Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

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Geir
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Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby Geir » Mon Sep 24, 2018 10:44 pm

There are other older threads about this, but I just wanted to confirm my understanding about how it really works, to make sure I'm not running it wrong. There're some asides in this, but please, pick my narrative and asides apart where they're wrong. Sorry in advance about any sarcasm and irreverence. I blame migraines, but it's probably just personality flaws. And thanks in advance if you read through it and comment.

Scenario: Flight of fighters attacking a small ship, say a patrol corvette, as part of a bigger battle.

The flight launches towards its target. At this point, long, medium, even short range, the fighters can't fire back. They need to be close or adjacent to even fire their firmpoint-mounted weapons.

There's also no DM for being a small ship against turret or barbette weapons, so the best way to avoid getting hit is to waste some maneuver thrust to use as a pilot skill DM against getting hit. This slows their approach.

If they're standard fighters, Armor 2 and Hull Points 4, then any hit doing damage is probably the end of them. Even a single point of damage is worth two critical hits and if one of them is a hull crit… Basically, the fighters pop when you hit them.

Aside#1: What's your ruling on crew survival? I could take the statement, "Once a spacecraft has been reduced to zero Hull, it is wrecked and becomes totally inoperable, and is beyond any repair. Those on board will find themselves without power or life support." and extrapolate to say, well that’s a Severity 4 Power Critical and a Severity 6 Crew Critical, so let's retroactively apply the previous crew Criticals if they haven't happened. Seems fair.

Aside #1.1 There's another damage question here, too: What's the difference between a wreck and wreckage. My own house rule is that Hull 0% is a hulk; Hull 100% is an expanding sphere of wreckage and don't expect to be alive.

Aside #1.2 Hull Critical: if the Dice damage taken from a Hull hit knocks the ship down another 10% threshold, that's another critical hit, applied immediately, right? So roll again, another hull crit… at some point the ship just cascades into little bits.

Aside #1.3 Weapon Criticals: I've been treating each weapon (turret, bay, whatever) as a separate critical chain. Not "Weapons" as a group. So one random weapon gets a Severity 1 and a bane. Next Severity 1 critical is randomly applied to the weapons pool (not counting "called shots" here) and only if it’s the same weapon is it a Severity 2.


So, back to the narrative. Fighters are vulnerable to popping on approach, then the survivors get to dogfighting range.

Aside #2: now if the fighters are the 50-ton heavy fighter variety with 15 points of armor, we have the opposite problem here. You have to do 16 points of damage to do one point of damage, making triple pulse lasers barely able to penetrate on a critical hit.

Aside #2.1: In personal combat a critical hit (Effect 6+) always does at least one point of damage. In space combat, a critical hit only happens if the hit doesn't "bounce off the armor". Fine. No critical hit. But, that's not necessarily incompatible with doing one point of damage regardless. And on a ship with less than 10 Hull Points, well, it's still a critical hit.

On to dogfighting. Fighters have a thrust advantage on their target in this and many other examples. Escaping out of dogfighting range is tricky. I'm not exactly clear on how to do that (see below for what I think). They also have an overwhelming dogfighting advantage, say DM 0 vs. DM-5 for fighter vs. corvette.

At this point, the dogfight commences. The rest of the battle takes a dose of Fast Drug.

The fighters, as I said, pretty much always win the dogfight role. And now to actual combat. The winner gets DM+2 and lines up nicely. Luckily the target has turret weapons, so it can fire back, but the target already has a DM-6 (!) for being bigger than 100 tons and add to that a DM-2 for losing the dogfight. So it has DM-8 to hit! Literally an impossible shot (Well, 16+ is a difficulty Impossible task, anyway). Unless the gunner is really good and using beam lasers, even rolling 12 won't hit.

So how do you get out of this dogfight?

The close combat rules say:
"If one of the vehicles’ drivers chooses to initiate a dogfight again in the following combat round, the winner of the previous dogfight applies the difference between that round’s opposed check as a positive DM to this round’s opposed check."

