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Strategic Defensive Elements in a 4X Game


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#1 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7648

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:18 PM

This thread is a followup to a design that's been discussed in the following threads:

http://www.gamedev.net/topic/642693-communication-in-a-4x-game/

http://www.gamedev.net/topic/642461-research-system-in-4x-games/

http://www.gamedev.net/topic/642498-minimal-ship-customization-in-4x-games/

 

 

Hello folks,

 

As you might already know, I'm currently elaborating plans for a 4X game I'm currently developing.

As I'm trying to make this a compelling strategy experience, I'm struggling with a few elements here and there and I could really use a hand with this one.

 

The game I'm basing my concept around is the very old VGA Planets. To simplify this game for the purpose of this thread, this is a game where you build ships using various minerals and $ and use fuel for movement. Each ship can go at various different speed, each of which have their own distance travelled and fuel consumed ratio. It is much less efficient to go faster from a resource (fuel) perspective, but more often than not, you'll want to go to the fastest speed possible.

Additionally, ships and planets you control have sensor ranges, which allow you to see enemies coming a few turns before they actually do.

 

The part I'm currently struggling with is when trying to intercept an enemy that seeks to enter your cluster and go straight for your valuable planets.

The current setup would go a bit like this:

- You see the enemy ship

- You choose to send some of your ships at the most likely planet they'll hit

- The enemy ship bypasses you and go further at top speed

- You follow them at top speed

- This goes on until either of you no longer has any fuel

 

This is one of the situations where the game feels very dull. Normally, engagements and interceptions can really be fun, but there's really no stopping one enemy ship from going straight to the heart of your empire (provided he knows where it is). The run and chase gets a bit boring.

Technically, you could refuel your starships at nearby bases and keep the fuel advantage, but it really isn't a great defensive mechanic.

 

Now, VGA Planets had a solution for that. It allowd you to create Minefields. Essentially, minefields were created by turning a large amount of torpedoes (an ordnance that cost a lot of minerals to produce) into an area of effect minefield around a point of origin.

This way, you could turn an economic advantage (minerals) into a sizeable defensive advantage around a planet. You could cover entire fronts with intercalating minefields, etc.

The enemy would then have two options:

1 - Cross the field (at the peril of MAYBE hitting a mine, and taking damage as a result, knowing most ships would die with 1,2 or 3 hits only).

2 - Sweep the field (by bringing ships armed with a lot of phasers).

 

In other words, the opponent could either risk it, or be slowed down.

 

While I like this concept in general, it also feels a bit stagnant. Slowing down the enemy is interesting, but sweeping mines isn't necessarily an exciting reason to be slowed down. On the other hand, the fact the player can risk it is random. I don't like random much, I believe that player error should come either from inexperience, or hidden information (things they could scout if they dedicated sufficient resources towards acquiring this info). Having minefields that are sure to hit a ship might be a bit extreme as well.

 

 

One side-mechanic I've developed in an attempt to rectify this slightly is to have planetary invasions take more than one turn. Assuming you drop troops on an enemy planet, they won't instantly conquer the planet. Instead, they'll duke it out for a few turns, requiring reinforcements, and benefitting from the firesupport of any orbiting ship. This system meant that an enemy that bypasses your fleet just can't planet-hop and drop a few people here and there and take your entire empire out of the blue. Rather, they'll need to drop their force on a single planet, bring additionnal reinforcements from behind, and stay in orbit to support their assault. In other words, if they've not achieved "space superiority", their assault might be thwarted the minute they stop to besiege a planet.

 

This is an acceptable mechanic, but it does not do a lot in terms of space geography control/defense as a minefield would.

 

Thus, I'm looking for potential alternatives that would cause an opponent to be delayed in their invasion of a sector that would prevent them from easily running away from your ships (assuming you were wise enough to set them up in the first place) and be free from random chances (but provide hidden information advantages).

 

Any thoughts/suggestions?



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#2 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3557

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:30 PM

One side-mechanic I've developed in an attempt to rectify this slightly is to have planetary invasions take more than one turn. Assuming you drop troops on an enemy planet, they won't instantly conquer the planet. Instead, they'll duke it out for a few turns, requiring reinforcements, and benefitting from the firesupport of any orbiting ship. This system meant that an enemy that bypasses your fleet just can't planet-hop and drop a few people here and there and take your entire empire out of the blue. Rather, they'll need to drop their force on a single planet, bring additionnal reinforcements from behind, and stay in orbit to support their assault. In other words, if they've not achieved "space superiority", their assault might be thwarted the minute they stop to besiege a planet.

