Arbitrary Fleet Restrictions

In an effort to have more varied and interesting fights, to bring the rock-paper-scissors thing back into my GSB life, I am henceforth going to impose some arbitrary limits on how I design ships. I’m trying to keep these arbitrary limits “believable” in an underlying, non-gratuitous context of empires being run as going concerns, so nothing totally off-the-wall.

Here are some ideas I’ve had so far and their hoped-for impacts on battles. Feel free to comment or suggest your own.

1. Minimum Speed = 0.04
Any slower than this and the ship lacks sufficient thrust to leave the shipyard. So, ships must devote some slots to engines and the power and crew to supply them. NOTE: This is a requirement I’ve always had, but the minimum speed used to be 0.03.

2. No Dreadnought Parts in Cruisers
This means all cruisers worthy of the name require 2 slots of powerplants, cutting down on what else they can have. Also, no cruisers zipping around at ridiculous speeds using DN engines.

3. No EMP Cannon
This just hasn’t been invented yet. If you want EMP, build frigates. Finally, a reason to do so.

4. Limited Guidance Scramblers
Guidance Scramblers are new technology not available to everybody, and they require lots of bulky, specialized electronics in the ship. So, for non-Parasites, they can only be mounted in dreadnoughts. If you don’t have a dreadnought, you don’t get any scramblers. Parasites can mount their Revenge Scramblers in cruisers because they don’t have DNs. However, the RS has to tie into the brains of dedicated Aegis-type ships otherwise armed only with Cruiser Pulse Lasers, Flak Cannons, Tractor Beams, etc. This rule is to make missiles a viable alternative to plasma.

5. Limited Supercharged Tractor Beams
Only dreadnoughts have the hull strength to keep one of these from ripping out of the ship. So, if you don’t have dreadnoughts, you’ll have to make due with lesser versions. This help fighters be more effective.


  1. How did you get your fleet that slow anyway? Even my armor tanks move at 0.05.
  2. No comment on modded content
  3. Frigate are unusable regardless outside of frigate spams. And emp cannons sucks outside of 1 vs 1 dual or CL spams. Pretty much any non rush fleet will have 1 scrambler per ship to avoid getting slaughtered by MWM spam.
  4. MWM spams with co-op are good enough as is and does NOT need a buff. 1 scrambler per ship barely give plasma spam the edge and will still lose with bad AI/inferior positioning. The only true counter to MWM spams are swarm smart bomb tank.
  5. Normal Tractor > Supercharge to begin with. They cost less, has more energy, and slow fighters enough for a kill shot anyway.

The only restriction I want is

  1. Ban Utopia Hull.
  2. Ban Flak.

Then Tribe and Parasite will no longer be OP.

  1. I’d agree with 123stw - 0.04 speed is extremely slow, and virtually any ship I’ve ever made can move at least that fast without any trouble. It’s also extremely boring (in my opinion) to watch, and usually my goal in playing Gratuitous Space Battles is to watch an interesting ‘space battle’, not spend a couple minutes watching my cruisers crawl into firing range.
  2. I don’t use mods, generally speaking, so I won’t comment on this.
  3. I don’t usually bother with EMPs anyway - when I fight them I find it annoying if my ships get stun-locked, and they don’t seem to play nicely with my normal order sets (they usually all fire on the same ship, unless I’ve got the part of my fleet that carries EMPs set to spread fire out). Usually when I play Gratuitous Space Battles, I’m only really looking for a ‘space battle’ where lots of things blow up and don’t really care whether I’m winning, anyway, though.
  4. I find that one guidance scrambler on each cruiser is usually more than enough to take care of most missile systems, so unless I wanted to make a design that sits at the very front of the fleet and shields everyone from missile fire, I wouldn’t put more than one on any given cruiser, anyways (unless I’m fighting a very significant missile spam).
  5. I don’t believe I’ve ever used the Supercharged Tractor Beam (STB). I find that the standard Tractor Beam (TB) is more than sufficient for my antifighter needs, if I’m going to bring tractor beams of any type to the party. Certainly the STB is better than the TB at slowing down whatever it grabs, but I don’t really need strafing fighters slowed that much - only enough for my escorting fighters or my onboard Pulse Laser to hit it more consistently, and the TB performs well enough for that purpose. Also, the TB will usually bring to a stop all but the fastest-moving fighters, if those fighters stay within range of the tractor beam long enough. The only advantage I see to the STB is that the slowing effect is greater, and that isn’t enough of an advantage for me to justify bringing one along.

