Are Shadow Fighter Abilities Reasonable

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Are Shadow Fighter Abilities Reasonable

Postby Dashadauknoz » Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:40 pm

There are some illogical situations that exist within the B5 rules relating to the Shadows (and the Vorlons). Being an ancient race with “superior” technology, it is illogical that any of their vessels should be twice as expensive as those of the younger races, while at the same time they are generally less combat capable. Their capital ships are appropriately superior in strength in proportion to their cost, but their fighters are woefully inferior to just about any fighter in the game.

I did some tables summarizing fighter capabilities, but the system wouldn't let tables come through in a readable manner, and to save space I'm only posting the summary:

In the dogfight category, 25 of the fighters in the system are superior to those of the Shadows and only 5 are their equal or inferior.

In speed, 15 are faster and 15 are the same speed or slower than Shadow fighters.

In Hull, the Shadows have no other race whose fighter has a stronger hull rating. There are, however, a large number of fighters that are the equal of those of the Shadows.

In dodge, 18 fighters have superior dodge ratings and only 15 are the same or worse.

In shields, no other races have shields, but the PSI Corps psychic fighters essentially have shields.

In stealth, the Minbari have two fighters with stealth. Nobody else does.

In weapons range, only 7 have a superior weapons range to the Shadows, while 23 are the same (note, none seem to have a 1” range, so this is an “equal.”)

Attack Die – 8 fighters throw more dice than the Shadows, while 22 have the same or fewer dice.

Then there is the all important fighter-on-fighter die roll modifiers. In this category only 2 fighters are inferior to the Shadows, while 28 are superior.

In summary, the Shadows are equal or better in only two categories than all other races' fighters, in the top third of two further categories, below 50% in two categories, and woefully inferior in the most important of all, anti-fighter combat capabilties.

In this last, all important, fighter-on-fighter battle, all but two fighters have a positive modifier when fighting Shadow fighters. This was developed by assuming a patrol’s worth of one race’s fighters would engage a patrol’s worth of Shadow fighters. It was assumed that the two shadow fighters would be evenly engaged by the other race, so that if a race could buy 4 flights for a patrol point each shadow fighter would be engaged by two other fighters. That would automatically produce a +1 modifier, and if the other race received 6 flights for a patrol point, then three ships were placed against every Shadow fighter, producing a +2 modifier. To this was then added dogfight modifier. Five fighters have a +3 modifier and two have a +4 modifier over the Shadow fighters before numbers of fighters are considered.
When the effects of the shields are calculated into this, the Shadows will not die in the first engagement, but with the second round of dog fighting, they will be destroyed in 4 of 6 engagements (66% of the time). Shadow fighters are slower than 15 (50%) of the fighters, so they cannot escape most dogfights, a fighter with equal speed (7 other fighters) being able to maintain contact. In sum, in fighter-on-fighter combat, the Shadows will die in 66% of initial engagements and can only escape 28% of fighter-on-fighter engagements if they survive the first round.
In addition, as no Shadow ship has the Fleet Carrier trait, not only can they not recover their lost fighters, but they may suffer yet another +1 die roll bonus to their opposing fighters. This could push the death rate from a probability of 66% to an 83%.
In fighting capital ships, the Shadows are inferior in dodge capability to 60% of the other races’ fighters. Again, being an ancient race, this is illogical. In addition, the nature of Shadow technology would suggest that they should not suffer form G-forces (aren't these disembodied brains wired into the machine?), while every other race should be subject to G-forces resulting from sudden, violent moves to dodge attacks, so physiology should allow the Shadows to be able to have a dodge value of at least as great as any of the “embodied” races and possibly even higher?
Weapons ranges and capabilities – The entire concept of weapons and their capabilities, with the Shadows being an “ancient” race, begs to ask why they would not have weapons systems that are the equal of any of the younger races in all charactoristics. Their anti-capital ship capability has the best hitting power in the game, but as for range, there are seven non-Shadow fighters with superior range, with the question of the Vorlon fighters having beam weapons, which might be debated as being superior in light of the new beam rules.
Stealth – Shadows have stealth in their scouts and stalkers, but not in their capital ships. One could argue that if everything from a Mimbari Neroon Heavy War Cruiser (Armageddon) to a fighter can have a Stealth 5+ rating. then every Shadow ship should have it, but since we are only considering fighters, if the Minbari have the technological skill to conceal fighters, the Shadows should surely be able to adapt their stealth technology to cover their fighters.
In summary, it appears to me that Shadow fighters are not reasonably outfitted (weapons, speed, & traits) if they are supposed to represent the technology of a technologically superior ancient race. Indeed, if you add to this the fact that Shadow anti-fighter capabilities are extremely limited, there is an illogical situation that exists that should be corrected either by upgrading the fighters to give them better dogfighting abilities or their costs should be reduced. Another alternative is to create a Shadow fighter that replaces/suppliments the existing fighter that is more aligned to dogfighting and less focused on ship killing.

