Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

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Chasm
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Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby Chasm » Sat Feb 20, 2016 9:45 pm

The trade system you have set up is extremely elegant, and I like it very much (One reason I think some Phidi and Human combat vessels (especially the starter CA) should be able to double as traders). Basic cost of entry is an empty cargo bay.
What If we added another system to the game for science that requires Deep Space Scanner, Warp lane amplifier, and science stations in a single hull ( an upgraded scout ship, though a heavier hull could be used if equipped properly). An appropriately equipped ship could be added to the science pool thus providing research, and with research capped in a similar way to how trade is ( using labs instead of markets as the capstones).
The next suggestion will not likely be doable but I will suggest anyhow. Since we have 2 pools of ships out there, we should have an ability to poke at them. Pirate/raider/slaver ships would require Warp Lane Amplifier, Boarding Module, and Marine Quarters. They would be sent to a pirate pool, and have a *chance* per turn of encountering a trade/science or pirate of another faction.
The option would be to engage or not. If combat is chosen (either by the pirate or by the defender) Combat would occur as a regular player resolved combat.

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echo2361
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby echo2361 » Sat Feb 20, 2016 11:03 pm

Interesting ideas. They might be too ambitious for pre-launch but maybe they would make good post-launch considerations? I've seen both of them before in other games.

SD2 had science ships you could build if you wanted a more mobile approach to science besides traditional labs on planets. While they didn't go into any pool, they did allow for some races to focus on ship production and still keep up in research. My personal twist would be to add food and production ships to allow for an empire that is primarily nomadic. Think the human start with very limited need for colonizing/mining planets. I like the idea of nomadic semi-self sustainable fleets like in BSG and the Quarians from Mass Effect.

SOTS has a freighter pool mechanic that allows for pirate/enemy raiding. Enemies could assign warships as raiders with percentage chances of attacking trade freighters each turn based on several variables. It was a nice way on cutting down the clutter of having actual transports flying all over the map while still allowing for commerce raiding to be an important part of warfare. Defenders could assign warships to an escort pool with similar chances to defend transports each turn.

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sven
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby sven » Sun Feb 21, 2016 1:26 am

echo2361 wrote:Interesting ideas. They might be too ambitious for pre-launch but maybe they would make good post-launch considerations? I've seen both of them before in other games.


Commerce raiding, along with some expanded trade mechanics, are both on the list of things that we'd like to add in as post-launch features.

echo2361 wrote:SOTS has a freighter pool mechanic that allows for pirate/enemy raiding.


Our current ideas involve tying raiding / expanded commerce in with both the diplomacy system and an expanded leader system. I liked SOTS's raider mechanics -- and their trade pool system has certainly been a source of inspiration for the SiS trade mechanics.

wminsing
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby wminsing » Tue Mar 01, 2016 3:24 am

Yes, I'd consider some sort of raiding/escort mechanic to be a highly desirable feature; I find commerce destruction/protection scenarios can be some of the most interesting kinds of tactical scenarios.

-Will

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Arioch
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby Arioch » Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:02 am

The problem with conventional submarine warfare-like commerce raiding in this particular setting is that ships have no way to attack each other while in hyperspace, so convoys can't be intercepted en route. The only direct way to attack the enemy's shipping is to actually put a fleet in one of their systems. Since doing so also gives you the opportunity to directly attack the enemy's planets, the ability to disrupt trade routes is very much a secondary factor.

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echo2361
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby echo2361 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 2:49 pm

Why not allow for some gravity well/interdiction field module? It would allow raiders a variable chance to pull freighters from hyperspace into combat in deep space. This would lead to dedicated raiding designs that are weaker than normal warships because of the module slot that is needed. It would also allow a random chance of escorts being pulled from the pool to defend freighters as well. None of this needs to be displayed on the map itself as SOTS had shown us, but a species can heavily invest in raiding as a way to weaken an opponent without direct confrontation.

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Arioch
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby Arioch » Tue Mar 01, 2016 6:26 pm

We're going to use those sorts of things to help manage the issue of fleets trying to bypass your front lines and attack the interior of your territory (a warp well in a system prevents fleets going past it to a certain radius, and an interdictor prevents an attacking fleet from retreating as long as it's active), but these wouldn't really affect commerce shipping. Trade routes (currently) are internal to an empire's territory, which your would-be commerce raiders don't really have access to.

One could introduce hyperspace submarines, but then they should be usable in regular combat as well as commerce raiding. I'm not a huge fan of stealth/invisibility gameplay.

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echo2361
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby echo2361 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 7:42 pm

I always assumed the targets would be freighters engaged in internal trade as no trading between empires occurs in the game using freighters. I don't see why raiders wouldn't have access to those areas of space. SOTS handled this well by allowing you to assign freighters/raiders/escorts to different regional pools. No need for that level of complexity here though if the galaxy is just one, big pool.

