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How to avoid "stacks of doom" in 4X? (Part 2)

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It's time for continuation :) Here is the first topic: http://www.gamedev.net/topic/658767-how-to-avoid-stacks-of-doom-in-4x/

 

This time some restrictions, to focus the discussion:

- you can't limit number of ships the player puts in the battle (player is allowed to move them all to the same planet to fight)

- you can't touch strategic level (so no "it's too expensive to maintain a huge fleet" or "you have to defend other planets" etc), you can only change the way battle works

 

You can impose various combat mechanics and control levels (manual tactical combat, automatic combat, etc whatever you desire).

 

 

 

A quick idea to start the discussion: If total tonnage of all ships you brough to the battle exceeds 500 tonns during the first combat turn your ships can't move or fire (they are too disorganized) and after that there is 50% chance a ship will be unable to act that turn. Next quick mechanic every 100 tonns you get 5% chance (up to 30%) for "friendly fire" (a ship will target a friendly ship that combat turn). Automatic combat recommended.

 

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kk I'm sort of unclear as to what you're looking for here. Here's what I'm getting:

 

A common/effective tactic in space games is to clump all your ships into one ginormous fleet that destroys everything. You're trying to find ways of disincentivising this behaviour, and you're asking for ideas/ what do we think of your proposed ideas?

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I got a few ideas.

Assume each ship tries to keep a minimum distance to other ships and there is a maximum distance for firing on an enemy. That means many ships can not be in a line as they could not fire.

If there is a huge amount of ships they'd accumulate in a kind of spherical cloud or partial spherical shell and when its getting too large some ships can not fire, because of high probability a friendly ship is blocking the shot or ships are too far away. You could simulate this or calculate some probability of this happening depending on number of ships and exclude far away ships until there is more space.

You could also have the time for retargeting ship weapons on a different target than last shot depend on how many ships there are in the sector to simulate difficulty of sensor readings.

 

Though the AI could just attack you on many places at once and force you to distribute your forces to defend all endangered star systems. If there is some minimum time between you attacking 2 systems with the same fleet, you could never conquer systems as fast as the AI which avoids your stack of doom and attacks more than 1 system each round.

Edited by wintertime

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kk I'm sort of unclear as to what you're looking for here. Here's what I'm getting:

 

A common/effective tactic in space games is to clump all your ships into one ginormous fleet that destroys everything. You're trying to find ways of disincentivising this behaviour, and you're asking for ideas/ what do we think of your proposed ideas?

I'm asking for ideas. I just posted one idea to give some example, nothing more.

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You could split forces into waves.  ie each wave is a maximum size of 16 ships (or whatever number you want, or tonnage what have you).  Then combat is Wave vs Wave.  From there, depending on how crazy you want to get with it, you could either make it very basic, each player gets 16 ships and fights, and the losing player gets to choose up to 16 more for the next wave, or you could do something like reinforcements come in every X turns during a battle.  

 

You could even go crazy there, with letting a person choose to have a wave try to 'flank', and gets to deploy from a different edge of the map, and/or with extra abilities on commanders or tech to allow faster or slower reinforcement waves.

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Ive always thought the way this was handled is by adding area-of-effect weapons, which obviously grow in effectiveness the more units are clumped together.

 

Nuke a single ship, meh, nuke a giant swarm of intermingled fleets, win.

 

Also if theres visibility make large blobs show on map easier, otherwise those AoE weapons wont be of much use.

Edited by Waterlimon

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What about debris fields? The more ships there are in an engagement, the more ships there are to be hit by the remains of the ships that were destroyed. You might start out with a "stack of doom," but you probably wouldn't leave with one.

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Classic reasons :

 

Hard to control a large group :

  - old ships tactic - following in line  because it was simple (for when the battle gets confusing)

  - communications problems dont allow direct control in middle of battle  (Jutland they had radios but were jammed and used relayed flag/light signals which got muddled )

 - integrated tactics with certain ship types staying sub-grouped with ships they are meant to protect/scout/screen for

- misinformation and unclear orders can have parts of a fleet acting counter-productively/out of position, sub-commanders with different tendencies

 

 

They get in each others way for shooting/maneuvering :

   - they have to be spaced and gun ranges then have only a fraction of the enemy ships in range of the enemy at any one time

   - broadside limitations - only limited frontage

   - line leaves space for ships to fall out of line and not impede others

 

Environment interference :

- storms(blocking visibility), debris, shallow spots

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A variant of area of effect weapons: severe explosions when ships are destroyed, imposing large safety distances (which the player could ignore to intensify attacks).

In an abstract combat system, just make fleet attack strength proportional to the cubic root of the ship count or similar formulas, to make stacks of not-quite-doom less useful than splitting forces to fight multiple battles fronts.

Edited by LorenzoGatti

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