Author Topic: Dropping Troops from Orbit  (Read 2126 times)

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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #30 on: December 26, 2018, 02:02:34 PM »
I quite like the idea of abstracting the drop through small anti-grav units or whatever and with having larger units dropped by shuttles but there is only any point in that if the shuttles can be targeted. Also allowing people to get troops on the ground without loss on that landing phase feels a little wrong to me.  I wonder if there needs to be a drop phase in combat that last for one 3 hour cycle when the ground forces with STOs or anti aircraft capability are able to engage the troops being dropped?

Also the one other thing I'm not sure about is the ability of attacking forces to deliver their forces at any range other than in orbit. I was hoping to be able to have some ships stand off from the planet and still deliver both troops and air cap fighters to the surface. That feels like it needs shuttles to achieve.

You won't necessarily get troops on the ground without losses. The troop ships will be engaged on the way in and in orbit. You have to end the increment before the drop in orbit, so short-range defences will engage them. Also, you probably take fire during the approach to the planet, so troops could easily be lost in the bays.

There is nothing to prevent building a large carrier that stands off from the planet and dispatches smaller ships to make the actual drop, although if you want to do that with larger formations you will need to split them and recombine on landing. However, I suspect that large, well-armoured ships will be the best option because of the benefits of large size on armour protection. Plus you can also send in escorts to engage the defences or missiles to keep any point defence occupied. In fact, with a large enough armada, you might even get boarding ships close enough to launch against orbital bases.
 
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Offline Conscript Gary

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #31 on: December 26, 2018, 03:22:23 PM »
Yeah, with things as they stand now the stages of an orbital invasion from the perspective of the ground forces/transports is:

  • Loaded from source population onto transports, using either a Spaceport or Cargo Shuttle Station at the population or a Cargo Shuttle Bay on the transport. If this step is opposed, your empire has some serious problems and probably shouldn't be invading anybody right now.
  • Transit to the target body. Any opposition in this step is purely naval-to-naval, hostile ships attacking your own.
  • Approach to the target body. Opposition in this step involves STO fire from enemy ground forces, and STS fire from any orbital bases not yet destroyed or from ground-based fighters who were lurking in wait for a situation like this to pop up.
  • Orbit of the target body for at least one increment. Same opposition as last step.
  • Dropping troops.
    • If it's a conventional bay using a Cargo Shuttle Bay, the opposition from the previous step applies during the entire process so it's probably not a good idea but I don't tell you how to run your empire.
    • If it's a boarding bay aimed at an orbital base, the process is over in one increment and the transport can now withdraw
    • If It's a drop bay, the process is over in one increment and the transport can now withdraw.
  • Landing troops. No opposition, as soon as the transport completes its unload or drop order they're on the ground.
  • Transports withdraw. Same opposition as the approach step.
  • Ground combat commences.

Thoughts from this:
Any orders where fighters can transition from being space-based to being ground-based should take longer than a single increment to perform, or have some sort of cooldown, so you can't just hop out of atmosphere to blap someone and then retreat back instantly without facing return fire. I'd be in favor of the former, so that it rewards cases where an empire saw a threat coming from farther away and could scramble the fighters sooner.
Should AA fire be able to oppose the actual landing process between a transport performing the drop order and the troops arriving on the ground? Even if it's just long-ranged AA, that might add a bit more play to things.


And then the other situation of concern here, an evacuation of ground forces.

  • Ground combat is in progress
  • Approach to the target body. Opposition comes from STO fire from enemy ground forces, and STS fire from any orbital bases or fighters popping up from the ground.
  • Picking up troops, using a Cargo Shuttle Bay on the transport or a Spaceport or Cargo Shuttle Station at the population. If this is an invasion you're aborting then you probably don't have the latter two, but maybe your combat engineers have been busy- or maybe you're evacuating a world under siege by the new spoiler mechanics that already had them in place. Opposition during this process is the same as the previous step, for the entire duration of loading troops.
  • Ground combat steps probably occur a few more times during this process.
  • Troops are picked up. Like the landing step, there's no opposition specifically between the order completing and the troops arriving on the transports.
  • Transports withdraw. Same opposition as the approach step.

