Author Topic: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike  (Read 7393 times)

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Offline sloanjh

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Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« on: December 07, 2011, 12:05:18 AM »
I just saw a picture of the galactic map in the map question thread, and that reminded me of a conversation about Honorverse military strategy I had late at night at a con many years ago, probably sometime after Ashes of Victory.  The point I was making was that in the early HH books, the "island hopping" strategy that Weber was pushing was all wrong for their hyperspace mechanics. 

In the early HH books, the war with Haven focused on battles for forward operating bases between the two powers.  The problem is that forward operating bases only matter if they can be used as bases for interdiction, or if the combat radius of combatants is small enough they're needed for refueling/staging.  In StarFire or Aurora, this works because you've got choke points at the jump points, so there's a high probability of detecting and fighting transiting bad guys.  In WWII pacific, the islands were used as bases for air power.  The aircraft gave the bases a significant range both for detection (search planes) and attack (bombers).  In other words, the forward operating bases could at least detect ships in a significant fraction of the available (2D) space.

In the HonorVerse, however, you can go from anywhere to anywhere in hyperspace, and there are no significant fuel restrictions on range.  This means that the bases will have a search radius that's effectively zero (even considering the compressing effects of hyperspace and the channeling effects of grav waves), and ships don't need to stop off to gas up.  This in turn means that forward operating bases are almost useless - the correct strategy would be one of "deep strikes", where you send a large fleet/TG to lay waste to an important enemy system.  It is interesting to note that in the most recent books, Weber has transitioned to deep-strike strategy, with a little bit of white-wash dialog to explain why things have changed :)

The reason I'm going here is that I just realized that Newtonian Aurora will produce a strategic environment that is MUCH closer to Honorverse than to SF or Aurora.  If Steve doesn't want the game strategy to be a collection of deep strikes (i.e. if he wants to encourage forward bases), he'll have to think of something that makes forward bases useful and/or able to interdict enemy transits in hyperspace.  The obvious knob to twirl is fuel - if it's expensive to jump vast distances then ships will have to make refueling stops (fuel scoops and gas giants, anyone?).  Another possibility might be to make fuel consumption go like the square of the distance, and require that you can only exit hyperspace at a point where the gravitational gradient has a certain value, i.e. at a specific distance from a particular star.  This would encourage jumps that are hops from one system to another, while still avoiding jump points that are strict choke points.

Note that I'm not invested in any of the ideas above, I'm just trying to point out some possibilities....

John
 

Offline TheDeadlyShoe

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2011, 12:48:18 AM »
I dunno. You kinda have to keep your fleets concentrating on protecting your most important assets anyway, with pickets and nodal forces at best to cover other stuff.  Would that really change?  Only by using defensive advantage (ie: PDCs, stealth) can you hope to effectively cover a wide area. 

The main problem is that the fuel situation is already going to be really harsh with newtonian mechanics.  So unless hyperspace fuel is completely different... *shrug*. 
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2011, 01:13:08 AM »
A possible thought, which I will cross post to the main NA thread, might be this.

Under current rules, the 'deep strike' would be the way to go.  Other than the fact that you won't know where the enemy's main bases are without looking.

Perhaps part of the jump drive tech could be a max duration of the drive to maintain itself in hyperspace.  I am not sure I would tie this to fuel use as you could simply build larger fuel reserves to make these deep strikes.  Perhaps the drive begins to generate a 'sub-space charge' that will damage the drive after a certain level - forcing the ship out of subspace/hyperspace after a certain amount of time.  This would of course increase with research.

So civ ships designed with lower delta V budgets would have lower speeds at jump and would jump shorter distances.  Mil ships with higher delta V budgets could afford the high speeds to make longer jumps - but not infinite ones.  In this way you would need to operate forward bases to stop - refuel/resupply - reorient on the next system - then jump.

Some ships could be designed to make very long jumps by being very fast, but this would likely require a smaller ship with a large percentage of fuel to reach the required speed for the long jump.  A small ship that is mostly fuel probably isn't an ideal warship.  A good scout probably, but not a planet killer.

