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 Post subject: Parking. And Shooting.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 3:20 pm 
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Ported over from the Battle Reports topic:

Jon Brase wrote:
Ethan McKinney wrote:
... I think that the actual scenario is really tough on the Olympians because it puts them on the horns of a dilemma. They want to close to short range fairly rapidly for weapons purposes, but they need to keep the closing vector very low (zero being ideal) to prevent the Saladin from running past the Warspite and shooting up the convoy.



Jon Brase wrote:
This is always a dilemma in a tactical situation where short range is desireable for you and undesireable for your opponent (such as Wasp v. Rafik), even without the freighters.


Actually, it's much more severe in this scenario that in a default duel.


Jon Brase wrote:
You want to traverse the long range bracket fairly quickly to reduce your damage taken to damage inflicted ratio, but it would be nice to be able to stay at short range once you get there, and that requires a low closing velocity. Furthermore, you want to keep down the DV neccesary to cancel vectors and chase your opponent if you should fail to get into close range (or if you do get in, but fail to cripple him), but this also means coming in slow and taking alot of fire on the way in.


Ending up "parked" near a Rafik at point-blank range isn't such a great thing. I've seen it happen ...

First off, the Rafik can fire about twice as fast as the Wasp can. Its lasers cool in +5, vs. +8 for the Wasp, but the more important factor is power. It takes the Wasp 12 segments to make up the power it uses in a maximum barrage, which the Rafik needs only 6 segments. The much greater time to recharge batteries than for weapons to cool on the Wasp invites firing partial barrages; the way armor works means that the Wasp sacrifices efficiency by doing so.

Second, if the range it short enough, the Rafik can thrust and the Wasp can find itself trying to pivot to stay pointed at a rapidly transiting target. This usually results in the Wasp exposing a flank to the Rafik, which evens out the engagement a lot.

Third, if the Wasp can't hold the Rafik dead on its nose, it's reasonable to expect both ships to be firing CGs at each other. In this case, the Rafik's ZDLS are a lot more efficient than the Wasp's ZDPBs, especially given that the Rafik will be firing only one CG per segment because its arcs don't overlap. The power inefficiency of the ZDPBs against a small volley makes the Wasp's recharging times far longer, which helps the Rafik in the beams duel. (The Rafik should be firing AP volleys unless it's firing at the torch.)

Fourth, this situation invites rolling mount-sniping barrages from the Rafik. While the Rafik lacks the Flex Points to both aggregate damage and target a mount (meaning that it can't penetrate the mount armor), the Rafik can play "Three Stooges." This entails firing one 3MRLS every segment when the Wasp could fire, targeting a mount each time. If the Wasp fires, the Rafik "pokes it in the eye." (Mount armor doesn't count on the segment in which a weapon in the mount fires. Yes, the chance of successfully targeting a mount is only 50%, but hits to the 4SRLSes are worth a heck of a lot.

Jon Brase wrote:
Most of my games with my Dad have gone like this: "Wasp charges, rafik dodges, but too much, and only gets one shot in at optimum range before the range opens up again. Wasp is lightly damaged. Neither player cares to spend the time or fuel on trying to cancel vectors and continue the fight."


That's what the Cowardly Draw rule is there for. :P

You need to be playing with victory conditions that require holding the field of battle.

Jon Brase wrote:
How I see it, the Rafik is more likely to win, but the Wasp, when it wins, is more likely to win decisively.

The Wasp probably needs to make heavy use of kinetics (especially missiles), both for maneuver constraint and damage dealing, to beat the Rafik. OTOH, the Rafik seems to me to be better (or at least more flexibly) armed in the missile dept. On the third hand, missiles may not help it as much in this engagement as they do the Wasp.


Long-burn missiles are very useful to the Wasp if the Rafik is moving past it and trying to get away. You can present some kind of credible threat to the Rafik, at least.

Jon Brase wrote:
It would be interesting to have the Rafik guarding the convoy against the Wasp, to force it to seek a decisive victory, with the attendant risk of a decisive loss.


