Now that we’ve looked at aerial combat, we’ll follow this up with a short post on vehicle combat - and one that’ll bring us even closer to the limitations of the Spaceships system.
Let’s start by looking at two different vehicles: The tank and the infantry fighting vehicle.
A tank is characterized by two things: Armour and a heavy gun to combat other tanks. (Strictly speaking, a tank’s utility lies primarily in it being protected and mobile, but that’s what they turn out to look like).
We’ll construct a 100t-ton tank. That’s quite a bit heavier than modern MBTs, which weigh in at about 60t, but more advanced materials (especially for the bridges it has to drive over) might help with that.
|[1-5]||Nanocomposite Armour (9d each)|
|[1-3]||Nanocomposite Armour (3d each)|
|[4!]||Turreted 12cm Railgun (3dx30)|
|[core]||Control Room (2 crew)|
|||Nanocomposite Armour (9d each)|
|||MHD Turbine (2pp, 12h endurance)|
|||Fuel Cell (24h endurance)|
|[4!]||Weapons: 3x 2.5cm VRF railgun|
|||Smaller Systems: 2 passenger seat, Hangar Bay (2t)|
|[Core]||Fuel Cell (24h endurance)|
The two passengers represent drone coordinator and commander (drones are housed in the hangar bay in the rear). The tank can function for a total of 18 hours (combat) or 24 hours (driving only). While its maximum speed is slightly over 100km/h, this isn’t achievable in full combat, where the railguns force diverting power away from the drivetrain for a move of only 2/20 (75km/h). Its three secondary VRF railguns serve both as anti-infantry, plus drone and point defence.
It’ll also have a stealth hull, of course. It’s difficult to detect on infrared - less than a hundred metres of distance for a 50/50 distance on low power, but this increases to about a kilometre on “combat power”.
Now, two of those first of all have to detect each other - probably by visual detection, accompanying infantry, or drones. Once they do, they can begin firing at each other. We now have the first case in which armour is very useful against main-armament railguns: Damage is reduced to 27d. That’s an average of one hit such a tank can endure.
|[1-3]||Nanocomposite Armour (6d each)|
|[4-5]||Passenger Seat (3 seats, NBC only)|
|[1-3]||Nanocomposite Armour (2d)|
|[4!]||Major Battery (turreted Railgun, rapid fire 5cm, 3dx1.5)|
|||Nanocomposite Armour (6d)|
|[2-3]||Passenger Seat (3 seats each, NBC protection)|
|||Missile Launcher (2cm, 7 missiles)|
|||Fuel Cell (24h endurance)|
|[core]||Fuel Cell (24h endurance)|
It’s far less survivable than the tank, but carries 12 passengers and a bit of armour. It’s also armed with the equivalent of an autocannon, and its seven missiles provide the ability to ambush tanks as a mobile AT platform. On the other hand, one hit from a tank destroys it - just like today.
Infantry-Portable Anti-Tank Weaponry
4e damage Looking at ultra-tech, we can expect infantry to come with either the IML (everyone) or the TML (dedicated AT). Both can be found on UT145.
The best choice of warhead is HEMP (UT155), for 6dx8(10) and 6dx12(10) initial damage. Keep in mind that those are normal-damage, while the armour above is in cDR. Accordingly, they are unable to penetrate the tank or the IFV from the front. From the side and back, the 100mm TML can penetrate the tank, and fails again for the IFV. This only leaves mininukes, but you want to avoid that, of course.
3e damage From Vehicles, p. 44, we can find a pre-built TL9 60mm mini launcher: At less than ten kilograms, it can be easily used by infantry, and allows a pop-up attack at up to two kilometres distance. It does 6dx10(10) damage, which similarly means that we cannot penetrate anything but the sides of the IFV. However, it’s far smaller than the UT missiles. If we, for a moment, assume that we can similarly build a hand-held 100mm launcher, we can scale up the effective damage linearly and therefore get a damage of about 6dx16(10). This still is not enough to threaten a tank, but it’s closer (and if we don’t look at armour-as-dice, it’s sufficient to penetrate the tank’s armour in about 25% of the cases).
Maybe surprisingly, this doesn’t look too different from today’s ground combat. Infantry-launched AT weapons are less dangerous than before, true, but there still are IFVs and tanks.
I should note, though, that I am quite unhappy (again) with this, since it seems to me that the Spaceships system really isn’t that useful with this kind of vehicle. I may look for another system, but don’t want to go full 3e vehicles.