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Topics - Michael Sandy

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Just kind of curious, especially for those starting from a conventional start, what systems and ships do you develop before popping into another system?

My incomplete list:

Sensors capable of detecting a populated planet from pretty far out.  This can mean large sensors, or it can mean long ranged sensor probe missiles.  Which means a ship to launch them, and all the missile technology that means.  Of course, you don't need a very big missile to detect a civilization, once it gets close.

Getting your missile shot down counts as a successful 'detection'.

My planets must have SOME missile defense.  Maybe meson PDCs if I had a good EW scientist, but more likely it will be PDCs with AMM launchers.  And again, I feel I need anti-missile sensor systems developed before I probe another system.

I figure I absolutely have to have a jump drive capable of getting my survey ships through, and possibly my small freighter/colony ship, the ones under 12k or so.  I definitely want a tanker of some kind, to set up a forward fuel base, although I generally survey with such efficient drives that my survey forces will complete the survey before they run low on fuel, at least for small to average systems within a jump of my home system.

I also want the capability of building a fleet in a hurry.  And while I really like missiles, it is kind of difficult to build up both ships and missiles at the same time.  If I am building a fleet in a hurry, I would be doing things like mass producing lasers, power plants, and engines with planetary industry, in order to turn out ships as fast as possible.

The next issue has to do with economic exploitation.  What distance do you exploit at what engine tech level?  Do you build jump gates so your civilians can get in on the exploitation, or just build a civilian jump ship to escort convoys?

If you started with missile bases, do you build real missile fire controls for them, and build some size 24 missiles to shoot from them, or do you go with smaller, easier to research missiles?

What kind of shortages prompt you to head out early?  What kind of resources would prompt you to significantly delay?

For example, I am contemplating a serious mercassium shortage.  Venus has lots at .2, along with duranium at .6 and some other stuff, so it is economically mineable, sort of.  But there isn't another deposit larger than 10k in the solar system.  Teching up in the solar system isn't possible without more mercassium, or without building a crap ton of automated mines for a .2 accessibility resource.

The Academy / What exactly do officers do?
« on: April 19, 2017, 04:46:18 PM »
So some of the abilities it is pretty easy to see how they work.

Logistics speeds the loading and unloading of ships.  And if you put an officer in a logistics slot in a task force, they train up to >50% in about 10 years or so, so between the fleet command bonus and the ship captain, you can get a 100% increase in loading speed for not much investment.

Fighter bonus increases the accuracy of fighter beam weapons, and if you build a bunch of cost 1 BP 'fighter' PDCs and park your fighter bonus officers there, they tend to train that up.  RP-wise, I am reminded that the Japanese started WWII with a very experienced and well trained fighter pilot force, but because they flew very fragile planes, they tended to lose their pilots over the course of the war, resulting in them having much lower average pilot quality towards the end of the war.  In part because they were so hard pressed they couldn't cycle experienced pilots back to train new ones.

So if you spend 10 years training up a bunch of high quality fighter combat bonus officers, if you LOSE them, suddenly your whole fighter force is a lot less effective, because it takes so long to train up good new officers.

Fighter OPs supposedly was supposed to improve fighter reload time, but I have heard that it is borked and actually increases the time it takes a hangar to reload fighters.

Now, if the task force commander has a mining bonus, do asteroid mining modules get a boost too?  Or sorium harvesters if the TF commander has a factory bonus?  I am also trying to figure out if asteroid mining modules are better or worse than automated mines.  The asteroid mining modules take less space to ship, and benefit from naval mining officers, but the economics of it seem to depend on how far you have to ship them.

What exactly do operations, intelligence, and communications boost?  Is it worth putting early officers into a dummy task force to train them up?

The Academy / Civilian contract help please
« on: April 17, 2017, 03:35:29 PM »
So how exactly do I do these contracts?  I presume that I create a demand contract at the colony I want the stuff to go to, but do I need to create a matching supply contract somewhere else?

And how much is shaped by what scientists you get?

For example, I experimented with setting my shipyard to expand, and making 2 more slipways, so that when I get geo sensors and Nuclear Thermal engines I can build 3 survey ships at once.  However, I am not satisfied with that, because I survey the whole solar system in 2-3 waves of survey ships, and then have nothing for them to do until I develop jump theory and grav sensors.

So I am thinking of just going with one slipway, but continually expanding it, and then at about 10k tons, retool it with a placeholder design, all geo sensors or something else expensive, and use it to build almost any smaller design.  That way, I can even use it to ship infrastructure to the moon or mars, if it turns out either is a good colonization candidate, so I can get my colony started early.  Possibly with luxury liners if I lack a logistics scientist to get cryo quickly.

As until all conventional industry is replaced with TN industry, there is nothing that gets more economic bang for one's buck, my purpose in early surveying is to determine what techs I will most need.

