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The Oracle Reader: Space Combat


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Pete has spoken at length about space combat in the past. In light of the recent discussions and rumors about 'broken' space combat, I thought I'd cut and paste a large chunk of what Pete has said about Space Combat in this thread.


Feel free to use, prod, interpret, blaspheme, ban or praise :cheers:


Keep in mind I haven't update the information on fighters going through warp poitns and a few other tidbits as those are recent disclosures that I *think* everyone still has fresh on their minds.


Space Combat: Armor and Shields


Armor keeps your ship from dying once it has been struck. Shields essentially do the same thing by keeping the ship from being hit at all. Shields are generally less efficient than Armor, so you might wonder why you would ever use Shields (instead of just adding more Armor on)...the key here would be that avoiding any hits at all, even at the cost of some efficiency, to avoid any repair worries (more on repairs to come in an updated combat primer). Some weapons are also somewhat...irritating...when they strike a ship, regardless of damage and structural integrity calculations.


A ship that is nothing but a Mk I Nuclear Engine and a whole lot of Fuel Tankage is very, very easy to destroy. This is because Fuel Tankage has terrible structural integrity. The same holds true for Cargo Bays and other functionally weak systems. Armor, on the other hand, has a lot of structural integrity. Advanced armor has an incredible amount.


Space Combat: Computers and Bridge Control


All bridge items count fleet-wide, so you could have a single flagship provide bridge coordination for your entire task force. A task force in this case would be defined as any number of fleets on one side of the engagement. Fighters and drones (and all weapons for that matter) do benefit from the coordination granted by bridge items such as holographic display systems.


Computers are used primarily in weapons targeting and fire control: fire control is their primary function. They may have other uses, but fire control is their main purpose. As the combat primer notes, there is no need to get carried away with putting computers on (i.e., don't try the Supernova II strategy of trying to get your ships to 95% hit chance while reducing the enemy to 5% hit chance - that doesn't work here). If you need more fire control, add some on (or other bridge gear). They're pretty efficient, so you don't even need all that much unless you absolutely have to get a high fire control rating. New combat reports will list exact #'s for fire control calculations.


The following paragraph from the naval combat primer fairly well sums up the capabilities of your computer and bridge systems:


Computers work in conjunction with the bridge of a ship, providing fire control solutions to the combat information center of a warship. A fleet with poor command-and-control will not be able to spread its firepower out over very many targets. This can result in overkill should an enemy force of many small targets is encountered. Ship systems such as holographic battle computers, fleet formation scanners, battle imaging systems and regular computers all work together to provide your entire force with superior fire control. Like sensors, computers are not required. It is also possible to have a single flagship present in your fleet, with that vessel coordinating the entire battle. You might be wise to place such a ship in the rear ranks of your formation, or make it hard to kill—the loss of that one ship could spell trouble if you were depending on its bridge for complete battle coordination duty.



Space Combat: Crew Experience


Experience is stored by ship. If you scrap that ship…you lose its morale and experience rating!


A ‘Stout’ rating is better than ‘Timid’, and ‘Line’ is better than ‘Seasoned’. Both morale and experience help a ship in a variety of ways, with defensive system improvement being a good example.


Pete added a repair concept to the code- the ability to "scrap" a ship into a shipyard and then have it rebuilt, retaining its Morale and Experience levels, instead of being broken down into its component parts. Mission Class change ability to come soon as well.

Space Combat: Damage Allocation….or….We’ve Been Hit!


Damage from incoming alien weapons applies across the board, so your computer systems, sensors and so on would be affected.


Each ship tracks the number of damage points it has suffered so far. This is divided by the total structural integrity of the ship to leave a positive effectiveness (if the damage points suffered equals the structural integrity, the ship would have been destroyed in the engagement). Damage is not stored per ship system <shudders at the thought>. Armor and the various structural integrity ratings for each ship system is taken into account, making a high structural-integrity ship suffer less % damage over all.


The ship is still damaged.


Right now there is no way to repair the ship directly. Scrapping and rebuilding is the only way at this time. When scrapped, all of the ship components are recovered. When reconstructed, the ship will be at full strength (you'd lose the time and shipyard effort it takes to reconstruct the ship, though).


Fighters and Drones destroyed are lost forever as they are simply cargo and cannot be repaired via a scrap-and-rebuild.


Space Combat: Defensive Systems


Defensive systems on a ship do not accumulate to a “fleet defensive rating” akin to weapons ratings. Each ship defense is unique to the ship except in the limited case of CIDS coverage.


CIDS provide point defense damage mitigation to the ship on which they are installed. They also provide umbrella coverage for the entire fleet, adding to the mitigation for other ships. The umbrella bonus is not as high as that given to the CIDS ship itself.


Force Shields recharge at the beginning of the battle. Shields aren't as good as armor for pure structural integrity "hit point" efficiency. However, they do make the damage go away completely, not even damaging the ship. They might also have other effects. Sometimes you don't want to take any damage at all, and going pure armor means that your ships will by definition take some damage on their hulls. If you aren't sure what to do, you cannot go wrong with armor, since high tech armor can add a lot of structural integrity to a ship. Shields are less efficient but wipe away damage completely.


Space Combat: Deployment Considerations


Ships in deploy location 1 dish out maximum damage from their weapons that care about range. They receive no defensive adjustments because of their location. As ships are deployed more toward deploc 12, incoming enemy fire is reduced in effectiveness. Their weapons also reduce in firepower depending on the kind of weapon. Plasma Torpedos, for instance, are classified as "point blank range". They do a lot of damage when placed in very low deploy locations such as 1 or 2. Their damage drops off very fast after that. Missiles often have longer ranges, and do not begin dropping off in effectiveness for many deploy locations. As it happens, those kinds of weapons are much easier to defend against (maneuverability is something that many good ships have, and point defenses show up early in the tech tree and are thus more prevalent). Some other systems such as fighters also add to point defense.


