Author Topic: Is there a way to lure a spoiler fleet sitting on a planet to disperse?  (Read 2146 times)

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Offline Second Foundationer (OP)

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Fun and a challenge: I have an >800,000 t blob of 28 precursor contacts sitting on the fourth planet of a system right next to Home Sweet Sol. When my Home Fleet entered the Athena system for a second Manassas, some scouts (?) and some missile ships were waiting for me some way out, but my fleet is slightly too slow to hit them before they are wisely (good judgement, AI!) running back to orbit around the planet. Oversight: No sensors in my small bomber force; for the third attempt, I'll add some; but even if they are successful, I'll still have to face a substantial main blob.

Question is: Can I force more/all of their mobile assets to move away from the blob under the following conditions?

Side conditions/RP/house rules:
- No commercial fire-sponges/AMM soakers.
- For the foreseeable future/until I meet a well-established, distant NPR, my mobile (late Ion-generation, baseline speed 5000 km/s) main combat fleet, currently 41 armed ships and 3 bulky scouts, plus 3 CVL with 24 CSG for around 420 kt in total, will not grow far larger, not beyond ~500 kt. Mediocre 18 kt beam-armed cruisers seem to draw the most fire, two are in the fleet, two more will be added within two years to replace previous losses. No further capital ships >6kt (=current JM-limit, and that only with assistance from slower survey or intelligence ships). If someone comes up with a good idea with a handful of new fairly small design ships, I'll extort some minerals from the new worlds.
- It has halfway decent PD capability by now (fast-tracking mesons and gauss, supplemented by offensive 5 kkm/s lasers, plus 6 x 10/10 s scrappy AMM); the second attempt went without a scratch and few missiles wasted, but it was aborted before hitting the main AMM shower at full force.
- Missile and engine power research was lagging for some time. Tech-wise, my missiles are useless against precursors anyway. Whatever I achieve with them must be by numbers. Latest available (in limited quantity) AMM are 25,000 km/s, ASM are size 5, 18,600 km/s WH 10.
- Although improved above near-zero by the current "faction" in power (that dictates research priorities & design strategies), the first-strike ASM power is still limited to 6 DDG x 16 reduced-size launchers + 24 x 5 box launchers in CSG or slightly less after I add scouts; that doesn't seem to be enough to make their beam PD sweat, and it's certainly not enough for googols of AMM. There will soon be one commercial (2370 km/s) CV-AUX that adds 16 bombers x 5 box launchers. I doubt that it will change the balance decisively. If I can convince Earth's stubborn local leaders to send more installations or another shipyard to my loyal ex-savage planet (right below Barnard's off the attached map) in exchange for a large duranium and gallicite relief, there will be a second CV-AUX >two years down by which time the next engine level may near the horizon if I hurry, by then I may also start to exploit 50% propulsion bonus on a venusian in apparently unguarded Proxima Centauri (easier if I find a way to clear Athena). But gallicite scarcity means that I cannot waste too many missiles on failed attempts, or quickly upgrade the entire fleet to anything that beats their observed ~5400 km/s.

With the fleet as it is, my only viable tactics so far has been the brave (& potentially suicidal) way: close in, sacrifice whatever blows up on the way, and shoot with everything that's left at point blank. That worked under painful losses to clear two other spoiler systems within two jumps from Sol. But, this blob on my front porch seems simply too big.
From limited intelligence/other encounters, I can assume that 4 contacts are static, at least 13 are definitely ships/have serious engines, the thermal signatures on 10 others do not rule out that they might be ships, too (do they use signature reduction??), 1 remaining looks more likely to be a platform/station.

Is there any way to lure the ships away? Might sufficiently large active sensors on small craft do the trick? Would tugging two ~18,000 t hodgepodge orbital weapons platforms to the neighbour planet present a temptation? Or an inhabited colony in the inner system if I manage to escort some freighters in? Or splitting the fleet, and how, without reckless degree of suicide risk? Good advice welcome. Preferably tested in action, of course, but I love creative stupid ideas, too.
 

Offline consiefe

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I had the same situation and couldn't move them an inch. So I brought many many PD capable ships along with very dangerous railgun destroyers with armor and shields and wasted them flawlessly. Once you close the distance to your weapon range, it's pretty much a win. But I would like to know if there is a trick to move them. They just don't care, they are robots.
 

Offline liveware

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Maybe some extremely long range but low damage missiles would do the trick? They would be intended to get the enemy to chase you, not to actually do any useful damage. Then draw them through a trap of your liking.
Open the pod-bay doors HAL...
 

