Destroyers, Corvettes and Patrol Boats - Oh My!

The opposite of that other thread for huge ships – this one is a discussion for our small but sharp-edged friends at the other end of the hull-size scale…

[size=150]Patrol Boats:[/size] larger than fighters, but not by much.

Patrol Boats would be the GSB version of the “PT” patrol torpedo craft used during WW2. Small, flimsy, limited in range, but packing an enourmous punch with seeking weapons. Missiles, torpedoes, rockets and maybe even plasmas would be tehir standard armament. The reason for that would be the extremely limited internal hull volumes, which prohibits large power generators. That would prevent most forms of energy-beam weaponry. Much of its tech may therefore be assumed to be larger adaptations of fighter tech, rather than true starship equipment.

If their GSB presence is to copy that in the real world, then I would imagine patrol boats would form the backbone of the mobile component of local defenses at one planet in a star system. If it’s an inhabited world, these would be under the orders of the local government’s defense commander. Technically, they’d be police units. If the national government cannot spare any fleet assets from the national defense, then (aside from forts or other fixed assets) these police PBs would be the only “warships” that the locals had for protection!

I can likewise imagine a fleet version of the patrol boat class. That kind would be a naval vessel under direct military command. The naval PB would possibly have slightly better (or more numerous?) weapons or other features. it would mainly exist to be ferried in large numbers to battles in other star systems many hyperspace jumps away. Boats like this were used in huge numbers during WW2 to immense effect, especially in the Pacific Ocean.

[size=150]Corvettes:[/size] smaller than frigates, and lacking true long-range capability.

Corvettes can be considered as a coastal patrol vessel used for defense on a limited interstellar scale – perhaps just two or three hyperspace jumps in any direction from the world where you build it (campaign players take note). This would still be better than the travel endurance of the Patrol Boat – the PB’s range would be so tiny as to likely be able to just provide local defense around a single world. Corvettes would therefore become the smallest hull that could operate frigate items. I can picture the CTs having half the weapons of a frigate while retaining most of the noncombat module slots of a frigate.

They could possibly be considered as dedicated high-speed attack craft, and have certain hull bonuses to reflect that role. However, patrol boats are the unit of choice for that fleet role in wet-navy fleets, and I see no reason to change that in GSB. If the PBs are meant to be the “mosquito fleet,” then I think that strongly implies that the CTs would instead be more like the “neighborhood cop walking the beat”; used partly for symbolic importance (“showing the flag”-type political missions at colony worlds on the borders) and less for their actual effectiveness against carriers and dreadnoughts. :wink:

The corvettes would also be useful as small scouts for keeping national borders and other sensitive areas under observation in case of hostilities, as well as undertaking small rescue missions for civilian ships. Maybe even priority transport of low-volume but high-value cargoes (medical vaccines, etc.) when civilian freighters are too slow and larger naval vessels are unavailable. When I look at those kinds of missions, it easily allows me to regard the corvette class as a really useful police ship:

  • one part combat enforcement,
  • one part search-and-rescue,
  • one part surveillance,
  • one part tow truck for stupid civilians who ran out of antimatter when the next interstellar base is weeks away. :wink:

That sort of model for the CTs’ mission profiles makes it easy for me to justify them lacking most of the weaponry that a frigate routinely carries.

[size=150]Destroyers:[/size] larger than frigates but smaller than cruisers. Largest of all the small-ship classes.

Destroyers would be the space version of the honorable old Torpedo-Boat Destroyer class first invented in the late 19th century. As first designed in wet-navy use, DDs were meant to screen large high-value assets such as cruisers and battleships. This would prevent torpedo boats (in GSB, the Patrol Boats) from getting within torpedo/missile/etc. range of the heavy ships. The “destroyer” mission role eventually became the name to describe the size of the hull of the ship with that mission, and that is what most well-read folks will think of when you mention destroyers in this context. See here for more facts about that. At present, DDs are the largest surface warships used in the vast majority of the world’s navies, and have actually pushed cruisers out of the role as general-purpose warships…amazing. :slight_smile:

Destroyers could be described in game terms as an extra-large frigate hull that carries signifigantly more slots on account of its much bigger hull. They would therefore be the kings of the small GSB ships, and likely be used singly as leaders for frigate squadrons, or together in formation with other DDs as massed anti-cruiser groups. DDs could carry enough ECM missiles or Ion Cannons to be a major threat to single cruisers straying too far from the edge of their own fleet formation! :slight_smile:

Discussion of how to design them, how big the ship graphics should be, the number of slots they should have, and what sort of missions they’d be used for are all part of this topic. Fire away!

