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Breaking this into its own thread from the BCS Discussion (Fall 2022) (<HG79) thread since it is more about FCS than BCS. :)
[2018 Marc]
I have a vision for the Fleet Combat System. Basically a dramatic re-imagining of Imperium with miniatures and intended as a tabletop. It is more concerned with play than with design of ships…

[2013 Feb; Marc]
BCS. Building BIG ships in the 2000 ton and higher range. But it's still about building ships.

FCS. Fleet Construction. Building a FLEET (probably composed of Squadrons) so we're talking about BatRon and CruRons and ScoutRons based on RU and TL and some other details. But we never actually see the ships.

[2011 May; Marc]

A coordinated system which defines Fleet Operations, which can be individually addressed with BCS.
In addition BCS generally allows construction of ships greater than 2000 (2400) tons.

BCS builds ships based on a specification of mission and main equipment (a 10 kton spine; a 100 kton cargo bay; a 50 kton fighter multi-squadron bay; a 100 kton siege engine). Everything else is hung onto that payload.

On the Other Hand: FCS is a strategic system played against a sector map and using RU.
I would like to see the FCS defined at the level of one ship of cruiser size and up along with its associated support vessels - destroyers, light cruisers, etc. Including cruisers is useful because smaller powers may not be able to afford dreadnoguhts and you can have an interesting campaign without them. IMO, a squadron of 6-8 cruisers should be able to take on a solitary battleship, albeit with losses. Plus it gives more strategic options. Battle Riders would be independent along with their Battle Tenders. A fleet carrier would be assumed to have its fighter's abilities factored into its various ratings. Squadrons of like types would be reserved for things like merchant ships. Scouts really should be relegated to the background, IMO.

Using the sector map is the obvious choice, but each system potentially has multiple interesting areas to attack and defend. When the interest is merely passing through, you could pick any gas giant to refuel from at a minimum, and there may be other planets or belts that could be used. Certainly the mainworld is the most important spot, but defending an entire system can be challenging, depending on its configuration. A larger hex could be used and each defensible location could have its own location. Imperium used a half parsec hex scale to support this. Freedom in the Galaxy and The Sword and the Stars also have similar ideas. There could be also be off-map boxes for each hex, similar to what is done in FFW.

I would like to see SDB combat handled with a different combat system than fleet combat. It is more analogous to sub vs. surface than a wet navy surface combat.

Maybe I'm too old school, but counters seem like the right format for this level of game vs. miniatures. I suppose either would work - if this is a general system, the factors probably have to be recorded on a side record.

Possible factors:
Cost (RU)
Time to build (units depend on final scale)
Attack - FFW had an overall attack factor. Could split into long range attack vs. short range attack factors. Could differentiate by type of armament with a letter code corresponding to the Traveller5 weapon letter. Imperium split out missile and beam factors.
Defense - FFW has defense, Imperium has screens. Some form of defense factor is needed no matter what. Could differentiate active defenses from passive ones or screens vs. armor.
Movement - FFW ships have a jump number, which is the most obvious one. TCS also has a refueling code - whether you need that or not mostly depends on scale. Maneuver and agility are both potentially useful in addition.
Sensors - Both sensor and stealth ratings could be incorporated.
Tech level - Ideally tech level is factored directly into the factors. Better tech -> better factors.
Flavor - special equipment could be noted with special codes on the counter. Probably don't want more than 2-3 of these at the very most. I'm thinking of things like Black Globe generators - stuff that adds capabilities beyond a standard ship of that class.

There should be a way to go from FCS->BCS and vice versa. The RU used should translate into credits (accounting for maybe half the credits going to supporting vessels) and the requirements to get the factors needed should be clear. Evaluating a ship design to get its FCS factors should also be straightforward.

I would rather see a combat resolution system like TCS that adds up factors and works out a result than a system like Imperium where dice are rolled for each ship.

I like the scale of FFW (1 week per turn) better than imperium (2 years per turn) in some ways, but I could also see designing a system flexible enough to be used at either scale, or at some intermediate scale. 2 weeks per turn makes sense, but you could imagine other scales like monthly, quarterly or whatever.

I like the campaign rules of TCS in principle, but they are probably too hard to deal with in practice. FFW plotted movement is a nice way to address communications lag. Longer scale turns also help with this.