Just a thought.  Any opinions?
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Offline UnLimiTeD

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2011, 03:19:03 AM »
Pretty much.
Just ignoring everything and having a straight duel between two homeworlds would be a bit bland.
 

Offline Antagonist

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2011, 03:45:20 AM »
Deep strike under current rules makes sense.

You won't have a 'front' so much, but battle will still happen around targets of opportunity like colonies, in addition to the core worlds.  You just can't leave a far away system undefended.

I'm still thinking about this, but it makes defence harder than offence.  Basically to protect your empire you need ships at EVERY one of your systems, since any one of them can be a target.  I'm not sure how long it would take for a defence fleet to travel from a neighboring system, but I can imagine that by the time they arrive there could only be ruins left, I don't know.  But if so, you need an effective defense at every planet.

For offence though, you can concentrate your forces since you pick the target, which makes it easier.

A suggestion has been mentioned to have a pulse go off a long time before an enemy fleet arrives, which might make reinforcement from nearby systems practical since they can get there quicker since they don't have to travel as far.  This would go a long way to countering the disadvantage of a dispersed defense.

On the flipside... defense is cheaper and more powerful.  The price of a PDC is low compared to a ship with similar capabilities.  In addition fighter fleets become far more viable since you don't have to worry about building ships with large enough bays to transport them anymore.  You might even make in-system ships that don't have a jump drive, saving cost and allowing them to put on more guns.  This might make it possible to balance it out.

As mentioned it risks turning into simply two homeworlds dueling it out ignoring everything else (but considering it might take decades to have a secondary planet with the production and defense of a homeworld it might be moot), but that also depends on how valuable your outlaying colonies are.  If you battle a NPR with similar strength than you it might be an effective strategy to destroy his colonies first and deny him minerals than to attack his homeworld directly first, assuming you even know where his homeworld is.


In short, I'd like to know about the timing and viability of reinforcements from closer systems, the effective battle capability bonus per cost that single system ships and PDCs have and the relative value of attacking outlying colonies versus attacking core worlds.  If these things balance out okay then deep-strike capability might not be such a bad thing.
 

Offline UnLimiTeD

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2011, 03:56:51 AM »
I expect colonies outside your home system to be only minor sites with a few million colonists top and a few mining endeavors.
Those would then be 'shot' at the homeworld in slow, cheap freighters, who cares if they take a half year.
A single system can be reasonably defended, the population spread over several planets to prevent complete loss.
Additionally, all those systems really should have a use.
That's mainly why I argued for conventional materials as well; Every systems gonna have some, so there's no argument "Thats a nice world, easily defend-able, good atmosphere, but it's friggin useless!"
Now, we come to the point this applies to entire systems.
 

Offline Antagonist

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2011, 04:24:06 AM »
Colonies RIGHT NOW are just minor sites.  Either just for mining, or in case of planets that one can live on, population wealth farms.

If the ability to automate and make easier the distribution of minerals across all your worlds is implemented then potentially any world can be an industry world.  You might create your core fleet on your homeworld as a priority, but local defenses and lower priority manufacturing might occur on these colonies.  I know its often that I need a PDC on this world, but I also need to build more mines, so I prioritize the latter with the former often never happening.

I did make a suggestion a while ago that in part is that traditional manufacturing installations should naturally be built on worlds based on unemployed population, or perhaps like infrastructure does now, which would improve the value of these colonies.

Once you have this, actual valuable colonies that can contribute industrially to a war effort, a war SHOULD evolve to be more than just a homeworld vs homeworld.
 

Offline UnLimiTeD

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2011, 04:46:18 AM »
Why would you set up colonies?
The cost of infrastructure to distribute them over one good system is way cheaper than to move them somewhere else, so every other colony will literally be only a few million people manning the spaceport so that the mining stations in system can be utilized properly, with a single PDC that is probably worth as much as the entire colony (- the mines).
Why would I attack that if any freighter ultimately arrives in the primary system?
Why would I defend it if the fuel burned to get a fleet there, fight, and jump back afterwards costs more than to just set up a new hub after the enemies gone again?

