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Author Topic: DropShip of the Week: Castrum  (Read 7182 times)

Jellico

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DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« on: 08 June 2015, 15:39:08 »
Castrum: XTRO: Republic, Volume 1


Well let me be the first to say my views on 100,000 ton assault DropShips are well known. Basically I don’t like them and consider them boring. The weapons that they use are designed for small craft resulting in huge bays with weapons by the dozen. Tactics come down to firing the 10 gauss rifle bay or the 15 PPC bay. But I will try not to let that colour things.

The Castrum came into existence because the Republic of the Sphere managed to lose the WarShips the Nova Cats so generously gifted them. As a result sometime around 3100 the Republic started building Dragaus, Interdictors, and Tiamats with Naval C3. Castrums rounded out the force as the heavy assault DropShip. The entire force would then go on to be used as enforcers for the Republic.

The Castrum serves several roles for the Republic navy. Firstly the Republic lacks a good indigenous fighter carrier. The 18 Small Craft bays go some way to covering that. Secondly the Republic’s assault DropShips are all short range specialists. With its big batteries of SCCs the Castrum is meant to be a ranged platform.

All in all the Castrum is a highly optimised design according to current standards. Note the careful separation of heavy auto canon and AMS to keep the fire control low. Separation of weapon bays into easily bracketable groups. Plenty of AMS as well. Small Craft bays offering more flexibility (at a cost). Downright stupid amounts of armour.

The ships we are comparing the Castrum to were designed under a very different ruleset and have to devote 50% of their mass to a jump core. For comparison the most recent comparable WarShip is the Leviathan II which predates Strategic Operations. Everything else has been designed with period play in mind. For comparison purposes I threw together an identically equipped WarShip. It turned out a bit tougher due to SI requirements, and had a bit more crew, but I even squeezed in a grav deck and docking collar under 190,000 tons. Simply put, when only looking at combat systems, WarShips are more tonnage efficient, though jump cores clearly affect things.

The Castrum’s broadside is impressive. But at 100,000 tons it would want to be. A fast ship with shorter ranged SCCs would be a better ship killer, but the Republic already has the Tiamat. On paper the Castrum has the firepower of a mid-range destroyer and the armour of a frigate or weaker cruiser.

The nature of its role has forced some compromises upon the Castrum. Firstly its guns make it huge. The Castrum is effectively a flying Bane. Light Sub Capital Cannons are more efficient than Sub Capital Lasers, but they do woeful damage for their mass compared to their shorter ranged brethren. The Castrum can only put 24 points of capital damage out to long range through these guns. Fortunately they are highly bracketable.

For comparison the Castrum’s 16 AR10s can put 32 points of capital damage out on either beam. However as missiles these are vulnerable to counter measures, while using Barracudas is the only practical option outside 25 hexes.  Naval C3 does change the equation somewhat by offering a chance for spotters to reduce the numbers.

The AA throw weight of a Castrum is amongst the top twenty in the game while it has the armour to last out many attacks.  As an AA platform the Castrum has to be respected. Thanks to its AR10s it can put out very heavy fire to long ranges. The SCCs are effective out to around 25 hexes. The ideal setup would see a pinning force hold the incoming ASF at around 20 hexes while the Castrum pours in support fire. An end run on the Castrum for a quick kill is unlikely to be effective given the amount of armour it carries.

Defeating a Castrum depends on faction. Remember, this is a big ship and will take a lot of killing. Talking DropShips it is easy to forget just how physically large the Republic’s ships of choice are. The Interdictor is the size of an Overlord after all. So generally the Republican force is going to find itself swarmed.

Ignoring the WarShip option, (and given the Clans generally operate cruiser fleets you would still need a lot of Castrums) the FWL, Clans and Capellans would be best off using ASF to take down a Castrum. The Republic lacks good carriers relying on its big capital armed DropShips for quick kills. Using the example of the Republic’s peace keepers and the Rasalhague Dominion, I would have amassed a pair of Aesir Stars, unleashed 60 ASF, and used my DropShips superior thrust to never become engaged. Actually, 60 ASF probably would not be enough and the Castrum would survive, but it would be stripped of its escorting Tiamats, Interdictors, and Dragaus. This does not include the nuclear option and with its small cargo bay and AMS magazines the Castrum would be vulnerable after a single engagement.

