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Old 01-10-2009, 02:46 PM   #31
David L Pulver
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Under what tech assumptions Space Fighters make sense?

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Originally Posted by Molokh
No idea. I'm trying to figure out the assumptions/prerequisites in general. If there is a fast way categorize them, I'd like to learn it.
Incidentally, there's also some space fighter discussion ongoing in the Geeks Rule! forum.
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Old 01-10-2009, 02:49 PM   #32
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Under what tech assumptions Space Fighters make sense?

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Originally Posted by Molokh
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crakkerjakk
Smaller ships are faster = size scaled space drives.
That seems like one of the harder things, especially under the default Spaceships rules.
It's doable if you have the power requirements for large engines scale up faster than their effectiveness. For example, if a reactionless drive eats an extra power point for every four SM past +5, then you'll end up with big capital ships moving slower because they don't have the energy to power as many engines as the little fighters.

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Originally Posted by Molokh
Also, it once again creates a place for missiles replacing fighters - not something we want for settings with viable fighters.
To be honest, I think if you want fighters, you have to abandon Spaceship's concept of long-range missiles. Maybe say that reactionless drives have a minimum size bigger than can be plausibly built into a missile, so missiles are all reaction engines carried into range by small fighter-sized ships?
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Old 01-10-2009, 02:59 PM   #33
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Under what tech assumptions Space Fighters make sense?

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Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen
<snip>
To be honest, I think if you want fighters, you have to abandon Spaceship's concept of long-range missiles. Maybe say that reactionless drives have a minimum size bigger than can be plausibly built into a missile, so missiles are all reaction engines carried into range by small fighter-sized ships?
I think the key is some need for a human to close range with their target. Very effective sensor jamming (with no HARMs that can fire at the source of the jamming) seems like it would work. In this case missiles are more like rockets I suppose.

I dunno, a big problem is that space is so damn LARGE. Any type of sensor jamming/effective stealth I can think of basically means that the reason for a human is being to ID the target visually, which is way too hard to do at effective space combat ranges.
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:01 PM   #34
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Under what tech assumptions Space Fighters make sense?

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Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen
To be honest, I think if you want fighters, you have to abandon Spaceship's concept of long-range missiles. Maybe say that reactionless drives have a minimum size bigger than can be plausibly built into a missile, so missiles are all reaction engines carried into range by small fighter-sized ships?
It's assumed in Spaceships that missiles are too small for reactionless drives powered by continuous power sources.

The range figures in Spaceships are actually fudged for missiles for simplicity. Realistically, they'd depend on the *scale* and the ranges also assume that some delta-V provided by the launching ships - the non-Super missiles won't be able to travel out to the longest ranges in anything short of 10-minute scale.

The book 3 rules actually devalue missiles a bit once they're moving on the maps. On the on hand, they can keep going ... on the other hand, they tend to run out of fuel (or power cell energy) more easily than spaceships.
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Old 01-10-2009, 04:56 PM   #35
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Under what tech assumptions Space Fighters make sense?

I still don't see how reactionless thrusters do anything but hurt the cause for space fighters. If reactionless thrusters exist that can make big ships just as fast as little ships, there's little reason for space fighters to exist. Medium to high delta-V fuels that are expensive make small ships very attractive in the high-acceleration role, so long as there is a reason for a high-accel ship. High-damage, low-range weapons provide a reason for a high-acceleration ship, as the only use for high-acceleration in the Spaceships design system is for combat maneuvers (or, alternatively, trying to get someplace fast - a recon ship or an interceptor of some type would need high-accel, too).

To simplify, here's what I see as the requirements for space fighters:
[*] A reason for smaller vessels to have higher accelerations than larger vessels. Ex: A high-thrust drive that uses very expensive fuel, like an external pulsed plasma or antimatter plasma torch drive.
[*] A reason for a high-acceleration combat ship to exist. Ex: A high-damage, low-range weapon.
[*] A weapon that a fighter can carry that can damage a much larger ship. Ex: Low-caliber antimatter shells (up to 14,000 dDR), Grav guns (up to 300 dDR), spinal mounted electromag guns (up to 120 dDR), plasma beams (up to 40 dDR).

