The Balance of Power in WC

nickmitsialis

Rear Admiral
Guys:

I know that the Confed/Kilrathi War is supposed to be kind of 'The Pacific War--IN SPAAAACE!!' But how would you 'weigh' the two sides? In the Pacific War, Japan's industrial & manpower resources were quite inferior to the US but had relatively small but very experienced combat seasoned cadre & the invariable ethos to fight to the death. But clearly in the Wing Commander Universe, things seem to be flipped, Confed has the technical edge on the Kats but lesser resources & manpower, while the Kilrathi have almost limitless 'cat-power', along with that suicidal fanaticism; Would the balance of power be as extreme as US v Japan (with the resources reversed) or more like Germany v the USSR or The British & the Commonwealth v The Axis?

What say you all?

TIA

NM
 

Mekt-Hakkikt

Mpanty's bane
Good question. Especially with the later products, I got the strong impression that the Confederation was made into the "underdog": vastly outnumbered and only the heroic bravery and cunning of the humans along with the technological superiorty "quality not quantity" (made possible by human genius and great formation) made it possible to withstand the barbaric onslaught of the mostly incompetent but numerous Kilrathi.
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
Near the end of the War, I would argue that most of both sides were exhausted, with small cadres of highly effective veterans and kids sent by scrapping the barrel. The Battle of'Earth had been a slaughter for both sides' regular forces, the Kilrathi were most likely gathering their remaining veterans/elites to man (or cat) their Hvar'Kann fleet, with green pilots holding the line and pushing here and there while the Confederation was all but wrecked.

Both sides had suffered a situation similar to IRL's IJN, and the endgame was acknowledged by both as so imminent it could no longer be worthwile to train effectively the pilots by rotating the veterans as teachers.
 

nickmitsialis

Rear Admiral
Well both sides were exhausted until a million fresh US troops flooded onto the continent--they were pitched into battle using much the same tactics as 1914-1917...but of course that doesn't count in WC Universe; anyway, I recall from earlier fiction that even Thrakath was worried about the losses to his transport & supply ships & to his 'air/space' crews. The odds were equal industry & man/kat power wise.
 

Red Baron

Rear Admiral
Also don't forget at the beginning the Kilrathi wanted a quick decicive victory against the Terrans, what they actually were preparing for was the incoming invasion from the other end of their empire.
Must've worked out about as well as the Schlieffen-plan did.
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
Good timing for this thread to appear. In the last week or so, we've been having on-and-off discussions about various aspects of WC in the CIC Discord.

I don't think the US-Japan comparison entirely fits. Parts of it can certainly be applied, but not all of it. It's kind of like it's all of those comparisons rolled into one.

Action Stations has a brief part about the differences between the Kilrathi and Confederation:

Action Stations said:
But it was the world they had taken with the colonists that troubled Vakka. Normally he would have killed them out of hand, but there was something different about these aliens, and curiosity compelled him to keep them alive. From them he had learned much, not in the manner of the Emperor's official "questioners," who had tortured human captives for information, but rather by simply talking. He found that in many ways he liked these aliens, but even more, he feared them; a fact he could never admit before this gathering.

"We have learned this, at least," Vakka finally replied. "If they have an advantage it is in their depth, their web of alliances with half a dozen races, the sheer number of worlds they have colonized. Such a depth of organization could be of infinite help if the challenge from within the core is to one day be met. We lack that depth. We annihilate or enslave everyone on the worlds we take."

"So?" the Crown Prince replied, his tone obviously conveying total confusion over the intent of Vakka's statement.

"Yes, we have a fleet, the best in the galaxy, but we don't have the infrastructure, the web of commerce. We conquer, destroy, populate a new world like a fiefdom, placing a few tens of thousands of our own blood where billions once existed. Those whom we suffer to live, labor in our factories as slaves, not allies. Then we expand yet again. We are like a hollow shell, the Confederation is a solid mass."
Now, part of the description is clearly referencing the differences between the US and Empire of Japan. The "Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere" really meant the domination of the Japanese over the rest of Asia. Their conquered regions were not willing aids in the war effort and the few replaced the many in those locations unless they possessed particular knowledge of value to the conqueror.

