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Author Topic: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth  (Read 5621 times)

Jellico

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WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
« on: 11 September 2014, 18:23:37 »
Commonwealth: FR2765:LCAF

Looking at the Commonweath class light cruiser one can’t help get the feeling that someone was looking at the future Tharkads of the Lyran fleet and designing a suitable buddy to keep the competent gunships company. This of course is nonsense as the Commonwealth is 300 years older. So just what did the Lyrans get with their light cruiser? How does it stack up against the opposition? Read on and find out.

The Commonwealth is the outcome of the widespread jumping on the WarShip bandwagon of the 2300s. The Lyrans didn’t jump in head first like the Federated Suns, or work up to it like the Combine or Capellans. Instead they bought their way in. They made a deal with Di Tron with all its Hegemony know how and created a little side project known as Ioto Galactic Enterprises. What followed is pretty standard. The Lyran Commonwealth made a bunch of Commonwealths. They served till the Reunification War alongside a collection of Terran Hegemony cast offs.

After the war the survivors were generally culled as worn out excess. At least they didn’t have the Defender or Narukami’s reputation for being hanger queens. That the Commonwealths would be outlasted by Vigilants and first generation Lolas and Essex raises some questions, though there would be a lot more spares available for the Hegemony ships. The survival of the Lyran Aegis is less surprising. Smaller ships are easier to build in a hurry than capital ships.

When the Star League civil war began Lyran Navy refurbished their three surviving Commonwealths to a new standard as well as dragging everything else out of mothballs. With that complete they set about building as many Tharkads, Makos and Commonwealths they could to get a balanced fleet before the inevitable storm. Naturally everything died in the first two Succession Wars.

The Commonweath class is interesting as it helps define a light cruiser. When comparing it to other ships its cruiser-ness becomes apparent. The large number of docking collars is the obvious sign. It’s is also just more flexible than what we know destroyers and frigates to be. For example the Commonwealth matches the fighting power of a Davion II, but has a much superior AA suite. It feels more substantial than a Lola III. At the same time it feels clearly weaker than the SLDF heavy cruisers. The NAC35s are almost an afterthought and the Commonwealth lacks the broadside to go toe to toe with an Aegis or Avatar. But then, that’s what Tharkads are for isn’t it?

In combat terms the Commonwealth sits somewhere between the Agamemnon and the Dart. In one of life’s ironies it should be able to take a Defender. More impressively it can take a Narukami which is only 30,000 tons lighter. This makes it the most powerful House ship in the game until the Atreus, Soyal and Tharkad launch. That said in its generation it needs to fear the Aegis, Black Lion, and Dreadnought trinity, while Quixotes are also a threat. The only Periphery ships it should fear are the Athena and Stephan Amaris.

Ranged firepower comes mostly from a battery of naval lasers. These put 100 points of damage out to long range on the broadside. These are supplemented by missile systems. Initially these were White Sharks, but later they were replaced by Barracudas. Notably there is a Tharkad and Dart style Killer Whale bay forward. A family resemblance perhaps? Nuclear fun comes to mind. Note the six docking collars too. Does this make the Tharkad the granddaughter of the Dart? Hmm. Lyran ship. Make that grandson.

Anyway, the best long range broadside a Commonwealth can manage is 140 points.  Try and close on a Commonwealth and it has two 70 point NAC35 bays ready to sucker punch you. This is why a Commonwealth can beat a Narukami or Davion II. No House ships are bracketing out to 40 hexes so the relatively weak lasers don’t matter in a long range duel. Come in close to 24 hexes and the broadside jumps to 258(+16). See that “+16”? Way points mean the bow Killer Whales can join in too. Dead ahead this ship can put at least 16 missiles on target. As a whole the Commonwealth is something of a delicate balancing act, but it has a lot more capability that it first seems.

Amongst its peers the Commonwealth’s AA is very solid. You need to go to missile heavy platforms like the Aegis to really get an improvement. Ironically the Tharkad has better AA, but this comes back to its heavier broadside. The Commonwealth Block I has 12 White Sharks and the Block II 18 Barracudas. These are grouped in 6(60) point bays along the sides which in turn means way points can send six bays fore or aft. My magic Fatal Threshold Table tells me a 6(60) point bay has a 17% chance of fatally thresholding a Stuka. That’s pretty much the gold standard for ASF armour pre 3060. The chance of a fatal threshold jumps to 28% for anything less than 16(160) points of armour. In any case you have a regular crit roll and 6(60) points of damage sucks.