For the Dracs and Federated Suns I need only point to Taihous, Arondights, and Vengeances. Big fast, capital armed DropShips supported by massive air support. Pin the Republic’s ASF and swarm the DropShips. Tiamats and Castrums are not easy kills but they are hugely inefficient. The SCC Arondight and Taihou are much more tonnage and cost efficient and will be going in with 3:1 odds at least. (Working on BV with all its problems, a Castrum weighs 100,000 tons with approx. 95000 BV, a Tiamat weighs 36,000 tons with 57000 BV, while an Arondight and Taihou weigh 12,000 tons with 37000 and 36000 BV respectively. On a BV balanced game the DC and FS can afford to lose the resources game, while on a tonnage based game they can take three ships for every Tiamat. Your mileage with BV will vary.) A tidal wave of death with no drawn out stuffing around with hundreds of small bites like with an all ASF force. Those Light SCC will soon find themselves outgunned in a close range engagement.

For the Lyrans and Periphery? They lack the big killer DropShips of the Suns and Dracs so will have to rely on ASF. Unfortunately they also lack carriers so massing the required numbers of ASF will be problematic. Avoiding contact until sufficient force can be massed is probably the best option. It is worth noting the Lyrans do have access to some quality smaller DropShips like the Avenger and Isegrim. Small ships are remarkably tonnage efficient so a swarm would be profitable if you can manage your JumpShips right. Remember one Castrum weighs as much as 71 Avengers…




As a bonus I did some combat testing.
First I played a game pitting a Castrum against a Fredasa. I had to cancel it but the Fredasa was doing surprisingly well. That made me try again.

This time I put the Castrum up against a Naga. The Naga won.

Okay. I am the first to admit I didn't pay to either ship's strengths as well as I might have. Frankly it became a brawl. The reasons it became a brawl were the Naga's evasion and superior ECM made ranged combat a very hit and miss affair.

So under 25 hexes both sides started hitting and something unexpected became evident. The Naga could regularly get important crits on the Castrum but the Castrum couldn't return the favour.

The 80% bracketed NAC10s on the Naga were landing 16 point hits, well above a Castrum's armour thresholds. The Castrum's 40% SCC bays were doing 5 point hits which should have been equally damaging. I think the difference came down to the critical tables. For example where 55% of a WarShip's side critical table is, well, noncritical only 28% of a DropShip's side criticals are noncritical. So the Castrum was twice as likely to suffer a battle effecting critical hit. Heck in the end it had:

3 Avionics
2 Sensors
L Thrusters totally disabled
1 R Thruster

So blind and unable to move.

Put simply between ECM and crits the Naga was able to degrade the Castrum's ability to fight at range so much a brawl became a necessity and our little tin clad was able to outlast the DropShip.


Now it will be pointed out to me I am comparing a 500,000 ton ship to a 100,000 ton ship. Well the Naga does devote 250,000 tons to a KF drive and 150,000 tons to cargo.

Also I am not going to say that a Naga is a superior tactical platform to a Castrum. The Castrum has better AA, superior nuke proofing, more thrust, much more armour, basically it is better. But by the same token the Castrum is much more optimised than 90% of the WarShips in the game simply because the rules were mature when it was created.

On a Cbill to CBill comparison the Castrum should be able to put light WarShips out of business. OTOH you should be able to design a 500,000 ton WarShip able to handle three Castrums. That is food for thought.



UnLimiTeD

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #1 on: 08 June 2015, 19:08:05 »
Well, finally I know what the ruckus was about.
To be honest, I agree that it looks grave boring.
Even looks the part, somehow.
It's certainly effective, but it's still meh.
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #2 on: 08 June 2015, 20:34:21 »
Well, I like this boat.  It looks good!!  :o

In the environment first brought them into existence, their useful long range fire support for a Republic DropShip squadron operating in a Border Fleet. 

I don't find it boring, it's good and scary for encounter where you have smugglers who run into border fleet thinking their going be able hoodwink fleet by staying at range and make run for the planet or JumpShip.

The ability to bracket fire is great, I'm glad it was put into it. 

Only thing that struck me was how ammunition dependent this ship is.  For casual game, that not big deal.  I don't think this thing will run dry in a regular encounter, its just surprising to see ship setup that way.   

