Fleet Battles: Where?

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CosmicGamer
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Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby CosmicGamer » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:59 pm

Spawned from another thread, this discussion is about where capitol ship space battles are likely to occur.

Here are the bits from the other thread
F33D wrote:
CosmicGamer wrote:Why and how often do fleets meet up in deep space?
I'll answer the completely obvious "why". Because a fleet HAS to jump no closer to a planet than 100D and the opposing Gov wants them kept as far from the planet as possible to protect its citizens. Also, jumping ships fairly often end up days away from the target planet.

So, that tells one that deep space encounters are FAR more likely than orbital encounters between fleets.
First off, "deep space" is a pretty vague term.

To better consider it
The diameter of the earth at the equator is aprox 12,750km.
The Earths 100d limit would be aprox 1,275,000km

The average distance to the Moon is aprox 385,000 km
This is aprox 30d

So what do you think deep space is?

Moving on,

Two fleets that pass in the night.

I'm no science and math whiz but my understanding is that open space battles would be nothing like in the movies.

Unless both sides purposely slow down to have a meaningful deep space engagement in the middle of nowhere, would not most deep space battles be just two fleets zipping past each other at high speeds?

Let's say the incoming fleet accelerates than decelerates at the "halfway" point to be able to "stay on target" at the planet since other options like high speed hit and runs would only make matters worse.

For purposes of argument, let's say they accelerate for 20 hours and decelerate for 20 hours. Baring issues like the planets vector and the ships when coming out of jump, I think the half way point is around 50d?

At this halfway point, the incoming fleet is going at their max speed.

Lets say both fleets have similar maneuverability. If a defending fleet from the planet accelerated for 20 hours they would meet at the 50d limit with both fleets going in opposite directions at high speed from 20 hours of thrust?

Even if both fleets were only thrust 1, what speed would they be going when they met? Could they have any significant engagement? About how many rounds would they be in range?

Certainly at the speeds they are going, the attackers need to destroy the entire enemy incoming fleet. This is their only chance as even though the enemy is decelerating now, they are still heading for the planet at high speed and the defenders are heading in the opposite direction at high speed and won't have time to "slow down" and "turn around" and catch back up to the enemy.

Again, need the help of the math and science whizs.

Even if the defenders accelerate for a shorter period and start decelerating, it still seams they still will be left in the dust and the enemy will get to attack the planet with the fleet off in the distance unavailable for some time to help defend.

All this also assumes the enemy incoming ships are not a decoy trying to pull the defense fleet off while another attack force jumps in and approaches from a different direction.

So, I look forward to some input from the whiz's, but in general I think fleets should "stay home" instead of risking a "deep space" battle that takes them away from the planet they are defending.

What are your thoughts?
phavoc
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby phavoc » Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:28 pm

Much would depend on the target's orbital infrastructure and what needs to be protected. Obviously if you can flight with the planet at your back and the defenses of the planet able to target the enemy you have an advantage. Since you can't simply bombard the planet into submission you have to go to it.

With stations and other infrastructure the enemy may try to capture it, or if it's simply a raid destroying it and removing the benefit from the enemy is acceptable. But if they want to take as much as possible intact then they have to eliminate mobile defenders.

If your stations are well defended on their own the mobile defenders could conceivably move out and try to pin the enemy against the orbital and planetary defenses.

As to the orbital velocities, remember that for every hour of acceleration any ship must spend an hour decelerating to come to a relative stop at the target. You could do a 'drive-by' attack of the planet and certain defenses, but that's more useful for raiding. And Traveller space combat doesn't really track vector movement, so that's more on the theoretical side. In reality, being able to swiftly pass by, launch a load of missiles and then move out of range seems pretty cool. Except that your incoming speed can also be used against you by the enemy launching missiles, as you have less time to intercept them (but the same goes for anybody downrange too).

