Jump Drives, Mines, Swarms, Hull Costs, etc.

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Re: Starfire without WP's?

Postby Hawkeye on Sun 12 May 2013 10:06

I looked up (wikipedia) the one example of war ships that came to my mind.

Deutschland Klasse (the german pocket battleships)
about 11.000 tons, 60-80mm armor belt, 80 million marks to build

Bismark Klasse
about 45.000 tons, 170-320mm armor belt, about 200 million marks to build

The Bismark is 4 times as big, has about 4 times the armor and costs about 2.5 times as much.
There you have it :)
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Re: Starfire without WP's?

Postby tmul4050 on Sun 12 May 2013 22:14

I think if you make the HS cost of larger ships cheaper, you could end up with smaller classes being over looked somewhat, especially if you drop the smaller vessels speed advantages (I think that was mentioned in an earlier post).

Maybe instead of cost you could change construction time. Make large projects faster in proportion to size. Perhaps more than one shipyard could work on the project. I am not saying pop out dreadnoughts at a rate of one a month, but allow more shipyard workers able to work on the vessels. Maybe
CT to CA - one shipyard
BC to DN - Two shipyards (by 1.5 HS per month)
SD+ - Three shipyards (by 2 HS per month)
The multiplier is applied to the shipyards HS cap per month :)
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Re: Starfire without WP's?

Postby Crucis on Sun 12 May 2013 22:35

tmul4050 wrote:I think if you make the HS cost of larger ships cheaper, you could end up with smaller classes being over looked somewhat, especially if you drop the smaller vessels speed advantages (I think that was mentioned in an earlier post).


Smaller classes will be used when they're not so relatively small. But later on once larger hulls start showing up, the smallest hulls probably should be largely ignored. After all, with the exception of swarm tactics, what use is a 15 HS CT on a battlefield dominated by BB's and BC's?

In ISW4, for the most part, the smallest truly combat capable hull types were CA's, and only barely as screening units. Oh, you might see some CL's and DD's in frontier units and exploration units, and as surveyors, but as main combatants, not so much. And after the Terran Civil War in the conflict covered in the Starfire books EXODUS and EXTREMIS, BC's were considered the smallest combat capable units, and only just barely. It's all relative.

Early on, those small hulls won't seem so small, and DD's and CL's will be a navy's capital ships, and FG's and CT's will be serviceable combat units. But as the TL's progress, and larger types become available, the smaller types become less and less useful. It's just the way of things.
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Re: Starfire without WP's?

Postby procyon on Mon 13 May 2013 07:47

I've tried to stay out of the latest part of this thread, since it seems to have wandered a bit off topic. The last chunk should probably be over in the hull sizes thread or such - but what the heck. It's not like I haven't wandered all over a topic... ;)
:lol:

Crucis wrote:Smaller classes will be used when they're not so relatively small. But later on once larger hulls start showing up, the smallest hulls probably should be largely ignored. After all, with the exception of swarm tactics, what use is a 15 HS CT on a battlefield dominated by BB's and BC's?


I agree - but only to a point.
When empires get BIG - and the SY are located in several different systems a LONG way from where an enemy will be likely to reach them - then big hulls start to look better. If the HS were a flat cost, they would be a good investment.

But that doesn't work earlier on when empires are smaller but still capable by TL of building larger vessels. Supposing a couple of empires butting heads that are around TL6-ish. Both will be able to build BB's, but their build rates are around 22HS a month.
If one empire builds just BB's - they will be waiting 5 months just to get the first replacements for combat losses out of the shipyards, and then another month for them to shakedown.
The other empire decides to invest in CT's. They will have churned out 5 from each shipyard in this time. 4 before the BB's are even done. Being faster, the CT's will also make it to the front more quickly if there are a few systems to cross.
Those CT's may often be able to grind through several systems in assaults before the BB's reach the front. If the BB player loses a couple important systems - well, this at it's heart is an economic game...

How fast you can churn a ship out to meet an enemy is very important. I've seen it enough in our games.

tmul4050 wrote:I think if you make the HS cost of larger ships cheaper, you could end up with smaller classes being over looked somewhat, especially if you drop the smaller vessels speed advantages (I think that was mentioned in an earlier post).