Fleets fire weapons in globs, the number of which is determined by your fleet's bridge rating (leaders also being factored in to bridge rating). Those globs are then distributed over enemy targets - an enemy ship is picked, and then the system tries to find another enemy ship that is closer to the front (deploy location 1). It doesn't always find a closer ship even if there is one, but if there are a decent number of enemy screening (closer) vessels, the odds are decent that it will find one. If it does, that ship is targeted. If not, the first ship is targeted. This could be a rear area ship, but the system weighs against that possibility if you have a good ratio of screening vessels set in lower deploy locations.


Lining everything up front doesn't make any sense to me, either. I wouldn't want to line all of my ships up in DepLoc 1 regardless of design, though some players might do that. Some weapon systems fire just fine from further back, so there would be little reason to put them up front and suffer greater targeting chances and no defensive benefit.


Weapon effectiveness drops off by a certain % per DepLoc as written. A minimum is an obvious requirement to avoid total destruction of a fleet without any return fire whatsoever. If there were no minimum, deployment at or beyond the minimum range would mean suicide.


Minimum r_eff is 5%.


Missile ships might as well be rear deployed to their range DepLocs to avoid enemy fire. You might not want to put all other ships in DepLoc 1 because they would then all be equally interesting as targets. Some might want to be at 2 or 3, for example, with your screens up front. Sure, you'd lose some firepower on the 2/3/4/etc ones, but if they live longer because your screens in 1 are hit more often, you would be hoping to regain that firepower and then some.


Fighters and Drones add to firepower as if they were in DepLoc 1, even if their carriers are not. The defender doesn't get more shots if the fighters/drones are launched from deeper back, but that would have been a good idea - I just didn't think of it when the battles were put together

Space Combat: Fire Control


Fire Control is calculated for each side (all combined fleets on each side) in a battle. An allied fleet can provide Fire Control for your entire combined force.


When a battle runs, the total of all Fire Control type systems is used for your entire side (one ship in one fleet on your side could provide Fire Control for all of your fleets involved in the battle, or each ship could add to it, or any combination). Some systems are better than others, much like any other item in the game (Holographic Battle Display systems, for instance, are bridge items that help in Fire Control). That total is compared to the total tonnage and ships on your side to determine how many enemy ships your bridge and flagship personnel can target given the equipment at their disposal. It doesn't matter if the equipment is on one of your ships or many--it's all coordinated together to figure the final Fire Control number. Putting all of your eggs into one basket is dangerous if that ship (essentially your flagship) became damaged or destroyed, but then again it might be easier to protect that one ship by putting it into Deploy Location # 12, screening it with other ships, and providing it with armor, shields, defensive systems and so on.


Fire Control recalculates as ships are destroyed, so if you lose a flagship loaded with bridge gear, your fire control would drop on the spot.


Suppose, however, that two super large assault ships had a third ship - a Pathfinder, for instance. If you had no Fire Control at all, your ships could easily target and annihilate the Pathfinder during a combat round, wasting a significant amount of firepower. It didn't take much effort for the enemy to include this otherwise insignificant ship in his force, but it sure had an effect on that combat round. In this case you would have been much better off splitting your firepower, because in the same combat round you would have destroyed the Pathfinder anyway and dished out some damage to the big enemy ships. That damage is inflicted immediately and would reduce their effectiveness for the following combat rounds.


There is no maximum fire control since it is impossible to determine here how many ships your opponent might have, or how he has them deployed. The decision to devote 2% of your ship to bridge systems instead of 1% is like most other tech advances: if you use an inferior laser system, you would need to devote more ship tonnage % to achieve the same firepower output. How you balance the various tech upgrades to save on % efficiency is up to you. You might research up the bridge tree while an ally runs up the weapon tree, and then you would both benefit.


If fire control only represents a tiny % of your ship designs, then there is less need to worry about it. As it happens, there will be a wide variety of details displayed in the new space combat reports. Plenty to mull over.


Fire control is indeed calculated off of fleet tonnage, so if you lost ships that had poor bridge ratings, your fire control would improve over the course of the battle. Of course, you'd be losing ships in the process.


Fortunately, it's pretty easy to get a high fire control rating - computers and other systems are rather efficient in this area.


Also note that the Naval Combat.pdf document, published ages ago, clearly indicates that leaders add to fire control, and discussed fire control and splitting of fire quite some time back.


Example 1


1 million ton fleet with 250,000 bridge would get 0.25 shots, which defaults to 1.


Fire Control (shots) = Bridge total / tonnage


If Mk II Computer Systems were used for that 1 million ton fleet, that would mean only 62.5 of them somewhere in the fleet, or 6,250 tons out of 1,000,000.


To multitarget over 2 enemy ships, that fleet would need 2 million bridge output, or 2,000,000 / 4,000 = 500 Mk II Computer Systems, for 50,000 total tons somewhere in the fleet (5%). Better bridge systems would drop this 5% figure dramatically, or in any event allow for even more bridge systems to be installed (to raise Fire Control to 3, 4 etc).


If you wanted to split your fire over 20 targets and only had Mk II Computer Systems, that million ton fleet would need


20 = x / 1,000,000

x = 20,000,000

# Mk II Computer Systems = 20,000,000 / 4,000

# Mk II Computer Systems = 5,000

tonnage of Mk II Computer Systems would therefore = 5,000 * 100 = 500,000 which is half of the fleet! In this case you'd be well served to use superior bridge technology


Example 2


Fire Control is a straight tonnage calculation. Mk II Computers, for instance, have a Bridge rating of 4000, and mass 100 tons each. This means that if you put one on a 1000 ton ship, representing 10% of its tonnage, that ship would have a Fire Control rating of 4. It would split its fire into 4 "globs" of damage and target those 4 shots independently. It might hit the same enemy ship 4 times, by the way, but this is very unlikely if there are a lot of targets to choose from. More shots does give it a better chance to hit (with one quarter of its firepower) enemy ships that are rear deployed.


