Turn 54 - Strategic Overview

Campaign by Moonsword

Moderator: Moonsword

Turn 54 - Strategic Overview

Postby Moonsword on Fri 30 Oct 2015 09:46

This is the beginning of that strategic overview I mentioned. I'm going to start with the Terran Confederation, my "player" race, before going through the Confederation's two NPR allies and ending with their new friends beyond the Sargasso.

Terran Confederation
EL 5, Total GSV 14,328.7, HI 5

Political and Historical Review
The Terran Confederation is the descendant of prior, pre-Unification international political organizations including the European Union and the United Nations. Developed from a strengthened UN to meet increasing global responsibilities and the task of coordinating economic activities and responding to the increasing political tensions and climatic stresses of billions of humans on the planet, the Confederation unified as humanity started to move out into the solar system. The final catalyst for the much stronger, more unified government was the confirmation of the Hawking-Li Wormhole Theorem. While it took some time for the actual discovery of Sol's warp points, the political processes played out mostly peacefully with the exception of the Sovereignist Movement. A primarily Sino-American movement, they objected strongly to the final dissolution of effective national authority and sovereignty in favor of the Confederation, and in addition to a wave of ugly terrorist incidents in the late 2130s, sympathizers seized control of two corvettes to force a showdown with forces that were to provide the embryo of the Terran Confederation Navy. Although the United States Space Force frigate Chesapeke was lost with all hands, Confederation-allied naval units were victorious and the Hawking Yards, now the TCN's premier naval shipyard, remained intact.

Aside from continuing quiet rumbles of Sovereignist sympathizers and one or two major political flareups, the Confederation has largely settled down over the past two decades into a functioning representative democracy. The single largest challenge since the Battle of Hawking Yards was the discovery by Conferation Bureau of Investigation auditors that the governor of Vishvakarman, a marginally habitable world in the LHS 1723 system, had managed to cobble together a major cell of Sovereignist support, even siphoning off much of the colony's economic output and suborning unwitting allies in the Navy to assemble two Queensland-class cruisers hidden in the outer system as the beginnings of a bid to create a breakaway power. Not yet crewed, the hulls were taken into TCN service and the governor is currently serving a life sentence in a (mildly) refurbished Siberian gulag. The general audits ordered by President Vanessa Reed at the direction of the Confederation Assembly have by and large managed to find most of the bad apples without creating a political witch hunt.

Current Situation
Astrographic map forthcoming

Until two weeks ago, the Terran Confederation was the undisputed economic power among the known races. As that list consisted of a single young interstellar power, a "rival" limited to their home star system that was busy recovering from a brief, highly unpleasant civil war and the change of government, and a minor race that had been uplifted to starflight capability by the Confederation itself, the claim isn't as impressive as it sounds. To their credit, many of the Confederation's key leaders were well aware of the limitations of their knowledge of what could be out there and the discovery of the Hierarchy of Axanar - at the time, a militant, potentially aggressive power - threw a splash of cold water on illusions of humanity being alone to exploit the stars in peace. Although the Confederation was able to withdraw its single probe of the system and establish fortresses and a fleet presence before initiating an ultimately peaceful first contact, the situation prompted the Confederation Navy to begin a long-delayed expansion that finally ended with an even dozen Block II Queensland-class heavy cruisers as the Navy's active strength. Economically, the Confederation has 16 colony worlds, nearly three dozen inhabited moons, and significant mining and industrial works in Sol's Asteroid Belt. An extensive merchant marine services both domestic shipping and external trade with the Consensus of Axanar and the Gilcullen Order through the warp points of Delta Pavonis. Although external trade is still a small part of the Confederation's economic diversity, internal leasing of government-backed freighters to the commercial freight haulers brings in approximately 20% of the revenue available to the Confederation's central government over and above that from taxes and tariffs alone.

Strategically, the current crisis has caught the Terran Confederation Navy at an awkward time. Despite the retirement of the Rana and Beijing classes to the mothballs and the failure to properly modernize those hulls before placing them on inactive status, the Navy was determined to maintain and expand its strength and incorporate new technology. That process began with design studies and the commissioning of two additional cruiser classes, the Carthage "frontier" light cruisers and the Swiftsure battle cruisers. Although both have entered series production, delays in the Swiftsure program due to the need prototype a hull that large mean that only one hull, BC1 Swiftsure, is currently on active service, with BC2 Semillante slated be commissioned at the end of the month and four additional hulls already under construction. Further, the TCN was preparing to shift its strategic deployments in light of the alliance with the Consensus of Axanar to concentrate its fleet properly in Sol and Epsilon Eridani, the Confederation's two systems best positioned in the warp lines for a nodal response force. Light Cruiser Squadron One has taken over the TCN Gelcar Station as part of the Confederation's treaty obligations to the Gilcullen Order but First Fleet had not yet been refitted or moved to Eridani Station, leaving a single cruiser division in Epsilon Eridani under Commodore Naoki Mocizuchi as the sole force in range to respond when unknown alien forces ambushed Survey Flotilla Gamma and made an aggressive probe into Omicron Eridani.

Tactically, the Terran Confederation Navy has become very "top-heavy", with no ships in active commission smaller than a light cruiser and is comparatively slow tactically and strategically because of it. Further, the TCN bet on the wrong horse with an increased emphasis on long-range combat and missiles instead of maintaining (or even expanding) the use of light energy-armed combatants to supplement its cruiser squadrons. While the Queensland has two force beams in her broadside, the Carthage has only half the CA's beams but three-quarters of her missile armament and comparatively deeper magazines to feed them. The Swiftsure design has gone even further, using improved drives to match the old Beijings for speed but lacking any energy armament at all in favor of a massive missile broadside and the magazines to sustain fire as well as first-generation point defense systems that would have been at least somewhat effective against a comparable technology. Against the heavy plasma weaponry employed by the enemy at Omicron Eridani, those point defenses are extremely weak and even a full three ship Swiftsure squadron may have difficulty in overcoming enemy defenses against a similarly-sized opponent if the advanced counter missiles and networked defenses on the larger frigate can be scaled up appropriately. Coupled with the enemy's deployment of advanced shield technologies approximately 50% more efficient than those of the Confederation, the defensive advantages of enemy ships is difficult to overestimate.

Notable Systems
Warp Points: Epsilon Eridani, G 9-38, Barnard's Star, 14 Herculis
Inhabited Worlds: Earth (T HI 5), Mars (B); 9 moons (7 mB, 2 mE), 1 asteroid belt

Despite the new colonies acquired since the Confederation began to explore the galaxy, Sol is still the economic, cultural, and political heartland, accounting for half the total GSV of the entire Terran Confederation. Earth is the single most populated and heavily industrialized world in human space, the source of all the colonial expeditions and by itself nearly a third of the Confederation's total economic output. Luna and Mars are humanity's oldest extraterrestrial colonies, key stepping stones to the stars by developing human spaceflight even further before humanity began serious manned exploration of the outer solar system, founding small outposts among the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Not long after the Confederation began to explore other star systems, small permanent research outposts were founded on the moons Miranda and Triton to explore the feasibility and economic value of hostile environment outposts on such frozen bodies. While the returns were disappointing in an economic sense, the outposts do provide additional early warning sensor locations in the outer system and offer "exotic" tourism, an anchor point for research on Uranus and Neptune as well as the moons themselves, and support the occasional outer system exercise by the TCN formations assigned to the system or hostile environment survival training for the Ground Forces.

