Tactics for Statics

Using Satellites and Platforms

By MXSavant 09/22/05

Satellites and platforms are relative newcomers to the Silent Death universe, but they add interesting dimensions to the game. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen them on the board as often as I’d like. Part of that might be because they demand a different way of thinking about tactics and objectives. Most of the tactics described in Silent Death: Fighter Tactics Manual emphasize maneuverability and concentration of firepower, but if you’re commanding a group of sats and plats, the whole maneuvering thing isn’t really an option. In spite of that, there are certain objectives that lend themselves well to static units, and some useful tricks to make the most of them.

So what would you use satellites and platforms for? Their primary function is to control access. If you have to constantly control a certain section of space, statics are perfect. Another function is to monitor and observe those same areas, although this won’t really become a factor unless you’re running a campaign and need to monitor traffic moving through a particular hyperspace route. Incidentally, this will all make more sense once you see the Campaign System Rules, soon to be published.

Another function of static units is to serve as a “tripwire” or to fight delaying actions, giving other units time to converge on an incursion or make their escape. Since the publication of some new house-specific platforms such as the Q’raj Void Protectorate’s Tachanah class platforms, some platforms can serve as forward supply bases or depots. The Tachanah, for instance, features 100 cargo boxes of supply capacity. Additional innovations include the Colos Wolf’s Lair class or QVP Wasp’s Nest class platforms that serve as fighter bases. But however you use your static units, remember that they are vulnerable to sustained and determined attack; they can’t be your sole means of defense.

We’ve talked about employment; so let’s move on to deployment. How do we use these things? The most important factor to consider is to set up overlapping fields of fire. Deploy your satellites and platforms so that at least two – preferably three or more – significant weapons can reach every hex you want to control. It’s even better if you can arrange it so that as much as possible those weapons all come from different angles. Also, make sure you situate your units so that if one unit is destroyed, it doesn’t leave a gap in your line. The units on either side should still be able to cover the area.

Another important consideration is using a tactic called “defense in depth”. This means you situate your units in such a way that an enemy must punch through successive layers of defense. Depending on how you want to do it, you can make your defenses progressively stronger on the assumption that your enemy will reach the toughest layer when he’s all shot up. Or, you can make your first layer harder on the assumption that if they break through, they’ll be in such bad shape that weaker defense layers will still be able to take care of business. Use what suits your situation or your temperament.

If your playing area has topography such as asteroids, gravity fields or wormholes, use these features as part of your defense.

One devious variation of the defense in depth doctrine is to intentionally leave a weak spot in your outer defenses in the hope that your opponent, like a river, will seek the path of least resistance. However, when your opponent “breaks through”, you want them to find themselves in an area that can be positively saturated with firepower – the mother of all killing zones.

A final thought. Although it may sound like “cheating” (since this article is ostensibly only about static units), you need to have some ships around to back up your static defenses. Consider that the poster child for static defenses, the Maginot Line, was never intended to function just as a string of fortifications. Conventional units were included in the defense plan to allow defenders to apply force where it would be needed to resist attempts to break the line.

The astute reader will notice that I haven’t said anything about another form of static defense: mines. There’s a lot to say on that subject, which I hope to cover in a future article.

Good hunting.