Thinking about Fighters (FQ)

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Thinking about Fighters (FQ)

Postby Cralis on Tue 29 Nov 2016 14:10

My primary thinking has been along the lines of: why are fighters not effective as counters to gunboats?

I'm thinking it boils down to the following.

1. fighters just aren't faster "enough" than gunboats to effectively run them down, andnot enough endurance to hunt them away from the carriers

2. gunboats unloading LRM on fighters is too effective as a preemptive counter-counter

3. and it all boils down to fighters not being able to stop gunboats from attacking their target. I'm remembering some space combat games allow fighters to close to range 0 and "dogfight", causing all movement to stop until one or both are destroyed or make a successful disengagement roll. Kind of like a crowd control, albeit a potentially deadly one. Starfire doesn't have anything like this...

Does anyone disagree or have anything else to add?
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Re: Thinking about Fighters (FQ)

Postby southwestforests on Tue 29 Nov 2016 15:38

Random thoughts:
Remember reading several places through the years several authors demonstrating that space fighters would be different from fighters as we know them in atmosphere here on earth - and the size, range, weapons punch, thing here in Starfire works out just as those authors were saying was likely to happen in space warfare.

And going on to use the same bad Earth analogy mentioned above, perhaps the situation in-game with fighters and gunboats is in some aspects not entirely unlike fighters versus bomber squadrons from one great Earth war, or perhaps fighters versus PT boats.

To me, it seems a sizeable enough swarm of fighters would indeed disrupt a gunboat unit's attack, but because of the simple mass of the platforms the gunboats would still get through in large part.

On 3 I'm wondering about the use of slowing the gunboat movement instead of stopping it.
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Re: Thinking about Fighters (FQ)

Postby Whitecold on Tue 29 Nov 2016 16:06

Personally I am skeptical about point 3. Smallcraft certainly can go on if they want, and I don't see why FQ fire would be more disruptive to an attack than countermissile fire or other defensive fire. Similarly, how do you determine if a squadron can stop another during a turn. If one side has plenty of PD in range/has massive numerical superiority, they should not be able to force the other to skip moves to the firing phase.

I agree with point 2, there seems to be no point in using fG on GBs ever, and the LRW salvo from GBs will more than compensate any potential advantage a fighter may get of fG over mounting R on external.

One problem I would add is GB requiring a hard counter in the first place. If they were not so overwhelming at introduction, the need for a hard counter would be reduced either.

I am putting high hopes here in procyon's system that gives design flexibility and removes the rather arbitrary damage multiplier against GBs. If a smallcraft is effective against large or small units should be determined by the weapons mounted, and I can see both hunter-FQ designed to hunt down fast corvettes and similar, or heavy destroyer-GB designed to face down massed GBs.
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Re: Thinking about Fighters (FQ)

Postby Cralis on Tue 29 Nov 2016 16:33

Whitecold wrote:Personally I am skeptical about point 3. Smallcraft certainly can go on if they want, and I don't see why FQ fire would be more disruptive to an attack than countermissile fire or other defensive fire. Similarly, how do you determine if a squadron can stop another during a turn. If one side has plenty of PD in range/has massive numerical superiority, they should not be able to force the other to skip moves to the firing phase.


The reason given in other games is that dogfighting requires the craft to slow down and make a long series of manuevers to try and gain the upper hand, this "pinning" themto a small area of space and negating all forward, straight-line movement. At least one game gives you the choice to participate in the dogfight or allow the enemy unit a massive advantage to his attack.

I agree with point 2, there seems to be no point in using fG on GBs ever, and the LRW salvo from GBs will more than compensate any potential advantage a fighter may get of fG over mounting R on external.


Part of this is the immediate availability of LRW. If you recall in Classic Starfire and Galactic Starfire the only weapons available in the first few TLs or SLs were fighter rockets, guns, and lasers. This forced a short-range fight before LRW became available.

One problem I would add is GB requiring a hard counter in the first place. If they were not so overwhelming at introduction, the need for a hard counter would be reduced either.


Nothing is ever a hard counter, nor do we want to add one. We do need to work towards balancing though. But in the process I'm thinking there may be ways of making squadron combat more interesting.

I am putting high hopes here in procyon's system that gives design flexibility and removes the rather arbitrary damage multiplier against GBs. If a smallcraft is effective against large or small units should be determined by the weapons mounted, and I can see both hunter-FQ designed to hunt down fast corvettes and similar, or heavy destroyer-GB designed to face down massed GBs.


The SDS has no intentions of adopting another complex construction system to the rules, adding more paperwork, more work, and more of a barrier to entry to bog down potential new players. Aside from the shared goal of balancing squadrons, Procyon's goals for introducing his new rules are quit a bit different from the goals for SSF's squadron rules.
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Re: Thinking about Fighters (FQ)

Postby procyon on Wed 30 Nov 2016 03:58

Cralis wrote:I'm thinking it boils down to the following


Everything you said is part of the problem, but we see one other issue that is the primary issue.

