Author Topic: Design Philosophy: Building Big vs Building Small  (Read 790 times)

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Offline TMaekler

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Design Philosophy: Building Big vs Building Small
« on: April 11, 2018, 10:11:05 AM »
I have read several of the AAMs and seen a bunch of different designs and philosophies of design - however, not one where two empires clash who went into different design directions of one building big vs the other building small. Has anyone ever tried that? What were your experiences?
 

Offline TCD

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Re: Design Philosophy: Building Big vs Building Small
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2018, 11:01:20 AM »
Didn't Haji do that in his From the Ashes series? I seem to recall one of his factions specialized in FACs, one was a carrier doctrine and one had missile cruisers.
 

Offline Garfunkel

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Re: Design Philosophy: Building Big vs Building Small
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2018, 12:13:57 PM »
Hmm, that's a really good point. I'll steal it to use it in my big, multi-faction C# game.

For existing AARs, Steve has had factions using FACs in several of his games and they've always lost out badly. However, that hasn't always been because of the FACs themselves but because of geopolitics leading multiple stronger powers launching surprise attacks against them - like in Colonial Wars Germany and USA attacked the Sultanate which lost most of its FACs in the initial surprise attack during which they were still in their hangars.

But I think you're more after a the kind of setup where faction A has ten different 3000 ton specialist corvettes, each for one specific purpose, whereas faction B has two 15,000 ton generalist battleships doing bunch of jobs at the same time. Right?
 
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Offline Michael Sandy

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Re: Design Philosophy: Building Big vs Building Small
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2018, 01:28:03 AM »
I am playing with LACs in my latest game.  It makes for a very easy transition from building LAC sized grav survey ships.  The cost of expanding the first shipyard with extra slips is very low, and the cost of retooling to armed LACs is low compared to that of retooling for larger warships.

LACs build fast too, so you can make a lot of them.  Now they aren't going to be particularly efficient in terms of minerals, as you will be spending a lot more on fire controls.  And getting a lot less benefit from officers.  A fleet made of larger ships could expect them to gain significantly in quality with commanders with +100 crew training or something.

But as showed up in the fiction, they are better for offense than defense.  They are better when they can choose the range, when they can open fire first, because they suck at withstanding damage.

My first fleet is composed of missile LACs, railgun fighters (and a few meson fighters built before I changed my focus), and 4000 ton carriers that were built to support survey operations.  If I can kill enemy beam ships with the crappy early missiles I have, I expect my beam fighters to just shred stuff, even with Ion tech, because quantity has a quality all its own.

Their unsupported operation range tends to suck as well.
 

Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: Design Philosophy: Building Big vs Building Small
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2018, 07:04:29 PM »
I personally don't think it is possible to compare ships one on one or tonnage for tonnage in general.

A small 1000t ship is so different from a larger ship in so many ways and they fulfill very different roles.

It also depends on your role-play and what type of restriction you put on designs. For example, when I play, my multi-faction human campaigns I would never build a design to be used as an attrition piece since I must value the life of the crew as much as can be expected. That kind of strategy must be of last resort not a main strategy.

This means that fighters and FAC are mainly platforms that fulfill roles where I expect them to come back in one piece under normal circumstances.

Larger hulls perform more complex missions and FAC type ships would be short range system defense type ships because they are cheaper and can operate from less developed bases. A FAC will pack a huge punch for its size but have basically no defenses which leave them vulnerable to well coordinated counter strikes or surprise attacks.

I also find it rather unrealistic to give small ships long mission duration, mainly because of how people operate in small groups in confined quarters. Outside scientific rather limited missions this reflect my design philosophy for smaller crafts versus larger crafts.

Larger crafts might be more durable and versatile but they also need greater consideration for logistics and initial resource allocation. The trade-off are then ships that can operate more independently and can be built faster per tonnage, easier and cheaper to upgrade. Larger ships can also carry hangars and use the benefit of what smaller ships bring.

This is why I think comparing two ships, of any size or configuration, on their combat ability alone is a mistake and a rather unfair comparison. Ships usefulness will entirely depend on the situation and the scenario they find themselves in.

