Author Topic: Ground Combat  (Read 1489 times)

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Offline Paul M

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Ground Combat
« on: March 05, 2012, 08:20:57 AM »
Yes, I know Ground Combat has been the orphaned left handed step child who was hidden under the closet since birth in Starfire...but the RM is planning to take over an alien race and I'd kind of like to brainstorm a bit consider this a bit of stream of consiousness thinking on my part over this topic.

1.  Kinetic Interdictors and Ground Support Fire...

The rules for KI's are vastly odd.  While it is possible using missiles from ships to obliterate a worlds PCFs in under 5 min (this is something that you would classify under "WW1 Artillery General's wet dream") Kinetic Interceptors are first of all governed by a extremely random die roll (1-100% effectiveness), are exceptionally expensive 6MCr per 3 CFs, and can only do 50% damage to the enemy.  Their cost is mitigated somewhat when you consider they have no maintenance and 3 CFs is a not bad amount given how many PCFs you could potentially kill.  But you have to question if spending 24,000 MCr on a system (as the example in ISW4 tech gives) would not have been better spent just buying more PCF-x's.  Also a bomb that can kill a PCf costs 0.01 MCr...so why on earth are these things which are no where near effective and are 7 Tech levels higher so ungodly expensive?  If memory serves 1 nuke kills one PCF in the SM2 changes to the planetary bombardment table.

In imperial starfire it is stated that you can decide to fire non-nuclear weapons in defence of a PDC under ground assault so I will assume that you can do so for orbital bombardment or shuttle dropped bombs.  The trouble is that how do you apply this CF?  Looking at the rules you would have to do the same as for the KI's and also make the limitation that you could only kill 50% of the defenders (include all other rules as well about spotters etc...there is no way the KI's are worse then a missile in terms of guidance since they require a ships fire control to be used anyway).  This would mean that for each non-nuclear warhead or shuttle dropped bomb used you would get 1 CF.  A CA with 6 Wa could then fire 60x2x6x1CF= 720 CF worth of missiles in an interception turn for a cost of 72 MCr.  The equivellent in KI would cost 1440 MCr.  Pardon me but this is absurd.  A ast could drop 60x2x1CF = 120 CF in bombs for 1.2 MCr while that would cost 240 MCr in KI.  Even factor in the cost of the ast and you are at 31.2 to 240 MCr.

So add that to the pool from KI and make a roll.  Personally I would be more inclinded to make this a guassian roll (2d10 and look up a result on a chart) so it can be bell curved since ground combat isn't so wildly divergent...  

But again the cost of the KI comes back...why is it so ungodly expensive when you consider that a SM costs 0.1 MCr and does 1 CF (according to the rules all non-nuclear warheads to 1 CF).  That says to me the KI should cost about 0.03 MCr to 0.3 MCr each...it can't be more expensive then 3 Ground attack SMs, which after all are full sized missiles not a mass driver and kinetic kill projectile.  Split the difference and say 0.2 MCr per KI.  Is that too cheap?  The real point I think is that you can buy a PCF for 6 MCr that is going to give you more than 3 CF and fires more than once even if you have to pay maintenance.  If you use the example from ISW4 technology you would be much better off taking your 24,000 MCr and buying 4,000 MCr in ground troops and using the other 20,000 MCr for maintenance on them then wasting your time with 24,000 MCr worth of KIs.  300 more PCF-12a's would have added a lot more chance that they would win the battle then landing 200 troops supported by 24,000 MCr in KIs.  Either that or land only a single spotter per planetary area, and cut the enemy down by half each attack.  Done 2 times (by which time you should be out of KIs) would have cost the attacker 12 PCFs.   The enemy would have lost a good fraction of their troops (between 50-75% in each combat area)...2 attacks in each planetary area with around 1000 CF of KI's.

