Doomstacks

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Vivisector 9999, Mar 8, 2017.

  1. Adam Solo

    Adam Solo Developer Administrator Captain

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    Welcome to the forums Ashbery76, it's good to see you here.

    Since you mention the AI, try a game on Hard and let us know what you think. While not being very good at defending yet, I think the AI is already pretty decent in attacking/raiding. In general, we estimate the AI to be operating at around "one-third" of its maximum potential when we reach the final release. Also, the AI plays by the same rules as the Human player (i.e. they don't cheat), by the way.

    Ground combat is not in yet.
     
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  2. Masacre

    Masacre Cadet

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    Greetings all!

    I thought I would put my two cents in regarding possibilities to reduce the effect of doom stacks. My apologies if these thoughts and ideas are simply not feasible to implement in the game as I have yet to actually play it but perhaps it still sparks some ideas that would work. Said ideas would also most likely require at least one extra mechanic be implemented which at the current point in development may simply not be possible. All that said, my ideas are as follows:

    Firstly, we need to take a look at what the pros and cons of a doom stack are. The pros have already been discussed, being that a doom stack against two or more separate forces of the same strength would generally end with the separate forces being defeated while leaving the stack with several fully functional ships left. So what are the cons? This has also been discussed in this thread, but in broad terms it would be the fact that they would require significant resources in terms of logistics and that they would be unwieldy and slow to respond to quick threats on many fronts, particularly in a defensive manner. So what I would suggest is the addition of one mechanic to make a particular strategy a lot more appealing and sound. Let's for simplicity's sake call the mechanic Logistics. Logistics would mean that planets (or star systems) each provide your fleets with goods (munitions, food, etc) required to keep the fleet functioning at full capacity. However, should that supply line be cut, the fleet would suffer from receiving fewer of said goods and hence be operating at a reduced efficiency. I would suggest that said efficiency loss should max out at about 50% but it could be set to practically any hard number or a reversed exponential curve. Now, how would you cut off said logistics? By simply blockading (not sure if blockading is in the game, may be a second required mechanic) the planet/planets that provide them. This would give the incentive to invest in smaller fleets to send out to planets to simply blockade and would make it very difficult for a doom stack to take care of all of them in a timely manner all while being in a severely hampered state. Played right, you could send small enough forces to the different logistics sources to even make the remainder of your forces equal to or surpass the power of said doom stack. It would also give you an incentive to actually build planetary defenses so that larger fleets would be required to blockade. Some cons of this system that I can think of is that it will speed up the destruction of a race that has fallen behind or is losing a war and that the mechanic could be hard to introduce to the AI system.

    I shall also provide 3 examples of how said mechanic could be implemented. Feel free to criticize any of these as well as the main concept to find flaws in logic or ways to improve. Or just for the heck it of. ;)

    Example 1:

    Simple percentage of percentage system. Max reduced efficiency percentage would be determined by how many of your total planets are blockaded. One of two planets, 50% of the max percentage, one of four, 25% and so on. Easy to implement but feels a bit silly logically as there is no reason as to why a planet suddenly produces less just because you got a second planet.

    Example 2:

    Fleets tied to planets (or systems) for logistics. When creating a fleet said fleet must be tied to a specific logistics source that is displayed in either the fleets name or somewhere else in the UI. If the planet is blockaded, any fleet that gets its logistics from it gets the full reduced efficiency straight away. Several fleets could be tied to same planet/system (would not be beneficial though) or several different planets/systems to spread out the risks of blockades. This example would put a bit more emphasis on early expansion. It also makes a bit more sense logically but may be somewhat convoluted and hard to grasp for players.

    Example 3:

    Logistics mechanic tied to resource. Each planet/system produces a certain amount of a logistics resource that can be expanded through research or buildings. The total or this resource tells you how many ships you can supply without getting a reduced efficiency penalty. By having a planet/system blockaded its logistics resource will be removed (temporarily) from your total and may end up increasing or giving you a penalty in efficiency. This example could also be a way to discourage too many ships late game. This would be my favorite example but may be the most difficult to implement due to it also requiring a resource to be included in the game.

    Apologies for the long-winded post but I hope it was worth the read. I shall be keeping my eyes on the progress of this game as it certainly has a lot of potential.
     
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  3. Konstantine

    Konstantine Moderator Captain

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    No need to apologize and certainly worth the read, actually I read it a few times before responding to be honest.
    I think that once you play the game you will see that many of the valid points you bring up regarding logistics have been elegantly abstracted in ISG to achieve the same results you suggest. It would be beneficial to have your further opinion on the matter once you have a better understanding of those as you could point out any perceived deficiencies.
    You may also note, that Doom Stacks are not really an issue in ISG and it comes off fairly naturally which really helps with the immersion. On harder levels at least, I find both the AI and myself wisely distributing forces to protect valuable assets.
    I only bring this up because you state that you haven't actually played it. As your post is very well thought out I would love to hear your custom views on ISG after you have become familiarized with it.
     