As for minimum fleet speeds, why not try something more ambitious, like a goal of 0.15 or 0.20? If your current fleets tend to be around 0.04 in speed, I can almost guarantee that changing them to have a minimum speed of 0.15 or more is going to significantly alter your fleet composition. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a cruiser design that I was happy with that could achieve more than about 0.30, though, so don’t try pushing the minimum speed too high.

Perhaps try making specialist ships - one design to break the shields, another to break the armor or kill things. I know from your previous posts that you like using plasmas, which are one of the best generalist weapons - perhaps try a beam cruiser and laser cruiser mix. Make the cruisers with the lasers the Fast Battle Squadron (so, speed 0.20+, or something like that), and the beam cruisers as your normal battle line (except give it a speed somewhere around 0.15 so that it doesn’t fall too far behind the Fast Battle Squadron), and give the fast ships orders that encourage shield stripping, while the main battle line has orders to beat up damaged or weak ships. Alternatively, if you don’t want to design ships for those speeds, try a slow line of missile or plasma cruisers supporting a mid-speed group of beam cruisers.

Edit: Actually, if you’re going to make arbitrary fleet restrictions, you could also require that all your ships carry only the minimum armor required for immunity to fighter weapons and must be fast (pretend that Admiral Fisher is the First Space Lord at the Admiralty, and still wants his Battle Cruisers).

Edit 2: Another rule you could try is limiting the cost of the systems you can put on your ships, or the total cost of the ship (i.e., no Cruiser weapons which cost more than 100 credits can be purchased, no Cruisers which cost more than 2500 credits can be built for the fleet). The component cost limit example I gave is rather limiting (Proton Beams, Quantum Blasters, Rockets, and Cruiser Defense Lasers are some of the few weapons that pass that particular restriction), but I’m not sure about the total cost example (I know that most of my cruisers are up around 3000 to 3500 credits per ship, but I think I could bring that down without too much effort). Combining those two rules could also be interesting: individual components carried by the ships cannot cost more than X credits per component, and the Space Navy’s budget in combination with its goals for number of ships produced will not allow you to exceed Y credits per ship.

These are all very good comments and suggests. They would definitely make things very interesting. Thanks.

Now, as to why my ships are so slow… Mostly it’s to gain a DPS advantage. The enemy will come to me, getting all spread out as he does so. By the time he arrives, my slow ships are nearly as tightly massed as when I deployed them. So, usually I can knock off the enemy 1 at a time with the concentrated fire of several of my ships as they approach, while denying the ability to mass fire against me.

What’s the advantage of going 0.15 instead of 0.04? It doesn’t seem to me to make enough difference in how hard you are to hit to justify the money/power/crew/slots you need to achieve it, let alone the loss of concentrated firepower.

Need there be an advantage to going faster? All you asked for was arbitrary restrictions (which I presume are intended to encourage you to change up your designs, judging from your recent posts in the Diary of a Space Tyrant thread). Nevertheless, you can still maintain a reasonably well-armored, shielded cruiser which can achieve 0.15 speed, which will have some advantage over slow plasma cruisers due to its speed. Against beams, missiles, and lasers, the speed isn’t worth that much, but there should be a fairly considerable decline in the accuracy of standard and heavy plasmas if they are firing on a ship moving at 0.15 speed rather than 0.04. Increasing the speed further hurts the plasma cruisers more.

Also, my fast ships generally remain reasonably tightly deployed if I gave them a set of orders that doesn’t encourage splitting up (certainly they usually remain close enough to provide mutual fire support, and don’t fly off all over the map - though that can be useful sometimes).

