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Ships:

- Hiigaran Cutlass, Revelation and Scharnhorst classes fully integrated into fleet order of battle, with all bugs fixed. The AI even uses them on a regular basis often with very scary results as you find a pair of LH-X-30s suddenly bracketing your Venerator battle carrier fore-and-aft.

- On the Vaygr side, we have the I-4 Double Dragon tactical fighter, Al-Navraya Battle Barge (replaces the AI battlecruiser slot, with 4 strategic beam weapons!), and the T-106 Thunderer heavy corvette which is based off 3 obsolete T-6 corvette drive units. Looks like a space version of a Mi-24 Hind.

It serves the Vaygr as a highly capable anti-strike unit, but in the capital assault role, Double Dragons are preferred due to the Thunderer's huge size and lack of low-observable features. She has the distinct advantage of having its own 360-degree coverage close in weapons grid based on dual 100mm multi-barrel ACs.

Gameplay:

- New Duel gametype by SunTzu fully updated

- Energy weapons modelling revamped, with flat 50/50 hit chance for beam weapons vs strikecraft, and 80% against anything else. That 20% miss chance is due to anti-beam countermeasures, tracking solution errors, firing from out of engagement envelope, etc. Vaygr plasma lances are now very deadly, almost to stock HW2 levels, but countered by the famous Hiigaran capital ship lasers which are now the discerning choice for those wanting to "snipe" strikecraft away at extreme ranges. And you thought the PoH Mark 3 is obsolete.

The problem with lasers is not hitting the target, but doing heavy damage against modern ablative/reflective anti-beam defenses. Not to mention the mirrors are very fragile. Particle beams are very deadly, but have short range.

- Plasma cannons now treated as beam/energy weapons, potentially hellishly fast and deadly but short ranged. Most likely it is easier to accelerate a plasma bolt to extremely high velocities, than to do the same with a metallic massdriver slug. Deadly damage and accuracy countered by short range and slow rate of fire, and the fact that if you miss, you miss with little chance of repeat fire. Unless you are on a battleship with a whole battery of these. Much fun riding on Lavi assault shuttles chasing down Vaygr bombers trying to strafe LH-X-30s. Bait and drag.

- Standard missiles now have improved maneuverability and guidance, meaning they don't go out of control easily as they do now, with reduced attack velocity giving more fuel/time for pursuit of maneuvering targets. However they are still most effective in head or tail on interceptions, and firing at a high speed laterally moving fighter at long range is usually futile.

- SM4 weapon system fully operational, with working proximity fuze (unlike the released LH-X-30 which is experimental for a reason).

- Hiigaran satellite weapon platforms are now very deadly, operating like the SF equivalent of the Mk.60 Captor torpedo-mine. You can't detect them until you're on top of them where they'll cut you to pieces with assault ion cannons. The gun platform is a AC-130/R rapid fire proximity barraging unit specialised in the anti-strike and anti-missile roles, using proven fast-tracking turret tech from the LH-X-30 project.

Point Defense Systems V11 - Far Eastern Operations

BETA 8

Warning: This release showcases the new method of rapid ship prototyping made possible by the excellent CFHod Editor. Actual gameplay relies on tried and true Skirmish mechanics and the individual ship test scenarios, both selectable via the Skirmish vs CPU menu.


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Part 1 - Ships and Politics

With this release you get:

- 2 new Hiigaran ships, the LH-X-30 Scharnhorst fast battleship and Revelation experimental battleship, which is the first of the conventional-weapons conversions for derelict Progenitor hulls formerly owned by the Science Division.

Both are directly buildable from the existing selection of ships together with the Cutlass strategic interceptor. As with beta 7, the old Gladius light corvettes were mothballed in favour of the new fighter.

- 3 new Vaygr ships, the Al-Navraya Battle Barge, I-4 Double Dragon tactical fighter and T-106 Thunderer heavy corvette.

RP: Due to recent developments in Galactic politics, the surviving major Crusader clans of the Vaygr civilisation have withdrawn to their homelands as the Hiigarans move to directly confront the Neo-Taiidan Empire. This leaves the frontier regions attended by two younger Vaygr clans, Syandiyah and Navraya respectively.

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Clan Backgrounds by Yasotay

Syandiyah:
One of the last two great Vaygr clans to remain forward. The new Kram killed his father and assumed control when he found out that the elder Kram was going to retire into the Reaches with the other remaining great houses. The Syandiyans work with the Taiidan, but only out of necessity. Whereas they could demand new technology before, now they must ask for it. They do get it because the Taiidan are happy to let the Syandiyans fight and kill Hiigarans for them.

Navraya:
Another great clan that remains forward. The Kram is not trusted by other Kram because she has a bad habit of not holding up promises. She is however a brilliant survivor and through links back into the Reaches and illicit trade with the Elyssia she remains a very viable threat. She is smart enough not to go looking for a fight at this point, but consolidates her gains and waits. She picks her fights very carefully.

