Author has written 1 story for Mass Effect.
The Very Model Modern Citadel Councilor song
I am the very model modern Citadel Councilor
I am very well acquainted, too with matters astronomical
I am very good at air quotes and dismissing claims
In fact, when I what is meant by GARDIAN and Sentinel
When i have learned what progress has been made in modern gunnery
For my military knowledge I'm plunky and adventury
10 Reasons Mass Effect races are idiots:
1. They have switched from guns with unlimited ammo to guns with limited
2. They use carriers with fighters in a universe with Newtonian physics.
3. They use 40-50 kiloton kinetic slugs as main space weapons.
4. They tried a flanking maneuver by landing on a moon.
5. They uplifted Krogans because nuking from orbit was too expensive. Because of that, they can never be sure...
6. Quarians somehow lost their planet while having about 50k ships in the orbit...
7. They use ground based anti-orbital guns with fixed firing angle.
8. There are people stupid enough to get hit with those guns.
9. They believed that uplifting a highly violent, warlike and VERY expansionist race could never go wrong.
10. They build stealth ships... that can be seen by any idiot looking through a window.
Well, using replaceable magazines that allow for prolonged continuous fire sounds nice. We even have something similar in our conventional gunpowder weapons, heavy machine guns have to replace barrels every so often because all fired shots cause them heat up, deform and jam. The problem is that the Council basically did all that overnight.
In other words - the problem is Logistics. As old saying goes 'Amateurs study tactics, armchair generals study strategy, professionals study logistics.' Suddenly over a single night (well, couple months most likely) the ENTIRE galaxy switched from unlimited ammo to limited one. Suddenly every single outpost, every single military base, every single ship with marines had to request scores of ammo as Thermal Clips are not reusable.
Remember the 'you need to fire 50 000 rounds per enemy soldier killed'? It's more or less true. That's why there are assault riffles without full auto fire mode. To preserve ammo. ME verse had a brilliant way to preserve ammo, one that modern generals would sell their mothers for, and what did they do with it? Throw it away to gain some minor tactical advantage.
So, back to logistics. Before ME2 to kill a dozen enemy soldiers one needed several small blocks of tungtsen. When ME2 came around, one needed roughly a thousand thermal clips (let's ignore that shields should increase that amount several times). Remember, in Real Life enemies do not run in the middle of a field, allowing you to neatly place your shots. They stay in cover and leave it only when they are firing at you, or when they are forced to leave it due to bad tactical situation (one of which is 'holy crap, we are running out of ammo!')
But hey, it gets worse!
In game, ammo spawns left and right, teleported there by Goblins or something. In real life someone has to make all this ammo. New factories had to be made, only Turians have at least couple BILLION soldiers (every person between 15 and 30 years makes about 30% of the population, do the math). You have to supply every single one of them. Then you have to resupply them as they participate in various minor conflicts against pirates and such. Oh, and 50k is a low level estimation, according to some articles, it's more around 250k for modern day Afghanistan and Iraq. The number is so hight that manufacturing cannot keep up. Now imagine having to set up enough production lines for the entire galaxy worth of troops...
But it's over, right? Nope. It can get even worse that that.
Remember those collectors you killed by the dozens? Each one of them would cost you 50k ammo. Now, Normandy is full of badasses so it might not be that bad, but you generic Alliance or Turian frigate with generic grunts? They would need that ammo. The ammo that before ME2 could be stored inside a small locker room. Now it would require an entire freighter just to carry it. For a single ground team...
Maybe they should just take a page from Aliens an nuke all the enemies from orbit? Nah, that would be a smart thing to do...
Carriers. Filled with fighters. Each one piloted by a daring hero with sunglasses, playing volleyball between missions and picking girls in bars. Not.
The topic has several pages discussing it, me writing here about that would be just rewriting what those pages said. I suggest visiting Atomic Rockets at
http: www projectrho com public_html rocket (add dots and slashes were needed)
Fighters are described under 'Exotic Weapons', there are several links to pages describing validity of space fighters.
Now, why fighters in ME are not a good idea? It all boils down to 'everything fighter can do, something else can do better'.
The first thing fighters do is get close and fire missiles, so let's see how something else could do it better:
-Put missile launchers on frigates. Frigate is fast enough and agile enough to get close to enemy warships to swarm them with missiles. It is also durable enough to not care about GARDIAN so one frigate will deliver nearly 100% of it's payload to the enemy, while a fighter wing will lose fighters (either due to minor damage forcing them to retreat, or outright destruction) before they can launch, resulting in much less than all fighters firing their missiles.
Frigate also has a main gun which will be useful once enemy shields are breached. In fact, WITHOUT frigates to press the advantage created by the missiles, fighters are completely useless.
