Fighter VS Bombers

There is a great discussion on fighters and armor in this thread: But I think something is missing from that conversation.

That is, there is no distinction between fighters and bombers in the current version of GSB.

I’m going to put my thoughts out there as if they were the thoughts of the collective whole. Obviously I know this is not the case but it makes for a good discussion starting point.

Fighters should be not be able to hurt capital ships (frigates or bigger in the current game).

Bombers should be carrying weapons capable of hurting capital ships (they can also carry fighter weapons - making them fighter-bombers).

Assault boats do minor damage to capital ships (not represented in game play), only to inject or deposit their crew (who can inflict serious damage).

I have suggested a GSB 2.0:

*hardpoints added

As you can see bombers are considerably heavier than fighters, this is a common sci-fi theme. I would suggest new classes of weapons. We currently have Fighter, Frigate, and Cruiser class weapons. In a more varied assault craft (sub light craft) approach, I would suggest:

Fighter class weapons; carriable by fighters and bombers.
Bomber class weapons; only carriable by bombers (and the only weapons strong enough to hurt capital ships).
(Assault boats have no weapon slots/hard points)

Another common theme is the need for bombers to “line up” on their target. This “flying straight” is one of the inherent weaknesses making it easy for fighters to get a “kill”. Because of this I would make bomber weapons require straight flight before fireing, the straight path need not be right at the target, but when flying straight it should be easier for fighters to hit them (a bonus should be applied). Bombers could “peel off”, losing the chance to shoot at the capital ship but also breaking the “to hit” bonus. The flying straight would also have to end in range for the shot to hit (and may need to begin in range too).

Coupling this with the fact that you have to carry all your assault craft in bays (or strap-ons (to the outside of FTL craft)(strap-ons would have no repair unless you also had a carrier in the fleet, and only large craft could handle strap-ons (cruisers or bigger?))) choosing how many squads of fighters, fighter-bombers, bombers and assault craft would make for some great game play.

Side note: I think assault boats should have a short “line up” requirement as well. Much shorter than bombers because the craft self-destructs on a hit to deliver it’s payload and on a miss it has to fly out, turn around, and “line up” again.

Lastly and just for accuracy: The linear size of the capital ships is also a mistake. Volume increases exponentially (πr^2 times length (for a cylinder)) and surface area increases linear (dπ times length (for a cylinder)). The bigger the ships the more massive and long (going internally) the weapons systems could be. Also the greater surface to mount AA weapons and weapons in general. This would not create a linear increase in ship size but quantum jumps similar to what we have now with Cruisers so heavily out classing Frigates. You would have that same out-classed feeling at every hull type. Now give a sci-fi guy a chance to make up a plausable explaination: FTL engines scale exponentially eating up the interior space leaving a thin shell so each hull type has a linear progression in volume. But this really should be a discussion for another thread.

  • You forget that cruiser weapons deal significantly more damage, which means they logically are bigger to begin with.
  • Linear vs exponential numbers isn’t realistic, but most non-mathematicians have difficulties grasping non-linear concepts. This is an abstraction.
  • Using half a dozen different hull types instead of three means twice as much work for cliff, and not really any more gain.
  • More choices doesn’t automatically improve the game: MTG tournaments are not more interesting if all cards are allowed, quite the opposite in fact.

Serisouly? All current-day bombers use guided missiles, which require absolutely zero “lining up”. You’re stuck in Pearl Harbor era here. But more important: Do you really think it would be more fun to make matters harder for the already not-too-clever AI? Or would we not end up shouting at the screen a lot?

I have a suggestion for you: Try to make a board or card game. You’ll quickly find out how difficult this is and how “MOAR STUFF” and “realism” rarely makes for a better game.

After 14 years in the US military (9 in aviation) you’d be surprized to know most ordinance thrown at the enemy is just dumb. Lead projectiles, low-drag unguided bombs, artillery (mostly unguided), the list of “dumb” ordinance is endless.

My “common theme” is from sci-fi. “Stay on target, Stay on target”

Gold Two: [the Y-wings are running the gauntlet toward the Death Star reactor-port] The guns - they’ve stopped!
Gold Five: [realizes why] Stabilize your rear deflectors… Watch for enemy fighters.
Gold Leader: They’re coming in! Three marks at 2-10!
[Gold Two is slain by Darth Vader and his wingmen; Gold Leader starts to panic]
Gold Leader: It’s no good, I can’t maneuver!
Gold Five: Stay on target.
Gold Leader: We’re too close!
Gold Five: Stay on target!
Gold Leader: [shouts] Loosen up!
[he too is picked off by Vader and Company; Gold Five tries to escape but is fatally winged]
Gold Five: Gold Five to Red leader, lost Tiree, lost Dutch.
Red Leader: I copy, Gold Leader.
Gold Five: It came from… behind!

Wow, actually I have several games made, that are played by me and my friends and family. I do know how hard it is. The two software game companies I have worked for never got off the ground. I am an avid gamer, German games (now called Euro games (in the US)). About half of my games I have made center around capital ships.

And, I am in the “less stuff” camp, except when it comes to hull types and some ship building options (look at my long post about minimizing racial differences in this game). This genre of capital ships is too rich just to be represented by three ship types. There are too many modules, and AA is misrepresented (in this game). Bigger ships would have inordinate amounts of AA (more surface space and exponentially more volume to store the ammo).

As for Cliffski’s AI. I find it refreshing, yes it does have its flaws, but there are tons of suggestions on how to fix the order system. In the concept of “GSB 2.0” we’d be starting with an all new AI designed to work with these abstractions. I presume for Cliffski (with his experience) this would be a snap to code - he already has a working model and more domain knowledge than anyone else (It’s his game).

