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"How Good Are Your Grav Tanks?" Topic

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717 hits since 16 Mar 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian16 Mar 2017 11:10 p.m. PST

I guess grav tanks can range from:

* floating above the ground, maybe can make small bounces or leaps, essentially a better faster hovercraft


* flying vehicles that can also travel along the terrain, kind of a flying tank or a driving plane

What kind of capabilities do you give your grav tanks?

Personal logo Coyotepunc and Hatshepsuut Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 1:37 a.m. PST

The last grav tank I wrote up from scratch based on vehicle design rules was back in MegaTraveller. It could achieve orbit (but not interplanetary travel) and had a fusion cannon that could punch a good-sized hole in any starship that strayed too close. But the tactical role was "infantry ground support."

If I recall, it could fly about Mach 10 at treetop level.

Stealth100017 Mar 2017 3:43 a.m. PST

I think of them as the Nebuchadnezzar from the Matrix movies.

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian17 Mar 2017 4:42 a.m. PST

If I recall, it could fly about Mach 10 at treetop level.

That's a little scary. If I do the math right, that is in excess of 7600 mph and 2 mpsecond. I would think you would hit the 5 story parking garage long before your brain could register it being in the way. Even if you had terrain following radar that could react to something miles away and auto response, 1 second to react to something two miles away would be a rough ride!

LaserGrenadier Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 5:12 a.m. PST

In my rules the grav vehicles are slightly faster than hover vehicles. The fastest have a maximum move of 36 inches, while the fastest hover vehicles move up to 30 inches.

Hover vehicles have to stay close to the surface and can rise no more than an inch above the surface in the game. Grav vehicles can rise up to four inches. This allows them to do some minor "pop-up" attacks and pass over low obstacles such short walls and dragon's teeth.

The G Dog Fezian17 Mar 2017 5:17 a.m. PST

The last grav tank I wrote up from scratch based on vehicle design rules was back in MegaTraveller. It could achieve orbit (but not interplanetary travel) and had a fusion cannon that could punch a good-sized hole in any starship that strayed too close. But the tactical role was "infantry ground support."

This shaped my view as well. The last grav tank I used was similar in that if it could see something, it could shoot it, short of engaging starships in orbit. But I backed off the speed a bit. It could still 'fly' and be treated as an aircraft, but mostly it hugged the ground and supported the troops to which it was attached. Think it took a mobility hit the first turn of game and became a Mach 10 bunker until it was finished off the next turn.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 7:17 a.m. PST


Some games, they are Hammer's Slammer's rip-offs (or, they're Hammer's Panzers). In Traveller, they're capable of (slowly) reaching orbit.

Darkest Star Games Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 7:22 a.m. PST

In the Dark Star setting there are 3 generations of grav: 1st gen are mostly conversions of "regular" vehicles designs to use inefficient grav pods and basically perform similar to blowers but without all of the dust being kicked up.
2nd generation are dedicated grav designs that are twice as fast as tracked or hover tanks and can float up to 10m or so over a surface. The current standard for front line grav tanks.
3rd gen are pretty powerful and really expensive. A large 3rd gen grav tank can be dropped from low orbit (and return, albeit very slowly) and act as both a dropship and combat unit, and smaller 3rd gen tanks can fly at about Mach 3 and also achieve orbit, but in the age of beam weapons where "if it comes over the horizon and is in LOS I can knock it down" NOE is usually the way to travel distances.

Legion 417 Mar 2017 8:13 a.m. PST

"How Good Are Your Grav Tanks?"

Besides they can move over some terrain like wheeled/tracked vehicles can't. The way we use the Slammers. Note: Slammer-verse AFVs/vehicles are GEVs/ACVs. Not Grav.

However, i.e., Eldar & Tau type high tech grav AFVs. Hover along the ground similar to Slammers. However, can make Pop-up attacks like helicopters. The do Not fly at higher altitudes as they are not aircraft but Grav.

We use many gunships for Sci-fi like choppers[ i.e.Thunderhawks, Iron Eagles, etc.] as well. As we believe that is what the models are supposed to represent somewhat. They can fly at higher altitudes than Grav. However, has noted they are best deployed by flying contour or NOE. Using terrain as cover/masking.

And the way we use them are just like modern Gunships. They hover behind cover and pop-up, fire and then go back behind cover. Again, a similar tactic we employ for Eldar and Tau Grav AFVs.

But again Grav can't fly as high as aircraft. They are Not aircraft. The are … Grav. We use, i.e. Jet Bikes, Land Speeders "ala GW Epic/40K" as Grav as well. Waaay back in the SM1 fluff, GW somewhere gave both Land Speeders and even Jump Pack equipped troops the max altitude of 8cm. That all made sense to us. So that is generally what we use for most Grav/Jump Pack units.