Because of the strategic importance of all this population and industry along with the Hawking Yards, Confederation capital and core R&D facilities, and Sol's place as one of the two key "crossroads" in Confederation space, the system is the only one in the Confederation to have fortifications at all warp points. A massive new Class Four base is under construction in low Earth orbit to provide further defense to Earth and Luna as well as the Hawking Yards' own defenses, although plans to further upgrade the Yards' defenses have been frozen while the Navy evaluates its strategic posture and prepares to invest in the new hulls needed at the front.

Epsilon Eridani
Warp Points: Sol, Delta Pavonis, Tau Ceti, HD 50281, Zeta Draconis, Wolf 294, HD 4628, HIP 12961, Omicron Eridani
Inhabited Worlds: Engai (ST); 2 moons (2 mB)

If Sol is the Confederation's heart, Epsilon Eridani is its arteries. With warp points to a staggering nine other star systems, Epsilon Eridani (formerly known just as "Eridani" outside of serious astronomers, now frequently called "Epsilon" or "the EE" in popular culture) is a vital crossroads. Although Engai has potential for future industrial development, as a super-terrestrial world with high gravity and a dense atmosphere, the planet is difficult to develop and hasn't attracted the major investments several more distant but benign worlds have. Proposals to outright abandon the world and sell it to the Gilcullen have even been floated on a few policy panels as an outside option but under the current strategic and political climate, Epsilon Eridani is too vital to the Confederation's interests to have an outside power owning its principal inhabitable real estate, particularly real estate that's already colonized and has much more value economically than Ymir, the other human world under consideration for "realtor diplomacy".

By the same token as the system's economic importance, Epsilon Eridani's limited internal economic potential and unprecedented number of warp points make it difficult at best to fortify economically. Instead, Confederation strategy was built on covering the system from the existing fleet concentrations at Sol and Pavonis. In light of the increasingly warm relations, preparations were underway to refit in Delta Pavonis with second-generation datalink before stationing them in orbit of Engai to provide a significant mobile defensive force able to either respond to incursions in Epsilon Eridani itself or move to establish a blocking position while additional squadrons were brought up from Sol. At the moment, with the war and the attendant disorder in Terran naval dispositions, no garrison has been put into place, and the fundamental strategic necessity is under continued scrutiny by the Admiralty and the staff of the Naval War College.

Delta Pavonis
Warp Points: Epsilon Eridani, Lambda Serpentis (Consensus of Axanar), Nu Phoenicis (Gilcullen Order)
Inhabited Worlds: Kutkh (Gilcullen Order; ST); 2 moons (2 mB)

Delta Pavonis is in the process of transitioning from the fortified spearpoint of Confederation power - and possibly the TCN's forward base in the event of a war - to the interstellar trading post between three different races. Originally colonized to provide supporting infrastructure to the TCN fortifications at the Lambda Serpentis warp point, Pavonis's two inhabited moons are mining colonies and fabrication sites originally operated by carefully vetted contractors but over time, with the thawing relations and blosssoming of peaceful trade between Earth and Axanar, the Navy has become much less nervous about the system's security. The Pavonis Yards in orbit of Kamchatka, the first moon of Pavonis's inner gas giant, were the first extra-solar military shipyards established by the Confederation Navy and have played a large part in the constrution of the Carthage-class light cruisers.

More recently, Delta Pavonis has become the home of the Gilcullen Order's first extra-solar colony on the previously Terran-owned (but completely unoccupied) world of Kutkh. A super-terrestrial with a paucity of available mineral resources and limited economic value, Kutkh was never seriously considered for colonization by the Confederation. However, study of the survey data as part of the Gilcullen uplift program lead to a proposal to settle the world with Gilcullen colonists. Although the system is still technically under Conferation jurisdiction, Kutkh has a thriving agricultural economy and is becoming an important market for the small Terran lunar outposts in the system in its own right, trading carefully tended Terran produce and the limited Gilcullen foodstuffs that are edible by Terrans for the raw ores and other materials not readily available on Kutkh's surface.

Terran Confederation Navy
Over the past five years, the Terran Confederation Navy has been forced to transition from a system defense fleet with - even by current Confederation standards, let alone those of the advanced aliens beyond the Sargasso - a comparatively crude tech base and limited engineering experience into a fleet capable of policing and protecting a volume of space spread across more than a dozen star systems. Indeed, that process was still ongoing, and despite the TCN's current tactical imbalance (see Current Situation above), the fleet was expanding and design studies were being conducted to begin redressing the Navy's issues.

Active Designs
Queensland-class Heavy Cruiser
The Queensland is currently the oldest ship on active commission, although plans are being made to reactivate the Beijings and provide necessary refits. Built largely on the pattern of the Beijings, Queensland was laid down during the period of uncertainty between the discovery of Lambda Serpentis and first contact with the Hierarchy of Axanar. While the Confederation had no desire to go to war, the realization of another advanced race - particularly one two jumps from Epsilon Eridani and three jumps from Sol - prompted the TCN to leapfrog an intermediate size class and introduce the first heavy cruisers. In many respects, while Queensland is a capable design, she's also highly conservative, largely a scaled-up derivative of the Beijing destroyers the Queenslands replaced as the TCN's primary combat hull. Indeed, the class ship still used a "doubled" weapons fit of the older-style launchers and force beams aboard the destroyers because the improved types introduced on the Block II spec weren't available in time to be integrated into the final design, although she has since been refit and all hulls now feature external ordnance racks.

With the introduction of the Swiftsures, the Queensland has begun to fade from the role of the Navy's "big stick" to the solid core of generalists supporting the heavy missile ships. In combat, current tactical doctrine releases the Swiftsures to maneuver independently to maintain the range while the Queenslands meet the enemy head on thanks to their energy weapons. Refit proposals to reduce the class's force beam mounts have been shelved entirely in light of combat experience in Omicron Erdiani, although plans are being drawn up to upgrade the ships' automation support and refit with the improved armor composites recently introduced to significantly thicken their armor belt. Whether those plans can be implemented with the need for heavy ships at the front lines remains to be seen.

Carthage-class Light Cruiser
Designed as a lighter, cheaper counterpart to the Queensland and largely a scaled-down derivative, the Carthage class was intended to provide a meaningful amount of combat power without diluting the fleet's nodal forces of heavy units. Although the possibility of providing a single light cruiser squadron to cover each survey flotilla is still under review as the TCN is regaining its balance from the recent unpleasantness, the Carthages are often described as "frontier" cruisers. The class ship was modified on the ways to incorporate second-generation datalink and their build numbers were planned from the outset around the new three ship squadrons that technology made practical for cruisers.

In integrated fleet operations, the Carthages serve two roles. They're ideal to detach for defense of the fleet train. If operating in direct support of the heavy cruisers, Carthages are designated to deal with lighter enemies attempting to get into the rear of other units or supplement the Queensland cruisers in the "slugger" role.

