip picket.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: AlphaMirage on 07 July 2021, 12:26:45
I think really such an expensive piece of equipment as an NCSS should be on a larger better equipped vessel working as part of a larger task force. Things like look down RADAR, multispectral cameras, communications equipment, and other such things fit the small craft niche better. This makes it more of an active satellite that you don't have to retrieve if the world you're invading happens to lack infrastructure. These sensors can also be faced outward making it a tidy little picket at transient jump points.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 07 July 2021, 16:35:40
Given the design limitations, a Small NCSS would really only be installed on a Small Craft for cost savings compared to a DropShip.  I honestly suspect the Bug Eye had a jump core as a cost saving measure (as insane as that sounds)...  ::)
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Colt Ward on 08 July 2021, 10:02:52
Small craft can easily fill a number of roles- think of them as cutters or ship's boats under current use.  Look at their advantages to see how they will be used.

Smallest Transit Drive- they use the same fuel efficient engines as warships and dropships, but in a smaller package

Smallest full life support suite-  same as above, this is what actually gives them a patrol range superiority over ASF

Crew quarters- Unlike fighters, small craft have a multi-person crew and have a requirement for their own space- part of which is how it gets life support

Cargo- so you can extend the voyage if need be, or transfer small loads between ships in a fleet- DS/JS/WS.

No strict piloting requirements-  Unlike ASF (or mechs) you do not have to be one of the special people to fly small craft


With that in mind, planetary customs should have a large fleet of small craft in most developed systems  to deal with smugglers and your 'normal' pirates.  Historically, most pirate ships were not heavily armed- they had to have enough firepower to threaten targets, but it was their boarding parties that really enforced their rule . . . which is why running into a navy ship was a Bad Day.  So patrolling orbital space, runs out to mining 'colonies' or minor settlements, patrols around fuel harvesting stations (which would have pirate points at gas giants), and jump zone patrols- especially if there is no station of any sort- would be covered by such craft as the Taurian's Tigress.

Dropships that want or needed coverage (IE, no or overworked customs patrol) from planet to jumpship used to be escorted by Aquarius and Lyonesse small craft . . . IIRC, the main difference between them and the Tigress was they had shorter legs though I am not sure the modern (Jihad introduced) versions suffer from the problem that existed with earlier pre-ASF versions.

Another common use is going to be 'fleet' small boats.  Designs such as the Landing Craft Mk VII and its clones would be used to transfer supplies & personnel between jumpships (who we have never heard of docking together afaik), warships, and even dropships.  But dropships can dock to either and each other- so why use small craft?  Simple risk avoidance . . . a dropship/jumpship/warships will take less damage from accidents during to docking with a small craft than the rest would trying to dock.  Even that small risk can be negated since most of those 3 types have small craft bays.  FREX, how many ships are at risk if you are using a DS to transfer a small amount of cargo between differen carriers at a jumpzone?  Dropship 1 that is discharging the cargo, Jumpship A that Dropship 1 was riding on, Dropship 2 that DS1 is docking with, Jumpship B that DS2 is attached to, and then Jumpship A again when DS1 re-docks to keep going on it's previous route.  Small Craft?  Launches from DS1's small craft bay . . . lands in DS2's small craft bay.  If it is a small amount of cargo, or personnel with their cargo, it is also more efficient to use the small craft b/c they will not have the fuel expenditure of a dropship nor take up the manhours diverted from a DS docking procedure for four ships as cited above.  Further, we have examples of 'fleets' of transport DS shuttling staff between dropships for meetings as part of the work up to impending action when they are traveling to the jump point.

Personnel transfer, either between system bodies or between a settlement and the jump point.  Think of the hostile environment mining colony trope in sci-fi (Outland, ST Final Frontier's Kitimer, Alien series, neoBSG, The Expanse, Babylon 5, etc) where there is somewhere that is cheaper (main reason) and more pleasant to live.  BT covers this in one of the MWDA novels, the main settlement is on Kimball which has a Terra-like environment but a lot of the economic activity is focused on a world in a further orbit that has a hostile environment but rich in expensive metals.  Besides the 'truckers' hauling bulk ingots from the planet back to factories on the main world or even to the jump point, you could also have mining crews rotating off the hostile planet back to the Terra-norm planet for health reasons.  This maybe a trope but it happens IRL for the same reason . . . you have mining/drilling crews that are in the boonies or undeveloped areas that spend weeks on site and then get shuttled to somewhere more civilized (aka brothels & bars) to relax before they take up their next rotation.

