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Topics - Michael Sandy

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1
The Academy / How to load missiles in conventional start PDCs?
« on: Yesterday at 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).

2
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?

3
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.

4
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.

5
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.

6
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.

7
Advanced Tactical Command Academy / fighter formations
« on: January 18, 2017, 04:42:51 PM »
This is an outgrowth of a discussion on AMM and AFM that have sensors.

The question I was turning over in my mind was what sort of formation should a box launcher equipped fighter force use?  Also, do you optimize them for anti-ship work, or do you have a resolution 5 missile fire control as well, so they have some defense against fighters?

If you have point defense fighters with your box launcher fighters, your formation is pretty simple.  Everybody in a tight ball so you can use final fire PD against anything incoming, with the anti-missile sensor fighters a little in advance of the formation to get better firing solutions.

I suppose a lot depends on what kills your fighters, or what you expect to kill your fighters.  If your fighters are spread in a line perpendicular to the enemy force, their missiles will all arrive at the same time, but be in lots of different volleys, and missiles targeted at destroyed fighters will likely be out of range of retargeting other fighters.

In WWII, the Allies had night fighters lurking over German airbases to shoot down enemy bombers as they were preparing to land.  Intercepting box launcher fighters that are empty and returning to base, all you would need would be to have a couple faster beam equipped fighters, or a missile equipped fighter with a decent magazine that could stay in range long enough to fire its missiles.  Even 1 missile volleys would be sufficient if the box launcher fighters are empty, and have no point defense.

I would guess that the AI uses the fighter ball strategy, but aesthetically, there is something to be said for wider formations, at least where there is some tactical benefit to it.

8
Mechanics / rotating crew
« on: January 05, 2017, 03:32:40 AM »
k, this is probably a noob question, but if I want to rotate a crew of a terraformer or other slow facility, can I just rotate the crew, instead of taking that huge and expensive facility offline to fly sloooowly back to base so the crew can have R&R?

Do I even need to worry about their morale, or is that just an RP consideration?

For that matter, if I have a warp point monitor, and I don't want to waste the fuel on shipping it to a colony, or even have it off station if I can avoid it, is there a way of doing a crew rotation, so I just need to move a personal transport, not a 100k ton facility?

9
Advanced Tactical Command Academy / sensors on AMMs
« on: January 04, 2017, 04:44:13 PM »
So, digging in to AMM design, I note they need a lot of fire controls to get even the option of shooting one AMM per incoming missile.  But perhaps that isn't necessary.

My understanding of the mechanics is that if you are shooting, say, five AMMs at a missile in an incoming volley, and the first AMM takes it out, the succeeding four AMMs will continue to the location of their last target, and lo and behold there will be a whole bunch more targets for them.  If the onboard sensors can target missiles within say 10,000km, won't that be enough?

There would be some slight performance cost, as the sensor's mass would come at the expense of agility, but the advantage in terms of less missile overkill wastage or less mass spent on extra fire controls seems to be worth it, at least at some tech levels.

So an anti-missile escort could have a long-ish ranged fire control, so it could fire in antifighter or antiship mode, and some short ranged fire controls, but it could still expect to be able to thin out incoming missile waves with the long ranged fire control (assuming a forward sensor to detect the incoming waves early, perhaps).

So am I missing something in the mechanics, or is it simply too difficult to shoehorn even a point blank antimissile sensor into a size 1 missile?

10
Advanced Tactical Command Academy / large vs small missiles
« on: January 04, 2017, 04:23:10 PM »
Fair warning, I am prejudiced against size 1 missiles swarms.  Just against the aesthetic of building attacking missiles so cheaply that it costs the defender too much to try to shoot them down.

But how do they really compare?

At high levels of boost, the fuel efficiency of large missiles means they can be much longer ranged.  As agility increases accuracy per msp, larger missiles can afford more agility.  And sensors as well.  And even armor may be a competitive counter to AMMs at higher levels, compared to simply having lots of small missiles.

Larger missiles take longer to load, but for fighter loadouts that is less of a consideration.  Sure, a size 12 missile takes an hour and a half to load in a hangar, but the fighter is likely flying out and back for several hours.

Size 12 is about the largest missile I would expect to see, as beyond that are no further gains in fuel efficiency and therefore range.

But large missiles have another drawback, especially early in a campaign.  It costs a lot more research points to keep large missile designs up to date.  It is almost trivial to keep the AMM designs up to date.

The thing is, switching one's standard missile size is expensive.  You basically have to scrap or drastically refit your entire missile fleet, plus missile stores.  So if you pick size 4 launchers in the beginning, you are likely stuck with that size for most of the campaign.

