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Chaplain

Supercarrier rules

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Currently i'm trying to figure out the way to deal with a capital ship whose only weapon is landing bays with swarms of small craft inside.

-Torpedoes and smaller carriers have little chance against 8-10 squadrons on CVP.

-Massed bombing run covered by 3-4 squadrons of fighters is nigh invulnerable against ships with average crew rating, ignores shields and armored prows, and with target number being close to 100 due to sheer number of squadrons it gives damage output and crit chance better than macrocannon broadsides with longer range and better component energy drain.

-Nice bonuses to trade when ground to orbit airlift is involved.

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Are you dealing with this ship as a GM or a player?

 

Off the top of my head:

 

Suprise attacks, sabotage, nova cannons, superior numbers of squadrons/voidcraft from multiple angles, hostile area such as asteroid clusters, combinations of the above.

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Supercarriers are wicked capital ships and require a wicked capital ship to engage them successfully.  Still, they have weaknesses.  If they carry a lot of fighters for CVP then their bombers numbers are low and they do little damage.  If they carry a lot of bombers then they have little escort and take losses coming in for a bombing run.

 

Part of it depends on how you run operations.  The rules are sketchy.  Do you permit Landing Bays to launch, recover, AND ready in a single turn?  I have only allowed them to perform 2 of those functions in a single turn, so at close ranges they aren't attacking every turn.

 

It's my experience that 12 bomber squadrons require 2 attack waves in 4 groups to cripple even a light cruiser.  That's good, but macrocannon can duplicate that when you consider that those 12 squadrons probably come from STR 8 (total) Landing bays.  In other words those bombers could have been 4 broadside macrocannon batteries.  That's the strength of carriers...they can attack with all their weapon slots simultaneously.

 

Spread out the carrier's fighter wings.  A small number of opposing fighters in conjunction with a torpedo salvo can do that.  They can't cover everything with their fighters.

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Carrier in question is a PC Dictator-class cruiser with 4 jovian landing bays - 8 str total, 14 fght + 10 bmb squadrons in combat fit, variable number of aeronautica for trade.

In combat, it would launch 8 ready fighters for CVP (it is said they are now indefinetly protecting the mothership and half of them will engage a threat no matter how many of threats you throw at it)

On subsequent turns it will pummel its enemies with 2 waves of 5 bomber + 3 fighter squadron wings which usually make short work of anything and everything of comparable class on any range save for point-blank.

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I don't think there is direct rule support for this in Rogue Trader, but in old Battle Fleet Gothic (and in modern/historic fleets) ships that were facing large attack craft runs would stay close in order to have overlapping AA coverage.  At least in BFG this allowed you to defend (IIRC) with the targets turret value, plus 1/2 of every other base-to-base ship's turret.

 

Also, if you have any carrier capacity of your own, consider loading up on fightercraft assigned to close void support.  

 

Use of long range guns can also help.  Assuming your using starhawks, they only move 6 vu/turn.  Most Macrocannons have twice that range.  Force the bombers to spend time flying to and from their carrier, as a carrier can only attack as often as it can turn around bombers, while macrocannons can always fire every turn.

 

Also, consider allowing turrets to actually damage attack craft squadrons during runs.  This will make a war of attrition harder on the carrier.

Edited by Quicksilver

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How big a capital ship are we talking about here?

Because even a Light Cruiser can slap on some launch bays and become a major threat to small craft as their Turret Rating and lack of own strike craft provide inadequate defence. On the other hand a battlecruiser or grand cruiser can not only field a swarm of strike craft but also mount lances, broadside cannons, torpedoes or even nova cannon in support too. This makes them a threat to literally any other ship out there.

 

Best tactic is to sit the supercarrier at range, with all the fighters running CVP and all the bombers and assault boats ready to launch. Open combat with a volley of torpedoes or a nova cannon shot, followed by your strike craft racing in. Fighters should be combining with bombers and assault boats so they can take casualties for them.

If the enemy focuses on your strike craft you can pummel them with lance and cannon fire to keep them distracted. Similarly if they focus on your supercarrier you can either recall or launch more strike craft (fighters defending you, other types harassing the enemy). Chances are you wont get to use your torpedoes or nova-cannon again due to poor maneuverability but you can use it as an area denial weapon, with the threat of its use keeping the enemy where you want them.

 

Anything that can close with you and stay out of weapon arc still has multiple-void-shield-arrays and strike craft to contend with.

Supercarriers 4tw.