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Unlike the older Krams who are generally content to abide to established traditions, the new generation of Vaygr leaders aren't above rewriting their society's rules to suit the Clan's, and indeed their own purposes. Thus while the Elder Clans have fought a gallant but otherwise futile delaying action against superior Hiigaran technology for almost a decade now, the Syandiyan and Navrayan Vaygr have secretly created their own solutions in nullifying Hiigaran tactical and technological prowess that have cost the remnants of the Army of the Prophet many lives.

And no, Vaygr do not share with their own kind, for knowledge is power against one's competitors.

Thus freed from servitude of the Elder Clans, the Syandiyans and Navrayans, presumably left to fend for themselves against continuing Hiigaran reclaimation of occupied territories, are steadily deploying a whole new generation of advanced warships, the direct result of a decade's black research. Some of these are monstrosities designed to pack the greatest amount of brute-force firepower into a single ship, but others are elegant low-cost solutions to common Vaygr tactical problems able to compete on level grounds with the best of Galactic Core starship engineering practices.

You just have to wait and see...

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Part 2 - Gameplay Changes


- Energy weapon performance significantly improved.

Plasma cannons are now treated as energy weapons, as opposed to using the ballistic guns' accuracy ratings. Reason is that plasma guns are fired only at very short ranges to counter their naturally extremely high energy dissipation, and a plasma bolt is far easier to accelerate than a metallic massdriver projectile; hence hellish short range destruction. In this version I'm taking it slow, so plascannons don't have damage bonus yet, but are very dangerous for their newfound accuracy (balanced by low rate of fire).

All energy weapons also have a significant accuracy boost, especially against small targets. While beam countermeasures do exist in the PDS universe, their effectiveness was always overestimated, or tuned down for battle presentation reasons (or just plain outmatched by the destructive power of ballistic weapons at short range).

Lasers and particle beams now have a flat 50/50 chance of nailing strikecraft in the first shot, and a flat 80% hit chance for anything else (20% miss chance for beam countermeasures, weapon damage/malfunction, tracking solution errors, etc). Thus the problem for lasers, outdated technology as it is, isn't hitting, but burning through modern anti-beam reflective/ablative armour on starships. Fortunately, small craft don't have much armour protection, if any, and a 12 gigawatt chemical laser, though primitive 21st Century, will now be the fleet commander's favourite extended-range anti-fighter "sniping" weapon.

And you thought those heavy lasers on the Majiirian class were useless... try a battery of 12 in parallel on the new Revelation class. Taiidani advanced ion cannons and Vaygr plasma lance weapons will now be as dangerous as they should be (almost to stock HW2 levels).

- Missile/anti-missile warfare mechanics.

For a long time now, PDS V11 ships don't have close in defenses fast or powerful enough to defeat modern space to space missiles.

However, a glance at the Fleet's inventory of close in weaponry says that almost everything in use today is way obsolete, sometimes even dating back to pre-Invasion times. As an experiment, the prototype LH-X-30 Scharnhorst fast battlecruiser was retrofitted with fast-tracking turrets from early LiirHra CLs and Tulwar/Wolf patrol combatants. Armed with conventional super-rapid autocannons, the LH-X-30's defensive armament was divided into two halves, one armed with solid slugs for maximal damage against starships, and the other half reserved for anti-missile and anti-strike fires with computer-controlled proximity fuzed munitions.

With this reserve of close in defensive capability, and up to date capability at that, the LH-X-30 in testing was able to simultaneously engage two Vaygr capital ships her own size, defeating both in succession with superior short range firepower while defending herself adequately from return missile fire.

Thus retrofitted with well thought out close in defense capability that takes into account both offensive and defensive requirements with adequate reserves for unexpected situations, the casualty rate sustained in today's military operations against hostile missile fire, especially for ships deployed alone, may be reduced significantly.

Standard missiles now benefit from improved guidance systems. No longer do they lose control and spiral aimlessly. Interception speed has been reduced to allow for more leeway in terminal attack against maneuvering targets, but note that a long range missile shot against a laterally fast moving fighter will achieve little. Head on and tail on solutions are the easiest - the new SM4 missiles on the LH-X-30 are optimised for this and attacks on capital ships.

The SM4 in earlier betas don't have a working proximity fuze, thus are only effective in the capital attack role. This issue has been corrected in beta 8.

- Capital Ship Deployment Cost.

Especially for the Vaygr, capital ship prices have been lowered significantly as we have new classes of highly capable warships coming online. Classes like the Al-Moudamer light cruiser are deemed obsolete compared to these new designs, yet still in widespread use in second-line units. For the Hiigarans, the existing prices have been adjusted so that you may elect to deploy fleet auxiliaries early at a very low cost (and counter the deficiency in capital ship power with more or better strikecraft, for instance), or invest in a number of highly capable but expensive and untried experimental warships.

Therefore you now have the ability to customise a fleet based on quality vs quantity. I will say this though - the new units are well worth their expense.

- NEW! Invasion Gametype

In this version of classic Skirmish vs CPU, commanders of major capital ships and mobile starbases deploy their own subordinate units.

- Updated New Duel ship list (but no Taiidani yet), and added auto-escort generation as above for the V11 Testing Duels gametype.

This is a full install unpackaged version - unzip to HW2 directory and add -overridebigfile to your HW2 desktop shortcut as usual.

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