Implies the corvette can get away if it wins the opposed check that it statistically has a DM -5 on. Never mind if you're a cruiser, then your DM is -500 or something and the fighters always win.

And the spacecraft rules say:
"If the dogfight continues into the following combat- round, " - I assume as a result of the above check - "the winner of the previous dogfight applies the difference between that round’s opposed Pilot check as a positive DM to this round’s opposed check."


So, fighter wins and then gets another DM + whatever it won by for use in the next round. Carry this forward a few rounds and it cascades. If you don't break away first or second try, you will likely never break away.


Fast-forward fifty-odd rounds while the rest of the battle is still frozen and the fighter eventually nibbles the corvette to death. The end.

Compare this to a salvo of missiles: In this case, the target can't fire at the missiles until they get to impact range and then it has no penalty to fire at them in point defense. Kind of the opposite of the above fighter vs. corvette example.

Hopefully my interpretations are fairly close to the rules. But, I guess my point for writing this is this: Is that DM-6 to hit for ships larger than 100 tons really a reasonable DM?
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:15 pm

I don't think the rules are all that clear, so it's difficult to say what is actually RAW... I mostly agree with you.

Geir wrote: If they're standard fighters, Armor 2 and Hull Points 4, then any hit doing damage is probably the end of them. Even a single point of damage is worth two critical hits and if one of them is a hull crit… Basically, the fighters pop when you hit them.
Agreed.

Geir wrote: Aside#1: What's your ruling on crew survival?
The crew has at least vacc suits. SAR has hours to rescue most of them.

Geir wrote: Aside #1.1 There's another damage question here, too: What's the difference between a wreck and wreckage. My own house rule is that Hull 0% is a hulk; Hull 100% is an expanding sphere of wreckage and don't expect to be alive.
Sounds reasonable.

Geir wrote: Aside #1.2 Hull Critical: if the Dice damage taken from a Hull hit knocks the ship down another 10% threshold, that's another critical hit, applied immediately, right? So roll again, another hull crit… at some point the ship just cascades into little bits.
Quite, as you say light fighters pop when hit...

Geir wrote: Aside #2.1: In personal combat a critical hit (Effect 6+) always does at least one point of damage. In space combat, ...
No minimum damage in space combat; if the shot bounced, it bounced.

Geir wrote: So how do you get out of this dogfight?

The close combat rules say:
"If one of the vehicles’ drivers chooses to initiate a dogfight again in the following combat round, the winner of the previous dogfight applies the difference between that round’s opposed check as a positive DM to this round’s opposed check."

Implies the corvette can get away if it wins the opposed check that it statistically has a DM -5 on. Never mind if you're a cruiser, then your DM is -500 or something and the fighters always win.
I don't think so. You get a DM on the dogfight roll, there is no break off roll. If either side wants the dogfight to go on, it goes on.

Geir wrote: Fast-forward fifty-odd rounds while the rest of the battle is still frozen and the fighter eventually nibbles the corvette to death. The end.
Possibly, the rules are not exactly clear... I run it the way you describe.

Geir wrote: But, I guess my point for writing this is this: Is that DM-6 to hit for ships larger than 100 tons really a reasonable DM?
If you want fighters to be able to win and be relevant in large scale space combat it is reasonable.

If you want to try to model reasonable tech, probably not. And if we can put "dogfighting turrets" on small craft we can put them on ships...
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:07 pm

When facing fighters, you want to pop them before they get to you.

Ships outside the dogfight can fire into the dogfight - with a penalty, but if you have such allies (and some fighters did not split off to harass them), they can save your hull better than you can.

Which suggests that high burn fighters - which can close to dogfighting range without offering many (if any) chances to be fired upon - in high enough quantity that at least one (of those that reach the opposing fleet) can dogfight each enemy ship (impeding them from assisting each other) is a logical counter-countermeasure.
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby Geir » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:30 pm

WingedCat wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:07 pm
When facing fighters, you want to pop them before they get to you.