I'd like to see economic development addressed if the scale is longer term like Imperium. Should be able to invest in colonies, build and upgrade starports, etc.

I see this scale of game as supporting role-playing primarily by providing the background for more local stories (ala FFW), but it would be nice to also address various ways that players can directly influence the course of a campaign. A good GM can just make it up of course, but it's always nice to provide examples.

All of this should be easily translatable to my own custom Traveller universe, disconnected from the OTU.
Google Renegade Legion: Prefect and take a look at the images and the like.

Also take a look at the forthcoming Homeworld Fleet Command set.

The Fleet level of 5FW consisted of moving whole fleets composed of several squadrons (usually), there may be five or six BatRons, a similar number if not more CruRons and then whatever troop transports and tankers. One ship counter per fleet could end up being an awful lot of counters.
Google Renegade Legion: Prefect and take a look at the images and the like.

Also take a look at the forthcoming Homeworld Fleet Command set.

The Fleet level of 5FW consisted of moving whole fleets composed of several squadrons (usually), there may be five or six BatRons, a similar number if not more CruRons and then whatever troop transports and tankers. One ship counter per fleet could end up being an awful lot of counters.
Thanks for the pointers. Mostly they look more like BCS to me (or other less strategic level than FCS). Maybe I'm missing something though?

I'd live with larger units if we truly need to represent that many ships - and there is certainly precedent for more ships in the OTU, though the actual size of CruRons and BatRons seem squishy and neither 5FW nor Imperium make clear exactly what a ship counter represents. For the Imperium, there are 32 BB, 26 CA, 2 Transport, 8 Assault, and 8 Scout counters in 5FW. They are called squadrons, but how many capital ships per squadron is not well defined.

I am influenced by a WWII monster game called World in Flames. The base game has 2 capital ships per counter, and the entire US Navy's combat ships are represented with 64 counters in the base game (out of 91 total naval units of all types). Expansions added counters to get to 1 capital ship per counter, and eventually even included light cruisers. You might have a dozen counters per side in a big fleet action.

Essentially the real units in a strategic game are fleets or task forces and the counters provide the mechanism for combat between them - they are the pieces that can inflict and absorb damage.

Just how many BB and CA can a sector support? It would be interesting to work out the RU's of the Spinward Marches and Deneb Sectors and see what you could buy in Imperium rules. It would also be interesting to do the same with the TCS campaign rules. Maybe someone's done this kind of analysis already?
Early Eighties? I think Traveller still followed Great War Royal Navy convention, with a battle squadron of eight battleships, divided into two divisions.

Cruiser squadrons tend to default to four.
The numbers are given in CTS:9
Cruisers serving with a battle fleet are generally grouped in
CruRons of from four to eight ships....
Such a tender carries a complete Battle Squadron (BatRon) of from six to eight vessels...
Each BatRon of Tigress class vessels is virtually a fleet unto itself, as each ship carries thirty
squadrons of heavy fighters (with ten FHs per squadron). A BatRon of eight ships
carries 2,400 heavy fighters.

So a cruiser squadron is six to eight, a tender/rider BatRon is the tender plus six to eight riders, while the BBs like the Tigress are in squadrons of eight ships.
So a cruiser squadron is six to eight, a tender/rider BatRon is the tender plus six to eight riders, while the BBs like the Tigress are in squadrons of eight ships.
Thanks for the reference. Even with this, designing FCS with smaller atomic units makes sense in order to facilitate strategic flexibility and to allow for more granular damage. It also helps with construction. You could have units take step losses of course. I have played games where the units have 4 steps in some games, and 5FW has 2 step units.

Note that the Home Fleet used this organisation but did not always have all units available in WWI and that they were really just concerned with blockading the German High Seas Fleet. In WWII through modern times there has been quite a bit more flexibility and I would expect that to translate into the far future - a single Tigress or pair of them is a force to be reckoned with, especially when supported with some cruisers.

FCS should support multiple organizational doctrines, even if the Imperium always deploys these ships in homogenous squadrons.
The Kaiser forced the British to concentrate their most powerful warships in the North Sea, and that heavy concentration required a complex organization to coordinate movement and fire control.

The Great Patriotic War was preceded by treaty limitations and battleship holidays, so the Royal Navy started off with only fifteen battleships and battlecruisers and sixty six cruisers, that had to cover the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indian Ocean theatres, plus seven carriers, so more task groupy.

