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Author Topic: Assault DropShips in 3145  (Read 10222 times)

Jellico

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Assault DropShips in 3145
« on: 30 July 2013, 18:33:01 »
Assault DropShips

  What is an assault DropShip? In a universe of heavily armed troop ships it is often hard to know just what an assault ship is. Put simply it is a DropShip intended to contest space superiority as its primary function. At different times the edges blur. For example by the end of the Succession Wars the nominally troop transport Fortress would commonly see service as an assault ship. During the Clan Invasion the heavily armed Clan transport DropShips would serve as assault ships for their WarShips simply because the Clan had all but allowed the type to go extinct with the exception of carriers.

  By 3145 assault DropShip have become the primary heavy aerospace unit available to the nations of the Inner Sphere. They range in size from a few hundred tons to tens of thousands of tons. Some act as mother ships for aerospace fighters while others bristle with weapons capable of crushing an opponent in a single salvo. How they are used depends upon their specific features and those of their compatriots.
Assault DropShips are the force projection elements of the modern navy. Aerospace fighters may be far more capable in combat, but they lack the range and loiter time to project force beyond one’s own star system. Aerospace fighters are the tools of space denial; DropShips are the prerequisite for space control.

  In the following document I hope to provide a general set of tactics for the use of different types of assault DropShips and the different classes available to different factions.

Aerodyne or Spheroid?

  This may be better looked at as offensive or defensive? An aerodyne DropShip has a significant advantage offensively by being able to bring three firing arcs to bear on a single target. Against this they cost about a third more than a spheroid. An aerodyne’s structure and armour is heavier per ton than a spheroid. Finally an aerodyne can’t be made anywhere near as big as a spheroid.

  In contrast a spheroid has the ability to fight on its broadside, offering higher to-hits and the ability to roll and bring fresh armour to bear. The other big advantage of the spheroid is that they can be built much larger than an aerodyne. The Tiamat is the obvious example of this. The Tiamat is a very powerful DropShip, but the Conquistador (Blockade Runner) rivals it for lethality despite being half the size.
The Pentagon and Achilles are a good example of the difference between aerodynes and spheroids in action. The Achilles is able to consistently defeat the Pentagon, simply because it is able to bring more firepower to bear in a shorter time.

Fighting on their broadsides spheroids are hard to kill and get effective critical hits on. Their lighter structure allows many weapons to be carried. This is deceptive though, because they can’t bring them all to bear. It does make for good anti-aircraft fire. This makes them attractive platforms for capital weapons, especially on fire support platforms. Finally they don’t need to turn their bow to face an enemy making them attractive as escorts for larger units.

Roles of an Assault DropShip

Assault DropShips can be divided into three basic roles. The brawler, fire support and the carrier.

The Brawler
  The role of the brawler is perhaps the most traditional of the assault DropShips. Whether a 1,400 ton Avenger or 36,000 ton Tiamat brawlers exist to get into the face of an enemy and force them to react. The role is essentially identical to that of an aerospace fighter and many DropShips have thrust ratings superior to fighters to achieve this goal. While middling thrust is acceptable the need to close the range quickly means the higher the better, partly to get there, partly to stop once in range, and partly to maintain position on the enemy. 

  Brawlers come in two basic forms. Expendable like the Claymore and tough like the Taihou. Where once smallish ships like the Achilles and Pentagon were considered the high end survivable brawlers capital weapons have dragged mass and costs higher. Now former 9,000 ton giants like Overlord A3s, Interdictors and Isegrims are the starting point for a “survivable” brawler while nation states think nothing of throwing 15,000 ton behemoths into close combat.

  A new generation of expendable Lung Wangs, Merlins, and Dragaus are now the standard for light assault DropShips. These are heavier than before, perhaps because they are the minimum size required for the much heavier armour of modern assault DropShips, not to mention the smallest size to carry practical capital weapons. 

Fire Support
  Fire support is almost a relative term with aerospace combat. The speed with which craft can close the range, and difficulty with stopping an enemy closing means ‘Mech scale weapons are often all too short ranged. Additionally the hostile electronic environment often means that any accuracy is impossible beyond “medium” range. Despite this a skilled tactician can set up situations where fire support can play a major part.

  The most basic example is when no enemy DropShips are present, or they have been forced away from the point of battle. Here any DropShip with long range weapons can rain down fire with near impunity. For example when a group of aerospace fighters are too heavily engaged to come after the DropShip. In this case there is no electronic protection from hostile DropShips and the accuracy is much greater. Alternatively electronic aids like Active Probes can be used to allow one side to have clearer shots than the other. Impunity is the important word. DropShips are vulnerable and when under fire they will often have to take evading action which spoils their aim.

  The use of capital weapons have revolutionised fire support. With their much deeper range bands they allow a fire support DropShip to stand much further off. Most capital weapons allow a DropShip to fight accurately at 20 hexes without difficulty. Barracudas and heavily bracketed auto cannon and lasers are effective out to 40 hexes. The nominally weak Mule PWS and Excalibur PWS serve well in this role despite being far too under armoured to commit to frontline combat.