Endless Space. They did it, it works quite well. I recommend checking that game.

 

Other ideas:

- range, each fleet can not fly too far from their planets (bases) which makes a strike inside enemy territory impossible (without conquering some depots first)

- fuel "This goes on until either of you no longer has any fuel", this is not actually that bad, the defender has an easy near supply of fuel, the attacker don't, therefore such run is not viable (and if both fleets run out of fuel, then it's the loss of attacker since the defender can send one measly scout ship and incinerate the whole immobilized invading fleet :D)

 

Generally, it depends on how much turtling you want to allow in your game.


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#3 powerneg   Members   -  Reputation: 1447

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:59 PM

You can just have a mine always disable the (warp)engine of an(one, not the fleet) enemy ship for one turn, exploded mines should disappear, and players should have the capability to drop single mines, so they can deal with single ships in their area yet won't stop a fleet(and slowing it down only a bit)



#4 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7648

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 02:26 PM

- range, each fleet can not fly too far from their planets (bases) which makes a strike inside enemy territory impossible (without conquering some depots first)

 

This sort of loops back to the initial implementation of "communication ranges" I had in mind, and I chose against doing this. In the end, I want the players to be able to send scout ships very far from their home. It is an investment they make to have better information, at the expanse of having ships outside of their empire which can neither contribute to economy or defense. The tradeoff is sufficient so that players don't need to be hassled with an additionnal artificial mechanic that prevents them from making mistakes and crafty plays. (imo)

 

- fuel "This goes on until either of you no longer has any fuel", this is not actually that bad, the defender has an easy near supply of fuel, the attacker don't, therefore such run is not viable (and if both fleets run out of fuel, then it's the loss of attacker since the defender can send one measly scout ship and incinerate the whole immobilized invading fleet )

 

Yes and no. An invader with a lot of fuel and superior engines would just make this linger for a while, taking 10 players or more. Then the defender would either need to give chase to the ship only (allowing the player to grow the planets) or split the fleet between retaking the planets (slowing down) up to the point where he no longer has enough ships nearby to give pursuit (each ship would take one turn to reclaim each of the planets).

Don't get me wrong, I see Blitzkrieg as a potential successful strategy, but only against a player with a frail defense that has chosen to focus on a mobile fleet. Having a defensive mechanic is only meant to give the players an option to slow down shock strategies should the need arise, and enrich the general strategy aspect of the game.

Some species will be naturally better at Blitz, and others slower in general, and I don't want to make this type encounter unbearable for the slower species.

 

Generally, it depends on how much turtling you want to allow in your game.

Some. I want the player to feel its worth investing in their colonies, thus, they're able to hold them for a while. I also want the idea of a sphere of influence, where the players take several planets and deny enemy traffic in-between these. Ideally, enemy ships (aside from dedicated efforts) should not easily pierce through defenses and enter the periphery of your space. You won't want them to see what's happening.

 

An alternative I've been thinking about it allowing some of the planets to have ranged attacks of their own. For example, if an enemy ship comes within a certain distance, they could launch a squadron of fighters or fire a planetary canon at them, possibly damaging the ship. The problem is that this increases the area of influence of the planet only, but does not necessarily affect the general space geography per se.

The advantage of minefields was that you could lay them where you'd expect the enemy to go through (and not necessarily along the entire frontline). It required the opponent to committ to a strategy before being at risk, and it still gave them the option to go slowly/more carefully to avoid the damage. Having ranged attacks from planets would not allow players the option to avoid the dmg, and would increase turtling in a way that could prevent crafty intrusions.

 

You can just have a mine

I'm trying to find a different approach here, and I don't have much of a better reason than to do differently than my reference model. I want to build a different strategic challenge for the players, and I feel that it calls for a different mechanic altogether.

 

a mine always disable the (warp)engine of an(one, not the fleet) enemy ship for one turn

VGA Planets also had the Webmines which would drain ships from their fuel without doing dmg. In the end, you'd have a bunch of disabled ships caught in the field and this was interesting, but made play linger.

The problem with your solution is that it will slow down the enemy, but you're not giving them any incentive to sweep the mines (they'll lose time both ways). They'll just fire through anywhere, and not worry about the consequences. The interesting aspect about mines is that you don't know if there are any, and you choose to either be careful or risk it. In this case, the only risk you take is being delayed a few turns.

