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Author Topic: The fleet raid: A different style of battle  (Read 2183 times)

bobucles

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The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« on: October 04, 2019, 09:11:27 AM »

Typical combats between fleets are direct slug fests between two coherent forces. It comes in two main flavors, the direct engagement and the fleet pursuit. I'll assume everyone here is familiar with these two archetypes of battle. The main idea for this thread is to create an additional type of battle, a fleet raid.

The fleet raid predominantly favors small, fast ships and fast battles, as though it were a cavalry raid. The battle grants huge advantages to the raider early on, but those bonuses quickly diminish as the battle continues. The main goal of this type of battle is to avoid a direct engagement with the enemy fleet. Perhaps the enemy fleet is too large, or there are so many enemy reinforcements that you can win the first battle but will clearly lose the fifth one. Instead you want to only engage a handful of enemy ships, and stab away at the weak points of a fleet until you are comfortable with a direct battle.

The main lore behind this fleet raid deals with the nature of fleets traveling in a "drive bubble". An interdiction pulse disrupts the nature of a drive bubble, reducing enemy speed and letting your ships catch up. A "raiding pulse" goes one step further. Using sci fi magic your fleet bubble collides directly with the enemy drive bubble, shattering it. It's like how your fleet gets easily pushed around in full burn mode. The enemy ships end up violently pushed in random directions and their fleet cohesion is lost. Now that the enemy fleet is scattered, the raid begins.

I've been bouncing around various ideas for the rules of the raid. So far I have something like this:
- The raiding pulse costs fuel and supplies for balance reasons. You are blowing their fleet apart, after all.
- Your deployment points are extremely limited. Only a small number of ships can engage in battle and full reinforcements are not allowed.
- The enemy can not choose defenders. They are scattered into a small selection of fleets, and you either choose one or they are picked at random. This is the main reason you have to pay for the pulse, otherwise you'd roll dice on it all day.
- The defenders start off towards the center of battle. They represent the cluster of ships being hit by the raid. Their initial behavior is to withdraw and regroup with the rest of their fleet.
- You can deploy flanking frigates, which start the battle in a frontal position.
- The defenders can summon reinforcements, probably after an initial delay. This represents their fleet coming back into cohesion.
- The defenders have full fleet deployment points. Once they start calling in ships, they will become aggressive and easily overwhelm you.
- The enemy fleet is automatically disorganized, and does not gain a free pursuit battle after you withdraw. You are expected to withdraw.
- You still gain a free pursuit if the enemy withdraws. (They probably won't withdraw, the whole point is they can kick your butt in a direct fight)

I feel it is important to keep player deployment costs limited. Otherwise, they'll use the raid as a way to score free kills before escalating into a full scale battle. A raid is not meant to ever turn into a full scale battle. Enemy reinforcements place a time limit on the player, so that they can't go raiding forever. Giving the raider a good time for their attack is important, but giving the defender a chance to defend is also important. That balance won't be easy and should consider the target fleet as well as surrounding allied fleets. Every raid costs valuable resources and many raids in a row will strain the raiding party's CR.

There is no explicit lockout on which ships can participate in the raid. Any attacker can raid, but the rules of engagement should naturally favor fast/lethal ships that can make an easy escape. Raid with a Legion if you so dare, just don't be surprised when it can't escape and enemy reinforcements swarm it down.

I don't have much clue on how the raiding pulse should behave on the strategic map. Should your fleet be required to collide with the enemy fleet at full burn? It may look cool but it's not an easy maneuver to set up. Should the enemy fleet only be vulnerable at full burn? Should the player have to spend their emergency burn? Should the raiding pulse be a menu option when encountering an enemy fleet? Should the raiding attack only exist for smaller fleets (I.E. your fleet is too large to disengage = too large to raid)? Can a starbase even be raided, or would it allow ships in its protection to be raided? I don't have answers for those kinds of questions.

Raiding can hopefully be a new and exciting way to play. I don't think it should sit out as a niche option that players sometimes use. Raiding should be an option that players can fully commit to, with dedicated hunter-killer fleets and fast support ships that can reliably pick apart an enemy force in piecemeal. Safety in numbers need not apply here. We already have balancing methods thanks to supply costs and withering CR, so the costs of a raid can be kept in line with the benefits that it gives. Extreme raiding may require cost reductions and bonuses from player talents, but a base level of raiding should be offered at all times. If the player doesn't like it, they can always go back to the default warfare of slugging it out. That's fine too.

