ABC warfare

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ABC warfare

Postby tmul4050 on Sat 16 Mar 2013 02:21

Hey all
I was thinking about the use of atomic, bacterial and chemical warfare in the context of the canon and the game. I suppose you would also include kinetic strike weapons, but ABC warfare sounds...better than ABCK warfare ;) .
I don;t like the term WMDs or weapons of mass detruction as that term seems to me to be a soundbite from fox news :mrgreen:
Anyway This sort of warfare, called genocidal attacks in the game I believe, is in the canon aand is a tactic in the strategic game. Genoncide for fun and profit depends on it as a tactic. In the canon it was used by and on the Rigellians, Nearly used on the Thebans and of course was used in IWS4 a lot by both sides. Most often it is a missle bombardment by ships and fighters, occasionaly by asteroid strike. It implies heavily but with not alot of detail that both the bugs and the rigillians landed troops to round up populations for extermination or (in the case of the bugs) for dinner. Biological weapons are discussed but were considered too dangerous (In death Ground talks about once, with another mention in the Shiva option).
While the rules for bombardment are fairly ok, I do think the rules for the other methods are sparce and very vague. (I don't know how it is addressed in Ultra). Nuclear bombardment oblitarates populations very nicely, but under the rules they is no penalty for immediately colonising the planet after the last missle hits. No radiation? No nuclear winter? No ecological breakdown? :shock: A bit too easy. I think this needs to be addressed. In the canon the planets are considered wreaked.
Also I would like some rules on biological attacks and using asteroids. A machine race would probably always use them (no problem to them), and of course you get mad men or people who very pragmatic let us say.
Food for thought.
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Re: ABC warfare

Postby AlexeiTimoshenko on Sat 16 Mar 2013 05:31

Atomic weapons are fairly easy to explain. It's not hard to conceive of weapons with highly radioactive but short lived isotopes. Given the time compression in the game rapid recolonization is workable.

Biological and chemical weapons I'm not so sure of. As far as asteroid strikes go, rocks big enough to make a difference to a high tech race tend to be too big to move. Those that are movable can be destroyed/deflected fairly easily.
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Re: ABC warfare

Postby Crucis on Sat 16 Mar 2013 06:47

Good morning, Tmul and Alexei.

Let me approach this in reverse.

The game, as well as the novels, basically ignore biological and chemical warfare, and I have no problem with continuing that.

As for asteroid strikes, while those were included in the ISW4 novel and perhaps in the published ISW4 scenario module (I know for certain they were included Dave Weber's ISW4 scenario mod manuscript), SDS removed using asteroids as weapons from the game. I have to admit that I don't know, or at least, recall why, but I'm probably in not much of a rush to re-include them.

As for lesser kinetic weapons as planetary bombardment weapons, in the canon history, by the end of ISW4, they'd become the bombardment weapon of choice since they produced no radiation to speak of. (Also, IIRC, according to the novel, there was no real reason why those weapons shouldn't have been able to be developed earlier.)


And finally, nuclear weapons. I agree that the consequences for nuclear bombardment of a planet should be more severe. I'm not entirely sure why they aren't, though I suspect that a part of the reason might have been that it was felt that if proponents of GFFP (genocide for fun and profit) couldn't just nuke a planet and recolonize immediately, they'd just resort to other means, such as mass exterminations via ground troops or possibly kinetic bombardment or any other means that one could imagine, though perhaps not in the rules. So possibly it was felt that rather than have players calling for rules to cover other means of genocide to support GFFP, I think that SDS just decided to let them nuke planets and be done with it, even though that might not be terribly realistic.

Ultra (and I assume Solar) have added some options into the mix to provide alternatives to GFFP. For starters, uplift rules which allow races to increase the EL of friendly races at GREATLY enhanced rate. The rate is almost certainly unrealistically fast even with the game's time compression, but to make it a viable alternative to GFFP, it was necessary to make the uplift rules unrealistically fast.

Another option in the Ultra/Solar mix exists in the political rules, where there's a second path to incorporating races in your empire. In 3E, the only path was through a "friendly from the start" path of a trade treaty, then a military and trade treaty, followed by partnerships, and then amalgamation. In Ultra/Solar, now you can conquer a race and then start a path that goes from conquered race to slave rave (I think) to subject race, and eventually to partnership (I think) and amalgamation. This gives players a decent option for conquest without GFFP, though it might be slower than GFFP.

Also consider that while Uplift can only be used on partnered races, conquered races can eventually reach that status and be uplifted.


