Home Forums Sci Fi 15mm Sci-Fi Tracked vs. Hover…What Choice Would You Make?

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    Avatar photoDarryl Smith

    A quick blog post about a potential upcoming purchase from Darkest Star (come on, DSG…give us another discount code!).  Would like to hear your opinions about tracked vs. hover for sci-fi gaming:

    Tracked or Hover?

    Buckeye Six Actual

    Avatar photokyoteblue

    Swamp world hover, desert world tracks.

    Avatar photoVictoria Dickson

    I see tracked as being for local forces on a colony world producing their own vehicles, hover for the forces on the mother planet or by someone local on a colony world who can afford to pay for something that big and heavy to be shipped there.

    Avatar photoNorthern Monkey

    I’d have to say I prefer the hover version myself, tracked sci-fi tanks generally look to much like RL tanks for me, I like a bit more “sci-fi” on my models

    My attempt at a Blog: http://ablogofwar.blogspot.co.uk/

    Avatar photoAngel Barracks

    As a maker of hover and non hover vehicles I have long pondered what sort of wheels to use.
    Tracks are established and make sense, as we know they work.
    Same for wheels and I figured that in the future self-repairing tyres would be common so the worry of punctures was removed.
    Also changing a tyre would be easier than repairing a busted track.

    So for me with wheels replacing tracks the question is Wheeled vs Hover.

    And for a long long time wheeled won. I could not get my head around why hover would work. I was ok with the sort of anti-grav and style method of propulsion, which would seem to be the biggest hurdle.
    But I was always struggling with the recoil from big ass guns on them. In order to allow myself to make hover vehicles I wrote the rules so that unless the hover vehicle had mega expensive stabilising systems then moving and firing resulted in significantly reduced accuracy.
    In my mind this was enough to deal with the recoil issue and I started working on hover vehicles. I think the fastness and ability to speed over water then land then marsh etc. is nifty and wins over tracks and wheels. I suspect however that any large mega vehicles would be tracked though.

    Wheeled for me is the normal.
    Hover for speed and terrain versatility (though a pain to fix when it breaks down)
    Tracked for bigger tougher more sturdy vehicles.

    Avatar photoGrimheart

    Personally i think the tracked look more like current modern so as you stated far future i’d go with the hover ones.

    Thats one of the problems with scifi models imo, even at 6mm so much just looks like slightly altered modern stuff, not far scifi sadly.

    Interest include 6mm WW2, 6mm SciFi, 30mm Old West, DropFleet, Warlords Exterminate and others!

    Avatar photoMike

    Also, how far in the future?
    50 years or 500 years?
    Maybe in 500 years it will all be drone flyers?

    Does the weather affect the effectiveness of certain vehicles?
    Hover wont get bogged down in wet areas, so if your games are set in a wet area would people use tracked?

    Is maintenance and issue?
    In a remote colony, what is easiest to fix with limited supplies?

    And so on..

    Avatar photoPatG

    …. In a remote colony, what is easiest to fix with limited supplies?….

    Wheels by far. lower weight, lower fuel costs, lower maintenance costs etc. As you note though different terrain will require different solutions.

    Tracked vs Hover – I love the aesthetic of hover but I think we will be on tracks for a long, long time. Hover takes power just to lift the vehicle and then there’s making it move and powering weapons etc.  A tracked (or wheeled) vehicle can use a smaller power plant to achieve the same performance with the attendant savings or all that lift energy can instead be put into bigger weapons, thicker armour or higher speed.

    A final note – If you have played Car Wars with the hovercraft rules, you’ll have some understanding about how hard it can be to control ACVs. 😉

    Avatar photoMike

    Mike wrote: …. In a remote colony, what is easiest to fix with limited supplies?…. Wheels by far. lower weight, lower fuel costs, lower maintenance costs etc. …

    I guess that depends.
    Maybe hover skirts protect the gubbins and as such you are less likely to get breakages.
    Maybe whilst breakages are rare, the parts are harder to ship in?
    But then, maybe you just print the spares and fit?

    I think the answer really depends on how your sci-fi world works?

    Avatar photoPatG

    I guess that depends. Maybe hover skirts protect the gubbins and as such you are less likely to get breakages. Maybe whilst breakages are rare, the parts are harder to ship in? But then, maybe you just print the spares and fit? I think the answer really depends on how your sci-fi world works?

    I was using “current” (WWI to present) practice and thinking. The laws of physics won’t change in the future.