The only way I see an empire stopping raiders from reaching internal trade freighters is to ring their entire borders with the warp wells you speak of. Besides that it would seem easy enough to warp into enemy space with a warp well of your own to pull freighters out of their travels to attack. Having a stealth mechanic would certainly help raiders, but it wouldn't be necessary.

In general I'd like to see some way to hurt an enemy's economy without having to commit to a full planet assault. Weakening an enemy prior to war is a key part of many invasion strategies. Heck, I might even see myself doing this to neutrals or friends just to slow them down a bit if it had an element of plausible deniability like the old privateers of yore. I suppose hiring mercenaries might offer something similar to this when that get implemented. Anything to help offer asymmetric warfare options would be greatly appreciated by me as a fan of the Gremak :)

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Arioch
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby Arioch » Tue Mar 01, 2016 7:59 pm

Any capability you give to commerce raiders should be given to normal fleets as well. Normal fleets can't currently travel into enemy territory and then just hang out there in hyperspace; they have to go to a planet where they can be attacked by defending fleets. There's an argument to be made for adding this kind of capability (again, hyperspace submarines), but this means adding a whole new mechanic and dealing with all of the consequences and gameplay implications of this capability.

Internal consistency of technology aside, in gameplay terms, pool-based commerce raiding is a bit like pool-based espionage that can do damage to enemy infrastructure or populations; it may be fun when you're doing it to the enemy, but when the enemy is doing it to you it's just another annoying non-interactive sink you have to put resources into. I found the espionage system in Civilization IV (and most games that allow direct-action espionage) to be really irritating, without adding any interesting gameplay: "Oh no, they've poisoned my wells again. Have I stationed defensive agents and built the appropriate infrastructure and set the appropriate budget? Yes. Is there anything else I can do? No. Okay, I'll just sit here then and watch people die."

So while I think some kind of commerce-raiding capability is desirable, it needs to active and interactive rather than passive, to be interesting and fun as opposed to an annoyance. We will definitely keep commerce raiding in mind when we get to the task of trying to make trade a more robust system. More interaction with literal pirates and raiders (and mercenaries) is another possible avenue.

wminsing
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby wminsing » Wed Mar 02, 2016 12:57 am

Good discussion! A couple of follow on thoughts:

1. While submarine warfare is one model of commerce raiding, prior to the introduction of the submarine commerce raiding was HUGE part of the Age of Sail. So commerce raiding doesn't have to rely on stealth per see (though detection ranges in the Age of Sail were obviously much less than they are today, or SiS), just the ability to get your ship into areas were enemy shipping would be plentiful. Whether that's possible in the SiS technological framework I'm not sure.
1a) So what are the technological assumptions for SiS FTL drives? I see some of the fluff refers to them as warp lanes, but given some of the later techs allow you to redirect fleets mid-transit it obviously can't be a literal path in space like a wormhole. Can ships warp right up to planetary orbit (seems like yes given you can warp out of combat) or is there some sort of 'hyper limit'?
1b) Given there appear to be plans to create systems that inhibit FTL movement in various ways, one possibility, as echo2361 discusses, could be a system that allows you pull an enemy ship into 'realspace' with you, providing a way to catch freighters between systems.
2. I completely agree that it needs to be an 'active' system; I don't want to set a ship to 'commerce raid' and then just get a report every turn if it found something, or conversely just get a report that I lost a freighter. I want to play the resulting battles! I see commerce raiding as *primarily* an avenue to generate interesting tactical fights beyond the straight-up slugfest. The fact that it's an additional strategic option is gravy, but the main reason I'd want to see commerce raiding is that it provides a different sort of scenario, with different objectives and different risk assessments. Do I sacrifice the escort so the freighters can get away? How much damage am I willing to risk taking as a raider? And so forth.
2a) This might also provide different inputs into ship design. Right now for example there's basically zero reason to use the Warp Lane Amplifier system on anything but a scout, but a long-range commerce raider might be interesting.
2b) It might be interesting to look at making range an actual decision you have to make during the design stage rather than a given, but that might be adding too much to the design engine.

-Will

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Arioch
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby Arioch » Wed Mar 02, 2016 1:28 am

wminsing wrote:1. While submarine warfare is one model of commerce raiding, prior to the introduction of the submarine commerce raiding was HUGE part of the Age of Sail. So commerce raiding doesn't have to rely on stealth per see (though detection ranges in the Age of Sail were obviously much less than they are today, or SiS), just the ability to get your ship into areas were enemy shipping would be plentiful. Whether that's possible in the SiS technological framework I'm not sure.