Offline Ehndras

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Odd. In my last game, the Precursors ignored me the first time and long-range missile'd my scout. Second attempt with a small combat fleet had them chase me to the jump point. Barely escaped. Third attempt got ANNIHILATED - some of them stayed and camped the JP. :|
"Boop!" goes the thermonuclear missile salvo
 

Offline Black

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Odd. In my last game, the Precursors ignored me the first time and long-range missile'd my scout. Second attempt with a small combat fleet had them chase me to the jump point. Barely escaped. Third attempt got ANNIHILATED - some of them stayed and camped the JP. :|

In my experience with Precursors it depends on what weapons they have. I have beam ships waiting at jump point to ambush me, missile ships tend to intercept at missile range and then start to withdraw to location where their orbital defence bases are (most likely to replenish missiles).
 

Offline Second Foundationer (OP)

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... railgun destroyers with armor and shields and wasted them flawlessly.

I'll try railguns and less self-preserving designs & tactics if the challenge lasts long enough and a railgun preference/more authoritarian faction takes power/fleet leadership.
Shield research has been almost 0, and was only resumed recently: The "goodie" in Athena is a 70% Defence research bonus on a 2.00 CC planet, and until Manassas 1 several years ago I didn't know that there were way more roboships in there than I could handle.

Maybe some extremely long range but low damage missiles would do the trick? They would be intended to get the enemy to chase you, not to actually do any useful damage. Then draw them through a trap of your liking.

This had crossed my mind. But, it's not a very short-term option: To save on upgrades, the MFCs in the fleet are limited to first generation 50m km. Replacing them wouldn't cost too much, though. It might work at least as far the sensors on the scouts are concerned, but no fire & forget, the missiles themselves have no sensors. I planned to create an active sensor variant after one more level of warhead tech.

Odd. In my last game, the Precursors ignored me the first time and long-range missile'd my scout. Second attempt with a small combat fleet had them chase me to the jump point. Barely escaped. Third attempt got ANNIHILATED - some of them stayed and camped the JP. :|

In my experience with Precursors it depends on what weapons they have. I have beam ships waiting at jump point to ambush me, missile ships tend to intercept at missile range and then start to withdraw to location where their orbital defence bases are (most likely to replenish missiles).

If they show that much flexibility, it bodes ever better for the C# AI.

=====

Manassas 3 AAAppendix

No game changers to the problem, but further developments: Less than a year later, a survey ship made first contact with a small quadron of alien ships, five jumps beyond no more stone age Vaath, and only three jumps from our frontier outpost Gateway in Tau Ceti. (The 1.9 map RNG is gracious once more. Gateway had been named and chosen as the location of a forward HQ some time before.) The new encounters are living beings for a change, and at least they don't shoot at sight. Whether they ultimately turn out to be hostile or friendly – either way, it would be nice to have our Athenan garden free of robopests before turning attention to the newcomers to the sector, so a third foray was ordered. The cruisers were still not ready [but three then almost completed medium-sized DD & FFG were missing in my OP count], two bombers have been replaced with active-sensor scouts, and commercial ammunition and supply transports went with the fleet – if we are too slow by 300 or 3000 km/s doesn't really matter.

This time, the welcoming committee consisted of ten ships. The bombers and mini-scouts slipped ahead. Eager to avenge the death of a childhood friend at 61 Cygni, the commander ignored orders to split fire and released all missiles towards the isolated, closest contact. But, she wasn't reprimanded: The hot-headed attack brought the guest team onto the scoreboard first; and what we had taken to be an unarmed scout could actually shoot [might be CIWS, though]. The second sortie was different: The nine remaining roboships formed a mini-blob, and we have obviously underestimated their fire controls against small targets. At which point: Operation Manassas 3 was terminated. Wouldn't want to endanger the main fleet before knowing what's brewing on the frontier...
 

Offline consiefe

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I keep track of the story. I hope it ends well for you. But never ever forget to bring PDs. %17 rof4+ gauss turrets work wonders when they amassed. Only that way you can close the distance. And otherwise I don't think their PD is penetrable with missile salvos unless you spend a fortune on them.

If you get succeed with a different strategy, I'll be happy to hear it.
 

Offline Gabethebaldandbold

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you are better off spending the galicite from missiles on more ships. try and fit as many 10cm railguns on a ship going at least 7000km/s, they are usually better than gauss cannons, unless you use very good turrets, or have good ROF tech, I consider the breaking point to be around 5 shots every 5 seconds. and use 67% chance to hit gauss. if you can fire some big spinal lasers at point blanck to end the fight quickly too that would be ideal. my ships are usually around 12-6k tons for destroyers, and maybe 5k for partoll ships, but I dont usually expect them to actually face serious oposition.
Expect around 100-150 AMM from the enemy, and go once you have enough PD that you are confindent you can take most of them out before they reach your hull. if you can take 100, you can probably rotate your ships in a way that they spend all of them before downing any your ships, specially if you have shields of any kind. its all about reaching critical mass.
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Offline Gabethebaldandbold

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you can usually bait them away from their stations with your fleet, but if they are losing they sometimes retreat, so you need good speed to close the distance before the stations an support them.
To beam, or not to beam.   That is the question
the answer is you beam. and you better beam hard.
 