  Unfortunately these longer ranged weapons are generally ineffective against modern heavy assault DropShips so are best used as anti-aircraft weapons. This isn’t as defeatist as it sounds. Aerospace fighters are still the most dangerous elements in aerospace combat. Solid fire support can mean the difference between a slow, grinding dog fight, and a rapid victory with most of your fighters intact. These fighters are then in a position to efficiently tackle any hostile DropShips.

The Carrier
  Carriers have two primary functions. The first is to transport aerospace fighters for surface combat elements. More relevant to our purposes is the second task, to bring aerospace fighters to a tactical battle. Many DropShips can fill the role of a carrier. With six fighter bays the ‘Mech transport Overlord is a match for the dedicated Leopard CV. Likewise dedicated assault ships often carry a token aerospace force whether it be small craft for boarding work or aerospace fighters. And some carriers are competent assault craft in their own right.

  The first consideration to be taken into account when using a carrier is where you intend to fight with it. Standing off from battle, sometimes by several hours, is an obvious ploy, especially with combat poor carriers like Vengeance, Okinawas, and Leopard CVs. On the other hand dedicated carriers like Aesirs, Carriers, and Titans are formidable combat units and can provide valuable electronic and fire support to their fighter wings. Ultimately the question must be asked, will the presence of the DropShip tip the battle in its favour, or is the risk of its loss too great?

  Tactical considerations aside, there are strategic limits on carriers. Aerospace fighters are voracious users of fuel and cargo space and many carriers are poorly adapted to this reality. None match the combat persistence of a Star League Titan. As a rule of thumb you can expect to get five to ten full sorties out of a Clan carrier depending upon class. Most Inner Sphere carriers offer an anaemic four full sorties at best, with the Vengeance infamous for barely able to support a single strike from its air wing.  The presence of a cargo ship can radically change this equation, but is highly dependent upon the number of doors available to transfer cargo. Likewise it should be remembered that there is no need to operate a continuous combat aerospace patrol (CAP). Aerospace fighter sensors are virtually useless compared to those of the DropShip which can detect threats much further out. The main use for a CAP is to station stationary aerospace fighters along threat axis in case a high speed pass is detected. These can react quickly and won’t be spending any fuel while waiting.

Capital Weapons

  Capital and sub capital weapons are just weapons. They don’t make a DropShip special. Pound for pound the Noruff and Nagasawa are the most powerful DropShips in the game and they achieve this through heavy armour and powerful conventional weapons. What capital weapons offer are alternatives.

  Capital weapons do allow for orbital bombardment, particularly the longer range versions. Ammunition usage is a problem for capital missiles and to a lesser degree sub capital auto cannons. Damage is normally low for any system that can be mounted by a DropShip meaning it takes a long time for any damage to be done. Countering this, there is nothing on the ground capable of countering orbital bombardment short of capital weapons.

  A lone SCC or SCL is pretty useless. Their main advantage is their range brackets. But get a couple together so they can be bracketed and suddenly they are dangerous. The Taihou is the classic example, though the Tiamat and Arondight (SCC) are notable. For a light DropShip like the Lung Wang P2 it means a lot more accuracy against conventionally armed foes which can wear down the unwary. For fire support units like the Arondight (SCC) or Nekohono’o (SCL) it means extra accuracy at range. While their light auto cannon and laser bays are not that damaging - it doesn’t matter if they can stay at ranges where they are not being threatened.

  Capital missiles offer a different dynamic. All capital missiles offer a standoff capability allowing one to attack an enemy from over 50 hexes. In modern times this is of debatable use against DropShips due to the use of anti-missile systems, though many unprotected craft remain. The primary use of capital missiles outside 14 hexes is as anti-aircraft fire. It cannot be understated just how dangerous this is for aerospace fighters. All capital missiles will generate critical hits against aerospace fighters. The range bands make them highly accurate, and when massed like on the Vanir and Vengeance-DC they are more than capable of wiping out heavy fighters in a single turn.

  At less than 14 hexes capital missiles become viable against AMS protected DropShips due to the low natural to-hit numbers at these ranges. The primary advantage of the capital missiles is the relatively high damage and multiple critical hits that can be achieved. The Arcadia 2 and Isegrim are good examples of this role, if only because the Clans lack direct fire sub capital weapons. Special mention should be made of the –T missiles. The natural tendency is to release them at long ranges. This often results in five or six turns of guiding the missile in when new missiles should be being launched. The best effects seem to be achieved launching at short range where fuel is plentiful and the missile can’t miss.

High Speed Passes

  High speed passes occur when aerospace combat occurs at very high speeds. For example two forces passing each other while transiting between orbit and a jump point. Such engagements are very limited in time, often with only single salvos being fired. They are also very dangerous as the damage potential of ballistic and missile weapons are magnified by the high velocities involved.

  Ignoring accidental combat, a tactician will generally employ a high speed pass for two reasons.  The first is when trying to intercept a force beyond the orbit of the defended world. The difficulty here is sensor ranges are so poor it is hard to detect an enemy unless a tripwire exists further out in the system. The second reason is when attacking a target with a relatively stable location like a space station or orbiting WarShip. The increased speeds will enhance the weapon damage allowing smaller craft to be far more dangerous than normal.