TaLaR

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2019, 09:31:46 AM »

And what would prevent every single enemy fleet from raiding you, the player? They don't care about resource costs after all.

Even if you win as defender that would quickly get tedious due to guaranteed retreat for attacker.
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bobucles

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2019, 01:39:52 PM »

Quote
And what would prevent every single enemy fleet from raiding you, the player?
Fleet doctrine, perks, talents? To be fair, I hadn't really considered the tactic being used much in AI hands. It's fair to consider it from their PoV, so hmm.

A hegemony commander for example wouldn't fight that way because Hegemony doesn't train their officers to be raiding munchkins. It's much more unscrupulous and more of a pirate tactic. Fleet size restrictions (can't disengage = can't raid) also mean that huge fleets simply would not have the option.

The battle type is heavily slanted towards fast, raiding type ships. A fleet without such ships can certainly try raiding, but their attempts would be awful and give you free wins.

Player talents might allow huge advantages in a raid defense. You might gain faster reinforcements or some choice of defenders, which helps give the necessary resources to hold out. You might even be able to temporarily exhaust a story point to gain full agency over defense. But the biggest factor is to have light, fast ships of your own to ensure a successful defense. Big slow ships should be weak against raiding by design, and that's okay because they're amazing at everything else.

I don't know the kind of maneuvers that would play out between fleets on the strategic map. If a raiding battle is difficult to initiate, by that same measure the player has a great opportunity to avoid it in the first place. Unless the player has a big, slow, clunky fleet, but big fleets are kind of supposed to get raided. The best defense is preempting their attempt with a good offense.

The biggest concern I really see is with
Quote
You still gain a free pursuit if the enemy withdraws. (They probably won't withdraw, the whole point is they can kick your butt in a direct fight)
Since if you attempt to fully withdraw, the enemy raider gains a pursuit. The way a raid is set up is that the initial hit is the worst. Everything after that should be an easy steamroll.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2019, 01:45:00 PM by bobucles »
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pedro1_1

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2019, 05:09:07 PM »

The battle type is heavily slanted towards fast, raiding type ships. A fleet without such ships can certainly try raiding, but their attempts would be awful and give you free wins.

Player talents might allow huge advantages in a raid defense. You might gain faster reinforcements or some choice of defenders, which helps give the necessary resources to hold out. You might even be able to temporarily exhaust a story point to gain full agency over defense. But the biggest factor is to have light, fast ships of your own to ensure a successful defense. Big slow ships should be weak against raiding by design, and that's okay because they're amazing at everything else.

I don't know the kind of maneuvers that would play out between fleets on the strategic map. If a raiding battle is difficult to initiate, by that same measure the player has a great opportunity to avoid it in the first place. Unless the player has a big, slow, clunky fleet, but big fleets are kind of supposed to get raided. The best defense is preempting their attempt with a good offense.

The biggest concern I really see is with
Quote
You still gain a free pursuit if the enemy withdraws. (They probably won't withdraw, the whole point is they can kick your butt in a direct fight)
Since if you attempt to fully withdraw, the enemy raider gains a pursuit. The way a raid is set up is that the initial hit is the worst. Everything after that should be an easy steamroll.

If that means I can go full on a Heron Span and win againt a Redacted I'm in
« Last Edit: October 05, 2019, 05:15:01 PM by pedro1_1 »
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Plantissue

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2019, 05:44:36 AM »

This suggestion doesn't seem to fulfill a purpose, other than apparently suggesting that the Hegemony doesn't know basic military strategy and raiding is somehow a "munchkin" tactic.
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Goumindong

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2019, 10:43:59 AM »

This idea has been floated a lot and no one has really come up with an idea that works. I am not saying that it cannot work but its very hard to construct something that is symetric and also not a pain in the ass.

A better way to do raiding would be to separate out different fleets into different types. So that the logistics train of a fleet traveled separately from the main fleet. This has other problems though.