2.  Detecting and destroying PCFs

Anyone who has ever seen the rules from Traveller spots very quickly that some of the first systems routinely adopted by militaries are stealth suits and chaemloen battledress and advanced armours.  This is what is happening now, so let us assume in the future in Starfire they don't line up in parade formation in open ground why don't we?  Modern militaries are far more resistant to nuclear attacks then civilian infrastructure.  They would include intergal ground to orbit defence and attack systems so "nuking them from orbit" should be a more difficult proposition then just firing a random missile at them.  They know about the ships in orbit and can track them easily enough to avoid them (terrain is a factor).  The ISW4 bughouse scenario again doesn't make sense...how could the TFNs troops have hidden?  How could they have hidden the people?  How could they have moved the people under the observation of the bug orbital weapons platforms?  Typically what White/Webber writes in the books is at extreme varience with the starfire rules but that particular part was baffleing...also the KI's used in those battles seemed to be far more effective then the ones in the rules as they destroyed several bug columns on the move.

Anyway personally spotting PCFs from orbit should be a tougher proposition...they don't launch flare guns afterall.  And then killing them should be TL dependent and they should have intergal point defences as a function of tech level of the PCF.   But as things stand you are in a vicious circle...PCF's are worthless because you can just nuke em from orbit, you can nuke em from orbit because the rules make that a trivial inexpensive task therefore PCFs are worthless...

3.  Shuttle Air Support

The thing is that the ast doesn't have a point defence suite.  It has ground attack weapons which can be used to defend the shuttle and to attack other small craft.  The pn has heavier versions of these same weapons but again doesn't mount a point defence suite.  So why is the damn ast or pn not given an explicit ground attack value.  From Imperial Starfire point defences are worth 1 CF.  So an ast or pn is worth 1 CF in terms of ground support.  But they can drop 2 bombs ever 30s so in 60 rounds so in a 30 min interception turn they could drop 120 bombs each.  For, again ignoring nuclear options, an additional 120 CF.  That is 0.25 MCr per CF looking at the price of an ast only ignoring the basic 1 CF the ships "ground attack weapons" give it and the cost of the bombs (1.2 MCr) .  Also ISW4 talks about shuttle mounted KI's which are not in the rules.

It would make far more sense to me if the CF from a shuttle (basic ground support) increased every (as a guess) 3 levels TL3 CF1, TL6 CF2 or TL6 with KI developed CF4, TL9 CF3 or CF5 with KI developed, and so on.

It would also lead to lots of destroyed shuttles if ground units had an inherent point defence ability...no matter how low the chance was with 100+ PCFs your shuttles (of which there is unlikely to be more than 40 or 50 in most cases) would end up dead long before they dropped too many troops.

4.  "Low" Level Guerrilla War

This is anything but low level 2-20% of the planets garrison and GPV reduced each month?  That means in general in 10 months on average the planet generates no income.  Uhm...this is someones wet dream but lets be realistic here.  Partisan forces can't survive contact with regular military forces.  Partisan forces without support last very very short time frames.  Without a safe haven an insurgency is pretty much doomed.  So how about .2-2%? Also these things are impossible to stop in starfire...or I missed the rule for how one ends one outside of a political offer.  How about every turn you don't reduce the garisson below minimum your LLGW militancy goes down by 2% and a further check against the new LLGW militancy is made to see if the movement peters out is made? Because honestly under the rules in starfire if one starts you would be better off to reduce your garrison to trigger a general uprising and then crush it then to fart around trying to deal with the LLGW.  Crushing a general uprising also dramatically reduces militancy if memory serves.  I find it astounding that regular military forces can be blotted out of existance in mere minutes by a few orbiting corvetes yet freedom fighters are able to kill 20-30 PCFs per month without being spotted, tracked and destroyed (given the total control of the orbitals the occupier has).

5.  Losses

The time scale of ground combat is that in 30 min so worst case the battle for the planet could be over in 30 min...hard to see how it might take even 1 day.  This is absurdly short.  Also why is everyone dead?  Modern combat doesn't kill everyone in a combat unit...heck 10% casaulties of an entire combat formation are very heavy for an attack (10% of a units full strength is considerably higher fraction of its combat sub units).  So losses should be split between disabled, dead, and captured.  At a guess 50%, 20%, and 30%.  Every day 1-6% of the disabled should return to duty (roll a d6) representing light injuries, and the fact some of that is just disrupted formations that make it back in drips and drabs later.  As it is...it is like that original star trek episode with the two planets at war and the booths...