One last point is that one could also greatly increase the political penalties for genocide above and beyond what they may be at this moment. That said, one might argue that not all instances of genocide are created equal. If you've got a race that just likes wiping out populations for GFFP purposes, that race should be a political pariah if and when other races learn of their genocidal policies.

OTOH, if you have a race or an alliance of races that were forced into a situation like ISW4 where genocide was almost a life or death war strategy, that race or races might be seen differently. That said, it could also be misunderstood by newly contacted races who might not understand the full context of why one engaged in genocide. I'll use the situation in the latest Starfire novels, EXODUS and EXTREMIS, where the new race, the Arduans, saw human broadcasts of ISW4 and how they glorified their genocide of the Bugs, but did not know the whole story, and thus saw the humans in a VERY bad light because of that misunderstanding. Of course, I don't know how one could simulate that entirely accurately in the political rules, but it's a possible scenario.
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Re: ABC warfare

Postby tmul4050 on Sun 17 Mar 2013 20:50

I have to admit that the differing techniques of genocide could just be devided into two type. Bombardment (in whatever form) and other genocide actions actions. If you wanted to keep it simple bombardment happens like the rules state (a combat action) and the other genocide types can only happen if the enemy population is militarily helpless (all defences and fleets destroyed, or even planet conquered) Just say the planetary population is reduced by a percentage per turn (say 10% before growth). Or say one population unit per ground unit.
Other types of genocide include but is not limited to (I am including who actually used the techniques)
Tailored bio attacks (many sieges in pre industrial times used dead rotting animals as catapult rounds to start disease)
Nano tech attacks (no one yet...I hope)
Death camps (Nazis in WW2, Russian Gulags)
Roving death squads (Nazis again, Pol Pot, Yugoslavia)
Planned famines (Russia, China maybe; that could have been incompetenace, Pol pot)
Destructive slave labour (Russia, Pol pot, Nazis once again)
Forced immigration (hmm slave labour to start colonies or build industries: Evil empire here we come)(Russia did this alot but also Turkey in 1918 with the armenians)
Mass use of chemical weapons (Iraq)
Sterilisation (Once more the Nazis, but this was a very dicussed idea in the 1920's and 1930's in many western nations as a way to remove what were considered useless populations ie minorities, native groups)
Dirty bombs (ordinary HE mixed with a highly radioactive material) (never used as far as I know)
Containment on reservations (Contraversal: This could be argued that this is not genocide, but many of the peoples put in these reservations/refugee camps/internment camps believe it is) (USA, Australia, Britain in its empire, many others. It can be seen as aiding some of the above genocides)

Penalties on those who do this type of attack should, I agree, vary depending on motivation and context. In the ISW4, There was no other way to end the war, the bugs could not by comunicated with and were not interested anyway. But misinformation and miscommunication could lead to problems as you said. The genocide attacks is ISW3 however should incur the penalty, . There was an alternative short of total destruction, total military defeat and enforced peace. Not cheap, not easy and certainly not popular. But possible. Think of Japan in WW2.

That the ISW3 ending was viewed with unease was brought up in the theban war debate: That the federation and its allies acted in vengence, not need. That although they said it was the only way to win, they wanted to do it. The Ophiuichi disagreed and refused to participate. That should tell you something.

That however is the bombardmant option, and its morallity is probably only important in the context of the canon history. A sliding scale diplomatic penalty would sufice I guess, depending on context.

The other genocide options should all have a severe diplomatic hit. Depending of NPR government types it should also be considered a major diplomatic insult, leading to the destruction of agreements and possibly war :evil: .

Hope this diatribe is helpful.
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Re: ABC warfare

Postby Cralis on Sun 17 Mar 2013 21:24

Before I start, the real military term for this is "NBC Warfare" for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical warfare.

There are a couple ideas on the table to make genociding (by whatever means) a race off planet and re-colonizing a harder prospect, which in turn makes other methods of dealing with the races more economical. GFFP (Genocide For Fun and Profit) was coined by Dan Preston on the old mailing list and he showed how, mathematically, simply nuking a race away and then recolonizing was the fastest and most profitable method of dealing with NPRs.

So that became the "standard" by which made everything else shortened in time frame and cost to even come close to competing. IF we can make genocide more expensive and time consuming then the other methods won't have to be compressed to the point they seem silly.

So what are some ideas?

1. Reduced Habitability: this method simply reduces the maximum PU allowed on the planet by some value. This reduces the total possible economic output of the planet, making it less profitable in the long run. But it doesn't help with the short term and it has to be severe to matter...but too severe and it makes the planets worthless. This was a difficult balancing act that ultimately convinced Marvin to decide not to use it. We recommended that every 3 PU destroyed via bombardment reduced the max PU on the planet by 1 PU.