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  4. CrazyElf

    CrazyElf Lieutenant

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    So long as the player and AI are forced to distribute, this becomes less of an issue.

    One option might be command limits. Total War for example restricts to 20 units. Gal Civ 3 has logistics points limits. I'm sure there are other examples.

    Yet another is "splash" damage, where a special type of weapon will do damage to all units in a doomstack.
     
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  5. Mezmorki

    Mezmorki Ensign

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    I'm going to reference Starbase Orion (yes, again) because it had a rather clever solution to the doomstack problem that no other game I've seen has used.

    With the turn-based structure of the game, a fleet that is engaged in a battle will be stuck that turn (it takes a full turn for the combat to play out) and unable to move until the next turn. However, if another enemy fleet attacks on the next turn, the fleet will be "engaged" again and be unable to move until the following turn.

    Essentially, the "risk" of having a big fleet is that your opponent can keep it locked in battle in a system so long as they can send a supply of ships (at least 10% of the larger fleet's command point cost) to keep the bigger fleet locked in combat. This can allow the remainder of that players forces to zip around the galaxy and attack / harass their opponent and engage in other tactics. Also, battles can last multiple turns even without reinforcements arriving to prolong the fight based on the evasion characteristics of ships.

    Another game that deals with this issue exceedingly well is a very old browser-based space 4X called UltraCorps. The key in ultracorps has to do with strategic movement speed and stealth/detection factors.

    One of the contributing factors in favor of doomstacks in most games (not ultracorps) is that visual coverage of your opponent is too easy and forgiving. If your opponent were to divide up their forces into a bunch of smaller fleets to launch a multi-pronged attack, you'd see them all coming with plenty of time to organize your defenses (i.e. splitting apart your own doomstack to defend multiple locations). But what if you couldn't always see it coming?

    This is what UltraCorps does in the way that radar coverage and detection works. Briefly, your systems/planets can ONLY detect enemy fleets coming towards them and within (the often limited) range of the systems sensors (note: you can always see enemy fleets when parked at a star system - the following all has to do with fleets in transit). Moreover, if you do detect an enemy fleet, you only see the single "fleet" as an object coming towards you. It could be 1 ship or 1,000 ships. Coupled with very different movement speeds (even ones that allow you to close distance from outside of sensor range in a single turn) suddenly there is an amazing strategic space to explore.

    The above is relevant for Doomstacks, because essentially if you opponent has a doomstack parked at a station, you can see exactly where it is and what's in the fleet. Then you can use your various strategic movement speeds coupled with how detection works to avoid the doomstack, or bait it out of position with a decoy fleet while your real forces penetrate deeply into enemy territory.

    Defense and offense shifts from a doomstack vs. doomstack cat & mouse chase into a "zones of prioritization" strategy (for lack of a better term). In this zones of prioritization situation, defense is organized to protect your most critical systems while providing regional response forces to counter-attack enemy incursions. On offense, it's almost always a planned multi-staged approach intended to bait defenses away from high value targets in balance with raiding and disruption to hit their economy where it hurts.

    Quite frankly, it's the most thrilling and strategic-level space combat game I've ever played - and if anyone has been thrilled by hard sci-fi military campaign books, this is the closest to capturing some of those strategic situations.
     
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  6. Mezmorki

    Mezmorki Ensign

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    For ISG, the suggestions are this:

    First, consider how fleets could be locked in a system to make it risky to have one big doomstack. Maybe it's through a cool-down period after being engaged, creating a window to get pinned in another engagement afterwards. Technology wise, maybe there are special snares or EMP bombs that can be shot at a fleet to disable their FTL ability for some period of time, affecting the whole fleet. This could also tie into invasion mechanics, where fleets would need to remain in-system until the invasion is over and/or stability established.

    Second, consider how stealth and detection could work in this game. Armada 2526 had a slick arms race between detection level of your sensors and the stealth value of certain ships. Basically, you could make entire fleets of stealth warships that could avoid detection and allow you get within strike range of your opponent while avoiding their doomstacks. This possibility requires rethinking your defense.

    Third, consider how adding additional engines/drives on your ships could result in different ship movement speeds. Ultracorps did this. And Amarada 2526 did this. Both made strategic-level combat far more interesting. Big huge doomstacks could would move at the speed of the slowest ship and/or have additional mobilization penalties due to their size. This would allow multiple smaller, faster fleets to run circles around the doomstack.

    Finally, think about tactical-combat level counters for the doomstack. If, over a certain size, ships were grouped in some manner, perhaps area of effect weapons could be researched as a strategy to counter doomstacking at the tactical level. Something to think about!
     

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