  Typically the smart play is to launch fighters before combat. These will also benefit from the damage boost. As the fighters are moving at the same speed and basic direction as the DropShip recovery afterwards will be trivial. If capital missiles are available launch them, otherwise get the large craft out of the firing line. Any return fire will be equally damaging and any debris created could be equally deadly.

Aerospace Fighters and Small Craft

  A brief note should be made about aerospace fighters. These are your shield and sword. Large craft are powerful, but they are decisive when they are not being shot at. Loose aerospace fighters are absolutely deadly to DropShips.

  Consider for a moment the modern heavy aerospace fighter like an Eisensturm. It combines approximately 300 points of armour with 50 tons of weapons. A small DropShip like a Leopard has 500 points of armour and 90 tons of weapons. The Leopard has an electronics advantage and the ability to fire while evading, but the Eisensturm makes up for it by always moving last thus being able to target weak arcs, and by having access to external weapons like Anti-Ship and ASEW missiles. A single Eisensturm is a problem for a Leopard. Two are practically fatal.

  Consider now a high end heavy DropShip optimised for AA like a Vanir. The eighteen thousand-ton DropShip has 1,900 points of armour and 6,700 tons of weapons. A Vanir is capable of killing an Eisensturm every turn. Yet the DropShip can still be destroyed by a mere twelve fighters. Twelve hundred tons of aerospace fighters are superior to six thousand tons of weapons. If that doesn’t put the fear of aerospace fighters into a DropShip crew it should. There is a reason why the Aesir is considered the offensive unit and the Vanir the escort.

  There are usually two ways of winning an aerospace battle. Win the fighter battle and use the survivors to achieve victory. Or penetrate the fighter shield with assault DropShips and win the DropShip battle before the fighter battle ends.

Winning the Merge
  Typically once there is more than a squadron in a battle, aerospace fighter combat becomes a numbers game. By maintaining tight formations whole wings target single fighters (or squadrons if squadron rules are in play) with the aim of killing a fighter a turn. After a few opening shots at longer ranges battle descends into a flowing wrestling patch known as the merge. No aerospace unit is able to physically block a target, but once engaged they can prevent them fleeing. Any attempt to leave the merge before victory is achieved allows the enemy easy shots at the rear of a fighter, virtually guaranteeing a kill.

  This cannot be stressed enough. Don’t break out of the fighter battle until it is won. Don’t get cocky and detach some fighters to go DropShip hunting. The greater the force you have in the merge, the faster you will win, with fewer losses. As indicated above, the survivors will make the heavy ship’s lives very difficult.

  Brawling DropShips and Small Craft can and often should operate alongside fighters. Using evasion, electronic warfare and the greater threat of the friendly fighters, they are remarkably hard to kill. While the need to evade can compromise the DropShip’s own ability to fight back they can provide invaluable assistance through electronic bubbles and sensor shadows that improve the survival rates of friendly fighters. Remember the merge is a numbers game and these supporting units act as force multipliers more than actual combat units.

Avoiding the Merge
  As mentioned above the second way to win a battle is to bypass the fighting aerospace fighters and target the heavy ships directly. Fighter battles can take a long time. When you think about it this makes sense. A lance on lance ‘Mech battle can take ten to fifteen turns. Aerospace battles can easily involve a wing on both sides. Twenty to thirty turns is not uncommon. On the other had DropShips remain eggshells with hammers, even the up armoured modern variants. If a force not tied down by the aerospace battle can get around the merge there is the opportunity for fast kills. Likewise if a force lacks the fighters to win the battle it may pay to use a decoy force of fighters to keep the enemy’s fighters busy while you attempt to win with your heavy units.

  A good example of a DropShip suited to this is the Taihou. It adds little to the merge like an Achilles or a Noruff, has the thrust to avoid battle, and is devastating anti-ship platform. Having a Taihou attacking ones DropShips puts a defender in a difficult position. If the defender pulls their fighters from the merge they will be run down by the enemy fighters. Also any DropShips operating in a fire support role will be forced to perform evasive action for their own survival.

  Of course you can use fighters to avoid the merge, but I would advise against it. The fighter battle is a numbers game and your fighters are your most powerful units. If you have a chance of winning it you should make the maximum effort. That means using any available fighters.

Boarding
  A special note should be made about small craft and boarding actions. Though risky, repeated boarding attempts can rapidly result in a DropShip being overwhelmed. Most DropShips would be hard pressed to resist a Nekohono’o’s nine small craft. To make an attempt to grapple a small craft only need to roll against a target number of 8. Not overly easy when under fire but they only need to get lucky once. A squad of battle armour can easily have a Marine Point value of 16 while a DropShip crew of twenty is only worth 5 points. The danger is obvious.

WarShips

  Though rare, WarShips still exist in 3145. The general advice for DropShips is to avoid them. Capital scale weapons are very effective against DropShip, even as incidental targets. That said you can operate around them. Screen Launchers can block line of sight. Evasion makes targeting difficult over 25 hexes.  The presence of friendly WarShips often draws fire away from the DropShips. However, unless you have a DropShip specially designed to target WarShips like a Taihou, Isegrim, or Tiamat DropShips would be well advised to stand off and let their aerospace fighters do the work.