I'm not so sure either side ever has a massive technical advantage outside of the initial strikes at McAuliffe where the Kilrathi have torpedoes and Confed does not....but will get the tech from defective weapons (slave laborers really don't care about quality control). Stealth tech is certainly a Kilrathi edge until the very end of the war but not one that has many serious effects outside of the loss of the Tiger's Claw.

Forstchen makes it a bit of a jumble because he's clearly calling on those various comparisons to describe the Kilrathi and Confederation. Things like the Hakaga shipyards, deep in the rear of the Empire, is much like the Soviets moving their factories to the Urals to avoid their destruction. But in End Run, Forstchen makes the Empire more like the Japanese (not protecting their logistics, shipyards, etc because it was not seen as "worthy duty") because the Japanese never developed a serious convoy system or effective anti-submarine measures (like how the Kilrathi don't start protecting their logistical areas until after Confed starts smashing all of them in 2667-68).

So, I'm not sure if any of those comparisons really work because, if anything, it's more like the US v USSR. Two very powerful countries, with large areas of control, supplies, manpower, etc that if they went to war (sans nukes) it would be a grappling match of two almost evenly matched opponents until one starts to break. Things do seem to change in the mid-2660s. 2666 is a very bad year for Confed. They lose at least eight fleet/heavy carriers (ER says half the fleet and then lists 8 other carriers) during the year. That's part of the reason for the CVE program, to help replace losses, but also to do deep strikes against targets. During 2667, Confed starts to bounce back and really take the Empire to the cleaners (Raid on Kilrah, Vukar Tag, other CVE raids) but then the False Armistice occurs and that greatly weakens Confed. That's followed on by the Earth Defense Campaign where Confed loses a number of ships and pilots. That's why they are so desperate in 2669 to put the Victory on the front lines and turn to weapons like the Behemoth and T-Bomb to end the war quickly before the Kilrathi launch their reformed fleet (they also took a beating during BoT) at Sol again. Where, had they done so in 2669, it seems fairly clear Confed would have resisted but ultimately would have lost the war.

Returning to the original question, I think it's a little bit of everything for the comparisons. If I was weighting the two sides, certainly the Kilrathi are more like the Soviets and Japanese in terms of how they treat their soldiers, sailors, marines, etc. And Confed is more representative of the Western Allies.
 

Adm_maverick

Rear Admiral
There is one critical difference to consider in the discussion and that is the cultural difference. The Kilrathi were very warrior centric and that lead to the idea of the best equipment going to those that had earned the right to use it. The Bloodfang is the object example of this mentality. The BloodFang 1 was arguably the most powerful figther design in the galaxy at the time, making Blair's defeat of it all the more impressive. The Excalibur was designed on the belief that the BloodFang was the prototype of a new wave of Kilrathi fighters and Confed wanted a ship to match it. 'Cept Kilrathi never had any intention of mass-producing the BloodFang because it was "An elite warriors weapon" and the concept of using wings of it was just never considered. So it kind of comes down to how you want to compare the sides. Ship to ship, the Kilrathi outclassed Confed every day of the week. The Hvar'kann class dreadnought grossly out-classed any other capital ship the Confed could put on the table meassuring in at 22,000 meters, while the Concordia meassured in at 967 meters. Even the Behemoth, while larger then the Hvar'kanna, didn't have the raw armor or fire power to be a fleet ship. Cloaking fighters, masking jump points, Skipper Missiles. The Kilrathi had the individual advantage in all these ways.

But the Confed was better logistical support abilities, was better able to produce fighters of a higher average then the kilrathi could (HellCat v5 compared to a Dralthi 4 for instance, or an Arrow compared to a Drakhet). So while the Kilrathi likely had a technological advantage, they did not have the mind-set or logistical supply lines to maximize the advantage.
 
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Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Whoa, hang on there. I don't think you can justifiably say the Kilrathi outclassed Confed every day of the week. They did take a break on Sundays, you know.

No, but seriously. Most of the time in WC, Kilrathi ships are very noticeably technologically inferior to Confed ships. Cloaking devices, elite Bloodfang fighters and dreadnoughts are an exception, not the rule. For the entire second half of the war, the part depicted in the games, you take any type of fighter or capital ship, and you find Confed equivalents are typically superior. WC1 has some exceptions to this, with the Kilrathi ships being generally faster and more manoeuvrable, but inferior in armour. But already the introduction of the Rapier showed a change in the balance, and by WC2, Kilrathi ships were markedly inferior.

