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The Fleet Ship designs, strategies, and tactics.

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  #1  
Old September 9th, 2014, 04:36 AM
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Default Plankwell and Kokirrak

Goal

I've gone thru this before, but I'm going to look at the entries in Supplement 9 and try to pinpoint exactly what makes a Plankwell, a Plankwell, and what makes a Kokirrak, a Kokirrak, and how you can tell one from the other.

Assumption

Supplement 9 is useful for extracting the intent of the ship designs, even though encountered ships of these classes may vary from the text.

Similarities

They're both 200 kt, TL 15, Model/9fib, typically no troops, no fighter wings, same nuclear damper, same meson spine, similar enough secondary weaponry (you could pretty nearly swap their loadouts around without fundamentally changing the ships).

While their armor factors are different (10 for Plankwell, 12 for Kokirrak), I am yet unconvinced that this is a defining difference between the two classes, and am tempted to state that they are both armored to essentially the same level (even though in High Guard, AV 12 is distinctly better than AV 10). I would like to assume that Imperial dreadnoughts are able to take more damage than they dish out.

Differences

Thus, ignoring cost, I am left with these primary differentiators:

Plankwell: J4, 5G, P8, Modular Construction. Screen Factor 3. 1200 Crew.

Kokirrak: J3, 6G, P10. Screen Factor 8. 1600 Crew. Black Globe (half of them).

It seems that the key difference is performance, with defenses negatively affected by jump rating. Therefore there do seem to be two basic types of dreadnought, just like there are two types of cruiser: strategically fast, or tactically fast.

The Essential TL 15 Imperial Dreadnought

A restatement of what I think the essential TL15 Imperial dreadnought doctrine is:
  • J4 M5 -or- J3 M6
  • Best possible computer
  • Best nuclear damper and screens
  • Most effective meson spine
  • Best possible armor
  • Plenty of secondary weaponry and defenses.
It may or may not have other features (like troops and fighters, black globes, modular construction, and whatnot), but it must have the above.
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Last edited by robject; September 10th, 2014 at 12:30 AM..
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Old September 9th, 2014, 06:49 AM
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What's the cost difference between the two? Enough for another entire squadron at what point?
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Old September 9th, 2014, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulsyus View Post
What's the cost difference between the two? Enough for another entire squadron at what point?
By High Guard rules, they're within 12% of each other. BCr 120 versus BCr 135. Buy ten Plankwells for the price of nine Kokirraks. Buy a cheaper ship, get a cheaper ship.
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Old September 9th, 2014, 11:12 AM
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Perhaps Plankwell is the early TL 15 design, where not all technologies were up to TL 15 standard at time of build?

Kinda like the difference between a Kennedy and a Nimitz Supercarrier?

Just spitballing here.
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Old September 9th, 2014, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pendragonman View Post
Perhaps Plankwell is the early TL 15 design, where not all technologies were up to TL 15 standard at time of build?

Kinda like the difference between a Kennedy and a Nimitz Supercarrier?

Just spitballing here.
That is certainly a possibility. Early Dreadnought-15? Maybe.

I'm prone to thinking that the Plankwell is actually better designed than Supplement 9 says. In other words, errata. In one sense this is unfair for purchasers and users of Supplement 9. On the other hand, S9 is ancient, so retrofixes are less painful than they would've been in the 1980s. And on the Gripping Hand, there's certainly a precedent for ships being designed "wrong".

But beyond all of those considerations, in reality what I've got is a strong sense for what TL15 dreadnoughts are, and what they can do. How they are designed is almost a secondary consideration at this point, since the right way to design a design system is to first write the combat rules.

In other words, this is a discovery exercise that hopefully helps me gain background information for when Marc writes BCS.
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Old September 9th, 2014, 12:58 PM
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From the mechanics of the rules, is there really anything magic about the 200,000 dTons?
I am just wondering out loud if a 'vest-pocket dreadnought' might end up overwhelmingly superior.
I seem to recall a lot of TCS combats being won by larger fleets of smaller ships (some by rules gimmicks and some not).
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Old September 9th, 2014, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atpollard View Post
From the mechanics of the rules, is there really anything magic about the 200,000 dTons?
I am just wondering out loud if a 'vest-pocket dreadnought' might end up overwhelmingly superior.
I seem to recall a lot of TCS combats being won by larger fleets of smaller ships (some by rules gimmicks and some not).
A dreadnought is primarily there to allow a Factor T meson gun to bear as long as possible. The payload, therefore, is the spine, tactical secondaries, and defenses including armor.