Not to leave out forces like Chaos. As we see anything deamonic as "aliens". But we use Tzeentch Flying Discs as "Grav" as well, for example. Even if they are organic/deamonic/whatever(?). Again we see Deamonics as Aliens. Just a different "type". May be less "corporeal" ?

Albeit, my comments rotate around the Slammers and GW EPIC/40K. I believe these concepts could work for other sci-fi genre' as well.

And I have to mention. We strongly see the GW EPIC/40K-verse, as Sci-FANTASY Not Sci-fi. However, we pushed that paradigm waaay to the side. As in "off the grid". We coverted/make almost all EPIC = SCI-FI. If we wanted to play fantasy we'd play WHFB. But we don't, we want to game SCI-FI. And in spite of themselves, GW makes some good models that are useful for sci-fi. If you ignore, drop, etc. some of the Fantasy/LotR based fluff. wink

Personal logo Coyotepunc and Hatshepsuut Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 10:23 a.m. PST

@virtualscratchbuilder: my tank had the finest avionics money could buy… the pilot's attention was directed more to target acquisition. The whole thing was a phenomenal abuse of the rules… but the GM let me desogn it and buy it for my character :)

Micman Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 10:23 a.m. PST

Usually they are the same or slightly better than GEV/wheeled/tracked. Keeping the the game simple. I do want to try the drop from orbit attack style.

Aotrs Commander17 Mar 2017 10:25 a.m. PST

I categorise into low grav and full grav.

Low grav can only float a couple metres off the ground (and usually much less than that) – it might be able to move up and down vertically more, but onyl when sat in one place (and would be very unwise to do in combat).

Full grav can essentially fly, make pop-up attacks and essentially do anything a VTOL or MBT could do.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian17 Mar 2017 10:49 a.m. PST

heavily armed and armored, high speed attack craft.

Personal logo 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 11:18 a.m. PST

An enclosed and armored low level skimmer/gun platform would be the most common definition.



Oberlindes Sol LIC17 Mar 2017 12:42 p.m. PST

I have designed many grav tanks using Striker (GDW 1983). That's how I learned to use MicroSoft Excel (that and High Guard ship design). Descriptions above by Coyotepunc and Hatshepsuut and The G Dog for MegaTraveller grav tanks are not inconsistent with Striker results.

In Striker, flying vehicles have three maximum speeds. I'm not sure if I remember the nomenclature correctly, but basically, grav vehicles have maximum speeds for high altitude, just above all obstacles altitude, and nap-of-the-earth altitude. (If I recall correctly, Striker calls them high speed, cruising speed, and NOE speed.)

At high altitude, the vehicle goes really fast. When it's flying closer to the ground (cruising speed), its maximum speed is a fraction of its speed at altitude. When it is flying NOE, its speed is limited by its avionics, which tops out at around 300kph, if I recall correctly.

It's harder to hit a vehicle in NOE mode -- that's why it's used -- so grav tanks tend to move at that speed during engagements.

Similarly in StarGrunt, it's easier to hit a vehicle in high mode than in NOE, so tanks tend to stay in NOE. (Rarely do you have more than one tank in a StarGrunt game -- Dirtside, Striker, and Striker II are better games for tank battles.)

Mako11 Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 2:09 p.m. PST

I'm with DSG on these, and see basically three levels of tech:

1. Class 1 vehicles are rather archaic grav armor with big repulsor pods mounted on their sides, and/or underneath the vehicles, which permit them to cruise just above ground level, up to about 10 feet or so, in order to avoid terrain obstacles, when needed. These are also slower than the later grav armor tech.

2. mid-tech grav armor Class 2, which may or may not have grav repulsor pods visible, are faster than the Class 1 Grav Armor class, and can jump/cruise at up to 30 feet or so off the ground when needed, in order to clear some terrain, buildings, and other obstacles. They're faster than the Class 1 vehicles too.

Class 1 and 2 Grav Armor must be brought in from orbit by Dropships, or other large, landing assault vessels, when conducting planetary invasions.

3. Class 3+ vehicles can drop in from orbit on their own, to the planet's surface below, and may also exfiltrate back up to orbit on their own, independently. They can engage enemy vessels in orbit too, and fly at close to Mach 1 speed, similar to the old Traveller/Striker designs. The grav repulsors are now integral inside their hulls, for better protection, and great maneuverability. They're basically like very fast VTOLs, and can maintain flights at high altitudes over long distances, if desired, but they are more vulnerable to enemy fire in this mode easily spotted, obviously.