So, possibly the Kilrathi outclassed Confed Monday to Thursday, but lost the edge on Friday. And by the time they went into the weekend, they really hit the floor :).
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
Whoa, hang on there. I don't think you can justifiably say the Kilrathi outclassed Confed every day of the week. They did take a break on Sundays, you know.

No, but seriously. Most of the time in WC, Kilrathi ships are very noticeably technologically inferior to Confed ships. Cloaking devices, elite Bloodfang fighters and dreadnoughts are an exception, not the rule. For the entire second half of the war, the part depicted in the games, you take any type of fighter or capital ship, and you find Confed equivalents are typically superior. WC1 has some exceptions to this, with the Kilrathi ships being generally faster and more manoeuvrable, but inferior in armour. But already the introduction of the Rapier showed a change in the balance, and by WC2, Kilrathi ships were markedly inferior.

So, possibly the Kilrathi outclassed Confed Monday to Thursday, but lost the edge on Friday. And by the time they went into the weekend, they really hit the floor :).
Yep. Their best of the best fighters were possibly the best overall, but the mass of remaining crafts and ships were inferior to the mass of Confed stuff. I’d take a Hellcat over a Dralthi every time. Then consider that several Kilrathi crafts did not have ejection seats, and their culture led to a very important World War II difference of approach: the Axis had the aces with the most kills, because their good pilots remained in the cockpit while Allied aces were rotated back to share their experience with recruits, leading to a fewer superaces but a much better pilot population overall. When the IJN lost its cadre of naval pilots, it couldn’t rebuild it because it lost all its institutional experience.
 

Mekt-Hakkikt

Mpanty's bane
I agree that at least starting with WC2 the Kilrathi fighters were vastly inferior to the Confed counterparts (at least the non super secret fighters) but capital ships seemed mostly on par with Confed.

WC1 is strange in that while the Salthi and Dralthi are faster and more maneuverable than say Hornet and Scimitar, the Krant, Gratha and Jalthi took the opposite route, being (much) slower than their Confed counterparts but much more heavily armored. Same goes for the Hhriss.

All in all, I think it's difficult to depict a Kilrathi design philosophy in fighters. At least besides "quantity over quality".

IIRC in WCATV when Blair flies a Sartha they also talk about how Kilrathi fighters are inferior.
 

Adm_maverick

Rear Admiral
Whoa, hang on there. I don't think you can justifiably say the Kilrathi outclassed Confed every day of the week. They did take a break on Sundays, you know.

No, but seriously. Most of the time in WC, Kilrathi ships are very noticeably technologically inferior to Confed ships. Cloaking devices, elite Bloodfang fighters and dreadnoughts are an exception, not the rule. For the entire second half of the war, the part depicted in the games, you take any type of fighter or capital ship, and you find Confed equivalents are typically superior. WC1 has some exceptions to this, with the Kilrathi ships being generally faster and more manoeuvrable, but inferior in armour. But already the introduction of the Rapier showed a change in the balance, and by WC2, Kilrathi ships were markedly inferior.