Yep. The Rafik is probably a better convoy guard. That said, the Wasp just has to get around the Rafik, it doesn't have to kill it.

Who has nukes will matter, of course.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 3:58 pm 
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Clarification: Parking is worse than an approach for the Wasp. In a well-flown Wasp approach you might have an RoC of, say, one (1). Closing the range at one hex per segment, the Rafik can, at best, fire once at range 13 and once at range 7. (This assumes that the Rafik is limited by its battery recharge time, rather than just cooling time, although cooling time would put the first shot a range 12, which is in the same range band as 13.) It also assumes that the Rafik wants its second volley to hit before the Wasp fires, which it really, really does.) At range 13, the Rafik only averages 4.1 points of damage from each laser, which is a big step down from 6.6 in the first range band. The effects of skin armor + soak magnify this difference.

So, a Rafik that's parked at range 6 from a Wasp expects to do 13.5 more points of damage in two volleys than does a Rafik with a Wasp incoming at RoC 1. That works out to about 3 more boxes killed. That may not seem like much, but if one of those is a hit on a 4MRLS, or a reactor, or a full battery, it's going to make a big difference. Heck, a hit on an empty battery may prevent the Wasp from firing a full volley!

Anyhow, my preference with the Wasp is to swoop in and out. Don't hang around in your opponent's optimal firing range if you don't have to!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 8:03 pm 
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Is there ever a time that parking is a good tactic?

While I don't know that the combat aviation maxim "speed is life" quite applies, I would still think that having some motion is better than just sitting there.

Ok, I can think of one situation where parking could be a good thing. That being a true ambush. And even then, once you've made your first launch, you'ld better get moving. But honestly, how likely is that going to be in the 10 Worlds?

In a situation like Rafik v. Wasp, parking is a bad idea even before your stopped, as I see it. For the simple reason that to park you've got to stop and its probably going to be obvious what you're doing. And it doesn't matter which side I'm taking, if I see the other guy is trying to park, I'm not going to go for a slugging match. I'm going to continue to maneuver.

As the aggressor, I'd just laugh and blast past 'em full throttle heading for the convoy. Sure I'd take some hits in moving past the defender, but once I am past, its suddenly a stern chase, and a stern chase is always a long haul. And even if I killed thrust and pivoted to face the defender, I'm still inside of them with respect to the convoy. Which is not good.

As the defender, I'd be moving to keep myself inside of the raider with respect to the convoy but with an emphasis on keeping station on the convoy. Because they're the real point of the whole thing and if the raider wants them, he has to go get them and sitting there just won't do it. So better to keep with the convoy and in a position to actually do my job than screwing around with an enemy thats stupid enough to stop moving. If he does come at us again, I'll be where I belong.

And even in a one-on-one dual, parking is just a bad idea. Its like boxing. Even the heavyweights do not just stand there and throw punches at each other. They move, they feint, they try to catch the other guy off guard.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:42 pm 
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But the larger a vector a ship has means the longer it takes to change that vector. Kinetics or missles could give you a bad time.

Not to mention the fuel you would have to spend attaining a high speed in the first place.


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 Post subject: All is Relative, Grasshopper
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:11 pm 
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Luke Vaughn wrote:
While I don't know that the combat aviation maxim "speed is life" quite applies, I would still think that having some motion is better than just sitting there.


Two radically different situations.

Aircraft maneuver using aerodynamically-derived lift. In other words, the speed of the airflow over the wing is transformed into lift, which causes the aircraft to turn (horizontally or vertically--a "loop"--it doesn't matter). An aircraft's stall speed is related to how many Gs the aircraft is trying to produce. Stall speed increase with the square root of the G load, so pulling 4 Gs doubles your stall speed and pulling 9 Gs triples it. You can see that as the aircraft slows down the maximum Gs it can pull falls rapidly.

Moreover, turning causes various forms of drag, slowing the aircraft. The drag rises non-linearly with increasing Gs and inversely with speed. A slow aircraft pulling 4 Gs will lose more speed than a fast aircraft pulling 4 Gs. It's a sort of "the rich get richer" effect on maneuverability.