If the only good mining sites are comets, I will go for asteroid mining module and tractors.  If Mars or Luna or the Jovian moons are good sites, Terraforming bumps up the priority list, (as well as tractors).

If Venus or Mercury have lots of minerals, automated mines come into play more.

If the whole solar system is missing some critical mineral, I have to go for jump theory early.

Now this doesn't take into account the civilians.  I would like to know what infrastructure you need to get the civilians started on mining, because I would love to just pick a wealth creation administrator and expand my production, and build as few mines myself as possible, until I have to switch over to automated mines.

Oh, and my industry priority before TN is build as many military academies as possible, so that I can get the good scientists and administrators.

Aurora / Opposed survey
« on: April 04, 2017, 11:03:34 AM »
Inspired by the Alpha Centauri Arena and the other links here:

A mix of strategy, tactics, and priorities.

Similar to the Alpha Centauri Arena, the two sides enter through jump gates about 1 billion km apart, and they have 100 k or so research points available.

But the objective is to survey the intervening space, probe the jump point leading out, and if things haven't been resolved by then, to survey the discovered system(s).

There is at least one jump point out, and it may lead to an El Dorado system, a junction system that shortens the distance to both empires, or some other interesting strategic goal.

Players start with a survey fleet that has used 7 billion km worth of fuel and a year on their morale and maintenance clocks, and 1000 BP.

7 billion km back, they have a nodal response fleet and maintenance base, (fleets there are fueled up and full morale with no time on their clocks), comprising of 3000 BP.

7 billion km further back is the capital, with 6000 BP worth of response force.

Unlike in previous set ups, production technologies won't increase the size of the initial fleets.  It WILL affect the monthly builds from the capital.  Players can try to plan for a long or a short war, rather than the choice being between a larger, low tech fleet and a smaller, higher tech one.

I figure the economy of both sides will be 2000 BP x the square root of the mining, construction, and wealth technology multipliers.

Production will be discounted by the production techs available, like ordnance, fighters and shipyard tech.

Certain technologies will be discounted, at least 50%.

Emergency Cryo, Salvage, Cargo Handling, grav survey, construction brigades and possibly jump engine tech.

There won't be explicit fuel requirements, other than all new production will have traveled 14 billion km, and you have to pay for the fuel.  So fuel efficiency tech isn't a bad idea.  I am toying with the idea of having various small asteroids available, both in the contested systems and in the systems leading to them.

Players will have the option of increasing their survey fleet size, at a cost to the size of their response fleets.  Each BP would cost 3 BP from the nodal response fleet, or 6 from the capital response fleet.  So players can go with larger initial fleets at the expense of immediate reinforcements.  This makes scouting and probing a lot more important. Similarly, the nodal response fleet can be made bigger at the expense of the capital fleet, and vice versa.

I would like to explore what people would arm their survey fleets with if they were competing against players instead of the AI.  And do they go with small expendable, low signature survey craft, or with concentrated survey power, including multiple survey instruments together with an escort.  Do they hunt enemy surveyors, or focus more on completing their own goal?

Some tie breaking conditions:
Capturing enemy ships, crew
Crew losses (which can be reduced if crew pods can be rescued
Surveying beyond the contested system, bonus points if you can find the jump point to the enemy nodal base.
Salvaging enemy technology. Figure that salvaged enemy ships are worth about x10 as much as destroyed enemy ships.

Some caveats, I have little experience, and would not be able to run this, nor would my computer be able to handle it.  This is as much the seed for a campaign as for a one off extended scenario.

Advanced Tactical Command Academy / Abusive gimmicks? Officers in PDCs
« on: March 30, 2017, 01:09:39 AM »
So I built some fighter factories early to build crew shuttles, and found it distressing to have them be idle.

But I learned I could make

Bad Job class Point Defence Base    7 tons     1 Crew     0.9 BP      TCS 0.14  TH 0  EM 0
Armour 5-0     Sensors 1/0     Damage Control Rating 0     PPV 0
Intended Deployment Time: 2 months    Spare Berths 0   

This design is classed as a Planetary Defence Centre and can be pre-fabricated in 1 sections

The <3 month deployment time makes it a military base, and therefore capable of housing a Commander indefinitely.  Or at least until they shoot themselves from sheer boredom.

Still, it is probably better than being shunted to be governor of an asteroid to keep the civil administrators busy.

I MIGHT have to put an engineer system in there, if I start getting maintenance malfunctions, but I doubt that I will.

The Academy / Can multiple Geo Survey Teams work a planet?
« on: March 29, 2017, 04:34:48 PM »
So I SMed 3 extra military academies at the start, along with 3 research facilities, and now I have an actual surplus of geo survey teams, awaiting jump theory to find new worlds to harass.  So I am switching from conventional shuttles to Nuclear Thermal, and I figured, "Why not make 10 crew shuttles, instead of 5?"  It is only slightly more expensive, since most of the payload is a full sized engineering module anyway.

