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I. Downloadable Files IV. Game Markers VII. Suggested Ship Miniatures
II. Rules Clarifications V. Alternate Ship Record Sheets VIII. Tactical Tips
III. Designing Spaceships VI. Fair Battles -
Last update: 12/28/2005

One of the most wonderful discoveries I've made on the net is a free set of space wargame rules called Red Chicken Rising. These rules were written by David Ferris, and are available at his web site,; follow the "Old Game Stuff" link. The rules are meant for miniature spaceships and free-form movement, but can work with counters and/or hex maps with little modification. The game is simple without being insulting, it plays quickly, and it's a lot of fun. There are some silly touches, but "serious" gamers can ignore them without changing the game's flavor.

This game, and Ferris' other work, has affected my own site in several ways. By showing that wargames don't have to be complex, he inspired me to write my own EasyStar, the first of many uncomplicated wargames I've created for public consumption. And by showing that wargames don't have to be 100% serious, he bears some of the blame for my own Space Colony Cheeses and Hack & Sack New Jersey. Both of these games also have event tables that bear a more-than-accidental resemblance to the tables in Ferris' Napoleon at Chattanooga.

So what's the point of this page? Well, I can't find any references to RCR anywhere on the net, aside from Ferris' own site, and that's a shame. If your tastes in gaming are like mine, there are times when you don't want to fuss with movement vectors and power factors -- you just want to blow things up. RCR is perfect for those times. It's also a good way to introduce young people or non-gamers to the hobby. And, as the author himself intended, it lets you use all kinds of ship minis in battle against each other. But Mr. Ferris is no longer actively supporting his games, as he has turned his energies in other directions. So, as a public service to the gaming community, here are my own additions and clarifications to RCR, which should make a good game even better, or at least a little more accessible.

I have permission from David Ferris to run this page. Everything on this site is subject to his copyrights. He has given permission to download and copy his game, but if anybody tries to make any money off his stuff or my additions to it, you'll be in trouble with him, and I won't be very pleased, either.

I. Downloadable Files

All downloadable files from this page are here

This includes the alternate ship-design spreadsheet, the game markers, the new ship record sheets, and the ship designs for new alien races. All these are described elsewhere on this page.

II. Rules Clarifications

II-a. Ship Contact and Ramming

The rules for ramming and close combat in section 5.1 of the rules seem to contradict the part of the ship record sheet (Forms B and C) that says, "If miss, no effect and ram attempter must continue straight for full move." I think the forms are in error; if a ram fails, the two ships are still locked together.

Section 6.3 of the rules says that the rammer and rammee suffer ten and three hits respectively on the Hit Location Table. Forms B and C say they take special damage hits. Again, I think the forms are wrong, and the ten/three hits are on the normal damage table.

If you wonder how two ships locked in contact could keep going straight through each other on their next move, remember we're fighting in 3-D space. One ship can pass over or under the other.

II-b. Fighter Squadron Damage

If a fighter squadron loses a crew unit or a unit of propulsion, that means one of the fighters in the squadron has been destroyed. Reduce the other key numbers for that squadron (crew or propulsion, beam strength, number of torpedoes) accordingly. Unlike other ships, loss of propulsion does not slow down a fighter squadron. It means one fighter went up in flames, but the others keep going at the same speed as before.

Always assign damage to fighter squadrons in the way that takes out the fewest number of fighters, or does the least amount of damage. For example, if a fighter squadron has lost one or more torpedoes to battle damage, and then loses a fighter, assume that the wrecked fighter had already lost its torpedo, so the fighter squadron doesn't lose another torp in this case. Or if a squadron takes both a crew hit and a propulsion hit from the same torpedo, treat both as hits on the same fighter, not on two different fighters. A beam attack that does multiple hits must be treated as hits on different fighters, though.

