Carrier Strikes

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Carrier Strikes

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Fri Oct 07, 2016 1:52 am

Here is the Carrier Strikes rule from the under-development Companion. The question is, do we want this carrier strike option to be a standard rule, or only apply to flights with the Strikefighter special ability?

9.1.12 ▶ Carrier Strikes
Flights based off of ships or bases with the Carrier special ability can conduct independent attacks against enemy forces in nearby systems and then return to their carriers after the attack run is complete. These carrier strikes may be launched across a major or minor lane, but never a restricted lane due to a flight’s limited life support capacity. The flights leave their carriers and move to the target system during the Movement Phase. They remain in the target system until the flight replenishment step of the Construction Phase, at which time they return and land on their carriers.

Flights sent on the attack run are organized into squadrons, each of which includes a command flight and up to three additional flights of fighters. It costs the local Task Force flagship 1 CC to add one of these flight squadrons to its Task Force. If no ships are present to lead the Task Force, then one of the command flights will assume the role of Task Force flagship with an effective Command Rating equal to twice its Defense Value. For example, a Graal Beak medium fighter flight (DV 3) would have CR 6 for the purpose of commanding such a Task Force. This would allow the Beak to command its own squadron plus up to six other flight squadrons. Any flight squadrons beyond the number that can be commanded by the Task Force are placed into the Reinforcements Pool.

Flights that perform carrier strikes don’t have the operational stamina of flights that are based off of carriers in the same system. They don’t have anywhere to land to be repaired or rearmed, and this lack of support reduces their overall combat effectiveness. The total AS and AF contributed by carrier strike flights is halved (round fractions up) to represent this effect.

The empire that launched a carrier strike still performs CG 3.6.2.20.2 Flight Recovery after the battle to recover those flights that dropped out of formation rather than being destroyed outright, but each of these flights counts as two flights for the purposes of flight recovery. This effectively halves the number of destroyed flights that a player can recover at the end of the battle when performing carrier strikes in another system.

Flights with the Strikefighter special ability are long range flights that excel in the carrier strike role. They are often outfitted with their own jump drives, which give them the endurance needed to conduct successful strikes against targets in nearby systems. In other settings, Strikefighters may simply incorporate design features that give the flight extra range such as improved crew comforts, better life support, or extra fuel capacity. Strikefighters receive their full AS and AF factors during these attacks and are recovered at the normal rate. The Strikefighter ability may only be applied to flights, and it has a +1 Maintenance modifier. It is very expensive to add a jump drive to such a small vessel, but the strategic advantages can be well worth it, especially for smaller empires that don’t have the resources to field a proper war fleet.

Flights with the Strikefighter ability always can perform carrier strikes, even if this optional rule isn’t otherwise used in a campaign. This can open up new possibilities in scenarios where only one faction has access to Strikefighter technology, making it the only empire that can perform carrier strikes against its opponents.
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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby murtalianconfederacy » Fri Oct 07, 2016 8:27 am

I was going to go for a 'only Strikefighters can perform Carrier Strikes', but that was a knee-jerk reaction from a big-guns fan. Having read through the rules, I can support it, and it would enable carriers to carry out long-range strikes. Heck, it might even give players the chance to engage in a WW2 Pacific-inspired setting...

Hmmm...

If Attack Boats are still around, could they also conduct 'Carrier' Strikes? I'm asking because this could even allow an 'In Death Ground/The Shiva Option' campaign to be fought...

/eyes gleaming, muttering to oneself...
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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Fri Oct 07, 2016 1:00 pm

I think there could be options added for Tenders and Attack Boats / Gunboats in a similar vein, yes. We'd have to work out the logistics of all that, but that's a bridge we can cross soon enough :wink:

There are enough restrictions placed on how carrier strikes can be used that it ends up being another tool in your arsenal, but probably not something that is going to win you any wars outright. And the single squadron task forces actually clean up the command rules quite a bit, as we can just say that a flight has a CR equal to 2 x DV and leave it at that.

Using something like BSG as an example, if your Raptor is a Strikefighter with say DV 3, then you have a CR 6 for the purposes of commanding a carrier strike. That puts 7 flights of fighters in the carrier strike task force, which is enough to deliver some pain, especially if they have their full combat values.

Instead of halving the AS/AF of non-Strikefighter flights, we might be able to tie in to the special flight crippling rules we've been testing here. So non-Strikefighter flights might just be destroyed at the end of a battle if they become crippled, while Strikefighters can still return home. Or else the non-Strikefighters might just get destroyed when they take damage (effectively taking double damage). But there's ways to properly balance that.
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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby BroAdso » Sat Oct 08, 2016 1:16 pm

So I set up a couple of carrier strike battles using the following rules assumptions.

1) Strikefighter is a +1 Cost, non-rated, no CP costing ability.
2) Carrier strike task forces may have a number of flights equal to x2DV of the leading flight.
3) Carrier strike task forces have a CC equal to the leading flight's DV for the purpose of assigning fighter missions. Flights have a CR equal to their DV for the purposes of assigning missions during a carrier strike.
4) Flights have a default Formation Level of 0.
5) When calculating damage, flights now follow the same model as ships. Damage may be directed or undirected, as decided by the player dealing the damage.
6) Flights reduce the formation level of anything they are damaging by 1 by default.
7) Flights may cripple when dealt their full DV, and are destroyed when dealt their full DV a second time. Crippled flights are always automatically returned to full strength at the end of a battle.