Grand Fleet is more reminiscent of the American Pacific fleets.
For fun, I followed up the question of how many Tigresses could be produced. I chose Rhylanor subsector to analyze. The essential limitation in TCS becomes shipyard capacity. The shipyard capacity is about 8M tons (I just took 1 for the multiplier) and at 41 months per Tigress you can build 16 at a time. The base rules call for 10 years worth of budget to be spent. At most about 48 Tigress class could be in the fleet. The subsector budget would cover ~41 Tigress class ships per year but there's nowhere to build them. You'd need to leave some spare capacity for the fighters as well, plus any other escorts.

Rhylanor itself is the only source for decent naval ships in the subsector. Porozlo has a larger shipyard, but at TL10, that won't be building modern warships. No other ports in the subsector could even repair one.
Oh, and I ran across this quote in S9 about the Tigress:

Deployment: In war, the ideal deployment of any BatRon is together, as a unit. In peace, various Tigresses are often scattered throughout a region on peacekeeping missions, or to show the flag. Several individual Tigresses have been deployed among the worlds of the Five Sisters subsector to enforce the amber zone blockade of Candory and Andor.
This would seem to support the idea that smaller units would be a better choice for the FCS. It could take time to assemble them, and having them operating together is the ideal situation, not necessarily the situation at the start of combat.

A squadron is more of an administrative unit than a tactical one in modern warfare...
Homogeneity, for easier maintenance and deployment, which is why they tend to cluster ships of the same class into divisions and squadrons.

It depends on the operational priorities of the Sector Admiral, whether spreading them out accomplishes his objectives better, than holding them as strategic reserve.
Doctrine tends to evolve, presumably, rather than be stuck in conflicts fought a century before.

One reason the Imperium wants to use specialized ships for specific roles, at least at this moment; which means that superduperdreadnoughts like the Tigress probably aren't going to be numerous.

Experience from the Royal Navy, and presumably the modern American one, indicates that only really large navies can afford to really specialize.

As regards battle rider assets, sticking them far from the frontier, in this case very far, seems a given.

The evolution seems to have warbled between a hard shell perimeter defence to one more flexible.
The essay talks about evolving doctrine.

The Tigress class is numerous going by the squadron counters and the known size of those squadrons.

The Tigress is not a specialised ship, it is a pretty badly designed BB though.

Royal Navy evolution was often forced by the competition. The design and effectiveness of the race galleon that far outclassed the ships of the Spanish Armada, the torpedo boat destroyer in answer to the French Navy building torpedo boats, the all-big gun BB, the anti-submarine frigate etc.

Another thing the Royal navy had to do once up on a time was to ensure the safety of maritime trade, hence the evolution of the cruiser mission which involved long trips across the oceans of Empire. Now the US has that mantle it requires how many carrier battle groups?
The British were actually ahead with submarine technology; I'm told the only eventual benefit was figuring out all possible performance, and practicing comprehensive anti submarine tactics.

Regardless over the controversy as to how many and what type of aircraft carriers the United States Navy need, they are certainly short of destroyers and frigates, which you need not only as fleet escorts, but also maritime protection.

Depending on who you listen to, the Americans might be prepared to withdraw that global protection, I presume specifically in the Indian Ocean, in order to screw with their remaining near peer competitor.
Aside from number of ships per counter, any other criticisms of the ideas in my main post? (the first reply)?
While I am loving your idea the practicalities are a bit overwhelming.

Imagine playing 5FW with each cruiser sized ship and above as an individual counter - you would need hundreds of counters.

Each fleet token would be anywhere from two cruisers to eighty battleships, eighty cruisers, twenty-four assault ships, thirty-two tankers.

Now let's say that two hundred plus fleet encounters a Zhodani fleet designed to take it on - i.e., it is two to three times the size.

You are now talking six to eight hundred counters for two fleets meeting each other, plus SDBs...

Oh, and you have six to eight fleets...

5FW would actually play better if the fleet itself was the counter complete with combat stats.

Have you ever played Twilight Imperium? It has just about the right balance for ship combat at this fleet scale, I think.
1. Fleet train would indicate how fast a counter can regenerate.

2. I once played a board game, I think it was Red Storm Rising, where you stuck pennants into counters to indicate attached units.