II-c. Fighters and Carriers

There's not a hint of a rule for how carriers launch and recover their fighters. So I'll make up a couple, based on the rules from my own wargames.
  1. Fighters can take part in a battle only if brought there by a carrier, or if the battle takes place near a planet or space station from which fighters can come and go.
  2. A carrier can launch up to four fighter squadrons in a turn. These are placed in ship-to-ship or base-to-base contact with their carrier, facing in the same direction as that carrier, at the end of the carrier's move. Launched fighters can immediately move and/or attack in the turn that they were launched.
  3. Treat a small space station as a light carrier, a medium station as a carrier, and a large station as a super-carrier (see the Carriers section of "Ground Rules for Ship Design"). Fighters launched from a station face straight away from it. Planets can handle an infinite number of squadrons and fighters in a turn.
  4. To land back on a carrier, a fighter squadron must move into ship-to-ship or base-to-base contact with a carrier that isn't already full of fighters, and that fighter squadron must have at least 1" of movement left for that turn. A carrier can recover up to four fighter squadrons in a turn. Recovery does not affect launching -- a carrier can launch four squadrons and recover four others in the same turn. Recovery can happen at any point in the carrier's move.
  5. If a fighter squadron lands on a carrier, and spends one turn on that carrier, it can launch on the third turn with torpedoes reloaded (as many as the remaining fighters in the squadron can carry). In other words, Turn x: fighters land; Turn x+1: fighters are being re-armed; Turn x+2, fighters launch again with torpedoes. If the fighters don't wait for the second turn, they launch just as they were when they landed.
  6. If a fighter squadron suffers a bridge, fuel, or magazine hit, it automatically destroys one, and only one, fighter.
  7. A 6 on the hit table usually means a hull hit, which does no damage. But on a carrier, a 6 means a flight-deck hit, reducing the carrier's capacity by 4 fighters, and if there are more fighters on board than the carrier's reduced capacity can handle, those "excess" fighters are destroyed. Put a carrier-damage marker somewhere on that ship's record sheet to keep track of the damage.
  8. If a carrier is destroyed with fighters aboard, the fighters are also destroyed.

II-d. Dweasel Diplomacy

The concept of inflicting casualties by bombarding the enemy with e-mail scams and Internet pharmacy ads is easily the silliest part of the rules. If you don't like the idea, then call it "long-range electronic warfare" instead. Now you're hammering the enemy with high-intensity signals to fry their computers and keep the crew from doing their jobs. That's the official definition of a crew casualty anyway (section 2.0 of the rules), and it's in keeping with DweasDip's being based on Targeting (that is, tech level). It plays exactly the same either way.

If a ship's crew is wiped out by Dweasel Diplomacy, is that ship immediately out of the game, or is the damage applied at the end of the turn? I asked Dave, and he said to treat it like any other damage, applied at the end of the turn.

II-e. Proposed House Rules

II-e.1. Reduced Bridge Hits
It never fails! Every time I try a solitaire game of RCR to check out a new fleet design, one of the fleets will lose a ship or two to the exact same cause: a bridge hit that wipes out the entire crew. (And it's always the fleet I'm secretly rooting for, too.) I can see this happening to a small ship like a destroyer, but a heavy cruiser? Shouldn't a ship that big have an emergency bridge or something, to keep it in the battle if the bridge takes one hit? Two hits, sure, but not just one!

Therefore, when every ship starts the game with a crew of ten or less, bridge hits do only 1-5 points' damage (roll a d10, and subtract 5 if the result is greater than 5). This will make the ships last a little longer in small-fleet battles.

II-e.2. Shifting Into Reverse
Can a starship move backwards? I've seen a few on TV that can. And what ship designer in his right mind would build a billion-dollar ship with no reverse gear? This issue came up in a game, and we came up with a rule for it on the spot: ships can move in reverse, up to half their normal allowed move, and no turning while backing up. A ship can't move backwards and forwards in the same turn.
II-e.3. Fighters and Anti-Personnel Combat
It doesn't make sense for fighter squadrons to engage in Dweasel Diplomacy, even though they have a Targeting rating -- the pilots are too busy controlling their fighters and don't have time for spamming the enemy. Likewise, fighters can't engage in CAC. Are they supposed to abandon their fighters, take some swipes at the foe, then climb back in? What if they lock themselves out? Fighter squadrons are limited to weapons fire and ramming.
II-e.4. New Weapon: Missiles
If you want to arm a ship with missiles, that ship needs to follow the rules for carriers, because volleys of missiles are treated just like fighter squadrons. Such a missile ship cannot carry both fighters and missiles.

