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In Star Wars: The Last Jedi the following happens at the start of the film: The First Order decide to aim the Dreadnought cannons at the rebel base. As they point out, the rebels are in the middle of an evacuation, and are heading from the surface up to the cruiser.

Why make this decision? Would it not have been more tactical to destroy the cruiser first? Surely this would have foiled any attempted evacuation, barring some much smaller frigates and fighters which would probably be much more vulnerable without the protection of the cruiser.

Why did they make this decision?

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There were several Star Destroyers surrounding the Dreadnought. They had more than enough firepower to attack a single cruiser without the dreadnought's main guns.

However, the base on the planet's surface would be harder to destroy with conventional weapons (it is presumably underground, as most rebel bases seem to be.) This is what the dreadnought was brought in for.

This, of course, begs the question "why didn't the Star Destroyers open fire on the cruiser?" I'm guessing at this point, but I'm thinking that since this cruiser was the last ship to leave the base (all others had already escaped), they wanted to track it (rather than destroy it) using their newfangled "impossible hyperspace tracking" system, so that they could locate and destroy all the rebels instead of just one ship's worth.

Nitpick mode engaged:

Would it not have been more tactful to destroy the cruiser first?

I think you meant "tactical" here. "Tactful" means "having or showing tact" (ie: sensitivity to the issue at hand) - blowing up your enemy's ships may be tactically wise, but it's hardly sensitive.

  • i suppose polite is not the best term to describe an attack! Good points, just seems like a missed opportunity to destroy the main rebel ship.... but that would get in the way of the story! – R_Avery_17 Jan 2 '18 at 16:22
  • Your understanding of tact is inaccurate. "Tact: adroitness [cleverness/skill] and sensitivity in dealing with others or with difficult issues." There's nothing that mentions being polite, or having social grace. IMO, your nitpick mode may need additional calibration. ;) – Charles Jan 2 '18 at 16:26
  • It seems unlikely that the plan was to allow the cruiser to jump away. Snoke berates Hux pretty harshly when it happened. – Jason K Jan 3 '18 at 14:25
  • @JasonK Like I said, I'm guessing there. But if they weren't deliberately letting it escape, why didn't they open fire? If you have a better idea, I'm all ears. – Steve-O Jan 3 '18 at 14:31
  • @Charles "Tact" or "tactful" is nearly always used in inter-personal ways, not militarily. The definition of the word may seem to allow for a military usage, but it's never used that way. I do agree that it's nit-picking, but it's the kind of question one might see on the English Language Learners stack overflow. Is it absolutely wrong? Maybe not. But it's probably not the best word choice here. – jfren484 Jan 3 '18 at 14:48
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Presumably the First Order doesn't attack the cruiser first for the same reason that they can't destroy it later. It is too far away for their guns to be effective against its shields (the TLJ visual dictionary mentions that this cruiser had upgraded shields). But the dreadnought cannons are more than sufficient for the base. I don't think the FO knew that the base was almost evacuated, and in fact they did blow up a lot of material still there, it was mentioned by the male Resistance member prior to the last shuttle getting off. They just didn't kill any Resistance people.

Once the Dreadnought got closer its cannons may have been able to damage the cruiser or the support ships, HUx's plan seemed to be to destroy the base, then close and engage the Resistance ships. This plan was thwarted by Poe's attack which allowed the bombers to get in and destroy the Dreadnought before it could blast the cruiser.

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