Way Matt Plog drew this baby, reminds me of Punisher 2099 (comic book) where he gains access to a ship.  Bridge of the ship reminds me of the skull.   It's be cool to have one these ships named the Republic Punisher.  ;D
« Last Edit: 09 June 2015, 15:24:29 by Wrangler »
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Jellico

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #3 on: 08 June 2015, 22:45:32 »
Except in a world of short men it is a 5ft giant. It is effectively a capital ship with a specialist task. That is not a bad thing, but you need your basic units first. In this case that means Interdictors and Dragaus. Without them the Castrum is Taihou food. End of the day the Castrum is the center of a large task force and far from an expendable unit.

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #4 on: 09 June 2015, 04:59:50 »
The Castrum looks like a robot leech with rockets in its butt.
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UnLimiTeD

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #5 on: 09 June 2015, 06:19:35 »
Given that they have the plans, the yards around terra, and probably time and resources, just why didn't the Republic simply build a 200k ton Warship?
Fluffwise speaking, I know there's probably "reasons" ooc.
And why not SCLs? ^-^
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Wrangler

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #6 on: 09 June 2015, 07:33:07 »
Given that they have the plans, the yards around terra, and probably time and resources, just why didn't the Republic simply build a 200k ton Warship?
Fluffwise speaking, I know there's probably "reasons" ooc.
And why not SCLs? ^-^

That would break the fiat.  Basically, WarShips building abilities are were lost when the Yards were trashed.  Heck, they had issues with their Yardships they did have left over from Comstar days.

It would had been cool if the Republic had built resource heavy Warships for their final huzza, but having fleet of Castrum in center of task force of Tiamat IIs, Dragaus II and Interdictors is fine too.   Though Castrum's small craft bays can make up for lack of aircrafting capacities on other Dropships, if i'm not mistaken don't you need large fighter bays for heavier ones?
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #7 on: 09 June 2015, 08:06:27 »
Fighter cubicles are one-size-fits-all at 150 tons a pop, same as for 'Mechs; they don't come in sub-categories like vehicle bays do. Small craft cubicles are 200 tons each and can fit an aero unit up to that weight, which can be a fighter instead of a "proper" Small Craft by the look of things (the errataed Transport Bay table just specifies an "aero unit" up to the respective weight limit for either bay type)...it's just a bit inefficient to do it that way.

Dragon Cat

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #8 on: 09 June 2015, 11:06:35 »
It's not the WarShip I was looking for

But at the same time it's better than a kick in the teeth

The lack of lasers or particle cannons I don't like but overall it's not bad certainly won't win beauty contests

EDIT also I like the lack of fighter bays and the use of small craft instead since both units can be used in a small craft bay it makes the DropShip more useful in peacetime as well and make it a half decent picket ship if need be
« Last Edit: 09 June 2015, 11:09:13 by Dragon Cat »

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #9 on: 09 June 2015, 11:25:22 »
It's also worth noting that its SI of 150 is only equivalent to a capital SI of 15.  When up against big guns, like any DropShop, it crumples quickly once you manage to get through its armor.
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Wrangler

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #10 on: 09 June 2015, 11:38:01 »
It's also worth noting that its SI of 150 is only equivalent to a capital SI of 15.  When up against big guns, like any DropShop, it crumples quickly once you manage to get through its armor.

That the thing that was really throwing me off when i first saw this.  I had always thought the DropShips / WarShip SIs were in same scaling.    Armor is Standard on a DropShip, but if you playing between two types you have to be aware of the difference.

Castrum's 1,000 points or so of Armor is 10 Capital armor worth. 

I hope when we finally are able to get Aerospace Building program again, that we have option to select between the two types if you have mix it up with WarShips.   I've seen and properly have myself played wrong scaling.   Legend 100 standard = 1 Capital. etc.   Ignore me, i'm just grumbling about always mixing it up.

Question: Have they sorted out how Aerospace unit's work in Alpha Strike?  How would Castrum work out in that?
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #11 on: 09 June 2015, 12:15:48 »
It's 10 to 1. 100 to 1 would not even be funny.

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #12 on: 09 June 2015, 12:45:07 »
Given that they have the plans, the yards around terra, and probably time and resources, just why didn't the Republic simply build a 200k ton Warship?
Fluffwise speaking, I know there's probably "reasons" ooc.
And why not SCLs? ^-^
You can't just double the tonnage and drop in a KF drive.  WarShips are built around their drives, which form the backbone of the ship's internal structure.  You would have to design a completely new ship.
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #13 on: 09 June 2015, 12:51:18 »
That the thing that was really throwing me off when i first saw this.  I had always thought the DropShips / WarShip SIs were in same scaling.    Armor is Standard on a DropShip, but if you playing between two types you have to be aware of the difference.