In a game which has actual strategic terrain for units to maneuver on (like in Civilization or Galactic Civilizations), you can send ships into enemy territory, avoiding bases, and possibly catch enemy commerce vessels in transit between ports. But in SiS (which uses the MOO movement system), there is no literal strategic terrain; units in transit can't interact with other units until they arrive at a star system, so the only way to attack enemy commerce vessels is to catch them in an enemy base, where the raiders can clearly be seen and counterattacked by the base defenders. So yes, you could potentially attack trade vessels if you send a fleet into an undefended enemy system, but once there you can do a lot worse than raid shipping, since fleets can bombard and destroy planetary settlements. So if the enemy can't stop you from putting fleets in his systems, he's not worried about his shipping; he's lost the game.

Even in a system like Civ or GalCiv in which you can send fleets into the space between bases, commerce raiding has limited usefulness due to the issue you mention: detection range. The Nazis tried to use their surface combatants for commerce raiding, but they were detected, caught and destroyed by the British fleet.

wminsing wrote:1a) So what are the technological assumptions for SiS FTL drives? I see some of the fluff refers to them as warp lanes, but given some of the later techs allow you to redirect fleets mid-transit it obviously can't be a literal path in space like a wormhole. Can ships warp right up to planetary orbit (seems like yes given you can warp out of combat) or is there some sort of 'hyper limit'?

The fluff in this case is purely secondary to the play mechanics. The idea is that hyperspace travel is only possible along "lanes" between stars, and the speed at which a ship travels along that lane has to do with how well it is "connected" to that lane. The lane dumps you out of hyperspace at the edge of a star's gravity well; you can't warp right up a planet, or warp out in the middle of empty space. During the "dark age" just prior to the beginning of the game in which hyperspace travel was essentially impossible, the lanes were inactive. Better tech allows a ship to better attune to a lane, allowing to travel farther and faster. The ability to change course mid-transit would explained as changing lanes in hyperspace, but that is of course a logical stretch... it's a gameplay concession rather than a natural outgrowth of the fluff.

wminsing wrote:1b) Given there appear to be plans to create systems that inhibit FTL movement in various ways, one possibility, as echo2361 discusses, could be a system that allows you pull an enemy ship into 'realspace' with you, providing a way to catch freighters between systems.

Again, this is primarily a gameplay limitation, but there's not currently way to select empty space as a destination for a fleet, or to wait there for passing enemy ships. Such capability could be added, but then there would be a whole host of consequences that would have to be addressed. You could send a huge warfleet next to an enemy system and just sit there, threatening the enemy, waiting for a chance to attack, and yet invulnerable to counterattack.

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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby wminsing » Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:13 am

So yes, you could potentially attack trade vessels if you send a fleet into an undefended enemy system, but once there you can do a lot worse than raid shipping, since fleets can bombard and destroy planetary settlements.


Well yes, if I can send in enough ships to bust the planetary defenses and bombard the planet then that's what I'd do. But what if I can spare only a ship or two, not enough to destroy the defenses but enough to nail a couple of freighters on their way out to the jump shelf? That's the sort of scenario I'm envisioning. Commerce raiding is usually the tactic of the weaker power after all; the stronger power blockades.

I guess my point is I like the tactical engine of the game, and I'm just trying to brainstorm ways to add more scenarios beyond fleet slugfest and planetary assault.

-Will

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Arioch
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby Arioch » Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:37 am

wminsing wrote:I guess my point is I like the tactical engine of the game, and I'm just trying to brainstorm ways to add more scenarios beyond fleet slugfest and planetary assault.

I'm with you; I just can't think of one that makes sense within the context of the current game. Let me know if you think of one.

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enpi
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby enpi » Sat Mar 05, 2016 11:43 pm

AFAK traders have their own abstract pool. Why not putting freebooters and escort ships in this pool too and lets duke it out in an abstract way? Eg. player A has 8 traders in the trader pool generating x money per turn. player B put 2 freebooter in the trader pool of player A. They can attack in their turn and are able to kill 1 trader and damage another one. So next turn player A has 7 trade ships left. (6 undamaged and 1 damaged)

Player A reacts next turn to this attack and put 2 escort ships into his trader pool which have the order to protect the trade ships. When player B fires in his next turn, he has to combat the escorts first, before any traders are hit.

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Arioch
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Re: Traders and pirates and scouts, O my

Postby Arioch » Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:31 am

In game terms a raiding pool could work (and I know a similar system was used in the Sword of the Stars expansion), but I don't think it would add much gameplay value. As I mentioned above, having offensive and defensive ships in a pool do battle somewhere in the background where you have no control over and can't even see what happens doesn't strike me as very much fun.

In fluff terms, there's no explanation for how the commerce raiders are getting at the trading ships, which currently trade only within an empire's own borders.

At some point we would like to further expand the resource model to include trade-able resources, which might require international trade routes, and if so then that might be an opportunity to revisit the subject of commerce raiding.


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