The biggest problem is that such fleet separation largely already exists. Salvage fleets, trade fleets, etc all have significantly larger logistics trains than patrols and strike fleets. If you want to raid fleets, just go pick on those
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Plantissue

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2019, 08:30:54 AM »

I remember reading a blog post long time ago, where it was suggested that some sort of "ambush" battle like the one in the opening post would occur with special skills, but I guess it was too strange and difficult to implement in a way that made sense. Looking at bobuncles post, there are at least 15 things that are exceptions to the normal rules of the game. How would you even communicate all that to the player? All that just to try to make his own personal conception of a "raid" work.
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Goumindong

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2019, 06:49:08 PM »

Something that might help would be to modify the disengage logic such that logistics ships dontcount for the purposes of having a fleet too large to disengage.

This way you can “raid” logistics focused fleets as they try to retreat but you cant raid a military force. Additionally this would solve a few problems relating to fights with huge fleets or combos of fleets that have a lot of civilian ships because they could then proper retreat from those fights. Aaand if combat freighters got that tag as well then there would be more legitimate reasons to use them(as they would be less susceptable to a retreat).

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Plantissue

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2019, 04:22:10 AM »

That doesn't make any sense. Why wouldn't logistic ships count for disengagement? Why wouldn't you be able to "raid" a mostly military force? How would civilian ships retreat anyways, when I have chosen to pursue and they would deploy more than their battle size in DP? You completely disregarded the reasoning for a fleet to large to disengage.
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Trensicourt

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2019, 08:14:43 AM »

Ok!

I have a cool idea that would make fleet raids make more sense.

When you make contact with a fleet, you choose to engage. You have two options for engagement, Assault or Breach.

Assault is the regular full on battle.
Breach is when you crash your drive bubble into the opposing fleet.
Description of Breach: "Your fleet will activate its emergency drive to crash its drive bubble into opposing fleet. This will lower the opposing fleet's combat readiness and split apart their fleet. The opposing fleet will regain their deployment points over time to bring reinforcements. However, this will remove half your starting deployment points. Further deployment of your ships will have significantly reduced combat readiness. This will cost X supplies and Y fuel. Projected loss of supplies from combat readiness is Z."

Basically, a portion of your ships ram their drive bubble into the opposing fleet, breaking apart their cohesion. The ramming ships will have significantly lowered combat readiness. Your ambushing ships then attack the disorganized enemy forces as they trickle in. This means your ambush ships have to deal a significant amount of damage before the enemy reinforces. Your fleet can assist but will come significantly unprepared.
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Plantissue

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2019, 12:37:34 PM »

Why can't the other guy also choose Assault or Breach? What happens when you both choose Breach?

Anyways, it seems to introduce an element of complete randomness that might fit into tabletop wargaming, but doesn't seem to fit in a single player game where you would normally try your hardest not to lose a single ship.

Also reduced combat readiness happens when you deploy your ships anyways. How would halving deployment points work with battle size that changes depending on the size of yours and enemy fleets? Why would the opposing fleet choose to deploy anything at all? Why wouldn't it wait till all of its DP is regained then deploy? is it forced to deploy then? If it happens to the player, how is that suppose to work?
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Goumindong

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2019, 01:15:32 PM »

That doesn't make any sense. Why wouldn't logistic ships count for disengagement? Why wouldn't you be able to "raid" a mostly military force? How would civilian ships retreat anyways, when I have chosen to pursue and they would deploy more than their battle size in DP? You completely disregarded the reasoning for a fleet to large to disengage.

You cannot raid a mostly military force because that is the point of military forces...Its how raiding has always worked. By avoiding direct confrontation with a military force and doing damage/taking value from civilian assets which are not well defended. You don't "raid" a military base unless the military isn't at the base. So if the enemy has a bunch of military ships there you can't "raid" them you have to destroy the military presence first and then go after the logistics ships. Raiding is when you're globally weaker but able to be locally stronger. You cannot be locally stronger than a force that is stronger than you/there to prevent you from raiding. That is just a fight. The raid happens if you win.

Remember, engagements have to be symmetric*. If at any point the enemy would choose to engage then you're no longer in a raid. You're defending from them as much as they're defending from you.