Factional Tactics (3145)

The Capellan Confederation
  The Capellan Confederation is very well equipped with assault DropShips. They have a good mix of brawling DropShips as well as a competent carrier. They even have units that can perform useful fire support.

  For brawlers the Capellan Confederation has the Achilles, Kuan Ti, Lung Wang P2, and Overlord A3. This forms the classic triad of lights, mediums and a heavy for a well-balanced force. The Lung Wang P2 is notable for its short ranged sub capital lasers. These are deceptively dangerous because of their high bracketed accuracy compared to conventional weapons.

  The Overlord A3 and Vengeance-DC make interesting fire support vessels. The Overlord lacks missiles for volume fire while the Vengeance has plenty of missiles, their range is dangerously short. As missile platforms both will serve primarily as AA platforms, though both can brawl to a degree if required.

  The Vengeance-DC is the Capellan Confederation’s primary carrier DropShip. Unfortunately for the Confederation the Vengeance lacks the capacity for a full Capellan fighter wing (39), with even a pair of Vengeances having to use their small craft bays for the command elements. This means fleet assets can expect to be disorganised unless two Vengeances are present. The presence of a Small Naval-Comms Scanner makes the Vengeance highly effective as a command platform and very hard to surprise.

The Clans
  The Clans have a disadvantage in that they lack direct fire sub capital weapons. They have an advantage in highly effective conventional weapons. In DropShip combat this basically means a Clan ship will try and close the range as much as possible. Also they are going to use carriers. Not only is this ethically sound in the use of single warriors, aerospace fighters are simply going to be more effective and offer some standoff capability. Expect some variation by Clan.

  For brawlers the Clans have the Arcadia variants, the Isegrim, the Nagasawa and the functionally extinct Noruff. Most fall into the semi expendable niche though all feature very heavy armour. Tactically they seem to be designed to operate with the aerospace fighters and shield the fire support and carrier units. The Isegrim is a ship killer in its own right and is likely to lurk behind the shield until it gets an opportunity to strike.

  For fire support the Clans have the Outpost Defender, Titan Monitor and Vanir. All are best suited to relatively close fire support around 20 hexes. Their heavy armour will be used and the latter two are formidable anti-aircraft platforms. Rather than targeting enemy DropShips they will likely be targeting aerospace fighters to ensure a quick victory. Remember that the Clans still operate a number of WarShips. If present, they will be the heavy fire support element and these DropShips will be in a defensive role.

  For carriers the Clans have the Aesir, Carrier and functionally extinct Miraborg and Titan. While the Carrier and Titan might show up as a brawler the others are more likely to be in fire support - the Aesir because it is effective and the Miraborg because it is a surprising weak combat unit. All have large stores of expendables and the large units carry 30 aerospace fighters allowing them to overwhelm many Inner Sphere equivalents. Generally much stronger combat platforms than Inner Sphere carriers expect them to enter combat in smaller battle, often tipping the balance.

The Draconis Combine
  The Draconis Combine primarily uses its assault DropShips as brawlers with carriers in support. Blessed with a Vengeance yard since the Star League the Combine has been able to rely on bringing plenty of aerospace fighters to the fight. Most Combine assault DropShips are intended to end a battle quickly in violent short range combat.

  For brawlers the Draconis Combine produces the Achilles, Nekohono’o and Taihou. The Nekohono’o is somewhat dated and under armoured in the role but its triple Krakens and heavy conventional weapons are most effective at short range. Massed Taihous are perhaps the greatest threat. Most aerospace fighter screens would be hard pressed to stop them closing on anything, where they can rapidly overwhelm even WarShips.

  For an early adopter of heavy assault ships the Draconis Combine is surprisingly lacking in the fire support role. Only the Nekohono’o SCL is configured for it. Linked into the Taihous’ C3 systems they are expected to provide accurate laser fire from long range.

  For carriers the Draconis Combine has the Nekohono’o, Okinawa and Vengeance. The long presence of two competent carrier DropShips explains the lack of fire support. Able to carry a full DCMS Wing the Vengeance is possibly the better fleet unit. The Nekohono’o is notable for its small craft and ability to launch mass boarding attempts. None of these ships are particularly strong at short ranges with the special exception of the Nekohono’o. Expect them to avoid combat at all costs. Also the Okinawa and Vengeance have small cargo bays so will need support vessels to keep them operating.

The Federated Suns
  With access to so many heavy assault ships the Federated Suns operates a truly impressive force of DropShips. Thanks to being early adopters of the “pocket WarShip” concept the Federated Suns was in a position to exploit the second generation of heavy assault DropShips that matured during the Jihad. In addition to the usual combat ships one may be unlucky enough to run across a Conquistador (Blockade Runner) which remains one of the deadliest fighting ships available. Also the Federated Suns operates a number of Vampires in a Special Forces role.

  For brawlers the Federated Suns has the Arondight variants, Aurora (Gunship), Avenger, and Overlord A3. The Arondight (SCC) is a formidable close range fighter thanks to its armour and nose auto cannon. The Overlords are somewhat legacy items while the Auroras and Avengers are very light and fill the expendable role. This highlights the biggest problem with the Federated Suns assault ships. A lack of a middle weight brawler means tailoring forces to roles can be difficult and their lights are too small for effective armour.