    As you say though, it depends on how you put your world together. Though straightforward to fabricate using locally sourced materials, you’d find it very difficult these days to find someone with the skills to make a wagon wheel. 😉

    Avatar photoMr. Average

    I’d go with tracks. Relatively fast and can bear significant weight of armor and weapons and can handle a wide variety of environments, especially the thin-atmosphere desert planets that seem to be common in our own solar system. Lifting a hovercraft of similar combat potential would require a lot of power or a bigger hovercraft, a design loop you’d be chasing indefinitely. And aesthetically, a whole ton of sci fi currently overpopulates the minis world with BTR-70’s In Space.

    Avatar photoMike

    The laws of physics won’t change in the future.

    True enough, but our understanding of how it works will, and as such it may allow us to do things currently thought impossible.
    Which is why I can now dig hover vehicles, laserguns, nano-swarms, AI self-guided missiles, invisible tanks and stuff.

    Avatar photoRuarigh

    I prefer tracked to hover for near future sci-fi. Tracked just seems more logical, and I can’t get around the idea that a single hole in the skirts is likely to immobilise the vehicle. In my sci-fi world the technology goes straight from tracked/wheeled in the near future (next couple of hundred years) to anti-grav in the far future.

    Of course, I actually think that the future will belong to robots and drones as governments seek to reduce human casualties in the front line, while recognising that the reality of warfare 500 years in the future is really beyond our comprehension right now, in the same way that a medieval warrior could not imagine the changes to warfare that have occurred over the past 500 years.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.


    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    For some reason, I’ve always been enamored with wheeled vehicles in scifi games. They just look neat.

    Avatar photoEtranger

    On the other hand, the skirt seems very vulnerable to me. A penetration and that’s it.

    Tim, there actually needs to be a reasonably sizable loss of skirt to make a major impact upon lift and performance. A small perforation won’t to anything.

    1. The Skirt – The skirt traps air underneath the craft. The skirt is made up of several individual pieces called segments. Each skirt segment is attached to the craft’s hull by batons on the outer edge and by plastic cable ties on the hull’s underside. They are attached in this way so that they create a tight seal to prevent air loss and so that they can mould and fit to the terrain the hovercraft is passing over. Using segmented skirts also allows for individual replacement should it be necessary. Skirts can take a lot of punishment. Should a skirt become snagged on something, it is designed to break the plastic cable ties holding it in place rather than tearing the skirt segment. If the wire ties break, the hovercraft’s air cushion will still be maintained since the neighbouring segments will billow out to fill the new gap. In an unusual situation where a hovercraft might lose many skirts, it will still be able to hover. It is always recommended to keep your skirt in the best condition possible to experience optimum performance.

    From http://www.viperhovercraft.com.au/viperhovercraftfaq.htm Also, from TMP http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=222621

    In my setting wheeled vehicles are commonest, for reliability, ease of maintenance etc. Then Tracked for heavy duty and military applications. Hover vehicles are too limited for most off road applications but do exist, mostly as light cars & trucks in urban settings. However I can rationalise just about anything!

    Wheeled ATAVs.

    Tracked Exploration Vehicle.

    Hover Bus

    There are ‘jet’ cars too along with high tech Anti-gravity vehicles (which we haven’t discussed yet), which are largely are military specification for the major powers or major corporations.

    Corporate Limousines. Basically low altitude VTOL’s with turbofans in the ‘wheelarches’. (From Darkest Star Games IIRC!)

    Avatar photoDarryl Smith

    There are some great points made on this thread. I will pick up some tracked vehicles most likely. I like the overall look better than their hover counterparts (never liked the look of hover craft) and they will fit in with the Darkest Star Scorpions and the Old Crow wheeled APCs I was able to purchase a couple of years ago.

    Alright Darby…just when is that next DSG sale?  

    Buckeye Six Actual

    Avatar photoBill Alexander

    I think all too often when people talk about hover and sci fi, they are still thinking of todays hover vehicles.

    The GEV’s in Ogre are a prime example, admittedly they look right, but there is more than one tech that allows you to hover. And in the future who knows what might be possible.

    Avatar photoJohn Treadaway

    I like wheeled, tracked and ACV hover, along with blower (distinctly not hover vehicles) andf grav, providing I can generate a rationale for them and, bearing in mind the spread of tech in any multi planet setting, I’m happy to use all of them. They certainly all appear in the Hammerverse, anyway, so that’ll do me!

    Ariete Division

    Wrangels Legion

    Eaglewing Squadron

    Terran Star Marines with Grav vehicles

    Blowers and tracked vehicles - Slammers and New Ukrainians

    Air Cushion Solace Regulars


    John Treadaway


    "They don't have to like us, snake, they just have t' make the payment schedule" Lt Cooter - Hammer's Slammers
    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games

    I’m a fan of “whatever works in your setting” and “whatever looks coolest” as being great reasons for whatever!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

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