Logistics ships would not count for the purpose of "too large to disengage" because the primary purpose of "too large to disengage" is to prevent situations where the player or AI can gain an advantage by retreating. When you retreat you force deploy all your ships but the enemy still has a deployment limit(another reason is to prevent retreat battles from suffering performance loss). As a result you could then deploy 500 DP of combat ships by retreating while the enemy would be forced to deploy 150 DP.

But logistics ships don't have much of an effect in the "fairness" of a fight.  If you're 100 DP of combat ships and 200 DP of logistics ships you're over the deployment cap and so trigger the "too large to disengage" logic. But you've only got 100 DP of combat ships, the other 200 are deadweight; so if there is a fight its 150 to 100. I.E. it would not be unfair to the attacker for you to retreat but we're still triggering "its unfair to the attacker" logic.

*For a variety of reasons. While its possible to check AI logic to determine whether or not they would generally want a fight(and as such whether or not you're potentially ambushing them) its not so easy to check player logic. As a result this would almost certainly be abusable by the player allowing them to effectively circumvent the deployment cap whenever they wanted.

Edit:

Another option would be

Remove the "too big to retreat" logic but when you choose to retreat and are otherwise "too big to retreat" you must emergency mothball ships until you're under the deployment limit. This would preserve the fairness issue in retreat deployments. This could cause escaping fleets to dump cargo/fuel afterwards and keep the ships mothballed while a player could do that or just take the massive CR hit from dropping a bunch of ships to 0% CR
« Last Edit: October 08, 2019, 01:22:40 PM by Goumindong »
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Plantissue

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2019, 02:32:45 AM »

What decieds what is a military force and what is not? IF a military force went through a grueling combat and is now mainly consisting of logistical ships, it will still be described as a military fleet. If a trading or prospector fleet went through a pursuit and somehow lost most of its logistical ships, and is not mostly warships, it will still be described as it was previously. If you want to do direct damage to civilian assets, planets and stations are the civilian targets, not an entire fleet that travels around with its logistical arm.

"Too large to disengage" is due to being too big for the battle size, so it doesn't create an oddity where the player is suddenly able to deploy more in a pursuit than in a normal battle.

What is it you want a "raid" to be? You go into all sorts of detail about being locally stronger, but globally weaker, as if somehow you have to be globally weaker to "raid". It sounds like you just want to poorly interpret real life military strategy. As it is, being locally stronger in starsector is represented by being just that, and you are free to attack any civilan ships you desire as long as you have the local military power in ships to do so. It sounds like he and you want to create this preconception of a "raid" that doesn't gel well with the fact that in starsector fleets travel together with their logistical ships. Whatever that preconception is, I can probably think of a simpler and more effective way of doing it, if only you can describe what it is you want to see.

In any case, if both sides choose breach, how would that work? Why does there need to be this idea of an entire drive bubble idea, and then of smashing or crashing in to it, which will happen to be advantageous for the side that initiated it. It's needlessly complex, create new background to be written, and it's not clear what it is suppose to represent anyways.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2019, 02:35:28 AM by Plantissue »
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Goumindong

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2019, 11:51:02 AM »

I think you're confusing me with the assault/breach guy. I agree(i think) with your critique on that(though i might go further, it also has likely has dominant strategy problems). I was talking about modifying the logic on "too big to retreat" as a result of fixing the underlying complaint of the OP without running into all the problems of the OP. My first post (which the post i was replying to was responding to) was directed at the OP. My second post was trying to explain the logic of why i thought that a few simple changes to the retreat logic might make players feel more like they're able to raid without adding a "raid" function into the game.

Quote
What decieds what is a military force and what is not? IF a military force went through a grueling combat and is now mainly consisting of logistical ships, it will still be described as a military fleet. If a trading or prospector fleet went through a pursuit and somehow lost most of its logistical ships, and is not mostly warships, it will still be described as it was previously. If you want to do direct damage to civilian assets, planets and stations are the civilian targets, not an entire fleet that travels around with its logistical arm.

So currently the logic on the "too large to retreat" looks like this

"IF Fleet DP > X deployment points" Then "Too large to retreat"

And if it looked instead like

"If Fleet Combat DP > X deployment points" Then "Too large to retreat".