  For fire support DropShips the Federated Suns has the Arondight variants, Excalibur PWS and Overlord A3. With so many heavily armoured supporting craft the Excalibur can function as a command ship at very long ranges. This suits its lack of armour. As noted before the Overlord lacks the really long range weapons of a true fire support platform and is easily overshadowed here. Both Arondight variants function best around 20 hexes. The original works best as an AA platform with its Piranha missiles, while the (SCC) is able to use its bracketed light sub capital cannon to take down heavy ships from long range.

  While the Excalibur PWS and Overlord A3 carry a squadron of aerospace fighters each there is no question that the Vengeance is the Federated Suns primary carrier. Able to carry two Suns fighter wings with their command elements, a Vengeance is best left lurking far away from the actual battle.

The Free World’s League States
  Divided by the Jihad, the Free World’s League uses a hodgepodge of captured, constructed and preserved DropShips. Late to the revival of the assault DropShip they had a solid naval industry and were able to build competent forces, though somewhat lacking in heavy units.

  For brawlers the Free World League states operate Hamilcars, Intruders, Kuan Tis, Leopard PWS, and the Merlin variants, the R3 having a quartet of sub capital lasers. This group of DropShips have notably low thrust rates and have aged badly. The Hamilcar and Kuan Ti’s armour is weak though they have useful firepower. Ironically the upgraded Intruder is one of the best performers thanks to its heavy armour. In many ways they are best just thrown into battle to provide electronic support and to let the aerospace fighters do the real work.

  The only fire support units the Free World League states can really call upon are the Merlin R3 and Union PWS. The Union is a particularly poor platform whose only redeeming feature is the range of its AR-10s. It provides its best service providing anti-aircraft support at long ranges. The Merlin is able to provide long range direct fire support, but lacks the ability to do heavy damage. As such it is a sniping platform which can’t force the issue quickly.

  With the poor tactical abilities of its DropShips it is no surprise that the Free World League States has access to a solid core of carriers. Traditional platforms like the Leopard CV and Vengeance have long been available while the newer Gorgon offers a midpoint in capacity with the cargo bay for extended operations. For the most part these carriers can be expected to avoid combat and rely on their fighters to carry the day.

The Lyran Commonwealth
  With its aerospace industry smashed and fragmented by the Jihad the Lyran Commonwealth’s stocks of combat DropShips are shockingly incomplete. A complete lack of carrier craft means the Lyrans cannot bring an adequate number of aerospace fighters to bear to achieve aerospace superiority. Instead they have to rely on their light brawlers. This in turn has problems as they lack the JumpShips to transport the number of DropShips needed to make this tactic viable. This might not be a problem on the defensive, but for offensive operations it is and probably goes a long way to explain the Lyran’s difficulties with Clans Jade Falcon and Wolf.

  For brawlers the Lyran Commonwealth has access to the Aurora (Gunship), Avenger, Claymore variants, Intruder, Isegrim and Overlord A3. Only the Avenger, Intruder, and Isegrim are still built in Lyran space with the remainder being lost to the Republic through Skye. The Avengers, Auroras, and Claymores are effective providing support to aerospace fighters, though their small size works very much against them. They physically can’t mount adequate armour. The Intruder is okay at absorbing fire, less so at dealing it out. The Overlord A3 and Isegrim are far more formidable, though these are high end ships and can’t be sacrificed lightly. It is on these big ships that the winning of naval battles will fall.

  With only the Excalibur PWS, Union PWS, and Overlord A3 the Lyran stocks of fire support vessels are very antiquated and none are built within the realm. As missile platforms they will serve adequately as heavy AA though only the Excalibur has enough missiles to be truly effective. Only the Overlord A3 has the armour for heavy combat.

  The Lyran Commonwealth has virtually no carrier capability. Of the combat ships only the Overlord and Excalibur have any organic air support. The Commonwealth has to rely on small capacity Aurora CVs and the aerospace squadrons on its transports like Trutzburgs. Clearly this is not acceptable.

The Republic of the Sphere
  At first glance the Republic’s assault DropShip stocks are very solid with modern ships and the largest combat DropShip currently in service. Unfortunately they lack good carriers making them vulnerable to attack by small craft. Their modern designs are for more resistant to attack by fighters than most DropShips, but this doesn’t change the fact that most fighters are far more effective per ton than any DropShip.

  The Republic of the Sphere has some very impressive brawlers. The Aurora (Gunship), Dragau II, Interdictor variants, Isegrim, Overlord A3, and mighty Tiamat, not only cover large to small graduations, but also have an element of high/low cost. The Aurora and Overlord are noticeably lacking compared to the newer and dedicated assault ships though they still turn up in numbers. The high thrust Dragau clearly fills the expendable segment though it is larger and better armoured than many of its competitors. All three Interdictors are dangerous, though the (SCC) clearly shows the advantages of being developed after the Jihad. Designed after the Interdictor the Isegrim has even more firepower and as an import is rarer than the locally built DropShip. Finally the Tiamat serves as the Republic’s capital ships. These are very powerful ships with great slabs of armour. They are best employed in close to an enemy where their massive auto cannon bay can be brought to bear.