Prospecting . . . spheriod small craft would be best for asteriod/moon/planetary prospecting.  They have the same ability to have the extended trips as the customs patrol, cargo space for any specialized equipment, and spheriods will be able to land anywhere required easier than aerodyne.  How do the big mining conglomerates know where to setup operations?  Someone has to go out, poke at the rocks, analyze the results, and let them know where to go to make their money.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Charistoph on 08 July 2021, 12:57:28
Isn't the Battle Taxi considered a Small Craft?
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Colt Ward on 08 July 2021, 13:56:15
Isn't the Battle Taxi considered a Small Craft?

Yes, a Spheriod Small Craft . . . marine boarding actions are one of the standard uses; I thought the OP was about outside of the normal use.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Charistoph on 08 July 2021, 14:03:28
Yes, a Spheriod Small Craft . . . marine boarding actions are one of the standard uses; I thought the OP was about outside of the normal use.

Well, you gave a lot of the normal uses for small craft as well, especially for those Drop Ships that would have problems landing on a planet.  And some Small Craft get used like Battle Taxis because that's what they have for the operation.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Colt Ward on 08 July 2021, 14:47:18
Yeah, they are the non-tactical normal uses though 'shuttling' people does sort of cover boarding operations and it is also referenced by the customs patrol.

A interesting question is how many small craft should various levels of systems have as part of their local operations.

Independent Periphery world?  Those bums are lucky if they have a single small craft for emergencies and to service any satellites.

Terra?  Hundreds in both government service and out of government service . . . A squadron at each jump point running customs.  A squadron of patrollers around Jupiter with the shipyards, refueling station, colonies and pirate points.  Another squadron above Terra for more customs & inspection as well as ATC enforcers, maybe some over Mars & Venus (before that settlement got wiped) . . . and those are just government, it does not include the private shuttles (want to bet the Primus did not have one?), Belters, 'airline' like shuttle services doing Sub-Orb hops/Terra to LEO/Terra to Luna as well as longer flights to Jupiter or Mars, and a lot more uses.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 08 July 2021, 17:03:03
One nit pick in that otherwise great post, Colt: I think you meant the S-7A, not the Mark VII for the ship to ship duties.  Mark VIIs are for orbit-to-surface transfers.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Colt Ward on 08 July 2021, 18:40:29
One nit pick in that otherwise great post, Colt: I think you meant the S-7A, not the Mark VII for the ship to ship duties.  Mark VIIs are for orbit-to-surface transfers.

I include it as a clone, range is really the only difference when we start talking about people movers.  If I was stocking a small craft for landing infantry/BA, I would pick something with the most utility- so a blend of range, cargo, survivability, and speed.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 08 July 2021, 18:43:52
Most utility should include ability to land on planet, which the Mark VII does in spades... I see your point!  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: idea weenie on 13 July 2021, 14:42:37
Can you use Small Craft to serve as 'omni-pods' for a Dropship?

I.e. install a Small Craft bay or few onto a Dropship, then design Small Craft that can only perform 1/2 thrust into those Small Craft Bays.  Once the basic Small Craft design is done, use as much tonnage from the Small Craft as possible for mission-specific equipment.  These Small Craft won't need armor, as the Dropship would provide that.  They wouldn't need much fuel, as the Dropship handles transportation.  Similar for crew requirements, life-support tonnage, etc.

It would allow the Dropship to easily swap out 'Small Craft' based on mission requirements, as long as replacement 'Small Craft' are available.