Then when a military force had its military portion destroyed such that "fleet combat DP <=X" then they would no longer be considered a "military" fleet and would instead be considered a logistics fleet. Except that there isn't a designation placed here by the game that says "military/logistics" its just the same logic as we currently use for retreating fleets but not applying it to logistics ships. Because the following quote is my point. "Combat" would be a designation that each individual ship attained. You could even have differing values for different ships(So a ship could be 10 DP but only 5 of those could be counted as combat DP if it was something like the current starsector mule)

Quote
"Too large to disengage" is due to being too big for the battle size, so it doesn't create an oddity where the player is suddenly able to deploy more in a pursuit than in a normal battle.

With the addendum that we don't really care if a player or AI fields too many Atlas's at 10 DP each because they're functionally dead weight. And as a result if you have a large logistics train then you can have situations where

1) Absent the logistics train you would want to retreat
2) Absent the logistics train you would be able to retreat
3) As a result of the logistics train you now have to fight an uneven battle

It also potentially creates the "bug"* where an enemy has to deploy their civilian ships over and over(only to retreat them off the battlefield asap because they're civ ships and worthless) because the fleet is too large to retreat and also contains no significant combat force. It also potentially creates situations where the AI must deploy a very small number of ships to be sacrificed in order to allow the fleet to retreat. (thus wasting your CR). Irrespective of the concept of a raid, neither of these are ideal situations.

*Its how its "supposed" to work at the moment but its not ideal/intended.

Quote
What is it you want a "raid" to be? You go into all sorts of detail about being locally stronger, but globally weaker, as if somehow you have to be globally weaker to "raid". It sounds like you just want to poorly interpret real life military strategy. As it is, being locally stronger in starsector is represented by being just that, and you are free to attack any civilan ships you desire as long as you have the local military power in ships to do so. It sounds like he and you want to create this preconception of a "raid" that doesn't gel well with the fact that in starsector fleets travel together with their logistical ships. Whatever that preconception is, I can probably think of a simpler and more effective way of doing it, if only you can describe what it is you want to see.

This was, more or less my point. I was not talking about aping military strategy, but the fundamentals that go into those decisions. A "raid" is something you do because you're weaker globally but stronger locally. Which in starsector currently is represented by hitting a fleet that you're stronger than when there are no fleets you're weaker than in supporting range. Which is just a normal fight without a "raid function".

But players do not like these normal fights. They do not feel right to them even if they meet an appropriate definition of a raid because raiding is a strategic and not a tactical decision. So maybe if we changed some of the retreat logic we could get fights that feel like raids without kludging something together that produced problems in the tactical layer. (and maybe also we could fix some of the "bugs" that exist and two birds this thing)

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bobucles

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Re: The fleet raid: A different style of battle
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2019, 12:32:34 PM »

Quote
there are at least 15 things that are exceptions to the normal rules of the game. How would you even communicate all that to the player? All that just to try to make his own personal conception of a "raid" work.
Please explain your 15 things in detail. As far as I understand, there are only two major changes to game mechanics for a raid:
- Deployment rules.
- Reinforcement rules.
Everything else is nit picky details. Of course the devil is in the details, it's the difference between a system that feels good and one that feels bad.

Quote
This suggestion doesn't seem to fulfill a purpose, other than apparently suggesting that the Hegemony doesn't know basic military strategy and raiding is somehow a "munchkin" tactic.
Please read the first sentence in the first two paragraphs. The game's main battles are a slug fest between two forces. The concept of a raid is to create an assymetric combat solution that lets smaller fleets engage in smaller fights despite a large foe. Whether or not you agree with the concept is surely up for debate, but there's no need to blow it up out of sheer dislike.

Quote
Remember, engagements have to be symmetric*.
No, they don't. Starsector campaign is not a multiplayer game. All challenges are between player and AI.  The tools at a player's disposal have no need to be fair, they only need to be fun. The player already has a wide array of strategic tools not available to any AI fleet, and they similarly have spawn cheats the player doesn't have.

I'm not quite sure why this discussion led into logistic vs. combat ships. The "too big to disengage" rule is something already established in game. If your fleet is too big to disengage, then it is probably big enough to handle direct battles regardless. Raids don't need to be impossible at the huge level, but at the same time there isn't much value to a raid when you can simply punch through.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2019, 12:34:55 PM by bobucles »
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