The biggest advantage I see for speed, though, is as a solution for boredom. I find watching the very slow cruisers crawl towards the enemy to be boring, and I don’t see that the performance of very slow ships is so superior that I would rather wait a while (even on 4X speed) for the cruisers to close the range than have cruisers of my own that can close the range at a reasonable pace.

See, my exerpience is that 1 scrambler per ship pretty much negates the MWM spam. To prove my point, I just ran a head-to-head of MWM spam vs. plasma spam. The battle had about 15 units of each type lined up exactly head-on in line abreast with the same orders. The result was that plasma spam beat MWM spam 100-0, although several of the plasma ships were on their last legs.

The competing designs were as identical as possible except for the weapons. The MWM spammers had 6x MWMs, the plasma spammers had 5x Cruiser Plasma and 1x Guidance Scrambler. The only other differences were slight tweaks in power plants and crew quarters due to different requirments, and the plasma having a 3rd Multi-Phasic shield instead of a Fast Recharge. You can see that these differences had very little effect in terms of shield strength, hitpoints, and cost. Both had the same speed and armor.

The last pic shows the “damage by weapon” view. As you can see, the presence of 1 scrambler per ship reduced the MWMs to about a 27% hit rate, far less than the plasma, besides each hit doing considerably less damage. So, despite having 15% fewer weapons, the plasma still had a way better DPS and thus smoked the MWM.

A quick and dirty test. A cruiser armed with 8 plasma weapons, standing still. A cruiser with speed of .20, 1 reflective and 2 multiphasics. The cruiser was able to fire 12-13 rounds per weapon, 60% of rounds missed, and the fast cruiser was able to run under the minimum range without its shields dropping.

As for credits and costs… I have .20 cruisers under 2K.
In fact I’ve built whole fleets on budgets, including my favourite 1K cruiser challenge. That takes some ingenuity.

at 1K the quantum blaster looks more appealing.

For the sake of a more informed discussion re: fleet speeds within this topic, I invite you folks to read this thread. Quite an eye-opener.

Thanks for the info. But I think that only tells part of the story. For instance…

  1. The Speed Thing
    The game doesn’t seem to realize it when ships stop involuntarily. For instance, I did a test with some rushers that actually rammed the enemy, so were sitting still. However, possibly because they had “keep moving” orders, the game didn’t care and they remained as hard to as before.

  2. Bearing Rate
    Targets coming straight at you are easier to hit than crossing targets. This is with all weapons but it affects missiles the most because missiles have turn radii. When fired at a crossing target, a missile turns after it using “pure pursuit” (always steering directly at where the target is right now, which ain’t the more efficient way to intercept). Anyway, if the missile’s turn radius is big enough, it will be unable to hit, regardless of the “to hit” chance figured by the formula, and no matter that the target is painted. This is what makes the Anti-Fighter Missile so useless; its turn radius is too big so it cannot ever hit a fighter that’s turning.

@Archduke: thanks, I saw that thread once a while ago, but reading it again was nice.

@Bullethead: I think the game does realize it when fast ships stop. If I give my ships orders to close to range and then sit there exchanging fire with an enemy line, I see my ships take more hits than I do when my ships have the Keep Moving order. This also seems to be the case when my ships are trying to maneuver around enemy ships. What you might have been seeing was the ship being inside minimum range of the enemy weapons. I don’t think that angular velocity or ship maneuvers have anything to do with hit rates except when the ships are trying to dodge a weapon with a turning radius. I’m not sure of this since I’ve never rigorously tested it, but that’s the impression I get from watching the game. I’m not certain about the stopped involuntarily thing, but I think that the speed being used is the current speed of the ship, and unless the game for some reason cannot see that when a ship is attempting to move but is somehow or another being blocked, I don’t see why it would matter (case in point - fighters don’t want to stop when they have a tractor beam on them, and still try to move at full speed, but cannot and become much easier to hit).