As far as the game is concerned I think you come along and brute-force your enemy. Defenders have to protect their planet and their orbital stuff. Attackers don't, but they have to protect their fleet train. Fighting away from the planet would take place in some cases, but not always. If the defender was using stations as launching platforms for swarms of fighters you have to close and engage them or else you'd be constantly harassed with (potentially) very few options to return fire - this is where squadrons of small craft firing a lot of missiles at just a few targets makes fighters somewhat useful finally.
Condottiere
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby Condottiere » Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:56 pm

This isn't really Honor Harrington.

If it's a Traveller interstellar conflict, the objectives of the invading task force would be to secure their refuelling station(s) and neutralize system defence forces' capability to interfere with their mission(s). This include their destruction.

If this mission includes securing the system's primary world, than if they could bypass any defending fleet while it's trying to intercept it in deep space, means that world would only have it's ground and orbital defences for protection, and those could be neutralized at long range without interference from mobile units.

Okay, that part is Honor Harrington.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby phavoc » Tue Apr 28, 2015 3:32 am

The ideas used by Weber in the HH series are drawn from the real world - if you have something you have to defend, you defend it. Otherwise you allow the enemy free reign on your territory to pillage and destroy. That concept has been around since the beginning of organized warfare. Except it used to be about encircling a fortification and destroying everything outside the walls.

What exactly do you mean by "deep space"? The closest a fleet can appear is 100D from an objective. I don't consider that to be deep space. Leaving what you need to defend in order to engage the enemy would only be done if you could not afford to let them near what you are defending. Other than that you'd want them to come to you. With jump mechanics you cannot blockade a world and stop someone from leaving without a lot of ships. And englobing a planet takes a LOT of ships.

Traveller and the HH series share many of hte same concepts, like the hours you accelerate has to be matched with hours of deceleration. They also share the idea of commerce raiding and system defense. A system's primary world is where most likely the bulk of a system's defense forces are going to be located. The concept of having a "home fleet" predates both Miller and Weber by quite a bit.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby dragoner » Tue Apr 28, 2015 6:02 am

With big fleet engagements, fleets are likely to seek a decisive battle to decide an issue, which will just as likely be by a planet or gas giant.

Velocity won't mean as much in a battle where much of the armament is light speed, like lasers; it can mean the ability to break off the battle, or be able to chase your enemy down.

Skirmishes will be different, and that's also the most likely place for players to be involved.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby Sevain » Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:16 am

Consider that jumps last a random time. You probably do not want to jump in at the 100D limit because doing so risks the enemy destroying your force piece by piece as it precipitates out of jump. This suggests you would either jump into parts of the system unlikely to be patrolled and hide as you assemble your fleet for operations, or that you would jump to a single point so far away to let your fleet arrive completely before the defender can get to you.

In the former case you might not even get a simple pitched fleet battle, but instead a series of skirmishes between patrolling defenders and attackers trying to link up with other incoming units. In the latter case I could easily see the defender engaging the attacker en-route to the main world, either to minimize damage to its world or motivated by a fear of even more enemy forces arriving. This kind of engagement could easily be seen as the "civilized" conduct of war, with the fleets duking it out away from the civilians.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby Condottiere » Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:28 am

It's usually very hard to justify that aspect of chivalry, unless the local autocrat happened to be the commander on the spot. Though you do have tales of such overwhelming confidence actually succeeding, and others that are cautionary tales.

If we take the Great Patriotic War as a reference, the Pacific War tended to be an island hopping campaign, the Japanese trying to establish defensive perimeters, while the Americans trying to strategically select which ones to invade to further their regional dominance, and which ones they could ignore.