And, of course, using aerodynamic lift to turn allows you to transform speed (kinetic energy) into altitude (potential energy). Climbing away from an opponent was a good way to get yourself out of danger until longer-ranged missiles came around. Similarly, you can turn to point your velocity vector somewhere else and use your speed to run away in the horizontal.

By comparison, a spacecraft's maneuverability is completely independent of its velocity.

Luke Vaughn wrote:
In a situation like Rafik v. Wasp, parking is a bad idea even before your stopped, as I see it. For the simple reason that to park you've got to stop and its probably going to be obvious what you're doing. And it doesn't matter which side I'm taking, if I see the other guy is trying to park, I'm not going to go for a slugging match. I'm going to continue to maneuver.

As the aggressor, I'd just laugh and blast past 'em full throttle heading for the convoy. Sure I'd take some hits in moving past the defender, but once I am past, its suddenly a stern chase, and a stern chase is always a long haul. And even if I killed thrust and pivoted to face the defender, I'm still inside of them with respect to the convoy. Which is not good.


Remember that "parking" is relative to the opposing ship, not relative to the system primary, the convoy, or anything else.

The bigger picture here is that if the defender doesn't want the attacker to pass him, the defender needs to accelerate so that their relative velocities are zero at some point. Assume that the attacker is in direction A and the defender is in direction D. The attacker has a vector of 8D (which is exactly equivalent to the defender having a vector of 8A). If the defender doesn't want the attacker to blow past him, the defender has to accelerate in D until his vector is 8D. That makes the net (relative) velocities zero. Now, the attacker can accelerate from that point, but so can the defender and they're still starting from rest relative to each other. The only question is the range at which they come to rest relative to one another.

Luke Vaughn wrote:
As the defender, I'd be moving to keep myself inside of the raider with respect to the convoy but with an emphasis on keeping station on the convoy.


Which means "parking" relative to the attacker. In any case, it's physically impossible to keep station on the convoy (be at rest relative to it) while staying interposed between a maneuvering attacker and the convoy. In the scenario this doesn't even matter, because the convoy is way off the map.

Luke Vaughn wrote:
Because they're the real point of the whole thing and if the raider wants them, he has to go get them and sitting there just won't do it. So better to keep with the convoy and in a position to actually do my job than screwing around with an enemy thats stupid enough to stop moving. If he does come at us again, I'll be where I belong.


If you can't outmaneuver him and you can win a "parked" duel, then no, it's not better.

Luke Vaughn wrote:
And even in a one-on-one dual, parking is just a bad idea. Its like boxing. Even the heavyweights do not just stand there and throw punches at each other. They move, they feint, they try to catch the other guy off guard.


Velocity doesn't help you dodge blows in AV:T. True, you have a substantial CV and a CO of 3 or 4, seeking weapons are going to have a tough time reaching you, but you're also going to find yourself with an opening vector, which may or may not be desirable. If your CO is 5 or 6, your velocity makes you more vulnerable to seeking weapons.

Acceleration dots are what matter for actually dodging seeking weapons. Neither acceleration nor velocity make it harder for beam weapons to hit you, except in so far as velocity carries you out of a beam weapon's effective range.

Dan Glass wrote:
But the larger a vector a ship has means the longer it takes to change that vector. Kinetics or missles could give you a bad time.


This is not entirely accurate. Suppose that you're the attacker with a vector of 8D and a defender with no vector. Now suppose that your the attacker with no vector, but the defender has a vector of 8A. In which situation are you, the attacker, more maneuverable? What about your opponent?

A ship of a given thrust is equally predictable regardless of its velocity. The volume that you could occupy at a given time is defined by a deformed sphere of exactly the same size, regardless of your velocity. It is simply the position of the "center" of that deformed sphere that changes with your velocity. This concept is very simple, but very difficult to grasp. Everything is relative. Velocity has no effect on predictability. Weird, huh?