Ships outside the dogfight can fire into the dogfight - with a penalty, but if you have such allies (and some fighters did not split off to harass them), they can save your hull better than you can.
The problem with firing into the dogfight, other than the problem with hitting the wrong ship, is that the rest of the ships are on Fast Drug. 60:1, with dogfight turns happening in 6 seconds and regular combat turns happening in 6 minutes. So, by the time they can fire in, either the fighters or the target are likely all dead. Of course, if the fighters win, then they're screwed until they close with the next ship.

Some of this seems like the one point on a crit with armor, no matter how good, in personal combat is designed to justify Ewoks vs. Storm Troopers and the ships having DM -6 against fighters is designed for attacking the Death Star. But of course, The Millennium Falcon beat four Tie Fighter... perhaps only because "they let you win".

Also based on the rules as written, I think the Imperium should have light fighters armored at least up to 12 to give them survivability rather than waste the unused space on "cargo". It doesn't coast that much and it makes them almost immune to beam lasers (again, that DM -6... so a beam laser might get a lucky hit, but it wouldn't penetrate.)
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:08 pm

Effect is added to the damage roll so a laser has a chance to penetrate Armour 12, specially when a crit is possible.

Core, p158 wrote:Damaging Spacecraft
Once the total amount of damage a weapon is causing has been calculated, applying the Effect of the attack roll to the damage rolled as normal, the Armour of the spacecraft is deducted.
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby Geir » Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:43 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:08 pm
Effect is added to the damage roll so a laser has a chance to penetrate Armour 12, specially when a crit is possible.

Core, p158 wrote:Damaging Spacecraft
Once the total amount of damage a weapon is causing has been calculated, applying the Effect of the attack roll to the damage rolled as normal, the Armour of the spacecraft is deducted.
True, on the approach, it's possible. but since a beam laser turret is doing no more than 1D+2 + the Effect, it pretty much needs a crit: since 6+2 = 8, then a 5 or a 6 is necessary for any damage with 12 armor and more than 6 (or more than the Effect +6) if it is 15 points armor like the heavy fighter. Pulse does more damage, but has 2 less DM to hit. And back to the dogfight, having a DM of -6 or -8 makes a hit no more likely than a critical, and getting six above the required to hit number under those circumstances again turns the dogfight into a fighter nibble fest.

I mean, I started this thread under the assumption I was doing it more or less right and that was the end effect of the scenario, but it just seems overly contrived to me. And sort of inconsistent with the way point defense works on a missile, which is smaller and faster than a fighter.

I can live with it. Or ignore it and do it my own way, but I wanted to see what others thought. I do think in an Imperial Navy fighter squadron, they would spend the few extra hundred thousand per unit and up the armor from 2 to 12, though. Doesn’t cost much and probably saves a ton of money in fighters that are not blasted to pieces on approach.

But I’ve already made a beef about how all the “Standard”-type hulls make no economic sense. (and never mind the random addition of fuel scoops to Standard designs, I mean, how do those Destroyer Escorts do practice wilderness refueling? I’m assuming somebody is buying aftermarket fuel scoops for them.)
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:23 pm

Geir wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:30 pm
The problem with firing into the dogfight, other than the problem with hitting the wrong ship, is that the rest of the ships are on Fast Drug. 60:1, with dogfight turns happening in 6 seconds and regular combat turns happening in 6 minutes. So, by the time they can fire in, either the fighters or the target are likely all dead. Of course, if the fighters win, then they're screwed until they close with the next ship.
Wouldn't ships near but not in the dogfight be able to fire on dogfight time? I took the 60:1 to reflect that the weapons can fire in seconds, but lining up a shot at long distances takes a while - which is not the case in a dogfight. So there's no magic "in a dogfight" that suddenly enables weapons to fire every few seconds.

