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Author Topic: Fighter of the Week, Issue #028 (repost) - Zero  (Read 4594 times)

Trace Coburn

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Fighter of the Week, Issue #028 (repost) - Zero
« on: 27 February 2011, 06:40:22 »
ZRO-114 Zero - 35t, TRO2750
Originally posted 1 Jun. 2005.

  All proposed fan-variants should be posted in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread.


  The ZRO-114 Zero is one of those oddities of the Star League era that makes it clear that the Terran Hegemony’s research and design bureaux were willing to experiment with concepts that flew in the face of received wisdom - sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  A light fire-support spaceframe, if you can credit the idea, the Zero has a good deal of firepower going for it... but not too much else, which means that it requires thoughtful handling.  Admittedly, a ‘light fire-support Aerospace Fighter’ is as dubious a concept to the naval/aviation mind as a ‘light fire-support BattleMech’ like the Valkyrie is to many ground-force commanders, but there are some interesting tricks that can be played....

  I’m pretty sure that TRO2750 was the first CBT sourcebook I actually bought.  When I got it home, my eyes were drawn almost exclusively to the ’Mechs and WarShips which had fired my imagination to lay down my hard-earned cash, and so I never really looked at the fighters in terms of ‘game mechanics’.  Looking at the ZRO-114 in the light of everything I’ve learned while hanging out here, though, my first impression was "Exsqueeze me?"  :o ???
  The rules of fighter design are well-established, both in the rules and from an in-character perspective.  Conventional thinking has it that while medium fighters can strike a decent balance between speed, armour and firepower, and heavies are usually lumbering juggernauts with fearful amounts of weaponry, light fighters sacrifice both armour and throw-weight for speed and agility, seeking to be "the fustust there with the mostust" so as to engage the enemy as soon as possible and maximise separation between the hostiles and whatever the lightfighters are trying to protect.  In the eyes of the followers of this dogma, the Zero is an act of heresy.  At a mere 6/9, the Zero is not ‘fast’; hell, there are some fighters twice its mass which can match its turning or acceleration performance, a fact which does not lend itself to a favourable opinion.  The fact that using a mere 140SFE (plus the customary five tons of reaction-mass) in a 35-ton fighter leaves an impressive fraction of tonnage free doesn’t really register on the conventional thinker in the light of that first impression.  Much of that tonnage goes to the structure - some ten tons (28.5% of the overall mass! :o) is invested in a 61/28/43 armour layout, making the Zero almost unbelievably tough by lightfighter standards (only the novel folding wings are vulnerable to ML TACs, but as they’re devoid of weapons systems anyway, it’s not as big a deal as it might otherwise be).  The rest of the mass, however, goes to the armoury... which is the ZRO-114’s real selling point.  While supported by only the ten integral SHS, which means sustained barrages are rather unwise, a light starfighter whose nose houses a large laser, a medium laser, and an LRM-10 with a ton of ammo can deal out a very healthy dose of "don’t ****** with me!" in a very short time - at all ranges, to boot.
  (Note well, though: not one piece of the stock Zero is Level-2 technology.  This means that if you can explain their presence (whether by ‘finding a cache’ or ‘appropriating’ them from ComStar or the Clans), they are perfectly legal for IS1-only games... heeheeheehee.  }:)  And the cost is hard to argue with: BV of 738, or a paltry 1.6 million C-bills per copy....)

  All of this in mind, the Zero cannot be used like normal light starfighters: it simply can’t hope to keep up with most of its competitors, either in a race or a turning fight, and all the firepower in the world isn’t worth much if you can’t bring it to bear.  It is not intended for the front lines of the fight, and it should not be put on those lines if at all avoidable.  It is a support player, pure and simple.
  On the other hand, the Zero’s arsenal includes two weapons capable of thresholding many light or medium starfighters from almost any angle, so a couple of ZRO-114 lances hanging back on the fringes of a main furball can pour grief into opposing units just fine, meaning that other, heavier designs capable of providing such support can be assigned to more decisive roles, like kicking seven colours of shite out of capital assets.  ;)
  On the gripping hand, using ‘bait and switch’ tactics in the offensive role can make for nasty, nasty things happening to an opposing force.  Experienced ’Mech bashers know this technique well: it’s much like parking a JagerMech on a hilltop, then jamming a Banshee -3E in the other guy’s face or racing a Jenner across his field-of-fire.  While he’s busy trying to knock down your bait (be it big and tough or small and evasive), your support fire is steadily chewing pieces off of him - little pieces, perhaps, but the cumulative effects can be telling.  Threaten a DropShip with a squadron of Thunderbirds and one of Zeroes, and which is he more likely to regard as the biggest threat (and thus engage first)?  (Those of you who said "T-birds" get a gold star.  ;))  But after two or three turns, depending on just how tough the Dropper is, those Zeroes may well be the ones to deliver the killing blow!  (Remember, a squadron of Zeroes packs an LRM-bay worth some 4 Capital damage, and the large lasers are good for a 5-point bay.  Not something Level-1 players can ignore without soon regretting it.)  Heck, ‘escorting’ a Stuka lance with two Zero pairs could be just as effective!  :o
  Note well, though: in light of the mantras, ZRO-114s must have the protection of friendly interceptors and/or dogfighters, or the enemy’s will slaughter them in short order.

