Author Topic: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?  (Read 2036 times)

Lagrange

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ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« on: 11 January 2023, 13:23:57 »
I'm exploring an unusual-in-canon force composition which nevertheless looks fairly effective using pure-3025 tech.  Comments are quite welcome.

The Dyad force is lance scale and consists of:
  • 2 3025 Workhorse ASF.
  • 2 "platoons" of 10 marines.
  • 2 ASF tech teams with 7 folks each.
  • A surgeon/doctor, and an intel/comms specialists.

The total personnel is 2 pilots + 20 marines + 14 techs + 2 specialists - 6 (double duty on the tech teams as per Combat Operations) = 32 people.   In terms of capabilities:
  • There is cargo to carry the marines.
  • All combat elements have a surface<->orbit method.
  • All units can be easily maintained by the available techs.

Transport
The dropship transport weight of the Dyad is 300 (2x ASF) + 160 (steerage quarters for all) + 115 (extensive supplies) = 575 tons.  You could skimp on everything except for the transport bays to reduce this to 300 tons. 

Combat

Can this unit perform in all the combat roles we might care about?
  • High Speed Engagement.  The Workhorse ASF hit hard due to the AC/20 and MGs.  At the highest speed, they can inflict 192 damage in a pass.
  • Anti-ASF space combat.  The Workhorse ASF have 38.5 tons of armor and a damage potential of 54/round making high endurance dogfighters.
  • Anti-dropship/warship combat.  The Workhorse have mountainous armor providing plenty of capacity to absorb hits and deliver damage over time.  The marines can ride the Workhorse in boarding operations.
  • Anti-ASF aerial combat.  Using the advanced atmospheric control rolls in SO, the Workhorse is unlikely to fly out of control making dogfights in atmosphere relatively viable.
  • Ground combat.  The Workhorse can carry up to 20 bombs (coming from space), 15 bombs (taking off from the ground), or 10 bombs (returning to space).   These can be fuel-air bombs delivering 20/10/5 points of AE damage or HE bombs delivering 10 points of AE damage.  All of these can be launched at a single target providing up to 400 points of damage potential.  Furthermore, since there is just a +2 penalty on the attack roll independent of target movement/cover, there are good odds that most of that damage is delivered on target.  The marines can operate as spotters and potentially engage in some mopup using the TW range of 15.
  • In-facility combat.  The Workhorse can deliver the marines to the door, and the marines can engage in combat inside the facility.
Altogether, we have at least a theory of combat everywhere except underwater.

Cost
The cost of the Dyad is 16.861M.  When transported by something like the Ultra, the amortized cost per Dyad is ~58M.

The closest existing analog the I'm aware of are the nova formation (5 mech + 25 elementals).  These are more specialized (no support structure and nearly incapable of space combat), but they do provide a form of combined arms.   ASF & Marines seem to complement each other well since (a) without one or the other there is no answer for common battlefields (b) some combat (like boarding ops) requires both working together and (c) the downside of keeping a ton for marine transport is fairly minor.  Point (c) typically does not work as well with Battle Armor.

The biggest drawback I see is the reliance on bombs for ground combat.   The fuel-air explosives for example would level a city if they were extensively used against ground units in a city, and have additional proximity blast effects which could take out friendly marines.   HE explosives are more precise, but they deliver half the damage, which notably reduces overall damage.  Landing and using the ASF as a super-tough slow wheeled tank is somewhat viable although the +2 to-hit penalty is a drag.  For city combat, perhaps a combination of HE bombs, wheeled tank mode, and delivering marines into building can be effective?  Although it does seem challenging.

Tradeoffs
Relatively to the earlier triad force we worked out, the tradeoffs here are simpler. 

You could go to large scale, but the benefits seem negligible and flexibility is lost.  You could go for smaller scale, but a solo ASF can get into trouble if someone gets on the tail.

You could also go for more marines, but that significantly increases the amount of life support (and quarters) required.   Dropping the marines entirely would save 12.5% of transport mass (as steerage quarters) and provide an extra ton of armor on the ASF.  Given the relatively low overhead of the marines and the comprehensive set of missions they enable, this doesn't seem worthwhile.