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i like how you have the same vision of corvettes as i do ^^

fo those who disagree with corvettes being frigates, think of it this way.
naval ships (boats) today have corvettes and they have fighter planes.

in gsb, i think of frigates and cruisers as boats and fighters as planes.

so a corvette that is fighter sized doesnt make any sense!

In GSB i would equate a Corvette to the B-2 bomber, flying fortress, and other massive aircraft of our time . .

my 2 cents for what its worth.
PT Boats are a loadout version of a fighter (Missiles / rockets / Torps - anything that will sink a large target
Corvettes are heavily armed fighters, slower, pack more punch. Basically a Bomber that can fend off any fighter that decides to intercept it before it can make its run.
Gunship is a loadout version of a corvette, armed to the teeth with anti fighter weapons

Destroyers - All the advantages of a frigate with more firepower to make a cruiser captin think twice about dismissing that small blip on his radar. Give it enough teeth and it would be regarded as a “pocket cruiser”

My idea of these classes of ships are the same than darkstar :smiley:

ah, well.

atleast ive got one with me, right astro?

There is no right and wrong answers ponyus - only peoples opinions.
This is what the thread is about, voice your opinion - share your ideas :slight_smile:

I would love for each thread reach a common consensus and for cliffski to walk in and say “why not” and make it happen

I’m typing like a madman this evening. I didn’t even realize at the time when I put my 500th post onto the forum earlier tonight. :stuck_out_tongue: This one does a lot of quoting, so please let me know if I misquoted anyone…

I can’t claim that when it comes to corvettes, I’m some great and original thinker. All I am doing is extrapolating from over a century of naval construction and seamanship and fleet doctrine. Why? Because it makes sense in the real world, and if it makes sense there why should I invent some fantasy version of it for GSB purely for the sake of having something new but with the same name? If it works that way in reality, then it can also work successfully that same way inside of the game.

See my above answer. :smiley: The fact that I agree with you personally is just a big bonus. :wink: Seriously, I do and have always regarded corvettes just as the real navies do: the smallest true warship afloat. The CT hull is definitely a ship and not a boat. Major difference there, and it’s more than just the choice of words.


Interesting! You had an aerial model in mind for the GSB corvette while I had an exclusively naval one. That’s a creative notion, and one I hadn’t considered before now. Thanks for the new concept!

So you view PT boats as a combat-optimized fighter equipped for anti-ship missions, with some degree of extra goodies? That sounds much like my own view of the class.

I’m intrigued by your alternative vision, Darkstar. We now have a fork in the concept of the CT class. Instead of “the smallest pure warship afloat,” you picture it as a kind of “heavy fighter”. It has its own anti-fighter weapon (or weaponS?) to defend it as it makes its hypothetical “bombing run” against a naval warship.

You intend this as the dedicated anti-fighter version of the corvette, right? No anti-ship firepower, but bristling like a porcupine with anti-fighter missiles? This game definitely could benefit from something like that! [cough]fighter spam sucks[cough] :stuck_out_tongue: Seriously, if we have anti-ship corvettes as you picture them, then we will likely require anti-corvette “gunships” like you suggested in order to beat them back from our major vessels.What do you think?

I’m firmly in that camp concerning destroyers. Against the frigate and ships smaller than the frigate, the DD is lord and master of the battlezone. Against the cruiser, it is the most dangerous of the (often weak or even useless) small ship classes. It’s able to carry enough Ion Cannons to make high-resistance cruiser shields irrelevant, and it can carry multiple shields of its own to survive such a close approach to a cruiser. A DD could also carry a large enough complement of nuisance weapons to be difficult to counter. For example, imagine a single DD armed with ten frigate torpedo launchers. That can make a cruiser captain want to withdraw until his guidance scramblers are repaired. Against other small ships, such an attack would almost be an insta-kill. I like that.