BTW, it's a deformed sphere, not a perfect sphere, because pivoting takes time.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:01 pm 
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Luke Vaughn wrote:
Is there ever a time that parking is a good tactic?

Sure. It's a good tactic whenever it's a bad tactic for your opponent.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:35 pm 
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Anthony Jackson wrote:
Sure. It's a good tactic whenever it's a bad tactic for your opponent.


The very definition of a zero-sum game. As is combat.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:39 am 
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Ethan McKinney wrote:
Anthony Jackson wrote:
Sure. It's a good tactic whenever it's a bad tactic for your opponent.


The very definition of a zero-sum game. As is combat.


A fairly strong arguement can be made that battles that do as well as zero sum are rare.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:20 pm 
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Jon Brase wrote:
A fairly strong arguement can be made that battles that do as well as zero sum are rare.


It's an interesting question. In terms of the welfare of the combatants or the wealth of the societies fielding the forces, battles are essentially always negative-sum games. Both sides lose lives, assets, whatever and it's obvious that both sides can lose more simultaneously.

A neo-realist view, however, considers relative power, and thus relative chances winning the war. (The proper point of view is clearly the war or even a higher level--national power and relative advantage in international relations. Battles in and of themselves are meaningless; they attain significance only insofar as the further national goals, such as by changing the relative likelihoods of victory and defeat.) In this frame of reference, battles must be zero-sum games. It's not possible for both sides to increase their chances of winning the war. (Technically, it is possible for a battle to result in no change to the chances of either side winning the war, but this requires a knife-edge balance.)

Of course, you could argue that there are three possible outcomes: victory, stalemate, or defeat. However, there are two problems with this view. The first is purely tactical: most battles do make victory or defeat more likely, rather than simply increasing the chances of stalemate. The more serious problem is that it's difficult to operationalize "stalemate." Presumably either one or zero sides are status quo powers. That is, one side may desire things to stay just as they were before the war, while the other side wants to change thing. In WWII, for example, the Western Allies were clearly status quo powers, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan clearly were not. It's theoretically possible for both sides to be dedicated to changing the status quo. In any case, a "stalemate" in the war means a victory for the status quo power. It doesn't need to force its opponent into unconditional surrender to achieve its goal. In this case, a zero relative change in international power/influence is a clear win for the status quo power, so "stalemate" seems meaningless.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:46 pm 
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What about 1917?

At that point, it could be argued that the "status quo" was German occupation of a large portion of France, but without removing France as a combatant. France, Britain, Belgium & the Dominions were seeking the status quo ante; Germany & Austria-Hungary were seeking a new situation. Most of the battles for a long time were not moving either side towards the status quo ante, nor the status neo. (Forgive my mangled Latin.)

This didn't last, of course, but there were a large number of battles that had no effect on the relative balance of power...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:55 pm 
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Davyd Atwood wrote:
What about 1917?


I can suggest several books to read on the topic if you really care. However, I've cause this section of the BBS to wander completely off of its topic.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:24 pm 
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Ethan McKinney wrote:
In this frame of reference, battles must be zero-sum games. It's not possible for both sides to increase their chances of winning the war.

This is only true in a war with only two factions. In a three-way war, a battle is often a net negative for both combatants and a net positive for whoever didn't get involved (on a tactical level, three ships from three different factions creates the same situation). In a political sense, certain types of battles can be net positives or negatives for both sides -- if you have a relatively low-cost fight which causes both you and your neighbor to get lots of extra foreign aid, the battle is probably neutral in terms of winning the war, but it's overall beneficial.

In a game, the latter effects can be handled by giving each side different victory conditions.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:04 pm 
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Anthony Jackson wrote:
In a political sense, certain types of battles can be net positives or negatives for both sides -- if you have a relatively low-cost fight which causes both you and your neighbor to get lots of extra foreign aid, the battle is probably neutral in terms of winning the war, but it's overall beneficial.


Which is what I talked about in the "national welfare" frame of reference. If we're looking at relative power, which is what matters in international relations, then the additional foreign aid is either a wash or one side gets more than the other and improves its position.

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