Edit: dropped the independent maintenance aspect.

Daryk

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #1 on: 11 January 2023, 18:54:57 »
Uh... fuel? ???

ASFs and Small Craft are VERY thirsty beasts...  8)

Lagrange

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #2 on: 11 January 2023, 19:35:08 »
Uh... fuel? ???

ASFs and Small Craft are VERY thirsty beasts...  8)
I'm not quite following the concern.  Can you explain more?

Wouldn't armor or bombs have a higher burn rate generally?  Every bomb is a half ton, so it's something like having Arrow IV ammo with 2 instead of 5 shots per ton.  (With of course the advantage that you can "fire" them all at once.)  And of course 4 tons of armor can easily be lost in a single turn.  In fact, if all the weapons hit, they burn through over 3 tons of armor in a single round.

Fuel may be preferentially burned if you don't have combat, but "jump into a system and you can't find a bad guy" seems like a somewhat frustrating but ok outcome.  In that case, I'd expect you don't launch many fighters and so fuel usage is actually fairly minimal overall.

In terms of actual combat situations,
  • If operating out of something like the Ultra then you could use the Ultra's large fuel reserve which enables a complete refuel of all ASF twice + a further reserve for the Ultra.
  • If the Dyad is operating independently, then fuel could be a part of the 59.5 tons carried along.
  • If the Dyad is operating on a planet with water available, then the M^3 support craft just generate fuel from water.

Daryk

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #3 on: 11 January 2023, 20:02:21 »
That answers my question, thanks!  :thumbsup:

Lagrange

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #4 on: 12 January 2023, 19:22:32 »
That answers my question, thanks!  :thumbsup:
Great.

Looking through some source books, my belief is that something like an Ultra filled with Dyads would have been quite capable of breaking the clan invasion. 

As an example, the Twycross source book lists an Aegis, 2 Overlords, and some unspecified ASF which are presumably based off the 20 ASF and 10 Smallcraft bays of the Aegis.   
  • The Aegis can absorb approximately 350 capital damage in a single attack before destruction or perhaps 550 capital damage over multiple rounds.  84 Workhorse ASF can generate about 450 capital damage/round so simply closing and getting in a couple rounds of fire is enough to knockout jump capability.  The Aegis's missiles (~42 capital/round), Overlords(~40 capital/round), and 30 ASF (~180 capital/round) can't chew through the heavy armor (~3500 capital) fast enough to avoid this fate. 
  • The Overlords (~70 capital to kill) are very easy to kill.
  • Of the clan ASF only Vandal&Bashkir have the structure and speed (you need both) to close with the Ultra, and they lack the combat endurance to succeed.  Slower and heavier ASF could close and fight, but the Workhorse's mountain of armor makes it a fairly even fight at close ranges.  Clan ASF could also try to maintain the range and pour on long range fire, but that's a much less viable tactic with ASF, since you need to do an end-over (2 thrust), move away by at least 8 to maintain the range, and then do another end-over (2 more thrust), for a thrust minimum of 12.  Thus, only light ASF (Sulla, Batu, Avar) can maintain range to the Workhorse.  Given the relatively small amount of fuel, these will tend to run out after ~15 minutes before inflicting significant damage.  The smart move is either surrendering to the only available ASF bays or landing on planet.
  • It's likely that most of the Workhorse ASF survive the ASF combat allowing them to reconfigure with bomb loads, including a recon camera or two.  By either drawing fire or recon camera, they can identify targets and drop bombs.  If the Overlords opted to stay on the ground a couple bomb loads will eliminate them, as well as the means to maintain the clan mechs.
  • The 150 elementals are tough to deal with if they hide.  Any caught in the open are easily eliminated with bombs.  The 840 marines are probably not quite adequate to deal with them although it's close.  The marines have 1680 armor vs. 1650 for the elementals.  The marines deal an expected ~450 damage vs. ~900 for the elementals.  The elementals have 1800 marine points vs. 1260 for the marines.  Nevertheless, they can be isolated and are nearly immobile without other assistance.  Surrender is the reasonable option.
None of the above is clever---it's just the basic application of capabilities.  In particular, we did not use a second Ultra (which doubles available force), did not use a high speed engagement, and did not engage in a boarding operation, and the order of priorities is just the maneuverability of the opponent.