  Players wishing to counter Zeroes have already taken the most vital step simply by making that decision: they have acknowledged the ZRO-114 as a factor.  Those who ignore the support it can provide to an opposing force in favour of juicier meat will get mauled for their imprudence; those who seek to engage Zeroes directly have already sealed their doom, for they are too slow to escape interceptors and too light to absorb direct punishment from mediums or heavies, especially those like the Corsair and Stingray that can match their performance and firepower.  You still need to be mindful of their forward firepower, but hitting a Zero unit from the flanks or behind with a few interceptors should spoil their fun in short order; even if they’re rescued before being destroyed, you’ll have deprived your opponent of their fire-support for some time, quite possibly decisively.

  [VARIANT PROPOSAL(S) REDACTED] All proposed fan-variants - including my own - belong in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread: http://www.classicbattletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,2348.0.html

  Be advised: the attached .txt transcripts of previous runs of this thread contain numerous reader-proposals for variants.  I’ll try to change those out for ‘sanitised’ versions of those threads when I can, but I can’t promise it’ll be soon - that’s a lot of ground to cover.  ;)
« Last Edit: 27 February 2011, 06:45:56 by Trace Coburn »

Trace Coburn

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Fighter of the Week, Issue #028 (repost) - Zero ('50U Update)
« Reply #1 on: 27 February 2011, 06:41:46 »
ZRO-** Zero (TRO3050 Updates)
Originally posted 19 Dec. 2007.

  Okay, okay, this update’s two weeks late.  Blame on the manifold insanities related to employment in the retail sector at this time of year.  [metalhealth]

Quote from: Maelwys
There’s just something about the Zero that makes people sit up and take notice. While it’s a little oddly laid out, the armor of the Zero is perhaps its defining feature. If that doesn’t work for you, then the massive amount of firepower probably does. And the Zero does all this while being a level 1 design (which means since it has armor and firepower, it skimps on speed). The rules from the FOTW still apply, with the Zero supporting faster designs that are moving in to engage the enemy. With Tridents and Swifts zipping past them, enemy fighters must turn or risk them in their rear arc, exposing themselves to the oncoming Zeroes. While the dogfighters dance, the Zero strikes from range. 3050U tells us the Star League was loathe to screw with what they considered near perfection. ComStar, who usually seemed disinclined to mess with fighter designs (so far, the Zero is the first fighter I’ve reviewed where ComStar has designed a new variant) was so inclined with the Zero. The Blakists being the Blakists, [they] naturally got their hands on the design in one of the many waves of defections among the ComGuards.

The ZRO-115 replaces the heat sinks with doubles, perhaps the only complaint of the -114. The large laser and LRM-10 are replaced by an ERPPC and twin Streak-2’s. The medium laser is kept, and all this is mounted in the nose. I’ve got mixed feelings about this upgrade. Amusingly, in his FOTW article, the switch to a PPC is the one thing that Trace said he wouldn’t suggest, since it turns it into a Spad clone. While it may not be a clone, it’s certainly close. The PPC matches the range of the LRM, while providing much greater damage, at a cost of heat (but the benefit of not having to worry about ammo). The Streaks retain the damage of the large laser (if they both hit) and the 50 rounds shared means ammo isn’t too much of a problem. However, the SRMs don’t share the large laser’s range. Where the original Zero just gets better as it closes, there’s a noticeable gap with the 115 between long range and its short range weaponry. The design works, I suppose, but Trace is right. It really seems like a Spad clone. I would’ve rather have seen something as simple as upgrading the large laser for an ERLL with double heatsinks to help cool it rather than this change.