Offline Father Tim

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This is the sort of thread that belongs in the Spoiler Races forum, as it discusses the specific capabilites and tactics of (and against) a Spoiler Race.
 

Offline Second Foundationer (OP)

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This is the sort of thread that belongs in the Spoiler Races forum, as it discusses the specific capabilites and tactics of (and against) a Spoiler Race.

So I thought. Only, there isn't one in the C# section [yet] unless it's hidden so well that I cannot see it.
I put "spoiler" into the title to make it as obvious as possible.
 

Offline Second Foundationer (OP)

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you are better off spending the galicite from missiles on more ships. try and fit as many 10cm railguns on a ship going at least 7000km/s, they are usually better than gauss cannons, unless you use very good turrets, or have good ROF tech, I consider the breaking point to be around 5 shots every 5 seconds. and use 67% chance to hit gauss. if you can fire some big spinal lasers at point blanck to end the fight quickly too that would be ideal. my ships are usually around 12-6k tons for destroyers, and maybe 5k for partoll ships, but I dont usually expect them to actually face serious oposition.
Expect around 100-150 AMM from the enemy, and go once you have enough PD that you are confindent you can take most of them out before they reach your hull. if you can take 100, you can probably rotate your ships in a way that they spend all of them before downing any your ships, specially if you have shields of any kind. its all about reaching critical mass.

Yes. If I cannot get it done for a long time, something of the sort is eventually going to happen. But I want to know/try out if there is anything one might do to them without having a remotely output-maximized or sufficiently fast/technologically competitive/loss-indifferently large fleet.

I have prepared "Operation Athena Garden" as a next step, attempting to 1. salvage the tech-promising wreck and my own bomber wreckage, 2. at the same time split the Home Fleet to see if I can't bait the welcoming committee and 3. establish an inhabited and guarded permanent base in the inner system. But I don't know when it will go through, I'm currently spending a few Aurora sessions SM-setting up an experiment on the other end of the known universe. So, it may be a while before I can report results.

added screenshot
« Last Edit: May 18, 2020, 04:19:02 PM by Second Foundationer »
 

Offline Gabethebaldandbold

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microwaves can help a lot if you reach into beam range thoug, being able to start disabling enemies without needing to go through their armor is very good.
To beam, or not to beam.   That is the question
the answer is you beam. and you better beam hard.
 

Offline Second Foundationer (OP)

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microwaves can help a lot if you reach into beam range thoug, being able to start disabling enemies without needing to go through their armor is very good.

Literally zero microwave research in this part of the galaxy, I'm afraid.
An option under consideration is a group of armoured meson fighters or FACs to put onto the carriers in place of the bombers. With Meson Armour Retardation now researched down to 28%, I hope it might have a smaller, but similar effect. They wouldn't need to be fast as they wouldn't stand a chance on their own, just a point-blank firepower supplement to the fleet. Or maybe even engine-less mini-stations?

=====

Athena Garden (discarded timeline)

Athena Garden had its first incarnation:
1. was easy. I soon left the SV behind to work alone.
But I messed up 2. by forging ahead too early with the main Home Fleet which then attracted the welcoming committee immediately. By inadvertently lucky increment choice, they came close enough for a salvo or two to go both ways, so missiles were exchanged: nothing our PD couldn't handle, they caught a few craters in the armour (a few more if I hadn't forgotten to replace ordnance to the new standard in the replacement bombers after Manassas 3). Then, they retreated.
The first part of multi-stage 3. unrolled successfully. As a result, there is a tiny colony on dwarf planet Athena-I with a multi-weapons platform in orbit.

(After this save/backup point, I broke something in my experiment at the other end of the galaxy. Once I had noticed (actually some time later to test the OP question), I had to throw the following events away and go back to backup. But I'll report as far as it touches the challenge:)

TF Watchman remains in the inner system, it includes something between a third and half of the beam-only ships from the Home Fleet. The main fleet was ordered back towards the Sol JP in order to replenish some missiles and then return with the second wave of freighters/tugs.

I thought the mega-blob would now sit happily on Athena IV forever. So, I stationed TF Watchman at Athena II for some robofishing. And after a while, the welcoming committee indeed came out for several waste/reload missile runs – no challenge, usually a dozen missiles per salvo.
(Here, I did something stupid. I still need some getting used to looking at two event logs. I advanced time by a large increment.) As a result, I presume many actually separate salvoes of their missiles struck at once in one increment, only, not the Watchman, but the platform (which also had its active sensors off by negligence). Its ten armour levels took it, but it weakened the plan. So, I sent TF Watchman back to Athena-I. There came another harmless waste/reload missile run.
Here comes the interesting part:
- After wasting another load of long-range missiles, they closed in and started shooting AMMs. PD still fine.
- And finally, they came in right at the planet for a fistfight. (Here I made more increment/looking at the wrong log mistakes and lost five ships before I knew that there was a fight. Those beam ships are nasty.)