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Carrier in question is a PC Dictator-class cruiser with 4 jovian landing bays - 8 str total, 14 fght + 10 bmb squadrons in combat fit, variable number of aeronautica for trade.

In combat, it would launch 8 ready fighters for CVP (it is said they are now indefinetly protecting the mothership and half of them will engage a threat no matter how many of threats you throw at it)

On subsequent turns it will pummel its enemies with 2 waves of 5 bomber + 3 fighter squadron wings which usually make short work of anything and everything of comparable class on any range save for point-blank.

 

Ah sorry, you meant how to compete with it. Well i'd say:

  • look into micro-laser defence grid, flak turrets and improved crew quality so that your Turret Ratings can decimate their escorting fighers. They might get in a couple turns but after that they'll not have the escorts and might not want to run naked bombers.
  • look into field bracing, excess void armour, reinforced bulkheads and generally anything else that increases your toughness or hull integrity.
  • look into Murder Servitors or other such upgrades that improve your boarding and hint&run resistance.
  • and look into long range firepower that strike craft can't effect - talking about lances and macrocannons with Turbo upgrades. You turn your primary firing arc towards the carrier and just pummel it senseless while they strike craft approach you (1 to 2 turns depending on distance, which means 1 to 2 turns of shooting for you).
  • alternatively you could simply outnumber them and send a pack of raiders or a pair of frigates against them.

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Like I said, Explorers are using the Dictator, and I face certain problems challenging them in void combat without restorting to grand cruisers or squadrons of enemies.

UPD Thanks, I will consider those.

Edited by Chaplain

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In BFG I don't recall ships being able to fire in defense of another ship, unless they had Mars-installed Fleet Defense Turrets, which were very rare.  At 14 fighters and 10 bombers, those bays are already full, so I don't know where they are placing the aeronautica.  That could be one of your problems right there.  Carriers are wicked, so don't give your players anything extra.  I hope they have PF and you made them earn it, because it's not easy to fill up a carrier that large.  What is the SP value of that Dictator?  Have you considered running bare bones raiders against it?  They will get inside the air cover quickly and, worst case scenario, 2 of them get crippled in the process, and that's assuming maximum successes with maximum damage.  Always send more than than your PCs have in SPs.  They have the skills, so give their opponents the SPs.

 

Off-hand, 10 bombers in 2 waves seem pretty unimpressive.  That's a maximum of 6 hits at what, 1d10+4, ignoring shields?  Compare that to what macrocannon broadsides from the same space would produce.  Are you using Mathhammer?  Those macrocannon could achieve 24 hits, though they probably won't, and the bombers will get their 6.  Still, if those macrocannon broadsides simply succeed with no DoS they will score 8 hits.

 

Carriers used properly have great flexibility, but they do not maximize firepower.  That's still in the realm of macrocannons.

Edited by Errant Knight

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They field aeronautica in non-combat fit - instead of portion of their voidsquadrons.

 

Overwhelming them by throwing in several smaller vessels or same-class vessel, but more expensive - done that, carrier deals with it just fine.

 

Its cost is 70 SP - 63 for hull, 4 for 2 extra bays, 3 for compartamentalized cargohold, small craft repair deck and pilot chamber.

 

5 bombers can hit target 3 times + 1 extra for every squadron after the first for a total of 7 hits which ignore shields, combine their damage against opponen'ts weakest armor and evaporate enemy ship. And then comes the second wave.

 

No mathhammer rules - I know them, and don't like them.

Edited by Chaplain

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I don't have the rules in front of me, but don't fighters set to CAP need to have half their strength in bays dedicated to them for the landing/refueling/relaunching they do?  I seem to remember something like that (though I haven't had to use attack craft in my game except narratively)

 

I believe what Knight was noting is that even if they're not being used, the Launch Bay can only Store three squadrons each.  So if they have Aeronautica stored, that's one less fighter/bomber for each point of strength.  

 

Anyway, a Lunar or Dominator with a decent crew at 10 VU should still be something of a threat, particularly if they ambush or otherwise reduce the opening number of turns.  At the very least that way, the dominator should get two or three rounds of broadsides before the bombers arrive.  Without mathhammer in effect, that can be quite devastating. Make sure your enemy ships are using all their extended actions and give them a decent crew - you have to offset the PC level skills to some extent.

 

That's about all I can think of that doesn't require a house rule or an anti-fighter fiat GM.  (Nebula battle, solar flare, etc.  Though those can be good if used by cunning and informed enemy.)  