Since I have a surplus of teams, will there be an speed advantage to having several of them working the same planet?  I will still go with the larger shuttle, because there will be some efficiencies in carrying two teams around.

The Academy / Can you scrap fighters?
« on: March 29, 2017, 03:43:57 PM »
I know you can't refit them, can you do anything other than delete them?

Also, why can't there be factory bonus ground commanders for construction brigades?

The Academy / Is there a way to upgrade low tech troops?
« on: March 29, 2017, 06:06:01 AM »
I just researched mobile infantry, and I had thought there was a mechanism to upgrade low tech troops, but it said that I needed a 'cadre', and although I had plenty of low tech troops, there wasn't a way to make a 'cadre', or any tool tip suggesting how.

The Academy / How to load missiles in conventional start PDCs?
« on: March 22, 2017, 01:02:28 AM »
So I wanted to try out survey missiles, experimented a bit, designed

Missile Size: 9.995 MSP  (0.49975 HS)     Warhead: 0    Armour: 0     Manoeuvre Rating: 10
Speed: 200 km/s    Engine Endurance: 1,767.8 hours   Range: 1,272.8m km
Cost Per Missile: 0.7266
Second Stage: Size 2.995 Buoy(small) x1
Second Stage Separation Range: 0 km
Overall Endurance: 1701 days   Overall Range: 1272.8m km
Chance to Hit: 1k km/s 2%   3k km/s 0%   5k km/s 0.4%   10k km/s 0.2%
Materials Required:    0.0165x Boronide   0.685x Uridium   0.0251x Gallicite   Fuel x5250

Development Cost for Project: 73RP

Missile Size: 2.995 MSP  (0.14975 HS)     Warhead: 0    Armour: 0     Manoeuvre Rating: 10
Speed: 0 km/s    Engine Endurance: 39,062.5 hours   Range: 0.0m km
Geo Sensor Strength: 0.0274    Maximum points: 1070.3125
Cost Per Missile: 0.7016
Chance to Hit: 1k km/s 0%   3k km/s 0%   5k km/s 0%   10k km/s 0%
Materials Required:    0.0165x Boronide   0.685x Uridium   0.0001x Gallicite   Fuel x250

Development Cost for Project: 70RP

Yeah, it could take 4 years to survey that 1070 points, but a .1 MSP reduced fuel engine gave that stage all the endurance it needed to survey forever.

But I can't figure out how to get them loaded into the ICBMs I started with, let alone fire them.  I keep getting a message that I do not have enough missiles to load them, which concerns me because I also only want to fire one survey drone per target.

I am having mixed feelings about missile based surveying. While the per survey cost is pretty cheap, the costs of shipping the launcher and magazine adds up.  For handling a dispersed survey, as distinct from asteroid belts, trojans or large moon systems, it seems economical.  And a survey ship design based on a reduced sized launcher and large magazines has a decent conversion to a minelayer.  At least it could do duty as a fleet collier.

It is attractive at the start because you already have the launcher and you don't need to ship it anywhere, (if I could get it to work).

Aurora Suggestions / new crew quarter options
« on: March 19, 2017, 04:27:26 AM »
What if there was a cap for crew deployment?  Say, above a 5- year deployment, you could research 'ship is HOME' level quarters.  At that level, the crew have their families aboard, ala Star Trek TNG.

Or have something you could research that allowed for crew to relax faster, so instead of rewinding the deployment time at 10x, you could rewind it at 12x or 20x or more?

Advanced Tactical Command Academy / Forward jump point defense
« on: March 18, 2017, 11:54:28 PM »
So I have a theory that people are defending the wrong side of the jump points, and why.

I think there are a lot more advantages to a fleet that is preventing a fleet from approaching a jump point than in trying to prevent a fleet from transiting it.

Okay, the setup is that you have several sensor equipped ships and buoys on the enemy side of the jump point, and a bunch of jump couriers.  Expendable jump couriers, as I will get into later.

You have carriers or LAC tenders on the friendly side of the jump point, quite close to it, but completely safe from missile attack until the enemy actually gets control of the jump point.  Normally, fighters and LACs have to worry about closing through an enemy missile barrage to get close enough to fire.  But in forward jump point defense, they can let the enemy close to half the fighter missile range, send the carriers through, launch, and the attackers have nowhere to run.

Assuming the missiles launched by the fighters can find their target without the fighters having to remain in system.