A missile volley consists of 1-4 missiles. It has no crew, propulsion equal to the number of missiles in the volley, very high speed, no shields, no CAG, no beams, and 1-2 torpedoes (which cannot be fired). Their Targeting value is critical, because they have to ram their target to hurt it. Targeting cannot exceed 8 or the highest Targeting in its fleet plus two, whichever is lower. A missile volley also suffers damage similar to a fighter squadron -- a hit on crew or propulsion reduces the number of missiles in the volley by 1. The cost of a single missile is 50 per torpedo carried; a three-missile volley with two torps per missile would cost 300 points.

When a missile volley reaches its target, rather than making to-hit and shield rolls, make a ramming attempt for each missile in the volley. A missile that misses its ram is lost. Each missile that hits does damage as if it scored hits with all its torpedoes. Such hits don't have to roll to-hit and can't be stopped by shields. Missile hits occur in the movement phase, but treat the damage as normal battle damage; don't apply it until the end of the turn.

II-e.5. New Weapon: Boarding Torpedoes
Several existing space games use the concept of boarding torpedoes -- manned missiles that slam into the hull of an enemy ship and disgorge a team of armed Marines who will raise all the havoc they can. Such a hare-brained maneuver seems to fit perfectly into the RCR universe.

A volley of boarding torpedoes follows the same rules as a missile volley, except that it carries no torpedoes and has a CAG rating, typically 2 per boarding torpedo in the volley. Its crew will be the same as its CAG, and if one is hit, both are reduced. Because boarding torpedoes have to be bigger than missiles to carry and protect their fragile cargo, a volley usually consists of two torpedoes, and can never be more than three. Boarding torpedoes can also carry up to 2 units of shielding. Such torpedoes can be launched from either a fighter carrier or a missile ship, where each individual torpedo takes up as much space as 1 fighter or 2 missiles. The cost of a boarding-torpedo volley equals the total CAC of that volley times 75.

If a boarding-torpedo volley successfully rams an enemy ship, it stays stuck to that ship until one or the other is destroyed. For the sake of simplicity, we'll assume that the torpedoes always score hull hits, so they do no damage when they ram. Each turn, the Marines from the torpedoes wage CAC against the ship they've boarded. Because CAC always causes casualties to both sides, it's a matter of time before the Marines are wiped out, unless they can wipe out the boarded ship's crew first. If the Marines win, the boarded ship is finished -- there's no way the Marines can figure out how to work an alien ship's controls in time to affect the battle. Remove the ship from the game at the end of the turn.

III. Designing Spaceships

The RCR download from includes a ship design spreadsheet, an Excel document with the clever title of "RCRShipDesignSpreadsheet." This sheet includes all the rules and formulae you need to create your own starships. But it comes without instructions, and, more importantly, it says nothing about the "ground rules" for RCR spaceships.

III-a. Instructions for Using the Ship-Design Spreadsheet

This spreadsheet has two pages. The one you'll use the most is the "Ship Design" page, which lets you create weapons batteries, shields, and so on, and does all the math to compute the total point cost. You can design one ship at a time on this page; if you want to make another ship, you'll have to overwrite the values you used last, so be sure to print out a copy of the sheet once you have a design you like. Or, if you're comfortable with Excel, you can add a page, copy the design page to your new page, and play with a new design on this new page without disturbing the old one.

(The other page of the spreadsheet shows all the "official" ships in the Daveway's document, so you can see how they were built and where their costs came from. Each ship is shown in a modified version of the ship-design spreadsheet.)

You create a spaceship design by filling in the gray boxes; the blue ones are figured by the spreadsheet. You will quickly notice that 80-90% of a ship's cost is in its weapons. It's tempting to drop a die of beam strength, and use the points for impenetrable shields and huge crews to make your ship unstoppable. See the following section ("Ground rules for ship design") for some reasons why you shouldn't do this.

If your goal is a ship with a given set of values, then plug in those values, and see if the resulting point cost is in line with what you're willing to "pay" for that ship. If you're striving for a ship with a fixed point cost, you'll have to fiddle with the values quite a bit, and you'll probably have to make some compromises. Keep the following basic facts in mind:

If you'd rather, I offer a variation on this spreadsheet in my downloadable file, called "Autoform.XLS," with the following improvements:

  1. It looks just like the "official" ship designs in the "RCRDaveways" document.
  2. It puts an entire design on one screen, without having to scroll up and down to see it all.
  3. It has room for a full range of ship designs at once, instead of having to do one at a time.
  4. It automatically calculates the additional cost of a 360° weapons battery. Just put "360" in the "Bearing" box, instead of "Front" or "Rear."
  5. It includes four other pages that automatically fill in my Form E for the ships you design, with a fleet of one super-battleship, two battleships, two battle-cruisers, four heavy cruisers, four light cruisers, six destroyers, four frigates, one light carrier, four fighter squadrons, and two special-design ships. Design your ships, fill in the ship names, print the forms, and you're ready to fight.