Thoughts from this:
Should AA be able to oppose the loading process too? Shooting cargo shuttles out of the sky, and whatnot. For that matter, should fighters on CAP be able to do the same thing? Should they be able to interdict loading of normal cargo as well?
Opposed troop loading is going to incur a lot of opposition if you haven't taken out STO assets, but that's fair enough. It's also possible to design ships specifically for rapid troop pickup by using multiple shuttle bays, so this might actually end up with some interesting gameplay depth.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the ability for fighter-sized transports to actually land on the planet's surface should allow for loading and unloading troops without need for a Cargo Shuttle Bay or drop bay, and allow them to do so on the ground without taking fire from STS or STO elements. They should still be vulnerable to ground-based opposition during that process, but the ability to go all Dunkirk or Hoth seems like an interesting use of their capabilities.

My other 2c is that the drop bays shouldn't have any restrictions in what they can deliver to the surface. Yes, not even for superheavy vehicles or static fortifications. Even if it seems a little silly, TN technology is capable enough to make it possible and perhaps more importantly if they aren't able to be dropped it's essentially impossible to reasonably use them in an invasion.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2018, 03:33:27 PM by Conscript Gary »
 
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Offline Retropunch

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #32 on: December 26, 2018, 05:45:27 PM »
I second Conscript Gary (and chrislocke and others) desire for the planetary assault to be phased and have some level of risk/strategy to it. I'd mostly like to be able to set objectives for different troops and have them opposed at every step of the way (both on landing and on evac). In the face of invasion I imagine that everyone would be shooting whatever they could at the invaders all the time.

Really, the more agency the player has over things like drop type, target priorities and the like the better. I imagine a player might one to take out defences if they've got a second wave coming (but that would prolong the fighting as they wouldn't be taking a proper objective) whereas others might want to disable critical infrastructure even if they lose etc.

No need for more micro, just more general agency.
 
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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #33 on: December 26, 2018, 06:07:21 PM »
Given the requests for more risk/danger for planetary assault, I am obviously not doing a good job of getting across the level of danger and likely loss for ground invasions with the current mechanics :)

Assume you have troop transport approaching a planet with STO defences. Lets also assume those defences are something like 25cm lasers (with the 25% range bonus for ground-based fire control). Given reasonable fire control tech (still early game), those lasers have a range of 320,000 km and a max damage of 16. Lets assume they fire every 20/25 seconds. So if your (commercial-engined) transports have a speed of perhaps 3000 km/s, they will be in range for almost four minutes (320k inbound, 320k outbound). While the drop is instant, getting to the drop point is not. If the ground-based lasers are smaller, the range is less but the rate of fire is higher. They could also be STO mesons or even particle lances.

If the assault ships survive the STO (or there aren't any), it would not be too difficult for the ships to drop their troops away from the hostile air defences (a planet is a big place). Air defence is for ground units facing attack, not for attacking ships in orbit and the assault ships would not drop their forces into the teeth of the hostile planetary defences. The difficult part (for delivery purposes) is getting the forces to the planet. The air defences are to combat hostile fighters flying at low level to avoid STO fire who are directly attacking the forces defended by those air defences.

I could impose some form of delay, post-drop to simulate the move-up of assault forces from their drop zones, but I don't think that level of detail is necessary.

Also, taking out the STO defences will require fighting your way through the defending ground forces as those STO units will be in rear-echelon. You can't decide to attack those specifically.

BTW the NPR in my test game is currently defending its home world with 48x turret-mounted twin 10cm lasers and 84x 25cm lasers, plus 24,000 infantry (plus supporting CAP, AT, etc.), 800 medium tanks, 800 Light AA Teams, 200 AA tanks, 360 towed artillery, etc.. The total transport size of the current home world ground forces is 555,000 (111 large transport bays). It has deployed formations each with 14x 25cm lasers and 8x twin turrets to two minor colony worlds, plus more supporting ground forces. It is also currently building more STO units than it has already deployed.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2018, 06:20:34 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 
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Offline Arwyn

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #34 on: December 27, 2018, 02:53:12 AM »
Actually taking into the account of contested landings, that might argue for a couple of options.