So...if you want a Fire Control rating of 4, you'd need to have 10% of your fleet made out of Mk II Computers. There would be no point in using 2.5% of less, since you always get a Fire Control rating of at least 1. As it happens, Mk II Computers are pretty low tech, with Bridge rating efficiencies rising dramatically for superior technologies (well beyond the 2.5% = Fire Control 1 mark). If you've got a trading partner, having one of you run up a Bridge item tree isn't such a bad idea...who said trade was dead?


Fire Control and Weapon Spread


Total effective weapon ratings are divided into globs. Weapon Effectiveness/# of Globs = Damage per Glob. Thus, you have to consider the total integrity and hit points of the defending ship when dividing your fire control. If you spread your fire control too thin, you might be ineffective against certain targets.


A dialogue between Laserwolf and Pete demonstrates this:


Laserwolf: So if you had 4 ships, 1 with a single weapon that delivered 3 million damage and the other 3 with FC systems that resulted in the fleet having a FC rating of 10, How many globs of damage would there be?


Pete: 10 globs of 300,000 damage each. Those 10 firing pulses target independently, but could target the same ship multiple times if it survives each shot.


Laserwolf: How many ships would be targeted?


Pete: could be 1, could be 10. The statistics depend on the number and placement of the enemy ships.




Space Combat: Fight to the Death


Two sides enter, one side leaves.


Fight until one side loses or a disengagement occurs.


There is an oddity related to fighters/drones: a battle ends when there are no more ships on one or both sides. Surviving fighters or drones stop fighting at that point and those in excess of available fighter bays/drone racks ditch. So...if you have a lot of fighters/drones and want them to fight as long as possible, fill out your fleet with ships that can survive as long as possible. Even if their carriers die in the course of the engagement....they will keep fighting until they have to ditch (their side has lost all ships). They do not have to reload with fuel or munitions during the course of the battle, so dead carriers just means no place to land when the space dust settles. The fighter pilots (or computer brains of the drones) rather foolishly figure that as long as they have something to fight for (ships on their side still alive), they press on. As soon as their ships are all gone, their will to fight ends. No loyalty to just killing the enemy once their ships are toast



Space Combat: General Overview


I received some general questions concerning space combat and wanted to post the answers here:


I would very much like to add the descriptions of the various weapons and some other ship systems to the battle printouts. For example, give the description for Light Fusion Beams in the battle results when they appear somewhere in the battle, so that you can see what sort of weapons are being used against you.


I'd also like to display some sort of chart showing the offensive and defensive effectiveness of the weapons involved in a by-side level. This would be particularly useful in showing how effective your defensive systems were against the appropriate enemy weapons. It would also be very handy in showing the offensive weapon categories such as Coherent Beam, Gravitonic, Energy Disruptor and so on that being used. This would give you a much better idea regarding the defensive systems that you should employ in future battles against a particular enemy.


I'm very happy with the engine - it handles everything from small battles to massive fleet engagements including multiple empires. Somebody actually suggested that its hand moderated, and that I pick the winner. Um, no. I might be a five-eyed octopus when I'm trying to get the turns out but I wouldn't dream of trying to figure out who's going to win a battle--there are way too many things to consider...I leave that up to the computer.


Listing of weapons and key systems used by every ship and leaders are already shown now, but I'd add fire control for both sides to show how many ships your fleet is capable of targeting at any instant in the battle.


It should be noted that the space combat system in SN:ROTE is not decided by having individual ships pick out a selected ship on the other side and firing at it. Your fleet operates as a unit, with ships firing their weapons in groups to eliminate the enemy. There are no combat rounds per se, but rather a flowing damage allocation system to dish out firepower, so results by round don't make much sense. Maybe someday we'll come out with a tactical space combat game where ships move around on a 3-dimensional grid and have shield facings and individual crewmen who crew particular systems. SN:ROTE is a great game, but it ain't that.


Fortunately, the naval combat program is hideously complex, providing an opportunity to display a lot of information. An exact, specific readout of every last detail of a battle would be a terrible mistake, however. Number crunchers would suck all of the fun out of the technology descriptions, spending every waking moment trying to find any way possible to take advantage of anything they could glean from the results. I want to give out more details, but not at the expense of imagination. I'm a number cruncher myself, as are a lot of players, but it's still fun to sit back and think about how my fleet is performing and not become too embroiled in figuring out the next Drone Strike tactic (Supernova II wins-all-battles tactic, crushing any semblance of strategy).


Battles run round-by-round in that each side gets to fire its weapons simultaneously, but it's not exactly ship-by-ship like how the old SN II system worked. Firepower and defenses are summed and then distributed over the enemy based on a lot of factors. Fire control is a good example: if you had no Fire Control whatsoever (from any source, including ship systems and racial bonus/leaders), your firepower would get distributed over an extremely small number of enemy ships (generally just one in this case) per round. That's great if you want to kill ships, but exceedingly dangerous (to you) if the enemy has a lot of screening vessels because you could easily get a lot of overkill and therefore wasted firepower. If you only had one ship on your side, it could still spread its firepower out over multiple targets if it had a good Fire Control rating. If the enemy only has one ship, your Fire Control wouldn't matter because that enemy ship would take all of your firepower in any event.


When a battle is initiated, every fleet at the battle site is pulled in and two sides are determined. It is possible but unlikely that a particular empire's fleets are excluded entirely from the battle. Generally this could occur when two empires are shooting at each other but are both allied to the third, who is not otherwise hostile toward anybody. That empire would normally have to be put on one side or the other, but the alliance situation creates a conflict and he sits it out. Most of the time this doesn't happen, but it's a possibility.


