Detecting PDCs

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Detecting PDCs

Postby SDTroll on Thu 19 Feb 2015 09:43

I'm sorry if this is covered in the forums, but I tried all the searches I could come up with to no avail.
I'm trying to figure out how to detect PDCs in Ultra. From table D5.02, it looks like you have to get to 30% of short range. The thing that throws me off is the line about "...until they produce active emissions..." When is that and what range can you detect them at once they produce them? It in only when they fire, or before they fire? For specifics, I'm attacking a planet with drone2 with a Ptb on the XO racks and a Yb. How close do the drones have to get before they can fire? Short range is 12, halved for small craft sensors is 6. 30% of that is 1.8 tH. Do they have to get that close to fire if the PDCs don't fire? Can they use combat range (13) if the PDCs have fired already?

Thanks
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Re: Detecting PDCs

Postby Cralis on Sun 22 Feb 2015 14:22

My apologies this took so long to get back to you, but I needed to dig through the ULTRA rules and I've been short on time the last couple days...

SDTroll wrote:I'm sorry if this is covered in the forums, but I tried all the searches I could come up with to no avail.

I'm trying to figure out how to detect PDCs in Ultra. From table D5.02, it looks like you have to get to 30% of short range. The thing that throws me off is the line about "...until they produce active emissions..."


This comes from D5.05.2, point 2. Don't ask me why it's there, I don't know...

When is that and what range can you detect them at once they produce them? It in only when they fire, or before they fire?


An "active emission" is something that produces a signal or energy signature. A weapon firing (offensive or defensive). Scanning with your sensor systems. Sending a communications. etc.

For specifics, I'm attacking a planet with drone2 with a Ptb on the XO racks and a Yb. How close do the drones have to get before they can fire? Short range is 12, halved for small craft sensors is 6. 30% of that is 1.8 tH. Do they have to get that close to fire if the PDCs don't fire? Can they use combat range (13) if the PDCs have fired already?


Actually, look again at Table D5.03. You'll see that Drone2 has it's own row on the sensor table. And yes, if the PDCs don't have any active emissions, they do in fact have to get that close to detect them and fire at them (see D6.02.5). HOWEVER, keep in mind that the rules ALSO states that once ANY unit has detected a PDC, it's location is passed to every other unit in the fleet and they can fire on it from full range.
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Re: Detecting PDCs

Postby SDTroll on Mon 23 Feb 2015 07:19

Thanks for the reply. So, would it be legal to fire the drones at long range and have them maneuver to the planet, looking for PDCs? Then, assuming the PDCs didn't fire at them, they would fire at really close range. Once detected all the ships would get targeting data on them and the next wave of drones would be able to fire at normal ranges? Would this apply even if there were no other units within P range of the PDCs? (Assuming my fleet is hanging back outside of weapon fire range?)

PDCs killed our last campaign, so I'm trying to come up with solutions to deal with them.

Thanks again.
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Re: Detecting PDCs

Postby Cralis on Mon 23 Feb 2015 12:57

SDTroll wrote:Thanks for the reply. So, would it be legal to fire the drones at long range and have them maneuver to the planet, looking for PDCs?


I think you mean "launch the drones at long-range" -- yes. Remember you have to pre-program them, they aren't "hand controlled"

Then, assuming the PDCs didn't fire at them, they would fire at really close range.


If they've been programmed to fire at the PDC, once it is detected and it becomes an eligible target, the drones will fire at it.

Once detected all the ships would get targeting data on them and the next wave of drones would be able to fire at normal ranges? Would this apply even if there were no other units within P range of the PDCs? (Assuming my fleet is hanging back outside of weapon fire range?)


You would have to be within communications range of the drone.

You know, I keep thinking I'm forgetting something. I don't have the rules at work to look, but I think AP don't get a scan range. You might be able to overcome this with sY, or you may have to send a scout ship(s) in long enough to find the PDCs.

But yes, once detected, everything can fire at the PDC's location.

PDCs killed our last campaign, so I'm trying to come up with solutions to deal with them.

Thanks again.


That last part above is what nails PDCs and makes them vulnerable. Again, no rules at work, but I think you can fire at a known PDC from outside it's arc of fire (like the other side of the planet) and it can't fire back. PDCs are powerful, but if you can exploit their weaknesses they are easy to destroy.

That's why PDCs are often built in multiple opposing hexsides of the planet, to try and mitigate this vulnerability.
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Re: Detecting PDCs

Postby SDTroll on Mon 23 Feb 2015 14:06

Like I said, we've been trying to find ways to defeat them, since turtling became the option of choice for players who were losing our last game.
Drone 2+ have a scan of two according to the chart D5.03. So they would eventually detect the PDCs. I assume they would only fire at ones on the hex side they are placed in.

PDC only have a blind spot if they are not on a planet with a population size of small or larger. That plus the auto data link for adjacent PDCs meant a lot of our players put them in one 180 degree arc so they could all data link if they wanted to. Then they could all fire as one, or at multiple targets, depending on the need.
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Re: Detecting PDCs

Postby Cralis on Mon 23 Feb 2015 15:39

SDTroll wrote:Like I said, we've been trying to find ways to defeat them, since turtling became the option of choice for players who were losing our last game.