#1 The Drop Pod: A lot of these are based on power armor sci fi stories like Starship Troopers, Armor, and 40k. Individual drop pods (Starship Troopers) or squad sized or vehicle sized (40K). In all the fiction, these were used to drop on contested planets, and the pods were often disposable, and expected to take losses on the drop, hence the small size and large numbers.

The one thing with all the fiction, and this may be reflected in the builds of the ships, is that these pods take up a lot of space, since they are single use, the dropships carry large numbers of them. That in turn makes the forces smaller. In Starship Troopers, the MI troopers are classified as Raiders, so are more special forces that general infantry.

In the Starship Trooper example, the Troopships waited for local space superiority, or a window where STO was surpressed, and moved in to drop troops and then move off. They recovered troops via recovery boats (shuttles) after the drop troops had suppressed local defenses.

However, an argument could be made for drop pods for larger vehicles. Battletech allowed hot dropping non-jump capable mechs via disposable drop harnesses. That could be replicated, but the number of vehicles in Battletech was quite small, a battalion Battlemechs was only 36 mechs.


#2 Landing craft: This would be the other option, and arguably lower tech. This would be the classic Star Wars, and Starship Troopers movie type assault craft. Larger, armored, and reusable. This is what we are discussing above. You get to build shuttles to accommodate the size of the forces being dropped (squad, platoon, ect). Obviously big shuttles are a big target during a drop, so they are potentially expensive in terms of losses.

Of course, the Battletech example of landcraft, were the dropships. These are quite large, very tough, and intended to drop from orbit into enemy resistance. The downside is size, the smallest Mech dropships was 1720 tons. Now, the flip side to this is that the dropship style actually fits Aurora fairly well. They are NOT jump capable, but are carried in system and deploy when they have a reasonable chance of getting in. Almost all but the largest of them can land, or hot drop their vehicles if they cannot.

#3 Drop vehicles: Another FASA game related to Battletech was Renegade Legion. In that system, the mechanized forces could drop from orbit with minimal requirements. But all the majority of the vehicles were anti-grav systems. Infantry dropped in their individual squad vehicles except for leg infantry and special forces, who used drop pods. Mechanized formations could drop and recover themselves. Non-mechanized or non-grav units required shuttle lift assets to get them back to orbit.

What is interesting about the Renegade Legion argument, is that their forces in many ways mirror whats being discussed here. State of the art combat formations were grav based, very mobile, and included vehicles that provided most of the roles here, armor, artillery, AAA, and infantry carriers. Less sophisticated, or technical modern but CHEAPER legions still used wheeled or tracked vehicles as they were far easier to build and maintain. These units usually got assigned to garrison or police duties, which mirror some of the roles being discussed here.

So, to Marski's point above, you could used these systems to design the military you wanted by using a either the abstract (drop pods & recovery boats) or go for the armored dropships option, which could use the existing ship design rules.

This gives you the option to drop troops and vehicles. This makes it simple and abstract, but to counter this, I would suggest a MUCH higher cost in supply and maintenance since you are consuming all of those pods every time you drop. The would let you potentially build drop pod troopships quite large, but they are going to be brutally expensive to operate.

The armored lander option (Battletech dropship) gives you an option to build multiple sizes of combat landers, which are armored and equipped for combat, and could be built using the existing ship rules. Individually expensive, these are going to be cheaper in the long run from a maintenance and supply perspective, since your not consuming pods all the time.

I think those two options give folks the flexibility to build what they want, and gives some cost offsets and advantages to both options.

Or, if you want to go for more handwavium, you can make a sufficiently high tech armored forces "self drop" capable like the Renegade Legion formations.
 

Online King-Salomon

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #35 on: December 27, 2018, 03:40:26 AM »
BTW the NPR in my test game is currently defending its home world with 48x turret-mounted twin 10cm lasers and 84x 25cm lasers, plus 24,000 infantry (plus supporting CAP, AT, etc.), 800 medium tanks, 800 Light AA Teams, 200 AA tanks, 360 towed artillery, etc.. The total transport size of the current home world ground forces is 555,000 (111 large transport bays). It has deployed formations each with 14x 25cm lasers and 8x twin turrets to two minor colony worlds, plus more supporting ground forces. It is also currently building more STO units than it has already deployed.

looking at this the question for me is not to make assaults even more dangerous but if an assault is really worth the trouble at all...

would all STO's be able to shoot at the attacking craft Steve? or only a % of them because of the planetary curvature? if - this early in your game - the NPR is still increasing the STO's I don't want to think about what numbers they have when you could attack them.. that's what? the equivalent of 20-30 "old" PDC's and much harder to kill as "old" PDC's too?