Thoughts?
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Postby katadder » Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:02 pm

shadowfighters take 2 dogfights to kill, or 2AF shots due to their shields. combined with their decent speed, a decent dodge, high hull and a very good weapon I dont think shadow fighters are overpriced at all.
yes minbari fighters have stealth, but also have lower hull and no shields.
you cant have everything, shadow fighters were not designed to take on other fighters as in the wars of the ancients no one really had fighters so they were designed for killing capital ships.
also with an init of +6 chances are you will be getting to choose who moves fighters 1st etc.
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Re: Are Shadow Fighter Abilities Reasonable

Postby Greg Smith » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:19 pm

Just a couple of corrections:
Dashadauknoz wrote:In Hull, the Shadows have no other race whose fighter has a stronger hull rating.
The porfatis does.
In stealth, the Minbari have two fighters with stealth. Nobody else does.
The Centauri do.

Katadder has a point, as ship attackers, they rank among the best. There are few fighters that wield AP and double damage among their weapons.
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Re: Are Shadow Fighter Abilities Reasonable

Postby Burger » Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:23 am

Dashadauknoz wrote:In the dogfight category, 25 of the fighters in the system are superior to those of the Shadows and only 5 are their equal or inferior.
Did you take into account that shields now work in dogfights? The shadow fighter became a lot more survivable in a dogfight now. I don't have any figures to hand and it's too late at night for me to run them now, but I expect the shadow fighter is now somewhere near the middle of the ground in dogfights. Not the best for sure, but certanly a step up.

The shadow fighter is one of the best, if not the best, range 2 fighter for attackng capital ships. Its high hull combined with shields means it needs 2 hits of an anti-fighter dice to kill it. On average that means 6 AF dice, or 4 AAF dice, need to be thrown against each shadow fighter. Tell me another range 2 fighter for which that is true! Combine that with its awesome firepower and reasonable dodge (3+ is quite good for a bomber, they often have 4+) and it is actually quite balanced now.
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Postby Dashadauknoz » Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:54 am

In response to all preceding comments:

I recognize that the Shadow fighters are designed as ship killers, but I strongly disagree that they are anywhere the middle of the pack when it comes to engaging other fighters. Yes, you cant have everything, but the Shadows have almost no anti-fighter capabiltiies. The recent modification to the rules actualy allow them, finally, some 360 degree anti-fighter capability on the three larger ships, but the scout is still highly vulnerable to the flanks and rear. In addition, when you throw in stealth with the Minbari and even when in base-to-base contact, you have to break a stealth 5 odds are against the Shadows doing anything, but being pounded.

Yes, I did take into consideration the shields, which is why I said in the second round of dogfighting they die 66% of the time.

Bomber? At no point in the rules are shadow fighters identified as bombers. and again, the major vulnerability of the Shadows is fighters, for which they have a most limited defense.