If you have four fleets at a battle site, three with aggressive ROE settings and the fourth is a peaceful explorer, and an alien ship shows up, all of the fleets at that location will be brought into the battle. The worst ROE for each empire is used to see if the battle goes hot. If it does, every fleet is brought into the battle. This includes the "peaceful" (ROE-wise--that "Explorer" could conceivably have weapons) explorer. You therefore cannot exclude a fleet from a battle--if it's at the site, it's involved. If it happened any other way, players could exploit the system and give a fleet a non-aggressive ROE setting just to keep it out of a battle where he had other fleets with aggressive settings. Example: you have 10 Destroyers in one fleet with a "Y" setting, and 150 Battle Dreadnoughts in another fleet with a "Q" setting. An alien with a non-aggressive "Q" setting shows up. Just because your Destroyers were the aggressors does not mean that you can keep your Battle Dreadnoughts out of the action, hiding them or otherwise somehow making them invulnerable to battle. If the 150 BDN's were just a Fleet Scout instead, you might say "hey, that Fleet Scout didn't attack anything--it should stay out of the fight!" but if it's 150 BDN's its different. The combat program has no way of knowing based just on ROE's what your intentions are. It figures that if you put a fleet at the battle site, you want it involved in any potential action. It doesn't matter who starts the fight--when the shootin' starts, each side starts firing at every other enemy ship at the battle site--Fleet Scouts, BDN's, freighters, and so on, with no distinction between ships that may or may not have started the fighting before the shooting actually began. That alien ship that showed up with a "Q" setting could easily be one Fleet Carrier (or a hundred Fleet Carriers) capable of obliterating everything you have in one combat round: just because your Explorer didn't start the action doesn't mean it's immune from battle (or your 150 BDN's -- they aren't granted immunity just because they didn't start the battle).


Most legendary characters aren't worth much in a naval battle. If you want a combat bonus, have a racial bonus or a naval commander present.


I'd like to include more #'s in the battle report to detail the bonuses you do receive from racial space combat bonus and leaders.


Point defenses (and anything else that shoots at Fighters and Drones) can destroy Fighters and Drones entirely each combat round, and they also have the usual defensive-system advantage of degrading the offensive firepower of Fighters and Drones. Destroyed Fighters/Drones are gone. Like any other weapon, degraded Fighters/Drones just means that less of their firepower impacts the enemy. This is all recalculated each combat round, so destroyed Fighters/Drones are gone and don't fight in the next combat round.


At the conclusion of a battle, if you have damaged ships and cannot carry all of your Fighters/Drones, the excess won't have Bay/Rack space to land and will ditch. This occurs at the end of each battle, not each combat round.


Fighters and Drones are worth more per ton in offensive firepower than other weapons of the same technological generation. Some Fighters/Drones even add defensive firepower (usually point defense type, to shoot at enemy Fighters/Drones). A dual-purpose Fighter/Drone splits its effectiveness between offensive and defensive firepower.


Fighters and Drones fire as if they were at Deploy Location 1 regardless of where their Carrier mother ships are located. This makes them extremely efficient offensive platforms. The major downside of Fighters/Drones is that they can be destroyed in addition to being degraded (all offensive weapons can be degraded by the appropriate defensive systems, but weapons like Light Beam Lasers only get reduced in actual quantity when their ship is damaged). Fighters and Drones can be reduced in quantity directly by defensive systems.


The fact that Fighters and Drones can dish out a lot of damage if the enemy has no point defenses has nothing to do with the Yankees losing in game 6 of the World Series last night, though it might have affected the chances of Boston and Chicago not facing each other.


Space Combat: Multiple Empire Battles


Only one battle will occur at a given location per orders pulse - the system does its best to sort out the various empires into two distinct sides for that battle. If there is a conflict in ROE and diplomacy settings that cannot be resolved (this is pretty rare), it might kick an empire out of the battle entirely. This cannot be predicted with accuracy, to avoid players deliberately setting up a situation where one of the empires is battle-immune. Also, I am flagged on all multi-empire battles, so I can check things out :P [Pete]


Simultaneous destruction is possible.


Space Combat: Repairing Damage


Right now you can take a damaged ship, scrap it, and rebuild the thing as is (or make changes) and presto! your damage is gone. Sure, it's a way around damage. However, you do lose experience and morale for that ship. Displaying these values in the combat results is a good way to discourage this kind of thing, but it can get lengthy since each individual ship tracks its own exp and morale. I'll use FOB results to show these values as well.


A ship will self-repair over time using damage control parties, but it is slow. A ship can be dropped into a shipyard to be repaired (this was mentioned on the turn results a couple of turns ago). A new series of items, Repair Bays (name not finalized) will be introduced to speed up in-space repair over time. Dropping ships into shipyards for the build-repair will still be the most efficient and potentially speedy way to repair, but Repair Bays or standard self-repair will eventually repair a ship.


Right now there is no way to QUICKLY repair the ship directly. Scrapping and rebuilding is the fastest way at this time. When scrapped, all of the ship components are recovered. When reconstructed, the ship will be at full strength (you'd lose the time and shipyard effort it takes to reconstruct the ship, though).


Space Combat: Screening Vessel Strategy


This is a strategy where you put a bunch of decoy or screening vessels in the first deployment location. “If you put a stack of tiny decoys in the front rank and held back your larger ship, your decoys would have greater odds of being targeted. The downside to this strategy--and it's a big one--is that your enemy could either (1) build decoys of his own, (2) build a small number of tough screening vessels to eliminate your decoys, (3) crank up his fire control or (4) some combination of the above.