The third capability is the biggest problem in the default Spaceships game. An electromag gun firing a 12cm projectile can penetrate up to 120 Hardened dDR - but SM10+ ships are going to be increasingly likely to have that much armor as TL increases, and if a ship is very heavily armored (15+ armor modules, enough to make it dense enough to count as one SM lower), even a TL8 SM+8 ship is going to be proof against it. Mind, once TL12 and 10mm antimatter shells come along armor won't matter any longer and fighters will be the force to be reckoned with. Even a super-heavily armored SM+15 ship can only get as much as 10,500 dDR - and it'll mass as much as an SM+16 ship and have horrid acceleration and delta-v capacity.


A way to make fighters more capable at penetrating armor would be to always attack weak points in armor - if they're in Close range or less, they'll be able to do so without performing Engineering Analysis tasks. That gives a -10 to hit, but that should be negated by SM for the most part. This halves the targets armor, allowing a 12cm electromag gun to penetrate up to 240 dDR - enough that an SM+12, TL10 ship would need three armor sections to defeat it. This makes fighters very capable of taking down SM+12 and lower ships up to TL11, at which point they can only take on SM+11 or lower ships for the most part. At TL12, fighters can take on any ship, no matter their size or armor, thanks to the 10cm antimatter shells.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:06 PM   #36
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Under what tech assumptions Space Fighters make sense?

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Originally Posted by Langy
I still don't see how reactionless thrusters do anything but hurt the cause for space fighters. If reactionless thrusters exist that can make big ships just as fast as little ships, there's little reason for space fighters to exist.
Reactionless thrusters do not necessarily make big ships go just as fast as little ships.

Reactionless thrusters advantage fighters by taking away the delta-v advantage that missiles have, since they are one way.

Whatever type of propulsion is used, big ships going as fast as small ships is problematic.

Two separate issues.

One thing I was thinking of was making Stardrives very mass intensive. So your "carrier" ships need to devote too much mass to FTL to be combat effective against a ship with similar mass.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:16 PM   #37
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Under what tech assumptions Space Fighters make sense?

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Whatever type of propulsion is used, big ships going as fast as small ships is problematic.
If you're using reactionless drives, it's easy to make big ships go just as fast as small ones. With expensive fuel, a non-reactionless drive can be more economical for smaller ships - allowing a carrier using a high delta-v, low-thrust, low-cost fuel engine (like a fusion rocket) bring the fighters to the battle ground, and then the fighters use their expensive moderate delta-v, high thrust fuel engines to zip around the battle area. In fact, that's a lot like how air fighters work today with carriers.

Fighters and missiles don't need to compete - fighters don't need to have equivalent fuel economy as missiles to make them worth it. Missiles only need fuel one-way, sure, so they can have a bigger weapon payload - but they also can only 'fire' once. Fighters fire over and over.

If missiles being able to carry bigger war loads than equivalent-sized fighters would mean we wouldn't use fighters, then we wouldn't use fighters. We already have the technology that makes a missile the size of a fighter able to have a bigger war load than that fighter - and yet we still use fighters, and they still have their uses. Fighters and missiles don't do the same job, so one of them being better than the other at a certain thing won't mean we don't have both.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:36 PM   #38
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Under what tech assumptions Space Fighters make sense?

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Originally Posted by Langy
If you're using reactionless drives, it's easy to make big ships go just as fast as small ones.
It's as easy as we decide it is. If we say reactionless drives are only possible at SM+5, or double the power requirements per SM increase, or whatever, then it is very hard for big ships to go as fast as small ones.