So, possibly the Kilrathi outclassed Confed Monday to Thursday, but lost the edge on Friday. And by the time they went into the weekend, they really hit the floor :).
But that's my point. The Kilrathi had the superior technology, as evidenced by the Blood Fang, the Strahka, the Snakier etc. But they didn't use that superior tech the same way the Confederation did. The Kilrathi saw it as being perfectly logical to only outfit their best and most elite pilots (Read; Royal guard) with the Blood Fang. ConFed got a hold of some of the specs on the Blood Fang and developed the Excalibur with the intention of it being mass produced. Honestly, the Blood Fang still out classed the Excalibur, but the difference being that while ConFed built probably something like 100 Excaliburs before the end of the war, the Kilrathi never built more then a half dozen Blood Fangs.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
But that's my point. The Kilrathi had the superior technology, as evidenced by the Blood Fang, the Strahka, the Snakier etc. But they didn't use that superior tech the same way the Confederation did. The Kilrathi saw it as being perfectly logical to only outfit their best and most elite pilots (Read; Royal guard) with the Blood Fang. ConFed got a hold of some of the specs on the Blood Fang and developed the Excalibur with the intention of it being mass produced. Honestly, the Blood Fang still out classed the Excalibur, but the difference being that while ConFed built probably something like 100 Excaliburs before the end of the war, the Kilrathi never built more then a half dozen Blood Fangs.
Yes, but superior performance is not necessarily a matter of superior technology. A Ferrari is no more technologically sophisticated than your average family Ford. It's faster and more powerful because their philosophy of small-scale production for high-end customers justifies the use of more expensive but more powerful parts. Ford could do that as well, it's just that they don't want their family cars to be too expensive for the average customer. The same thing applies to ships. Yes, obviously, superior technology allows for superior ship design - but statistically superior ships do not necessarily imply superior technology. In the case of the Bloodfang, we have no reason to believe the ship is more technologically sophisticated than other Kilrathi fighters. All we know is that it's more powerful because it's designed to be unique.

Also, the Kilrathi did not always outfit their most elite pilots in the best ships. The Drakhai - the Imperial Guard - does fly Hhriss fighters in WC1, which certainly were top-of-the-line. But then in WC2, you see them flying Sartha and Drakhri - which, incidentally, is the last time we see them in the canon. As for the Bloodfang, we only ever see two, and both are flown personally by Prince Thrakhath (...and the one crashed in Ultima 7, of course). The Blood Most Noble Squadron from the CCG is canonical, certainly, but it's insufficient as evidence of wider usage, because the CCG is not narratively structured in any form; there is no official story of what happened in the CCG. It is a game, where things happen based on which cards you wind up using. What that means is that the CCG suggests the possibility the Kilrathi could have chosen to produce enough Bloodfangs to equip a squadron. We do not know if they did, and we have no reason to believe they did. The Victory Streak doesn't even bother mentioning the Bloodfang anywhere apart from the personal profile of Prince Thrakhath.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
The Drakhai - the Imperial Guard - does fly Hhriss fighters in WC1, which certainly were top-of-the-line. But then in WC2, you see them flying Sartha and Drakhri - which, incidentally, is the last time we see them in the canon.
Secret Missions 2 is the same way, the Drakhai fly all six types of fighters. In fact, the Hhriss is probably the least common... the narrative doesn't call this out, but the only time you're expected to fight one is as the 'final boss' of the last mission (Charon 2.) There's a group of them you're supposed to ignore in a Dralthi mission but the point there is to scare the player and not to actually challenge him to a dogfight... everything else is the original five. (That makes sense from a design standpoint: the idea was for SM2 to be more challenging... giving the old ships the improved Drakhai AI/bonus and giving the Hhriss more equivalent stats are independent ways to do that. So putting them together is only done very carefully!)

The Blood Most Noble Squadron from the CCG is canonical, certainly, but it's insufficient as evidence of wider usage, because the CCG is not narratively structured in any form; there is no official story of what happened in the CCG.
Agreed, and I also think it's extremely likely the intent was that Blood Most Noble squadron represents Thrakhath's specific unit. I mean, he is the kil with the most noble blood. :) (And it may well be a mixed type squadron, since his wingmen are typically other designs...)