A forward jump point defense should either bleed the attacker, or cause them to waste massive volleys of missiles where the defender simply withdraws through the jump point.  This buys the defender strategic time, as the attacker has to bring up more missiles.  If the defender is concerned about the attacker having missiles/mines launched on the jump point after they briefly withdraw, then send in sacrificial scouts to ensure those mines/missiles are wasted.

So why is it that most stories of jump point defense assume they are attacking the enemy after transit?  I think it is a holdover from Starfire expectations.  You simply could not transit away causing the enemy to waste lots of missiles in Starfire.  The time scale is also completely different.  In Aurora, you could transit in, transit out a couple of times, and the missiles would still be in flight.

Among the requirements of a true forward jump point defense is sensors that can provide 2 minute warning of incoming missiles.  Something that gives the option of allowing a warning to be sent, the point defense ships brought in, and their weapons coming on line to prevent the sensor ships from being taken out by long ranged conventionally launched missiles.

Because you can't really afford to have a significant portion of your fleet stationed forward, the maintenance costs would be awful.  You have a mobile fleet base just on the home side of the jump point, which is a bit of a strategic risk, of course, but far less than trying to stop a jump point transit at the jump point.

Bureau of Ship Design / fast fighter, equal speed missile
« on: February 22, 2017, 06:01:40 PM »
As an alternative to box launchers, a design idea I have seen mentioned a few times is a fast fighter which launches missiles of the same speed.  The idea is that all the missiles arrive at the same time, each in their own volley, overwhelming point defense.

At what tech level does it become practical?  At what tech level are the fighters going to have enough of a speed edge over equal tech opponents that missiles at their speed would be effective?

Does this design concept allow you to make effective missile fighters before developing box launchers?

Lets see:
10 HS fighter budget
5 HS boosted engine
.5 HS fuel (might need to skimp here)
1 HS Missile launcher, at reload rate 3, that is 1 missile every 10 seconds, can shoot through a magazine in 200 seconds.
3 HS some combination of missile fire control and magazine.  Shorter range fire control and larger magazine could work, but longer range, smaller magazine, would allow more survivability, more missions.  And use up a lot more fuel.
.5 HS armor, crew quarters

Reducing the size of the engine slightly gives a lot more payload room, but reduces the effectiveness of the attack because it reduces the speed of the missiles that match the design.

I contemplated a reduced size 2 launcher design.  At reload 4, it would fire every 30 seconds, take 300 seconds to shoot through a magazine.  The range and performance of size 2 missiles might be worth it, even with the reduced payload.

Part of my dilemma in designing this is the difficulty of getting a long enough ranged missile fire control on the fighter without taking up so much HS that there isn't enough magazine room to make it practical.  So I am thinking the best way to design the fighter for a particular tech level is assume 1 HS for the fire control, and design everything, missile, fighter speed, around that.

Bureau of Ship Design / engine-less ships
« on: February 12, 2017, 02:50:38 PM »
So an outgrowth of the discussion of commercial engined military ships, is how about ships with no engines at all, relying on tugs?

You don't have to upgrade your freighters or colony ships or other commercial ships, just the tugs.  A downside is that if the civilian shipyards copy your designs, they will probably not be efficient in matching tugs to engineless ships.

It is probably best to only go with engineless designs for ship classes that have to be stationary for a long time, (salvagers and sorium harvesters) or ships that you generally don't use that much but want to have available like troop transports.

Bureau of Ship Design / conventional start, commercial engine only fleets
« on: January 28, 2017, 05:23:46 AM »
A lot of the campaign stories I love have situations where a new size class of ship is built, and it can't be deployed outside the solar system or jump network because there is no jump ship big enough for it yet.

So why not have the starting ship designs built with commercial engines, size 25+ engines with 50% reduced power?  Build them about 60% engine or so, and they will be as fast as conventional ships with 30% engine, with cheap efficient engines.

Maybe a meson tech fleet too, which goes for a robust engines as armor philosophy, since they can't shield or armor against mesons, they build systems that can take a few hits.

They could then not need military jump engines developed until they were contemplating jump assaults, and conventional start empires aren't going to be contemplating jump assaults early.  If they are assaulting another system early, the other guys probably haven't developed jump theory yet.

The smallest effective design they could make would be about 1,700 - 2,000 tons, 1 size 25 engine with 9-15 HS left over (not including armor, crew, maintenance).  They would probably have multiple size 25 engines on the smaller designs, to allow for some mobility if an engine was hit.  They would need to build larger shipyards for the same ship payload, and being larger, they would be more vulnerable to active sensor detection.

But only needing one jump ship design, and one that could be built in civilian shipyards at that might be worth it.

I think I would name the jump ship class "Dragoon", or some other mounted infantry name.  Some unit that rides to battle, but fights on foot.  And I am wracking my brain for a 15-16th century German unit name for the soldiers assigned to hold the horses for their fellow mounted infantry.

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