Also, try making a 0.20 speed version of your Multiple Warhead Missile cruiser (use Fast Missiles instead of MWMs). You might be surprised at how well it performs against your plasma cruisers. (It still lost, but the one I tested - 18 missile cruisers with ‘Keep Moving’, ‘Cooperative’ and engagement range set to the maximum range of the missile - ended up destroying about 60% of a fleet of 18 of your plasma cruisers, arranged in 3 lines of 6 cruisers with no special orders. Testing without ‘Keep Moving’ orders resulted in similar outcomes to your test with the slow moving MWM cruiser.)

The game realise it:
When a cruiser take hull damages, there is a small explosion that push every ship near it. This explosion affect 99% of the time fighters. When this occur, I’ve seen plenty of time a cruiser plasma torpedo annihilate a poor fighter who were going straight to the explosion and was instantly stopped (and even push back!).

[quote="Aeson@Bullethead: I think the game does realize it when fast ships stop.[/quote]

OK, it seems to be that there’s a bug of the omission variety. The game apparently doesn’t have a general mechanism that always monitors a ship’s speed and uses that value for to-hit calculations. Instead, it seems that the game assumes the ship is always moving at its currently possible max speed unless some special event says otherwise (voluntary stopping per orders, tractor beam, shockwave, etc.) But apparently, it doesn’t check for stopping due to being immobilized by a scrum.

Try it yourself. Have masses of fast collide in front of stationary ships with plasma, in hopes of giving the plasma easy shots. You will not see accuracy against the fast ships improve, however.

Well, it’ still proves what I was trying to say. I keep hearing how the MWM spam is invincible and was just trying to show that the presence of just 1 scrambler per ship knocks the MWM’s DPS so far down that plasma has a huge advantage. The MWM’s DPS is further reduced if you mix in some dedicated “Aegis” ships with more scramblers and point defense in the target formation. Meanwhile, the only defense against plasma is speed, but it takes a lot of speed to reduce plasma’s DPS down to where the MWM’s is. Personally, I find the Fast Missile always hits more often than the MWM, and its hits do more damage, so it has a considerably better DPS.

Your wrong about Fast missile DPS because:

  1. The raw damages is inferior, 4x11 for MWM, 30 for FML
  2. Recharge rate is inferior, 1950 for MWM, 2145 for FML (Even if this tend to be wrong cause of the “only one missile in fly” problem)
    3)FML is much more weak against scrambler if it is linked to an Scanner
    4)2 Armour penetration in less
    5)Shoot from closer range
    6)Cost more
    7)And it’s less funny if there is only one warhead ^^

That all may be so on paper and when facing zero missile defense, but in practice, against the same level of defenses, the FM beats the MWM, for several reaons:

  1. Hit Percentage
    Against the same level of defenses, the statistics say that the FM always out-hits the MWM by a considerable margin. I believe this is because the FM flies about twice as fast as the MWM. Therefore, it’s harder to hit with scramblers and point defense. Also, it has a good chance of crossing the envelope of the defense systems while they’re recharging after shooting at previous missiles.

  2. Effective Rate of Fire
    It appears that when at or near their respective maximum ranges, both the FM and MWM will recharge while they have a shot in flight. IOW, if their missiles hit or are shot down, both can fire again instantly without having to wait to finish recharging. Because the FM goes nearly twice as fast as the MWM, it therefore gets to shoot nearly twice as often. And when missiles miss or get scrambled, the FM has to wait less time for missile burnout than the MWM

  3. Damage Per Hit
    Given any non-zero level of defenses, it’s much more likely that the MWM will hit with 1-3 warheads instead of 4, so the average damage per hit is only 27.5 ((11 + 22 + 33 + 44)/4). This is below the FM’s.

So, taken together, the FM fires more shots, each shot is more likely to hit, and each shot on average does more damage. Thus, the FM has higher DPS than the MWM.

EDIT: Corrected MWM average damage.

True it is harder for PD, false for Scrambler

You got a point.