Castrum's 1,000 points or so of Armor is 10 Capital armor worth. 

I hope when we finally are able to get Aerospace Building program again, that we have option to select between the two types if you have mix it up with WarShips.   I've seen and properly have myself played wrong scaling.   Legend 100 standard = 1 Capital. etc.   Ignore me, i'm just grumbling about always mixing it up.

Question: Have they sorted out how Aerospace unit's work in Alpha Strike?  How would Castrum work out in that?

As Phobos points out, it's always 10-to-1 for standard vs. capital scales.  IIRC, isn't it effectively 10-to-1 for infantry vs. standard scale, too?

Anyway, yeah, with 1000 standard points per side (based on what I've read, I don' t have this TRO), and 150 SI, and SI taking double damage, you need to put 130 capital points into any one location to kill a Castrum one-off.  That's scouring one location of armor, and then doing full SI damage to the ship.  In practice, of course, you'll need more, because damage gets spread around, so if you include two armor facings, that's more like 230 capital points.  Let's compare that to a few ships, with the first number being one side + SI damage, the second being both side arcs plus SI, all in capital scale:

Castrum:  130 - 230
Fredasa class PF: 110 - 130
Naga class DD: 156 - 176
Carson class DD: 105 - 150
Baron class DD: 89 - 118
Nightwing class surveillance: 154 - 178
Congress class FF: 222 - 294
Lola class DD: 148 - 196
Winchester class CL: 192 - 234

So, as Jellico pointed out, it really does fit well in terms of toughness with the destroyer to light cruiser range, though only with the more lackluster light cruisers.
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #14 on: 09 June 2015, 14:56:38 »
Question: Have they sorted out how Aerospace unit's work in Alpha Strike?  How would Castrum work out in that?

Yes we have, and the Castrum runs 154 Armor and 75 Structure.

The Naga in Jellico's test run has 37 Armor and 68 Structure

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #15 on: 09 June 2015, 15:51:05 »
You can't just double the tonnage and drop in a KF drive.  WarShips are built around their drives, which form the backbone of the ship's internal structure.  You would have to design a completely new ship.
That's precisely what the Republic did. Only it was a Dropship. :P
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #16 on: 09 June 2015, 18:09:07 »
That's precisely what the Republic did. Only it was a Dropship. :P

I'd guess that a WarShip no matter the size would require a lot more support and training to properly make a difference plus they'd need designers workers facilities etc DropShip training infrastructure and support facilities are all already in place making the Castrum and other Assault DropShips a good standby unit

Personally I'm a massive fan of WarShips and would love to see another rebirth of them they are part of the game and universe I've never understood why they are disliked but at the same time I'm happy enough to see them blown to bits (as long as they are replaced kinda like a Mech Regiment kill it and then reform better than before)

Which is why I'm going to look at the Castrum and its size and say "this is a stepping stone in the right direction for the return of WarShip fleets" with my fingers crossed behind my back

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #17 on: 09 June 2015, 20:23:40 »
WarShips, even small ones, also require KF drives, and the Republic may simply have decided it was far more worthwhile to spend their resources on drive production for similarly-sized commercial JumpShips.
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #18 on: 09 June 2015, 20:57:35 »
There's also the interstellar politics angle. Since Castrum's require jumpships to move from system to system (and even then demand extra collars for transport) they are an inherently more of a defensive weapon than any warship. Building them is much less of a provocative action than building new warships.

Once you start building up your warfleet, your potential adversaries have to do the same to avoid falling behind. Arms races aren't historically known for keeping the peace.
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #19 on: 09 June 2015, 21:39:13 »
So how does the Castrum handle the boogeyman, aka the upgraded Feng Huangs?

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #20 on: 10 June 2015, 02:13:00 »
There's also the interstellar politics angle. Since Castrum's require jumpships to move from system to system (and even then demand extra collars for transport) they are an inherently more of a defensive weapon than any warship. Building them is much less of a provocative action than building new warships.

Once you start building up your warfleet, your potential adversaries have to do the same to avoid falling behind. Arms races aren't historically known for keeping the peace.