Swiftsure-class Battle Cruiser
BC-01 Swiftsure is the new flagship of the Terran Confederation Navy, the banner-bearer of where the TCN expected technology to lead them. Built from the keel up with missile combat in mind, she has improved engines that make her 25% faster than the smaller cruisers and 20% more space dedicated to passive defenses. In addition, the Swiftsures mount the first active anti-missile technology introduced to meet the threat of the drive-field missile. Her missile broadside is significantly heavier than her smaller counterparts, new, larger sensor installations give her better awareness of the space around her, and her magazines are deep enough to allow a sustained engagement. Against a peer competitor, the Swiftsures should have been powerful combatants, well able to hammer smaller ships at range - especially if supported by a well-handled cruiser force.

However, the enemy the Navy actually encountered into was well-equipped to blunt Swiftsure's capabilities with advanced, networked anti-missile defenses built on interception at extended range with counter-missiles. Powerful ECM and previously unknown drive-field manipulation techniques degrade targeting solutions, further weakening a missile ship's ability to engage. On top of that, Swiftsure was intended to stay at range and her point defenses should have blunted enemy fire, meaning that her shields and armor are thinner than they might have been otherwise. While untested in combat, observed performance suggests that TCN defense systems' capabilities against the heavy plasma weapons employed by the enemy are much more limited. Even so, the Swiftsures' heavy broadsides will make them a key part of the combat mix, supporting beam-armed units by (hopefully) throwing enough missiles at the enemy to saturate their defenses and still wear down shields and armor or pick off ships whose datalink connections have failed. Plans are already being made to thicken the ships' passive defenses in the hulls still on the ways but the first two ships of this class have already launched and are needed on the frontiers, so refitting them will be delayed.

Navy Reserve Fleet
Rana-class Corvette
The Ranas are ex-British Commonwealth designs that originated as an Anglo-Indian joint project. Although one Rana and a comparable Chinese design were pounded nearly to scrap by USSF hulls defending the nascent Hawking Yards, the basic design was retained in TCN service and two more hulls were laid down. Operating alongside the Beijings as they commissioned, the Ranas are light knife-fighters, swift and equipped to fight in close where they can slip around an opponent while the heavier destroyers maneuvered for advantage and held the enemy's attention with missile fire.

Because of their thin armor, limited shielding, and antiquated design and systems, refitting the Ranas was never seriously considered despite occasional studies in the Navy's Bureau of Shipbuilding. Despite this, they have a surprisingly large legacy. A Rana was the first ship to contact the Gilcullen Order and these ships served for a long time on customs patrol in Delta Pavonis. Their overall design and basic engineering was actually copied by the Gilcullen Order to create their Halloran, although those ships incorporate lighter GON energy mounts that provide them with the space and tonnage for the thicker passive defenses the Ranas lack. In the TCN, much of their role and basic doctrine has been transferred to a new frigate design codenamed "Gladiator", already earmarked for accelerated mass production.

Constellation-class Frigate
Originally built for the United States Space Force, the surviving Constellation-class frigate was the largest hull in Confederation service until Beijing was commissioned. Serving for some time as a training ship until enough destroyers and corvettes were commissioned to relieve the need for a dedicated space-side training platform and the Confederation Naval Academy had established additional facilities to service the requirements, TCS Constellation was placed into the inactive mothballs. Over the years, various studies have been done about refitting her, sometimes out of nostalgia as the first tour of duty by many of the TCN's starship commanders and the last command of the current CNO. On the basis of those studies and operational requirements laid down as the Navy consumes the lessons of recent events, Constellation is going to be scrapped and reclaimed instead, with all materials going to a new TCS Constellation that will serve as the class ship for a new type of missile-armed light combatant. Intended as picket ships and to provide a long-range component to the capabilities of the "Gladiator" design, a limited number of these Constellation II frigates will be built and attached to an upgraded Beijing acting as a squadron leader.

Beijing-class Destroyer
Originally categorized as cruisers when they were introduced, the Beijings were later redesignated as destroyers as the Queensland class began to commission. Over a third larger than the American Constellations that had previously been the heaviest warships built, the Beijings were built as multi-role combatants. While they were meant to be capable long-range missile ships, they weren't specialists and incorporated a force beam turret to increase their capabilities at close range. Although all eight hulls are in the mothballs, their reactivation has been authorized along with refits to incorporate second-generation datalink and improved armor as they're refurbished for service.

Looking forward, a further refit will be necessary to replace the ship's weapons. With newer, heavier cruisers filling the role of the fleet's line of battle, the Beijings will be fitted out as fast DDGs using the same improved engines from Swiftsure and newer missiles to fit an additional broadside tube. Their sensor systems will be replaced with the improved area sensors from Swiftsure, allowing the hulls to act as destroyer leaders and pickets alongside an advanced FFG type.
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Re: Turn 54 - Strategic Overview

Postby Moonsword on Sat 30 Jul 2016 08:19

Consensus of Axanar
EL 5, Total GSV 4,644.2, HI 10

Axanarian Physiology
Although entirely unrelated, Axanarii bear a strong resemblance to the advanced maniraptoran dinosaurs in the theropod family tree, cousins to Earth's birds. With sharp teeth and slender but well-muscled arms, they are most similar to the troodontids and possess three fingers on each hand as well as an opposable thumb. Across most of their bodies, Axanarii have a layer of soft, downy feathers and long feathers on their erect tails that once served as displays, although many modern Axanarii - especially spacefarers - prefer to trim their feathers back. Their custom in good weather is to wear an embroidered tunic and harness with tools, packs, and other materials.

Political and Historical Review
The past century or so has been a tumultuous one for the Axanarii. Not long after their discovery of drive-field technology, the Hierarchy was established by the military and economic predominance of one of their pre-space nations being parleyed into political power. Over the course of a decade, the traditional ruling caste of the nation of Ger managed to forcibly unite the rest of the planet into a bureaucratic, despotic system commanded for the benefit of the elite. At the apex of the cronyism, corruption, and violence was the ruling line of San, under whose son the whole system came crashing down in flames.

Axanar is at a crossroads, with a nascent democratic government establishing itself in place of a despotic regime under the command of a strong man named Xan the Tyrant (the title may lose something in translation, as it is one he claimed himself). Ultimately, Xan's judgment was occasionally lacking when it came to the bread and circuses department and considerable disquiet erupted under his rule. When the Hierarchy finally came unglued, a brief civil war and anarchy ensued as the bureaucracy tried desperately to keep the economy somewhat functional, the internal security forces cracked down, and the Navy - still wary and battered in the wake of the desperate battle against the "Slumbering Titan" - watched from orbit in horror. Naval forces secured the orbital habitats and fortifications, keeping space-side industry intact despite the chaos below while denying orbital bombardment to the combatants below, and actually opened a tentative trade relationship with the Terran Confederation that both kept the orbital habitats and economic infrastructure intact and has proved to be immensely valuable in stabilizing and rebuilding the Axanarii economy.

Approximately six months ago, a political settlement was reached and the Accords of Democracy were signed on the flag deck of Golden Palace, the Navy's flagship, and the Consensus of Axanar emerged from the ashes of the Hierarchy to act as the people's obedient stewards. The Consensus operates as a democracy driven by frequent plebiscites, although the Consensus has established some provision for communication delays imposed by the distances of space travel as it looks toward a proper survey for warp points and colonizing systems beyond Axanar. The establishment of the first permanent offworld settlement on Theryon is an important stepping stone. Relations between the Confederation and the Consensus are still settling into a permanent relationship, although lack of experience with the Confederation's sometimes raucous, free-wheeling traditions of public media and debate have the potential for concern. At the diplomatic level, both governments are firmly committed to building a permanent, profitable, and equitable peace. The Confederation recently brokered first contact between the Consensus and the Gilcullen Order in the Delta Pavonis system. While both races are able to communicate indirectly in Standard English, proper communications and translation expertise are still in very early days.