In favor of large missiles, especially late in the campaign, the ability to deal shock damage.  A size 36 warhead is very likely indeed to inflict shock damage, even if it won't take down the shields.  This is especially important for fighter missions, as the huge amount of time between strikes means that shields would likely have been completely regenerated between strikes.  And the chance of a Golden BB hit, that causes secondary explosions (say of boosted engines) is a worthy consideration.

So, many sizes of missiles do you have in your fleet?  size 1 for AMMs, size 2 or 3 for anti-fighter, anti-LAC, and size 4-6 for long ranged missiles?  What is the largest sized missile you have developed and actually used and been happy with?


11
Advanced Tactical Command Academy / Dedicated carriers vs integrated
« on: December 20, 2016, 09:49:20 PM »
A while ago I asked about how fleets transition from missile or beam fleets to dedicated carriers.  I see a lot of designs for carriers that are nothing but hangar, and not much beyond that, on the theory that the fighters are both offense and defense.

But historically, planes were first used as spotters for ships, not as a means of directly attacking them.  And the earliest plane vs plane fights were about scouting and denying scouting information.

There are a lot of uses for having a 1000 ton hangar on most capital ships.  Scouts, boarding pods, life boats (if a ship is exploring by itself, and comes under missile attack, RP-wise it is a lot easier to order them to scuttle the ship if they have life boats that are so small that they are unlikely to be targeted, at least if the exploring ship was killed by missiles)

Hangars can carry fast beam armed fighters for cheaply running down merchant ships, and you would not need many to be able to carry out that mission, warp point probes are a lot easier and cheaper if you have the capacity to carry them on any ship likely to want to probe a warp point.

Early on, before the technologies for fighters are fully developed, you can still get use out of factories producing them making survey craft or Siberia class warp point monitor stations.

You could even have fighter sized tankers or colliers, on the theory that they would be too small to easily detect, and therefore not require much division of force to escort them.  Well, before the latest changes to refueling and rearming, anyway.

Dedicated carriers do have some big advantages, of course.  It is a lot easier for a fighter group to train as a unit if they are all based on the same platform with the same officers. It is easier to alter the ratio of fighter to other fleet elements if there are dedicated carrier designs.

What advantages and drawbacks are there to each approach?

12
Advanced Tactical Command Academy / Fire and forget missiles
« on: December 17, 2016, 02:43:39 PM »
I was thinking of a new class of 3 stage missile, about 16 MSP.  Part one is basically the largest missile engine possible, about 5 MSP, and 1 MSP of fuel (adjust to your preferred ratios, and power level on missile drive)

Stage two is 2-3 MSP of sensor, a stationary "mine", but with a much larger sensor head and therefore engagement range

Stage 3 is 6-8 1 MSP submunitions, with the highest power setting available.

The reasons for doing it in three stages, instead of putting the sensor on the first stage, is because that big sensor will reveal it, and therefore the location of the launching ship.

The idea is for it to launch from outside of enemy AMM range, because fire controls are unlikely to be able to lock in to a 40 ton missile, (down to 25 by stage 2), unless you have AMM that home in on EM.

Obviously, you are not going to get a great rate of fire or volume of size 16 missiles.  But you could put them in box launchers for a stealthed carrier, where the fighters basically launch their missiles and get right back on the carrier, because stage 1 will just go to the last location targets when the fighters get back on their carrier.

This weapon deals a fairly significant amount of damage at a huge range, because the final stage swarm missiles are really fast and small.  However, there is inescapably overkill issues unless the final stage swarm missiles have a sensor too.  Doctrine wise, you lose a LOT more payload per missile for small missiles having sensors compared to larger missiles.  But for something that operates like a mine, perhaps the final stages HAVE to have some sensors no matter what.

So tactically and strategically, what sorts of counters are there?

Detecting the missile in its stage one phase seems impractical, maybe if you have a sensor platform close to the enemy when they launch, you can vector some fast fighters with AMM to take them out.

Stage 2 can be detected by seeing its emissions, but chances are it will already be inside its range at that point.

A lot depends on where it is being used.  In a warp point fight where the targets are on the warp point, jumping out is an option.  Just jump back in outside of the myopic sensor ranges of the swarm.  So defending a warp point with these would be problematic vs a human player.

Might be kind of fun to station these defending a warp point from the attackers side, because they are fire and forget.  Launch and retreat, using them to damage an attacking force without much fear of being damaged in turn, at the expense of conceding the attackers' side of the warp point.

