Once again, this is related to a game I'm currently developing.
I'm currently tinkering with one of the most 'interesting' parts of the genre: The Battle System.
Following in the legacy of some of my favorite 4X games, I want this to be a 'sit back and enjoy' type of combat, where every player decision has already been taken (how to build ships, what to bring to the conflict, etc). Therefore, I want it to be fairly simple.
I also want to avoid it being a 'cool looking' chaotic level where every ship is present and firing here and there: I want players to see how they have won or lost exactly so that they can learn from every battle.
To be perfectly in line with my current ideal, I want to prevent players using several smallers ships to easily defeat players using biggers ships. The reasoning is that, for economic reasons, the player will want to use a fleet of smaller ships to colonize/develop as many planets as they can, as quickly as possible. I want combat to balance things out by giving a slight edge to larger ships.
VGA Planets uses a system where each ship duels, in a specific order. I believe this gives too much of an advantage to the biggest ship which can, most of the times, destroy every ship one by one without taking much damage. I want it to be viable (although economically not so viable) to respond to a high-tech ship by massing smaller crafts, but I just want to dissuade the player to willingly use this strategy.
I've come up with two hybrid systems which I believe both make sense and introduce an interesting mix of strategy. I'm looking for input on the following 2 systems:
1 - "Lane System"
In the Lane system, the first 3 ships of each fleet are pitted against one another in their own dueling lanes. These battles happen at the same time, and as soon as one ship is the victor in his own lane, he gets to reinforce another lane. It appears in that lane, at a far distance, and closes on the enemy.
Other ships are in a queue, with a distance indicator. As time passes, they grow closer to the last lane and eventually reinforce it one-by-one. That way, if there is reinforcement on both sides, Lane 3 eventually leads to a new conflict. If only one player has reinforcements, it will take time, but it will reach lane 3, then lane 2 and finally lane 1.
2 - "Duel + System"
Much akin to VGA Planets, the first ship of each fleet are pitted against one another.
A queue of reinforcements is comig behind, with increasing distances.
Every ship will always target the 'oldest ship' on the other side first (ordered by their arrival into the duel) meaning the first ship to die is always the first one.
(This system is a simplified rehash of the first, minus the idea of parallel fights).