Torpedoes and Missiles

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Geir
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Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby Geir » Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:35 pm

Some more or less random thoughts:

First: Please correct me if I'm wrong, here. Somebody (Martin) keeps writing torpedoes as if they're close-in weapons, but every time I re-read the Highguard rules, it seems more like they're the equivalent of long-range (high endurance) missiles, so they're actually a great stand-off weapon (against bigger ships, anyway). The close-in weapon that seems to be the way these torpedoes are being written is actually the mass driver. Or am I missing something here?

Second: Seth's video on space combat implies that you can only perform EW on a salvo when it's at Close range, but I think the reading of the rules is pretty clear. You can perform EW to help another ship at Close range, but you can perform one EW action on any missile salvo every turn since it's launched. Right?

Third: Which brings up the way it seems to play out (mind you, at salvos of 6 or so max, since I'm not really doing a lot of capital battle simulation): At long and very-long range, the first salvo is more or less sacrificial. It can be EWed every turn as it comes in and will likely be attritted to something manageable or completely eliminated by the time it reaches its target. The problem is that the next salvo (assuming one is fired every turn) can't get attention unless you have multiple EW operators or Broad Spectrum EW (again not likely in smaller scale PoD style battles in any balanced campaign). So the next salvo and the one after that continue to get less EW attention until they overwhelm point defense. That's the way it looks to me. From that, it seems the best offensive missile strategy is to front-load that first salvo with anti-radiation missiles, making the defender's choice of action more difficult. If they know what's happening, they can ignore that first salvo and try to kill the follow-ons, hoping that point defense and hull points can diffuse that first salvo. Either way, I would think a first salvo of mostly or all anti-rads would be SOP in a military missile attack.

Fourth: Nukes. Nukes are bad. Radiation in general in Traveller, if played with RAW, is bad. But a nuke is still extremely underpowered, doing 6D, which is the same as a regular torpedo. It's likely you've seen the Beirut harbor explosion. That was at most 2kt equivalent, a tenth of Hiroshima. And nukes are hot (literally), so even though a near miss in vacuum won't do concussive damage, the energy is going to come out as radiant heat, which, with rules now saying you need heat shielding to reenter without grav power (not necessarily unrealistic, I admit), then that near miss is going to blister the hull really badly. In any 'realistic' scenario, a nuke should do DD damage, as in spinal DD. And that's why the Imperium has them banned, while other radiation weapons, like a particle accelerator, seem to be, if not acceptable, at least not pursued with the same vigor.
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby Old School » Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:05 pm

Geir, I've read some traveller or traveller-esque stuff somewhere, probably written by MJD, that includes a “torpedo bomber” approach, with high risk, fast approaches before releasing the torpedo at very close range. You’re right that it isn’t really consistent with the current rules, although using a ship like the Harrier in POD as a stealth torpedo bomber is an interesting concept. Maybe there’s an older versions of the game treated torpedos differently. I’ve only played classic and Mongoose, and classic was decades ago.

I think your understanding is of salvos is correct. I've been told that the reality of electronic warfare is that it is much more effective at close ranges, but that’s not how the rules are written. The farther away you are when you launch missiles, the more EW rolls the defender will have. Especially at smaller ship scales, the longer the first salvo survives EW, the closer the subsequent salvo can get to the target undisturbed. The defender can also decide to switch focus on a subsequent salvo and trust in point defense once the first salvo is partially whittled down. At capital ship scales, electronic warfare is secondary to point defense, as the salvo sizes are so large.

The Element Cruisers rules include option on combining salvos (i.e. having a salvo loiter to join the next and attack simultaneously), which can overwhelm point defense as well. This comes with risk of screwing it up an losing missiles, but can be devastating if successful.

Nukes are definitely downplayed in Traveller. I think it is the Expanse RPG rules that basically said that a nuke strike is an automatic complete loss of the ship with all hands. Probably more realistic, but not much fun.
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby Linwood » Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:41 pm

You could always have the EW roll modified by range.
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:52 pm

Geir wrote: First: ... The close-in weapon that seems to be the way these torpedoes are being written is actually the mass driver. Or am I missing something here?
Torpedoes works well at any range, including Distant.

No, you are not missing anything.

Geir wrote: Second: Seth's video on space combat implies that you can only perform EW on a salvo when it's at Close range, but I think the reading of the rules is pretty clear. You can perform EW to help another ship at Close range, but you can perform one EW action on any missile salvo every turn since it's launched. Right?
Yes, you are correct.

You can EW at any range. The only limitation is that each salvo can only be the target of a single EW action every round.

Note that EW is an Action performed in the Action Step, so a salvo launched and resolved in the same Attack Step (a hang time of Immediate) can technically not be EW:ed.