I still say that it should benefit to go with the trouble to assault a planet at all... hmm...

looking at the numbers, I would guess size 1 missiles will be the weapon of choice to overhelm the planetary defenders point defence at the beginning... hmm.. back to the planing board...
 

Offline DIT_grue

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #36 on: December 27, 2018, 03:44:48 AM »
While I think the recent arguments for a distinction between light ground units able to be dropped and heavy vehicles that have to be landed have already been answered well, I am no longer able to resist referencing Rule 11: "Everything is air-droppable at least once." Also, another fiction example of very large tanks being dropped from orbit - Bolos.
 
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Offline Conscript Gary

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #37 on: December 27, 2018, 03:55:51 AM »
Well, remember that you have options for suppressing STO fire before you send your troops in- even without any boots on the ground, beam orbital bombardment will be far more accurate against them, and using missiles on them will just just as effective. Even if an enemy holds their STO assets from firing until you're within range, that still reduces the total time you're under fire- and opens them up to counterfire by any bombardment ships you brought along as escort.

Planetary assaults against intact defenses being very lethal is only an issue if there's no counterplay- as it stands, you can mitigate the opposition by firing on STO contacts as they pop up, increasing the speed and/or armor of your transports to reduce the time spent or time-to-kill, send in your transports in formation with other ships so STO assets are more likely to split their fire, simply send in enough transports to overcome the losses, or even sending in fighters on Search and Destroy to try and get lucky with hitting STO positions. If you do none of these things, then your force should have a bad time.
 

Offline Garfunkel

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #38 on: December 27, 2018, 04:09:30 AM »
I think people's opinions here are divided because we all have different ideas about what this should "look" like. Some think of the beach scene from Saving Private Ryan, others might think of the Klendathu drop in Starship Troopers the movie, yet others rely on books.

My opposition stems from the feeling that being able to eject basically unlimited numbers of troops in 5 seconds, and them have them be combat ready on the planet 5 seconds later, is silly. If only infantry and LAV were ejected like that and heavier vehicles and static units required unloading, then it counters that issue to some extent. But this isn't actually that massive of a problem, because I remembered that:

a) the actual troop transport (ie ocean liner in WW2) is staying far away from the planet, and this is the comfortable vessel which has transported the troops from Earth
b) the landing ship (ie LCT or variety in WW2) is a sturdy, heavily armoured and fairly fast craft with the sole purpose of getting boots on the ground as quickly as possible

nothing forces us to make b) 500,000-ton behemoths, they can be as small as we want, we'll just need loads of them to deliver any meaningful amount of troops.

I'll probably use battalion-sized landing ships, then their ability to instantly eject troops from orbit to ground inside a single 5-sec phase doesn't make things too crazy.
 

Offline chrislocke2000

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #39 on: December 27, 2018, 04:43:30 AM »
Given the requests for more risk/danger for planetary assault, I am obviously not doing a good job of getting across the level of danger and likely loss for ground invasions with the current mechanics :)


Ok when you put it like that it is sounding pretty brutal on the planetary assault options especially when the attacker has to wait for the STOs to fire before they can specifically target them! A couple of thoughts:

- It looks like long range lasers will be the weapon of choice for STOs to prevent hostiles moving to a sniping position to bombard them. Do you see the use of Railguns or other weapon systems for STOs being particularly viable?

- The level of logistics going into a planetary attack looks like it will be huge once you factor in the troop transport and ammo transport requirements plus the additional ships for escort duty etc. Any concerns this level of requirement is going to tilt the game further towards resource management and production growth with less military action as a result?



 

Offline Conscript Gary

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #40 on: December 27, 2018, 04:55:08 AM »
Also, even if the ground forces are instantly considered to be on the ground they'll still likely be waiting a few hours for the combat increment to actually happen.
 