13
Bureau of Ship Design / Sensor buoy design
« on: November 25, 2016, 03:00:32 AM »
Do people find it practical to build sensor buoys to monitor warp points?  I have been puzzling over what kind of design priorities there were for them.

First, the sensor has to have range to cover any transit, and detect any ship capable of surveying.

Second, it needs to have endurance so that you don't have to send a ship out to replace it.

Third, it needs to be of small enough size or distant enough from the warp point that it will not generally be discovered by ships that pass through.

Fourth, it needs to be cheap enough to be used everywhere.

It is the third criteria which seems to cause the hang ups.  If an invading fleet has anti-missile missiles, it can be counted on to have a resolution 1 sensor that can reach over a million km.

So this suggests that you can't have one sensor buoy design meet all of those tests.  So having a buoy that can cover the warp point and detect anything is going to be fairly myopic, and therefore close to the warp point.  But a buoy that is used to track the entry of capital ships, with a resolution 60 or so, can have much more range and conceivably escape detection.

I am also curious about Captor mine designs.  The larger the mine, the better the sensor, and the less cost per submunition to get a given range sensor trigger.  But that larger mine is also easier to detect, and that range allows an invader to get their sensors up or jump back through the warp point.

For myself, I am dubious about how effective Captor mines are in a warp point defense, as an invader could send in a big noisy ship to trigger their launch, and then just slip back through the warp point.  But if you use them in open space, you really need as much range as possible, which makes the larger mines more economical.

14
Advanced Tactical Command Academy / scout design and doctrine
« on: October 16, 2016, 05:45:21 AM »
To begin with, what ARE the various scouting missions, and how important are they?

1)  locating enemy fleet on offense

2)  early warning of enemy fleet for strategic or tactical defense

3)  shadowing enemy vessels to direct fleet assets, or to find enemy entry/exit points

4)  monitoring jump points/gates.  Requirements, the resolution to detect anything that can make transit.  Must be able to detect transit over the range a jump ship about 2 tech levels higher could jump in.

5)  probing jump points

6)  probing inhabitable planets

7)  early warning of missile attack, to allow fleet time to turn away or forward deploy anti-missile escort

8)  recon by fire.  Sometimes the only way to find out what range the enemy can detect or destroy missiles, fighters, ships is to probe.  Against a faster fleet, especially precursors, you have to have this information early enough to disengage.

9)  providing targeting information vs missiles, fighters and/or ships for other ships whose weapon ranges would otherwise vastly exceed their onboard sensor range.

Scouts can be anything from missiles with sensors on them, drones, fighters, lacs, all the way up to capital ships with a quarter or more of their tonnage devoted to sensors.  So what keeps them alive?

1)  speed.  They can outrun anything that is armed
2)  small size, they can detect anything big enough to harm them outside of their opponent's own sensor range
3)  range, they have sensors of such size that they can sit comfortably outside of the enemy's range while directing the fight
4)  they are a deliberate target, with lots of armor and shields
5)  alive?  They are cheap and disposable and built in ordnance factories or fighter factories
6)  not as fast as possible, or as small as possible, but armed to take out or force back their opposite numbers, or part of a squadron where the design of the hitters is tied to the speed and size of the sensor equipped ship.

Some scouting doctrine ideas:

Every jump point should have a sensor on it, preferably both sides, in every system with assets that are not considered to be "disposable".  Every system worth protecting should at least have a patrol capable of shadowing an enemy fleet, so in the event of a surprise attack through an undiscovered jump point, the attack can be traced back.

So, some questions:

Approximately what percentage of your fleet build is devoted to scouting?  How specialized are your scouts?  If your scouts are small, like missile to LAC sized, specialization seems the way to go.  But for capital ship scouts, you may not have enough of a production run to justify an EM specialized capital ship and a thermal specialized capital ship etc...

15
Bureau of Ship Design / Gunboat survey vessels
« on: February 25, 2009, 02:18:59 PM »
I was looking over some of the early survey designs and was wondering about the utility of building them with gunboat engines.

They would of course need a jump capable tender, but if a race has plenty of fuel and refining capability, it might be an interesting tactic.

I was thinking of one internal bay on the tender, and tractors for towing additional FACs.

The racial theory would be that building the geosurvey boats small would reduce the number of personnel lost (no bridge) in the event of a hostile encounter.  Plus, the peacetime use of FACs for surveys would build up the number of potential carrier ships in time of war.  And the slips designed for survey boats could be quickly converted into armed FACs.

The deployment strategy would be that any colony that could support a maintainence facility would have a scout FAC attached to it.

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