III-b. Ground Rules for Ship Design

There's nothing in the rules to stop you from building a destroyer with level-9 shields and 30 crew units. But if you search the "official" ship designs that come with RCR, you'll see that almost all of a given class were built with common values. Most light cruisers, for example, tend to have similar crews, similar propulsion ratings, and similar shields. Such limits aren't spelled out anywhere (except on this web page), but if you ignore them, your ships will be "out of sync" with the official designs, and your own designs will win every time. And where's the sport in that? Besides, most of the fun of the game comes from blowing things up, so an invulnerable ship wouldn't be much fun. So here are the design specs that RCR's author apparently used.

In all cases, you can use lower values than specified. Adding one to the crew or propulsion won't be a design-killer, but don't go higher unless you have a very compelling reason. Shields, in particular, should stay at the "default" values. Targeting and weapons values vary by race, not by ship class, so there are no limits on those.

  1. Super-Battleship (SBB): a ship of this type is bigger than big, and is as much a status symbol as a weapon. Only one of these is listed in Daveway's, so it's hard to draw any firm conclusions. But they're supposed to be "super." Shields should not be higher than 8, and movement should be 6. Other than that, the only limits I'd put on SBB's are the limits of the ship record forms. Also, for each 4000 points of cost, an SBB can handle 16 fighters, launching and landing them like a carrier.
  2. Battleship (BB): this is the biggest ship most navies will ever own. A navy with no battleships is considered second-rate, no matter what else they have going for them. Crew is typically between 12 and 16. Propulsion is 10-12. Shields are 6-7. Movement is almost always 6. CAG averages around 7-8.
  3. Battle-Cruiser (BC): this type is sort of a mini-battleship, with lighter shields, higher speed, and almost as much prestige as its bigger brother. Crew is usually 10-12. Propulsion and CAG are 6-8. Shields are 5, and movement is almost always 8 (sometimes 10).
  4. Carrier (CV): a carrier is a support ship for fighter squadrons, but it can fight for itself if it has to. Here again, only one example is given, with no details or explanations. The following limits are entirely my own, but until Mr. Ferris offers an opinion, they'll have to do. Crew and movement for carriers follow battleship rules, while propulsion and shielding follow battle-cruiser rules. Beam weapons must have a range at least 6" shorter than that of a heavy cruiser in its own navy, and torpedoes must be less than or equal to a heavy cruiser's torpedo battery. Such a ship can carry up to 32 fighters (ten squadrons of three, or eight squadrons of four, or six squadrons of five). If it costs more than a battleship, it is a super-carrier and can carry up to 48 fighters, and can have a movement up to 8. If it costs the same as or less than a light cruiser, it's a light carrier (with maximum shields of 3), and can carry up to 16 fighters.
  5. Heavy Cruiser (CA): this type is the workhorse of most navies. Crew is usually 8 (can be 10), propulsion is usually 6 (can be 8), shields are 4, movement is 6 or 8, and CAG is 4-6.
  6. Light Cruiser (CL): this is the biggest ship that could be considered an escort (i.e., expendable), and they often work in support of destroyers. Crew is almost always 6, propulsion is 4, shielding is 3, movement is 8 or 10, and CAG is 3-5.
  7. Destroyer (DD): destroyers tend to be all over the battlefield -- finishing off crippled enemies, guarding their bigger brethren against CAC and attacks from the rear, dueling with enemy escorts, and stinging the foe's big ships with their torpedoes if they can. Their careers are usually short, but exciting. Crews tend to be 4, propulsion and shielding are both 2, movement is 10-12, and CAG is 2-4.
  8. Frigate (FF): this is an inexpensive mini-destroyer with limited armament, but sometimes a little in the right place is all you need. There aren't many examples given, so these figures may not be accurate. Crew, propulsion, shielding, and CAG are all 1-2, and movement is 12.
  9. Corvette (Cvt): these ships are even smaller than frigates, and are normally used for scouting and patrolling. No "normal" examples are given, so here are some reasonable-sounding ones. Crew and propulsion should be 1, and the other values are like a frigate.
  10. Fighter Squadron (Ftr): you have to decide how many fighters are in each squadron (3, 4, or 5). Crew and propulsion will normally be the same as the number of fighters, and beam dice and the number of torpedoes must be multiples of that number. Shields are normally 2, movement is usually in the 14-16 range, and CAG shouldn't exceed the number of fighters. Fighter beam weapons usually have shorter ranges than ships' beams.
  11. Space Station (Stn): In RCR, a station is basically a ship with a movement of zero. A small station is roughly equivalent to a light cruiser, a medium station resembles a battle-cruiser, and a big station is in the same league as a super-battleship. Remember to make its weapons with 360° bearings, since it can't turn!
  12. Monster ships: to play a really huge ship like a Death Star, the easiest method is to treat it like terrain, with weapons installations and vital targets here and there. The weapons installations would act just like space stations of various sizes. The targets would be similar but unarmed.
  13. Other ship types: if you make up a new type, try to keep its specs in the same range as the limits listed here. For instance, my Wholly Roamin' Empire uses a space version of a WWII German pocket-battleship. Historically speaking, this meant a slow heavy cruiser with extra-heavy weapons. So the WRE's pocket-battleship looks like a heavy cruiser, with bigger weapons and a speed of 6. One of the beauties of RCR is that you can easily create scout ships, monitors, Klingon attack cruisers, and any other ship class you can imagine.