And,so far no one has addressed the fundamental issue of Shadows, an "ancient" race, not having a response to the generally superior fighters of the young races. "It is illogical," to quote Spock, that a technologically superior race would produce a very expensive, yet inferior , weapons system and that they would not respond to their inferiority when it was discovered.
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Postby No. 1 Bear » Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:02 am

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Anyway yeh theyre not as good as they should be. Or people want them to be. Oh well its only a game.
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Postby Da Boss » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:41 pm

Dashadauknoz wrote:In response to all preceding comments:

I recognize that the Shadow fighters are designed as ship killers, but I strongly disagree that they are anywhere the middle of the pack when it comes to engaging other fighters. Yes, you cant have everything, but the Shadows have almost no anti-fighter capabiltiies. The recent modification to the rules actualy allow them, finally, some 360 degree anti-fighter capability on the three larger ships, but the scout is still highly vulnerable to the flanks and rear. In addition, when you throw in stealth with the Minbari and even when in base-to-base contact, you have to break a stealth 5 odds are against the Shadows doing anything, but being pounded.

Yes, I did take into consideration the shields, which is why I said in the second round of dogfighting they die 66% of the time.

Bomber? At no point in the rules are shadow fighters identified as bombers. and again, the major vulnerability of the Shadows is fighters, for which they have a most limited defense.

And,so far no one has addressed the fundamental issue of Shadows, an "ancient" race, not having a response to the generally superior fighters of the young races. "It is illogical," to quote Spock, that a technologically superior race would produce a very expensive, yet inferior , weapons system and that they would not respond to their inferiority when it was discovered.
As a big shadow fan - I started a huge thread on Shadow fighters some time ago -I'd like to think it was helpful in getting the changes made.

see here - http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/phpBB ... ow+fighter

Now I tend to agree with some of what you say - especially the non adpative nature of the Shadow fighters - hence my version of Shadow fighers and additional craft in Darkness Rising that show this adaption along the lines you suggest.

On the other hand - I am not unhappy with the revised version compared to the orginal travestry - they can be quite effective.
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Postby captainsmirk » Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:21 pm

I'm not entirely sure what you expect to come of this. As the game is no longer supported the stats aren't going to change, at least not officially. :?

If you think that Shadow fighters are too weak then change them to something you think is better, there's even less stopping you from doing this now than there was when the game was still supported... :)

As Da Boss has pointed there is already a large discussion of this subject where you might find useful ideas.

However I see no evidence from the show to suggest that Shadow fighters are particularly effective, sure they killed a few Frazis (hardly the exemplars of dogfighting capability and they lost one their number to a ram) but then they got blasted in short order by a White Star. In the final battle in Into the Fire they (and Vorlon fighters) didn't appear to wipe the floor with the younger races' fighters.

If the Shadows don't have good anti-fighter defenses then show indicates the improvement should be to their ships (whose main beams seem fairly good at potting fighters). As for the Scout being vulnerable, not every ship in any fleet is well-protected against fighters.

The Minbari stealth advantage could represent that Minbari fighters were designed based on experience from the previous Shadow war exploiting a weakness that the shadows having been dormant for 1000 years haven't had time to overcome.


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Postby Dashadauknoz » Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:42 pm

The whole point of this game is to have a good time and there is no point in playing a game where one side is so dominant, or so broken, that victory is unquestionably going to go to one side in any given battle. Yes, there is an issue of probability and dice rolling certainly helps balance issues, but if a game can be decided before the first die bounces across the table, the game is no fun for anyone.

Years ago, Avalon Hill came out with 1914 – a WWI invasion of France game. If you read the rules and took the “eastern option” sending the maximum number of units possible off the board to fight the Russians, if the French then captured the entire board and gained all possible points, as established by the game, the Germans still had a 66% probability of victory on the first die roll of the game. I’d like to go to Las Vegas with that statistical bias in my favor.

Please note Burger’s ship combat calculator where you can determine the statistical probability of a given outcome in a fight between two ships. Thought this doesn’t remove all variability, it certainly allows a scientific reduction of outcomes by allowing one to carefully develop a fleet/weapons mix for a given battle.