That makes sense, PDCs were much more powerful in ULTRA than in previous versions. They were pretty much the only defense for LEL populations.

Drone 2+ have a scan of two according to the chart D5.03. So they would eventually detect the PDCs. I assume they would only fire at ones on the hex side they are placed in.


I don't understand what you mean by "on the hexside they were placed in" ... are you talking about drones or PDCs? Drones should be able to hit any hexside in arc unless they enter the atmosphere, and I don't recall if they can do that in ULTRA.

PDC only have a blind spot if they are not on a planet with a population size of small or larger. That plus the auto data link for adjacent PDCs meant a lot of our players put them in one 180 degree arc so they could all data link if they wanted to. Then they could all fire as one, or at multiple targets, depending on the need.


Only if using LRW ... of course, most do. And I agree, ULTRA PDCs are tough.

Of course, you can always home rule some changes. For example, if you removed the 360 arc of fire and left it at 180, you'd only have to destroy some of the PDCs and the rest would be vulnerable to blind-spot fire or ground assault.
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Re: Detecting PDCs

Postby Xveers on Tue 24 Feb 2015 20:02

Cralis wrote:
SDTroll wrote:Like I said, we've been trying to find ways to defeat them, since turtling became the option of choice for players who were losing our last game.


That makes sense, PDCs were much more powerful in ULTRA than in previous versions. They were pretty much the only defense for LEL populations.

Drone 2+ have a scan of two according to the chart D5.03. So they would eventually detect the PDCs. I assume they would only fire at ones on the hex side they are placed in.


I don't understand what you mean by "on the hexside they were placed in" ... are you talking about drones or PDCs? Drones should be able to hit any hexside in arc unless they enter the atmosphere, and I don't recall if they can do that in ULTRA.

PDC only have a blind spot if they are not on a planet with a population size of small or larger. That plus the auto data link for adjacent PDCs meant a lot of our players put them in one 180 degree arc so they could all data link if they wanted to. Then they could all fire as one, or at multiple targets, depending on the need.


Only if using LRW ... of course, most do. And I agree, ULTRA PDCs are tough.

Of course, you can always home rule some changes. For example, if you removed the 360 arc of fire and left it at 180, you'd only have to destroy some of the PDCs and the rest would be vulnerable to blind-spot fire or ground assault.


To be blunt, there ain't no good way to take a battery, and a HEL planet with PDCs is the worst kind. Superior fire density, perfectly clear and beaten lanes of approach, and superior range. There are precious few ways to take a planet, and they usually revolve around either drone bombardment, throwing a dedicated planet-cracking fleet (usually tailor made to deal with the weapons the planet has) or for the LONG sieges, assembling pre-built bases in-system and towing them in (since they'll have a better throw-weight per HS and a bit longer range than your shipboard launchers).

Hm... Since this is ULTRA, one additional tactic you have is to build fast ships with W box launchers. Dash in, shotgun at a few PDCs at really long range, then motor back out of range to rearm. Wash rinse repeat.

Also, do you really care about the guys on-planet? You can instead use your drones to hit the population and simply make it impossible for the PDCs to be maintained...
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Re: Detecting PDCs

Postby SDTroll on Wed 25 Feb 2015 07:43

I don't understand what you mean by "on the hexside they were placed in" ... are you talking about drones or PDCs? Drones should be able to hit any hexside in arc unless they enter the atmosphere, and I don't recall if they can do that in ULTRA.


Sorry, that wasn't even clear to me, and I knew what I meant to say. :?

Let me try an example and see if I can make it clearer. Sorry if it gets long, but hopefully it makes sense.
So, I enter the system, winning the WP battle. The enemy fleet retreats to the planet and waits for me under the cover of the PDCs. For the example, lets say the planet has 30 PDCs on each side, so 180 total. Each PDC has a Ptb, a Mg, and a Da. I bring my drone ships through the warp point and park out of range of the planet and the fleet on the planet. Once I have determined that the PDCs exist, either with a sacrificial fleet or a flight of sensor laden drones, I want to take out the planet in one shot, so I launch a huge number of attack drones, (each has 6 XObs with two Ptbs on them). I want to hit all six hex sides at the same time. Can all the drones fly in one stack and fire from the same hex, with targeting rules for which hex side they hit, or does each group need to fly around the planet to aim at the correct hex side. I'm not sure how sophisticated the drone programming can be. Could my programming directions be: Move at top speed to hex XXXX (something 12 hexes from the planet), then fire all XO racks at hex YYYY (hex with planet in it) targeting PDCs on hex side 1 only?