I'll have to look at what Galactic Starfire has...maybe there was some improvements.  But the rules in Imperial Starfire and the SM2 updates...blah...  Nuke everything from orbit it is the only way to write rules seems to be the watch word.

added in edit:  combat is one roll per 30 min interception turn, and that is 60 tactical rounds...this makes missiles even more effective.  A couple of CTs with 2 W and 2 Mg would be able to destroy 60x2x2=240 PCF's per interception turn for a cost in ships of 400-500 MCr, in total (400 missiles per ship) they could destroy 800 PCFs causing a total of 80 PU/IU losses to the world.  Actually they may do x2 of that as I think it says 2 PCF per EVM.  The best you could do with KI (lets assume there are 800 PCFs on the world) is 400...lets say they are PCF-6 (8 CF per PCF) would require on a 50% roll: 2133 KI or 12798 MCr plus shipping (86 H required).  That kind of cash is over 100 turns of maintence on the CTs...

I just can't see how they (whoever it was that did so) came up with the cost of the KI system...
« Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 08:24:57 AM by Paul M »
 

Offline Paul M

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Re: Ground Combat
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2012, 06:56:01 AM »
I looked into Galactic Starfire (4thE) and the ground combat system is better mechanically but it has all the soul of "acountants at war."  It is all about Qv and H...but it is a mechanically better system and includes a reasonable sort of resolution system.  I find the "the natives ignore your pathetic invasion" results a bit on the humorous side.

No one have any ideas on a fair price for Kinetic Interceptors?

1 magazine full of SM with non-nuclear warheads is 20 MCr and produces 200 CF and takes 0.4 H and costs 0.4 MCr in shipping.  So 70 KI (210 CF), and that takes 2.8 H shipping should cost? 
 

Offline Starslayer_D

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Re: Ground Combat
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2012, 12:07:21 PM »
I think the main trouble is that SF doesn't bother with the negative effects of using nukes vs conventional ammunition, eg. fallout. I don't mind the transport volume on Ki, but the cost for dropping crowbars with bird brains from orbit compared to nuclear warheads is just slightly off.
 

Offline Tregonsee

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Re: Ground Combat
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2012, 03:03:42 PM »
But Starfire does impose consequences for using nukes on a planet.  That is where you need to look at the guerrilla warfare and occupation rules.  If you used nukes in the conquest it takes forever to bring the RC and RM down in order to get them to like you.

My problem is when the NPR or opposing player has developed the system fully.  Then you have to occupy every rockball in the system, and when there are asteroid belts...  Theoretically, some part of the system is in revolution all of the time, even with max occupation forces.
 

Offline mavikfelna

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Re: Ground Combat
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2012, 09:06:49 PM »
Make the KI 0.3MCr each.

Also, make controlling the habitable real estate in the system grant control over the whole system, so you only have to occupy the habitable areas.

--Mav
 

Offline Paul M

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Re: Ground Combat
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2012, 03:28:52 AM »
Tregonsee that extra increase is actually on the order of pathetic, I can kill 800 PCF and inflict 80 PU loss on a world which generates say 10% adjustment (starting level of PU was 800) and in 5 months it will be gone as the adjustment drops by 2% per month automatically, and faster if I invest in IU or whatever to improve things.  Part of the problem is also that a pre-industrial PCF is killed as fast as a HT12 marine raider unit in power armour.  If it took 1 nuke per CF (or x CF) then you might think about not "nuke 'em from orbit" then land your occupation troops.  There should be more incentive to not spank the golden goose with a shovel in my view. 

You don't really need to occupy every rock ball because they are all dependent on the transport of lifesupport from some world with a biosphere.  Artificial habitats can not even build PCF so they can't rebel in a serious manner.  They can only do work slow downs...and in that case there is an oxygen slow down or a food slow down or a water slow down...  You would have to actively work at it (cortez approach) to get people who have such a fragile life line to rebel.  If you took no steps to stop this sort of thing you would have them building ships for the "rebel alliance" faster than you can say "its a wombat" but with a few patrol ships and some basics I don't see how it can happen.  The build rate of a moon is such that they could not get it done before the patroling ship came by.