Class/Model/Name:  Zero ZRO-115
Mass:              35 tons

Equipment:                                                              Mass
Power Plant:  140 Fusion                                                 5.00
Thrust:  Safe Thrust: 6
      Maximum Thrust: 9
Structural Integrity: 6                                                   .00
Total Heat Sinks:    10 Double                                            .00
Fuel:                                                                    5.00
Cockpit & Attitude Thrusters:                                            3.00
Armor Type:  Standard  (160 total armor pts)                            10.00
                           Standard Scale Armor Pts
   Location:                            L / R
   Nose:                                 61
   Left/Right Wings:                  28/28
   Aft:                                  43

Weapons and Equipment      Loc        SRV    MRV    LRV    ERV  Heat    Mass
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 ER PPC                   Nose        10     10     10     --   15      7.00
1 Medium Laser             Nose         5     --     --     --    3      1.00
2 Streak SRM 2             Nose         4     --     --     --    4      3.00
  Ammo (Streak 2) 50       ---                                           1.00
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TOTALS:                                                    Heat: 22     35.00
Tons Left:                                                                .00

Calculated Factors:
Total Cost:        1,829,495 C-Bills
Battle Value:      938
Cost per BV:       1,950.42
Weapon Value:      1,508 (Ratio = 1.61)
Damage Factors:    SRV = 19;  MRV = 7;  LRV = 3;  ERV = 0
BattleForce2:      MP: 6,  Armor/Structure: 4 / 0
                   Damage PB/M/L: 2/1/1,  Overheat: 0
                   Class: FL;  Point Value: 9
  Yeah, [stupid].  Good grief, fellas - did the Blake Flakes somehow bury a set of updated Spad specs in a file full of proposed Zero designs?  ’Cause that’s the only way I can really see someone transposing the two types’ armaments like this.  Don’t get me wrong - as others have said up-thread, an ERPPC backed by four SSRMs is a nice dai-sho-style armament, and using twin SSRM-2s over a single SSRM-4 provides a hedge against battle-damage - but it doesn’t really feel like a Zero:-\



  [VARIANT PROPOSAL(S) REDACTED] All proposed fan-variants - including my own - belong in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread: http://www.classicbattletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,2348.0.html

Trace Coburn

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Fighter of the Week, Issue #028 (repost) - Zero (KLONDIKE Update)
« Reply #2 on: 27 February 2011, 06:44:07 »
Gold Strike Package
ZRO-116b Royal Zero – Operation KLONDIKE
Originally posted 16 Jun. 2010


Quote from: Historical: Operation KLONDIKE, p.160
Aerospace Fighters
Upgrades for the SLDF’s aerospace forces came in the latter half of the 28th century, though with much reduced funding compared to what the Star League dedicated to upgrading the ’Mech service. The program was interrupted by Amaris’ coup, shutting down the SLDF’s access to most of its key production facilities. As the Amaris Civil War progressed, and the SLDF’s losses mounted, Kerensky turned to suppliers the Star League hadn’t typically utilized.

Quote from: Historical: Operation KLONDIKE, p.161
ZRO-116b Zero: A half century after its introduction, the Zero received an upgrade that turned it into a much different fighter. By replacing the standard engine with an extralight power plant and removing the LRM launcher, a large pulse and three medium pulse lasers — the large and one medium in the nose and the other two mediums in the wings — could be mounted. An upgrade to double heat sinks ensured that the royal Zero could handle most of the waste heat generated by these weapons. Moreover, the fighter’s peak acceleration rate increased by more than 20%, and protection likewise increased nearly the same amount by upgrading to ferro-aluminum armor.
   Hmmm....  :-X

Quote from: TRO3050U, p.230
Variants
Not wishing to run the risk of ruining a successful design, the Star League never modified the Zero.
  (Emphasis added.)  I wonder: does this qualify as one of Herb’s "two-steps", or an outright ret-con?  :-\

  But let’s move on.
* Trace Coburn looks at his speculative Royal Zero
  Kind’a wide of the mark on that one, wasn’t I?   :-[  I figured the SLDF would have stuck with the old weapons-mix as a deceptive measure in the pre-Amaris days, not completely blow the ‘secret’ of Royal equipment for the sake of improving the design to such a profound (and visible) degree.  Unless they conducted the upgrade in the public eye, using the existence of this improved design as a ‘deliberate leak’ to help intimidate the other Houses into inaction in face of the THAF’s technological superiority?  Certainly the idea would have appealed to the THAF, given that this was barely two years into the Kerensky Regency over ‘Dick’ Cameron....  [shrug]  But if that’s the case, how the heck do we account for the claim of ‘no advanced Zeroes’ seen in ’50U?  While the ZRO-116b was far from being as prolific as the SB-27b, the same problems exist in principle (if not to the same degree).
  Meh.  Trying to keep up with all that statecraft triple-think is giving me a headache, so let’s get down to cases.  :P
  Now, the ZRO-116 loses a lot of the original Zero’s charm as a cheap, light missile-slinging standoff bird/‘defensive fighter’, but it also turns it into a fairly nasty ‘fast dogfighter’, albeit towards the light end of the scale.  ‘Slashing’ shots leave you two points under your heat-dissipation capacity, and I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone playing in the BT universe who disliked having a -2 TH bonus.  (The attendant poor ranges were bewailed far more frequently, of course, but they’re not really an issue in aerospace play, where Range Brackets cover many, many sins.)  I’m just... it’s not a bad upgrade, but like the Stuka with an Ack-20, it doesn’t feel right, y’know?  :-\
  Not to mention that the other problem of using so much advanced technology is rearing its head: with all those toys piled onto this spaceframe... what more can you do with it?  :(