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Fighters sent to CVP attack any incoming threat using half of their total strength - others are assumed to be rearming or patrolling elsewhere. Still, 4 sqns of fighters will usually stop anything ship turrets cannot deal with.

 

Since their area of operations is ragged helix of the gloaming worlds, there is no real lack of astral phenomena, and asteroids and pirates are omnipresent.

 

Actually I was going to use minefields, planet-based surface-to-orbit defence and space hellburners - small, agile ships turned into daemon engines with warp drives set to explode (as per Warp Drive Explosion rules).

Edited by Chaplain

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If I wasn't clear, then yes, the carrier seems overloaded.  Your people have 4 bays at STR 2 each, meaning STR 8.  Their capacity is 24 squadrons.  You said they run 14 fighters and 10 bombers.  That's 24 squadrons.  There is no more room for aeronautica.

 

Something to keep in mind with carriers.  They have a Dictator.  It has 5 weapons slots, all of which can engage the enemy simultaneously from 3 facings (this is assuming a fore-mounted weapon with 3-way fire).  The bays don't have to be pointing at the enemy to launch craft at the enemy, effectively giving the Dictator the same firepower as a heavy cruiser + a light cruiser engaging from broadsides with fore-mounted 3-way firing.  You might want to consider that when trying to challenge them.  The 2-cruiser combo will be able to absorb more damage but the carrier should be able to pull off a first strike and it has PC skills advantages.  It's a pretty even match...with Mathhammer  Give those cruisers turbo-sunsear broadside macrocannon in the starboard and port slots, and sunhammer lances in the fore weapon slots.  Give the cruisers command bridges and maybe a couple other items that increase their BS and watch the Dictator burn.  Of course, that might not be nice to your players.

 

The biggest problem I have with challenging my players is that if they win a challenging fight they are likely to have a severely upgunned fleet afterwards.

 

I don't know what you have against Mathhammer, but that's one of your problems...armor isn't worth much and neither are the broadsides or lances.  Kinda sounds like your players have figured out the math and maximized their weapons systems to account for the rules' weaknesses.

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Use multiple ships from multiple angles. But, don't have them all appear to the PC's at the same time.

 

That is, have a couple long-range raider types at long range first, to lure the PCs and their bombers towards them, then have the specialized knifefighters and boarding ships spring forth from stealth/concealment close in.

Boarding operations led by NPCs.

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I don't know javcs.  I suppose that could work if the PCs charge into a situation but I'd expect my players would whine about railroading and deus ex machina.  Ships can be detected from a long distance normally.  Ships on silent running can't exactly maneuver for position.  The situation you describe seems contrived without the PCs being a bit reckless.  Did you have something more in mind?

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The first round/wave is as much to lure the attack squadrons out their direction, away from their ship and from where the close-in fighters will be coming from. Their primary job is to keep the PC's attention focused on them. They're more of a feint than the main threat. They pull the bombers out and away, preferably at least two rounds of bomber-movement between launching and reaching them. If the knifefighters/real threat reveals itself a round after the bombers have launched, while they're still flying to reach the first target, and from the opposite direction, then the knifefighters have at least 2 rounds to get to the PC's ship - if the bombers abort the run against the first targets and head back right away, otherwise, they have even longer before the bombers can hit them, and if there are two or three ships going after them, that's a long time to just be taking the hits. Ideally, at least of the ships is a boarding specialist to tie them in place, and the long-rangers can head back in after the bombers turn away from them.

 

 

Ships on silent running can maneuver just fine, they're just not particularly fast relative to their normal speed. However, a fast base ship with a good Engineseer can get up to most of its normal speed on Silent Running, as the speed-boost extended action (whatever it's called) can be undertaken while Silent Running.

 

Ideally, however, they're set up somewhere that the PC's are trying to get to or have to pass by. Optimally, there are terrain features or objects that the knifefighter ships can hide behind/within while they wait for the PC's ship to get close enough to reach within a single round. Otherwise, they just pretend to be a whole in space while waiting.

 

 

Alternatively, hit them with half a dozen pirate raiders/frigates.

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Hmmm... presently, I am thinking 

 

1) Nova Cannons. Fire off a Nova Cannon into their oncoming squadrons. Get it right, KABOOM! (unless they're smart and scatter their squadrons right from the get-go to avoid this happening).