Whenever I read the ground rules I am left with the impression that Webber had an idea in his head but he could never quite get the rules to reproduce it.

The real kicker is the "low" level guerrilla war which is anything but...

Mav thanks I'll work on Starslayer, or if not I'll buy a few hundred MCr worth of non-nuclear missile and re-arm the fleet for the invasion.  I'm fairly sure both Starslayer and I will do your suggestion about the habitable world (one of the systems has only moon colonies so I have to work out my plan for them).
 

Offline Tregonsee

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Re: Ground Combat
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2012, 09:31:42 AM »
But the system still has 5 T/ST populated planets.  On at least two of the planets, they are full 3200PU/1600IU, so no help there.  I wish the rules were more fleshed out, as my SM claims that I do have to garrison all of the rockballs and will have some under revolt all of the time...
 

Offline Paul M

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Re: Ground Combat
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2012, 11:40:14 AM »
You can't make PCFs except on habitable worlds so they can't raise troops or so I would say.  They can only do work stopages (reduce income)...you can then use the rules for active reprisals on them to reduce that.  It is up to your SM but there is no logical way in the face of having their air, water and food cut off those moon colonies could perform less than nominally.  You would have to put SEC on each moon but that is it.  A revolution would be miners with what weapons?  A missile from an orbiting base could end the rebellion in a few seconds at the cost of 10 PU or whatever.  Possibly a really militant race would do that, ok fine then you do a bunch of dome breaking till someone says "Stop!!!" or you run out of domes to break.  You can use orbiting bases as a garrison force as well.  So 3 SEC per moon, 1-2 bases per gas giant and you are golden I'd think.  Depends on how it goes.  Having ships patrolling the system should add a general force value to each gas giants garrison as they know they are there.  Up to your SM but half the value in patroling ships to the force pool is fair.  So half the number of patroling warships, the full value of the bases and then 3 sec (or whatever) should be well above the minimum garrison especially if the bases also have a PCF on them.

The rules are not very good that is true.
 

Offline Paul M

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Re: Ground Combat
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2012, 03:30:56 AM »
Tregonsee, in addition to all that there is another issue.  Under the economics in Imperial Starfire you would never settle anything but habitable worlds outside your home system and even home system exploitation would stop after the first few turns.  Look at any of the 3rd edition products and you see sparsely settled systems.  Look at any SM2 game and every rock has a population on it.  The "interactions with conquored peoples" rules from SM2 are just a minor rewrite of the rules from Imperial Starfire, to account for the change from EVM to PU.  What was not accounted for in the rules in SM2 was the change in colonization practices.

To stick to the rule that every planet is treated individualy as stated in Imperial Starfire and SM2 is to fail to grasp that the universes changed.  Webber's rules had an unwritten assumption that you are dealing with a habitable world in the first place.  You notice there are no modifications for hostile enviornments for example, only the possiblity it is a ST world and you are a T race (or vice versa). 

A moon colony is also the same thing as people on an off shore oil platform with no way to leave it.  Either they produce oil at a certain rate or else food and water and such doesn't get sent to them.  This sort of situation produces remarkably low rates of rebellion.  Also PCFs are combat forces and most mines would have limited stocks of explosives and there is no local industry to produce weapons (outside of clubs and knives) so a rebel army in this sense is a pre-industrial PCF force...basically a mob.  Assuming they rebel and if not mistreated they are unlikely to do so.

Mav has exeperience with this, and Starslayer and I would back up the concept that only habitable worlds need garrisons and have a chance to rebel.  Outside of that you just actively encourage "Genocide for Fun and Profit" in my view.  Infact the cost of garrisons and the rules for rebellions are just about absurd.  Again I suspect Webber did this based on some personal view he had or to fit in with some fiction or whatever but it produces a system where up to 20% of the garrison can be killed by what is termed a low level guerrilla action.  Something which is going to produce nothing like that in terms of casualties.  Not to mention ignores the fact that the rules make localization and destruction of PCFs from orbit a trivial task but somehow the guerrillas are special and avoid this.  The Terrans against the Thebans was only half way believable due to the Terrans having a higher tech level.