Here's one of the most representative ones, partly because I artifically gave both sides a readiness level of 0 to start out.

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CarrierStrikeTest.pdf
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The Rebels only had enough command to give two missions, but used them reasonably well over time. Their good flight-to-ship damage rolls allowed them to cripple and destroy both Artbiter DDs early - and important success - but they could never pass the amount of damage needed to let even their rollover damage cripple the Victory-II Star Destroyer. The Imperials had one really terrible round of ship-to-flight fire that could have saved them if they'd rolled better, as well. Ultimately, this and one other convinced me that fighter strikes could certainly be effective, but would be a big strategic risk if you weren't sure what kind of defenses the enemy had in the system.

I don't like the idea of letting non strikefighters conduct Carrier Strikes. It just strikes me as the best way to make a relatively steep cost of +1 EP worth it, and in addition it avoids needing to invent a complex mechanic to balance strikefighters against normal fighters. In a setting where all fighters are able to conduct strikes (like a WWII pacific setting, for example), just make all players purchase Strikefighter for all their flights.

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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sat Oct 08, 2016 2:22 pm

The one balancing factor that I did come up with for if we wanted other flights to have the carrier strike capability would be for them to start the battle in a crippled state. That would make it highly disadvantageous for them, as they would be weaker and easier to kill. However, that might also limit the usefulness to the point that no one would dare risk the now more expensive flights on such a fool's errand.

For that reason, I would concur that limiting carrier strikes to Strikefighters is probably the best course of action, with maybe a CM's Note with the above alternative in case players absolutely want to use them for other flights, too.

Star Wars and Wing Commander fighters would get the most use out of this ability, as jump capable fighters are pretty common in these two settings.
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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby BroAdso » Sat Oct 08, 2016 2:47 pm

I really do like this carrier strike rule option, especially if some of the elements of it (like removing some of the special rules wrinkles from fighter damage) can be carried over.

To elaborate on that: If fighters can be crippled like ships now, why not give them a default Formation of 0 or 1 all the time and make the Ships v Flights, Flights v Flights, and Flights vs Ships phase all work just like the Ships v Ships phase, with players choosing between directed and undirected whenever they deal damage, period - whether it is flights damaging other flights or ships damaging flights, etc. It didn't seem to unbalance fighters much in the carrier strike tests I ran and it was nice to be able to follow the exact same procedure every fire phase.

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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sat Oct 08, 2016 3:46 pm

BroAdso wrote:To elaborate on that: If fighters can be crippled like ships now, why not give them a default Formation of 0 or 1 all the time and make the Ships v Flights, Flights v Flights, and Flights vs Ships phase all work just like the Ships v Ships phase, with players choosing between directed and undirected whenever they deal damage, period - whether it is flights damaging other flights or ships damaging flights, etc. It didn't seem to unbalance fighters much in the carrier strike tests I ran and it was nice to be able to follow the exact same procedure every fire phase.


That's exactly what I've been working towards! :D It makes scoring damage completely consistent for space combat, and also makes it so that flights CAN benefit from formations, but it will really only matter for ship vs. flight fire -- which is fine, because that is just the interceptors running interference for the bombers. But the flights reducing formation levels by 1 when they fire still leaves them as a good pin-point weapon to get some good strikes in on the enemy fleet.

I'll port carrier strikes into the Galaxies document and get the Strikefighter ability fleshed out in the back. I am not sure which chapter that will end up in now that I've pushed a lot of the intro chapter content backwards into the book, but we'll fit in there somewhere.
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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby BroAdso » Sat Oct 08, 2016 4:40 pm

Just thought I'd toss in another example because I had fun with it. Interplanetary Union of Soviets carrier strike at max strength (8 flights) attacks an Interstellar States carrier and its escorting missile cruiser, most of whose fighters are (oh no!) out of place on their own carrier strike. I miscalculated some of the values because I was moving fast, but they wouldn't have made much of a difference ultimately - the Soviets might have lost one more flight in the third or fourth turn.

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CarrierStrikeTest12.pdf
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This shows an interesting wrinkle - when carrier strikes are trying to take out big ships, often meeting the 1/2 DV damage threshold is very difficult. Big ships with a high DV are hard to cripple and then destroy, since the flights will often have to score 5 or 6 damage even when it's the last ship left just to meet that threshold. It's a nice cap that prevents carrier strikes from being TOO powerful.

The only worry I have is whether carrier strikes will be impractical for attacking anything other than very, very small fleets. The highest DV I can imagine seeing on any fighter, even a Superheavy, is 5 or 6, and even 12 flights of fighters (unless they are ALL superheavy or heavy) won't be enough to dent a fleet larger than 3-4 ships. I wonder if there's a way to have more than one 'carrier strike' at once? Maybe each ship with the Carrier trait allows one Carrier Strike to be launcher from a system?