 

2) Boarding Torpedoes. They are piloted by attack-crew to hit the ship. They move as fast (or faster) than your PC's fighters, and can conduct Hit-and-Run actions at range. If they are fired in such a way that they are more difficult to intercept, they might make it to the Carrier and cripple its launch bays (see 3).

 

3) On the note of Torpedoes, a mass volley of Guided Torpedoes. As Guided torpedoes can change direction by 45% degrees every turn, and slow their speed, they can (attempt) to outmaneuver the Attack Craft (in much the same way as the Boarding Torpedoes) prior to potential interception. As (most) Torpedoes can fire in volleys greater than what your PC's Carrier can dump out in terms of squadrons, if you try to scatter the torpedoes enough, in enough numbers, at a long enough distance, it may cause them problems in choosing whether or not to dump out fighters to intercept them, or bombers to attack with. Eat up their squadron launches with fighter dumps instead of bomber runs, and you might be able to hit them with something hard enough to hurt.

 

 

I guess it also depends on what kind of ships you want to challenge them with. The type of enemies you want to throw at them will very much dictate the kind of response needed. An Eldar ship would have an entirely different approach to the problem then say, a Rak'Gol. Also, are they encountering threats that are part of the same enemy, or just different encounters with non-related enemies? If they are consistently stomping on the ships of say, a particular big enemy, this enemy force could begin to learn how they fight, and adjust their ships accordingly. In this way, it would be realistic that the ships they face would be better designed to deal with them and counter them, as opposed to the GM wanting to just make his PCs afraid once more.

Edited by Crow Eye

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I can't find the topic, but it was an important rule that one of the designers of BFK mentioned he was surprised to see left out was that it is possible to target squadrons with ship weaponry, they just take a -20 penalty for Macrocannons and a -30 for lances. It is a valid tactic for knocking them out though.

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CVP is not locking up anything.

Like I said, if they need aeronautica they dock up, leave some of their fighters there and bring it.

The rest is something for me to consider but most of the comments can be summarised in "yes, carriers as per RAW are overpowered and need one homerule system or another to fix them". Well, sad but true.

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I think people are trying to point out that if their ship holds 24 units of strike craft, that is the ENTIRE capacity of the ship's flight decks used up for strike craft, with no space left for aeronautica. I can only assume you have let the players store spare craft in their compartmentalized cargo hold - and i would strongly recommend against this as it makes carriers far too powerful.

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They store them in their colonial base.

If they go to war, they fly home and fill their launch bays with 24 sqns of strike craft.

If they are on a business trip - they fly home and choose a combination of aeronautica/strike craft according to estimated hazard level.

 

Also, I'm starting to worry about torpedo bombers. They don't have many reloads onboard, but even a single wave of 8 salvos with 3 torpedos each is devastating while giving small craft standoff capability.

Edited by Chaplain

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Yeah, we've talked about the torpedo bombers before...downright devastating.  The squadrons are really brittle, though, having only 3 craft per.  The problem, however, is that they take no losses coming in from the attack because they launch beyond the range of the turrets.  Their weakness should be in being intercepted, but you've already pointed out the flaw there.

 

You're playing without Mathhammer so your rules are already borked.  You're going to need house rules.  Even with Mathhammer the bombers and torpedo bombers are too effective.

 

I've run a party with a carrier before.  The problem I had wasn't the effectiveness of the carrier but the lack of attrition in the air wings, and once the party's PF was high enough, the ease of replacing losses.  In the end I made them go all the back to the Calixis sector to pick up replacements.  I hadn't solved the attrition problem.

 

Here's where I think the solution lies, though.  Check out the early carrier battles in WWII.  Plane losses were pretty high under certain circumstances.  Since I think 40K carriers are reminiscent of those early carrier battles, those losses, under those circumstances, should be replicated.

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Mathhammer, from my experience, works good for skilled explorers and equally skilled opponents, who can really put 8-9 macro hits from 2 broadsides and dorsal battery on target. But when your BS is low, you are barely able to strip shields off your enemy and should pray your lance BS roll is successful.

 

Well, not like that for torpedos (especially melta (2-3 simultaneous fires will usually cripple the ship), vortex, and virus (3-5 hits from those and you're done no matter how many armor you have)) and small craft (with or wothout MH they dominate the void).

 

40K naval battles are a weird mix of modern and WWII-era styles - standoff, potent torpedoes and aircraft and battlefield awareness are close to modern style. Ship's ability to withstand massed fire and close-range engagements are more WWII-like. I don't think those parallels can be applied.

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