The problem is that each Small Craft used in this manner would require its own separate Door, and that Door could not be shared with other items still on board (well, maybe it can be used for cargo loading/unloading, but not containerized)

(Yes, I am trying to use this to simulate the Aurora (https://www.sarna.net/wiki/Aurora) Dropship.  So you could have a command ship in orbit with lots of Small Craft bays, and multiple Aurora style Dropships that swap out the Small Craft in their bays depending on what you need them to do.)
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: CVB on 13 July 2021, 16:32:51
You mean the SCs perform their mission while staying inside their bays,  through the bay doors?
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: idea weenie on 13 July 2021, 17:25:58
You mean the SCs perform their mission while staying inside their bays,  through the bay doors?

Exactly.  The Small Craft serve as the modular bay systems, at the penalty of needing lots of stuff each.  With a thrust of 1/2 these Small Craft cannot leave a planet's surface, so the only way to exchange them is either in space or on-planet.

Some potential uses:
Have five Dropships and need to deliver 20 Mechs to the surface?  Equip all five Dropships with 4 SC-Mech each, and send them down.  Another location needs medical support?  The command ship preps a SC-Medi (plus a SC-Cargo, and a pair of SC-Inf), one of the Aurora Dropships pops up, swaps out its four SC-Mech for the prepped SC, and heads down to a different location to provide medical service.

The Dropships won't be as efficient as dedicated designs, while the small Craaft setup will have its own cost, but the rapid 'refit' capability means your Dropships can do whatever job is needed if the SC-type is available.  So a Leopard that used its 900 tons of capacity and was set up to use SC bays as modular bays would be able to carry 4 Mechs plus 100 tons of cargo.  A regular Leopard would be able to carry 4 Mechs and 2 ASF, or remove an ASF bay and carry 150 tons of cargo instead.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: AlphaMirage on 13 July 2021, 17:43:00
Mechs getting down is never the problem. Getting back up could be hard.

Orbital Drops by Mechs falling out of a dropship are things that happen. Hard to do yes, risky certainly, but this is the military we are talking bout here. Also all mechs would have to travel as cargo. No Small Craft can fit a full Mech Bay which means they will take time to deploy. If you have time its far easier to use a dropship.

Mark VII Landing Craft can carry a tank or two light ones to the ground but again unloading them and readying them for battle will take time.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: CVB on 13 July 2021, 18:03:26
I see. I first thought you wanted to use the SCs as Omni weapon pods firing through the open bay doors, or project ECM/do sensor scans etc. from inside the DS.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: idea weenie on 13 July 2021, 18:49:34
Mechs getting down is never the problem. Getting back up could be hard.

Orbital Drops by Mechs falling out of a dropship are things that happen. Hard to do yes, risky certainly, but this is the military we are talking bout here. Also all mechs would have to travel as cargo. No Small Craft can fit a full Mech Bay which means they will take time to deploy. If you have time its far easier to use a dropship.

Mark VII Landing Craft can carry a tank or two light ones to the ground but again unloading them and readying them for battle will take time.

Too true.  The base SC mass breakdown just for the minimums I listed would be:
Structural Integrity: 1.5 tons
Engine: 13 tons (T/OT of 1 / 2)
Fuel & Pumps: 1 ton (half a ton of fuel, plus Pump mass is rounded up to the nearest half ton)
Control Systems: 2 tons
Crew:
* 1 Officer: 10 tons
* 5 Minions: 35 tons
Total: 52.5 tons used, leaving 147.5 tons available

Now if I could get the Minions to use Steerage Quarters (5 tons/) instead of 2nd Class Quarters (7 tons/), that would give me an extra 10 tons to work with, letting me carry 157.5 tons of stuff.  Ideally I'd want to use the Infantry Bay (https://www.sarna.net/wiki/Transport_Bay#Infantry_Bay.2FCompartment) capability to get the tonnage used per person down to ~200 kg per person instead of 5-10 tons per person.  It would need life support in larger amounts than that used by Quarters (Bays only get 20 man-days per ton vs Quarters getting 200 man-days per ton), but the short time-frame would make it possible.


I see. I first thought you wanted to use the SCs as Omni weapon pods firing through the open bay doors, or project ECM/do sensor scans etc. from inside the DS.

SC as dedicated weapon pods?  Now there's an idea!