Another way to try it would be to build 100 small target ships - say, 1 jump drive, 1 engine, 800 fuel tankage - and put them all in front. Your warship(s) sit in back. If the enemy doesn't have any fire control, he'll only be able to kill one of your junkers each round while you get to pour 100% of your firepower into his fleet (hopefully, he doesn't have a screen of his own). If he has good fire control, you'll lose your forward screen and you're back to square one (wasting 100,000 tons of shipping, to be sure). Fire control, by the way, will be showing up along with a host of offensive weapon and defensive system values on battle reports.


In short, decoys can be a very effective strategy if not countered, which is easy enough so as to discourage the mass use of this type of tactic. There was also the issue of building a lot of shipyard slips to get those ships built in the first place.


If you don't build screens, a single large ship with poor fire control can face trouble. A balanced, screened fleet is generally able to handle more unusual situations such as the decoy strategy.” (Pete)


Merging Older/Inferior Ships into the Fleet


Adding inferior/older ships into a fleet just adds to the mix. They'll fire their weapons and absorb damage - they just won't be all that good at it. The superior ships will just be better at the job.


Using older ships as screens in a fleet could have a detrimental affect on fire control, but overall the screening advantage is pretty hefty.


If nothing else, if you have inferior ships that you don't care about losing, they make great screens. The enemy is going to fire at something...it could well be that you'd rather lose those vessels than something else, so you might decide to put the old ships up front and hope for the best


If you don't want to lose those older ships, and they otherwise don't contribute much offensively, then naturally they'd just be in the way. Personally, if I were defending my homeworld I'd take everything I could get. On an attack? It would depend how hard it is to get those old ships to the front...might not be worth the effort, hard to say. If they're already there, then it would depend on what kind of attack. Warp point assault? I definitely wouldn't want them in the way unless I was willing to lose them to soak off enemy firepower. Unfortunately, if they're old they probably have huge warp bubbles...so might just get in the way by being vaporized as they arrive (and thereby not contributing much).


Fire Control Considerations with Screen Vessels


Back to the Fire Control topic: sure, lots of small ships are helpful. However, they have an annoying tendency to....die. And those ships won't have expensive transwarp drives, so when on the attack, they get used up very quickly and are very hard to replace far from home. On the other hand, a fast transwarp flagship loaded with bridge gear is very easy to move instantly to the front.


If you don't want to develop better bridge technology, that's fine. Build your own small ships if your fleet commanders consider them "all that". It's entirely up to you. A combination of the two, to counter the enemy, might be needed, or perhaps not - it all depends on the kind of battle you expect to fight.


Fighters/Drones require Fire Control as well, or you'd rightfully complain about how they are too good. Or that other weapons are not good enough. In the end, Fire Control is a way to multiply the size of your fleet by adding fluff to it. Easily destroyed by a much smaller high Fire Control enemy raiding force, it's a gamble.


As an aside, I personally would not build ridiculously large numbers of junk screening ships. A balance of some Fire Control with a moderate screen of decent ships (not junk) would give me more survival potential in an extended fight far from home. At home, perhaps a larger screen would be warranted - anything to hold off the enemy who could very well arrive unprepared and overconfident. A one-shot survival strategy at the homeworld might be worth it. Your mileage may vary.


An Actual Battle with an Example of the effects of Screen Vessels!


You can read it for yourself, here:




Here are Pete’s comment on that battle:


Yes, that was a great battle. I watched it run round by round - the Vindicator was in deploc 1 and was a brawler in the center of a swirling maelstrom. It shows the value of lots of junk screening vessels, as the Dog Meats absorbed a ton of firepower early in the fight. Easy to counter, with higher fire control (I will give better details on the exact bridge ratings - it needs to be crystal clear, and isn't right now) or by bringing in a lot of small ships to absorb the enemy's fire in return. Well, it's easy on paper. In practice it's a pain to build those tiny vessels and move them in, especially for the attacker, and actually countering them is only necessary if you know or are worried about their existence. And...they are lost tonnage, being useless for much of anything else.


The key in screening is using a moderate to large number of ships to take the hits while your more powerful weapons platforms dish it out. That way you get the enemy to waste firepower. However, the screens are (1) fragile, dying fast, guaranteed one-shot lost tonnage and (2) a real pain to get to the front. Transwarp capability would be great but is industrially counterproductive to the concept of having lots of them. This is one excellent reason why those otherwise terrible neutrals with small population bases can be very handy: forward-deployed shipyards on zero-attrition worlds - the parts can be shipped in with transwarp-capable freighters and then assembled into non-Transwarp AP 2 ships on the spot. Or...just make a colony somewhere and ignore the attrition It all depends how far the fight is from your production bases.


This was a great fight. Both sides executed their plans and it was a classic warp point assault meatgrinder. If the defender had possessed more firepower to back up his screens, he might have been able to hold the warp point. If the attacker had been able to bring in some screens in quantity, he might have been able to secure the point with at least some of the Dahaks. I think they both did a great job given the impossibility of not knowing exactly what the other side possessed before the actual battle took place.


In the end, the attacker had a tonnage advantage, but not an overwhelming one, and could very well have been annihilated given the severe advantage enjoyed by the defender in warp point assault engagements. Wonderful engagement between two worthy adversaries.


Fire Control is a fleet rating, calculated by adding up the value of the bridge items in the fleet and dividing by total tonnage. It's by tonnage and not by # of ships on your side. The Dahaks probably added enough tonnage to drop the attacking force's Fire Control rating.

A Hypothetical: Mosquito v. Screenies!


The full hypothetical can be found in this very important thread on Fire Control in general:




I can defeat a swarm defense with tonnage far less than it took to build the swarm--not far in excess. You can counter, and I can counter that, which is the whole point.


The key is avoiding very specific rules for how all attacks must take place I would not, in fact, make one big attack. That would be suicide. If you put 1000 1,000-ton ships at your warp point, and I didn't want to devote any real tonnage to making my main attack fleet fire-control capable, I'd have to clear those 1000 ships before I sent in the main attack. This presumes that I simply would not or could not attack through any other line of advance, and was required by mystical Bug forces to attack in a head-on, wave assault fashion. Stupid Bugs, will they ever learn?