  Ironically for all their close range power the Republic is lacking in fire support. Only the Interdictor, Overlord A3, and Tiamat can offer token long range fire. At best this is a few capital missiles or a long range auto cannon or laser. It is almost always better to commit these ships to the melee rather than hold them back.

  Likewise the Republic is lacking in carriers. The Overlord A3, and Tiamat carry a squadron each and Aurora can be configured to carry four fighters, but they can’t hope to match the large aerospace wings of the Draconis Combine, Federated Suns or Free Worlds League. Tactically they are best off using their aerospace wings to fight delaying actions while the Interdictors and Tiamats try to break the line and attack the opposing heavy craft.

« Last Edit: 30 July 2013, 18:55:49 by Jellico »

Red Pins

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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #1 on: 30 July 2013, 22:10:39 »
WOW!

Well said.  I like it!
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Kojak

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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #2 on: 30 July 2013, 22:35:41 »
Very fascinating read, especially the factional breakdown section. Articles like this one are a huge boon to folks like me who are largely clueless about even the basics of naval warfare in the BT universe.
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #3 on: 30 July 2013, 23:03:30 »
Very nice read! My only addition would be a bit on bearings-only launches. A lot of ships do mount heavy AMS bays, but many still don't, and the ability to strike from well outside 50 hexes should not be ignored. Heck, they can still be effective against heavily AMSed targets, since a confident(or lucky) commander can try and predict the path of an enemy group and dial his missiles for short-ranged detection. With the resulting low to-hit numbers, AMS is less likely to be a factor. In addition, bearings-only fire can be done with T-Missiles, an easy way to greatly extend their effective range beyond that were manually driving them in is viable(and since they're on automatic, you can fire them this way every turn).

It should also be noted that Clan fleets will very greatly by Clan. For example, the Jade Falcons seem to have completely shunned any capital or sub-capital-equipped ships, relying entirely on vessels with conventional guns, such as the Noruff and Nagasawa. For fire support, you should probably expect them to use one of their many remaining WarShips, almost all of which are heavy cruisers or larger. This firepower may not be as devastating as you'd think, simply because of the irreplacability of those ships. A Black Lion may be able to smash DropShips by the half-dozen each turn,  but if you can threaten that ship with a decent fighter strike, you can force it to withdraw before it does too much damage(and possibly the rest of the Falcon group with it).
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #4 on: 31 July 2013, 01:59:06 »
Very nice read....thank you for the info.  O0

Definitely something I have been interested in for awhile ever since the loss of so many warships and their replacement through pocket warships during the Jihad.
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #5 on: 31 July 2013, 03:28:21 »
It should also be noted that Clan fleets will very greatly by Clan. For example, the Jade Falcons seem to have completely shunned any capital or sub-capital-equipped ships, relying entirely on vessels with conventional guns, such as the Noruff and Nagasawa. For fire support, you should probably expect them to use one of their many remaining WarShips, almost all of which are heavy cruisers or larger. This firepower may not be as devastating as you'd think, simply because of the irreplacability of those ships. A Black Lion may be able to smash DropShips by the half-dozen each turn,  but if you can threaten that ship with a decent fighter strike, you can force it to withdraw before it does too much damage(and possibly the rest of the Falcon group with it).
The Noruff was a Steel Viper ship that didn't seem to get much use by anyone. It is probably rare.
The Falcons have a surprisingly large cruiser fleet. Their assault DropShips will mostly be locally produced Carriers.

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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #6 on: 31 July 2013, 03:38:53 »
Very nice read and analysis

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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #7 on: 31 July 2013, 08:31:58 »
That was an unexpected article.
Good one.
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #8 on: 31 July 2013, 10:58:49 »
The Noruff was a Steel Viper ship that didn't seem to get much use by anyone. It is probably rare.
The Falcons have a surprisingly large cruiser fleet. Their assault DropShips will mostly be locally produced Carriers.

Not sure if it would be quite as rare as you might think, given the design's apparent proliferation throughout Clan fleets. I know that RAT's are hardly an indication of actual numbers available, but the ones in FM:3085 do certainly indicate that almost every IS Clan has access to them, and not always at the edges of the bell curve. 3145's charts also list them with three Clans, the Horses, Falcons, and Foxes. I will agree that Noruffs will still be an uncommon sight in Clan fleets, probably supported by the newer Nagasawas. As for Falcon ships, you're probably right about Carriers being the bulk of their space superiority fleets, with the RATs indicating they're usually backed up by normal transport ships(not a real disadvantage given the gun loadout of most Clan ships), and apparently Miraborgs serving as their fleet carriers.
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #9 on: 31 July 2013, 16:02:58 »
Good analisis Jellico, but i wold love to read your analisis of the ship options avaible for the Peripheric Powers.
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #10 on: 31 July 2013, 17:49:57 »
Not sure if it would be quite as rare as you might think, given the design's apparent proliferation throughout Clan fleets. I know that RAT's are hardly an indication of actual numbers available, but the ones in FM:3085 do certainly indicate that almost every IS Clan has access to them, and not always at the edges of the bell curve. 3145's charts also list them with three Clans, the Horses, Falcons, and Foxes. I will agree that Noruffs will still be an uncommon sight in Clan fleets, probably supported by the newer Nagasawas. As for Falcon ships, you're probably right about Carriers being the bulk of their space superiority fleets, with the RATs indicating they're usually backed up by normal transport ships(not a real disadvantage given the gun loadout of most Clan ships), and apparently Miraborgs serving as their fleet carriers.

