After last post about composition of Pathfinder and Line battlegroups, I came to ponder on another quirk about army composition – the dive in battle group size from skirmish to clash.
It is really a rather obscure difference that I guess most people don’t put too much thought into; for a skirmish the maximum size for a battle group is 50 % of the total army composition. In a clash or battle, it is 33 %. I guess it is a late addition; in general having more than a third of your army in a battle group might be putting too many eggs in one basket but for small points sizes, if you limit yourself to 33 % you first of all almost force people to pick 3 battle groups (unless they are very well balanced in size) and you make it hard to include the bigger ships – in a 500 points game, the limit for battle group size would be 167 points meaning that you couldn’t field more than a single cruiser in a any battle group – not very interesting.
However, in the other end of the skirmish, the higher limit gives some peculiar options. Observe this simple graph of maximum battle group size for the different points values.
What you can see here, is that from 1000 points to 1500 point you observe a dive in the maximum battle group size compared to 999 points.
This means, that for 999 points (and points lower but close to that) you get the option of fielding rather large battle groups (points-wise) compared to points immediately above 999 points.
I was at some point playing around with the idea of a double Achilles and double Calypso Vanguard battle group for a grand total of 404 points. I can do that in a skirmish of 808 points and above, but for a clash I need at least 1212 points to do so (we can discuss the merits of this strategy at another time – I was desperately trying to handle the damned Moscow-class that kept on dominating my games with UCM). I have also been looking at double Bellerophon and double Calypso which clocks in at another 30 points actually bringing the size of the battle group outside normal tournament limits (1250 points) but acceptable at smaller games.
You could handle this with a simple rule change that could read something like “Maximum battle group size is 20 % of total fleet size + 200 points” giving the same 500 points limit at 1500 point but giving a 999 points game a limit just below 400 points. But I actually don’t think it is a big problem as such.
However, there is an impact. Since we (so far) only have played 999 points games we can get used to some rather large battle groups and when we – as the next step – switch to 1250 points we might get a bit surprised – and even more so if we took an intermediary step on say 1100 points or something like that.
In any case – as I already said, I don’t think this is a big issue as the game plays. I just find it a peculiar observation and I’m trying to observe how – if at all – it influences our fleet compositions.