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Originally Posted by Langy
With expensive fuel, a non-reactionless drive can be more economical for smaller ships - allowing a carrier using a high delta-v, low-thrust, low-cost fuel engine (like a fusion rocket) bring the fighters to the battle ground, and then the fighters use their expensive moderate delta-v, high thrust fuel engines to zip around the battle area. In fact, that's a lot like how air fighters work today with carriers.
Yes, but missiles(see below).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Langy
Fighters and missiles don't need to compete - fighters don't need to have equivalent fuel economy as missiles to make them worth it. Missiles only need fuel one-way, sure, so they can have a bigger weapon payload - but they also can only 'fire' once. Fighters fire over and over.
Which is great if whatever fighters are shooting can harm bigger ships and fighters have decent survivability. If you're losing 80% of the fighters to PD, its probably more effective to produce missiles, and the same thing holds if fighter-size weapons bounce off capital ships.

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Originally Posted by Langy
If missiles being able to carry bigger war loads than equivalent-sized fighters would mean we wouldn't use fighters, then we wouldn't use fighters. We already have the technology that makes a missile the size of a fighter able to have a bigger war load than that fighter - and yet we still use fighters, and they still have their uses. Fighters and missiles don't do the same job, so one of them being better than the other at a certain thing won't mean we don't have both.
But fighters in modern warfare allow over the horizon strike capability. In space, that horizon is considerably further. Like, Jupiter's orbit. There is very little "horizon" for fighters to strike at, beyond combat in orbit.

EDIT: To be more clear: saying "we do x now, so we will do x in the future" only holds if the battlefield conditions remain similar. There are factors present in space combat that are not present in atmospheric combat. That doesn't eliminate the possibility of space fighters, but it does require some consideration of the consequences of the differing factors.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:51 PM   #39
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Under what tech assumptions Space Fighters make sense?

If you're losing 80% of your fighters to PD, then you'll be losing nearly 100% of your missiles to PD - fighters can dodge, missiles can't. That gives fighters a lot better survival chances than missiles.

Missiles also give over-the-horizon strike capability - you just need a spotter or a missile smart enough to seek targets - and we have both now.

Also: By the default Spaceships rules, reactionless drives work the same without reguard to SM. Sure, you can alter the Spaceships rules to make reactionless drives help fighters, but you don't need to alter the default tech assumptions to make fighters useful - so long as you aren't using reactionless drives, anyways.
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:02 PM   #40
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Under what tech assumptions Space Fighters make sense?

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Originally Posted by Langy
If you're losing 80% of your fighters to PD, then you'll be losing nearly 100% of your missiles to PD - fighters can dodge, missiles can't. That gives fighters a lot better survival chances than missiles.
Really, missiles have all the options fighters do if they have smart enough programming. We can assume that the missiles in Spaceships aren't just a warhead on top of a rocket, but also incorporate all kindsa' fancy doodads that make it harder to shoot them down and this is abstracted by Spaceships.

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Originally Posted by Langy
Missiles also give over-the-horizon strike capability - you just need a spotter or a missile smart enough to seek targets - and we have both now.
The horizon is really really far away. The point I was making was that fighters are effective when they are operating as a cushion in between their carrier and the enemy. But in space, that would be like the Carrier being at Earth orbit, the fighters being at Jupiter, and the enemy being even further out. At these ranges, we no longer have fighters so much as we have picket ships.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Langy
Also: By the default Spaceships rules, reactionless drives work the same without reguard to SM. Sure, you can alter the Spaceships rules to make reactionless drives help fighters, but you don't need to alter the default tech assumptions to make fighters useful - so long as you aren't using reactionless drives, anyways.
Yes, by default. By default fighters don't work too well (in my opinion). But this thread is about what changes to the default (or at least which switches to flip) that make fighters effective combatants.

EDIT: And I still remain unconvinced that in a universe using Newtonian drives that fighters are more economically and tactically feasible than missiles.
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