I also think this will be even more so in C# Aurora.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 07:16:06 PM by Jorgen_CAB »
 

Offline TMaekler

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Re: Design Philosophy: Building Big vs Building Small
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2018, 07:53:05 AM »
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This is why I think comparing two ships, of any size or configuration, on their combat ability alone is a mistake and a rather unfair comparison. Ships usefulness will entirely depend on the situation and the scenario they find themselves in.

The idea behind my question is to find out if the internal mechanics of Aurora pre-destine one type of setup in general. What I like with the system of Aurora is that you can decide between a wider choice of designs, compared to other 4x games. But if it turns out that in a contest between those designs one prevails because of the underlying functionality, then there is no real freedom of choice.

I like if the result of a conflict might be based upon an unfitting Design that wasn’t able to counter the other sides designs - but I don’t like that, if that was already predefined by the game mechanics rather than your personal ‚poor choices‘.
 

Offline Iranon

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Re: Design Philosophy: Building Big vs Building Small
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2018, 10:23:22 AM »
These things depend greatly on details.

Generally, bigger is more efficient in some ways: Less duplication of things like bridges, ECM, ECCM, possibly fire controls and sensors. Better use of passive defences (most obvious with shields; in one big ship the all will count for damage mitigation and regeneration as soon as you take hits).

Redundancy can go both ways. A certain size allows internal redundancy (not having all weapons rendered useless if my only fire control takes a hit). After a certain size, one may end up with too many eggs in one basket (devastating secondary explosion chains; easy prey to microwaves in PvP); redundancy in the forms of more ships may be better.

Sensor footprint rewards small size, much more so in the upcoming version. Lumping 100 150t missile fighters into one cruiser of 15000t would result in a very flawed design before heavy adjustment of missile types, fire controls and sensors and at least considering optinal kit that doesn't fit on fighters. After sensible adjustments, they will have different strengths, weaknesses and limitations.
 

Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: Design Philosophy: Building Big vs Building Small
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2018, 01:39:43 PM »
Experience is another thing you should count in... larger ship can gain experience through damage without the risk of being directly destroyed.

Armour is deeper per tonnage on larger hulls which also make them less susceptible to internal damage.

It is easier to make larger designs more independent, larger engines saves fuel for example and MSP are more efficient on larger ships in general.


What I tried to convey is that making a ship able to kill is not the ONLY important aspect of a ship. You would trade some capacity on larger ships for defences which you probably would not do on a 1000t FAC. This means a FAC will almost always have more offensive power than a large ship. There are then other traits such as speed, damage vulnerability, range, logistics, sensor coverage, detection profile, upgrade possibilities & build speed.

I'm also not sure how this comparison is suppose to be made. Defences are usually slightly weaker than offensive per space used. But that is not the strength of defences. Defences are there for strategic reasons and make ships able to perform in different roles. If a glass hammer is caught in a bad position they are definitely lost ships with defences can expect to survive some situation to live anther day which is an important strategic tool. Glass hammer type ships will need extra resources to ensure they are not detected or engaged before they can engage.

In reality you are most likely better of by using a multitude of ship sizes because it give you more options and less possibility for an opponent to optimise fire-controls and sensors etc...

There are simply too many factors that will or can differ that it makes no real sense to compare ships tonnage to tonnage since they depend on the economy and infrastructure that support them.

Question is... WHAT is it that you try to compare, how do you value more intangible qualities such as durability, logistics, upgrade possibilities, yard facility flexibility, build-speed, experience... etc...?

When it comes to offensive power a FAC is always going to be cheaper in THAT particular engagement from pure build, research and/or resource perspective, for obvious reasons.


If you step out of this HYPOTHETICAL one dimensional mindset a real life scenario would entail spying and reconnaissance to access enemy strengths and weaknesses. This would effect the way you build and deploy forces over a long period of time, especially in a multi-human campaign. Designs would evolve dynamically to counter the enemy designs much like things work in real life. You would try to be one step ahead of the opposition.