So, Ultra of Dyads > typical clan cluster.  The comparison with a clan galaxy seems more ambiguous, but there is at least a chance that a pair of Ultras could be effective in taking out aerospace assets, leaving ground units cut off.  Something like the battle of Luthien (5 clan galaxies) seems like clearly to much. 

The above exercise does reveal a misconception I had though.  It seems that conquest should be thought of as a chain where if you blow away one link you paralyze the conquest.  The easy link here is either the dropships or the jump capability.   

Daryk

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #5 on: 12 January 2023, 20:03:10 »
And all that without even considering nukes!  ::)

I've never bought into clanner superiority.  The IS (even held down by ComStar) has always had quantity on their side...  ^-^

Lagrange

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #6 on: 12 January 2023, 23:38:47 »
The IS (even held down by ComStar) has always had quantity on their side...  ^-^
For me, it's even more satisfying if design creates parity/superiority even if that isn't in canon.
  • The 3025 Workhorse is a beast that can go toe to toe with clan ASF and win.
  • The ASF-centric force knocks on a weak point of the typical armed forces.
  • The Ultra style transport provides radically more deployable forces.
  • Even the marines provide denser infantry than the elementals.  The "win" strategy is for ASF to deliver the marines to the Aegis with the ASF instead focusing fire on the ancillaries.
The combo hits hard.

Lagrange

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #7 on: 05 February 2023, 23:19:25 »
FYI, I tweaked the definition of the Dyad to not necessarily include separate maintenance units.  This improves the tooth to tail ratio.  Since all ASF can typically reach a maintenance bay, the value of endogenous support seems relatively minor.

Daryk

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #8 on: 06 February 2023, 04:03:23 »
As a compromise, you could use the Marines as double-duty AsTechs.  That way, you only need to bring two full time Techs.

Lagrange

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #9 on: 06 February 2023, 07:20:59 »
As a compromise, you could use the Marines as double-duty AsTechs.  That way, you only need to bring two full time Techs.
Combat Operations gives generic double duty rules---1/4 of the combat force.  That works out to 6 in this case, so one of the two tech teams is effectively double duty marines.

Daryk

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #10 on: 06 February 2023, 18:20:11 »
I missed that limitation, but think it's probably because my units are generally larger...

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #11 on: 06 February 2023, 19:12:12 »
Each one of the aerospace fighters is delivering a single squad of infantry in non-combat-ready conditions.  While there's certainly roles where that's useful, I'm getting the impression that it's aimed at being a replacement for all your ground forces.  It's not, is it?
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Daryk

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #12 on: 06 February 2023, 19:16:25 »
ASFs can deliver more than a squad... actually, WAY more than a squad, really...  8)

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #13 on: 06 February 2023, 19:28:29 »
ASFs can deliver more than a squad... actually, WAY more than a squad, really...  8)

Not with a 1-ton cargo bay, they can't.  And that's still a cargo bay, not an infantry bay: your soldiers are not coming down in a combat-ready state.  No, it won't take them as long to unpack and get combat ready as, say, a BattleMech carried as cargo, but it's still going to take some time.
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Lagrange

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #14 on: 06 February 2023, 19:53:47 »
Not with a 1-ton cargo bay, they can't.  And that's still a cargo bay, not an infantry bay: your soldiers are not coming down in a combat-ready state.  No, it won't take them as long to unpack and get combat ready as, say, a BattleMech carried as cargo, but it's still going to take some time.
I believe that ASF can mount infantry compartments as per Kirghiz C.  The option isn't there in MML, so I just stuck in a cargo bay to account for the space.

There is however a rule which seems to directly address your concerns.  SO page 44 says: "Foot infantry (regardless of type) are ready to deploy as soon as they finish unloading[from cargo]." 

In terms of unloading time, 10 marines count as (and can function as) foot infantry.  In space, 10 marines * 0.2 /marine * 0.2 (zero-g) * 0.75 (vacuum)*2 (using a null-g pack or equivalent)*1.75(with zero-g gear) > 1 ton, so exiting in a minute is no problem.  (It also makes sense: 10 people can exit a door in <1 minute.  Blowing the atmosphere will even help people get out in space.)  On land it's even easier.