-Put missile launchers on dreadnaught sized ships. Imagine a dreadnaught sized ship with scores of missile launchers along it's conventional armament. Imagine it using FTL to jump straight into the enemy fleet. Imagine it swarm all ships with it's missiles and turn them into scrap with secondary weapons. Now multiply that for every carrier humanity built.
It could actually work, a Turian admiral pulled off an FTL assault on Reaper fleet so the tactic is achievable within ME drive constrains. ME ships also need a time to turn (hence why the tactic worked on the Reapers) so before hostiles have time to realign and fire their main guns, they will be swarmed with missiles and cut down with guns.
-Put missiles on EVERYTHING. Once the knife fight (sic) between fleets starts, having ships capable of taking down hostile shields with a single missile might be a good idea.
-Drones... why risk a pilot when you can replace him with expendable piece of hardware? Pilots are both expensive (unless you train them like cannon fodder, i.e. not train them at all) and very slow to replace (18 years for one to mature, a year or two of training, compared to couple days to build a drone). In fact, when you have a disposable drone, you can push the assault to the very end, forcing the enemy to trash every single drone, rather than do little damage and force a fighter to retreat.
-Missile bus. If you are using a remotely controlled drone to deliver missiles, why bother with remote control? As I said, pilots are expensive so skip training them and use missile buses. The concept is simple, a large missile with submunitions, in this case - magical ME missiles. Again, as it's an expandable unit, it will force hostiles to blast everyone into pieces rather than do light damage and force a retreat.
Fighter pilots are expensive. In one work I have found the cost to fully train a pilot to be 9 million dollars (in 1999). According to Wiki, cost of a single f-16 fighter is about 18 million dollars (in 1998). And in ME you assume you will loose dozens of those in a single attack. So either ME races have 'we have reserves' mentality and send poorly trained cannon fodder into the battle, or they are plain idiots.
Oh, I almost forgot. Fighters also fight other fighters! This glorious battles, filled with dashing volleyball playing, girl picking, totally not gay best friend confessions, young men. Not.
Do the smart thing, replace interceptors with drones or purpose built screening anti-fighter frigates (or even cruisers if your opponent never got the memo that fighters suck). At that point it boils down to simple math - do you have enough GARDIAN to destroy enemy fighters before they reach you? Do you have enough to shot down the missiles of fighters that do? Do you have enough ships to survive that salvo and still be able to win the battle?
If the answer is 'no' to any of those questions then simply disengage...
Right, those pesky planets that have to be defended at all cost... Hmm... so when the evil fighter armada is approaching, use FTL to 'pass' the fighters and attack the main fleet! If you are lucky, you might even take out a carrier or two. Yeah, I know that this is also the counter for missile buses and will work as well on fighters as on drones, that's why I put those two at the end.
First of all, nukes in space do work. They generate X-rays and should fry a ship that gets too close to the detonation. The cool fireball you see in the atmosphere? That's x-ray radiation super heating the air.
So, back to the point. In ME we hear that some Newton guy is very deadly because a slug with three times higher yield than Hiroshima bomb will ruin someone's day. In 50' Soviet Russia detonated a bomb that had over 50 megatons yield. Yes, you heard that right, 50 000 000 tons (of TNT). To give you a comparison, Hiroshima was 13 kilotons, that's 13 000. Tsar Bomba, that was the name of the bomb dropped by the Soviets, was over three thousand times more powerful than Hiroshima bomb. To match it's yield, ME races would need roughly a 1000 dreadnaughts, or one dreadnaught firing 1000 times.
It gets worse. Tsar Bomba had it's yield cut in half to reduce fallout (and give those poor sods in the bomber enough time to clear the blast radius). No fallout in space for us!
So, to match a single bomb you need 2k dreadnaughts. The biggest fleet in the galaxy belongs to Quarians and is listed at 50k ships. Assuming every single one of them is a dreadnaught (it's not), to match the yield of all those 'dreadnaughts' you need 25 bombs. All can be carried by a single cruiser or, if your miniaturization tech is up to par, by a single frigate.
In other words - a single frigate/cruiser armed with fusion warheads outguns all of the navies in the galaxy. Combined.
Sure, there is the a mayor problem - delivery. All those bombs do nothing if they cannot get close. Swarming enemy fleet with missiles will be expensive as most of those missiles will be destroyed... or will they?
The missiles can be armored. It won't stop them from being destroyed, but poorly armored fighters can reach hostile fleet and fire sluggish Mass Effect Magic Missiles AND have those missiles actually hit! Armored missiles that do not turn back and have to be shot to pieces to be stopped will do the job just as well as those fighters, if not better. With yield high enough, only one per ship might be needed.
I am lost here. Why? What kind of alien thought process could be used to justify landing on a moon (a one devoid of life, so a prime target for a Colony Drop) to flank a space armada?