On contested worlds, they usually drop in from orbit on the far side of the planet, in order to avoid enemy fire, and then attack from lower levels, right down to treetop/NOE levels, as desired. They can fly at shockingly fast speeds, even at NOE level, and frequently surprise enemy forces who do not have such similar high-tech vehicles.

Examples of Class 3 Grav Tanks:



Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 2:35 p.m. PST

In Clash on the Fringe, we have both "hover" and "floater" vehicles, hover being more like traveller grav tanks and floater being like 40K land speeders.

Dwindling Gravitas17 Mar 2017 3:36 p.m. PST

Dunce question, but reading this thread (as a relative noob to grav/hover/blower tanks), what is the advantage of a blower over a tracked version?
Ability to cross water/marshy/swamp land?

Personal logo John Treadaway Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 4:33 p.m. PST

In the Slammers world, most of the lighter blowers can cross still water (not the tanks, though) but they tend to be faster than tracks for a given size of vehicle.

The grav stuff is faster and more flexible.

John T

zircher17 Mar 2017 4:41 p.m. PST

A bit surprised no one has mentioned Renegade Legion: Centurion. They run at 500 mph with a ceiling of several hundred feet.

Legion 417 Mar 2017 5:17 p.m. PST

Yes, as John said, basically grav, GEVs/ACVs* have better cross country capabilities. And a higher speed. Slammer vehicles are basically GEV/ACV. And again not Gravitic.

*GEV = Ground Effects Vehicle

*ACV = Air Cushioned Vehicle

Lion in the Stars18 Mar 2017 2:28 a.m. PST

@Zircher: Nope, Renegade Legion grav tanks can drop in from orbit to kick your ass, though they tend to stay down in the weeds for protection.

I run *real* grav-tanks as being Tier 3 on everyone else's scale, capable of dropping in from orbit but usually staying close to the ground, rather like an Abrams or T80 with Apache/Hind mobility. There are still dedicated fighters around because fighters have different weapons and are more maneuverable at altitude.

Dunce question, but reading this thread (as a relative noob to grav/hover/blower tanks), what is the advantage of a blower over a tracked version?
Ability to cross water/marshy/swamp land?

Somewhat improved ability to cross water and soft ground, but the real reason Drake created the blower tank was to not have to fight with vehicles throwing tracks all the time.

Dwindling Gravitas18 Mar 2017 5:26 a.m. PST

Thanks all for the interesting and informative answers!

@LitS: That makes perfect sense. I used to hate track-bashing :-)

Sargonarhes18 Mar 2017 7:08 a.m. PST

Grav tanks work just like any other tank, even the gravity field underneath will crush objects. It would have to because you are repelling the equal weight of the tank from the gravity.
So even if the tank is jumping over an object, that object is still going to be hit with the weight of the tank coming down on it.
However because of the grav drives, the tanks may be more easily inserted on to a planet. Being able to drop and land rather than ferried down by a shuttle, making it easier to get a large force down quickly without the worry of how many are lost with every shuttle shot down. Retrieval will still require a shuttle. Why shouldn't tanks have the same deployments as mechs and powered armor.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART18 Mar 2017 10:26 a.m. PST

Using the Striker design chart, one would wonder why anything else was needed BUT grav tanks. You could go anywhere and blast anything and everything to atoms. If they weren't good enough, just make them bigger! Infantry and artillery paled in comparison, not to mention any opposing non-grav tank.

To stretch it further, with the capabilities of any space ships, you could dispense with the Grav vehicles as well. This sort of rendered tactical combat rather useless.

When the rules were written, computers and the attendant software were rather primitive. All I can say is stick to near future because the far future is unknowable.

Granted, the authors were pulling the ideas out of their nether regions but they were not to be blamed as it is difficult to quantify an idea/concept as opposed to a tried and true reality such as the dichotomy between wheeled or tracked vehicles. As a fix, I would declare Grav Vehicles being dependent on staying low to the ground. This could diminish their overwhelming superiority-maybe.

zircher18 Mar 2017 10:38 a.m. PST

Gravity negation, gravity repulsion, gravity generation, not all grav-tanks are based on the same set of rules for defying physics. So, one tank might crush you, another could pass overhead light as a feather, and a third might even temporarily lower the pull of gravity on you when you are in its foot print.

Legion 418 Mar 2017 11:04 a.m. PST

Somewhat improved ability to cross water and soft ground, but the real reason Drake created the blower tank was to not have to fight with vehicles throwing tracks all the time.
Amen …

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