The destroyer class can also easily become the ultimate anti-fighter ship in the game. When carrying a mass quantity of anti-fighter missile launchers, tractor beams, pulse lasers and a PD gun or two, it would be an excellent GSB version of a “DE”: destroyer escort class, used to screen one part of a fleet’s perimeter against the little bastards##—uhh, i mean, against enemy fighters. :smiley: That, to me, is one of the ship’s greatest advantages.

I’m really pleased that people are willing to offer their opinions on this subject. I like knowing what kind of expectations or even assumptions they have about small ships other than the traditional frigate. The tactics manual will have to have a few new chapters written if any of these new hulls come into being (either officially or via player mods). I welcome the change. It creatively stirs-up the game and adds new possibilities within the form of existing tactical problems.

I’m truly glad that I have both ponyus’ view and darkstar’s view about the possible future form of the corvette in GSB. :slight_smile: Let’s see what more we can discuss, alter and ultimately improve about these possible small ships!

you’ve got wayyy too much time on your hands…

Well, I don’t see you stepping up to the plate and taking a swing at the ball. :smiley: This discussion and the one in the dreadnought thread are both for the love of the game. If everyone stayed in the bleachers and off of the ballfield, we wouldn’t have a game, eh? :wink:

steps down

Why not join in, instead? I’m sure you have an opinion about the proposed new small ships. I never heard of a gamer without any opinion at all about the game he’s playing. :slight_smile:

Agreed - we WANT to hear peoples views

In responce to your questions Archduke

A Heavy Fighter is a good description, ideal for prolonged conflicts where heavy resistance is expected. Able to equip light versions of frigate equipment to increase durability (ie light shields). While it will not fall to the occasional fighter it will fall if there is not sufficient fighter escorts.

The gunboat is set to defend your cap ships from fighters that make a run under the shields. While they are slow they have a large compliment of fast tracking weapons. Do not send them beyond the line of skirmish or they will fall quickly to dedicated anti fighter frigates / destroyers

I find myself largely agreeing with Archduke Astro again. That being said, I had not envisioned PT boats as all, and Gunboats as a type of loadout for a Corvette, which absorbed both. I do see certain parallels between the Corvette and a heavy bomber type hull, but more between a Gunboat configuration and the heavy bomber. [size=50]cough cloaked bombers cough[/size] That being said, I do think the Destroyer was hit right on; a heavily armed but possibly structurally weak ship design; a kind of glass cannon. Speed perhaps could be weakened for Destroyers, to prevent or restrict fast attack roles but Corvettes should have the speed to to fulfill many roles while having fewer hardpoints to compensate.

Yoah! You guys don’t let me AFK for a while, uh? :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t have much to comment right at this moment because my brain is fried (coughexam about company managementcough) but I’ll try to comment a bit :slight_smile:
(I’ll step on the big ships thread later, if I’m not sleep)

Archduke, your conception of the three small ship classes you mention is similar to the one I have.
Corvettes are smaller than frigates without important long range capabilities and fast. In the scenarios I’ve designed using them, they normally are used as support for bigger ships (e.g. dreadnoughts) or for fast guerrilla attacks accompanied by a few fast frigates (guess what those Rebel corvettes I made are for :wink: ). Of course guerrilla attacks against small or unprotected targets, attacking a dreadnought fleet should be a suicide mission for them :slight_smile:

But… Why did I put them in the fighter category in my mod, some may wonder?
Because getting new specific modules for them and restrict their use was easier if I set them as big fighters rather than having the frigate category filled with corvette, frigate and destroyer modules. I can’t trust players to use [size=110]properly[/size] the modules for each class. I know many people will put their long range plasma to a corvette or a crappy frigate beam in their destroyer. I would happily put them as frigates if I find a proper way to have 4 simultaneous classes in one (I won’t tell which is the 4th one). I hope this avoids the question of why I put them there :stuck_out_tongue:

About destroyers I’m somewhat tired to say much… I’ll try to remember to post later.

in the deserter mod, i put them as frigates and i balance it out, so that the only way to make them effective is by having them go REALLY fast. if you put too many frigate weapons on it, its gonna be slow as hell and with the limited modules, you cant give it any proper defence (the best defence ive mannaged to pot in it is a light frigate shield, whitch doesnt protect it for very long.

im not a very good balance tester, so it might be op/up. but for now i think its pretty good.

Okay well, here’s my go on it.