Notable Systems
Lambda Serpentis
Warp Points: Delta Pavonis
Inhabited Worlds: Axanar (T HI 1); 1 moons (1 mT)

The home system of the Axanarii and currently the second-richest star system in known space, Lambda Serpentis apparently has a long history in interstellar affairs. Home to a single habitable planet along with the curiosity of a marginally habitable moon, Serpentis also apparently played host to an outpost of another species in the past, approximately the same age as the Slumbering Titan left in the outer system. Until recently, the Hierarchy had never paid much attention to the possibile economic value of settling Theryon or any of the other system real estate, preferring to keep the population bottled up just where they could get at it. The Consensus, on the other hand, favors economic development and has embraced the opportunities represented by Theryon and is even considering, from Terran experiences, the potential value of settling barren environments to provide raw minerals to the industrial infrastructure of Axanar. The discovery of a cache of advanced weapons on the moon of Ryagan, orbiting the next gas giant out from Theyron's parent Relafar, has only deepened the enigmas of Lambda Serpentis's ancient history.

Axanarian Consensus Navy
The Navy is one of the institutions that has been the least transformed by the political changes shaking Axanarian society. Aside from rare, isolated incidents, the Navy was largely detached from planetary affairs and domestic politics, leaving its reputation largely unsullied. This was especially true after the Navy's current Commanding Admiral, Van, refused to take sides in the late unpleasantness, countermanding orders from his estranged cousin to engage in orbital bombardment and enforcing his decision even against the static fortifications. Combined with his successful engagement against the "Slumbering Titan", an ancient alien robotic warship that had lain quiescent in the outer system for centuries, Van's reputation catapulted him to the top of the list for officers to command the Navy.

Active Hulls
Flame of the Nation-class Frigate
Derived directly from the predecessor National Will frigate lineage, the Flames have increasingly been recognized as a transitional design that lacks considerable refinement. Losing their largely unused shuttle bays and second force beam, the Flames incorporated a pair of the newly developed plasma guns in their stead along with improvements in automation and crew support technologies. The final addition was the support infrastructure necessary to mount a "plasma canister" - an externally-carried plasma torpedo, equivalent to the rack-launched missiles of the TCN - combined with the first deployment of datalink technology in the Hierarchy Navy.

While the Flames are fast and - if they survive to point-blank range - potentially capable of wreaking havoc on an opponent, the limitations of the design became rapidly apparent in action against the Titan's sophisticated defenses. In the event, no Flame was able to land a plasma gun shot against the robotic warship and their force beams were only marginally capable because of the damage they absorbed from long-range missile fire. However, the ships did successfully force the drone warship to maneuver and presented a threat it had to honor, buying time for the cruiser force to close and engage in decisive action, at the cost of five hulls destroyed outright and a sixth scuttled as too damaged to be worth the cost of building a tug to maneuver her back to the yards. Six more Flame of the Nation-class frigates remain in service, their fate uncertain as the ACN debates how to refit them. Based on both the engaement with the Slumbering Titan and high-level information shared with the Consensus Navy about the Confederation's battle in Omicron Eridani and the ambush of its surveyors in the Sargasso, opinion is hardening in favor of a refit to restore her second force beam and potentially some of the advanced electronic warfare systems promised "any year now".

Glory-class Light Cruiser
Unlike the refit National Will-class frigates, refit from an older light combatant after the Hierachy took over, the Glories were the first new-build class under the government and replaced both of the pre-Hierarchy destroyers still in serivce. Originally named Glorious Leader, these light cruisers are by and large the archetypal Axanarian warship - fast, moderate but respectable defenses, and a potent force beam armament. Although some new technologies were refit into the older National Wills along with newly constructed Flame of the Nation hulls, the basic Glorious Leader design never underwent a fundamental refit before the battle with the Titan. What emerged from the yard after the battle and the rise of the Consensus preserved the ship's quartet of force beam turrets but found the space to incorporate the advanced counter-missile point defense system introduced as a counter to the Titan's long-range heavy missile armament. Newly developed armor compounds capable of standing up to post-drive-field weapons were added at the cost of some of her shields, rounding out the ship's defenses. 75% faster than a Confederation Carthage or Queensland, these fast, aggressive light cruisers may no longer be the ACN's premier line-of-battle unit with the introduction of larger hulls but are never to be discounted.

Panopticon-class Sensor Picket
Not considered warships by the ACN, instead designated as "sensor pickets", the three Panopticons are derivatives of the National Will hull form, using the same basic design, propulsion fit, and systems but completely unarmed. In place of her force beams, the Hierarchy Navy fitted one of their new, highly sensitive long-range sensors, what the Confederation refers to as a "capital strategic" sensor. Unlike the TCN, which traditionally relies on planetary sensor installations for its long-range monitoring, Hierarchy Navy doctrine (continued under the Consensus Navy) incorporates a sensor picket into major detachments to provide extended surveillance coverage to squadrons.

Golden Palace-class Command Cruiser
A derivative of the Glorious Leader hull, ACS Golden Palace trades half of her sisters' force beams for a command deck and enhanced tactical coordination and command and control systems. Although she was repaired and returned to service after the Titan battle, she is no longer the flagship of the Consensus fleet with the commissioning of ACS Thunder of Democracy. Not yet refit to the technological standards of the Glories, some proponents favor refitting Golden Palace into a standard Glory hull but current planning is leaning toward bringing her systems up to par and retaining the ship as a light command hull for detached forces and a backup in case some untoward fate should befall Thunder.

Pinnacle-class Heavy Cruiser
A third larger than the Glorious Leaders, the Pinnacle of Wonder-class cruisers are heavy brawlers, slower and significantly better armed than their counterparts. The most notable improvement was the ship's additional pair of force beams, bringing it up to three double mounts, although the support equipment was dispersed to prevent easy mission kills. As the largest ships in service at the time of the Titan's attack, the Pinnacles carried the weight of the fighting once they managed to close into range and their heavy force beam batteries gutted the drone warship. Although damaged in the wake of the battle, both hulls were repaired and later upgraded to incorporate anti-nuclear hull armor, datalink systems, and a counter-missile installation along with their new, less "Hierarchy-esque" names. They form the heart of the Axanar Consensus Navy's heavy striking power as Battle Squadron One alongside the Thunder.

Thunder of Democracy-class Command Battle Cruiser
Built in a simlar fashion to the Pinnacles, the Thunder of Democracy remains the only new warship built in the wake of the fighting with the Slumbering Titan. Although built too quickly to incorporate the first fruits of the post-engagement defensive upgrades, Thunder does have a slightly heavier force beam installation along with a brand new command deck. Fully equal to Golden Palace's facilities, the CIC marked her as the fleet's new flagship, although her armament is slated for a downgrade in the near future to mount improved defenses, although the full extent of the refitting will depend on the availability of the capital force beams modeled on the cache discovered on the moon of Ryagan during re-surveys.
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Re: Turn 54 - Strategic Overview

Postby Moonsword on Fri 09 Sep 2016 06:05

Given the time and my other commitments, I probably won't write up the Gilcullen Order and the Terrans' mysterious new adversaries but more information will be forthcoming. I've managed to get the campaign itself moving again, going into Turn 57, and while nothing exciting has happened militarily, the Gilcullen did accept an amalgamation offer.