Webber writes entertaining rules, they are very enjoyable to read, but they are very poor rules compared to something like an Avalon Hill board game in my view. 

Direct your SM here and maybe we can argue him or her around.
 

Offline MWadwell

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Re: Ground Combat
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2012, 05:14:36 AM »
Yes, I know Ground Combat has been the orphaned left handed step child who was hidden under the closet since birth in Starfire...but the RM is planning to take over an alien race and I'd kind of like to brainstorm a bit consider this a bit of stream of consiousness thinking on my part over this topic.

1.  Kinetic Interdictors and Ground Support Fire...

The rules for KI's are vastly odd.

I agree - KI's are vastly over priced. If I was serious about this, I would suggest dropping the prices (both the developmental cost and the construction cost) to make it more balanced.

What I would also do, is to impliment a point defense capability into PCF's, that is only usable against bomb's, small craft and non-sprint mode missiles. That would help make KI's more effective....


Quote
2.  Detecting and destroying PCFs

My way of addressing this wouldn't be to make them harder to kill - but instead make them harder to detect.

If you only had the ability to scan a planet once per day, and the chance to detect a PCF started at 50% for Pre-Ind, and dropped 5% per level (to a minimum of 1%), that would help make HT PCF worthwhile.....


Quote
3.  Shuttle Air Support

(SNIP)

It would make far more sense to me if the CF from a shuttle (basic ground support) increased every (as a guess) 3 levels TL3 CF1, TL6 CF2 or TL6 with KI developed CF4, TL9 CF3 or CF5 with KI developed, and so on.

It would also lead to lots of destroyed shuttles if ground units had an inherent point defence ability...no matter how low the chance was with 100+ PCFs your shuttles (of which there is unlikely to be more than 40 or 50 in most cases) would end up dead long before they dropped too many troops.

I agree - both with giving small craft inherent CF, as well as giving PCF a point defense capability....


Quote
4.  "Low" Level Guerrilla War

This is anything but low level 2-20% of the planets garrison and GPV reduced each month?  That means in general in 10 months on average the planet generates no income.  Uhm...this is someones wet dream but lets be realistic here.  Partisan forces can't survive contact with regular military forces.  Partisan forces without support last very very short time frames.  Without a safe haven an insurgency is pretty much doomed.  So how about .2-2%? Also these things are impossible to stop in starfire...or I missed the rule for how one ends one outside of a political offer.  How about every turn you don't reduce the garisson below minimum your LLGW militancy goes down by 2% and a further check against the new LLGW militancy is made to see if the movement peters out is made? Because honestly under the rules in starfire if one starts you would be better off to reduce your garrison to trigger a general uprising and then crush it then to fart around trying to deal with the LLGW.  Crushing a general uprising also dramatically reduces militancy if memory serves.  I find it astounding that regular military forces can be blotted out of existance in mere minutes by a few orbiting corvetes yet freedom fighters are able to kill 20-30 PCFs per month without being spotted, tracked and destroyed (given the total control of the orbitals the occupier has).

I would need to have another look at the rules before commenting on this one. I agree that the effect is huge (but I have a feeling that this is due to the advanced speed of the economics when compared to the military).


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5.  Losses

The time scale of ground combat is that in 30 min so worst case the battle for the planet could be over in 30 min...hard to see how it might take even 1 day.  This is absurdly short.  Also why is everyone dead?  Modern combat doesn't kill everyone in a combat unit...heck 10% casaulties of an entire combat formation are very heavy for an attack (10% of a units full strength is considerably higher fraction of its combat sub units).  So losses should be split between disabled, dead, and captured.  At a guess 50%, 20%, and 30%.  Every day 1-6% of the disabled should return to duty (roll a d6) representing light injuries, and the fact some of that is just disrupted formations that make it back in drips and drabs later.  As it is...it is like that original star trek episode with the two planets at war and the booths...

