WP Stagnation

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Re: WP Stagnation

Postby Crucis on Tue 18 Dec 2012 23:21

tmul4050 wrote:
And it occurs to me that one way to counter this sort of defensive swarm is with a simultaneous transit with your own swarm ships. And in this case, assuming that you're at least TL4, I'd go with Force Beams rather than lasers. Defensive swarms like lasers to skip the shields of larger attacking ships. But against other swarm ships, that should be less of a concern, and the greater range and strong short range punch would seem to make F a good counter weapon vs laser armed swarms. Gun-armed swarmers might not be too bad either, though they'd have a range disadvantage against 3rdR lasers (they'd certainly be cheap). W-armed swarmers wouldn't have the short range punch of G, but they'd have the ability to reach out and crunch any enemy swarmers that wanted to try to avoid a knife fight.



In the case of swarm vs swarm the defenders know the place, and the attackers know the time.


Heck, tmul, this is a very succinct way of describing all WP assaults. :D


Regardless heavy losses are to be expected. The problem I see with the simultaneous transit is that you lose about 20% of your attack and suffer penalties on the first turn.


This is an argument that went on for some time back on the old Starfire E-mail List. Yes, with ST's you know going in that you're going to lose X% up front. But honestly, everyone but some starry-eyed optimist know that your casualties are going to be high against a strong defense regardless of whether it's an ST or a normal assault. At least with an ST you have a chance of defeating the strong defense that you probably didn't have with a standard "serial" assault. You'll have to pay the toll up front and you'll take some lumps on the turn of transit. But after that, you should have a strong force in the system to oppose the defenders, as opposed to only 6 ships making transit per turn.

The standard assault has the advantage that you can break off the attack if you choose. And if the defenses weren't as strong as you feared, you may avoid "overpaying" in ST interpenetration losses. OTOH, Against a strong defense, the standard assault would probably take higher casualties in the long run (if the attacker didn't break off) because the attacker didn't have a strong assault force in the system quickly.



And isn't this tactic only for very militaristic races (I seem to remember that in the campaign rules). Having said that it does seem like the most viable tactic I can see. At least until SBMHawks.



As for who should be allowed to use ST's, that's a tricky question. I think that the presumption that only higher militancy races should be able to use it is wrong because it fails to account for the logic that ST's may incur lower overall losses than normal assaults. And it fails to account for the fact that lower militancy races should be every bit as able to see that logic as higher militancy races.

I think that one could argue that ST's should be allowed by any race at any time. However, one point that doesn't get factored into the overall equation is that if some "admiral" ordered a large ST, incurring heavy IP losses, only to discover that the WP was only lightly defended or not defended, that admiral might be in serious trouble with his admiralty. A successful ST against heavy defenses is politically defensible. But a large ST against little to no opposition would seem to be highly embarrassing, at a minimum. And possibly cause for removing the commander. From a game PoV, it might be possible to say that the empire's admiralty wouldn't allow any more ST's after such a debacle for a period of time, perhaps 1 game year (10 months)?

This is starting to look a bit like world war one trench warfare. Lots of casualties with little gain. Attrition warfare I suppose :( . Whoever can afford the losses, wins in the end.



Well, I'm not so locked into the 3E history that I can't make some tweaks here and there to help things out.

For one thing, allowing some new anti-mine weapons to be developed prior to the AMBAM and AMBAM2 would be a help.

An earlier form of SBMHAWK might be doable. I was thinking of a warp-capable drone with a warhead (not unlike Kzinti drones from SFB) could be an option. It's not a weapon I'd like to see in normal use outside of WP assaults, but prior to the SBMHAWK, it might have some value. Also, such a drone might also be capable of mounting a laser-warhead, or maybe even some sort of anti-mine warhead. My thinking is that their endurance should be limited, but their speed should be good, probably matching the highest courier drone speed.

They would attack like kamikazes, though ramming wouldn't be necessary. Only getting close enough to blow up and damage the target. This is where a laser warhead version would be nice, since it wouldn't need to get so close to be effective. Defenders would target such drones like small craft or fighters. I haven't decided which one yet as the idea is very new to me and raw.

I don't want to see armed drones like in Ultra that seem a lot like 3E fighters. I'd rather that these drones were never more than single-use weapons used for WP assaults. And more than likely, I suspect that once SBMHAWKs arrived, these drones would become mostly obsolete.


Anyways, I think that this idea might help out with WP stagnation, by providing attackers with a weapon to help make WP assaults easier.
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Re: WP Stagnation

Postby AlexeiTimoshenko on Wed 19 Dec 2012 22:32

This almost sounds like an upgraded SBM. In fact a wp survivable SBM variant could have the warhead reduced to SM size and use the resulting volume to have electronics package enabling it to make a kamikaze run on a target.
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Re: WP Stagnation

Postby Crucis on Wed 19 Dec 2012 22:50

AlexeiTimoshenko wrote:This almost sounds like an upgraded SBM. In fact a wp survivable SBM variant could have the warhead reduced to SM size and use the resulting volume to have electronics package enabling it to make a kamikaze run on a target.