Daryk

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #15 on: 06 February 2023, 20:20:18 »
A cargo bay is instantly convertible to an infantry bay, so I see no problem here...  ^-^

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #16 on: 06 February 2023, 20:28:33 »
A cargo bay is instantly convertible to an infantry bay, so I see no problem here...  ^-^

Quantity of troops?
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Daryk

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #17 on: 06 February 2023, 20:31:17 »
The Taurians figured out 10/ton...  8)

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #18 on: 06 February 2023, 20:36:39 »
The Taurians figured out 10/ton...  8)

So each 100-ton aerospace fighter is carrying 10 people.  Fantastic.  Three ASFs, and you've got a full platoon of troops.  How many of those platoons plus ASFs do you need to oppose a 'Mech force plus their organic ASFs, given you've got zero armored vehicles on your side?

Let's not look at the Ultra for the moment, because 100,000 ton DropShips in combat roles are vaguely crazy.  Let's look at this another way: how many ASF+Marine Dyads would you need to oppose the equivalent force aboard an Overlord, specifically 36 BattleMechs plus 6 ASFs, when deployed on the ground?
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Daryk

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #19 on: 06 February 2023, 20:42:26 »
If you're looking to invade a place, trading two Small Lasers for 10 infantry is an easy choice...  ^-^

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #20 on: 06 February 2023, 21:41:00 »
If you're looking to invade a place, trading two Small Lasers for 10 infantry is an easy choice...  ^-^

And that's literally all you're invading with?  Ten infantry per aerospace fighter?  No tanks, no 'Mechs?  No MASH units?  No IFVs, or even APCs?

Or am I reading this wrong and these are supplementing the standard force mix you use for invasions?
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Lagrange

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #21 on: 07 February 2023, 00:38:44 »
Skeptics are good for keeping you on your toes  :)
Three ASFs, and you've got a full platoon of troops.
Technically, we are working with a platoon of size 10 consisting of 5 squads of 2, but that's immaterial here.
Let's not look at the Ultra for the moment, because 100,000 ton DropShips in combat roles are vaguely crazy. 
In most roles, yes.  The Ultra has a survivable role and design.
Let's look at this another way: how many ASF+Marine Dyads would you need to oppose the equivalent force aboard an Overlord, specifically 36 BattleMechs plus 6 ASFs, when deployed on the ground?
It varies (advanced rules or not? custom mechs? Weight classes?) a bit, but a dozen dyads seems reasonable, and you don't necessarily need the marines for this.  The ASF can use a recon camera in a bomb slot and then unload small fuel-air bombs on targets.  The preferred target of course would be the Overlord (which can't hide)---take that out and everything else is just a matter of cleanup since the mechs lack support and transport.  A single ASF can potentially drop 20 bombs with a maximum of 400 AE damage, all of which can be delivered at once with good odds of hitting. 

Perhaps 6 ASF providing cover and 18 with bomb loads would work reasonably?  Depending on specifics (i.e all mechs are assault), you may need to reload the bombs a couple times to succeed and perhaps 1/4 of the bomber ASF will be lost to lawn dart checks in each bombing run.

Marines will come in handy in this scenario if there's an opportunity to board the Overlord or if you need some scouting on the ground.

No tanks, no 'Mechs?  No MASH units?  No IFVs, or even APCs?
No tanks, mechs, IFVs, or APCs, but do note that the ASF functions as a slow wheeled IFV that can also fly from place to place if desired.  It's much more solid than typical vehicles.

Each Dyad does include a surgeon and you'll note the extra 12 smallcraft bays on the Ultra to support some extra roles including "ambulance".

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: ASF+Marine Dyad force with 3025 tech?
« Reply #22 on: 07 February 2023, 05:01:24 »
OK, I posted an updated bird in the Workhorse ASF thread that I hope makes a bit clearer where I'm coming from.
"Does anyone know where the love of God goes / When the waves turn the minutes to hours?"
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