SC-Dakka = 147.5 tons worth of RAC/5 with ammo and heat sinks
SC-Zappa = 147.5 tons worth of PPCs (ER or otherwise) and heat sinks
SC-Itano (https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MacrossMissileMassacre) = 147.5 tons worth of missile launchers, ammo, and heat sinks.
(armor is likely added so you don't get an impressive fireworks show if someone hits the ammo storage)

For sensors/ECM, I'd figure that since the SC aren't linked to the Dropship as part of its design, then SC sensors/ECM would not be projected outside Dropship, unless the Dropship had the appropriate door open for the SC to use its sensors/ECM.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 13 July 2021, 21:15:31
Why so many crew?  Minimum for a Small Craft is 3 (including the officer).  And there is nothing stopping you from using Steerage Quarters.  The last paragraph of text on page 189 of Tech Manual makes that clear.  Infantry Bay quarters were errata'd into oblivion a number of years ago now, unfortunately, but you could always use the Illegal quirk.

Also, if the SC is 200 tons with a 1/2 thrust, I think the SI should be 2 tons, not 1.5 (TM, page 187 refers).  Similarly, Controls should be 1.5 vice 2 tons (per page 189).
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Elmoth on 14 July 2021, 00:53:43
So it is possible to deploy a combat ready mech from a (very slow) small craft. Good to know. 
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Liam's Ghost on 14 July 2021, 02:26:26
So it is possible to deploy a combat ready mech from a (very slow) small craft. Good to know. 

Yes, but you can't get them back using the same craft. There's a minimum thrust limit to actually climb out of the atmosphere, so it wouldn't be able to get into space.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Elmoth on 14 July 2021, 02:31:03
Really? LOL. Do that is a 200 ton drop cocoon. Wiyht he necesaary teust to climb back up, is it possible to depploy mechs with SC?
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Liam's Ghost on 14 July 2021, 02:44:46
Really? LOL. Do that is a 200 ton drop cocoon. Wiyht he necesaary teust to climb back up, is it possible to depploy mechs with SC?

I've never been able to get enough thrust (at least four points, so by default 3/5) in a small craft that also had enough space for a mech bay.

Heavy tanks, a thousand infantrymen (Small Craft can use infantry compartments)? Yes. Mech bays, no.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Elmoth on 14 July 2021, 03:02:44
Os there a way to move around combat ready mechs without the repair gantry?
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Chinless on 14 July 2021, 05:40:40
Os there a way to move around combat ready mechs without the repair gantry?

Nope. If you don't have a 'mech bay then they have to be carried as cargo, and thus aren't combat ready.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: PuppyLikesLaserPointers on 14 July 2021, 08:39:41
Following the discussion around using Small Craft as tankers a number of other roles spring to mind:-

- Carrying Naval Comm Suite to provide sensor detail further away from the task force?
- SAR (is this a viable thing with space combat)?
- Do they have the thrust to allow interplanetary interception?
- A small group could provide fuel and sustenance (as well as bunks) for an ASF deployment on either a station-keeping mission or roving brief (if either would be useful)?

Are these roles useful / viable?
Any other ideas for roles?



If you mean Naval Comm Suite Naval Comm-Scanner Suite, it is at least 100 tons(the small one is 100 tons and the large one is 500 tons) so it must be the job of the dropship. Since Small Craft can have 200 tons at most, no it is not eligible vessel to have it unless what you want is a satelite that is able to move in a pinch. Also note that the comm scanner is prohibitively expensive for a small craft - with three small comm suites you can buy a Leopard instead, and a large comm suite costs around 166% percent of a Leopard.
-As the others already said, SAR is the job what you really, really want to assign to the small crafts, and small craft is the best candidate for the SAR missions above everyone else. ASF is ill suited for such a rescue mission, and the number of your dropships is determined by your jumpship/warship's collars but what you needs is the many vessels to see if there is a survivor. That's why the small craft is the best option for SAR - it can have the compartments, far cheaper than the dropships as well as doesn't need a dropship collar to enter the system so you can have much more numbers to search through the whole possible area for the potent rescuee.
-Sure. As Dropships it may travel through a star system, as long as you provide it enough fuel tanks as well as the cargo capacity to stack enough foods for the crews and passengers.
-It is technically possible to make the small crafts that provides the bunks and fuel pods for the ASF, but since you need a full stop before let the ASF pilot to rest you better take a dropship - and you are expected to have the dropship to transport the ASFs anyways so you don't need it and it is not a good idea either.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: idea weenie on 14 July 2021, 09:13:58
Why so many crew?  Minimum for a Small Craft is 3 (including the officer).  And there is nothing stopping you from using Steerage Quarters.  The last paragraph of text on page 189 of Tech Manual makes that clear.  Infantry Bay quarters were errata'd into oblivion a number of years ago now, unfortunately, but you could always use the Illegal quirk.