Actually, I'm thinking that it sounds a lot more like an SFB-like Kzinti drone than a Starfire missile. Besides which, it's can't be an upgraded SBM since the basic idea for this 'armed drone" is for it to show up at around TL5-6 and the SBM is a TL9 weapon. Size-wise, these things should be looked at as Courier Drone size, which is 4 times the size of a cap missile.
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Re: WP Stagnation

Postby AlexeiTimoshenko on Thu 20 Dec 2012 06:31

Most drones in SFB are effectively SM or CM sized. There was a smaller race that used big drones launched out of the shuttle bay. Carnivon Death Bolts from module Y1 may be best SFB analog to look for.
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Re: WP Stagnation

Postby Crucis on Thu 20 Dec 2012 08:32

AlexeiTimoshenko wrote:Most drones in SFB are effectively SM or CM sized. There was a smaller race that used big drones launched out of the shuttle bay. Carnivon Death Bolts from module Y1 may be best SFB analog to look for.


I stopped paying attention to SFB maybe 20 years ago, so I'm not familiar with this module Y1 or "Carnivon Death Bolts".

Regardless, you're over-thinking this, Alexei. My comparison of these armed drones to SFB Kzinti drones was not about size, but in how they're used. They show up on the map as small, unmanned spacecraft (with warheads) rather than as direct fire weapons. That was my only point.

I suppose that I could turn them into direct-fire weapons, by making the drones effectively into multi-stage missiles, wherein the first stage was the warp capable "drone" stage, and the second stage was the direct fire weapon. But that would then really force them to operate in "squadrons" so that they could be fired in groups large enough to have some chance of getting through the target's point defense. But that would also turn them into effectively being similar to single missile "SBMHAWK-like" pods, which really wasn't the feel I was looking for.
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Re: WP Stagnation

Postby AlexeiTimoshenko on Thu 20 Dec 2012 08:55

Ok, I see where you're going. In that case the Kzin analogy makes sense. Type III-XX Long Lance drones can be fired on a ballistic course. They can be set to activate terminal guidance at a preset range. Your proposed kamikaze drones could do the same thing. In most cases they would go terminal as soon as they transited the wp. If there were no defending units say within 6 tH of the wp, the drone would move on a preprogrammed course until it found a target in terminal range or ran out of endurance.
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Re: WP Stagnation

Postby Crucis on Thu 20 Dec 2012 12:11

AlexeiTimoshenko wrote:Ok, I see where you're going. In that case the Kzin analogy makes sense. Type III-XX Long Lance drones can be fired on a ballistic course. They can be set to activate terminal guidance at a preset range. Your proposed kamikaze drones could do the same thing. In most cases they would go terminal as soon as they transited the wp. If there were no defending units say within 6 tH of the wp, the drone would move on a preprogrammed course until it found a target in terminal range or ran out of endurance.


Yeah, something along those lines. I don't want them to have much endurance, mostly to prevent them from being used as anything other than a WP assault weapon (or possibly WP defense, I suppose). I was thinking that they'd have a decent sensor range, perhaps 20 tac hexes. And have decent on-board targeting systems. They don't have the benefit of being controlled by an Mcs or Dcs unit from a starship, so they have to have a relatively decent decision making software.
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Re: WP Stagnation

Postby AlexeiTimoshenko on Thu 20 Dec 2012 14:00

If we're talking about CD speed I think 3 tactical turns should suffice. That would limit them to 36 tH before their terminal guidance activates. If they have 20 tH range on their sensor package, the maximum range to use them would be just under 1 interception hex.

For their terminal guidance settings, I would say that a size range for acceptable targets could be used. For example a player could set his drones to target units between 31-80 HS. Those drones would ignore anything smaller than a CL or bigger than a BC. Units outside the drones predefined target parameters could attack them as if targeting a smct. Once the drones go terminal, the targeted unit(s) would engage them with D as normal missile attacks.
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Re: WP Stagnation

Postby Dawn Falcon on Thu 20 Dec 2012 14:05

Crucis wrote:Yeah, something along those lines. I don't want them to have much endurance, mostly to prevent them from being used as anything other than a WP assault weapon


Totally. You do NOT want to get into the situation you can in Ultra with "inter-system ballistic missile" MAD. (Drone2-DEEP with XO's...)
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Re: WP Stagnation

Postby Crucis on Thu 20 Dec 2012 14:19

AlexeiTimoshenko wrote:If we're talking about CD speed I think 3 tactical turns should suffice. That would limit them to 36 tH before their terminal guidance activates. If they have 20 tH range on their sensor package, the maximum range to use them would be just under 1 interception hex.

For their terminal guidance settings, I would say that a size range for acceptable targets could be used. For example a player could set his drones to target units between 31-80 HS. Those drones would ignore anything smaller than a CL or bigger than a BC. Units outside the drones predefined target parameters could attack them as if targeting a smct. .


I'll have to look at how minefields and energy buoys handle targeting issues. But my first inclination is that drones should have a priority list of targets. The first priority should be something along the lines of what you say. But given that these weapons are intended to clear the immediate area of the WP, and if they don't find a target fitting their targeting parameters they'll self-destruct once their (short) endurance runs out, I'd think that they'd settle for any hostile target in range (probably the closest), rather than doing nothing.
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