Yeah, I put them there. In 3085 most Clans have them at 10 or 11 or Keshik level on the fleet end of the table. Maybe 3 IS Clans had them in FM:U. In many cases in FM:3085 Star League vintage Achilles are more common. That should have you disturbed. The ER:3145 RATs are fairly rough. Mainly because they are back to 11 slots. Wait for FM:3145.
The Noruff (and Miraborg)'s basic problem is no IS Clan has been building them since the Bear's Miraborg line got stomped on Thule by the Adders.

Good analisis Jellico, but i wold love to read your analisis of the ship options avaible for the Peripheric Powers.

Not at this point. They are even more random than the Clans. The Magistry is basically the Capellan Confederation while everyone else is pre PWS lights with maybe a Mule PWS thrown in for flavour. In some places dedicated assault ships would be a luxury.

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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #11 on: 31 July 2013, 18:18:09 »

What about Factional Tactics (3145) for mercenaries?  ;)
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #12 on: 01 August 2013, 01:35:00 »
Buy what you can and use it?

Frankly the increasing weight, potency, number and cost of assault ships could be bad for Mercs. In real life real warships spelt the end of the privateer.

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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #13 on: 01 August 2013, 07:37:08 »
Very nice read! My only addition would be a bit on bearings-only launches.

For the benefit of naval warfare dummies like myself, could you please explain how bearings-only launches work, as compared to, I guess, regular missile launches?
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #14 on: 01 August 2013, 08:06:17 »
Regular missile launches: You pick a target, add up all the modifiers, and shoot like normal guns. Bada bing, bada big boom.

Bearings-only missile launches: You pick a hex and write it down much like artillery. Next turn, you fire the missile at that hex, but with no actual target. It flies at that hex. When it reaches that hex, the missile's own sensors go active, and it tries to attack the nearest large craft in its nose arc. (The sensors are limited to conventional weapons ranges, and you can preset them to look in a given range band.) If no targets are in range, then next turn it drifts forward and tries to detect again, and so forth. Most missiles fly at 50 hexes per turn(T-Missiles can be preset to fly slower prior to launch), so it's very possible to have a missile go active in the same turn it is launched. To-hit mods are of a fighter with a gunnery of 4, plus regular mods, and the range is whatever you set the sensors at.

There's a bit more, but that's roughly the gist of it. The end result is that the missile acts a lot like a WWII-style torpedo, flying out and you hope it hits something, though with those sensors, you've got leeway in the shot.

It's a bit complicated(a lot easier once you've done it a few times), but I like to use this ability to hit predictable targets at long or extreme range with only short or medium-range modifiers, or dial the missile to long range and hit ships from even beyond extreme range.

Long story short: It's artillery for space combat.
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #15 on: 01 August 2013, 10:28:58 »
Thanks for the nice write up and breakdown on Naval tactics for 3145's DropShips, Jellico!

It was very informative, hopefully things will expand more with other TRO3145 supplements come out, maybe we'll get some more elements to play with.

I'm surprised that Sea Foxes didn't put the Noruff into production for themselves.  Nova Cats as of 3134 still has their one and only Noruff in service when they assisted in the invasion of the Republic.
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #16 on: 01 August 2013, 10:30:58 »
I'm surprised that Sea Foxes didn't put the Noruff into production for themselves.

They did, but in a tweaked version they call the Nagasawa. ;)
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #17 on: 01 August 2013, 15:55:12 »
This was very good, although I would have liked a bit more discussion of how WarShips interact with other naval assets because the Clans do still have significant fleets so they will show up from time to time.


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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #18 on: 01 August 2013, 17:12:30 »
I don't know that the Combine still uses the original Kraken-T Nekohono'os, but we don't have the er3145 yet either.  The Nekohono'o SCL is a beast of a teammate to the Taihou.. the arcs of a spheroid and an aerodyne in a one-two whammy package.

Another thing to keep in mind is what the Ooze brings to the Nekohono'o.  It can throw 90 battle armor using 9 Battle Taxis.. it can throw the entire regiment using 9 Oozes.

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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #19 on: 01 August 2013, 17:18:18 »
Have we ever gotten hard stats for teh Neko-SCL? I don't recall anything more concrete than an ONN description.
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #20 on: 04 August 2013, 09:55:51 »
Weirdo, I'm surprised you forgot the one item in bearings launches that made you cackle with glee.

With bearings launch missiles you can have them change their facing by one heaxside after launch. This means your side mounted missiles can now shoot straight ahead, giving Spheroids a little bit more firepower in a nose on engagement.