Backing the missiles are 56 naval lasers. Drop them into Anti-Aerospace mode and they gain a 20% accuracy boost. That’s basically a 3% chance of the lasers hitting at 50 hexes and a 42% chance at 13 hexes. 3% sounds great until you remember it’s a 3% chance of your 20(200) point armoured fighter getting hit by 44(440) points of NL55. Put another way. By the time your fighter is close enough to get targeting solutions through the Commonwealth’s ECM it is throwing a 44(440) and two 28(280) bolts of synchronised light at you, each with a 42% chance of killing you. 3 x 42% = you are damn lucky to be alive.

Protection on the Commonwealth is surprisingly weak. At least when you compare it to real cruisers. That is what you get in a universe where the heavy cruiser is dominant. Compared to destroyers and frigates the Commonwealth is reasonably tough on par with Congresses, Narukamis, and Whirlwinds. It pales compared to tougher ships like the Riga II and Davion II. All of the Commonwealths feature some kind of point defence. Enough point defence to clear the magic 2(1.5) barrier, making it pretty tough to put a capital missile into a Commonwealth. The overlapping fields mean a +4 to-hit. Easily overwhelmed in the case of the Block I’s machine guns. Nearly insurmountable in the case of the Block II’s AMS.

The flight deck on the Commonwealth is pretty standard. First there are the marines all the Houses seem to love. More importantly the Block I has 22 small craft bays. Basically a Wing of pointy stuff and some spare bays for utility ships, admiral’s barge, that kind of thing. The Block II saves tonnage by switching 18 bays to ASF bays. I am torn on this. It is the main reason the Block II has a larger cargo bay than the Block I, a very rare and pleasing occurrence given the temptation to turn cargo into guns. But small craft bays are just so much more flexible. Did I mention that the Commonwealth has an 89,000 ton cargo bay? Pretty typical for a cruiser.

So, did the Lyran Commonwealth get value for money? A Tharkad gave them a front line bruiser able to kill an Atreus, vulnerable only to a Luxor, Black Lion, Texas, or McKenna. The problem is they were not going to get many more than the 11 they had in 2765. I am going to spill no secrets when I say the Lyran Commonwealth added a lot of Makos to their starting point of 27. I am also spilling no secrets when I say Makos are speed bumps compared to what the opposition had. The Free Worlds League was dominated by heavy ships until bulk production of the League II hit its stride. Only its single Vincent need fear a Mako. The Draconis Combine had a weakness with its collection of 11 Hegemony corvettes, but in ten years mass production of Narukami IIs… well what can I say when you need say four Makos to threaten a Narukami.

The Commonwealth Block IIs sit somewhere in the middle. More expensive than the Narukamis or Leagues, cheaper than the Atreus and Tharkads. You might say that they are an overweight Lyran solution that anyone else would have used a destroyer to solve. This basic point goes all the way back to 2375. Their size and collars make Commonwealths too expensive for mass production, but they remain too small for the battle line. They exist by using Lyran wealth to fit into the gap in between and relying on the Mako to provide the area coverage the SLDF achieved with its cheap destroyers. Commonwealths are good ships, but they don’t suit everyone.

So, how do you use a Commonwealth? Pairing it with a Commonwealth or Aegis (2372) is a good start. The Commonwealth is the very definition of a body guard. The six collars are always going to be useful. I suspect a cargo DropShip will be needed. Cruisers are notoriously small bellied, and Makos have next to nothing. It is not without reason that Lyran squadrons are often accompanied by a Star Lord.

Operating with smaller ships the Commonwealth is going to have to be the Big Bad. With a capital ship present it can afford to sit back and snipe. Without it the Commonwealth needs to get those NAC35s into play.

Defeating a Commonwealth depends upon who you are and what you have.  The most comparable SLDF ship is the Sovetskii Soyuz. On paper the Commonwealth should win, but the Sov Soy will win the sniper war thanks to its bracketing and Hellcat IIs. Like all SLDF ships it should try and hold the range as long as possible. No SLDF destroyer comes close, but really the SLDF’s solution would be to unleash a LF batteried cruiser. A Hegemony cruiser would at least have to brawl with the Commonwealth. A Dart is the most similar, and the battle would sit on a knife edge. Of course the Hegemony would unleash a Black Lion I or Aegis.

