Missiles 102

“William Turner: You didn’t beat me. You ignored the rules of engagement! In a fair fight, I’d kill you!
Jack Sparrow: Well, that’s not much incentive for me to fight fair then, is it?”

Missiles are for cowards? True, you can kill an opponent in his sleep, but isn’t that the ideal space combat scenario?
You: Not a scratch
Them: An unaware expanding cloud of slowly cooling junk.

My last article on missiles dealt with protecting against them. This time we’ll cover how to use them effectively. Missiles can be broadly be divided into Regular, Coldstart and Miscellaneous. As always, grab the latest rules, designs and design system here.

Regular
Regular missiles, small 15 min endurance ones, are not really that stealthy. The trick is to make your launching ships Drift as close as possible to where you think the enemy will be, and to make sure your vectors will differ by at least 2. This is fairly easy if you are untracked but really hard when battling for Initiative. If you manage to place your launching ships Drift on top of the enemy position every thrust G become a +1 DM thanks to the often overlooked Remaining thrust Gs modifier. Remember to roll or turn so your launcher can see the enemy, otherwise you’ll automatically miss. If your volley holds 3 or more missiles use the Spray fire option.

Cold start
This is another beast altogether. Launch them drifting from far away, you only need to be within launcher range when attacking. Keep in mind that each launcher battery can only hold control one volley at a time. If your current volley seem impossible to impact, give it up and launch a new, but remember that your launcher only carries 3 volleys (unless your ship has a magazine, don’t you just love those SDBs). If the enemy happen to Detect or Track your volley things get much harder as you may only have a G or two acceleration advantage over your enemy, if that.

Miscellaneous
Decoys and sensor missiles aren’t strictly weapons but can be really useful in stealthy situations such as blockade running, agent injection, smuggling, space piracy etc.
Decoys
Concentrate on the Visual signature as IR Scans are rarely used. Match your ships Visual(Hull) if you can as the enemy will probably know what class of vessels to expect. Launch the decoys early and remember that even thrustless decoy volleys must be handled by a launcher battery (to simplify gameplay), ditch your decoys whenever you wish to launch regular missiles. Missiles are cheap, ships are not.
Sensors
Sensor missiles are mostly used to closely monitor a planet. Put a sensor in orbit and have it Scan a 3×3 sq area on the planet (maybe an entire box for large planets). Why do that? The sensing ship must be within 5 times the Scan size or less, with sensor missiles you can scan small areas without running the risk of being found yourself. Just remember that sensor missiles must be in Line of Sight with the controlling ship, this requirement holds for all missiles by the way.

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