Very roughly, the drives and fuel take up appx 5% + 40% + 8% + 6% + 13% = 72% of the ship. Engineering crew increases that percentage by 11% of 26% (one stateroom per 35 tons of drive), or an additional 3%, so total drives, fuel and support is around 75%. Call the bridge and its backup as 4%. Call the armor another 11%, and we're at 90%.

(Note that most of the crew of a dreadnought is engineering)

Leaving 10% (20,000t) for the spine (call it 5,000t), secondaries (a hundred bays could be 10,000t), defenses AND OPERATIONAL CREW (5,000 tons). It's easy to spend 20,000 tons on payload.


Vest Pocket Dreadnought

Now let's shrink the payload down; when we do that, we're scaling the size of our ship. So a 10,000 ton payload very roughly defines a 100,000 ton dreadnought, and a 5,000 ton payload very roughly defines a 50,000 ton "dreadnought". Already we can see that there is no such thing as a viable 50,000 ton dreadnought, simply because there's no room for defenses. This is the Eurisko solution; however, we know Eurisko suffers from strategic and morale problems which High Guard cannot anticipate. So we move on.

How about the 10,000 ton payload, then? We can fit in a Factor T meson spine, but secondaries and defenses still suffer. While we have something that packs a good punch, the ship does not have the staying power to bear on its enemies.
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Last edited by robject; September 9th, 2014 at 01:49 PM..
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Old September 9th, 2014, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robject View Post
Similarities

[...]

Differences

Thus, ignoring cost, I am left with these primary differentiators:

Plankwell: 5G, P8, Modular Construction. Screen Factor 3. 1200 Crew.

Kokirrak: 6G, P10. Screen Factor 8. 1600 Crew. Black Globe (half of them).
Originally all of them carried black globes. The present-day situation of half of them no longer carrying BGs is due to globes breaking and not being replaced.

Quote:
It seems that the key differences is the Plankwell's modular construction, and its poor choices in performance and meson screen. I therefore take the Kokirrak as being the probable representative of the Imperial TL15 dreadnought and Imperial naval doctrine in general (J4, M6, best screens possible, best armor possible, most effective meson spine).
I think the main difference is that one was designed by one set of people and the other was designed by another set of people. Even if they were designed for the exact same purpose, that would be enough to account for the differences1. And they weren't. The Kokirraks were designed to carry relic black globes; the Plankwells weren't.
1 Assuming a ratio of 1:3 battleships to cruisers, the Imperium maintains a standing navy of 5000 battleships. Every year some of them are lost, mothballed, or sold out of the service. Every once in a while the decision is made to discontinue building one class and to build a different one to replace it. And it's going to be a new set of people who design the new class. New people means new priorities and new opinions of how to achieve those priorities.

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Old September 9th, 2014, 03:16 PM
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You might consider politics. Yes, the evil word.

Dread Lord A will sign off on Plankwells if Dread Lord B signs off on Kokirraks. Best way to look at it is see where they are manufactured and based. Money makes the Imperium go round, so to speak.

If you question the above hypothesis, then I request you look into various government purchases of big ticket items, such as the next gen air tanker (Airbus, no, Boing, no Airbus, no, Boing?)

Payola, payola, payola.

The manufacturing rights alone are worth, well, billions, but being the base for a single heavy capital ship and its ancillary craft, and support staff and infrastructure, can mean the difference between being on the edge financially and being well-off for many planets and systems. (Just look at the issues behind where just a USN Destroyer will be based and you'll see what I am talking about.)
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Old September 9th, 2014, 03:59 PM
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I can't argue with that. Both of you essentially said the same thing: different priorities create different designs, for purposes often unrelated to the stated purpose of the ship itself.

And a wargame ought to account for that, as well. Of course, High Guard is merciless as a design system, requiring the designer to locate and exploit the optimal points of the combat system in order to find successful designs. In the real world, complexities in personality, politics, and procurement create a degree of uncertainty completely absent from HG.
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