IV. Game Markers

The downloadable file contains a page of markers to simplify playing RCR. Print them, mount them, cut them out, and enjoy them.

Shield markers go on your ship's base to show that one or more shield generators have been knocked out, and the ship has only front or rear shields, or none at all. These markers are mentioned on page 5 of the rule book; now they really exist. The black arrow shows the ship's direction, and the red hemisphere (if any) shows which end is protected by the remaining shield generator.

Turning markers go on your ship record sheet to indicate steering damage. Now, instead of having to erase and write the steering-damage codes in the little box, just put the appropriate marker there instead. Much neater, much cooler-looking, and usually quicker.

Bridge-hit markers go on a ship that took a bridge hit during the previous turn, to remind you that this ship has to move exactly as it moved last turn. Remove the marker at the end of the turn.

Fighter markers show you which fighter squadrons are aboard which carriers. A blank space on each marker lets you write in the squadron's name or number. Place them anywhere on the carrier's record sheet until the fighters launch; then set them aside. If a squadron lands, put its marker back on that carrier. Now you can tell the status of your carriers at a glance.

Carrier damage markers show that a carrier has taken one or more flight-deck hits, and it cannot support its full complement of fighters.

V. Alternate Ship Record Sheets

I really like the "Form C" for ship record-keeping, since you never have to erase anything; it stays neat and readable. But I don't like the fact that it only holds two or three ships. To partially correct this, I offer other record-sheet options.

Form D, as I call it, resembles Form C in most ways, except you have to write a little smaller here and there. By reducing "dead" space in the middle of the form, shrinking a few boxes that don't need to hold much info, and rearranging a field or two, it gains the following advantages:

Form E is a cross between my Form D and the original Form B, and may be the best of all possible worlds:

VI. Fair Battles

The only trouble with the "official" ship designs is that their point costs don't add up nicely. If you want to have a fair battle (two fleets with equal or roughly equal point costs), coming up with equally-matched fleets is like solving a shuffle puzzle. For those who don't like shuffle puzzles, I've done all the work for you, choosing ships that add up as close as possible to nice round numbers. Some of the races' ships just don't add up well no matter what you do, so I've listed several options to help set up a fray. The 5000-point fleets are cruiser squadrons or destroyer flotillas, while the 10K fleets include battle-cruisers and the occasional battleship.