The part I agree with though is that mines should explode and disappear. In VGA Planets, they did, but you had thousands of them at any given place, and as mines fired, it only very gradually decrease the AoE of your minefield, in such a way that the only efficient way to go through was sweeping.

 

Overall, I feel I need to move to a different concept than mines. From a macro perspective, how would you defend your sphere of influence in space (aside from with mines)?

I've also thought about putting satellites in orbit of planets you don't control, but then, why wouldn't you want to control the planet if you could reach it and put a satellite? Plus, the satellite didn't do much good aside from relaying information for you.

I've been tinkering with the idea of putting Starbases in deep space too, but I'm guessing they'd make more sens orbiting a planet than wander deep space.



#5 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3557

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 02:44 PM

This sort of loops back to the initial implementation of "communication ranges" I had in mind, and I chose against doing this. In the end, I want the players to be able to send scout ships very far from their home. It is an investment they make to have better information, at the expanse of having ships outside of their empire which can neither contribute to economy or defense. The tradeoff is sufficient so that players don't need to be hassled with an additionnal artificial mechanic that prevents them from making mistakes and crafty plays. (imo)

Then allow ships to fly anywhere but if not within supply base range they get -50%penalty to damage (or tactics or whatever).

 

An invader with a lot of fuel and superior engines would

Then don't allow/discourage taking a lot of fuel :) It's your game and your rules, you don't like something, don't allow it :)


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#6 Luckless   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1765

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:46 PM

Tossing some random thoughts out for people to pick through.

 

What if sensors/communications were a key part of the game? If your sensors are disrupted then you lose detailed information on what is going on in a region. Life on the planet would still continue, and they would carry on as they were, but if an enemy fleet with suitable jamming equipment got in range they could black out part of your map and allow a fleet to move without you knowing exact details.

 

Combine that with the long duration battles to actually conquer planets, and it gives a viable defensive measures with attack counters: Defender can strategically place their fleet that is moved to where they are attacked, while the attacker can strategically place decoy/jammer fleets to try and hide where the actual attack is going on. Of course, relying on building a fleet of jammers means you give up resources that could have gone towards your attacking fleet, which puts you at risk of being clobbered that much easier if you run into the opposing battle fleet. 

 

 

 

Area control and surprises. What if fleets weren't always easy to see, especially for attackers? Set up sensor girds to better detect vessels entering your region of space, so the defender has the advantage of knowledge. Use some kind of webbing mechanic to allow a smaller fleet to delay a larger one, possibly giving the defender time to reposition and intercept, possibly having their webber fleet clobbered as the attacker focuses on the now exposed stop-gap. Attacking becomes more complex than simply assembling a large fleet and throwing it at the nearest enemy planet.


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#7 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7648

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 07:43 PM

Then allow ships to fly anywhere but if not within supply base range they get -50%penalty to damage (or tactics or whatever).

 

This is what I call an artificial rule. I generally try to refrain from using these arbitrary rules. These are rules that, while they allow to fill in an objective, don't fit organically in the design. In other words, the player wouldn't guess this outcome unless he was told about it through in-game messaging. As a counter-example, if the fuel/fuel tanks was a modifier to ship armor and damage, players would understand indirectly that, the further they get from home, the more vulnerable their ships would become. There wouldn't be a specific distance or specific value that would kick in and could be easily forgotten about and come back to bit the player in the ass: everything would be clear from the start and the player would understand that its part of the game economy and that he'd have to gauge his moves accordingly.

Now, I won't actually implement this system as its silly (I don't see how it could make sense to the player anyway) but it would be a more organic method to implement such a system.

 

Then don't allow/discourage taking a lot of fuel It's your game and your rules, you don't like something, don't allow it

Interesting you should mention that. Currently, fuel consumed per unit of time is based on ship mass, and ship mass encompasses fuel tanks. Thus, the more fuel you have, the further or faster you can go, but insodoing, the more fuel it costs. In the end, there is an advantage in bringing more fuel, but a portion of this advantage translates into burning a lot more fuel resources. From an economic macro standpoint, its a bad move, but the tactical/strategic advantage of grabbing a few planets is too dire a consequence.

Besides, I'm really interested in adding a layer of strategy to the game, and a defensive aspect would be necessary.

For example, a lot of medieval games use 'walls' and a lot don't. I generally like those that do because they allow you to craft a part of the landscape to suit your need. They give the player an opportunity to be creative about what they'll do (create a trap? give an incentive for the player to more through a specific choke? slow them down exactly where you need them to be?, etc).