Also, if the SC is 200 tons with a 1/2 thrust, I think the SI should be 2 tons, not 1.5 (TM, page 187 refers).  Similarly, Controls should be 1.5 vice 2 tons (per page 189).

For SI and Controls, I likely got them backwards.

I cheated and used MML to design it, and it apparently wanted 1 officer and 5 crew so that is what I put initially.  Still, it looks like the basic setup for a Spheroid Dropship like this would be BV 24 and ~24.5 million C-Bills.  The Bridge (202k C-B), Computer (200k C-B), and Structural Integrity (200k C-B) make up about two-thirds the cost (~866k C-B before the x28 multiplier).  The Fire Control Systems add another 100k to the base price, or 2.8M C-B to the final price.

So it is possible to deploy a combat ready mech from a (very slow) small craft. Good to know. 

The only way to deploy a Mech from this Small Craft is either on the ground, or dropping it from orbit.  This craft would not have the thrust to decelerate safely, so letting it try to fly in atmosphere would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for the pilots.  If I have cleared up enough tonnage then it would have ~153 tons available, barely enough to fit a Mech Bay in.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 14 July 2021, 09:17:51
X28?  That's for DropShips.  The Small Craft multiplier is (1 + Tonnage/50), or 5 for a 200 ton craft.  Page 285 refers.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Colt Ward on 14 July 2021, 10:50:46
Nope. If you don't have a 'mech bay then they have to be carried as cargo, and thus aren't combat ready.

Right up until it is needed to be that way in a book . . . Dying Times, the GDL loaded mechs on rail cars and used quick release chains.  Even after the monorail train de-railed, mechwarriors climbed up into the cockpit, techs and infantry released the chains, and the mechs walked off into battle.

Happened again several times in MWDA fiction as a ambush of a Oriente force, once successfully and once not.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: CapricornNoble on 15 July 2021, 19:52:00
Some potential uses:
Have five Dropships and need to deliver 20 Mechs to the surface?  Equip all five Dropships with 4 SC-Mech each, and send them down.  Another location needs medical support?  The command ship preps a SC-Medi (plus a SC-Cargo, and a pair of SC-Inf), one of the Aurora Dropships pops up, swaps out its four SC-Mech for the prepped SC, and heads down to a different location to provide medical service.

This is kinda how my AU faction functions. Warships without Dropship collars are massively cheaper, so instead of DS I use Small Craft to deploy Vehicles, Battle Armor, and conventional infantry, backed up by ASFs and orbital bombardment. No mechs, no Dropships for combat operations (unloading heavy armor from Mules at a secured spaceport is still a thing). I can fit 2 Light Vehicle Bays in a 4/6 Thrust Spheroid SC with no weapons.

Now you've got me thinking about how to use SCs to establish fire bases planetside...
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Maingunnery on 16 July 2021, 06:54:12
I imagine that the earliest 'Mech transports were cargo SC:   ;)


https://bg.battletech.com/forums/aerospace/trader-small-craft/msg1334786/#msg1334786
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 16 July 2021, 07:09:41
I still like that design!  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: idea weenie on 18 July 2021, 12:58:21
X28?  That's for DropShips.  The Small Craft multiplier is (1 + Tonnage/50), or 5 for a 200 ton craft.  Page 285 refers.

Found my error.  In MML I was not using the drop-down list that would select the Small Craft, and was strictly using Dropship settings.