I agree, again to a point. See the above post.

tmul4050 wrote:Maybe instead of cost you could change construction time. Make large projects faster in proportion to size. Perhaps more than one shipyard could work on the project. I am not saying pop out dreadnoughts at a rate of one a month, but allow more shipyard workers able to work on the vessels. Maybe
CT to CA - one shipyard
BC to DN - Two shipyards (by 1.5 HS per month)
SD+ - Three shipyards (by 2 HS per month)
The multiplier is applied to the shipyards HS cap per month


This is a pretty neat idea. We've toyed with it once or twice - but have never been able to make it work to our satisfaction. But it would take a fair amount of campaign testing to see how well it balanced at various levels. But I will say that to us it has looked like the best solution to the 'swarms are the fastest/best replacements once a war has begun' issue that does seem to crop up.
But I would go on the record as saying I like it, I just haven't been able to get it to a point that it didn't still end out of balance. Our issue has always been if you combine shipyard production (as you show) to increase speed at a loss in overall production - it still has ended up favoring the smaller ships in our tests. But if you allow SY to combine build rates without a penalty - well, building a MT every month will pretty much snow everything smaller. At that point you build the biggest or don't bother.
But we never have tried it with a flat HS cost. With that added in to the 'combine at penalty for large hulls' - it might just work.
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Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: Starfire without WP's?

Postby Crucis on Mon 13 May 2013 08:36

Hiya procyon,

Thanks for contributing.

Without interspersing my replies between quotes as I'd normally do, let me reply more generally.

As for the idea of building more, but smaller replacement hulls faster than fewer, bur larger ones, yes, of course one can do that. However, in a Classic-style game where mines existed, I think that you'd find that those CT's would be hard pressed to make much progress if the defender could throw up even a few moderate minefields along your potential path of advance, particularly using pure 3E MF rules.

Also, a smart player who is attempting to counter an enemy who is trying to use a more but smaller strategy may choose to counter it with a more but smaller strategy of his own, though maybe by building some 2 or 3 month build ships to counter an enemy's 1 month build ships. I think that in the long run, the size difference would mean that his fleet would be more survivable vs a fleet of CT's.

Also, if one had a large-ish, in terms of # of systems, empire, and one was at war with such an enemy as you describe, a potentially useful strategy might be to build a few mobile ship yards that you could send to a forward colony world with a decent population and divert sufficient funds to that location, and build some lighter replacement units there, rather than build them in the rear where those ships would have to factor in time to get the the front. Of course a strategy like this would require some forethought, but it just might pay some dividends in a conflict such as you describe.
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Re: Starfire without WP's?

Postby procyon on Mon 13 May 2013 09:51

Crucis wrote:Hiya procyon,


Yeah, I know. I don't get around so much anymore. Dumb web filter at the hospital... ;)

Crucis wrote:As for the idea of building more, but smaller replacement hulls faster than fewer, bur larger ones, yes, of course one can do that. However, in a Classic-style game where mines existed, I think that you'd find that those CT's would be hard pressed to make much progress if the defender could throw up even a few moderate minefields along your potential path of advance, particularly using pure 3E MF rules.


Cuts both ways.
If they have a reserve of mines that can be dumped fast - you can shut down the CTs hard. But if you take some of the teeth out of minefields (which I have read about in the other thread) - that will change.
The CT's also tend to be able to shove through to make assaults quicker - so fewer mines get deployed. If the first wave hits the front a month or two after you crack a WP - they may be able to make an assault before the fields get dense.
But those BB's will be months coming - and you know by then the fields the CT player put up WILL be dense...

Crucis wrote:Also, a smart player who is attempting to counter an enemy who is trying to use a more but smaller strategy may choose to counter it with a more but smaller strategy of his own...


This is true. A good player will shove a fair number of hulls into the 'production que' that are smaller to get them to the front while the big ships are getting built. But this just supports the 'you have to build small or you will lose' problem. And if you send a few small ones to hold the WP while your opponent sends as many little ones as he can - you best hope you have a healthy edge in production. You may have enough to hold the WP - maybe. But you definitely don't have enough to retake one.
And if you are only trying very hard not to lose - you will never win.

So again, all other things equal will smaller empires, the player building a pure 1 month build hull swarm - will have an edge in winning.

Crucis wrote:Also, if one had a large-ish, in terms of # of systems, empire, and one was at war with such an enemy as you describe, a potentially useful strategy might be to build a few mobile ship yards that you could send to a forward colony world with a decent population and divert sufficient funds to that location, and build some lighter replacement units there, rather than build them in the rear where those ships would have to factor in time to get the the front. Of course a strategy like this would require some forethought, but it just might pay some dividends in a conflict such as you describe.