Even Midway was the Japanese deciding to take over an operationally significant outpost, in order to lure the remaining capital ships of the American Pacific fleet to try to retake it, and ambushing them; the Americans through SIGINT having divined their intent, arranged a counter-ambush once the first wave of strike aircraft had exhausted themselves trying to bomb an alerted garrison.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby Sevain » Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:22 pm

I would see it as less chivalry and more a happy coincidence that gets romanticized after the fact. Jumping in at a distance guarantees your whole force arrives before the engagement at the cost of the element of surprise.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby phavoc » Tue Apr 28, 2015 3:09 pm

An incoming fleet will jump into a system with one of two options - first jump near (a few hours) enough a refueling source to replenish their tanks and then maneuver to engage the enemy. Or if they have enough firepower they can jump within a few hours of the target and engage the enemy.

The fleet jumping rules have always been kind of hazy. I believe the rule in the republished TCS says you can get fleet jumping down to 1-2 hours for everyone to arrive. Which means the commander needs to plan for the worst (i.e. his heaviest or most important units will be the delayed ones, or even his own ship). Depending on conditions you could move out immediately, or you'd need to wait.

As for refueling, well, assuming they were full when you jumped and you jumped your max distance, you have about two and a half weeks of fuel, give or take. That may or may not be enough to get the mission done, and if you don't have a clear overwhelming advantage you need the ability to jump out.

Having the ability to retreat is another reason why attackers may choose to engage the enemy outside the 100D limit. A defender doesn't have to jump out, but the attacker does if the battle turns against them. I don't know if it makes much sense for a defender to, for example, leave Earth's orbit to engage a fleet in orbit around Jupiter. However if you can get some units there to harass them while they are refueling you can potentially delay or cripple their refueling efforts and thus leave them vulnerable for future engagements.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby dragoner » Tue Apr 28, 2015 4:20 pm

If your home fleet isn't strong enough, it will be held back and used to harry the attackers. But really, ships could bring fuelers, or there would be multiple gas giants, and star systems are big enough, that fleets, even very big ones, could avoid each other or delay for enough time to assemble. Jumping in piecemeal into battle would be a way to be destroyed in detail, and I think people would avoid it.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby CosmicGamer » Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:48 am

Sevain wrote:Consider that jumps last a random time. You probably do not want to jump in at the 100D limit because doing so risks the enemy destroying your force piece by piece as it precipitates out of jump.
dragoner wrote: Jumping in piecemeal into battle would be a way to be destroyed in detail, and I think people would avoid it.
First off, there are supplemental rules on linked Jumping.

Even without those rules, I'm confused as to how the defender is lying in wait knowing just where enemy ships will arrive.

Granted one can assume that where one enemy ship arrives more will follow and rush their defenses to intercept. Whether they could arrive in time has many factors such as just where are the defenders in relation to the arrivals, the size of the 100d, ship thrust capability, lot's of math, and as Sevain mentions random results of ships possibly many hours apart.

This also assumes that a handful of early arrivals will sit around and just wait for the massive response that is coming. They could maneuver in a way that the defenders need to decide how many ships to send off chasing and how many should mill about waiting for more ships to arrive.

Not sure what the consensus is of a ships vector upon Jump arrival, but you may have a situation where you are milling with defenders drives "in park" at a relative zero speed with weapons hot and crews at general quarters to get those ships as they come out of jump but they come out at such high speed you barely have time to react before they are out of range. Laying mines sounds like a good option if you know exactly where ships are arriving.

One can also get caught with their pants down if they rush off to intercept with the bulk of their fleet expecting a huge incoming force only to discover that the handful of war ships that seamed to be grouping up and organizing at coordinates RA 10h 15m, dec +32deg, 120d, 125-1105 are a decoy and the rest of the enemy fleet is planning to jump in a little later at RA 19h 45m, dec -28deg, 100d 126-1105.
Condottiere
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby Condottiere » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:41 am

And if it's war at an interstellar scale, if you can decoy them into another star system, the invaders will pretty much have the run of the place.

But without instant communications, you identify likely objectives, and concentrate your forces.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby Reynard » Wed Apr 29, 2015 12:25 pm

"Even without those rules, I'm confused as to how the defender is lying in wait knowing just where enemy ships will arrive."