Did they planned to fly that moon next to the reaper fleet and blast them with their hand guns? The gravity of that moon should be low enough for the rounds to match the escape velocity, so I guess that could be their plan.
Did they just had too much troops and decided to dump them in an open area, a brilliant place for a nice 'nuking from orbit' picnic?
I am really not capable of inventing any good reason for that move. Even against a conventional navy.
"Oh look, the Turians have landed on the moon! They have flanked us!"
The second question is 'why didn't Reapers just nuke it from orbit'? Well... here is a possible explanation...
"We have detected organics on their moon. It looks like they are fortifying it?"
Hey, what else can you expect from poorly programmed VI's? They were barely 'smart' enough to pass the Turing Test, but lacked any capability to learn or adapt. Doing the very same thing they were programmed for eons.
The main question is still 'why'? What's the point of uplifting Krogan? Well, I was told by a bunch of people with a delusion of grandeur that it was to man warships and use them as cannon fodder against underground Rachni bases...
The first one is rather stupid due to simple numbers. Earth has over seven BILLION people. Let's assume that a mere 1% of those people joins the military. That's seventy MILLION people. Even if each ship had a crew of ten thousand, with that many people it's possible to man seven thousand ships. From a military forces recruited on a single planet. By that point both Asari and Salarians had several worlds.
This is when the numbers are set to ridiculous levels. Normandy was manned by less than hundred people. A cruiser would probably have several hundred people as a crew. Dreadnought, maybe couple thousand. So with seventy million people the ME races could man couple dozen armadas.
What about ground forces, you say? Some of those people should be used to defend planets, right?
That leaves using Krogans to attack alien world. Apparently, Rachni can build caves that can withstand
Why? Why not drill a hole and dump a nuclear device through it? They were small enough for Krogans to carry them into those caves/installations/nests/whatever. Heck, Rachni worlds did not meet the 'garden world' criteria, so why not just dump a large dinosaur killer on top of every installation like that? If a pocket nuke could take them out, then a nice Colony Drop would do the job just fine. Instead of that, Salarians uplifted an entire race, waited for them to build up their numbers, equipped them with 'modern' weapons, shipped them to the hostile worlds and watched as they died by billions.
So, there is the last reason to use Krogan - recovery of worlds captured by the Rachni that DO meet the Garden World criteria. Now, saying that the Council forbids orbital bombardment of Garden Worlds is wrong. Turians did bomb Shanxi (which is a garden world) so the law either has loopholes large enough to do that, or they simply do not care about it when it suits them. Either way, there was nothing stopping Asari and Salarians from reducing every single Rachni on the surface of those planets to ash by the virtue of orbital bombardment.
And yes, this is the only place where canonical ME railguns have an advantage over nukes.
EDIT - after re-reading Codex I found out that using dreadnoughts for orbital bombardment of Garden Worlds is completely fine and legal.
Well, when the Geth-Quarian war ended, they probably did not have that many ships. Still, they had enough of them to ship several millions of their people away (AFAIK, Council did not provide any aid), enough food production capacity to feed them, enough mobile industrial capacity to maintain those ships and build new ones. Oh, let's not forget about enough military vessels to protect all of that.
The question is - how could they loose the war, yet keep all of that intact? All it took to stop the Geth was to bombard their factories, destroy the Geth controlled shipyards (I guess they had some, otherwise the Quarian fleets could just stay in system) and... that's it. Quarians win.
Of course, there is a chance that Geth had space superiority due to all the ships they captured. In that case, how come Quarians managed to evacuate their people along with all those ships? How come they even HAD those ships in the first place? Dreadnought sized live ships do not grow on trees.
There is very little information to properly answer 'why did Quarians loose'? The only answer I can give is 'because Writers said so', which translates into giving them a huge idiot ball to ensure that they did lost that war.
PS. There is a logical answer - Quarians built Geth to wage a war against the Council, hence the very large fleet, of both Geth manned and Quarian manned ships. The ships used to evacuate the population were built to carry invasion forces. The factories could not be bombed as Quarian high command predicted that Council might try that so they pulled off Rachni and hid them deeply underground.
Personally, I would be in favor of this one, but it could be described as 'Evil Quarians' and ME writers wanted us to 'like' Quarians. They were presented as noble scavengers, great engineers and most importantly, exiles wishing to retake their lost homeworld.
I am talking here about ME3 side mission N7 Cerberus Attack. What we see there are ground anti-orbit guns. Now, having some way to attack ships in orbit is not that bad idea, except it will work only once. And even then it's usefulness is debatable. Ships in orbit have an advantage that ground based installations lack - they can dodge. They can also use their own guns to blow up the ground cannons from the other side of the star system if they feel like it. Enough said that the ground base lacks such option.