Race5000-Point Fleet10,000-Point Fleet
GenericsCL + 3DD = 4863
CA + CL + DD = 5107
5DD = 5190
2CA + 3CL = 9887
BC + CA + 4DD = 9944
BC + 2CL + 3DD = 10084
BC + CA + 2CL + DD = 10328
Bad Days3CL = 4602
2CA = 4838
CA + 2CL = 5487
BB + CA + 2CL = 9539
CA + 5CL = 10089
BB + 4CL = 10188
DweaselsCL + 2DD = 4938 BC + CA + CL = 9932
BC + CL + 2DD = 10053
DRS EarthiesCA + 2DD + 2FF = 4963
5DD + FF = 5034
2CA + DD = 5107
BC + 2CA + DD = 9615
BC + CA + 3DD + FF = 9843
BC + CA + 2DD + 3FF = 10000! Hah! I did it!
Irvanians2Ftr = 4720
Cvt + Ftr = 5430
BC = 9290
CA + Cvt = 9711
UndeadCL + 4DD = 5063BB + BC + 2CA + CL = 9863
2BC + 2CL + 3DD = 9996
SquishiesCA + DD = 4872
3DD = 5163
BB + 3DD = 9869
BB + CA + CL = 10024
FishroidsCA + DD = 4734
CA + CL = 5209
BC + CL + 2DD = 9911
BB + 3DD = 10042
Bowsers2CL = 5150CA + CL + 2DD = 9740
Fyr-Baal3DD = 4758
2DD + 2FF = 4928
2CL + FF = 4982
BC + CL + DD + 2FF = 9828
BC + 2DD + 3FF = 10240
RobotsCA + 2DD = 4788
2CA = 4808
BC + CA + 2CL = 9978
BC + CA + CL + 2DD = 10289
Budgies/DucksCA + DD = 4895
3DD = 5145
BC + CA + 2DD = 9920
HAPpies4DD = 4896
CA + 2DD = 5036
BC + 3CL = 9711
BC + CA + CL + DD = 9857
Alfs3CL + 2DD = 4826
2CA + DD = 5002
BC + 2CA + 3CL + 2DD = 10001 (pretty darned close)
D'OrquesCA + CL + 2DD = 4975
5DD = 4975
CL + 4DD = 5167
BC + 2CA + 2CL + DD + FF = 9971

VII. Suggested Ship Miniatures

You can play RCR with counters if you wish. But it's a lot more fun with miniatures. "But," you protest, "minis cost a lot of money, and I don't know how to paint them." Have I got news for you!

To get your feet wet in the world of spaceship miniatures, look no further than Studio Bergstrom. He makes several dozen styles of spaceships, fighters, and space stations. Most of the ships cost US $1.00 at this writing; the stations go for a bit more. Yes, they're small -- most of them range in length from 0.75"/19mm to 1.25"/31mm. But the detail is pretty good on some of them, and you can easily get two 12-ship fleets for US $24, plus shipping. Or you can use any line of miniature spaceships. I've categorized four common lines below, to show how it's done.

Using Commonly-Available Miniatures in RCR
RCR Ship TypeFull ThrustNoble ArmadaSpace Dreadnought 3000Studio Bergstrom
CorvetteScout or Corvette-.Falcon Frigate
FrigateFrigate-Patrol ShipFED Frigate
DestroyerDestroyerExplorerDestroyerWhite Dwarf
Light CruiserLight Cruiser or Escort CruiserFrigateLight CruiserWedge Fighter
Heavy CruiserHeavy CruiserGalliotHeavy CruiserSing-On
BattleshipBattleshipCruiserBattleshipBri'Anoch or Draguntaz
Super-BattleshipSuperdreadnoughtDreadnought-Galactic Battleship
Light CarrierLight CarrierLeague Escort-E-Fighter
Super-CarrierFleet Carrier-Fighter BaseshipGalactic Carrier
Fightersany fighters-Fighter Swarms-

As for painting, there are many Internet articles on the subject. If I can do it, you can. Keep in mind that your minis don't have to have museum-quality paint jobs if you aren't so inclined. After all, they're just game pieces. If you can tell which ship belongs to which navy, that's all you need. My own paint jobs aren't much more than color codes.

Some Sample Fleets
The Wholly Roamin' Empire, my "personal" fleet. Ships are mostly Noble Armada, with some Games Workshop, Studio Bergstrom, and scratchbuilt thrown in.
The FMSR Coalition, a race of lily-livered cowards. Ships are the same sources as above, with more scratchbuilds.
The Feds, the ultimate in space-going lawful good. Ships are from Zocchi and Amarillo Design Bureau.
The G'Tarrs, my friend Ed's personal fleet. All ships are from Kallistra.