Easy enough - I'd just build a 100,000 ton warship, the Mosquito, and give it enough computers to give it a fire control of 50 (with the 25k bridge gear you gave me, that would be only 30,000 tons of ship for bridge). Give it some fuel tankage, one engine, one cheap jump drive, and the rest weapons - say, 60,000 tons of 4th gen weapons. Put my ship in slot 2 and 50 Ant class screens in slot 1. I use the Siege Beam Lasers you gave me, so I lose a little firepower but not much. Definitely enough to kill several dozen of your screens every combat round. If not enough for 50, then I could drop the fleet fire control rating and add more weapons to balance it all out.


I could send some hapless Pathfinder in (the one that found you to begin with?) to obtain all of the data I need. You might change your fleet, but that's a strategic consideration, and beyond this scope. It's all about risk, reward anyway.


My screens have a warp bubble of 1, so it all comes down to firepower exchange. Even if the warp point is only 15 wide I'm in great shape. I kill 30 of your screens every time I fire (so I would have designed my fleet to be fire control 30 instead of 50 - more weapons to fill that tonnage works fine for me). You kill one, almost certainly one of my screens. At that rate it only takes me 5 shots to emerge with an equal tonnage exchange.


So I built a slow fleet. Well, the life of my mortal enemy is on the line. I can afford to move them up slowly, or build a forward base and construct them on the spot. It's only 150,000 tons of finished products anyway, all of which could be built at home, carried up with a small freighter and rebuilt into the clearing force. Whatever works out best given the geography of the area.


If I manage to kill only 500 of your screens with the clearing attack, I'd have won by a huge margin. That would only be 17 "shots" at 30 a pop. Are you going to target my one ship hidden among my 50 screens before 17 combat engagement shots go by? Maybe. Maybe not. The odds are with me....because I only need to shoot 5 times, not 17, to succeed in the tonnage exchange. I'll almost certainly survive more than 5.


If your 1000 ships die, your warship will definitely die when my real fleet, a NTWD-capable force, shows up. I still have a lot of tonnage left, and you have just your unscreened carrier. If this is your home system defense, you just lost your empire.


The defenses can be scaled up and the attack wouldn't change. If I had to build several of my vanguard screen-killer fleets, and wave them in, then that's what I would consider doing. Your screens die....you die.


Of course, you can stop me. Attack my fleet before it gets there - it's easy to kill at only 150,000 tons. Or surprise me by building up your own fire control. Add some admirals - they're worth fire control right there. This would require me to suffer an unfavorable exchange rate (which I might consider, since it's the life of your empire on the line, not mine. Or I would go around and attack through a different warp point. You might pull back to your homeworld. Then I hit your colony worlds and cut off your mining colonies (bombing or taking them). Nice war we have going, great fun


Anyway, the whole idea is to show that there are counters to each of the various fire-control vs. screening ship strategies. I might attack through another warp point. You might attack me before I get there. Other empires might intervene and foul everything up. Nice and messy, just the way war should be. No set strategies that always win out no matter what the other guy does.


Hmm....through a warp point, against a potentially endless number of defending ships, I'm not so sure you could do it in one shot. Screens stretch a battle out, while fire control shortens it. The attacker would need infinite fire control to clear out a potentially endless number of defending screens.


Also see Space Combat: Deployment Considerations


Space Combat: Sensors


Sensors are dual purpose items, useful strategically in certain cases (if the enemy has something like a "cloaking device", clearly you'll need sensors to try and spot him). They are also defensive systems, and like all other defensive systems in the game they most definitely "reduce the probability of enemy weapons hitting your ships." by degrading the effectiveness of those weapons.


Sensors provide defense only for the ship that equips them. SENS orders can also trigger battles even when no movement into the location takes place.


Sensors are defensive systems, and unless you find a sensor that happens to have a bridge rating in addition to its regular defensive value, it wouldn't add to your bridge rating.


The Naval Combat Primer discusses sensors as follows...useful in combat, and out of combat they have some strategic uses.


Short, medium and long range sensors all function quite effectively in any naval engagement—the difference between them is primarily that of technology generation rather than distance ratings. Strategically, they have some differences when spotting alien ships, and some sensor types start at higher generations; this can make them more difficult to research at first, but might grant a higher top-end if a particular research tree is followed to conclusion. Within the context of a space battle, sensors are primarily defensive systems. A ship without any sensors at all can still fight and do well.


There’s nothing contradictory about Sensors. They are used to help spot enemy ships that would otherwise have been hard to spot. They are also defensive systems in combat. There's nothing mystical about them. (See Space Combat: Triggering Combat and the SENS Order)


Space Combat: Targeting (and…do ‘Globs’ Target Dead Ships?)


A dead ship (killed by an earlier "glob") does not qualify as a valid target for another "glob", but a ship that isn't killed could be targeted again in the same battle pulse.


Targets are chosen in series, and if one is eliminated, it is no longer considered a valid target for remaining "globs".



Space Combat: Triggering Combat and the SENS Order


The most common way to trigger a battle is for any fleet to move to a location where fleets of more than one empire are present. At the end of an order pulse the location is checked again for fleet colocation, after which Rules of Engagement orders are checked to see if the battle goes "hot" or not.


If your fleet actually spots something, it will print that. If not, or your fleet fails the spotting check on something that is there, nothing will appear.


A fleet, however, does need to be co-located to be involved in a battle.


SENS orders can also trigger battles even when no movement into the location takes place. Following a battle, another battle (on the next order pulse) would not take place automatically; it would need to be triggered again (i.e., the fleets spot each other as a result of some sort of activity).