For the Houses things get more interesting. Narukamis and Davion IIs are both close enough to make it a fight. Both nations have the option of bringing a carrier into the battle, though the Lyrans may be able to counter it with their plethora of docking collars. The Free World League has a large number of heavy ships available, choosing to scrap its light ships when it has to. So clearly their solution is to drop an Atreus on it (20 in 2765). Leagues would struggle against Commonwealth. I would say at least three for swarming tactics to work. And that is before we start counting collars. I would strongly recommend against committing Leagues without a Soyal, Atreus or Aegis in tow.

ASF ops against a Commonwealth are problematic because the Commonwealth is such a potent carrier itself. Field Report 2765’s RATs suggest a mix of Leopard CVs, Intruders, Fortresses, Achilles, and Titans in that order. So, say another two Wings of ASF. So after 54 ASF you hit the ship itself, which would take another two Wings to subdue.  Whatever happens, avoid having the merge within 20 hexes of the Commonwealth. It will sit there and pick off two or three ASF a turn and you won’t be able to address it until the ASF battle is over.

 

« Last Edit: 11 September 2014, 19:37:33 by Jellico »

sillybrit

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
« Reply #1 on: 11 September 2014, 20:36:35 »
So both the Commonwealth and the Tharkad class have strong AA. Is that perhaps a good explanation for how the Lyran navy managed to keep a working WarShip longer than any other Successor House?

UnLimiTeD

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
« Reply #2 on: 11 September 2014, 20:54:21 »
I think that's more to do with them buying all the spare parts.  :P
Still, I think from the Article the Ship appears to be decidedly Lyran.
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« Last Edit: 12 September 2014, 04:51:13 by UnLimiTeD »
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VhenRa

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
« Reply #3 on: 11 September 2014, 20:57:50 »
Well, we know they made 28 Tharkads before the yards were destroyed.

Wrangler

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
« Reply #4 on: 11 September 2014, 22:41:50 »
I like the Commonwealth, its neat balanced boat.  Plenty of drop collars which I think is boon for Lyrans, add force multiplier to any task force they bring in to a combat situation.

The Lyrans certainly like their cruisers! I remember that Mjornir was originally designed to be a Light Cruiser, like Commonwealth was.

Your article insights do poke some questions I'd like to ask:

  • Do you think the way point missiles launches (I forget actual name for it.  :() would increase the effectiveness of the both version's firepower?
  • You mentioned in comparison to other designs and contemporaries of the Commonwealth, that Athena is among the periphery ships to fear and the Riga II is tougher vessel.   Is Riga II's reference based on what we know if it via the York Class in ye olde TRO:3057?  I won't ask about Athena reference, since I suspect you can't talk about it.  ^-^

Thank you for your insightful article,  Jellico.  You really can take apart a unit and give us all the angles to consider.

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
« Reply #5 on: 12 September 2014, 00:04:38 »
Wrangler you jumped in on both of my questions

sillybrit

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
« Reply #6 on: 12 September 2014, 02:35:51 »
  • Do you think the way point missiles launches (I forget actual name for it.  :() would increase the effectiveness of the both version's firepower?

Do you mean Capital Missile Preprogrammed Waypoint Launches? This is when a capital missile makes a turn soon after being launched, with the firing arc then being recalculated; this effectively provides a larger firing arc at the expense of accuracy. If so, Jellico does already point to the bow missiles being able to add their firepower to the broadsides, or the side-mounted missiles adding their firepower to the bow arc.

If instead you mean Bearings Only Launches, where capital missiles fly out to a designated activation hex - which can be more than 50 hexes away - with their firing arc then calculated from that point, then that can be seen as increasing firepower as it allows shots to be made that would otherwise be impossible due to range limits.

The same would be true of any WarShip with capital missiles, not just the Commonwealth.

marauder648

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
« Reply #7 on: 12 September 2014, 03:39:28 »
A great review :) I just wish I knew absolutely ANYTHING about Warship/ASF/Dropship combat to understand some of it :s
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
« Reply #8 on: 12 September 2014, 10:34:00 »
I find it interesting that of all the major nations, the Terrans and the Lyrans are the only nations to really opt for sizable missile armaments. Even without the numerical or tonnage superiority of the Terran fleet, this gives even single ships a large advantage at long ranges, plus the areas of AA, nonlethal attacks, and ground support. Maybe the other navies didn't like the logistical issues of lugging around all those massive rockets? That's the only thing that makes sense to me, as the Terrans can easily spare a big hull or fifty to act as resupply vessels, and with their tendency to throw money at problems, stocking and shipping the big missiles doesn't seem like it'd be much of an issue for the Lyrans. No idea how well they'd do on offensive operations, but I'm not even sure they ever really did.
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Jellico

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
« Reply #9 on: 12 September 2014, 17:45:14 »
    So both the Commonwealth and the Tharkad class have strong AA. Is that perhaps a good explanation for how the Lyran navy managed to keep a working WarShip longer than any other Successor House?
    I should point out that the Tharkad's AA is strong because of its large number of insta-kill on 11s NACs like any big cruiser. The Commonwealth is more focused on AA.