Back in the days of the Fan Council game, before I and the Aero Cabal wrote the Bearings rules, I wrote a piece of fan fiction that served as my inspiration for both the Bearings launch missile and High Pseed engagement rules. A WarShip with escorting A3s that came at the OpFor at a couple hundred hexes a turn. By the time they hit the OpFor Warship formation there were dozens of missiles in flight. Glorious.

Good write up, Jellico
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #21 on: 05 August 2013, 09:51:45 »
Weirdo, I'm surprised you forgot the one item in bearings launches that made you cackle with glee.

With bearings launch missiles you can have them change their facing by one heaxside after launch. This means your side mounted missiles can now shoot straight ahead, giving Spheroids a little bit more firepower in a nose on engagement.

You can do that with standard launches, too. But you are correct in that nothing whatsoever beats an off-axis bearings-only shot for sheer firing arc coverage. O0

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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #22 on: 05 August 2013, 16:49:01 »
My lack of space-gaming opportunities makes me sad. I *still* haven't gotten an opportunity to rip off a full Macross Missile Spam salvo with a Quixote.

Enjoy it when you do because I doubt your gaming group will ever allow you to field a Quixote again after the first time.


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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #23 on: 05 August 2013, 16:52:24 »
I dunno, crits are one thing, but they might not understand the true beauty of it since the raw damage won't be too high.

Now if I land that salvo from 100 hexes away and keep it raining from there until the merge, that might be another matter.
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #24 on: 05 August 2013, 16:54:26 »
Awesome write up.
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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #25 on: 05 August 2013, 17:30:04 »
With all the tech out there since TRO3057 what sorts of modifications would those assault ships need, if any, to avoid obsolescence in 3145...

There's simply more firepower out there now.  Between Sub-cap weaponry, proliferation of Clan-tech and XL engines throughout ASFs.. a dropship with 'only' 200 or 300 armor is going to be cracked in one round of combat.  Perhaps even one volley.   Is the Nagasawa's 'ridiculous' armor the new normal that an assault dropship must have to remain relevant? 

With the nuke-happy days of the Jihad behind us, what's a reasonable amount of AMS coverage in the 3145 era?


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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #26 on: 06 August 2013, 09:42:20 »
I know next to nothing about space combat, but this article is enlightening. Well done.

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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #27 on: 06 August 2013, 19:15:27 »
With all the tech out there since TRO3057 what sorts of modifications would those assault ships need, if any, to avoid obsolescence in 3145...

There's simply more firepower out there now.  Between Sub-cap weaponry, proliferation of Clan-tech and XL engines throughout ASFs.. a dropship with 'only' 200 or 300 armor is going to be cracked in one round of combat.  Perhaps even one volley.   Is the Nagasawa's 'ridiculous' armor the new normal that an assault dropship must have to remain relevant? 

With the nuke-happy days of the Jihad behind us, what's a reasonable amount of AMS coverage in the 3145 era?

Surprisingly very little depending upon the faction. For example the Clan DropShips are mostly still competitive. The Noruff is still very effective.
The Trutzburg and Seleucus are probably the new norms, with levels of protection comparable to an old Overlord.

Honestly its not much of an issue. This isn't the 3rd Succession War. You should have multiple waves hitting your worlds and your transports shouldn't come under too much fire. It is mainly an issue for the older assault ships like the Achilles with lower levels of protection but still expected to fight.
Sub Caps are just weapons. They really don't increase the amount of firepower in the game. What they can do is increase the accuracy at ranges, but at a heavy weight cost.
Nagasawas are probably over armoured. OTOH one of their roles is to act as blockers so they are less expected to kill but instead prevent others being killed.

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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #28 on: 06 August 2013, 20:57:01 »
The Achilles is exactly what I had in mind, but it applies to all the 'assault' dropships from 3025 and 3057 like the Avenger, Kuan Ti, and Claymore.  They might as well be retired in the 3145 era if they can't be drastically redesigned.  Of the lot only an Achilles could survive a hit by a Taihou's heavy SSCs.. barely.  And even then only if the shot hit the nose armor.

You might argue that the pre-3145 'assault' dropships are relegated to solely a fighter-killer role now rather than still being true assault ships.  But a squadron of heavy and/or XL fighters will make short work of their 200ish armor facings just as fast as a PWS, and are probably faced more often.  Particularly if the dropships are meant to hunt fighters.

How WOULD one retrofit them to make them relevant?

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Re: Assault DropShips in 3145
« Reply #29 on: 06 August 2013, 21:44:10 »
The Achilles is exactly what I had in mind, but it applies to all the 'assault' dropships from 3025 and 3057 like the Avenger, Kuan Ti, and Claymore.  They might as well be retired in the 3145 era if they can't be drastically redesigned.  Of the lot only an Achilles could survive a hit by a Taihou's heavy SSCs.. barely.  And even then only if the shot hit the nose armor.

You might argue that the pre-3145 'assault' dropships are relegated to solely a fighter-killer role now rather than still being true assault ships.  But a squadron of heavy and/or XL fighters will make short work of their 200ish armor facings just as fast as a PWS, and are probably faced more often.  Particularly if the dropships are meant to hunt fighters.

How WOULD one retrofit them to make them relevant?

More armor seems like the obvious solution to me, and the vintage SHS designs could probably get plenty of mass for it just by switching to DHS.


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