2. Post-Bombardment Cleanup: this method reduces the allowed PU by a greater amount (which is needed to reduce short-term gains) but allows the player to spend MCr to remove the "pollution and waste" and over-time increase the max PU again. This cost could be matched to the cost of invasion so that both were competitive with each other...

This is the method that we have examined in the past for use in SOLAR STARFIRE but we haven't had the chance to work the numbers so we can determine how best to implement and at what cost. In fact, right now we have no idea what it would cost, but I can say that it should be "per PU" and there should be a limit in how fast you can clean the planet to make it take time as well as cost.

3. HI shift: this was another method suggested for CLASSIC STARFIRE waaaay back in the day. Shift the HI away from the player's home world HI by 1 for every X PU slaughtered in a bombardment. In this case it was something like 1 HI per 1000 PU killed. The problem with this was that it was difficult to implement, unfair to alternate races with more or less populations and max PU values, and had long term effects. On the other hand, it did let other races implement the scorched earth policy...

As a side note, thinking about it you could do a #4 where you have #3 but allow the HI to be shifted back to normal with a cost per HI and a time required based on the HI difference (like 3 months per HI point or something).
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Re: ABC warfare

Postby Crucis on Mon 18 Mar 2013 00:05

Cralis wrote:Before I start, the real military term for this is "NBC Warfare" for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical warfare.


Actually, Cralis, I think that it was legitimately once referred to as ABC, but later on ABC was replaced by NBC as the bombs become more commonly known as "nuclear bombs" rather than "atomic" or "atom" bombs.

There are a couple ideas on the table to make genociding (by whatever means) a race off planet and re-colonizing a harder prospect, which in turn makes other methods of dealing with the races more economical. GFFP (Genocide For Fun and Profit) was coined by Dan Preston on the old mailing list and he showed how, mathematically, simply nuking a race away and then recolonizing was the fastest and most profitable method of dealing with NPRs.

So that became the "standard" by which made everything else shortened in time frame and cost to even come close to competing. IF we can make genocide more expensive and time consuming then the other methods won't have to be compressed to the point they seem silly.

So what are some ideas?

1. Reduced Habitability: this method simply reduces the maximum PU allowed on the planet by some value. This reduces the total possible economic output of the planet, making it less profitable in the long run. But it doesn't help with the short term and it has to be severe to matter...but too severe and it makes the planets worthless. This was a difficult balancing act that ultimately convinced Marvin to decide not to use it. We recommended that every 3 PU destroyed via bombardment reduced the max PU on the planet by 1 PU.


I guess that I don't see the problem with having a nuclear (or antimatter) bombardment making the planet worthless. That would be the entire point of the exercise. Make nuking planets so painful that if you intend on nuking a planet and destroying its population, you'd better expect that the planet will be worthless.

And frankly, I'd have no problem with the damage being so bad that no amount of cleanup could reasonably get the job done. Allowing the damage of a saturation, genocidal bombing of a planet should be so severe that you would only consider using the tactic if faced by an enemy whose continued existence would be a permanent threat (like the Bugs in ISW4) and that the cost for eliminating that threat would be that the bombed planet would never be useful to anyone else.

However, as I said in a previous post, if players are willing to find other means of depopulating planets so that they can then place their own populations on said planet, then preventing nuclear bombardments of planets as the most obvious means of depopulation doesn't really accomplish much other than being realistic ... which means that perhaps one might as well allow players to bombard populations out of existence rather than have them demanding to be able to do so by other means ... which brings us back to the rules you describe here, Cralis.


2. Post-Bombardment Cleanup: this method reduces the allowed PU by a greater amount (which is needed to reduce short-term gains) but allows the player to spend MCr to remove the "pollution and waste" and over-time increase the max PU again. This cost could be matched to the cost of invasion so that both were competitive with each other...

This is the method that we have examined in the past for use in SOLAR STARFIRE but we haven't had the chance to work the numbers so we can determine how best to implement and at what cost. In fact, right now we have no idea what it would cost, but I can say that it should be "per PU" and there should be a limit in how fast you can clean the planet to make it take time as well as cost.

3. HI shift: this was another method suggested for CLASSIC STARFIRE waaaay back in the day. Shift the HI away from the player's home world HI by 1 for every X PU slaughtered in a bombardment. In this case it was something like 1 HI per 1000 PU killed. The problem with this was that it was difficult to implement, unfair to alternate races with more or less populations and max PU values, and had long term effects. On the other hand, it did let other races implement the scorched earth policy...