Fighters can't win the war.
For example...
If you have two opposing carrier fleets, one with purely GB and one with purely FQ - only one of the fleet has the ability to strike the other at sH ranges. So even if the FQ manage to destroy all the GB, the fleet with the FQ has only managed to avoid losing - they didn't win.
And if the fleet with the FQ trades some of them for GB so it can strike at range - it is now less capable of stopping the inbound GB and is at a severe disadvantage when its GB sortie against the other carrier group.

So either you plan to use all GB, or you have (at best) a fleet that can only keep you from losing, but can't actually win.

So which fleet do you take into battle ?

(But when you actually take those fleets and try to stop the GB with FQ, you will find that the FQ are not terribly effective at combatting GB in the first place. So not only do you have a fleet that can't win, it isn't terribly effective at keeping you from losing either...)
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Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: Thinking about Fighters (FQ)

Postby Cralis on Wed 30 Nov 2016 10:57

That is a different issue that will partially be addressed by changing flight times. Fighters are definitely capable of striking enemy ships that are within their flight range. So they _can_ win the war, but currently you just have to drive the carrier closer to the enemy.

If fighters were sufficient at chewing up gunboats BEFORE they reach your own carriers, then you could blunt an attack or two of unsupported gunboats while driving closer to their carriers. Then your opponent would have to escort the gunboats with fighters, bringing everyone back to needing combined arms (which is what we want). Thus the reason for focusing on fighter's ability to stop gunboats (which is currently not great).
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Re: Thinking about Fighters (FQ)

Postby Whitecold on Wed 30 Nov 2016 12:54

Cralis wrote:If fighters were sufficient at chewing up gunboats BEFORE they reach your own carriers, then you could blunt an attack or two of unsupported gunboats while driving closer to their carriers. Then your opponent would have to escort the gunboats with fighters, bringing everyone back to needing combined arms (which is what we want). Thus the reason for focusing on fighter's ability to stop gunboats (which is currently not great).

I think I said it before, but I would not put the task of stopping unsupported gunboat attacks on fighters, but on capital ships and dedicated PD escorts, with the fighter having the speed to chase down GBs. Thus you have to find a mix between mobility and firepower for your anti smallcraft capability instead of massing FQs.
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Re: Thinking about Fighters (FQ)

Postby procyon on Thu 01 Dec 2016 00:15

Cralis wrote:Fighters are definitely capable of striking enemy ships that are within their flight range. So they _can_ win the war, but currently you just have to drive the carrier closer to the enemy.


But the problem is, they will never be in range.
If the GB carriers are making attack sorties against you - it is because they can see your fleet with their Yc sensor vessel. So they will see you coming and just keep away.
So your FQ will never see any more combat than the missile (or Pt, or laser, etc) armed battleships escorting your carriers.

But when GB are essentially the only weapon system with a range measured in sH, no other weapon is going to be able to compete.


So to me, giving fighters a much greater range would help balance them with gunboats.
But without further rebalancing, it just creates a game where you pick which squadron you want to use to achieve victory. But squadrons will still be the only path.
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: Thinking about Fighters (FQ)

Postby Cralis on Thu 01 Dec 2016 02:31

procyon wrote:
Cralis wrote:Fighters are definitely capable of striking enemy ships that are within their flight range. So they _can_ win the war, but currently you just have to drive the carrier closer to the enemy.


But the problem is, they will never be in range.
If the GB carriers are making attack sorties against you - it is because they can see your fleet with their Yc sensor vessel. So they will see you coming and just keep away.
So your FQ will never see any more combat than the missile (or Pt, or laser, etc) armed battleships escorting your carriers.


Ok so let's for a moment completely ignore for a moment all the discussion about changing the flight times of squardons... :evil:

Hide and ambush. Attack an enemy fleet without squadrons. There's always a way. But that's not my main point. The statement above encompassed my main point. That if we adjust the flight times, this is no longer such an issue.

But when GB are essentially the only weapon system with a range measured in sH, no other weapon is going to be able to compete.

So to me, giving fighters a much greater range would help balance them with gunboats.
But without further rebalancing, it just creates a game where you pick which squadron you want to use to achieve victory. But squadrons will still be the only path.


Agreed. Thus all the conversation about it...

But we are COMPLETELY getting off of what I was driving at. And that is, whether or not we should introduce mechanics that allow fighters to "tie up" or "divert" gunboats. This would allow fighters to act as an actual screen for ships, and not just a door frame.
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Re: Thinking about Fighters (FQ)

Postby Elminster on Thu 01 Dec 2016 04:04

Cralis wrote:And that is, whether or not we should introduce mechanics that allow fighters to "tie up" or "divert" gunboats. This would allow fighters to act as an actual screen for ships, and not just a door frame.

Hm, I think the question is what do you want to achieve when you "tie up" or "divert" GB. Time? To do what? Getting reinforcements? But then... how long would the FQ "tie up" the GB to make this possible?
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