I hope that is clearer. Even with drones it is hideously expensive to take the planet out. If my calculations are correct, assuming no ships to come out and engage the drones, it will take around 80 drones per hex side to take out all the PDCs. That is something like 20,000 Mcr, not counting the ships to launch them and the maintenance. Heaven help you if you need to take out more than one planet. Unless I'm missing something, which is likely.
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Re: Detecting PDCs

Postby SDTroll on Wed 25 Feb 2015 07:52

To be blunt, there ain't no good way to take a battery, and a HEL planet with PDCs is the worst kind. Superior fire density, perfectly clear and beaten lanes of approach, and superior range. There are precious few ways to take a planet, and they usually revolve around either drone bombardment, throwing a dedicated planet-cracking fleet (usually tailor made to deal with the weapons the planet has) or for the LONG sieges, assembling pre-built bases in-system and towing them in (since they'll have a better throw-weight per HS and a bit longer range than your shipboard launchers).

Hm... Since this is ULTRA, one additional tactic you have is to build fast ships with W box launchers. Dash in, shotgun at a few PDCs at really long range, then motor back out of range to rearm. Wash rinse repeat.

Also, do you really care about the guys on-planet? You can instead use your drones to hit the population and simply make it impossible for the PDCs to be maintained...[


Unfortunately, the tech level was pretty low when we were fighting. No W boxes, although the sheer volume of fire might work, if you could survive the counter attack. Of course, with Plasma torps, I need We just to use them. In the original scenario, we didn't even have point defense yet or AP yet. Now I'm just playing with the system to try to find a solution other than banning PDCs, which is top of the list right now.

The other option I've been looking at is shuttles with bombs, not sure how that would work yet, but at least they are really cheap.

The diplomatic penalties of genocide make it pretty unattractive, but at least the people are easier to hit. :twisted:
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Re: Detecting PDCs

Postby Cralis on Wed 25 Feb 2015 17:26

SDTroll wrote:I enter the system, winning the WP battle. The enemy fleet retreats to the planet and waits for me under the cover of the PDCs. For the example, lets say the planet has 30 PDCs on each side, so 180 total. Each PDC has a Ptb, a Mg, and a Da.


That's it? No armor? What EL?

I bring my drone ships through the warp point and park out of range of the planet and the fleet on the planet. Once I have determined that the PDCs exist, either with a sacrificial fleet or a flight of sensor laden drones, I want to take out the planet in one shot, so I launch a huge number of attack drones, (each has 6 XObs with two Ptbs on them).


Ok, so you have to be using Drone2 (since Drone1 can't use weapons). So you have to be at least SL 6, right? I'm guessing you're a plasma race too... no other weapons researched yet?

I want to hit all six hex sides at the same time. Can all the drones fly in one stack and fire from the same hex, with targeting rules for which hex side they hit, or does each group need to fly around the planet to aim at the correct hex side.


You can only hit something you can see. At the very least, a PDC has a 180 arc of fire. So if you are facing one hexsides, you should be able to shoot into that hexside or the hexsides immediately to the clockwise and counter-clockwise positions.

I'm not sure how sophisticated the drone programming can be. Could my programming directions be: Move at top speed to hex XXXX (something 12 hexes from the planet), then fire all XO racks at hex YYYY (hex with planet in it) targeting PDCs on hex side 1 only?


I don't have the ULTRA rules in front of me, but I think you can simply give it a targeting parameter for PDCs. If I remember correctly, D9 has the rules for that.

I hope that is clearer. Even with drones it is hideously expensive to take the planet out. If my calculations are correct, assuming no ships to come out and engage the drones, it will take around 80 drones per hex side to take out all the PDCs. That is something like 20,000 Mcr, not counting the ships to launch them and the maintenance. Heaven help you if you need to take out more than one planet. Unless I'm missing something, which is likely.


Unless you're just not telling me about dozens or hundreds of points of armor on those PDCs, those things should be toast in a heartbeat. Sure you'll have 90 of them able to fire into a hexside at any time, but Da can't assist datalink members and PDCs, once detected, are nearly impossible to miss...

I'd have to see you're exact setup and numbers, but my gut tells me that either I'm missing some information or you've made an assumption that is making this harder than it should be.

SDTroll wrote:Unfortunately, the tech level was pretty low when we were fighting. No W boxes, although the sheer volume of fire might work, if you could survive the counter attack. Of course, with Plasma torps, I need We just to use them. In the original scenario, we didn't even have point defense yet or AP yet. Now I'm just playing with the system to try to find a solution other than banning PDCs, which is top of the list right now.


There are other options as well, such as increasing the hull cost, requiring minimum and maximum sizes, increasing the maintenance percent (or just having a maintenance surcharge), etc. And as Xveers mentioned, GFFP always works and you can't miss.

The other option I've been looking at is shuttles with bombs, not sure how that would work yet, but at least they are really cheap.


Don't know... the point defense will be very hard on the shuttles, I believe the "bomb" was originally envisioned by Marvin to be a cheap way to destroy ground troops.

The diplomatic penalties of genocide make it pretty unattractive, but at least the people are easier to hit. :twisted:


Well, true. But if you do it to everyone, does it matter? After a while, there won't be anyone left to care (one of the the founding principles behind GFFP)
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