(Except for missiles, but it's probably not practical to use missiles in a dogfight. Tighter turn radii needed, unless you have the launcher pointed right at your target and your target can't dodge. So for them, it can simply be acquiring targeting solutions and possibly reloading that slows down missile fire rates.)
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby Linwood » Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:10 am

On the -6 DM for a larger ship to hit a fighter - I think i’d allow point-defense systems to engage fighters with no to-hit penalty.
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby baithammer » Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:35 am

Both sides of a dog fight move to the same scale for timing, including ships outside the dog fight itself but are firing into the dog fight. ( Firing into a dog fight is frowned on as there is a chance of hitting your own side.)

Further, fighters can use missiles outside of the firm point limitations. ( With a healthy reserve of thrust for dodging.)
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby NOLATrav » Fri Sep 28, 2018 1:24 am

I’ve never been a fan of the 6 minute space combat round vs the 6 second dogfight round. Quite frankly I’ve never cared for the 6 minute combat round at every range band ever since MgT v1. I’ve taken a note from GURPS Spaceships and made the turn length range dependent. It adds to the bookkeeping sometimes but the abstract nature of range bands makes it fairly easy to track.

I don’t have my notes with me but IIRC we ended up with something like this:

Adj/Close : 6 second round
Short : 30 second round
Med : 1 minute round
Long : 3 min round
VLong/Distant : 6 min round

We had to adjust the Thrust to Change amounts to reflect the shifting time scales but nothing else changes - rate of fire, reactions, etc all remain the same. We justify it by saying that firing solutions require more and more time to calculate as the ranges increase until you’re in dogfight range where it gets more cinematic. Fun bonus: integrates nicely with personal combat - and damage control actions - and eliminates the Fast Drug issue.
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby Geir » Fri Sep 28, 2018 3:12 am

Some thoughts (rambles, anyway):

I like the idea of playing with the timing based on range, but as soon as you have more than two combatants, especially if they have more than two thrust levels, or say the third is a SDB rushing to defend a merchant attacked by a pirate, that can get contradictory or at least difficult to orchestrate.

Next, as written as far as I can see the DM-6 rule applies to ALL ships over 100tons in a dogfight, so I would assume two ships duking it out would be vying for either a +2 or -2 DM, and then it would actually seem like a balanced and "realistic". ***Complete aside: None of this is realistic. The original vector system in the classic books was kind of, in 2D, but you need math for that. Almost impossible to match vectors especially with an oncoming hostile and get into a dogfight, but, it's a game. I'm working with the rules and game implications here, not a physics textbook.)***

Also, I don't see where the rules say one way or another whether ships firing into a dogfight suddenly get a Fast Drug antidote, but it doesn't make any sense that they would. Logic, not physics.

And on the point-defense battery thing. The only benefit to a point defense system vs. a turret for the anti-missile role is that it's "automated" and can take out more missiles. Any laser turret can act in a point defense role, so either they can hit missiles or they can't. Plus, you could argue that winning the "dogfight roll" would mean the fighter pilot managed to stay away from that pesky bank of point defense lasers (though perhaps cutting right into the arc of a laser turret).

And I would think a 10 or 15 g missile would be more maneuverable than a 6 or 9 g fighter and smaller by far as well (1/12 of a ton, not 10-99).

Like I said, it's a game. It's not physics. It's just when I start breaking it down step by step (one thing MegaTraveller was pretty good at, if I recall, was outlining steps for things) I get questions or ambiguities. I can make up my own answers and use my own judgement. And I will. But I can't have been the first to walk through a battle and say, "does really make sense?" "Does that gameplay actually work, or does it drag the session down, or frustrate the players, or bring out the rules hawks who point to a vague paragraph and say, 'it doesn't say I can't do that! Show me where I'm wrong'?"

So, I definitely appreciate the conversation and comments.
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby Condottiere » Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:19 am

Popping fighters is a feature, not a bug.

Stepping on bugs would be for dirtside combat.

The issue would be if one of the pilots is a player character, in which case you should fly behind Porkins.

Image

Or in front, if the fire is coming from behind you.
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby baithammer » Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:39 pm

Also, I don't see where the rules say one way or another whether ships firing into a dogfight suddenly get a Fast Drug antidote, but it doesn't make any sense that they would. Logic, not physics.
Physics trumps logic.