In the meantime, the TCN isn't going to press the offense against a technologically superior and largely unknown opponent until they've got more of their new construction out of the yards and drilled. As for why that opponent isn't pushing, well... I've got one story idea in mind that should lay out their opinions and perceived strategic options much more clearly.

EDIT: Well, that proved a bit inaccurate in hindsight although it did take me most of two years to get around to it. I'm putting together the finishing touches on their adversaries now.
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Joined: Sat 14 Sep 2013 01:07

Re: Turn 54 - Strategic Overview

Postby Moonsword on Sun 08 Jul 2018 12:31

Eridellan Hoplarchy
EL 6, Total GSV 3,333.0, HI 3

Eridellan Physiology
Hairless and very finely scaled, the Eridellans have produced bipedal motion similar to humans, but significant differences in skeletal structure. Their skulls are relatively long, with the brain case projecting further back rather than over eyes as in humans, and muscle attachments for the jaws toward the arched top, but their face is very flat, and they show signs of a similar evolutionary pattern to Homo sapiens where jaw strength was a reduced factor in survival compared to predecessor species. Eridellan eyes see somewhat deeper into the near infrared than humans or Axanarians do, though not quite as far as the lower eyes of the Gilcullen, and have a reduced sensitivity to violet light, but these are not hugely significant outside the context of aesthetics. Slightly more compactly built than humans but with a slightly higher cranial capacity, Eridellans are adapted to higher partial atmospheric pressures and fluctuating temperatures more extreme than humans thanks to the structure of their lungs and subcutaneous fat distribution, although they adapt more slowly to major changes in pressure, with greater physiological stresses from extended exposure than humans show.

Political and Historical Review
In stark contrast to the fractious recent politics of Terra and Axanar, Eridella had developed into a social consensus before achieving spaceflight due to a combination of deft diplomacy, trade networks, and economic developments that prevented some of the strife seen in Terran and Axanarian history. The discovery of pre-Eridellan ruins in the outer system - revealing little useful technology but conclusive evidence of interstellar travel - led to the development of the Eridellan Star Force as a precaution. No extant alien civilizations were encountered, although ruins on the world of Messari indicated a society had risen to technological developments roughly equivalent to the late Bronze Age before climate changes exacerbated by a cometary impact ended civilization. (Eridellan scientists continue to monitor closely-related evolutionary lines, looking for evidence of the survival of the native sophonts.) The galaxy seemed to be a mostly peaceful place, the Eridellan Star Force possibly even the creation of paranoia.

Until one fine day when asteroid surveys awoke an automated starship, that is. Two starships comparable in size and firepower to the Axanarian "Slumbering Titan" reactivated and responded in a chillingly similar fashion to the emergence of technological life in Lacedaemonia: Attempted sterilization. Although the Eridellan Star Force, deployed on training maneuvers, was ultimately able to destroy both ships at tremendous cost, including almost all of its light combatants, the orbital yards, and all defensive fortifications, the homeworld was subjected to a major, sustained bombardment with fusion-tipped intertialess drive missiles as well as debris strikes from the breakup of the shipyards. A significant fraction of the Eridellan population was killed outright. Many more died of starvation as the decapitated planetary and interstellar government fell apart, leaving the Eridellan Star Force as the only largely intact source of authority. Organizing relief convoys of food and supplies from out-system colonies, the Star Force's commanding general was ultimately forced to assume terrestrial authority as the remnants of the civilian government, leaderless and overwhelmed, collapsed in the face of the crisis and isolated units of the Ground Forces sometimes degenerated into armed gangs, taking what they needed, what they wanted, or sometimes just whatever they could take for lack of any better idea what to do. Forming the Directorate of Surface Affairs, the Star Force, loyal Ground Force formations, and the civilians who flocked to their banners brought the situation to heel and formed what Terran analysts later termed the Hoplarchy. Society was repatterned on military lines, although a certain amount of effective democracy exists at the "regional civilian battalion" level.

Eridella Star Force
The premier and senior service of the Hoplarchy, the Eridella Star Force shouldered the mantle of being the sword and shield of the people after the devastating attack on the homeworld. Its status post-war is in flux - although it defended the homeworld once (with major civilian and military casualties), the strategic defeat the Star Force and the blunder of even beginning the war at all have significantly diminished the military's standing.

Never enamored of class names the way humans are, the names assigned below were those pegged to the various classes by Terran Naval Intelligence. Only classes in active service, mothballed reserves, or under construction at the time the war broke out are included below in their immediate pre-war configuration. For historical vessels including the pre-Hoplarchy designs that preceded the Titan attack on the homeworld, the best general reference is Haruna Sullivan's post-war classic Fire and Honor, a look at the doctrine and naval practices that led into the war.

Active Designs
The Eridellan Star Force was noted during the war for several things in comparison to the allied navies confronting it:
  1. An extremely curious tendency to use commercial engines in military vessels, a decision that was reached soon after the homeworld was attacked to improve the fleet's strategic speed. However, that decision was never seriously reevaluated for battlecruisers or above, even as technological advances may have altered the parameters of the possible answers. A vociferous minority faction within the Directorate of Ships argued that the battlecruisers had become too slow tactically to be reliable. While they were able to push through research and development of alternative drive field methodologies building on the "advanced maneuverability" studies, the only outgrowth of that technology deployed during the war was the largely unused stealth system integrated into the Project 107 hull.
  2. High standards of individual training, however flawed some of their operational doctrine and the ships built to that doctrine might have been. What at first appeared to be far superior technology was, over time, determined to be indeed high-quality engineering but also superb crew standards that surpassed even the Axanarian Hierarchy Navy at its best, making a "regular" Eridellan crew equivalent to the elite ships of other naval powers.
  3. A complete lack of a medium-range energy weapon remotely comparable to the force beams employed by the Allied navies. Although the sprint missile was used (awkwardly) in that role on a single late-war type, this forced Eridellan starships into extreme specialization, either point-blank knife-fighters or mid- to long-range snipers.
  4. Generally good but not decisively improved technology given the Hoplarchy's economic situation. At times, this technology was not always employed aggressively.

The combination of technological capabilities and doctrine created significant gaps in the ESF's deployed forces, something the Allies were able to exploit with a combination of their own technological advantages, narrow as they might be, and the sheer size of their economies, particularly the Terran Confederation's. While Terran missile ships do prefer to fight at significant ranges in a manner similar to their plasma torpedo-armed counterparts, missiles are far more flexible, something the Queenslands exploited to make them the best generalist combatant of the war. Terran preference for avoiding close action was to impose a relative advantage in accuracy for their missiles, not a requirement of the weapon's design. In this war, that meant the doctrine even for battlecruisers was to get as close as possible to avoid extended exposure to plasma torpedo bombardment, although some of the design weaknesses of Terran ships (which have odd parallels with Eridellan designs) precluded that from working as well as it should have.