I'll have to look at what Galactic Starfire has...maybe there was some improvements.  But the rules in Imperial Starfire and the SM2 updates...blah...  Nuke everything from orbit it is the only way to write rules seems to be the watch word.

added in edit:  combat is one roll per 30 min interception turn, and that is 60 tactical rounds...this makes missiles even more effective.  A couple of CTs with 2 W and 2 Mg would be able to destroy 60x2x2=240 PCF's per interception turn for a cost in ships of 400-500 MCr, in total (400 missiles per ship) they could destroy 800 PCFs causing a total of 80 PU/IU losses to the world.  Actually they may do x2 of that as I think it says 2 PCF per EVM.  The best you could do with KI (lets assume there are 800 PCFs on the world) is 400...lets say they are PCF-6 (8 CF per PCF) would require on a 50% roll: 2133 KI or 12798 MCr plus shipping (86 H required).  That kind of cash is over 100 turns of maintence on the CTs...

I would prefer to make a combat round a day (instead of 30 minutes) - which would then tie it in with the scanning frequency as well.

Make bombing cause collateral losses in your own troops (due to proximaty to the defenders) - but the KI causing no collateral damage to attacking troops would also help the KI balance issue as well......
Later,
Matt
 

Offline Tregonsee

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Re: Ground Combat
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2012, 05:55:01 PM »
You can't make PCFs except on habitable worlds so they can't raise troops or so I would say. 

The rules are not very good that is true.

Going back to that situation, I have now found out that they have colonized habitable planets outside of their home system.  I guess I will now have to conquer them as well in order to bring them to peace...  Also, although rockballs cannot recruit troops, they can sustain troops, at 1 per PTU/PU, so I think there will still be some fights.

I know, the whole thing is messy...
 

Offline Paul M

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Re: Ground Combat
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2012, 06:32:02 AM »
Thanks for the comments Matt.  As it turns out there is a way to stop a LLGW hidden in the rules and it is possible if you have sufficient troops to suppress the effect but it still seems related more to Webbers idea of what an issurgency can accomplish than reality.  I also think making them harder to detect would help, but unless you make the detection chance roll slow (like you suggest) then it becomes pointless since a check every 30 min even at a 1% chance will have them found fairly quickly.  On the other hand you could also do both, make them harder to find and somewhat harder to kill.  The harder to kill is primarily to increase the amount of PU killed since at the moment it is fairly trivial and so it isn't really a disincentive to do it.  I'm always reminded of a comment from an Iraqi Artillary commander, who said something like:  "In six weeks of air attacks I lost 1 gun, in 6 hours of ground attacks I lost my whole battalion."  I can't recall if it was 6hours exactly he said but basically a short time when actual ground troops engaged him as opposed to nothing much when only air attacks were launched.  I can't help but think this will be also the case excepting when you basically use saturation bombardment as described in the stars at war.

Tregonsee, there is one point and that is each world (one might say system under SM2 rules) is treated seperately.  But this depends on your SM.  As you have a SM why not use the fact.  Negotiate with the rebel scum...basically the soldiers on the moons surrender or else you drop rocks on the domes or just cut off the supply of fresh water, oxygen, and food to the moon.  Also the number of PCFs that can be supported on a rock ball is tiny (no more than 50 PCF).  You can either destroy them with orbital bombardment for a trivial cost in PU or else use KI to wipe out half of them and then land troops to obliterate the rest.  The additional RC that you get for bombardment losses will be removed in a few turns.  I can only say that in games with a SM you have a degree of freedom that otherwise doesn't exist, assuming the SM is willing to adjudicate.  But really it would not take much in terms of PCFs to obliterate the defenders on the rock balls, and they can't be replaced.   Even the outsystem colonies may not be able to raise troops...you can only raise troops on worlds that are benign.  So if any of the colonies outsystem are on harsh/hostile worlds they can't raise troops (they can't even upgrade their tech level).  To my way of thinking the SM is making this more difficult for you but also more work for him.  Regardless best of luck dealing with the rebel slime.

Anyway I'm waiting on the return of the turn so I can do an update.  The RM is still digesting the Buer...it is taking ages longer than it should because they had no mobile support ships and so they first had to be built, then moved up.  But they now have 3 DN(SY) and 2 BC(MC) with another 3 DN(SY) and 8 of the 9 DD(SYM) they captured converted.  The trouble is they have to start another wave of refits due to technology advances.  At least they have the money any more.
 

 

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