The reason for the SENS order is to trigger an extra check (generally to force another battle just in case the enemy survived the first one).


t's not all that hard to spot alien forces unless advanced technology is involved (cloaking devices?).” (Pete)


There’s nothing contradictory about Sensors. They are used to help spot enemy ships that would otherwise have been hard to spot. They are also defensive systems in combat. There's nothing mystical about them


From the Naval Combat Primer:


At the conclusion of each order pulse (a complete cycle of every Empire’s order for the pulse currently being processed), potential battles are checked to see if they become “hot” engagement zones. For example, let’s suppose that on your first order you send a fleet through a warp point. Your order executes at a random time, intermingled with all of the other Empire’s first orders. Suppose by chance that when your order is processed, your fleet appears and spots an alien fleet. You have an aggressive ROE setting and a battle could be initiated. That battle location (the warp point on the other side of where your fleet started) is flagged as a potential battle site. No battle is initiated at this time. All remaining orders for that first order pulse are executed. At the end of that process, all potential battles are rechecked to see if they go “hot”. In this case, it is possible that the alien fleet moved off before the end of the current order pulse (the first order of the turn, in this example). If that happens, and there are no other alien fleets there that you wish to engage, no battle would take place.


Space Combat: Weapon Ranges


Specific ranges for weapon firing is determined by the relative distances between the ships in question. Most of the time your ships will end up firing at enemy vessels located close to the front of their lines. Weapon ranges are occasionally discussed (by weapon) in their descriptions. If nothing is mentioned, they are standard ranged weapons. Weapons with long ranges have an advantage in long range combat but suffer penalties elsewhere. Likewise with short ranged weapons.


Weapon Ratings and Upgrades


"The ratings are essentially efficiency indicators - so two weapons that both read out as "Adequate" would, with all other things being equal, dish out about the same amount of damage per ton of the weapon. Weird weapon effects, favorite ranges and any other odd specifics about either weapon would be something else, but the "Adequate" would indicate that both are about the same when it comes to raw firepower. Size, therefore, doesn't matter as far as this is concerned: the larger weapon would dish out more firepower, but both would have the same efficiency per ton.......Two weapons, one small and one large, could both have "Good" ratings. The smaller one would dish out less damage, but both would have the same efficiency per ton of their size. Thus, a 1000 ton "Good" laser would dish out less than a 5000ton "Good" missile, but all other things being equal five of those lasers would punch out about the same damage as the missile. This completely ignores favorite ranges, damage type or any other weird effects that the laser and missile might have - just on pure damage calculation alone, five of those "Good" lasers would be about the same as one of the "Good" missiles when it comes to raw firepower.


The ratings are therefore efficiency-per-ton indicators, which is the key anyway: you can always put on more weapons, of whatever tonnage they might have--the more efficient weapons (everything else being equal) are generally the best choices per ton assigned to a ship. (Pete)


Weapon effectiveness is indeed rated "per ton" so as to ensure increasing efficiency with technology improvement. Overall weapon tonnage is not meaningless, however, as some of the more advanced weapons can become quite large. This has the effect of emphasizing the it's-either-on-the-ship-or-it-isn't concept, and can diminish the dominant position that other reasonably large ship systems have on overall tonnage for smaller ships (such as Nuclear Transwarp Drives). You're correct in one sense: weapon systems that remain relatively small throughout their development cycles are much easier to design onto ships, emphasizing their efficiency instead of any sort of tonnage issue.


"Size always matters..." – Emanon


Within a weapon type it has to go up by ton, naturally, or there would sometimes be no point whatsoever in upgrading technology. Different weapons interact with defensive systems etc so it's hard to make comparisons between them - but that's something else entirely. The key is that tech upgrades for a weapon are always better per ton - a good thing, to make those expensive research projects worthwhile


See FOB Sample for more information on weapon ratings.

Sample FOB


Below is a sample Fleet Order of Battle result. The formatting isn't exactly like you'll see in your .pdf files because some of the spacing gets altered when copying-and-pasting it here, but otherwise it's a real result.


No racial mods or leaders are used - those are base values. Note that all of the ratings are % tonnage based, so you can tell how well each ton of the ship in question is protected or enhanced in some way. Shield strength is rated by % as well, to give you an idea how well shielded each ton is, but in the battle program an actual total shield strength is calculated and used as a flat number. By that I mean if a large warship has a poor shield rating, it still might have a lot of shields - which need to be brought down by enemy weapons fire before interior systems are hit. So...large ships can have a poor shield rating per ton, but still have a lot of actual shields.



-----FOB (Fleet Order of Battle)-----

FOB: 22

** Imperial Navy Report: Fleet Order of Battle **

Xodianic Horde # 2940 [Lush Green World Encircled By Lizards]

22nd Resupply # 22 [ROE: Q] *Column Attack* (Fleet Tonnage: 440,000)

Tankage: 102,600 Fuel Burn: ... A 440 ... B 880 ... C 1,760 ... D 3,960 ... E 7,040 ... F 11,000 ... G 15,840

Cargo Bays: ... 200,000 Troop Berthings: ... 4 ...