This is also why I think this is a wasteful exercise that could never exist in reality, more or less. I don't see a scenario where one side would ONLY build either large or small ships. This would entirely depend on their economy and from strategic considerations. For defences you would probably lean toward smaller cheaper ships. For offensive actions you need a good economy to begin with and would have the infrastructure to build larger designs and able to use that too your advantage but you would not restrict yourself to ONLY large designs... why would you?!?

« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 03:19:46 PM by Jorgen_CAB »
 

Offline Michael Sandy

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Re: Design Philosophy: Building Big vs Building Small
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2018, 04:47:13 PM »
When playing LACs in a multiplayer start, they will be disadvantaged by their opponent KNOWING that they need anti-LAC weaponry.  In a regular start, it is very likely they will face opponents with Res 1 and Res 50 or Res 100 sensors, but not Res 20.  And if the LACs have their fire controls at the right size, they will have a huge effective range and detection advantage.
 

Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: Design Philosophy: Building Big vs Building Small
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2018, 05:51:47 AM »
When playing LACs in a multiplayer start, they will be disadvantaged by their opponent KNOWING that they need anti-LAC weaponry.  In a regular start, it is very likely they will face opponents with Res 1 and Res 50 or Res 100 sensors, but not Res 20.  And if the LACs have their fire controls at the right size, they will have a huge effective range and detection advantage.

I think this is one of the point I made above as well. Information about the enemy are probably more important than what type of ships that you have... and/or the ability to adapt your fleets.

For example...

Do you play a "regular" game using the fore knowledge that scripted AI and the special AI races exist as you build your space civilisation... or do you play as if you believe you are the only intelligent species around in this part of the universe until you encounter something?!?

This is an important question what type of limits you put on yourself.

I don't think using the scripted AI as a base of what is effective to use or not is a good base line either, you should rather think what someone like yourself would do in that situation and depending on that "in game" knowledge you do have about what is out there.

In all of my "regular" games I have always played it that I have NO CLUE what is out there and practically built nothing but patrol ships with some beam weapons to control civilian traffic, more as a police force rather than a real military, before I encountered any hostile species. I don't see why a unified Earth would waste resources on military vessels if they are not needed and there are no external threats and we seem to be alone as a species.

Once a hostile species is contacted my military ships would be built in direct response to what I'm facing and reconnaissance would be priority one and then ships would be built based on that knowledge.

The doctrines should basically always be in this order...

1. Know thy enemy.
2. Find the enemy before they find you.
3. Strike the enemy before they strike you.

If all you are interested in are best optimal fire power per invested resource and research points right now, then you should stick to as small a ship as you can. But larger ships will get you advanced abilities and other important benefits, but it will take you some time for those benefit to show when you compare the resources spent today. This is the same problem you get when you calculate how much resources you spend on military today versus tomorrow. Every resource you instead spend on expanding your economy is going to be worth considerably more in the future spending of military resources.

In short a 1000t ship in any one INSTANT moment are going to be much more effective per resources/science than a 10000t ship if you start at zero and all you are interested in is to gain 10000t worth of combat ships as fast as possible.

What you need to do is find a balance between what you need now and what potential you can get in the future and compare that with the threat environment that you exist in. In the best of worlds you can spend 100% of your economy on further expansion all the time. This is NEVER going to be an exact science since you are never going to have perfect information.

In general what I have found is that smaller ships 150-3000t perform most of the recon and offensive actions. Larger ships act more in a supportive and defensive role. This usually are what turns out to be the most effective use of different types of platforms. You need smaller ships to deliver the offensive long range punch and they also act as your sensor screen so you can attack without ever being detected in the first place. The larger ships hangs back and act as mobile bases for the smaller ships and defends them if it comes to that. You also need larger ship for JP attack and defence, small ships just are too squishy for that. Someone who mainly rely on small FAC are going to find it rather difficult to do JP assaults in a reliable manner against larger ships with large powerful guns and good armour and shields. JP assault and defence might not be a huge thing against AI but against a real live thinking enemy it will.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2018, 06:35:41 AM by Jorgen_CAB »
 

 

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