 

Playing with ships is fun, but I'd really like to throw them another bone, a game ingredient/toy the players can use to mess with one another.

 

 

What if sensors/communications were a key part of the game? If your sensors are disrupted then you lose detailed information on what is going on in a region. Life on the planet would still continue, and they would carry on as they were, but if an enemy fleet with suitable jamming equipment got in range they could black out part of your map and allow a fleet to move without you knowing exact details.

 

Its actually part of the plan. I've got one of the races using a radar jammer sort of ship. In additional, planetary sensors are often found as satellites, and if broken, will be reduced in efficiency, rendering the player 'blind' to certain areas of his empire. That said, this is an offensive strategy, not a defensive one. I like the strategic layer it adds (there are specific targets you want to disrupt in order to come in blindly, or you can feign at attack by eliminating a few satellites and attack the other front instead), but it does not provide a means to defend oneself from the enemy though.

 

Combine that with the long duration battles to actually conquer planets, and it gives a viable defensive measures with attack counters:

I'm affraid I'm missing the part where there's an inclusion of an efficient defensive strategy here. Wouldn't the player play cat and mouse with his opponent, not knowing where to hunt them down?

 

Of course, relying on building a fleet of jammers means you give up resources that could have gone towards your attacking fleet, which puts you at risk of being clobbered that much easier if you run into the opposing battle fleet.

So essentially, you are taxing the attacker with the need to build radar jammers which are inefficient combat ships. That's also a side objective I'm currently pursuing. I've also included the need to resupply (ordnance, missiles, fuel) in such a way where the defender is always at an advantage (he is much closer to his bases). That said, it mostly means attrition of the attacking forces, but assuming he's waited for a critical mass, there still wouldn't be an efficient way for the player to have prepared for the defense. If you don't know where the enemy will strike, or if he chose to run by your forces and go straight for the heart of the empire, there will be little you'll be able to leave behind to counter this, and that's what I'm really after (the thing you can leave behind around important clusters when your fleet needs to be someplace else).

 

Area control and surprises. What if fleets weren't always easy to see, especially for attackers? Set up sensor girds to better detect vessels entering your region of space, so the defender has the advantage of knowledge.

Yes, there are recon vessels/scouts (even some cloaked) already planned. When I mean the enemy fleet runs past your fleet for a planet, I also mean they know what they are attacking, which inherently means they've scouted it before or are doing it currently. First rule of engagement dictates you need to have recon first.

 

Use some kind of webbing mechanic to allow a smaller fleet to delay a larger one,

How would this work exactly? This is much closer to the mechanic I'm trying to define, but it still sounds vague. I'm trying to get a concrete mechanic in place that does precisely that.

It could be building specific ships, as you seem to imply, whose purpose would be to slow down the enemy (VGA Planets uses minelaying ships in this manner) or it could be something else altogether. Also, slowing might not be sufficient. The threat of perhaps eliminating a few of your enemies is also important as it could really shift the battle in the defender's favor, forcing a retreat, or allowing the defender to trap his opponent and take a big win. There's little in life that's as satisfying as designing a trap (thinking about what the opponent will do, etc.) and seeing it succeed. It requires an investment of some kind (minerals, money, time, etc) and may yield favorable results (or not).

 

So in theory, what you're proposing works, I just need something more practical.



#8 Waterlimon   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2460

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 03:29 AM

You could make slowing down a large ship take time (you need to stop to conquer a planet) which would let your troops catch up and perform a drive by

Or maybe you could add the minefields but make it so that they can be avoided at slow speeds (kinda hard to use your radar at the speed of light... not to speak of dodging anything)

Or just maintain more than a single fleet?

o3o


#9 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7648

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 06:46 AM

You could make slowing down a large ship take time (you need to stop to conquer a planet) which would let your troops catch up and perform a drive by

That's more or less already in place in my current system, but I'm looking for means to prevent such an incursion (perhaps it is sufficient however).

 

Or maybe you could add the minefields but make it so that they can be avoided at slow speeds (kinda hard to use your radar at the speed of light... not to speak of dodging anything)

Doable. Once again though, I'm trying to implement a different idea than a minefield.

 

Or just maintain more than a single fleet?

You would. But geometry insists that, unless you have a ship at the exact destination, the enemy fleet will acquire and maintain some lead time over you if you are capable of the same speeds.



#10 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9857

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 07:34 AM

- Orbital defense platform. Can be built around key worlds, provide defensive firepower that significantly delays an invading force. Can only be built at highly-developed worlds (i.e. not on fringe colonies).