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #41 on: December 27, 2018, 05:09:03 AM »
I think people's opinions here are divided because we all have different ideas about what this should "look" like. Some think of the beach scene from Saving Private Ryan, others might think of the Klendathu drop in Starship Troopers the movie, yet others rely on books.

Guess that's right on the money...

it would be much less confusion if we could say "OK, the whole ground-combat and assault system is based on XY-Fiction/timetable...

historical based ideas don't work in 3D space related thinking (D-Day would never have worked if the allies forces could be bombarded/had to fight ALL the German defences in whole of Europe at the tiny place in Normandy.. something we face as all STO's on the planet can fight the attacking forces and not only 1-5% as may be the case in a WW2 scenario.. so the "old thinking" about "the defender has the advantage of dug in while the attacker has the advantage to choice when, where and with how many forces he attacks" don't work... so the "main advantage" of the attacker that the defender has to defend ALL the places the attacker COULD attack is not true...)

WH40k in itself is not logical all the time (even a escort-class ship weapon is able to flatten whole cities in 1 lance-shot [at least in some books] without opposition posible...)....

Honorverse is Newton-based and so no base for space-to-ground-attacks at all as the planet "will capitulate" after the space defences are destroyed (as you could just send a object balistic with near c-speed and kill all live at once  ...)

Starship troupers is a good one and easy one (film not book) but too basic and "flat" for the deep Steve is aiming for...

etcpp

guess it would be easier if Steve would say "OK, THAT fiction is my goal with some modifications" ... but as the system will be a mix of all kind of books/films/ideas etc everyone will have other ideas "how it should look" ... so.. you are right :)
 

Offline Whitecold

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #42 on: December 27, 2018, 05:25:06 AM »
You won't necessarily get troops on the ground without losses. The troop ships will be engaged on the way in and in orbit. You have to end the increment before the drop in orbit, so short-range defences will engage them. Also, you probably take fire during the approach to the planet, so troops could easily be lost in the bays.

There is nothing to prevent building a large carrier that stands off from the planet and dispatches smaller ships to make the actual drop, although if you want to do that with larger formations you will need to split them and recombine on landing. However, I suspect that large, well-armoured ships will be the best option because of the benefits of large size on armour protection. Plus you can also send in escorts to engage the defences or missiles to keep any point defence occupied. In fact, with a large enough armada, you might even get boarding ships close enough to launch against orbital bases.
Steve, can you at least try to implement large formations being loaded onto multiple ships at least as long as they are in the same fleet? Having to do extensive recombinations seems awkward, and the viability of small landing craft should live or die with their survivability, not the patience to restructure units.
 

Offline Zincat

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #43 on: December 27, 2018, 05:40:51 AM »
I am ok with planets being very hard to conquer. I do however have a question. I apologize if it's already been written somewhere and I missed it / forgot about it. In my defense, there's a lot of topics and posts in this forum by now :)

How likely are we to actually have a workable idea of what we are going to face during an invasion? Will espionage tell us more or less in detail in Aurora #? Will a lot of espionage be needed for that?
I assume that's the case, I just want to be sure. Because a blind invasion sounds like a really, really bad idea ;D
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
« Reply #44 on: December 27, 2018, 06:14:03 AM »
You won't necessarily get troops on the ground without losses. The troop ships will be engaged on the way in and in orbit. You have to end the increment before the drop in orbit, so short-range defences will engage them. Also, you probably take fire during the approach to the planet, so troops could easily be lost in the bays.

There is nothing to prevent building a large carrier that stands off from the planet and dispatches smaller ships to make the actual drop, although if you want to do that with larger formations you will need to split them and recombine on landing. However, I suspect that large, well-armoured ships will be the best option because of the benefits of large size on armour protection. Plus you can also send in escorts to engage the defences or missiles to keep any point defence occupied. In fact, with a large enough armada, you might even get boarding ships close enough to launch against orbital bases.
Steve, can you at least try to implement large formations being loaded onto multiple ships at least as long as they are in the same fleet? Having to do extensive recombinations seems awkward, and the viability of small landing craft should live or die with their survivability, not the patience to restructure units.