True. But I said that when you have large empires with some depth in defense (of systems and WP) and the resources to make mobile construction assests - you can finally get out of the 'swarm is the best choice to build once the war has started'. But that isn't how most games start, or what most folks play. Now there are games that grow to that size like the Rigellan Camp, Terran/Phoenix Camp, or DeWulf Camp. But looking over most of the fiction - those games are the minority.
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: Starfire without WP's?

Postby Crucis on Tue 14 May 2013 01:51

procyon wrote:
Crucis wrote:Hiya procyon,


Yeah, I know. I don't get around so much anymore. Dumb web filter at the hospital... ;)

Crucis wrote:As for the idea of building more, but smaller replacement hulls faster than fewer, bur larger ones, yes, of course one can do that. However, in a Classic-style game where mines existed, I think that you'd find that those CT's would be hard pressed to make much progress if the defender could throw up even a few moderate minefields along your potential path of advance, particularly using pure 3E MF rules.


Cuts both ways.
If they have a reserve of mines that can be dumped fast - you can shut down the CTs hard. But if you take some of the teeth out of minefields (which I have read about in the other thread) - that will change.
The CT's also tend to be able to shove through to make assaults quicker - so fewer mines get deployed. If the first wave hits the front a month or two after you crack a WP - they may be able to make an assault before the fields get dense.
But those BB's will be months coming - and you know by then the fields the CT player put up WILL be dense...


All true, though I doubt that it'd take all that many mines to slow down the CT's.

As for mines, etc. getting weakened, I don't know. I just don't know yet. There are good arguments on both sides.

And AW's seem very realistic to me, but at the same time there are players who don't give a flying bleep about that argument because they just dislike AW's. But without those (relatively) cheap AW's smaller empires will be less capable of holding WP's and winning battles, and then where does that leave us? It's a real no win situation.

Crucis wrote:Also, a smart player who is attempting to counter an enemy who is trying to use a more but smaller strategy may choose to counter it with a more but smaller strategy of his own...


This is true. A good player will shove a fair number of hulls into the 'production queue' that are smaller to get them to the front while the big ships are getting built. But this just supports the 'you have to build small or you will lose' problem. And if you send a few small ones to hold the WP while your opponent sends as many little ones as he can - you best hope you have a healthy edge in production. You may have enough to hold the WP - maybe. But you definitely don't have enough to retake one.
And if you are only trying very hard not to lose - you will never win.


Well, at least in 3E, once fighters show up, that small ship strategy gets smacked down real hard, because fighters do swarming even better than CT's, etc. And they're even easier to replace...

And in 3E, if you were going to face a swarming enemy, you probably had to be certain that you had enough multiplex tracking. Personally, I'm of the belief that Starfire grossly underestimates the ability of tracking computers to target LOTS of ships, and that the entire Multiplex system is a really bad joke. If I had my druthers, I'd probably say that any ship could target as many units as they had weapons to use ... without penalty. But I probably won't go that far. I have been tempted to say that the number a ship can target without penalty would be equal to the hull type's FT#.


So again, all other things equal will smaller empires, the player building a pure 1 month build hull swarm - will have an edge in winning.


And this is definitely something I want to stop. I have a few little things that I intend to do to mitigate this, though I don't know if it would be enough to fully get the job done.

1. Do away with that 4 HS construction rebate.

2. Go with a flat per-HS hull cost, or maybe even with a hull cost that reduces the per-HS cost as hull types get larger.

3. Allow ships requiring more than a single month to build to be paid for in pay-as-you-go installments. This would mitigate the high upfront cost of building larger ships, and put larger ships on a more equal footing on a monthly construction cost basis.

4. The tweak to the number of units that a ship can safely target being based on its FT#.

5. Maybe have firing arcs like there are in Ultra which would end up requiring small units using large beam or kinetic weapons to have limited arcs, whereas large ships using the same weapons would mounted with turreted arcs.



Crucis wrote:Also, if one had a large-ish, in terms of # of systems, empire, and one was at war with such an enemy as you describe, a potentially useful strategy might be to build a few mobile ship yards that you could send to a forward colony world with a decent population and divert sufficient funds to that location, and build some lighter replacement units there, rather than build them in the rear where those ships would have to factor in time to get the the front. Of course a strategy like this would require some forethought, but it just might pay some dividends in a conflict such as you describe.