I see that you like math ^^
So, I’ve tested a little battle of my own
3 scramble tank supported by 3 missiles cruiser (MWM on one side, FM on the other)
The end result is a 24.17%-19.44% of hit with the MWM as winner

In a battle with only MWM against FM, FM win the battle (with a little MWM stupidity to 90% of time attacking the ship in the rear of the formation…)

If your enemy use an ‘all ships have scramblers’ strategy, prefer FM.
If they don’t, prefer MWM

(In a 80 000 credit battle, I was able to deploy 26 MWM against 25 FM with ship equivalent to your design)

I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen a Guidance Scrambler or Missile Revenge Scrambler miss its target. I’ve certainly seen them fail to affect the target, but miss? I don’t think so. I think the main advantage of a Fast Missile over a Multiple Warhead Missile when large numbers of Guidance Scramblers or Revenge Scramblers are present is more that the missile spends less time on the field because it runs out to its maximum fuel range faster, and thus delays the launch of the next missile less than a scrambled Multiple Warhead Missile.

I would tend to agree that Fast Missiles seem to perform better against heavy point defenses than Multiple Warhead Missiles do, but I don’t use the Point Defense Scanner, which says that point defenses mounted on a ship carrying the Point Defense Scanner have a higher chance of targeting live warheads than they have of targeting decoys. If it is the case that this works, then I would expect that Multiple Warhead Missiles would again become a superior option to Fast Missiles, because if point defenses intercept three out of every four warheads deployed by a missile (all the missiles in the game that have decoys do three decoys and a live warhead for a total of four point defense-eligible targets, right?) and the point defenses are more likely to hit live warheads than decoy munitions, then having one weak warhead get through regularly is better than having one strong warhead get through intermittently.

Also, in your computation of the average damage dealt by multiple warhead missiles, you forgot to include one case: that none of the warheads hit. In a point defense-rich environment, it’s entirely within reason that all warheads from any given missile will be intercepted.

So, let’s do an example:
Assuming that we do not have a PD Scanner and point defenses have even chances of intercepting any given warhead in a group of submunitions (3 decoys and a live warhead for FMs, 4 live warheads for MWMs). Let’s next assume that we have one guidance scrambler (GS), and it has a 50% chance of successfully scrambling the missile, and can target three of the four munitions from fast missiles or all four munitions from other missiles, regardless of missile speed, before the missile impacts on the armor or shields of the cruiser (somewhat unreasonable, yes, but we have to make some assumptions). Let us also assume that, were the GS not present, our missiles would always hit (very unreasonable unless we include painters).

  1. FM - here we have three cases where the GS hits the live warhead and one where it does not. Since our GS is only 50% effective, we have 1.5/4 cases in which the GS successfully defends the cruiser. FMs do 30 damage per successful hit, so average damage is 18.75 (5 out of every eight launches produces a successful hit).
  2. MWM - here, all four submunitions are hit by the guidance scrambler. We have the following sixteen equally possible cases: all four missiles hit (one chance), all four missiles miss (one chance), three missiles hit (four chances), three missiles miss (four chances), and two missiles hit (six chances). Damage for each of the cases listed is: 44, 0, 33, 11, 22. Average damage is (01+411+622+433+1*44)/16 = 22, which is better than the Fast Missile.

Looking at the cruiser missile comparison thread (viewtopic.php?f=19&t=4646&p=28566), we find that (1) MWMs cannot achieve their maximum theoretical DPS while FMs can, and that (2) MWMs have approximately double the recovery time of FMs. Facts (1) and (2) lead us to the conclusion that, despite MWMs having a higher damage per launch, FMs are more likely to deal a higher damage per second since when a GS succeeds the FMs will launch another missile sooner than MWMs will.

I’m not sure, though, how this ends up applying to the average damage for the MWM - do secondary munitions detonate when any of them hits (which would result in one out of five cases where MWMs take the full recovery time, as compared to three out of eight for FMs), or is it if any of them miss, the MWM needs to spend the full recovery time?

I’d think that the short range of scramblers would argue against using tanks. Because scramblers barely reach outside a cruiser’s shield, you’d need enough tanks to cover your entire front and some excess on both sides. Otherwise, missiles coming from anywhere except dead ahead would go by out of the tanks’ reach. And the more tanks you have, the less offense you have.