Project 106 Alala-class Escort
The lightest warship produced by any known navy, Project 103-type vessels were an effort to bolster the Star Force's numbers in the wake of the devastating losses. With all of the fleet's light corvettes and destroyers smashed, every cruiser lighter than a battlecruiser destroyed, and the only two battlecrusiers air-bleeding wrecks, new light escort ships were badly needed.

The response was a tiny ship by the standards of the day, smaller than even a corvette. Similar in size to the Terran Marconi-class communication ships, the original Project 103 design was largely similar to the current model but lacked the enhanced shielding and armor introduced in fleet service in the year before the outbreak of the war (and the designator increased to its current 106). Onboard armament is a pair of compact plasma guns, the only weapons available at the time the class was designed that could be fitted in more than a single mount. Long-range armament was non-existent as the ships were too small to support even a standard plasma torpedo's external ordnance requirements, although rack space was provided for a short-range attack missile. The remaining quarter of the ship's internal volume and tonnage went to her power plant and necessary life support mechanisms, using the least capable type to conserve cost. As an extremely austere, short-range design, the Project 106 units were the fleet's light escorts and close attack ships. They acted as the vanguard of a warp point attack or swarmed over an attacker, doing their best to damage shields and armor before plasma torpedo salvos from long range did the bulk of the work.

Project 107 Alala Flight II-class Escort
Initially mistaken for a mere variant on the basic escort type by the TCN, the Project 107 was initially a single, solitary prototype design that was later put into limited series production. Incorporating refinements in hull design, extra space was freed up to allow for the installation of defensive electronic warfare suites similar to those on heavier warships and a prototype stealth system that was believed to offer promise as a defensive enhancement, although further testing in fleet war games showed distinct limitations in its utility at close range. Despite the limitations and additional cost imposed by the larger hull and more expensive engines, a second example was authorized mainly on the grounds of the heavier armor and tougher defenses while research continued on refining the plasma guns down to a size that would allow similar EW suites to be incorporated into the standard escort type.

Project 309 Phaenna-class Frigate
One of the first two classes of Eridellan warships the Terran Confederation got a close look at due to the Omicron Eridani Incursion in June 2153, the Project 309 was the final pre-war derivative of a program to build a light, fast long-range combatant as a supplement to the battlecruisers or to operate alongside the escorts under development (see Project 106). The resulting design made a tremendous impression on the Terran Confederation Navy for the combination of speed, firepower, and defensive EW capabilities. Had failures of doctrine and tactical constraints not limited the frigates' maneuver options, it is quite possible that FF04 and her Project 310-class companion FFL03 would have destroyed the two Queensland-class heavy crusiers outright despite the larger vessels' advantages in tonnage, armor thickness, shielding, and raw firepower. As demonstrated in that battle, however, pre-war Eridellan frigate designs were extremely vulnerable if engaged at close range.

Approximately the same size as the Confederation types put into production immediately after the Incursion with an improved military inertialess drive for power, the key to the Project 309's success was being able to rely on a compatively compact but massively powerful plasma torpedo, dubbed a "capital" weapon by Axanarian analysts reviewing data provided by the Confederation. Better than 50% larger than the most powerful standard plasma torpedoes in Axanarian service during the war but closer to two-thirds again more powerful, the weapon's range and seeking capabilities, combined with Star Force training standards, rendered the weapon deadly and enormously accurate at range. In addition, by being more compact than the paired plasma torpedoes carried on earlier Eridellan frigates, room was freed up for a standard defensive EW station and improved sensors to utilize most of the weapon's range. Remaining available tonnage went into extra shield generators. Finally, compared to Confederation frigates of similar vintage, superior drive-field shaping and alteration techniques and manipulators permitted maneuvers at the theoretical threshold of performance, approximately 50% improved over the TCN's best designs of the same time frame.

Project 310 Cleta-class Frigate Leader
The other warship class involved in the Omicron Eridani Incursion, close scans of FFL03 and her systems generated a significant amount of R&D activity combined with threat responses. Derived from the basic Project 309 platform and sharing much of that ship's power plant and tactical systems, the hull form was stretched to take advantage of "overhead" in the intertialess drive efficiency curves for frigates based on techniques originally developed for the Project 509 light cruisers. The extra tonnage was used to fit a datalink-networked counter-missile installation. Combined with the defensive EW stations on both frigates, the counter-missiles significantly diminished the long-range weapons capacity of the two Queensland cruisers, although the subsequent focused fire from both ships on FFL04 was able to hammer through her shielding and armor to disable her datalink systems. The defensive possibilities alongside the more compact shield generators the Eridellans possessed at the beginning of the war caused major alarm in a navy that had been moving to an armament mix dominated by long-range missiles. This combination of capabilities was directly responsible for the rapid authorization and production of two TCN "brawler" classes to bring energy weapons to close range and get under the plasma torpedoes' most effective range window.

Project 406 Enyalius-class Destroyer
After the silent failure of both attempted probes of the Omicron Eridani system and observations that their enemy had begun roaming the Sargasso, the Eridellan Star Force made a major reevaluation of its light warship designs. While the battlecruisers were determined to be basically acceptable and continued in service with no refits, the best the ESF could determine were that the escort and frigate designs were too fragile to stand up to combat, especially the system assault role. In response, a much-improved close combatant was laid down. Reviving the destroyer as the largest light warship - a type that had been out of Eridellan service since their battle with the two automated "berserkers" - the Project 406 took basic design studies and mated them to the improved engines, armor, and shielding used by modern frigates along with a full electronic warfare suite, although in the interest of compactness, a counter-missile installation was omitted. A quartet of plasma guns were mounted along with a single "sprint" missile launcher, providing the Project 406 with both some firepower beyond point-blank range - a major criticism of the escort types - and the ability to supply other warships' external ordnance racks with sprint missiles in extremis. Although magazine space for the sprint launcher was limited to the on-mount ordnance racks, the limitation was not a major one for a ship that did not rely on her sprint launcher for extended combat endurance. Finally, maneuverability-enhancing techniques comparable to the frigates were employed, allowing a Project 406 to (unknowingly) match the maneuverability of a Terran frigate in close action.

Ultimately, the only significant criticism made of the design by post-war historians - one also leveled at the Terran Argo Navis class and the plasma-armed defensive bases stationed on the warp point - was the omission of datalink in the interest of frugality. While datalink's offensive capabilities didn't offer much to the type, as a destroyer intended partially to conduct close-in defenses of a warp point, datalink would have given an entire squadron the ability to come to battle stations as a unit, hopefully improving their react time.