I made a post about it here (https://bg.battletech.com/forums/aerospace/small-craft-as-omni-pods/), as my ideas for it were starting to get big.

In short, they are sturdy enough to handle some rough maneuvers, large enough bay to give options, have 6 hours of fuel at strategic mode, and are pricey enough that most mercs will skip it.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 18 July 2021, 13:11:19
Glad I could help!  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Lagrange on 22 July 2021, 12:29:47
A 1/2 smallcraft has some other uses as well.
(a) It can be used to deliver ASF into combat very far from their base.
(b) It can be used to consolidate the doors on a large craft.  Smallcraft bays can already house ASF.   With a 1/2 smallcraft, you can create a mech deployment system by loading up mechs inside the smallcraft inside a warship/dropship/space station, launch the smallcraft, drop the mech outside the atmosphere, and then have the smallcraft proceed back.  All other unit types are handled in a more straightforward fashion.   

Mech recovery is obviously somewhat tricky, but not crazily so.  You can easily land smallcraft with the cargo capacity for a mech. Loading the mech into cargo takes some time, but it's not an outlandish amount of time.  Other units (ASF, vehicles, battle armor, artillery, or even armed smallcraft) would need to hold an LZ while loading happens, so a force with a reasonable composition would have a relatively small proportion of mechs for specialized mech-missions while emphasizing other units for missions that can be handled by multiple kinds of units.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: DevianID on 25 July 2021, 12:19:47
So honestly landing mechs and armor with small craft should be much more common, and would be in a realistic setting.  Dropships are pains to land; spheroids can technically land anywhere but they have a very real chance of never taking off if they dont land at a prepared landing pad.  They also melt everything nearby.  Aerodyne require long clear strips to take off, so have even more limited landing locations.

Small craft with 100 tons of cargo can actually land without slagging the terrain and need much fewer hexes of space.  Depositing a light lance by small craft would work very very well, as you can plop down hours from the mission zone, unload, and march your light mech lance as of they were ranger or seal team infantry.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: idea weenie on 25 July 2021, 12:23:14
So honestly landing mechs and armor with small craft should be much more common, and would be in a realistic setting.  Dropships are pains to land; spheroids can technically land anywhere but they have a very real chance of never taking off if they dont land at a prepared landing pad.  They also melt everything nearby.  Aerodyne require long clear strips to take off, so have even more limited landing locations.

Small craft with 100 tons of cargo can actually land without slagging the terrain and need much fewer hexes of space.  Depositing a light lance by small craft would work very very well, as you can plop down hours from the mission zone, unload, and march your light mech lance as of they were ranger or seal team infantry.

To avoid people storing all their units as cargo all the time, we would have to add time limits for storing active units as cargo before they 'go bad'.  I.e. storing an active Mech as cargo means that no maintenance can be done on it, which imposes a time limit before the Mech is suffering too many penalties to be combat effective.  But that would be Fan Rules.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 25 July 2021, 12:26:19
That sounds like the regular maintenance rules from StratOps to me...
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: AlphaMirage on 25 July 2021, 12:30:47
So honestly landing mechs and armor with small craft should be much more common, and would be in a realistic setting.  Dropships are pains to land; spheroids can technically land anywhere but they have a very real chance of never taking off if they dont land at a prepared landing pad.  They also melt everything nearby.  Aerodyne require long clear strips to take off, so have even more limited landing locations.

Small craft with 100 tons of cargo can actually land without slagging the terrain and need much fewer hexes of space.  Depositing a light lance by small craft would work very very well, as you can plop down hours from the mission zone, unload, and march your light mech lance as of they were ranger or seal team infantry.

The problem is exfil really. A small craft might be able to land some light mechs but cannot pick them back up again before response forces arrive. You'd still need a dropship. So why wouldn't you use it for both?

Also mechs with jump jets can be deployed from space execute their mission then be picked up on the ground once it is done so small craft offer few advantages there. Like mentioned above they are better off being used to deploy armor or infantry units. Infantry units that could for instance conduct recon before a raid and take control of a prepared landing location long enough for the main raid force to arrive
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Hellraiser on 25 July 2021, 13:24:07
This discussion just makes me think....... "And this is why the Robinson class was so good".      (And Nightlord, and Kirishima? DC-Frigate)

Drop a battalion of Mechs from Orbit.