The reason the ship outside the dogfight but firing into it changes scale, is because the overall action is at the dog fight scale.

If you really need to interact at two scales at the same time, you need to designate which weapons / screens are used at each scale.
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:55 pm

baithammer wrote: Both sides of a dog fight move to the same scale for timing, including ships outside the dog fight itself but are firing into the dog fight.
That might be reasonable, but probably not RAW?
Dogfights
Battling spacecraft within Close or Adjacent range of one another use these ‘dogfight’ rules.
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Sep 28, 2018 1:05 pm

baithammer wrote: If you really need to interact at two scales at the same time, you need to designate which weapons / screens are used at each scale.
Agreed, but that is not specified in the rules?
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Sep 28, 2018 1:15 pm

Geir wrote: I can live with it. Or ignore it and do it my own way, but I wanted to see what others thought. I do think in an Imperial Navy fighter squadron, they would spend the few extra hundred thousand per unit and up the armor from 2 to 12, though. Doesn’t cost much and probably saves a ton of money in fighters that are not blasted to pieces on approach.

But I’ve already made a beef about how all the “Standard”-type hulls make no economic sense. (and never mind the random addition of fuel scoops to Standard designs, I mean, how do those Destroyer Escorts do practice wilderness refueling? I’m assuming somebody is buying aftermarket fuel scoops for them.)
Agreed on most points.

The provided ships are just examples, you can use whatever ships you want.

At a guess most people don't want to build a lot of ships, so the game must provide default ships. They make no claim to being perfect, we can easily make better ships.
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby WingedCat » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:17 pm

Geir wrote:
Fri Sep 28, 2018 3:12 am
as written as far as I can see the DM-6 rule applies to ALL ships over 100tons in a dogfight, so I would assume two ships duking it out would be vying for either a +2 or -2 DM
Which was part of my inspiration for the Torch class.

Why bother chewing a small ship to death with individual beam lasers, when you can bring a bay weapon to bear? If you can win the Pilot check, you're only at a -4 to hit (-2 after the Fire Control software) and they're at a -8 (likely impossible even if they have a turret and good Fire Control). Sure, you'll miss a lot, but if they can't hit you at all...
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:34 pm

WingedCat wrote: Why bother chewing a small ship to death with individual beam lasers, when you can bring a bay weapon to bear? If you can win the Pilot check, you're only at a -4 to hit (-2 after the Fire Control software) and they're at a -8 (likely impossible even if they have a turret and good Fire Control). Sure, you'll miss a lot, but if they can't hit you at all...
As far as I can see that is correctly interpreted and solidly reasoned. Should work!

They will probably lose to fighters, though.
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby WingedCat » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:30 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:34 pm
WingedCat wrote: Why bother chewing a small ship to death with individual beam lasers, when you can bring a bay weapon to bear? If you can win the Pilot check, you're only at a -4 to hit (-2 after the Fire Control software) and they're at a -8 (likely impossible even if they have a turret and good Fire Control). Sure, you'll miss a lot, but if they can't hit you at all...
As far as I can see that is correctly interpreted and solidly reasoned. Should work!
Thanks!
AnotherDilbert wrote:
Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:34 pm
They will probably lose to fighters, though.
Yeah, I called out fighters as one of the countermeasures - so long as the fighters have weapons reasonably capable (after including Effect and other modifiers) of puncturing Armor 13. (Most likely, advanced pulse lasers with AP/intense focus.)
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Re: Dogfights: Fighters vs. Bigger ships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:32 pm

WingedCat wrote: Yeah, I called out fighters as one of the countermeasures - so long as the fighters have weapons reasonably capable (after including Effect and other modifiers) of puncturing Armor 13. (Most likely, advanced pulse lasers with AP/intense focus.)
35 Dt fighters with barbettes and dogfighting advantage cuts through any armour...

Lasers have a serious problem with heavy armour + reflec.

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