Corvettes, Gunship, PT boats, Destroyer

I would actually consider Corvettes, Gunships and PT Boats to all be the same base class (which I will simply call Corvettes, but each has a different load-out which determines the variant it is.

Corvette - The “regular” variant of the Corvette sub-types. It is obviously more heavily armed and armored than a fighter, but is also larger and less maneuverable. It doesn’t really excel and any task, but is a much more balanced attack craft than it’s PT boat and Gunboat cousins. It’s main purposes are to scout the local area and provide support against other light craft (fighters, PT boats, Gunships, and other corvettes) when necessary, but stay as far away from the larger ships as possible. It simply doesn’t have the armament to do enough damage, enough speed/maneuverability to outrun the enemy’s fire, or enough armor to absorb the enemy’s fire.

PT boat - The “guerilla” variant of a corvette which trades some of it’s speed for a slightly better armament. It’s armament is missile/torpedo based in order to allow it to fire it’s weapons from a greater distance and then retreat. As a consequence of it’s lower armor and missile based armament it is more vulnerable to enemy fighters, but in return is hopefully capable of doing damage to a larger craft before it’s destroyed. Typically used in suicide wave tactics.

Gunship - The “shock-trooper” variant of the corvette type which trades much of its speed for greater armor and armament. It typically consists of two basic armaments. First there is the same missile/torpedo based armament as it’s PT boat cousin, but this time with enough armor to survive staying in range of the enemy’s fire. Second is a totally anti-fighter armament that will allow it to decimate enemy fighter squadrons while having enough armor to shrug off their attacks. Typically used in stand off and bombard tactics.

Destroyer - The most effective escort ship in the entire fleet. It has enough armor, speed, and firepower to overpower any frigate, and when used in a more defensive role it is a more than capable anti-missile and anti-fighter platform. At the same time it is cheap, uses a small crew, and is capable of lasting more than a few seconds in battle against enemy cruisers or heavier ships.

Let’s face it, it would make perfect sense to simply have variations on the Corvette theme as the Gunship and PT Boat instead of actual seperate classes because you would only need one “base” hull which could be loaded up in a specific way depending on what Corvette variant you want. Corvette just has something like 2 armor, an Engine 2, and 2-3 weapons. A PT Boat has 1 armor, an engine 3, and 2-3 missile based weapons (not enough power generated to power energy weapons). A Gunship has 3 armor, a level 1 or 2 engine, and 2-3 missile or energy based weapons. This would of course require extensive tuning of the hull’s produced power, and might even require the creation of Corvette specific power generator.

Freelancer - a PC game developed by Microsoft Game Studios (Great game!) - Gunships
Vietnam PT Boats - PT Boat
Homeworld 1 & 2 - Corvette

Using history as a guideline, the existing frigate/cruiser relationship pretty much replicates the cruiser/battleship wet navy precedent. Thus, despite historical naming conventions, there is really no room for another class of ships between frigates and cruisers. Adding corvettes below frigates, or destroyers (pretending that historically they are smaller than frigates) makes sense. However, these smaller classes need to have a couple of ship-killer weapons that still make them a threat to larger ships, if historical traditions are to be any guideline. Also, in this situation, I think engagement maps would need to be larger, but maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, here is how I see the ship classes:

LAC (light attack craft)
Carrier (needed to move fighters and LACS from one system to another)

Also, in my humble opinion, the aerial/naval comparison is inappropriate, because of the HUGE speed differential and ability to absorb damage between the two. Again, IMHO and YMMV.

Hi. I’m a newb, and this is my second post. :slight_smile: The first one is over in the game balance thread, and Archeduke Astro was kind enough to contact me and invite me over here.

Personally, I’m not yet sold in the differentiation of small ship classes into yet-smaller classes. In large part, I think this is a game balance issue, because right now I don’t feel like there are enough technology and roles to fit all these functions.

Referring back to my history with FASA games like BattleTech and Renegade Legion, and my long acquaintance with Star Fleet Battles, designs need to fit a niche. In BattleTech and RL, the design process was in many respects pretty straightforward: your desired speed determined your weight class and engine, and you put armor and weapons (i.e. payload) on top of that. You had laws of diminishing returns at the high end weights where the mass of an engine made the design unfeasible, and you had a minimum weight at which a given speed was worth building before it could be out-payload-ed by a smaller, faster, and potentially cheaper design. And with the right weaponry, lightweight designs could pose significant threats to medium- and heavyweight models.