I really don't want to go down that route due to potential complexities. Given the large differences in sizes of different units (5 tons to 500+ tons) and the possible combinations of different landing craft sizes in the main fleet, the code would need to figure out the best way to load them all, then keep track of the split (using a new type of sub-formation) and display that on the UI. Plus what happens if the fleet splits (either voluntarily or due to damage)? Do those sub-formations in the split-off fleets become new formations?

One of the goals with C# Aurora is to make large ships more viable and I think this area is one where large ships will actually have an advantage. For example, here are three designs using tech from my current NPR (my very off-the-cuff designs).

This is a very simple military-engined landing craft with 400 tons of capacity and 24 points of armour

Landing Craft Small class Troop Transport      955 tons       29 Crew       159 BP       TCS 19    TH 128    EM 0
6701 km/s      Armour 3-8       Shields 0-0       HTK 4      Sensors 0/0/0/0      DCR 0      PPV 0
Maint Life 0 Years     MSP 0    AFR 190%    IFR 2.7%    1YR 25    5YR 376    Max Repair 32 MSP
Troop Capacity 400 tons     Drop Capable   
Commander    Control Rating 1   BRG 
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months    Morale Check Required   

Magneto-plasma Drive  EP64 (2)    Power 128    Fuel Use 885.44%    Signature 64    Explosion 20%
Fuel Capacity 50,000 Litres    Range 1.1 billion km   (44 hours at full power)

Another military-engined ship. This carries 12x more troops, has 6x more armour (152) and costs 4.5x more.

Landing Craft class Troop Transport      8,826 tons       79 Crew       707.2 BP       TCS 177    TH 544    EM 0
3081 km/s      Armour 4-38       Shields 0-0       HTK 27      Sensors 0/0/0/0      DCR 2      PPV 0
Maint Life 0.18 Years     MSP 100    AFR 312%    IFR 4.3%    1YR 549    5YR 8,231    Max Repair 200 MSP
Troop Capacity 5,000 tons     Drop Capable   
Commander    Control Rating 1   BRG 
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months    Morale Check Required   

Magneto-plasma Drive  EP272 (2)    Power 544    Fuel Use 53.69%    Signature 272    Explosion 10%
Fuel Capacity 100,000 Litres    Range 3.8 billion km   (14 days at full power)

Finally, a large commercial-engined ship (which needs no maintenance and can be built in commercial shipyards), which carries 125x more troops than the small ship and 10x more than the medium. It has 3390 armour (which is 140x more than the small ship and 22x more than the medium). It could theoretically take 200 hits at point-blank range from 25cm lasers (assuming even distribution). It costs 44x the small and 10x the medium. Plus, every small or medium ship lost means troops lost as well, whereas you have to penetrate all the armour on the large ship before any troops are lost.

Haruna II class Troop Transport      127,890 tons       726 Crew       7,003.6 BP       TCS 2,558    TH 6,144    EM 0
2402 km/s      Armour 15-226       Shields 0-0       HTK 296      Sensors 8/8/0/0      DCR 1      PPV 0
MSP 34    Max Repair 200 MSP
Troop Capacity 50,000 tons     Drop Capable    Cargo Shuttle Multiplier 2   
Commander    Control Rating 1   BRG 
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months   

Commercial Magneto-plasma Drive  EP256 (24)    Power 6144    Fuel Use 3.54%    Signature 256    Explosion 4%
Fuel Capacity 350,000 Litres    Range 13.9 billion km   (67 days at full power)

CIWS-160 (2x2)    Range 1000 km     TS: 16,000 km/s     ROF 5       Base 50% to hit
Thermal Sensor TH1-8 (1)     Sensitivity 8     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22.4m km
EM Sensor EM1-8 (1)     Sensitivity 8     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22.4m km

A small, fast ship would be harder to hit for the large lasers (although not for the point defences), although any hit may be fatal and it is unlikely to be so much harder to hit that it compensates for the difference in overall armour and the incremental losses.

Mesons would be a problem for the large. In fact, TBH mesons are so dangerous in general I am considering either making them ruins-only or adding some restrictions (cue new thread :) )

Anyway, my point is that small ships are unlikely to have any major advantages over large ships (probably the reverse) once you take the comparative capacity, protection and cost into consideration, so I don't want to spend a lot of time coding something that probably isn't a good idea anyway.
 
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