Smallcraft and highguard update 2022 - Trap or am I missing something?


Cosmic Mongoose
Just catching up on some things as my group is considering getting back into things...

Making a "small" craft - or a ship that is 99 tons or less has the following benefits and drawbacks:

+ 1.5 Ton cockpit rather than 3 or 6 ton bridge.
+/- Dogfight advantage (not necessarily, due to larger R-Drive available on 100 ton craft)
-Volume/dTon restrictions the smaller you go (due to armor volume and fixed tonnage items like sensors and cockpits)
- Armour Tonnage multiplier (ranging from x2 to x4)
- Weapons - inferior weapon loadout, and even more pronounced now due to military armor, and the "multiplier" for weapons such as barbettes.

It seems the one potential advantage over a 100-ton craft has been eliminated (and then some given the armor changes). I'm thinking perhaps the value may be in large amounts of 26-ton, standard hull, single fusion or particle-fixedpoint weapons? Except that due to hull, power, component, weapon costs and so on... Even a 26-ton smallcraft comes in at over 50% of the cost of a similar 100-ton craft.

Are they now an objectively bad choice (compared to a 100-ton spacecraft) outside of some arbitrary constraints such as novel-tech level restrictions or fluff/plot items?
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Well… A squadron of fighters can cover more space than their tonnage in larger ships. Useful for patrols, search and rescue, establishing a presence… Ten small craft can land in ten different locations, for adventures, assault landings…

a squadron of smallcraft should also be the most dton efficient way to field a large number of guns?
1. Cockpit as an alternative beyond a fifty tonne hull is ambiguous, since no explicit mention is made.

2. Armour penalty is logical, but awkward.

3. Missile loadout for range; laser one adequate for point defence.

4. If you're trying to figure out what's a better option, a smallship or a largecraft, it depends on what your objective or business model is.
Unfortunately, smallcraft are no-longer able to field more weapons for less tons (the reason for strikecraft in games/reality/etc...). A smallcraft is limited to the single fixed weapon, or at 70+ tons, a triple weapon/barbette with significantly less range... So you're 100 ton spacecraft is significantly better.

Cockpits are only available for craft under 50 tons (They're explicitly only available at that tonnage). But who cares as why would you want to limit yourself to 24 hours operation if you now have tons to spare. I understand what the design was going for... but the new "military" hull option addresses that, the armor volume multiplier just reduces the value of something with inherently no value to begin with (small craft).

Armor volume increase is actually the opposite of logical... I dont meant to be combative. But it is actually arbitrary that there are "random" jump points for armor to be somehow half as effective.

And finally, you're not actually saving money... unless you can maybe only afford 1 fighter. The reason here is that the 100 ton spacecraft that is 3x (or infinitely more considering weapon range) effective than any fighter, barely costs 2x the fighter. It is actually a bit comical in that a 100 ton spacecraft costs less than the 90 ton fighter in the exact same configuration.

Although, technically, we can have 100-ton "craft" - so maybe these are the new fighters you want in your carrier. 10 to 20, or even more 100 ton spacecraft, each with a fusion or particle barbette. They are now more cost efficient, and can out-dogfight and out-last even 26 ton light fighters. Poor Zhodani and Aslan :)
Sure, a 100 dt craft will win against an equivalent 20 dt craft. Almost sounds fair even 😛

But the carrier required for multiple squadrons of 100 dt fighters, with hangars launch tubes and recovery deck… it’s gonna be huge, and expensive…

Unless you get rid of the carrier and equip every fighter with jump drive, raising the individual cost and requiring more crew
I think the problem isn't that 100 dt craft will defeat a 20 dt fighter (which it should of course as you mention). It is that 100 dt "craft" will defeat significantly more than it's cost or weight in multiple fighters.

It will do so consistently, for less cost, less pilots, and less attrition. I think this is where the problem lies. There is no benefit to carrying fighters now. Basically, dont use combat smallcraft as per the rules, use small single person spacecraft that you put into docking spaces. They (100 dton craft) are economically and functionally superior to their weight/cost/piloting requirement/logistical requirements to fighters.
Trying to find a scenario where this is not true.. forget even 25 dton or 40dton fighters. They come in at 40-60% of the cost of the equivalent 100 dton craft. The closest you get is maybe 6-ton deathtraps. Make a zero armor (because putting armor on fighters is yet another trap choice), 6dton, fusion fixed mount, 9 Thrust with 10 thrust reaction drive.

So you take this 2 hull, no armor, not-great computer, flying fusion mount.. and it will still cost 10-11 MCr... then you realise a 100 dton craft can have the same performance (MDrive and RDrive) while picking them off comfortably from immense distances. Even if they somehow... close slowly, the 6 dton deathtraps will on average scratch or bounce off the 100 dton craft armor. Meanwhile, that craft (with a triple fusion or particle turret, or barbette), will pop an unfortunate pilot each turn.
Also, by squadron rules, only a subset need anything more than basic sensors, which also saves a bunch. If you had 20 5dton missile platforms, you could take out a 1000 dton at Long or greater range... Missile fighters, like the Classic Traveller Zhodani Shivva carried are the way to go.
Spaceborne Early Warning And Control; plus computers, communications, command, intelligence.

To reiterate, it depends on how you want to use available resources, and remember, you might have a galaxy wide Empire to police.