Project 707 Hoplite-class Battlecruiser
Of all the warhip classes involved in the war, the Hoplites probably generated the most consternation among Terran and Axanarian analysts by looking absolutely nothing like what they expected or considered reasonable. At the level of gross size, Project 707s are similar in overall tonnage and volume to the TCN Swiftsure and ACN Thunder of Democracy battlecruiser classes but that was where the resemblance ended. Heavily overhauled and retrofitted after the Titan engagement, the Project 707 battlecruisers were emphatically long-range combatants packing in three capital plasma torpedo mounts and enough magazine space to go to sustained maximum-rate fire for over 12 minutes before needing to retreat for reloading. For comparison, the class uses approximately two-thirds as much volume as a pre-war Swiftsure's missile launchers for 25% more firepower that is significantly more accurate at the plasma torpedo's preferred engagement ranges, leaving a great deal of tonnage left over. "Commercial" engines (referred to as "long endurance" in ESF engineering parlance) sufficient to move the 707s at velocities similar to the ESF's smaller warships' cruising speeds took their own slice, as did the datalinked countermissile installation and defensive EW, but most of the tonnage went to the ESF's idea of "proper" defenses for a capital ship. Fully 30% of a Project 707's tonnage and volume went into enormous banks of shield generators and a massive armor belt. Combined, they were sufficient to give the ship three times as much shielding on a practical level compared to that same Swiftsure and armor approximately twice as difficult to breach. Thanks to the accuracy of the plasma torpedoes and the skill of ESF gunnery crews, this meant a Project 707 significantly out-gunned contemporary TCN designs but was also very difficult to begin doing notable internal damage to without the application of truly overwhelming firepower, spurring both the TCN and ACN to begin looking more aggressively for a counter to that sort of shielding and armor depth. (Although none of the research came to fruition during the war, these efforts eventually lead to the precision force beam and, for the Terrans, improved laser weaponry.)

For all the Hoplites' perceived advantages in deep space combat, they had equally large and notable disadvantages. Their slow tactical speed was a handicap against TCN forces that were able to maneuver against them. Worse, they were practically unarmed at short range. In a warp point assault, the use of high-speed "sprint" missiles on the class's external ordnance racks could significantly ameliorate that problem, once, something that earned the TCN's wary respect in the Second Battle of Omicron Eridani. The plasma torpedo's disadvantages in a tactical situation like a warp point assault into a close defense left the two Project 707 battlecruisers and their Project 708 command ship committed to that engagement in a perilous position against a much larger defending fleet.

Project 708 Leonidas-class Command Battlecruiser
A derivative of the Project 707 hull, Project 708 addressed a perceived flaw in the ESF's command and control infrastructure by providing them with an in-space command platform able to keep up with the rest of the fleet. Sharing the 707's basic engineering and defensive features, the key difference between the two designs was the removal of the 707's centerline capital plasma torpedo mount along with 60% of the ship's extended magazine space and her improved combat sensors. Although this left the 708 extremely myopic (indeed, they could barely resolve targets at the outer edge of their torpedoes' most accurate range), the thick armor and shielding were seen as guaranteeing the presence of at least one other member of the datagroup at extended ranges. This also cut each torpedo tube down to only 25 reloads, compared to the 35 available to each tube on a Hoplite. All of that space was required to fit the finest command and control deck and fleet coordination technology available to any of the combatants during the war. Remaining space was allocated to slightly thicker armor and shielding, making it even more difficult to punch out the flagship and centerpiece of the ESF's Battle Squadron datagroup.

The only known Project 708 was committed to Second Omicron Eridani and lost as it transited into an increasingly alert defending fleet of TCN cruisers and battlecruisers. Instead of building a replacement, the Project 801 battleship under construction was converted on the slips to the Project 803 type already in late stage design work.

Project 801 Phalanx-class Battleship Leader
Initially conceived as the flagship of the Second Battle Squadron, the Project 801 was the first Eridellan battleship design laid down, although the hull was ultimately completed to a different final design. Unlike the Project 802 and 803 designs, intended to be concentrated in heavy battle squadrons, the Project 801 was to represent an interim type, initially datalinked to a pair of Project 707 battlecruisers as a squadron leader instead of an all-up fleet flagship like the 708 or 803 designs. Despite her improved command-and-control systems, the Project 801 would have been a formidable combatant had she been completed to her original design. Her armor and shielding was a third tougher than an Eridellan battlecruiser's, with an additional point defense station and plasma torpedo tube providing increases in defensive and offensive weaponry.

Project 802 Sarissa-class Battleship
Although actually the third battleship class to be laid down, the Project 802 design specification was finalized before the "fleet flagship" variant of the Project 800 prototype. Only one was laid down during the war and she was scrapped on the slips after Allied technicians, taking advantage of the surrender of the Eridella Prime shipyards, removed numerous internal systems awaiting installation for disassembly and close analysis. Although somewhat more lightly shielded and armored than the Project 801 design, the 802 was probably the most formidable single warship laid down during the war with no less than five capital plasma torpedo installations, each with its own dedicated magazine giving it a 25 shot endurance.

With the plasma torpedo's high accuracy and the Eridellan warship's defensive advantages, the Sarissa would likely have completely shattered its closest counterpart among the Allies, the Terran Majestic-class battleships commissioned toward the end of the war, and illustrates both the technological advantages of the Eridellan navy and its peculiarity in insisting on "long endurance" inertialess drives in capital warships.

Project 803 Strategos-class Command Battleship
The final derivative design of the Project 800 prototype program, Project 803 was the first type actually completed and commissioned. With the toughest shielding and armor of any member of the family, the Project 803 remains the best-protected warship of the war, a measure intended to protect her command deck and flag staff and remain in combat as long as possible. The only flagship type of the war to come close to matching the single Project 803 in service was the Project 708, which provided the underlying design concept for the newer class. Compared to the Project 802 "line" battleship design, the Project 803 arguably paid a heavier price for her capabilities, losing 40% of her armament to thicker defenses and command-and-control systems. Unlike a Project 708, a Project 803 did have a full-up combat sensor suite equal to her standard consorts', and her magazines were comparatively deeper than a line battleship's, intended to provide both the flagship and her squadron mates with some flexibility in external ordnance.

In combat, the only Project 803 hull to reach commissioning was practically battered to scrap after absorbing extreme punishment, although the moral decision to permit the effective standdown of a Terran battlecruiser during combat lead to Allied decisions not to bombard her to the point of destruction; she was later towed into port and scrapped. A second was scuttled on the slips as the Allies gained control of Eridellan orbit. Historically, the limited firepower has been largely accepted as the cost of the ship's superb command facilities and thickened defenses, and the Project 803 pattern was certainly far more survivable if brought to action than the only specialized Terran command type employed during the war, the Hokkaido-class command destroyer. Given the limitations of Allied fire control against Eridellan ECM and defensive weaponry and the solely Terran heavy warships deployed into the combat theater, the Strategos was still more than equal to any of her opponents in effective firepower, making the tradeoff highly acceptable to obtain the improved command efficiency.

Evaluations by Axanarian survivors of the battle pointed out only one flaw, as did later evaluations by historians of all three star nations, the same one the "Speed Demon" faction of the Directorate of Ships had protested for years before the war: Axanarian battleships were slow, making them relatively easily outmaneuvered by Terran light starships and even the relatively slow Queensland-class heavy cruisers, still fitted with first-generation military engines. At several points, this forced the Strategos or her Hoplite consorts to expose their blind spots, with force-beam armed close combatants getting under their plasma torpedo range and doing their best to batter down shields and produce armor blowthroughs.

Author Commentary
This is written in-character from a significantly later perspective than the other two, long after the war.

The tiny size of the Eridellan Hoplarchy's economy makes them a nasty but ultimately not terribly threatening NPR if they didn't get loose immediately, before the TCN could re-deploy to meet them, combined with what's actually a shockingly low chauvinism, and drove their extremely low aggression. After getting two ships smashed without any signal as to why (they don't have automated platforms as of turn 61, so no courier drones), the ESF wasn't inclined to probe until they brought their reserves online, replaced the lost frigates, and had advanced their battleship prototype further towards having two full battle squadrons in active service. They're quite willing to live and let live unless they feel threatened, such as having a "swarm" of light craft poking around one jump from their already-bombarded homeworld.