In the Shadow’s favor, they have a maneuverability (and some pretty potent weapons) that give them a very great advantage and if skillfully handled, they can be overwhelming. But this is an issue of skill that can be developed for any fleet if the gamer knows how to take advantages of the characteristics of any given fleet. I’m a pretty good Shadow player and I got into a battle against a friend with an Abbai fleet who literally took me apart. Four turns into the game I knew what the outcome would be and realized that no matter what I did, or brought to the fight, I was still in a gun fight, armed with a rock. This same rules lawyer, who spent hours analyzing everything, brought another fleet against me, I forget which race, where he overwhelmed me with fighters and I died the death of a thousand cuts. There was nothing I could do or bring against that particular combination of ships that would offer any other possible outcome.

This is where game design and balance come into play, and a truly balanced game is incredibly difficult to develop. The point is that two players, of equal skill, playing two given fleets can quickly come to the point where the probability of victory in every game is a statistically determinable fact, unless an element of unpredictability can be inserted into the game.

In the case of the Shadows (and Vorlons) they have one type of fighter, a scout (raid level), a battle level ship, a war level ship and an Armageddon level ship. An opposing player can, at a 5 point raid or below pretty much guess what the Shadow player will bring, as there are so few options available to Shadow (or Vorlon) player. This allows the opponent to select the optimal fleet to deal with the Shadow/Vorlon, with little chance of miscalculation. They can then focus on the Shadow vulnerability to fighters (the Vorlons have anti-fighter in their capital ships, unlike the Shadows).

I am not necessarily arguing that the existing Shadow Fighter should be given further capabilities, but that some variability be put into the game to reduce the predictability of the Shadow fleet in any given game and, thereby, increase the excitement of the game by reducing the possibility of statistically pre-destined outcomes.

In the period between the last two sets of rules there were a number of suggestions for other Shadow fighters, so I am not the only person to believe that the game is hurt by the lack of variability, that is, the high predictability of the Shadow’s fleet in any given game. Two new shadow fighters were proposed:

SHADOW SWIFTFIRE FIGHTER
Speed: 14
Dogfight: +4
Hull: 4
Turns: SM
Special Rules: Atmospheric; Dodge 2+, Fighter
Weapons: Light Polarity Cannon; range 2, Arc Turret, 1 AD, Accurate

SHADOW SPITFIRE FIGHTER
Speed: 12
Dogfight: +0
Hull: 5
Turns: SM
Special Rules: Atmospheric; Dodge 4+, Fighter
Weapons: Polarity Cannon, range 6, 3AD, AP, Double Damage

The first of these, the Swiftfire, is obviously a response to the poor dogfight capabilities of the Shadows and is not an overwhelming ship killer, nor is it an overwhelmingly powerful dogfighter. The second, the Spitfire, is obviously an attempt to create more serious ship killer.

I see two possible resolutions, one of which would allow an even greater variability in the entire game, and, to be sure, increase the fun, and a second which is more or less a bandage.

The bandage is to simply create a new fighter. The second is to take the approach used by Fire and Fury, Warhammer 40K, etc., and allow the B5 gamer to be able to build their fighters, and even other ships, on a point system. That is, a basic fighter costs so many points. To add to its hull strength, costs so many points, to give it speed costs so many points per inch, to give it stealth costs so much, to give it specific existing weapons costs so many points. You take points from one part of the design to give them to another part of the design – you build a faster fighter, but a more lightly armed fighter; you build a slow fighter that is massively armed – balance – trade and offset. Some of this already exists in the various variants of ship designs that exist in the B5 fleets.