Essential partial answer: the welcoming committee at least can be lured into point-blank combat by a fleet that is small enough and too slow to make it happen itself.
I'll make another test (and hopefully fewer increment mistakes) in the "real" timeline A. with slightly more even distribution between Watchman and main fleet to test if it works with a somewhat larger and safer bait and, if I succeed, B. to eventually see if the other thermal signatures might be ships and can be tempted, too.
 

Offline Second Foundationer (OP)

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The blob challenge remains, but it has diminished by the tonnage of one welcoming committee. One more report for now.

Let me just say first as my preliminary observation that there are some interesting fencing manoeuvres to pull off with a non-optimized, inferior fleet against this kind of enemy. The AI has displayed a degree of adaptive behaviour that made this whole enterprise fun.

I plan to probe the question again, if not in this system or this universe, then in another. Looking forward to reading about further ideas and other experiences with these kinds of blobs and their mobile parts, here or elsewhere.

=====

Athena Garden (final)

The operation has been a terrible disaster and a glorious victory.

The build-up (after the backup point): With both our cruisers and more or less half of our beam ships overall in TF Watchman in the inner system, the roboships went through many cycles of wasting/reloading missiles while freighters took detours and delays to move safely to/from the colony.
When the tug with our second weapon platform approached the inner system, the welcoming committee wanted to head for it, but TF Watchman rushed to intercept and they changed course. At one time, the task force briefly came a tad too close and was gently laser-epilated, resulting in two ships being detached and headed for home.
Their fleet retreated, our fleet retreated, and the platform was delivered safely to Pallas, as the colony has been christened by its first mayor. The main Home Fleet with all missile-armed ships and the other beam-half was still far beyond the outer planets near freighters and a supply convoy when: the committee came to greet the colony.

(The HI errors: I'm slowly getting a little better at schizo-managing things; but the point-blank battle began again with a too large increment and the loss of four corvettes. I hope, but can't be absolutely certain that it was truly an AI decision and not increment choice that brought the fleet to the planet.
Subsequently seeing the firepower of the enemy ships in action, those corvettes would probably have gone in the first or second increment anyway. And then more mistakes: I initially forgot to reset the STOs on the planet which had previously been switched to PD. Later I failed to retarget several fire controls for quite a while, a mistake that probably cost a frigate or maybe even two.)

The disaster: In the ensuing battle, we soon lost five corvettes and both our cruisers, then, one by one, all six frigates. The fleet will have to be rebuilt.
Fortunately, the two other cruisers will go to space in two months, and Vaath can spit out four CTs at a time. The frigates will take a while to replace; but Earth's mineral stocks have replenished a little, so there there is room for a reconstruction. Events on the frontier signal that there is also time for it.

The victory: Before exploding, our cruisers landed a few good shots at the three terrible enemy cruisers, the Hydra platforms added their incoherent, but substantial bite, and not long after our two cruisers, their three fireballed. After that, supported by the fully intact weapon platforms and the SDI*, our smaller ships had the upper hand over their larger, but fewer ships.
* [SDI="Static Defence Installation"=ground formation of 6+10 STOs; technologically outdated, but basically sound as far as my now marginally above zero experience with STOs can tell. Much corundium was set aside for SDI construction when isolationists were in power early on. We have even continued to add a few after that; and there will probably be an upgrade one of these years. One is sent to every primary colony of an inhabited system now as a rule; more can be added through federal haggling or as part of frontier defence priorities.]
The only wreckless actors to remain in orbit in the end were ours. The loss is immense, but looking at the destroyed tonnage, adding to the balance a few thousand points in research that will help to close the technological gap, it was a victory.
To honour this great achievement, all survivors have been decorated with a dedicated commemorative pin. Many plan to stick it into soft spots in the surface of armchair admirals back home.

The aftermath: The colony and the two platforms will remain, rotating shifts with a fairly new third at home for overhauls if needed. There are bound to be escorted convoy runs to the colony from time to time to add more population, basic installations and eventually maintenance capacity for the stations. But major Home Fleet operations in Athena are suspended indefinitely.
The remaining enemy forces at Athena IV can wait; they seem to be unable or unwilling to move and the colony is out of observed missile range all year.
(RP bonus: The loss of a substantial part of the fleet makes it highly likely that the two-decade dominance of the current ruling faction will be plausibly broken in the next election. New doctrine and re-designed classes to consider...)
 

 

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