Secure an LZ/Spaceport.

Then let a couple DS move everything else down in a nice calm controlled manner.


And agree w/ AlphaMirage, this is all fine & dandy, ASSUMING you win & are in control of everything in a nice peaceful way.

The entire concept however goes out the window when your trying to extract under fire in a holding action.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: DevianID on 25 July 2021, 14:45:25
So small craft have a major advantage in the exfil department.  It only takes 7.5 min to bring a small craft up to launch status, while it take 45+ min to bring a dropship up.  Idling a dropship is also more maintenance intensive.  Loading troops under fire is disastrous no matter what craft you use, but yes dropships do that better (from a landing field where the dropship has made a landing much earlier) however small craft can land anywhere quickly and not melt the units they are trying to pick up, and more importantly they dont create a crater when they land on clear terrain causing a +3 penalty to try and take off.

So image if a leopard/union had a small craft bay instead of 2 fighters.  The leopard/union can do its normal air drop of mechs, and use a small craft to pick them up post raid without needing a landing strip or prepared field to avoid leaving a crater.  Sure it might take hours to transfer them one at a time via small craft after the raid, but dropships simply can't land most places mechs are going.

Another solution to load in difficult terrain would be to load while the dropship is hovering.  This seems to make a lot of sense but we havent seen the loading bays having elevators or long enough ramps in the fiction.  They mention having cranes and such, but until TPTB say you can load mechs to a hovering dropship I don't think you can.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 25 July 2021, 14:48:48
With plasma exhaust, I don't think you'd even want to try it...
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: AlphaMirage on 25 July 2021, 18:50:24

The entire concept however goes out the window when your trying to extract under fire in a holding action.

Small craft don't help you there either unless you are extracting a vehicle with an Ares VII or equivalent. Most dropships can take some hits during extraction which should be completed before destruction unless you have really screwed up and let an assault lance get near.

You could send also send a shuttle down to load whatever your raid objective was as cargo. Then the pilots disable their mechs on the way out, but at least can save themselves and their objective.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Hellraiser on 26 July 2021, 13:23:51
Small craft don't help you there either unless you are extracting a vehicle with an Ares VII or equivalent. Most dropships can take some hits during extraction which should be completed before destruction unless you have really screwed up and let an assault lance get near.
That is what I was saying.  The SC doesn't really help for "fast load" when your forced to load as Cargo.

Quote
You could send also send a shuttle down to load whatever your raid objective was as cargo. Then the pilots disable their mechs on the way out, but at least can save themselves and their objective.
This I can see, much like SAR duty, if your goal is just to save people, then a SC is less visible & can land somewhere & get the meat out living the "toys" behind w/ C4 in the cockpits & engines.

Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Hellraiser on 26 July 2021, 13:28:11
So image if a leopard/union had a small craft bay instead of 2 fighters.  The leopard/union can do its normal air drop of mechs, and use a small craft to pick them up post raid without needing a landing strip or prepared field to avoid leaving a crater.  Sure it might take hours to transfer them one at a time via small craft after the raid, but dropships simply can't land most places mechs are going.

Yet we have many a story where the unit escapes from another unit & meets up with their DS in some mountain valley etc etc & gets off the planet.
We actually have all sorts of cases of units landing 50KM+ outside a city or so & then forming up & moving to attack the garrison unit.
I'm thinking landing outside a space port can't be THAT dang hard that you loose the DS every other time or we'd never see it done.

As for the Leo/Union idea, as you stated, it will take forever moving 1 mech at a time up into orbit & then back down to get another.

Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: DevianID on 27 July 2021, 10:20:23
A skill 5 pilot on an airfield landing pad needs a 4 (-1 mod), otherwise they need an 8 (+3 crater from crushing the terrain under the dropship).  If you fail by 2 you liftoff with gear damage, by 4 you take gear damage and need another psr to takeoff or take armor damage.  If you fail by 5+ you destroy your landing gear all together.  So a skill 3 dropship can land in the countryside and have a decent chance of not wrecking, but a skill 5 dropship would need to be really desperate to land in the open, as a roll of 3 would cripple the ship when attempting taking off, about 8% of the time.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 27 July 2021, 19:20:06
Which would be why your 5 pilots don't touch the controls of anything over 200 tons until they get better, and your 4 pilots aren't allowed to land until THEY improve.  With larger crews, you can afford to focus on a single skill.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Wrangler on 05 August 2021, 08:36:05
Supposedly there was a fluff only Small Craft in the Kyushu Class Frigates said to have small craft that could carry 3 Mechs at a time back to the Frigate given it dumps like Regiment of 100 from orbit. It remains fluff though.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 05 August 2021, 09:32:11
Mechanically, that would have to be a dropship.  3 cubicles is over twice the maximum weight of a Small Craft.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: AlphaMirage on 05 August 2021, 09:44:42
You can drop Mechs from orbit. You could also transport three bugs in an Ares if you carry them as cargo. Nothing mentioned how big or fast they could be deployed
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Colt Ward on 05 August 2021, 09:58:22
You can drop Mechs from orbit. You could also transport three bugs in an Ares if you carry them as cargo. Nothing mentioned how big or fast they could be deployed

I am also not sure we have a actual 'heavy lift' unit- something that will barely break to orbit on a standard gravity world to keep the engine/thrusters small, minimal armor & structure, and everything else gets thrown in cargo.  A 3/5 design is the minimum to break Terra standard gravity IIRC?
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 05 August 2021, 10:10:24
Yes, though technically the way the rule reads, you have to be 3/5 to escape any atmosphere.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: DevianID on 07 August 2021, 04:41:39
Im kinda shocked we dont have a heavy lift small craft honestly.  Thats one of those units so common they didn't bother stating it I guess?
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 07 August 2021, 05:53:25
The K-1 is as close as canon gets.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: AlphaMirage on 07 August 2021, 09:47:57
The K-1 is as close as canon gets.

Also the S-7 as long as you don't need it go through atmosphere
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 07 August 2021, 10:06:14
True, but I figured "heavy lift" meant from ground to orbit.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Wrangler on 07 August 2021, 14:22:28
Yep, there a gap.  There certainly would have been a Primitive Small Craft some kind with serious lift capacities given Primitive JumpShips needed them relay stuff to the surface.
There aren't many proper Drop"Shuttles" in canon either.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Charistoph on 07 August 2021, 14:51:34
Well when most Dropships handle that role properly with greater capacity, heavy lift small craft are generally best for Warships and those Dropships which don't really "drop" very often, like the Behemoth.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Wolf72 on 08 August 2021, 09:15:38
without going into the designs forum, how small of a DS could you go to get an effective/efficient direct mech dropper/retriever? ... one bay at 150 tons, all the other stuff you need ... could you do this for 5-600 tons?  This would pull us way out of SC range.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 08 August 2021, 09:27:23
I'm positive you could fit a single cubicle into a 500-ton DropShip.  One ALMOST fits in a 200-ton Small Craft, after all.  At 500 tons, you might be able to cram two in...
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Maingunnery on 08 August 2021, 10:04:25
At 500 tons, you might be able to cram two in...
Confirmed.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Wolf72 on 08 August 2021, 11:15:03
I just pulled 2 400 tonners ... [edit] ... Yes, yes Daryk! right you are.

2 at 500 tons? ... that's better than 1 at 400 imo.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Daryk on 08 August 2021, 11:48:49
Careful not to get too close to an actual design here... those belong in the design forum...
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Wolf72 on 08 August 2021, 14:10:44
I would throw out there the benefit of a small craft would be it's own ability to be transported in a bay versus a dropship that requires a docking collar (even it could fit in a cargo bay, mass wise).

If you needed your own planet based DS, a few 400t or 500t units seem like a decent taxi cab.
Title: Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
Post by: Wrangler on 08 August 2021, 15:12:05
Wait. I remember, that they were mentioned as being used as Space Bombers.  I mean small craft.