True. But I said that when you have large empires with some depth in defense (of systems and WP) and the resources to make mobile construction assets - you can finally get out of the 'swarm is the best choice to build once the war has started'. But that isn't how most games start, or what most folks play. Now there are games that grow to that size like the Rigellan Camp, Terran/Phoenix Camp, or DeWulf Camp. But looking over most of the fiction - those games are the minority.


Well, at low TL'ss swarms are a particularly strong tactic because large ships of that time frame aren't particularly any better than the small ones. You don't have things like ECM and capital missiles or capital beams, etc. to try to create advantages for larger ships that smaller ones cannot match.

I would say that zero-HS datalink is an advantage to tiny swarm ships due to the lack of any HS requirement, EXCEPT that the 40 MC required for "Z" often means that it doesn't get mounted in true swarms, because there isn't all that much advantage to using "Z" on tiny swarm ships, and the money saved can be used to build a lot more swarmers. And due to the reduced options at the lower TL's, swarms often tend to be the only effective option available for a low TL race, particularly when facing a higher TL race.

Also, I view this as a problem that could only get worse without AW's in the mix, because AW's are one thing that the higher TL race can use against the lower TL race's swarm, cuz if you think about it, missile pods are rather like a swarm, and they could easily be used in a counter-swarm pre-WP assault bombardment to try to sweep away any swarmers, at least in close.
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Re: Starfire without WP's?

Postby JoeBuckeye on Tue 14 May 2013 19:51

Sorry to hop into this thread about defanging swarms (especially since I've haven't posted in the forum in almost a year and haven't read the whole thread) but have you considered changing how shields and/or armor work in the game?

If they were a threshold that had to be exceeded to cause any damage then the smaller ships would be almost useless against bigger ships than can carry more shields and/or armor. Or a certain number of S/A reduced the incoming damage by x points.

I realize this is a pretty drastic change and would change how ships are built but I've always been bothered with how S and A work in SF.

Smaller ship weapons should be limited in how much they can hurt heavily armored/shielded targets.

Just throwing something out there.
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Re: Starfire without WP's?

Postby Crucis on Tue 14 May 2013 20:04

JoeBuckeye wrote:Sorry to hop into this thread about defanging swarms (especially since I've haven't posted in the forum in almost a year and haven't read the whole thread) but have you considered changing how shields and/or armor work in the game?

If they were a threshold that had to be exceeded to cause any damage then the smaller ships would be almost useless against bigger ships than can carry more shields and/or armor. Or a certain number of S/A reduced the incoming damage by x points.

I realize this is a pretty drastic change and would change how ships are built but I've always been bothered with how S and A work in SF.

Smaller ship weapons should be limited in how much they can hurt heavily armored/shielded targets.

Just throwing something out there.


Hiya Joe,

Actually I have considered that idea a while back and at the time rejected it, though I probably should reconsider it, just to be thorough.

You're dead on when you say that it's a drastic change. It probably wouldn't be too drastic a change at the early TL's when it's just first gen S and A. But at higher TL's when S and A start getting really dense, and each HS of S or A is something like 5 or 6 increments of S or A, it would be much harder to knock down Shields or penetrate armor, and the value of weapons that ignored S or A would be heightened and the value of Primaries would be vastly increased.

It would probably require that beam weapons became more powerful across their entire range, to some degree or other, OR that you'd have to use antimatter based ordnance to flatten shields and armor before one's beam weapons would be effect at longer ranges.

Another less drastic possibility might be to introduce Shield Regenerators (or something similar) at lower TL's so that Shields could be regenerated much faster. For SR's to be most effective, one needs a pretty fair number of them, taking up a decent chunk of space, which of course swarm ships do not have, but large capital ships would.

Something to think about.

Thanks for dropping in your 2 cents, Joe.
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Re: Starfire without WP's?

Postby Crucis on Tue 14 May 2013 20:11

BTW, I've has a rather different but just as radical an idea for countering early TL swarms. It's been a fairly well known belief that the best counter to swarms is fighters. So, maybe the best way to blunt those low TL swarms is to reduce the TL of fighter technology down to about TL3-4 (with the exception of certain tech items that just don't make any sense at such low TL's like fighter ECM pods).

Anyways, this is really off the wall idea that occurred to me today... It would of course have numerous consequences, but I suspect that most if not all of them could be managed easily enough, if I decided to go forward with this idea...
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