As a side note, thinking about it you could do a #4 where you have #3 but allow the HI to be shifted back to normal with a cost per HI and a time required based on the HI difference (like 3 months per HI point or something).
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Re: ABC warfare

Postby Cralis on Mon 18 Mar 2013 00:22

Crucis wrote:
Cralis wrote:Before I start, the real military term for this is "NBC Warfare" for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical warfare.


Actually, Cralis, I think that it was legitimately once referred to as ABC, but later on ABC was replaced by NBC as the bombs become more commonly known as "nuclear bombs" rather than "atomic" or "atom" bombs.


Whether or not that is true (and a Google check shows that at least someone called it that at some point), that is not what it is called now.

I guess that I don't see the problem with having a nuclear (or antimatter) bombardment making the planet worthless. That would be the entire point of the exercise. Make nuking planets so painful that if you intend on nuking a planet and destroying its population, you'd better expect that the planet will be worthless.


The reality is that this isn't true. Not only does the radiation go away pretty quickly (nature has great filtration systems), but we are finding that there is even bacterial life on Earth that finds highly radioactive environments to be hospitable. I'm sure there is alien life that would feel the same... especially if you use the alt races.

And frankly, I'd have no problem with the damage being so bad that no amount of cleanup could reasonably get the job done. Allowing the damage of a saturation, genocidal bombing of a planet should be so severe that you would only consider using the tactic if faced by an enemy whose continued existence would be a permanent threat (like the Bugs in ISW4) and that the cost for eliminating that threat would be that the bombed planet would never be useful to anyone else.


That is one way of looking at it, but IMHO not a realistic way. Realistically it would be that the ecological damage is so severe that it would cost too much and take too long to clean it up. That is probably a much more flexible way to look at it.

However, as I said in a previous post, if players are willing to find other means of depopulating planets so that they can then place their own populations on said planet, then preventing nuclear bombardments of planets as the most obvious means of depopulation doesn't really accomplish much other than being realistic ... which means that perhaps one might as well allow players to bombard populations out of existence rather than have them demanding to be able to do so by other means ... which brings us back to the rules you describe here, Cralis.


Semi-realistic IMHO. More importantly, from a game perspective, it reduces the methods of competitive play without replacement. With the proposal I suggested you are making them pay for their choice in some way, some easier to manage than others.
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Re: ABC warfare

Postby AlexeiTimoshenko on Mon 18 Mar 2013 04:10

The HI shift isn't far from being canon. Look at the Khanate's Unification Wars and the effect on Valkha. The Tangri and Rigellians had similar situations.
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Re: ABC warfare

Postby tmul4050 on Mon 18 Mar 2013 19:10

Actually I got the term ABC warfare from a comic I read as a kid (ABC warrior in 2000 AD, same comic that had Judge Dread). I like the term which is the reason I used it. NBC warfare sounds like a television network going to war. I know it is used by the use it military to describe that type of warfare but I don't see why starfire has to follow US military terms.
I don't think its a reason for much comment though so I won't anymore.

Also there has been some comment that as radioactivity would fade quickly that colonisation after a world wide nuclear bombardment would have little problem. Think about what would have happened. Radiation, although nasty, is not the main problem. These problems are
- destruction of the planetary eco system, causing a mass extinction event. Surviving creatures would suffer gene damage leading to birth problems and so on.
- Diruption of the planets weather systems on a scale that would be hard to measure, but it would be bad.
- For really large scale attacks, liquifying much of the suface
- Also radiation. Fallout would go relatively quickly but the strike zones would be dangerously hot for many years. If you don't believe me take a gieger counter to the nevada test sites, or bikini atoll, or Maralinga in australia. These sites are still not safe for prolonged human habitation.
The impact of such a bombardment would at lest be as bad as the KT asteroid hit that took out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

OTOH I do like the rule ideas. Changing the HI index is a good nearly in game change. Or simply make the wold a hostile body would work.
On a side note, having a rule that encourages nuclear bombardment as a way to clean house is not really a good thing. Otherwise we would be doing it now I bet. ;)
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Re: ABC warfare

Postby AlexeiTimoshenko on Tue 19 Mar 2013 07:02

One thing that hasn't been considered is a race with high radiation tolerance (Gorm?) combined with a Rigellian mentality/xenophobia. Such a race may have no qualms about nuking hostile aliens.
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