Geir wrote: Third: Which brings up the way it seems to play out (mind you, at salvos of 6 or so max, since I'm not really doing a lot of capital battle simulation): ...
Torpedoes should only be launched in large salvoes, since they are so sensitive to EW. In a military setting small salvoes will just be EW out of effectiveness, so are pointless.

Torpedoes are for capital ship battles... Smaller combatants should use missiles instead.

Geir wrote: Fourth: Nukes. Nukes are bad. Radiation in general in Traveller, if played with RAW, is bad. But a nuke is still extremely underpowered, doing 6D, which is the same as a regular torpedo.
That is not the model generally chosen in Traveller. Nukes are very strong, but not as strong as spinals.

Note that since you launch a lot more missiles than torpedoes from a comparable launch platform, you do a lot more damage with nuke missiles than standard torpedoes.

You also do a lot more damage with nuke missiles than any other missiles since armour is deducted from the damage roll. Example: standard missile 4D - 15 [armour] is about 0.9 average damage; nuke missile 6D - 15 [armour] is about 6.1 average damage, so many times higher not just a little higher.
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:21 pm

Well, the heavy torpedoes on the new Sword Worlds book are limited to medium range, so there’s that...

But in a way, regular torpedoes are perhaps best used at short range actually... While PD only has half effect on them, each bay only has a quarter of the launch capacity of a missile bay, so torpedoes are relatively speaking more susceptible to PD and jamming, making them more efficient at short range, where PD only has a single round to whittle them down, right?

With equal number of bays, missiles will outperform torpedoes against targets that have good PD, so to counter that torpedoes could be launched from closer range, giving the opponent less time to react? Maybe?
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby Geir » Sat Sep 26, 2020 12:03 am

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:52 pm

Geir wrote: Second: Seth's video on space combat implies that you can only perform EW on a salvo when it's at Close range, but I think the reading of the rules is pretty clear. You can perform EW to help another ship at Close range, but you can perform one EW action on any missile salvo every turn since it's launched. Right?
Yes, you are correct.

You can EW at any range. The only limitation is that each salvo can only be the target of a single EW action every round.

Note that EW is an Action performed in the Action Step, so a salvo launched and resolved in the same Attack Step (a hang time of Immediate) can technically not be EW:ed.
I guess that depends on what "Immediate" means. Yes, I know what the word means, but since launching them comes after the Manoeuvre Step and missiles have thrust, I have been assuming that Immediate means at the end of the round, not during the Attack Step. It doesn't explicitly say they hit immediately during the same Attack Step as their launch, but it is an attack, so I suppose I've been doing that wrong. That does change the odds a bit and make medium and closer missile and torpedo attacks more deadly. In either case, it does stand to reason that when fired at Close and Adjacent range, since the Smart trait doesn't work, neither would EW, since you're not able to confuse something that isn't working (except Broad Spectrum EW - see below).

If Immediate means Immediate and therefore no EW (except Broad Spectrum EW, which "is automatically performed against any and all enemy salvoes launched within Long range") then the short range Torpedo attacks make more sense.

If you're using a bay at Short range, you're probably better off with a Mass Driver, though. No defense against that but armor and it does more damage. Maybe. Depends on the Salvo size.
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat Sep 26, 2020 7:46 am

Geir wrote: If you're using a bay at Short range, you're probably better off with a Mass Driver, though. No defense against that but armor and it does more damage. Maybe. Depends on the Salvo size.
A Fusion bay does the same damage, but at better range.

The difficulty is getting to Short range when the enemy start launching missiles at Distant range, or opening up with Particles at Very Long...
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat Sep 26, 2020 7:58 am

Geir wrote: If Immediate means Immediate and therefore no EW (except Broad Spectrum EW, which "is automatically performed against any and all enemy salvoes launched within Long range") then the short range Torpedo attacks make more sense.
I'm not sure Broad Spectrum EW acts in the Attack Step:
A single electronic warfare action (with no crew skill DM applied) is automatically performed against any and all enemy salvoes launched within Long range. Each salvo can still only be subjected to one electronic warfare action, so manual attempts to disrupt salvoes should be performed beforehand.
Actions are performed in the Action Step.

"Manual attempts" can only be made in the Action Step, and should be performed before the automatic software controlled actions.

I believe "automatic" simply means "does not need an operator", not "performed immediately, out-of-phase".
Last edited by AnotherDilbert on Sat Sep 26, 2020 8:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat Sep 26, 2020 8:25 am

Annatar Giftbringer wrote: But in a way, regular torpedoes are perhaps best used at short range actually... While PD only has half effect on them, each bay only has a quarter of the launch capacity of a missile bay, so torpedoes are relatively speaking more susceptible to PD and jamming, making them more efficient at short range, where PD only has a single round to whittle them down, right?
PD is only performed once, as the missiles attack.