GSB needs a “design ramp” like this for smaller designs to sufficiently distinguish themselves. First, I’d say there need to be weapons that can be economically employed on smaller ships to seriously threaten larger vessels - because right now IMO frigates are mostly a waste of space, pilots, and credits. I think as a whole frigates are undergunned, undershielded, underpowered, and underarmored. Second, I’d love to see a larger differentiation in size, speed, armor, and maneuverability affecting weapon hit rates, so that cruisers targeting frigates have a difficult time engaging with anti-cruiser-oriented weapons.

That said, look at the designs included in the base game (and several expansions). No fighter design I’ve seen comes with more than two hardpoints on a five-slot-or-fewer design, and the one six-slot fighter hull I’ve seen (Tribe Heaven) has only one hardpoint. Standard frigates are three-to-six hardpoints on an 8-15 slot hull; cruisers are five-to-eight hardpoints on a 14-20 slot hull. The game itself differentiates the classes by capacity (slots) and weapons payload (hardpoints) into a relatively consistent pattern. The frigate class is the first with three hardpoints, i.e. potentially a weapon to attack each base-class of ship (fighter, frigate, cruiser), so it’s your smallest “generalist” design.

In order to truly differentiate small designs, I’d recommend classifying them by slots (total build capacity) and then by hardpoints. Taking Entropy’s scheme as a start, and expanding some:

Light Fighter - 3 slots/1 hardpoint (e.g. Federation Hawk)
Heavy Fighter - 4/1 (Federation Falcon) or 4/2 (Federation Leopard)
Bomber - 5/2 (Rebel Atlantis) or 6/2 (?)
LAC (light attack craft)/PT/PF class - (6-7)/(2-3). It’s a tough class to pin down on whether you want it treated as a super-fighter or a micro-frigate. I’d say anything with fewer than three hardpoints should be designed as and treated as a fighter.
Corvette (small frigate) - (8-10)/3.
Frigate - (11-13)/4.
Destroyer (heavy frigate) - (14-16)/5.

You could also consider the number of engines and/or speed of the designs. WWII corvettes were slow, so you could have a “design standard” that corvettes are single-engine-three-hardpoint hulls, frigates are multi-engine-four-hardpoint hulls, and destroyers are multi-engine-five-hardpoint hulls. The penalty with slow designs would be that anti-cruiser weaponry would be more likely to light you up - and that should be a significant penalty. :slight_smile:

Moving into cruisers, there’s overlap in mission between the lighter cruisers of some groups (Rebel Fenrir: 14/6) and the heavier frigates (Imperial Hasta: 15/4) of others, so one group’s light cruiser hull might be another group’s destroyer-class. Designers could use that as a “feature”, but it’s only worth it if there’s a tactical advantage to smaller/lighter/faster designs other than cost.

This is very much a draft effort; is this making sense to anyone but me? :slight_smile:

I have to admit, your post over in the game balance thread made a lot of sense to me, and it actually ties in somewhat with my aims in my as-yet unannounced mod. I don’t think that something of the scale you described can be achieved while still aiming to maintain balance against the vanilla races, it’s more of a total conversion effort (as the modded races up to now tended to try to maintain balance against the vanilla races as well and thus wouldn’t work in this scheme). It would certainly be interesting to try to bring more of a tactical element into ship design and try to break the existing rock-paper-scissors lock-in that occurs*.

  • I know, I know, there is already tactics in ship design, but it does tend to revolve around “can I withstand spam with this?”. I also know that rock-paper-scissors can’t be broken entirely for at least two reasons: 1) it’s a “feature” of the design of the game itself, and 2) breaking it would imply that there is at least one fleet that cannot be beaten. However, I am a big fan of mixed design fleets with specialist ships for different purposes and I would like to see that emphasised as a tactic that actually works in the general case.

someone should do a GSB “advanced total conversion” where they implement these changes into the core races. simple things as renaming some ships (ie fenrir cruiser to fenrir escort cruiser or something) and beef stuff up to make it easier to balance.

then we could settle old disputes like the double bullet dds etc.

but this would require the whole modding community to agree with eachother, that would be the hardest part…