An historical example can be found in the Washington Treaty of the 1920s. The Italians took lightly armored, fast, big gun ships. The British took slow, heavily armored, big gun ships. Each made its choice and the Italians got blown out of the water. Bad choices, true, but in a gaming situation, the ability to design one’s army/fleet seems to have considerable appeal in the gaming world these days, so why not develop something like that for B5?
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Postby katadder » Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:02 pm

the shadows are ancients, they are stuck in their ways.
as for the +4 dogfight swiftfire not being over the top in a dogfight, thats better than all but 2 fighters in the game.
also you mentioned stealth in earlier posts, the shadows have scouts (which vorlons dont get), +1 against stealth and then get within 8" means you can see a sharlin on a 2+.

yes their fleet is limited but you only need to look at modern aircraft to see this would be so as you go on. WW2 we had loads of differant combat aircraft, today the RAF has 3 - eurofighter, tornado and harriers with harriers being replaced sometime soon. as you advance you streamline to the few things you actually need. the shadows just woke up after 1000 years and you expect them to be able to deal with fighter superiority when its something they never really had to deal with in the past.
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Postby Da Boss » Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:11 pm

@ Dashadauknoz

The B5 ACTA game is officially ended so whilst you, me and others can makeup new versions of ships and fighters - there won't be anything official.

Not sure if you approved of my variants or not? :? If you like them, use them (and the other variant craft in the packs) in your games) :D or make up new ones - versions and post them up here :D

@ katadder

Given the Shadows tenent is "evolution through combat" not sure about they are that Stuck in their ways? :wink:

I agree +4 Dogfight is very very good - it is intended to be a superalitive dogfighter (a bit like the Minbari Tishat) but little use for anything else - as specialised as your examples 8)

It operates in a universe where the Shadows have further ship selection - like their competitors the Vorlons (who get both an equally specialised Scout and Carrier).

In terms of design - the dedicated dogfighters (and their carriers) are a response to the Minbari fighters in the most recent war only a thousand years ago.

I still contend that every fleet can have its own unique take on a speciality - be that carrier, Scout or escort.

Now on the other hand - the Shadow fleet is by no means weak - its one of the best in the game but a bit of variety can make it more interesting for both the player and his/her opponents.
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Postby Greg Smith » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:07 am

Shadows are indeed one of the nastiest fleets in the game. Their fighters may be limited (and in their chosen role they are not weak), but they more than make up for it in other ways.
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Postby Burger » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:20 am

Hey if the shadows can have a dogfighter then can the minbari have e-mines, the vorlons have a scout, the centauri have some quad damage lasers, EA have some stealth, and the narn have a good g'quan variant?

Seriously, no need to remove fleets weaknesses. We don't want all fleets the same and boring. Shadows are a very effectve fleet, they do not need a dogfighter. They have a weakness against fighters; but there are counter-measures they can take. Tell us what you're up against and in what scenario with what terrain, and we'll give advice.
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Postby Da Boss » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:51 am

Burger wrote:Hey if the shadows can have a dogfighter then can the minbari have e-mines, the vorlons have a scout, the centauri have some quad damage lasers, EA have some stealth, and the narn have a good g'quan variant?

Seriously, no need to remove fleets weaknesses. We don't want all fleets the same and boring. Shadows are a very effectve fleet, they do not need a dogfighter. They have a weakness against fighters; but there are counter-measures they can take. Tell us what you're up against and in what scenario with what terrain, and we'll give advice.
I am not at all convinced that giving people addiitonal choices that follow the fleets style that will make them somehow exactly the same as each other? Lets take Scouts

Are these all exactly the same - Shadow Scout, Leshath, Delphi, Oracle, Corvan. Its unlikely and soemwhat unimaginative to say that Scouts can not be made for the Vorlons that are unique and different.

re emines - well this is increasingly prevleant anyway - also the Minbari Protectorate pack has an interesting form of emine for the Minbari........ we have Brakiri e-mines, Gaim emines and EA e-mines (which of course gives the ISA emines.............)

Centauri quad damage laser - I would say probably not - the double damage precise on the Liati and Adira shows their progression from the single damage laser and in several packs has been expanded into newer designs.

EA has stealth - Delphi and to a much lesser extent Oracle - it could have a dedicated stealth ship for its special forces units perhaps or soemthing fitting. They also recently recieved e-mine mssiles - wasn't that reducing a weakness against Minbari?

Narn - G'Quan - they should indeed have a decent battle level ship.

re the Shadows in particular - they are, as I said , one of the best fleets - it would however be nice to have a bit more choice at lower levels - something to match the Vorlon skirmish level ship perhaps............