Space is huge but objectives are small and well known. Fleets don't just cruise around looking for trouble. They defend or attack fixed sites. In some cases, units patrolling important locations or forward recon for invasion force will allow for engagement beyond 100D lines but that is often a calculated and pre-planned event.

The boxed game Fifth Frontier War was a great way to see how engagements in a Traveller environment fared strategically and tactically.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby dragoner » Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:29 pm

CosmicGamer wrote:First off, there are supplemental rules on linked Jumping.
assuming they aren't used? /shrug
Even without those rules, I'm confused as to how the defender is lying in wait knowing just where enemy ships will arrive.
Fleets are going to station themselves where they are most likely going to be in action.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby phavoc » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:45 pm

The fog of war for an invading fleet means any recon information is at least two weeks old. Their best bet would be to try and detect specific patrol routes, or knowledge of when opposing forces will be deployed anywhere NOT near their initial targets. Once they arrive in-system then it's the normal intel that may be only a few hours old, not to mention the information you'll get from your own sensors (though even that will be old by the time you get it).

System's are really big places. Even at continuous high-g thrust it can take days to get from one important place to another. A defender is going to have to pre-determine what they want to defend. A smart defender will constantly adjust their force disposition based on threats. The SDB forces are always deployed in irregular patterns. The best deployments are those that nobody really knows where they are at any given time. That makes it harder for any foe to make plans other than assume they are always going to be where you want to be.

SDB warfare is mentioned so much, but there's really nothing in the rules that follow's up with it. I haven't looked at any of the board games in decades though. Is there anything there that talks more about SDB's?
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby F33D » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:57 pm

phavoc wrote: SDB warfare is mentioned so much, but there's really nothing in the rules that follow's up with it. I haven't looked at any of the board games in decades though. Is there anything there that talks more about SDB's?
Not that I've seen. BUT, if your "defensive" force is non-star ships of roughly equal tonnage to the invading fleet, the invaders are toast.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby Condottiere » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:07 pm

Solution is a pre-emptive strike to cripple the opposing (interstellar) mobile forces.

The objective wouldn't actually be the planet, but any warship capable of interstellar travel.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby F33D » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:09 pm

Condottiere wrote:Solution is a pre-emptive strike to cripple the opposing (interstellar) mobile forces.
That has pretty much all the same problems as have already been brought up in this thread.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby dragoner » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:53 pm

Condottiere wrote:Solution is a pre-emptive strike to cripple the opposing (interstellar) mobile forces.

The objective wouldn't actually be the planet, but any warship capable of interstellar travel.
There will be intelligence as to where the fleets are, and to which where they are going. Systems will have strategic points, similar to regular battlefields, where the fighting will most likely occur. Surprise is always good, but it is not something one should count on, maskirovka is better.
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Re: Fleet Battles: Where?

Postby phavoc » Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:57 pm

dragoner wrote:
Condottiere wrote:Solution is a pre-emptive strike to cripple the opposing (interstellar) mobile forces.

The objective wouldn't actually be the planet, but any warship capable of interstellar travel.
There will be intelligence as to where the fleets are, and to which where they are going. Systems will have strategic points, similar to regular battlefields, where the fighting will most likely occur. Surprise is always good, but it is not something one should count on, maskirovka is better.
Yes, fleet anchorages, and static stations and such will always be known. But where the fleet, or portions of it, are going to be will always iffy for the most part. The Japanese had expected to take out the US carriers at Pearl Harbor and had to make do with sinking battleships. Their intelligence had thought they were going to be in port, or at least 1-2. Fog of war is always a bitch.

Though making a series of strikes on an opposing system to cut down their forces does make for some potential good tactics. The only problem is that the attacking ships would need to be coming from a very close position and have enough fuel to jump in, attack, then jump out. They might get away with doing a refueling run one time, but probably not twice - assuming the defenders had the ships to properly defend refueling sources in the system. By the books it's not supposed to take a fleet of SDB's to run someone's day when refueling. How exactly all that works has never been made clear.

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