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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sat Oct 08, 2016 5:12 pm

BroAdso wrote:This shows an interesting wrinkle - when carrier strikes are trying to take out big ships, often meeting the 1/2 DV damage threshold is very difficult. Big ships with a high DV are hard to cripple and then destroy, since the flights will often have to score 5 or 6 damage even when it's the last ship left just to meet that threshold. It's a nice cap that prevents carrier strikes from being TOO powerful.

Ships do reach a state where they become "too big to fail" to a certain extent, and at that point you just can't break through their defenses enough to wear them down. Partial damage would do that, but keeping tracking of damage outside of undamaged/crippled/destroyed is something I think we want to avoid to keep the game flowing.

I guess one option that could be thrown into the Scoring Damage section would be to have a "Lucky Hit" case where if you didn't score enough damage to break the 1/2 barrier then you'd make a die roll and have a remote choice of maybe damaging them after all. Roll a d6, and on a 6 you managed to land that lucky shot and score damage! Alternatively, if you want this to be a REALLY lucky hit, then 2d6 and need a 12. That is a difference between 1/6 and 1/36. But it would at least give the lesser for some chance of breaking through, but at 1/6 it would still be pretty poor.

The only worry I have is whether carrier strikes will be impractical for attacking anything other than very, very small fleets. The highest DV I can imagine seeing on any fighter, even a Superheavy, is 5 or 6, and even 12 flights of fighters (unless they are ALL superheavy or heavy) won't be enough to dent a fleet larger than 3-4 ships. I wonder if there's a way to have more than one 'carrier strike' at once? Maybe each ship with the Carrier trait allows one Carrier Strike to be launcher from a system?

The CR limit is just for the task force, and you could launch a large number of Strikefighters together all at once and then just keep cycling new flights into the task force during the battle. I think if you had like 18 flights (about 3 full carriers worth) making the attack you could cycle through them fast enough to put out a decent volume of fire. The DV limit may be an issue, but at that point a fleet designed around those kinds of attacks would have a BSG-style Raptor as a Superheavy C&C flight, at which point it could bring in 12 flights and, given enough reserves, keep attacking with them until the reinforcements ran out.

Given enough flights and carrier basing, you could project a lot of flight firepower into a system one jump away. And most of my ships tend to be low on AF, which would be a decidedly bad thing one you started running into a fighter-heavy fleet.
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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby murtalianconfederacy » Sun Oct 09, 2016 9:17 am

Wait, wait, wait...

Is attrition no longer being used?
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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby BroAdso » Sun Oct 09, 2016 12:02 pm

murtalianconfederacy wrote:Wait, wait, wait...

Is attrition no longer being used?


Oh, it is. Leftover damage that's not enough to cripple the lowest DV ship (if AS) or flight (if AF) automatically cripples the lowest remaining DV flight or ship as long as the total amount of damage is equal to or greater than 1/2 the DV of the lowest remaining flight or ship's DV.

I was just pondering the effects that has in carrier strikes, where a 10-16DV ship might become virtually impossible to damage at all if it was the last remaining ship on the board against the fighters. It's very difficult for even a fairly large number of flights to score more than 5-6 points of AS damage in a single turn. This means even under the 'attrition' rules, it's hard for them to score 1/2DV to count as "sufficient leftover damage to cause a crippling."

I don't think that's a huge problem or a big deal ultimately, but it is a kind of cap on the usefulness of carrier strikes unless those strikes include a fair number of heavy AS-focused flights.

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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sun Oct 09, 2016 3:58 pm

Attrition damage really only existed in the CSCR Skirmish rules in 1E, and I added attrition damage into 2E as and alternative but it can get a bit fiddly tracking all of the extra damage. In this case, I think having a Lucky Hit rule that is just a flat "roll 2d6 if you have leftover damage, on a 12 you get lucky and damage the weakest enemy unit". I consider that the "Death Star Rule" where you have no real chance of success, but that one point of damage might go down the thermal exhaust port straight to the reactor and blow the ship up. :lol:

In general, though, yes once a fleet's firepower has been reduced sufficiently they are going to have trouble scoring damage to larger capital ships or bases. But those units are going to be rare enough (in theory, anyway) that they're going to be the exception and not the rule.

If we go with Utilized Productivity x 2 for construction capacity, that is going to leave a starting 6 Productivity homeworld with just enough shipyard capacity to build 1 BB per turn. That's honestly a pretty restrained rate of construction, and Galaxies' combat means that the BB is going to be a sitting duck without some escorts to help soak up hits. Sure, build a few extra shipyards and you could start cranking out ships faster, but then your economy is going to start to tank.

There's still room for the attrition damage as an optional rule to throw in for players that still want to count that damage, but for me it falls into a category of being too many things to track when I just want to keep the battle moving forward at a swift pace.
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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby murtalianconfederacy » Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:19 am

Well, I'll still use you, Attrition rules...:(

:P
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Re: Carrier Strikes

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Mon Oct 10, 2016 2:40 pm

murtalianconfederacy wrote:Well, I'll still use you, Attrition rules...:(

:P

Nein, das ist verboten. :x

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