If you go for more realistic, useful colonies that evolve without you telling them to, you'll also have to calculate that those people won't magically reproduce faster.
 

Offline PTTG

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2011, 10:14:55 AM »
Going back to the drive, if you figure that going to hyperspace puts the ship in its own little pocket universe, then the very fact that it is radiating heat will mean that it will sooner or later have to emerge. More efficient drives carrying smaller ships are of course less susceptible, so there is a mix of strategies; send your skirmisher ships ahead on long jumps to scout and harass, while your larger vessels make small, island-hopping jumps.

I have to say, I really like both strategic approaches, and I'd love to see them both possible.
 

Offline GeaXle

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2011, 11:34:18 AM »
Just a thought.

There could be a lost in space factor depending on the distance. Obviously, a small imprecision mistake in you jump gets more and more dangerous if you go very far. You may just miss the system.

To avoid that mistake you could set a beacon in the systems you own. If jumping to a beacon, the error change would be Zero. So then it is  very important to make small jumps to enemy system, but you could still try it. It would just be dangerous. That would also be an objective of attack, destroying the ennemi beacon when entering a system to avoid reinforcement.

There could also be reverse beacon, something that would hide the system (a bit) so you have to jump from a closer range.
 

Offline byron

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2011, 01:35:38 PM »
Just a thought.

There could be a lost in space factor depending on the distance. Obviously, a small imprecision mistake in you jump gets more and more dangerous if you go very far. You may just miss the system.

To avoid that mistake you could set a beacon in the systems you own. If jumping to a beacon, the error change would be Zero. So then it is  very important to make small jumps to enemy system, but you could still try it. It would just be dangerous. That would also be an objective of attack, destroying the ennemi beacon when entering a system to avoid reinforcement.

There could also be reverse beacon, something that would hide the system (a bit) so you have to jump from a closer range.
I quite like something like this.  As it stands, the situation does strike me as entirely too fluid.  There is no point in fighting anywhere in the middle.  At all.  You just jump for your opponents, he jumps for you, end of story.  That's boring.
The heat buildup is also a good idea.  If Steve implements heat (which I don't think he's going to, but if he does) then that would mesh nicely.

Sloanjh:
That exact point was discussed in one of the earlier books.  It came down to "We can't hit them hard enough without stripping ourselves bare".  And I'm not sure that PDCs will be quite as good.  They can't dodge, and ships can.
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Offline chuckles73

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2011, 02:20:29 PM »
There is no point in fighting anywhere in the middle.  At all.  You just jump for your opponents, he jumps for you, end of story. 

Just a thought, but without jump gates you won't necessarily know where your enemy's homeworld is. You would fight to take anything of his that you can find so that you can discover his star charts and learn where his homeworld is.

 

Offline TheDeadlyShoe

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2011, 02:46:09 PM »
Also, homeworlds are guaranteed to have by far the heaviest concentration of forces. Sending the greater part of your military into a hornet's nest is a gamble. A strategy of picking at the edges will offer more vulnerable targets.

I guess it depends on how quickly you want the war to end either way. :P
 

Offline PTTG

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2011, 03:16:13 PM »
We ultimately have to look at the larger strategic design. Currently, your capital planet is pretty much self-sufficient, and if not that, your capital system is.

Consider if the system generator was modified so most systems had only poor concentrations of resources, but one in a dozen has large, highly accessible reserves of one specific resource. In that case, attacking an enemy's critical duranium mines would be an attractive strategic move, something that would presumably make further attacks on the enemy empire easier.
 

Offline TheDeadlyShoe

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Re: Island Hopping vs. Deep Strike
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2011, 03:18:36 PM »
That would pretty much screw the NPRs worse than they are on minerals.   In any case, Sol is kind of an abberation, most systems arn't as mineral rich. 
 

 

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