The ESF design standard departs slightly from standard NPR parameters, mainly by my decision that their engine guideline wasn't "one less speed than max Ic" but rather "strategic speed 3", which they can meet with Ib on an FG or DD and Ice on a BBb. It made the lighter ships a lot more interesting and sets up a maneuver environment that's challenging to manage but allowed the BCs and BBs to maneuver at the same speed.

As much as they "wasted" their best chance to win (an immediate all-out offensive, following civilian ships through any warp point they could find to reach Epsilon Eridani), that's not something the ESF could've done. NPRs simply won't throw their entire fleet at something that's not in their home system as I read the rules. The ESF for damn sure won't given their history. This was not a planned war, though - it was what the ESF initially regarded, fearfully, as an encounter with another berserker, and the Confederation never had a good idea what the real strategic situation was until they got a lucky break and recovered a few fragments of astro data in Turn 66. If both sides hadn't turtled up from sheer paranoia and had met in space in the Sargasso, where the admirals could actually see ship numbers outside the do-or-die crisis scenario of a warp point assault, it's likely peace would've broken out a lot earlier.
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Re: Turn 54 - Strategic Overview

Postby Moonsword on Sun 08 Jul 2018 13:11

To give you a clear idea of the difference in technological capabilities and design philosophies, here are the battleship designs of the three navies that were in service or under construction at the end of the war:

Code: Select all
Majestic II-class BBb    15-(XOa)    91 TS                  
[5] S1×15 A1×15 Zb (Ib×3) Mg (Ib×3) Qb Mg Rb Qb Rb×2 Mg Qb Rb×2 Mg Rb×2 (Ib×3) Rb×2 Qb Mg Rb×2 Mg Rb×2 Yb Dca Mg Rb×2 Rb×2 Qb Dca (Ib×3) Rb×2 [4/2]                  
Trg: 1    Def: 0    77 HTK                  {SOLAR}
19 x Rb (7 Mg; 610 total MSP)
2 x Dca

Although the name is condensed to save space in my records, it means "Block II", not the second TCN hull of the name. TCS Majestic was laid down with pre-war technology, meaning no S1 and she carried 21 Rb instead of 19. The turn after she was completed, the "Block II" refit was applied, upgrading her shields and replacing two Rb with two Dca. Both of her completed sisters for the first Battle Squadron were upgraded on the slips - TCN building rates at the time were 25 HS a turn, so they had just enough give in the production schedule to manage it. Ultimately, three more hulls (for a total of six) were laid down and under construction by the end of the war.

Code: Select all
Liberty-class BB    14-(XOa)    83 TS                  
[6] S1×15 A×5 Zb Mg (Jb×3) Ya (Jb×3) Qb (Jb×3) Qb Fca (Jb×3) Fca Qb Fca Fca (Jb×3) Dca Qb Fca Dca Qb (Jb×3) Fca [6/2]                  
Trg: 1    Def: 0    54 HTK                  {SOLAR}
6 x Fca
2 x Dca

Smaller, much faster, and very differently armed to the other two, the Liberty is built to a completely different theory of combat. In a lot of ways, Liberty is the battlecruiser to the other two's dreadnought, built to run down and destroy faster ships and evade the slower battle line of an I-using enemy (or, pointedly, keep up with another berserker tactically while hammering it with force beam fire). The Axanarians prefer shields to armor, a tendency that started because they didn't have A when they were first activated and reinforced because they know about and are slowly working on energy beams. With J instead of I, they have no incentive at all to use the BBb. (I'm not sure off hand if they have that technology. They certainly don't use it for anything.) Technologically, they're marginally superior to the Terrans in deployed hardware, with a slight advantage these days in accumulated EL RP, but the biggest difference is they're an F/Pt/J race while the Terrans started out as F/R/I.

Incidentally, her sister ship is Equality, and the Fraternity is planned but not yet on the construction schedule. It's a very deliberate reference to the French Revolution's ideals on the part of certain members of the Axanarian Consensus government, and no that doesn't scare Terrans who know their history at all. :mrgreen:

Code: Select all
Project 803 Sarissa-class BBb    (AM1) 21-(XOe)    44 TS                  
[3] S1×22 A1×22 Zb (Ice×3) Qe (Ice×3) Mg Qe Mg Ptca Mg Ptca Mg Ptca Dcza Qe Yb Mg Ptca ?a Dcza Qe (Ice×3) Ptca [3/3]                  
Trg: 1    Def: -1    72 HTK                  {SOLAR}
5 x Ptb (5 x Mg; 500 total MSP)
2 x Dcza

Code: Select all
Project 802 Strategos-class BBb    (AM1) 21-(XOe)    44 TS                  
[3] S1×26 A1×26 Zb (Ice×3) (Ice×3) Mgt Qe Mg Qe Ptca Mg Mg Yb Dcza Mg Qe Ptca Qe ?a Dcza (CICe) (Ice×3) Ptca [3/3]                  
Trg: 1    Def: -1    79 HTK                  {SOLAR}
3 x Ptb (4 x Mg, 1 x Mgt; 374 total MSP)
2 x Dcza

Finally, the two designs the Eridellans had on the slips at the time they lost the war, the Project 802 Sarissa and the Project 803 Strategos. ?a is a massive pain in the TCN's ass and to a lesser degree the ACN's; the fact Pt and Pg ignore at least partial EMS penalties is something that has made those technologies very attractive to the ACN post-war and is probably going to contribute directly to the longevity of the FF in their service. Amusingly, the Majestic actually has a higher HTK than the Sarissa does, although given the difference in passives and the high accuracy of Ptca against something with her turn mode (especially with a BG+2 crew!), she's going to need it.

Post-war, the ESF has some design studies going on looking at how to redress their tactical deficiencies, although given the treaty they signed and the strategic situation, they don't expect to be building any of the classes they're designing on paper for a while. Their main conclusion post-war is that while strategic speed is valuable - and they're going to push I research as best they can to improve their engines - they cut their own throat tactically by limiting themselves to commercial engines, and especially not at least following through and maximizing speed on the BCs by using Ice instead of sticking with Ica to reduce costs and improve turn mode. There's also a hard insistence that any ship have datalink, both for activation and because they're thinking strongly about a DDE type with Dcza to help cover their Pg-armed light combatants, as well as a similar BS1 E to cover warp points.

They still insist on at least strategic speed 3 on all warships, mind you, but what I hinted at in the article is there's another option available to them: DFSa, one of the technological advances the TCN and ACN didn't get a whiff of during the war, something the ESF very much suspects is the case. (They know exactly what the TCN and ACN carted off from their hardware labs or construction stockpiles - it was a quite civilized affair as looting goes, more opportunity-shopping-by-conquest, complete with receipts - and DFSa wasn't on that list.) The TCN is planning to move their cruiser force to Ib across the board to maximize their "speed advantage" and sooner or later, they're going to get a rude shock when an ESF battlecruiser is able to keep up with them hex for hex. The fact that DFS can give the ESF BC a strategic speed matching what a commercial engine hull could manage is only going to make the shock worse.
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