Fragmentation missiles can presumably attack incoming salvoes at any range.

Annatar Giftbringer wrote: With equal number of bays, missiles will outperform torpedoes against targets that have good PD, so to counter that torpedoes could be launched from closer range, giving the opponent less time to react? Maybe?
No point, PD is only performed once, regardless of launch range. EW can be performed every round, but is insignificant for large salvoes. Decent EW makes small, long-range salvoes pointless.

Note that torpedoes and launchers are cheaper than missiles and launchers, so you can expect to get slightly more ships with torpedo bays than ships with missile bays. This evens the odds a bit.


The point of torpedoes is that they do a lot more damage to armoured targets per hit than missiles, so as long as some gets through to actually damage the target they are probably better. Compare e.g. a nuke missile (av. dam. 6.13 vs. Armour 15) with a Multi Warhead Torpedo which confounds PD and does av. dam. 3×6.13=18.4 or a Plasma torpedo that does av. dam. 30.

As Old School points out you can make sure salvoes launched in different rounds arrive in the same round, overwhelming PD. As long as you can launch enough torpedoes to actually hit the target in significant numbers, after EW and PD, torpedoes are generally better than missiles.
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby Ursus Maior » Sat Sep 26, 2020 11:48 am

Linwood wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:41 pm
You could always have the EW roll modified by range.
That should be the case, in my opinion. We use the JTAS sensor rules and I think missile combat and EW needs to be modified along them. The question e. g. remains, when sensors would pick up missiles: they burn in at high Gs, but they're also very small. Although, of course, a salvo might be picked up as a single sensor target.

On the other hand, EW will likely loose effect on missiles a greater distance, depending on how anti-missile EW is supposed to work. If we're talking "hacking and cracking" plus "sending false sensor readings", then missiles in a swarm might have to be targeted individually, making a tight focus necessary, which calls for higher margins of error over longer ranges.
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Sat Sep 26, 2020 3:38 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Sat Sep 26, 2020 8:25 am
Annatar Giftbringer wrote: But in a way, regular torpedoes are perhaps best used at short range actually... While PD only has half effect on them, each bay only has a quarter of the launch capacity of a missile bay, so torpedoes are relatively speaking more susceptible to PD and jamming, making them more efficient at short range, where PD only has a single round to whittle them down, right?
PD is only performed once, as the missiles attack.

Fragmentation missiles can presumably attack incoming salvoes at any range.

Annatar Giftbringer wrote: With equal number of bays, missiles will outperform torpedoes against targets that have good PD, so to counter that torpedoes could be launched from closer range, giving the opponent less time to react? Maybe?
No point, PD is only performed once, regardless of launch range. EW can be performed every round, but is insignificant for large salvoes. Decent EW makes small, long-range salvoes pointless.

Note that torpedoes and launchers are cheaper than missiles and launchers, so you can expect to get slightly more ships with torpedo bays than ships with missile bays. This evens the odds a bit.


The point of torpedoes is that they do a lot more damage to armoured targets per hit than missiles, so as long as some gets through to actually damage the target they are probably better. Compare e.g. a nuke missile (av. dam. 6.13 vs. Armour 15) with a Multi Warhead Torpedo which confounds PD and does av. dam. 3×6.13=18.4 or a Plasma torpedo that does av. dam. 30.

As Old School points out you can make sure salvoes launched in different rounds arrive in the same round, overwhelming PD. As long as you can launch enough torpedoes to actually hit the target in significant numbers, after EW and PD, torpedoes are generally better than missiles.
You are absolutely correct, of course. I'm not sure what I was thinking there, regarding PD... Should teach me not to post when half-asleep - but it did make sense in my head, at the time :)
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby Condottiere » Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:34 pm

If the rules permit it, missile defence should be layered.

Picket destroyers, fleet defenders, close escorts, and finally, target.

All coordinated by an Aegisesque command and control system.
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby Linwood » Sun Sep 27, 2020 11:30 pm

Sounds like an application for some sort of defensive-fire coordination software package. Or maybe a hardware/firmware/software dedicated system that ties together all PD and EW from member ships into a squadron- or even fleet-level net.
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Mon Sep 28, 2020 6:40 am

We do have points defense software in High Guard, combine it with the missile chapter from the Companion and we’re almost there?
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Re: Torpedoes and Missiles

Postby Ursus Maior » Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:36 am

Absolutely, since that chapter also gives rules for layered defences by smaller ships for their larger squadron mates.
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