That said, there is one mention of the Bloodfang in WC3 that implies to me there's probably more... or at least that Confed EXPECTS there to be more. From the TNC story on the Exalibur: "The Excalibur was designed specifically to out-fly and out-fight the Kilrathi Bloodfang." That's quite an effort to match /a single ship/ that the Emperor has specifically forbidden from fighting. :)
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Also, the Kilrathi did not always outfit their most elite pilots in the best ships. The Drakhai - the Imperial Guard - does fly Hhriss fighters in WC1, which certainly were top-of-the-line. But then in WC2, you see them flying Sartha and Drakhri - which, incidentally, is the last time we see them in the canon.
Speaking of the CCG, we see Drakhai squadrons there flying Darkets, Dralthi, Paktahn and Vaktoth. Just another example of them flying all the different ships anyhow.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
That said, there is one mention of the Bloodfang in WC3 that implies to me there's probably more... or at least that Confed EXPECTS there to be more. From the TNC story on the Exalibur: "The Excalibur was designed specifically to out-fly and out-fight the Kilrathi Bloodfang." That's quite an effort to match /a single ship/ that the Emperor has specifically forbidden from fighting. :)
That is true, and definitely it could mean there are more Bloodfangs out there. Or it could be another example of an inaccurate TNC story - remember that super-secret evacuation story WC3 begins with? :) The thing about the TNC quote is that it doesn't actually make sense when we look at what the Excalibur is. It's not primarily an anti-fighter fighter. It's very much a strike fighter, which implies that the "designed specifically to out-fly and out-fight the Bloodfang" wording is simply not accurate.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
The thing about the TNC quote is that it doesn't actually make sense when we look at what the Excalibur is. It's not primarily an anti-fighter fighter. It's very much a strike fighter, which implies that the "designed specifically to out-fly and out-fight the Bloodfang" wording is simply not accurate.
I've never really thought of the Excalibur as much of a strike fighter. Its contemporaries like the Sabre, Morningstar, Thunderbolt, Lance/Dragon, etc all mount torpedoes. The Excalibur just happened to carry a Temblor at one point. I think their suite of guns and maneuverability fit the Bearcat and Excalibur into more of the space superiority role, which would make them the perfect counter to the Bloodfang.
 

Adm_maverick

Rear Admiral
I've never really thought of the Excalibur as much of a strike fighter. Its contemporaries like the Sabre, Morningstar, Thunderbolt, Lance/Dragon, etc all mount torpedoes. The Excalibur just happened to carry a Temblor at one point. I think their suite of guns and maneuverability fit the Bearcat and Excalibur into more of the space superiority role, which would make them the perfect counter to the Bloodfang.
I'm in agreement with ChrisReid on this point. the idea of a Strike craft is to be fast or undetectable and able to take out problem items in a fast order. While the Excalibur mounts a lot of missiles, it doesn't have the fire power to reliably take out things like the engines or flight deck of a carrier but it makes mince meat of anything shy of a Shorthak showing it's a much stronger superiority fighter then it is a strike craft.
 

Star Rider

Rear Admiral
I've never really thought of the Excalibur as much of a strike fighter. Its contemporaries like the Sabre, Morningstar, Thunderbolt, Lance/Dragon, etc all mount torpedoes. The Excalibur just happened to carry a Temblor at one point. I think their suite of guns and maneuverability fit the Bearcat and Excalibur into more of the space superiority role, which would make them the perfect counter to the Bloodfang.
Having just completed a playthrough of WC3 I would say that the F-103 Excalibur's main mission is indeed that of a Space Superiority Fighter. That being said however it can make an effective strike craft with its gun loadout of Four Tachyon Cannons, and Two Reaper Cannons along with 12 missile hardpoints loaded with Dumb-Fire Missiles.

I'm in agreement with ChrisReid on this point. the idea of a Strike craft is to be fast or undetectable and able to take out problem items in a fast order. While the Excalibur mounts a lot of missiles, it doesn't have the fire power to reliably take out things like the engines or flight deck of a carrier but it makes mince meat of anything shy of a Shorthak showing it's a much stronger superiority fighter then it is a strike craft.
I have to disagree with you. The Excalibur does have the firepower when utilized a certain way, If you load up with Dumb-Fires, and fly into that Carriers flight deck you can blast the guts out of it ala Maniac. Against a Cap Ship that doesn't have a flight deck a strafing run with Autoslide, and ITTS activated is the way to go, since the Excaliburs guns can track a locked target, and while in Autoslide enemy turrets have a harder time hitting you.
 

Adm_maverick

Rear Admiral
I have to disagree with you. The Excalibur does have the firepower when utilized a certain way, If you load up with Dumb-Fires, and fly into that Carriers flight deck you can blast the guts out of it ala Maniac. Against a Cap Ship that doesn't have a flight deck a strafing run with Autoslide, and ITTS activated is the way to go, since the Excaliburs guns can track a locked target, and while in Autoslide enemy turrets have a harder time hitting you.
That's like saying the Devastator is a good Anti-fighter platform if you never miss with the plasma cannon. Being capable of achieving something, is not the same as being designed to full fill that role.
 
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