VIII. Tactical Tips

These suggestions are based on very rough statistical analysis, and make no allowances for lucky dice or other imponderables.
  1. "Cod favors the big battalions." (attributed to a Fishroid philosopher)

    In a battle, each fleet is going to suffer a few really damaging hits (magazine explosions, jammed steering, and the like), which will be more or less equally divided among the ships in that fleet. So a fleet with a greater number of ships will spread those hits more evenly, and each ship will take proportionately less damage. With a small fleet, the nasty hits will all pile up on a couple of ships. Thus, a fleet with a higher number of lower-cost ships will usually defeat a smaller fleet of higher-priced ships.

    This doesn't mean you should send a pack of frigates up against a super-battleship. The big ship's heavy shields will be the equalizers, and the frigates will suffer badly. I'm talking about, say, six 1000-point light cruisers against four 1500-point light cruisers. The costly-ship fleet will have a slight advantage in weaponry, but the costly cruiser is as easy to destroy as the cheap one. Losing a 1500-pointer costs its owner 1/4 of his total firepower, while losing a 1000-pointer robs its owner of only 1/6 of his firepower. The cheaper fleet can repeatedly trade ship-for-ship and gain a greater advantage each time.

  2. "How come nobody wants to pick on someone their own size anymore?" (an unknown HAPpie gunner)

    If you want to quickly reduce your enemy's firepower, shoot his smaller ships first. Two dice worth of beams on a destroyer can hurt you just as much as two dice of beams on a battleship, but the destroyer's beams are much easier to hit because its shields are weaker; and you can silence an entire destroyer more easily because its crew and propulsion are smaller. A few good hits, and a destroyer or frigate is toast; those same few hits would only annoy a battleship. Once the small ships have been taken out, you've reduced the total enemy firepower by a sizeable chunk, and you can concentrate on his big ships at your leisure.

    If this seems unsporting, remember that the purpose of escort ships is to protect the big ships. By hitting the little guys first, you're allowing them to fulfill their purpose in life.

  3. "Charge!" (CPO Yoshi O'Sincavich of the Irvanian Navy, when asked how he would pay his bill at Joe's Diner)

    A ship with shorter-than-average weapons range should race toward the enemy at flank speed. Every turn your ship spends out of range is a turn where that ship contributes nothing to your war effort. Worse, it may take serious damage or be destroyed before it can get a shot off. This is even more true if you're counting on torpedoes to win your battle for you.

    But if you have a ship with longer-than-average weapons range, it makes no sense for that ship to rush into battle. Let it hang back, blasting the enemy from a range where they can't hit back at it, while your shorter-ranged ships make their headlong rush. Your long-shooter will dish out as much damage as it would at closer range, but take no damage at all in return.

    If it bothers you that these separate maneuvers will mess up your neat formations, you're in the wrong hobby. Neat formations are good in cross-stitching. In war, you use what works.

  4. "Reload!" (Oddball to his tank gunner, after accidentally firing a paint shell into the back of an angry Tiger tank [Kelly's Heroes])

    Fighters are a poor value. If the enemy gets a crew hit on a fighter, he also gets a propulsion hit, a beam hit, and a torpedo hit thrown in for free. Their one advantage is that, with their high speed, they can dash into torpedo range before the enemy can pull away. If you must use fighters, try to reload their torpedoes at your carriers as quickly as possible, rather than buzzing them around, inflicting pinpricks with their little beams until they're wiped out. Otherwise, you're better off spending your points on a ship with some staying power.

  5. "CAC-a-doodle-doo!" (what every Alf space marine says in close combat)

    Dweasel diplomacy, CAC, and ramming all have the wonderful property of ignoring an enemy ship's shields. So these are excellent ways of nibbling at a heavily-shielded ship. A 5-point beam weapon with a to-hit of 4 has a 10% chance of scoring one hit on an enemy ship with shields of 8, but if the attacker's Targeting is 4, it has a 20% chance of causing a crew casualty on that same enemy through DweasDip. Small ships can gang up on a bigger foe to combine their CAG scores for similar results.

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