 

- Warp gate. Can be built around key worlds, allows defensive fleets to instantaneously travel to any other gate in the system. Can only be built at highly-developed worlds (i.e. not on fringe colonies).

 

- Singularity trap. Ship that can trap an arbitrarily large fleet in the pull of an artificial black hole, requiring a significant amount of time to break free from the gravitational field. Singularity ship has no combat capabilities on it's own.


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#11 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7648

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 11:07 AM

- Orbital defense platform. Can be built around key worlds, provide defensive firepower that significantly delays an invading force. Can only be built at highly-developed worlds (i.e. not on fringe colonies).

 

What kind of firing range would it have? Could it fire say, to a distant planet?

How would it "delay" an invading force that is ready (aka prevent it from rushing straight to the planet and destroy the Orbital defense platform AND invade the planet at once)?

 

 

 

- Warp gate. Can be built around key worlds, allows defensive fleets to instantaneously travel to any other gate in the system. Can only be built at highly-developed worlds (i.e. not on fringe colonies).

Indeed, one of my species has this. Allows quick reinforcements in ships. This increases fleet mobility though, not static defenses, but its still a good way to go.

 

 

- Singularity trap. Ship that can trap an arbitrarily large fleet in the pull of an artificial black hole, requiring a significant amount of time to break free from the gravitational field. Singularity ship has no combat capabilities on it's own.

That's interesting. Basically, some sort of trapship that can trigger its device whose sole purpose is consuming a certain resource(?) which allows it to affect a certain amount of ships with a strong gravity pull for a limited amount of time? Might be fun to toy with, especially if it has a strong AoE. You could just station a defensive fleet in mid-space with one of these biggies and trigger the trap, successfully bringing all enemies ships within range and forcing them to fight this battle.

I'm sure there's something to do with this, and I like the displacement effect and how it could force enemy ships to employ a different route than they had anticipated.

Food for thought!

 

Keep'em coming smile.png


Edited by Orymus3, 24 May 2013 - 11:07 AM.


#12 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9857

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 11:27 AM

I like to tackle things a little more philosophically, so...

 

As I see it, there are a three key points to mounting a successful defence:

- Detection: I need to know where the enemy is, and where they are going.

Interception: I need to be able to get my defensive forces in range of the enemy.

Firepower: I need to be able to deal more damage than my enemy.

 

Let's assume we have detection and firepower for now, and break interception down a little more:

Mobility: my units can move fast enough to catch the enemy.

Delaying tactics: I have units/mechanics that allow me to slow the enemy down so that my forces can catch them.

Static defenses: I have enough firepower at the end destination, so that I don't have to use ships to stop the enemy.

 

| Warp Gates are the absolute essence of mobility. If I can move my ships to defend any system instantly, then I don't need static defenses or delaying tactics.

/ Orbital defense platforms represent static defences. If I put enough firepower around my home world, it doesn't matter how many enemy ships get through.

- Singularity traps are a form of delaying tactic. Its only purpose is to delay the enemy for enough turns that my fleets will be in position ahead of them.

 

* I'm intentionally ignoring issues of resource cost and balance. Clearly, any of the above needs to be carefully tuned alongside the other game mechanics.


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#13 Waterlimon   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2460

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 11:50 AM

What about a system where, if you know the positions and direction of an enemy well enough (moving at high speed, cant change course very rapidly, moving towards your defenses) you could target it with long range missiles. Speed of communication would prevent targeting randomly moving targets because the missile itself is too simple to have long range radars, and the base can only send outdated data.

 

So if someone tries to punch through, he will need to go fast, and thus have easily predictable path, and thus be vulnerable to long range missiles.

 

Or something like that. Similiar idea as with the minefield, affects fast moving, hard to control ships but not the slow ones that have time to dodge stuff.


o3o


#14 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7648

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 06:35 PM

I like to tackle things a little more philosophically, so...

 

I like that approach, breaking it down into sub-components is part of objective design, and its an approach that I appreciate and understand.

 

- Detection: I need to know where the enemy is, and where they are going.

The advantage of minefields is that they do not require detection. As a matter of fact, I also need to account for stealth-ships. Minefields, being a physical impediment, can be an issue even for cloaked ships that can't otherwise be revealed. While I do like the idea of having a few specialists be able to decloak enemy ships around them, minefields provide some kind of map control that deal with this.

