Last week my PCs had I would say their first major ship to ship battle. They had what I would call a few skirmeshes before and came out well, but against the Orks I was very surprised at how handily they beat them.
First off, we were using the alternate ship combat rules that I've heard plenty of good things about (basically drop all armour by 12 and macrocannons shots no longer get rolled together, each hit is done on its own; Mathhammer's rules I believe those are). But even if we used the original I don't think the results would have been different (if anything it might have been even more of a rout of the Orks).
They have a Corvette class Frigate, so decent speed and maneuverability, they were defending the Breaking Yards and had some help with their gun emplacements and there was another ship helping them (another Frigate). Against them were an Ork Kroozer, 2 attack ships and 3 Brute Ram ships. The Breaking Yards guns didn't amount to much, they never even got through the Void shields (I could have done those differently , but I wanted the stars to be the PCs). They discussed tactics with the other ship and both were hidden and came active when the Orks were in extreme range. The other ship agreed to try and pull some of the Ram ships off and managed to pull two of them off the map I was using. When the third ram ship got closer, the PC's shot out of their hiding spot and basically took out the ram in one big salvo as they passed it on an angle.
The Kroozer was escorted by the two attack ships, both were behind it in a V formation. The PCs made a wide circle as one of them broke off to try and engage them. With the remaining Ork ships only able to make 45 degree turns and moving at maybe half the speed of the PCs (who had a pilot that could get pilot rolls with bonuses over 110) the PCs got behind the first Ork ship and stayed away from its guns and shot it up the tail pipe until it was scrap.
By this time the other Frigate returned after destroying its two Ram ships off stage and engaged the other attack ship, leaving the PCS to go after the Kroozer. The Kroozer managed to unload a bunch of small shuttles and boarding craft onto some vital Breaking Yards installation (a plot hook for future stories), but even trying to turn the Kroozer to engage the PCs, it couldn't do it, and the PCs widdled it down to nothing practically with the same tactics of getting behind it and just spamming their guns on its backside. Their ship had at best a few near misses, the one hit they took was absorbed by the Void shields. The Kroozer, with it's high Hull Integrity became almost useless with penalties as the huge morale and crew losses took effect, not to mention the few critical hits.
I had to hand it to the PCs they also made great use of all the possible bonuses they could stack each round, which helped a bunch. The main gunner also managed to convert three large hits into ctits by using his Fate points to give an extra DoS, which helped a bunch.
Is that basically how it's supposed to go? I have to admit I was impressed by the groups simple but extremely effective tactics. Next time I'll like incorporate either more Ram ships, or also small Ork fighters and possibly have guns to the Aft on the Ork ships. Have you had different experiences?
For what it's worth, while trying out Mathhammer's rules, I had them do a mock battle 1 on 1 vs a wolf pack raider, and then the Mechanicus Light Cruiser, and the Raider was the one that was an actual fight, the Light Cruiser was easily cut down. Maneuverability seems to win out hands down in these fights. Numbers of course will make a difference, and I'm betting so will fighters and bombers.
You take a chance getting up in the morning, crossing the street, or sticking your face in a fan.
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Math-hammer encourages/forces your players to fight smarter to win against larger opponents such as kroozers, which seems to be what they did. Using the original rules, the combat would likely have ended within a couple of turns.
The kroozer should have been able to make hard turns with maneuver actions though, and depending on how close they got slow vessels can escape the crosshairs of smaller, faster vessels by jamming on the brakes, forcing the lighter craft to overshoot unless he reacts in the same way; that comes largely down to initiative orders though.
Light Cruisers are rather naff; their saving grace is that they can mount higher-power weaponry, but they're still rather fragile. Personally I allow them to maneuver at 90 degrees like frigates.
The way to beat Orks is with speed and manovering around their slow lumbernig ships and predictable attack patterns. My characters met 3 Ork attack ships and a brute with thier stargalleon and sword frigate. It did not go well……
The Orks closed in to attack, the frigate ran rings round them using its macrocannons while the much slower stargalleon took some bad damage when the orks were able to close in and launch a torpedo attack. The Brute and two of the Orks ships were destroyed while the stargalleon took more hits on his large hull integrity but then the final ork ship, damaged and looking rather alone all of a sudden launched a brutal ram attack against the frigate which took 2/3 of its hull points just like that before launching a massive boarding action. Sadly for the orks that frigate was loaded with Murder Servitors……
Orks are very powerful, but they should be predictable and slow, in the Brute entry in BFK it does say you should be careful with Brutes as they cover a major Ork weakness in that they can actually turn and manover.
Not sure about these new rules, our space battles seem to be doing just fine.
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