Rules, Missile Trajectory


After playing the first scenario, I was wondering what the rules were concerning the trajectory tracking missiles follow to their target. It was observed in the first scenario that a FF missile could turn 180 degrees in a single hex to get to its next target. This is important as missiles should not be able to turn in a single hex like that.

The main reason for these rules is for planning point defence (e.g., getting into possition to providing point defence for a capital ship from torpedos). It may also factor into the effective range of the missile (i.e., factoring in the turning time may mean the missile has to cover more ground to get to its target). Finally, it could change the approach trajectory, resulting in changing up the chance of a successful point defence (from regular firing to opportunity fire or vise-versa) to possibly changing whether or not point defence is even an option.

Is there a (hopefully simple) rule or set of rules to apply to this (or have I completely missed something and am just making a fool of myself)?
Where exactly in Scenario 1 did an FF missile pull a 180? I'm just curious - either you mix something up (maybe two FFs in that hex?) or I messed up badly. :p

Usually, a missile keeps its fire arc, so for a FF missile that would be 240 degrees in front of its nose. I agree, missiles are turning fast, but if I'd apply the same rules of movement as for fighters, it would be a cakewalk to outmaneuver an FF or IR missile after it shot past its target. If anyone has a better idea, I'm happy to hear it.
If memory serves, the missiles would only turn around on their second movement turn... They could re-acquire any target at that time, based on their targeting rules...
True, an IR missile stays on its target for the next turn if it's within its fire arc, and an FF missile will pick the next best target within its fire arc. And now I feel like I missed your point somewhere along the way... ;)
Was it that an IR or FF missile turned 180 degrees during a game?
My bad. Looking at the scenario again, it was just the picture orientation (unless I am messing up the trajectory myself). The case was where the two FF missiles went off into space near the beginning of the scenario. But, I guess this kinda reinforces my point that I am not sure how the missiles would fly.

More to the point I was trying to make, even with the 240 degree arc, FF missiles would have some turn time. This might make a difference on the full range of the missile (e.g., for a target at the edge of the arc and near the max travel distance of the missile). If the speed and max tracking distance are the same for the FF missile, then, figuring in the turning arc of the missile might mean the missile will not reach its intended target that turn (I currently don't have the manual handy).

The range question is mainly for the FF missiles as they have the greatest tracking arc and therefore have the biggest chance of having a problem of turning to chase a target. However, I would like to see these rules so as to better plan moves to counter long range missile shots with point defense.
Ah, okay, I see! In that case, we could discuss whether we change missile behaviour - I'd have to add a Turn Rate for each missile and apply the usual movement rules. So, let's say an FF missile would have a Turn Rate of 3 and an IR missile a Turn Rate of 2. Which would allow FF missiles to do a U-turn, but at the price of having its remaining movement points reduced.
That way you could anticipate a given missile's trajectory pretty easily. What does everybody else think?
That sounds good, Ironduke. However, I am still a bit confused on the trajectory the missile would take while tracking its target (any tracking missile). For example, in Scenario 1, Turn 5, Koractu 1 launched a torpedo at the Beowulf. As I understand it, the flak from the Beowulf was placed in its path. Looking at the placement of the flak, it kinda looks like the torpedo banked to port, but, ultimately I am not sure what it did. How would I find the missile trajectory in such a case?

Also, could you give a guide for how to find the missile trajectory for the case of a FF missile launched near the edge of its 240 lock arc (not right on it) for about ~6-8 hexes separating the attacking and defending fighters? I think such a case would answer a lot of my questions on this subject.
Scenario 1, turn 5: Actually the torpedo banked to starboard (right), but I guess that's what you meant. The torpedo moved one hex forward, then banked 1 hex right (into the first flak hex), then moved 2 hexes forward. Missiles will always take the shortest route possible within the limitations of their fire arc. So when firing an FF, it will directly fly towards its target, with no or as few turns as possible. I'll post an image shortly to illustrate...
Okay, take a look at the figure: Green means the actual route the missile will take (in this case, an FF missile). Red means an alternate route it could, but will not take. A missile will always head straight for the general direction of a target first, then take as few turns as possible to reach it. I hope it's halfway clear by looking at the figure. ;)


  • Missile trajectory.jpg
    Missile trajectory.jpg
    92.1 KB · Views: 148
In general, that makes sense: the routes to the ships to port and starboard of the fighter are logical, given your rules. However, it seems to me that the most distant ship is more to the front than to the 60 starboard of the fighter, and so the missile would follow the red path rather than the green. Straight forward from the fighter is the closest to the "general direction" of the target. Thoughts?
True, but the missile would nevertheless launch to the starboardside first, even if the fighter was one column further to the left.
Perhaps we should really consider to apply the general rules of movement... ;)Would that be easier to comprehend for the lot of you?
Having played through Scenario 1, I didn't think missile movement was all that critical; the exact path really didn't seem to matter, in the end... I was usually able to just imagine a straight-line (cross hexes and ignoring standard movement) to predict what 'arc' a missile would hit me on, and I don't think I was ever surprised.

That said, in Scenario 1, we also didn't really care about the angle of impact, since chaff was universal, so perhaps this is why I didn't seem to notice any distinction.

Look at the 'far ship' that Kaz was questioning, from the point of view of the 'launcher' both paths are hitting the rear arc, so neither is advantageous. Had the 'far ship' been turned 180, then the green path would have been preferable, since it was a dead-front hit, and a chaff pod would have no effect