84,726 Fuel

--------------------[Deploy Location 7] 1 LTT Kimodo (Light Troop Transport - 100,000 tons [each])----------------

Fire Control: Poor .. Maneuverability: Slow .. Sensors: Oblivious .. Shields: Feeble .. Structural Integrity: Sturdy

1,000 Energy Dispersion Armor Coating .... 1,000 Laser CIDS .... 5 Light Sonic Disruptor (Sonic) .... 100 Mk I Force Shield

.... 20,000 Titanium Composite Armor

--------------------[Deploy Location 7] 2 FAR Iguana (Far Trader - 120,000 tons [each])-----------------------------------

Fire Control: Poor .. Maneuverability: Lumbering .. Sensors: Blind .. Shields: Feeble .. Structural Integrity: Average

80 Mk I Force Shield .... 15,200 Titanium Composite Armor

--------------------[Deploy Location 7] 2 LTA Salamander (Light Tanker - 50,000 tons [each])------------------------------

Fire Control: Minimal .. Maneuverability: Lumbering .. Sensors: Blind .. Shields: None .. Structural Integrity: Average

10,000 Titanium Composite Armor


1> Fire Control, Maneuverability, Sensors, Shields and Structural Integrity are based on ship tonnage percentages, so a

large ship with more total Structural Integrity than a small ship might have an inferior rating because it has a lower

Structural Integrity per ship ton than the smaller ship. It would still be a lot harder to destroy, but for it’s *tonnage*,

it realizes an inferior rating.

2> Fire Control is based on items with 'Bridge' ratings - this includes most computers, and technologies that provide

holographic display systems and so forth.

3> The 'Shield' rating represents Force Shields; the wide variety of other defensive systems, even if they might happen to

have names that sound shield-like, are defensive systems and not actual shields. The Type A Defense Screen, for instance,

is a defensive system that counters sonic weapons, and is not included in the 'Shield' category.

4> If multiple ships are listed in one line, their weapons loadouts are displayed as the sum total of all of the ships. For

example, if 2 Pathfinders are shown in one Deploy Location, two 10cm Autocannons would show up under that listing because

each Pathfinder carries one of those weapons. The tonnage listed next to the Pathfinder is shown as 12,000 [each] to

indicate that each Pathfinder is 12,000 tons. In this case, the total tonnage for both is 24,000 and they carry two 10cm

Autocannons between them.



Notes: a small ship could have a superior shield "rating" in the FOB results, but that's just an indication of how well the ship is shielded for its tonnage. A larger ship might have less shield strength per ton, so would have an inferior rating in the FOB, but in fact could easily have more total shield protection. All items add to Structural Integrity, though some add very little or almost nothing (Fuel Tankage and Cargo Bays, for instance, blow up very easily). Armor is not peeled away separately from other items during combat; instead, it adds Structural Integrity far out of proportion to its tonnage, making the ship much harder to kill




Fighter Bays/Drone Racks:


You do not have to build cargo bays to support the tonnage of the fighter/drones as the bays or racks take care of all the support for you (Eldred) If you read the description carefully, each bay/rack hold up to 10,000 tons of each. The tonnage of the drones and fighters can vary so make sure you are aware of the tonnage of the fighters/drones to be loaded when assembling your fighter/drone fleets (this applies in situations where you are loading more than one type of fighter/drone aboard the same fleet)

Fighters v Drones


Fighters and Drones are very similar. Fighters tend to have more dual-purpose uses, splitting up their firepower a bit more. There are also technology advances that are unique to each.


Fighters and Drones


Fighters and drones dish out more damage per ton than other weapons. Thus 20,000 tons of fighters (10,000 of bay and 10,000 tons of fighters carried in that bay) is more efficient than 20,000 tons of an equivalent similar shipboard weapon, everything else (such as tech generation) being equal. However, fighters and drones are a pain to carry around, and can be lost piecemeal. When lost, they are lost forever (destroyed). Unless a vessel with conventional (lasers, missile launchers etc) is utterly destroyed, it could be repaired, resulting in no long-term loss of material.


When an enemy has defensive systems, they degrades the firepower of the countered weapon. This is true for defensive systems against lasers, and for those against fighters and drones. However, fighters and drones can be destroyed utterly and reduced in effectiveness, while regular missile launchers can only suffer reduced efficiency. I thought about making drones completely expended (as in SN II), but the logistics, already a challenge, may well have become unbearable.


So...fighters and drones are nice weapons: they dish it out, and can be used again and again. But...they can be destroyed piecemeal, unlike lasers and missile launchers, and suffer badly against heavy enemy defenses. Once your enemy sees you using them, or any weapon for that matter, you might expect him to do whatever he can to come up with the appropriate defenses


Fighters and Drones add to firepower as if they were in DepLoc 1, even if their carriers are not. The defender doesn't get more shots if the fighters/drones are launched from deeper back, but that would have been a good idea - I just didn't think of it when the battles were put together


Fighters and Drones destroyed in combat are permanently lost.


Fire Control: Definition


Fire Control is used to determine how many targets a ship can spread its fire over per combat round. Computers affect the Bridge rating, and ultimately Fire Control.


See the Space Combat section for much further detail.

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Question. Lets say I have 7 Defender Frontier Cruisers that engage and destroy a hostile fleet resulting in 2 damaged and 5 undamaged ships. If I attempt to transfer the 2 damaged ships using a RN order to a fleet and send them back for repair is there any guarantee those 2 will be the damaged ships? I haven't seen anything resembling a ship ID number that could be used.

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I do not consider myself an expert on this issue but you bring up a valid point.  I do not believe there is way to specify a ship while doing a RN.


Aye Mechanica- :woohoo:


The only method we came up with was NEWF+RN * 6 and transferring said Destroyers into little individual fleets......


This is one of the reasons I'm so apathetic on the issue of repair bays.


Besides, banged up destroyers with large chunks of thier hulls torn out probably look really intimidating to the other side :nuke:


With that said, the last fleet I repaired....I junked the entire set of ship into the SCRP pile....worked fine. They all needed upgrades anyway! :robot:

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I have avoided this pesky issue by only building a single ship of each type for anything large enough to ever repair anyway.


Since there is no way to track an individual ship the entire repair process is a bit flawed. Damage doesn't even seem to be identified between combats. I find it a bit disconcerting that my Battle monitor is lightly damaged in one combat and then nothing on the next one. Even when they are in the same turn. Assurances ahve been made that the "program " does in fact keep track of the damage, but we need to see it so we can do something about it.



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