Did I say that ships can dodge? Yeah, apparently it does not apply to Cerberus warships who are so nice that they stay in one spot, exactly the spot on the firing line of those fixed anti-orbital guns... Not very smart move if you ask me.
So... here's the hint - kids have to eat! Shocking, isn't it? And while the food does grow on trees, it takes space to plant those trees. It takes some space to build homes for new kids. Build some place for them to work etc. All that takes space lots and lots of space. Add the fact that Krogan live for as long as Asari, if not longer, and you get a recipe for a disaster - constant population boom requiring constant increase of living space and new resources, and that means new planets.
Sooner or later Krogan would (and according to Codex, did) ran out of living space. With Council forbidding opening of new relays, Krogan would have to expand somewhere... like the Council space.
With Krogan birth rates, war was inevitable. So why did Salarians uplift them? I pointed out that you do not need such numbers to fight a space war. Not when you are smart and competent that is...
Of course, putting spotters next to ship's windows is not the way to detect Normandy (although if Geth did that, Shepard's job would be much more difficult). The way to do that is to use LIDAR. Or telescopes. Or cameras. Or all of that together. The moment other people learn that there are warships undetectable by conventional heat sensors, they will start developing alternative means of detection. It's just that looking out of the window seems to be the most efficient one this time...
Oh, I am assuming that Normandy IS invisible to Radar, otherwise this entire point is moot as EVERY ship would detect it with it's radars.
OTHER MASS EFFECT PEEVES
Citadel Council is a bunch of cowards.
During the Battle of Citadel the Council boarded Destiny Ascension and... fled. They boarded Citadel Fleet FLAGSHIP and rather than use it to fight the incoming invaders, like you know - the biggest, most badass dreadnought in the galaxy, the one which can shatter every shield in Alliance Navy with one shot - should, they used it as an escape pod and fled... How it ended for them? Disabled drive and either death or having to be rescued by HSA as the most badass dreadnought in the galaxy got curbstombed by a bunch of Geth frigates/cruisers. I am starting to wonder if Destiny Ascension is even armed...
Newtonian Physics, Not.
I should probably put it into Idiocy section, but that would be an overkill.
You see, there is a trick to turn a lousy frigate into a dinosaur killer or reaper killer or relay killer. That trick is called 'Newtonian Physics', more precisely - The First Law of Motion - An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
To put it in simple terms - constant thrust equals constant acceleration. So, if you hit those huge thrusters each ship has, the ship will accelerate as long as those thrusters stay active (or it hits something, like say, a planet or a relay). Why does it matter? It's quite simple. The faster you go, the harder you hit. Due to Newtonian Physics, the only limitation on how fast a ship can go is fuel reserve... That means a frigate could travel at 0.013c (the velocity of slugs fired by dreadnought's main gun) and spam rounds at say, a dreadnought. At that velocity, the frigate will pack as much punch as a dreadnought.
But hey, why stop there? The frigate could take more time to accelerate and reach 0.1c! At this point the normal kinetic energy equation slowly starts to get wonky and we should switch to one taking relativistic effects into account. But even with the second equation, a frigate traveling at such velocities and firing slugs would pack much more punch than any dreadnought in the galaxy. Heck, at that point, rounds from assault rifle would probably have kiloton yield (I am too lazy to do the math and check if it's true).
Then why Mass Effect does not actually have Newtonian Physics?
This trick I just described was never mentioned. Sure, the normal strategy with frigates will probably not work as the target ship will notice the attack much earlier and move away... unless it's done by a stealth frigate like Normandy (or unless the target is a planet as planets, kind of, suck at dodging) . Normandy it's not a scout frigate, it's a frigging first strike weapon (or dinosaur killer waiting to happen)!
It was also never mentioned in the standard space battle scenario. You see, when two fleets charge at each other, their kinetic rounds get bonus energy from their velocity AND another bonus from approaching opponent's velocity! Obviously, for the other side things work exactly the same. But, no word about it in Codex. One would think that such large effect of Newton's laws on space warfare would be mentioned at least briefly...
10 Reasons Alliance Joined the Council Races
1. It stopped Turians from finishing the job.
2. It stopped Asari from jumping in and stealing the credit for the Turian finished job.
3. It kept Salarians from 'accidentally' releasing another genocide virus.
4. It has created a nice buffer state to keep the Batarian Hegemony away.
5. It gave the Batarian Hegemony a new target to hate and raid.
6. It allowed the three Council races to save money on anti-pirate raids.
7. It gave Asari a new culture to subsume.
8. It gave Salarians new technology source to steal.
9. It gave Volus new economy to take over.
10. It gave Turians someone they could sneer at and boast how superior their military is.
What? You honestly believed that Alliance benefited in joining? If so, I should probably mention something about selling a bridge here, but that would be just cruel.