    Your article insights do poke some questions I'd like to ask:

    • You mentioned in comparison to other designs and contemporaries of the Commonwealth, that Athena is among the periphery ships to fear and the Riga II is tougher vessel.   Is Riga II's reference based on what we know if it via the York Class in ye olde TRO:3057?  I won't ask about Athena reference, since I suspect you can't talk about it.  ^-^


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    chanman

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    Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
    « Reply #10 on: 12 September 2014, 20:20:54 »
    I notice that ship designers have a bit of difficulty coming up with class names.  The Cruiser class, the Defender class, the League class, the Commonwealth class...

    Wrangler

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    Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
    « Reply #11 on: 12 September 2014, 20:26:07 »
    I notice that ship designers have a bit of difficulty coming up with class names.  The Cruiser class, the Defender class, the League class, the Commonwealth class...
    The Cruiser Class is infact the name of the class mentioned in the ye olde original Star League source book. 
    As crazy as the using name like is.  The amusing fluff for the ship explains a lot.  Also, it fleshes out design no body expected to be brought out of the wood work.   
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    Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
    « Reply #12 on: 12 September 2014, 23:44:27 »
    You think that's unexpected... ^-^
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    Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
    « Reply #13 on: 13 September 2014, 07:38:18 »
    I notice that ship designers have a bit of difficulty coming up with class names.  The Cruiser class, the Defender class, the League class, the Commonwealth class...

    League and Commonwealth actually make perfect sense and are obvious candidates. Cruiser and Defender however are indeed as generic as it gets.

    Wrangler

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    Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
    « Reply #14 on: 13 September 2014, 10:35:41 »
    League and Commonwealth actually make perfect sense and are obvious candidates. Cruiser and Defender however are indeed as generic as it gets.
    I rather have generic names used verses having ship's with full-named characters. I find those ships are just not as cool or compelling to motivate its crews fight.  Like the having a group ships named with John P. Smealdy-Class verse the Crusher-Class or Harmbringer-Class.   

    The Commonwealth-Class is perfect name for the Lyran's first boat, i wish they were able to had to afford a companion class early Corvette or Frigate provide escort and scouting for it.  Name the Star Seeker or Cavalier-Class.
    « Last Edit: 13 September 2014, 23:22:38 by Wrangler »
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    Ruger

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    Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
    « Reply #15 on: 13 September 2014, 21:03:28 »
    I must say, I REALLY like this design...

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    Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
    « Reply #16 on: 15 September 2014, 09:36:06 »
    The Commonwealth Block IIs sit somewhere in the middle. More expensive than the Narukamis or Leagues, cheaper than the Atreus and Tharkads. You might say that they are an overweight Lyran solution that anyone else would have used a destroyer to solve. This basic point goes all the way back to 2375. Their size and collars make Commonwealths too expensive for mass production, but they remain too small for the battle line. They exist by using Lyran wealth to fit into the gap in between and relying on the Mako to provide the area coverage the SLDF achieved with its cheap destroyers. Commonwealths are good ships, but they don’t suit everyone.
    I wonder if the Commonwealth would be a good command ship for a squadron of destroyers. Maybe a Lyran version of the SLDF Navy Recon Squadron. If not, having it work with a destroyer squadron as an independent raiding force could be a good plan. It won't be able to defeat large WarShips by itself, but it could reinforce a group of Makos.

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    Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
    « Reply #17 on: 21 September 2014, 23:15:33 »
    Nice write up of the ship. It is a great ship, wish a mini would come out soon.
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    Re: WarShip of the Week: Commonwealth
    « Reply #18 on: 22 September 2014, 13:25:40 »
    You know, I have no clue at all about the space combat rules. (my last time playing ASFs was when Aerotech II was new) I still follow your articles with great enthusiasm. They always provide enough snippets for the layman to at least get a hazy impression of how interstellar war and strategy work in the BTU and what the faction idiosyncracies seem to be.