From what I can tell, scrambled MWM warheads spiral off into the void while the unscrambled ones hit, and the launcher has to wait for the misses to die before firing again. Thus, scrambling even 1 MWM warhead reduces the MWM rate of fire the same as if all had missed.

There’s also the issue that point defense and scramblers become more effective in the interval between the target’s shield going down and internal damage destroying the defenses. This is because when the shield is up, the defenses reach only an RCH beyond it, so have a very short window to engage before the missile hits the shield. But when the shield is down, the defenses function all the way in to the ship itself, thus having a considerably larger engagement window. In both cases, the faster a missile flies, the more likely it is to cross the engagement window while the defenses are recharging. If the missile is slow enough, however, it might get shot at twice before reaching the ship if the 1st shot misses or doesn’t get all the warheads.

This is a very marked effect. While you can argue that the MWM is about as effective in knocking down shields as the FM, the FM is definitely superior at going further and doing real damage to the ship. In my tests of dueling MWM and FM fleets (all ships having 1 scrambler), a number of FM ships lost their shields but then took little if any further damage.

Emphasis mine. Bullethead, that paragraph of yours shines a light upon a significant tactical opportunity (if one can finesse it finely enough). Of additional relevance is that while a point defense system can fire repeatedly at the same inbound missile, a guidance scrambler makes only a single attempt upon any given missile. And what with the way many players tend to heavily rely upon scramblers in lieu of the rather-inaccurate PD systems, then perhaps…

“We’ve analyzed their attack strategy, and their is a danger. Shall I have your personal ship standing by?” :wink:

So, from a bit of testing of MWM cruisers against FM cruisers (essentially the same design, except for switching FMs for MWMs and adding a larger crew compartment, and when I added the point defense scanners I dropped an armor plate. Both designs had one Guidance Scrambler, which on the MWM Cruiser was eventually switched out for high-speed point defense, and eventually I traded a MWM battery for a second point defense option. Both fleets had default orders), I have drawn two conclusions:

  1. Never use normal point defense weapons in place of guidance scramblers, and probably don’t bother using normal point defenses even in addition to guidance scramblers.
  2. Point Defense Scanners seem like a good investment when faced with large volumes of missile fire in which decoys are present.

As for point (1): standard point defense weapons routinely failed to kill incoming missiles, and also did not reduce the incoming fire density (in fact, when engaging from ranges greater than missile speed times reload period, they increased the incoming fire density by removing missiles from the field more rapidly, which caused them a fair amount of trouble). I never saw a point defense weapon miss an incoming missile, but I did see it fail to kill the missile. Possibly this is due to the point defense weapon I choose to test (high-speed point defense, for its slightly higher rate of fire, since the only apparent indications of PD effectiveness in the design screen are rate of fire and range) - are the others any better, in anyone’s experience? Guidance Scramblers, however, routinely scrambled the incoming missile fire more frequently than point defense weapons killed it.

High-speed point defense seems to be a beam weapon of several seconds duration, so it doesn’t really have a chance to fire significantly more times against a single target than a guidance scrambler can (I did not look at the other two point defense options, so they might be different), especially when the missile in question is the Cruiser Fast Missile.

As for point (2): Point Defense Scanners led to my Guidance Scramblers firing on live warheads significantly more often than normal, and ignoring about three quarters of the incoming missile fire (which were all decoys). The Mark II version performed slightly better than the Mark I version, but I’m not prepared to say that the superiority was such that you should only use the Mark II Point Defense Scanner. It didn’t much matter for point defense weapons since the point defense weapons failed to kill incoming missile fire much more frequently than guidance scramblers failed to scramble missiles, and when they did kill an incoming missile it would be replaced much sooner than the scrambled missile would have been, which just made the job of point defense harder.

As for why FMs seem better than MWMs in a missile fleet versus missile fleet engagement, I would say that FMs seem to be more able to focus fire, since there are fewer valid targets within weapon range, and more importantly they seem to have a higher density of missiles airborne at any given time (which is important for swamping point defenses).

@Archduke: “Evacuate? In my moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their kaboom