  Well, I gave it a go nonetheless, and I tried to bring the design back towards the original specs while retaining a decent tactical improvement thereover, but how successful I was... is a matter I’ll have to leave up to the readers.  :-\

  [VARIANT PROPOSAL(S) REDACTED] All proposed fan-variants - including my own - belong in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread: http://www.classicbattletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,2348.0.html

Maelwys

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #028 (repost) - Zero
« Reply #3 on: 27 February 2011, 07:38:25 »
Its unfortunately another one of those "ComStar is an idiot, so they never noticed that there was a Royal design of this." moments.

If we thought the ComStar variant was too much of a Spad clone, what are we to think about the Royal Zero (Comparing it to the Royal Spad now)?

Both 7/11? Check.
Both Have FA armor? Check.
Heavily armored? Check (26% and 28% by weight if the numbers don't change that much)
XL Engine? Check.
Main Armaments consisting of a LPL and MPLs? Check.

The difference is that the Zero has an extra MPL and placement I suppose. Don't get me wrong, I like LPLs in aerospace combat. They manage to stretch into the Medium range bracket, and seem like a guaranteed hit. But..its been done. Atleast the ComStar variant stuck to the Energy/Missile arrangement.

Moonsword

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #028 (repost) - Zero
« Reply #4 on: 27 February 2011, 07:46:14 »
Not a lot to say here.  It's kind of a weird design across the board.  If you're looking for a budget fighter, it can do the job, but personally, I'll stick to somewhat larger birds for this sort of thing.  The Royal is impressive but it's still a bit on the small side for what it's trying to do.  That said, this one doesn't present nearly as large a challenge to hiding as the Sabre - where that one was mass produced, the Zero doesn't seem to have been, limiting their deployment to just the Royal regiments, which are evidently fairly secretive, especially with their aerospace assets.

Maelwys

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #028 (repost) - Zero
« Reply #5 on: 27 February 2011, 15:55:23 »
True, the Zero isn't as bad. The Spad is an odd one as well. The 503 is the Royal Upgrade, yet ComStar knew about it way back in the 3050's to put it back into production when the Clans showed up (probably because the plant was on Terra).

My main problem with the new Zeros is that if just listed the stats, I'm more likely to immediately think "Spad" instead of Zero.

Jellico

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #028 (repost) - Zero
« Reply #6 on: 27 February 2011, 17:22:21 »
ERPPCs were very new weapons in 2750 while LPLs have been a standard swap for a PPC for a very long time in this game.

chanman

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #028 (repost) - Zero
« Reply #7 on: 27 February 2011, 18:06:26 »
I'm personally of the opinion that Zeros are actually Hellcat/Rapier trainers. You send out all your new pilots in Zeroes to do combat with the pesky (pirates/insurgents/rogue successor state units). If they survive their ToD, they upgrade to Hellcat/Hellcat IIs. If they excel in their ToD, they upgrade to the Rapier.

Wasteful, but this is the Star League we're talking here.

Moonsword

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #028 (repost) - Zero
« Reply #8 on: 27 February 2011, 18:16:38 »
ERPPCs were very new weapons in 2750 while LPLs have been a standard swap for a PPC for a very long time in this game.

ER PPCs weren't even out of the labs at that point according to TM.

I'm personally of the opinion that Zeros are actually Hellcat/Rapier trainers. You send out all your new pilots in Zeroes to do combat with the pesky (pirates/insurgents/rogue successor state units). If they survive their ToD, they upgrade to Hellcat/Hellcat IIs. If they excel in their ToD, they upgrade to the Rapier.

Wasteful, but this is the Star League we're talking here.

Didn't you post that last time around or did you just mentioned it to me over IMs?

chanman

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #028 (repost) - Zero
« Reply #9 on: 27 February 2011, 18:25:13 »
ER PPCs weren't even out of the labs at that point according to TM.

Didn't you post that last time around or did you just mentioned it to me over IMs?

I did post it last time. I just thought it warranted repeating  :)

Moonsword

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #028 (repost) - Zero
« Reply #10 on: 27 February 2011, 18:54:16 »
Oh, it does, just trying to trace where I'd seen it before.

 

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