Also, spending sufficient amounts of resources should allow you to make up for the fact you may not have detection, or that your detection range is too short (preventing your fleet from reaching in time). Ideally, you'll setup your defense perimenter in such a way that it never happens, but a player with a stronger economy but less forward scouts should also be allowed to figure some means of immediate defenses against shock-tactic incursions.

 

- Delaying tactics: I have units/mechanics that allow me to slow the enemy down so that my forces can catch them.

I like to extend this to having a 'threat' to the enemy forces. Something that will keep them guessing and force them to either player it safe or take the risk. This gives the player a tangible ambiguous choice to make, and this is what makes it more fun/rewarding imo. Being slowed down is generally not a sufficient drawback as you will have no tangible reasons not to try, and when you see you're being slowed down, you're likely just to turn back and try some place else. There needs to be a tangible risk of loss of any kind.

For example, say you're hunting for a deer and trailing behind it, and know its whereabouts. If you know there are bear traps about, but really need to eat, you could either move carefully, at the risk of losing the deer, or rush for it, at the risk of being snared by the bear traps. The bear trap itself won't kill you, but it might cripple you in such a way you won't be able to hunt down any deer, yet, if you let that deer go, there's no telling there will be another anytime soon. Its the kind of heart-shattering choices that make every choice more vibrant because there is no 'right answer'.

 

| Warp Gates are the absolute essence of mobility. If I can move my ships to defend any system instantly, then I don't need static defenses or delaying tactics.

From a tactical perspective yes, but such a solution would also have tremendous consequences on the economy of the game. This would also mean that freighters would get the same kind of benefits, and distance would no longer be much of an issue except when colonizing and developing the first planet in a star cluster. This is the reason why I've had to limit this to a single of my species, as it would balance for another particularly nasty drawback they had. Thus, I would probably need alternate mobility solutions for other species.

 

/ Orbital defense platforms represent static defences. If I put enough firepower around my home world, it doesn't matter how many enemy ships get through.

I'm currently using two different layers for this. One that is limited to damaging ships orbiting a planet (planet-to-orbit defensive posts) and one that has some kind of range into space, generally able to fire a volley at a specific ship before it gets in range. It generally costs a hefty amount of resources per shot, and has the capacity to incapacitate the ship in various ways, such as disrupting its engines or emptying its shields (allowing them to regen the turn after or something like that).

 

- Singularity traps are a form of delaying tactic. Its only purpose is to delay the enemy for enough turns that my fleets will be in position ahead of them.

I like this idea, as I've said before. In fact, I'm looking for more ideas like this, perhaps with a bit more punch to them than merely giving the player the advantage of time. Various consequences I see that could be considered threatening:

- Destruction (such as the minefield, it deals damage as well)

- Fuel Drain (fear of being out of fuel, thus unable to complete movement or even escape)

- Temporary disruption (as per my example above, the temporary loss of shields or firepower would force the opponent to refrain from engagin, not because they are delayed, but because they would be at a distinct disadvantage if they engaged now)

- ?

 

 

So if someone tries to punch through, he will need to go fast, and thus have easily predictable path, and thus be vulnerable to long range missiles.

 

I was thinking of implementing such a system where, if an enemy ship has a certain velocity, it gives away more information than its current position such as its heading. Your suggestion, in this case, would more or less allow a planet to fire at an incoming enemy ship provided that its speed is high and it has become close enough.

What I like about your idea is that there would be a counscious choice to be made by the player: since he doesn't know if you have such a defensive measure into place, he might choose to be careful and slow down just in case, or try his luck and rush through in hope you're not going to fire. He might even be cloaked, unaware that you have sufficient detection to see him.

In this case, the missile fire could trigger right before the engagement, damaging the enemy ship in some way, and clearly giving your planetary defense system a major advantage in this engagement.

 

The one part I'm hesitant about is that it doesn't quite provide space control. In the scenario where the enemy seeks to avoid frontal confrontation and passes through your outposts to go straight to your home sector, he's unlikely to travel close enough to your outposts to be in range of such a device, and its unlikely you'd keep one on each of your planets 'just in case'. Minefields have the advantage of being spread pretty much where you want them, even in large chunks of unoccupied space. Perhaps extending your mechanic to some kind of spatial 'body' would make more sense, with players having the ability to load such satellites in ships and tow them further out or back inside their lines as needed. I've toyed with a few concepts including satellites that served several purposes such as detection, limited counter measures and economic improvements and this could be the way to go, but I'm still a bit unconvinced that its a viable alternative to minefields of its own. I can't help but think there's something missing.






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