As you quite rightly suggest there are ways to use them effectively against fighter heavy fleets - depending on the scenario.
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Postby Burger » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:32 am

Da Boss wrote:it would however be nice to have a bit more choice at lower levels - something to match the Vorlon skirmish level ship perhaps............
Oh yes, I fully support this! A grown-up spitfire (as a single ship not a fighter wing) or a baby scout would be great at skirmish.
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Postby McKickaha » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:41 am

Da Boss wrote: Narn - G'Quan - they should indeed have a decent battle level ship.
Scraping the barrel when even the Centauri are saying we Narn need a decent G'Quan.

I would certainly sign up for this..............

, just not on the same page. 8)


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Postby AdrianH » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:49 am

Burger wrote:
Da Boss wrote:it would however be nice to have a bit more choice at lower levels - something to match the Vorlon skirmish level ship perhaps............
Oh yes, I fully support this! A grown-up spitfire (as a single ship not a fighter wing) or a baby scout would be great at skirmish.
Remember the thread which gave us all the ships Mongoose thought about but never got round to finishing and publishing? In particular:

Shadow Shuttle Skirmish
One of seldom-seen ships was some form of Shadow shuttle designed to transport sentients from the Young races carrying out missions for their Shadow masters. Although not strictly a combat vessel, the Shadow Shuttle is lightly armed and can fight off light resistance before fleeing to the safety of hyperspace.

Speed: 12
Turn: SM
Hull: 4
Damage: 10 (3)
Crew: -
Troops: -
Craft: None
Special Rules: Atmospheric, Dodge 4+, Scout, Self-Repair 1, Shields 3/3
In Service: Until 2261

Weapon Range Arc AD Special
Phasing Pulse Cannon 8 F 3 Accurate, Double Damage, Super AP

It even appeared on screen, bringing Mrs. Sheridan back to her husband.
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Postby Da Boss » Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:28 am

Indeed :)

Mine was similar - stealth I thought made sense given its stated purpose and no one noticed Anna arriving.................(or I should think someone would have told the Captain before she walked in on him and Delen!!)

Shadow Infiltrator Skirmish
True masters of deception and manipulation, only matched by their Vorlon rivals, the Shadows often find it necessary to infiltrate or extract key operatives – usually those who they have convinced should join them. This ship serves that purpose well and has the ability to eliminate pursuit or witnesses if required.
Speed: 10
Turn: SM
Hull: 4
Damage: 10 (3)
Crew: - Craft: none,
Special Rules: Atmospheric, Self-Repair 1, Shields 5/1, Stealth 5+
Weapon Range Arc AD Special
Phasing Pulse Cannon 8 F 3 Accurate, Double Damage, Super AP
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Postby tschuma » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:06 pm

I play agaisnt Dashadauknoz and we will try the skirmsh ship out the next time we get together. Not sure I like the fighters, the Shadows have enough going for them except agaisn the Centauri. I played several games with my Narn and could not win a game until I put a Centarui fleet out there. 3 Vorcahsn in a Squadron can dish out a lot of damage.

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Postby Da Boss » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:16 pm

sounds good - let us know how it goes. 8)

Losing with Narn :shock: :lol: - (well they are a inferior race).................although they don't worry too much against fighters - given their emine clearence ability (pulsar mines especially).

Like the Shadows - the Centauri are one of the best fleets in the game - AND have a huge selection of ships (including the best selection of fighters in the game - brilliant dogfighter, excellent all rounder and superb advanced fighter-bomber)

To me its one of the odd things - they have every aspect of the fleet covered - from stealth cruisers to carriers, fighters to durable battleships, advanced and deadily strike cruisers through to cheap and effective patrol craft plus unique defensive escorts and some of the best skirmish strike ships in the game. They are have Centauri flavour about them too and are by no means generic............

But for some reason people often think that all fleets should not have the same amount of choice? :? I think they should (or at least more) as long as the falvour of the fleet is kept - which the two skirmish designs above do.........

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