Of course, just building up your "defensive" assets has much the same effect. After all, even if your adversaries believe your official statements that it's all just for protection today (suuuure it is, we're all so trusting around here after all...), there's always the prospect of you deciding you're safe enough now and changing your mind on that in the future...

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #21 on: 10 June 2015, 07:08:37 »
I wonder what will be entailed in TRO:3150 which I suspect Castrum will make a appearance in.

I was thinking about the Border fleets, wondering if with all the logistics required to move a Castrum (two dropship collars vs one), if a lot of these ships were scuttled as everyone was recalled to Prefecture X.

I know that the military was reduced in size by the time 3132 came around. Frankly I know that there needs to be a fluff reason why the Border fleets which are suppose to be first line of space defense against intrusions into the Republic didn't try to stop them say the Liao invasion.    I know the concept of the Border Fleet didn't exist when WizKids started publishing the MWDA game novels, so there will needs be a reason for that. I doubt we'll know unless it's mentioned in the TRO:3150. Heck, we don't know how many ships are in a squadron in a Fleet, nevermind entire fleet.  ;D

Basically, i wondering what became of the Castrums that were attached to those fleets if those fleet had still been functioning at the time of the invasion. The Castrum is suppose to be flagship/fire support unit/carrier of these formations.  I can imagine that they won't last long outside of the Fortress Walls if they didn't get any support.  Running their ammo bins dry in hard press battle for survival would be very cool read.  Be kind cool if one or two ended up in someone else hands like newly form mercenaries formerly of RotS or even pirates.
« Last Edit: 10 June 2015, 10:54:57 by Wrangler »
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #22 on: 10 June 2015, 09:59:25 »
So how does the Castrum handle the boogeyman, aka the upgraded Feng Huangs?

Probably doesn't well but a nuke does

Wrangler a pirate battle wagon oh that's a nice idea

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #23 on: 10 June 2015, 10:27:06 »
There's also the interstellar politics angle.
Well, since the fortress went up, they could be doing whatever, right?
So I have high hopes for 2150, in the sense of I hope they get more options to move all those dropships.^^
... Can a Dropship be efficiently reloaded by small craft?
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #24 on: 10 June 2015, 10:41:28 »
I wonder if the Senate Alliance got any Castrum crews to join them, or the Remnant. We could see some of these battlewagons in Redburn's hands, or even the FWLN via the Augustines.
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #25 on: 10 June 2015, 12:05:19 »
Well, since the fortress went up, they could be doing whatever, right?
So I have high hopes for 2150, in the sense of I hope they get more options to move all those dropships.^^
... Can a Dropship be efficiently reloaded by small craft?
???  Do you mean the ship's weapons?  I doubt they're muzzle-loaders, so probably not.
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #26 on: 10 June 2015, 12:24:21 »
He probably means using small craft to bring ammo up from a planetary surface. Assuming the ammo fits in the shuttle, it's doable. Not efficient at all, though. Be easier to stir the ammo on a station, and dock directly with that.
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Liam's Ghost

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #27 on: 10 June 2015, 13:55:16 »
Of course, just building up your "defensive" assets has much the same effect. After all, even if your adversaries believe your official statements that it's all just for protection today (suuuure it is, we're all so trusting around here after all...), there's always the prospect of you deciding you're safe enough now and changing your mind on that in the future...

It's a bit of a balancing act, yes. Thankfully so. If deterrence worked perfectly, it'd be a boring universe to wargame in.
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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #28 on: 10 June 2015, 15:58:51 »
He probably means using small craft to bring ammo up from a planetary surface. Assuming the ammo fits in the shuttle, it's doable. Not efficient at all, though. Be easier to stir the ammo on a station, and dock directly with that.
Wow, i just realize that some of those missile weighs as much as a small craft.

Could a Castrum dock with another cargo dropship like a Mammoth or something? 
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Alanith

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Castrum
« Reply #29 on: 10 June 2015, 16:15:19 »
Wow, i just realize that some of those missile weighs as much as a small craft.

Could a Castrum dock with another cargo dropship like a Mammoth or something?

Naw man, load them into a VLS launcher with a disposable solid fuel booster and launch them into orbit, then have the small craft tow them to the dropship and refuel them. It's inefficient and a waste of resources. In short, everyone should think its the best idea since the battlemech.

 

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