I completely understand the concept of abstractions. I’m a software engineer by trade, our daily bread is abstractions.

Well taking the Star Wars analogy - It was a fighter that took out the Death Star! And then a smuggling transport that did it AGAIN. No need for bombers. The plucky fighter pilot can always take out the biggest baddest thing. I possibly could put examples from the last three Star Wars but they really should be stuffed in the same place where Star Trek V is.

Anyhow are we even sure there will be a GSB 2?


Actually a fighter-bomber and FTL (faster than light craft). Anti-fighter lasers and Proton(?) torpedoes. As to the GSB universe:

Cliffski has stated that fighters are not FTL craft (minor interpretation there, he has clearly stated they are not “deep space” craft).

Star Wars fighters don’t quite fit the traditional capital ship genre. And Cliffski is more inline with the traditional capital ship genre. There is a great deal of capital ship games that deal with the distinction of fighters and bombers. That was the overall theme of my post. In the current GSB we use one hull type for both roles, and often the same ship design for both roles. This doesn’t fit my view of capital ship games.

Now, I do want to be clear, I really like this game. I’ve poured a lot of energy into it. So don’t take my suggestions as knocks to the current game. I am trying to improve the game - give it a flavor that would appeal to a wider fan base. After all, we want more players, more ways to play, and a bigger game (in general).

Someone once came up with the brilliant idea of “superweapon” slots, such as a triangle slot, to put a limited number of special weapons and modules onto a hull, to make distinctions between different hull types. (And for giving us a way to have superweapons, without unnecessary superweapon spam or prohibitive costs.)

It’s not my idea, but I wish it was. It’s brilliant, and I’ve noticed it solves a lot of problems or helps replicate a lot of other suggestions, and doesn’t strike me as a hugely difficult modification to the game.

I never thought of applying it to a fighter, but having “fighter hulls” with “superweapon” slots instead of or in addition to normal hardpoints would help create your bomber scenarios without needing new ship classes.

The flight behavior of fighters is a seperate issue entirely, but could easily be put in, if another good suggestion (also not mine) was added in: spinal mounts. Cliffski has said that the current AI can’t handle spinal mounts very well, but if it was upgraded to handle spinal mounts, a fighter with a spinal mount superweapon could behave just like you describe here.

Both suggestions, spinal mounts and superweapon slots, especially when taken together, seem like they would help provide the bombers you describe as well as adding a bunch of other elements to the game in unrelated areas.

Another interesting suggestion proposed involved correlating accuracy based on relative speed, encouraging fighters and bombers to slow down when they shoot. Fighter weapons could be given a lot more accuracy to compensate, allowing them to fire at high speed, but I like the idea of a fast bomber that will slow down just as its getting ready to fire, kind of simulating the “attack run” concept and adding an interesting area of balance. It seems like a better idea than an absurdly heavy torpedo launcher.

I think it’s Lonestar who has been talking about (and modding) an intermediate ship size that is larger than fighters, smaller than frigates. He’s calling them “corvettes” after the 19thC sailing navy and WWII ships of that size description. From what I’ve read of his posts (on the modding forum), he’s looking at the 4 turret + 4 std slots area (something like the Alliance Loki hull), and modding fighter / frigate weapons to fit them.
It would be a “soft mod” as there isn’t any facility for us to define a new ship size. But it makes a lot of sense (well, if frigates make sense, then corvettes make sense too).

Your bombers sound to me as more a style of fighter design, or, basically, heavy fighters.
Maybe the fighter torpedo needs work to make it more dangerous to cruisers.

I think we’ve already got non-FTL “bomber” hulls–the bigger fighter classes, which I seem to rarely see used in practice–so I doubt there is much of a need to create a whole new class.

Which begs the question: how do we make those big fighters (call 'em bombers or fighter-bombers or whatever) survivable in the GSB combat environment?

(The reality I’m working from here–and your reality may vary–is that any fighter slower than about 2 is dead meat, and speeds notably higher than that are strongly preferred. These fast fighters often leave slots unfilled, and the best are from factions that have fighter hulls that let you drop a rocket and an engine but NOT a generator. . . .)

That, alas, is a topic for other topics, and I think it has been talked about several different ways already.



You do realize they were in a trench and had little to no room to maneuver, right?

on a sidenote…

double check your class designations, dreadnoughts should be classed above battleships as they are designed to carry heavy guns only, in contrast to battleships which are a general heavy battlefield unit
basically dreads are BS killers or bombardment units

Ah, yes, they were. But did you notice the targeting computer and the time it was taking to get a lock? This is one of my points, small bomber sized weapons need to hit specific points on capital ships to hurt them. They can’t just unload a guided missile into the thickest part of armor plate on a flyby and expect good results.

I was on the IOT&E team for the Stinger missile system (for Apache helecopters). While in the hanger we could get it to lock on to the drinking fountain, and go “all green” ready to launch and kill the drinking fountain. Captial ship combat would be repleat with chaff, thermal disguises, and other anti-weapon devices to protect the ship. The bigger the ship the more surface area to deploy these devices.

Also, that missle can’t hit targets less than X meters away (not revealing national secrets) because it takes that long for it’s targeting system to line up when it had “LOCK ON” at launch time. This is one of two guided missile systems I worked on. They do take time to get a lock, they can lose it (easily) and most systems require mutilple components to get and maintain a lock until impact.

For bomber sized weapons to hurt capital ships they have to hit them correctly. This is the “line up” time I am suggesting, or an “attack run”. This is an abstraction to simulate the complexity of scanning an alien ship (the size of a skyscrapper or bigger), finding the weaknesses, and successfuly deploying your ordinance at the right spot and time to inflict damage.

And because it takes all this for bombers - this is why the abstraction/rule fighters can’t hurt capital ships. They just don’t have the firepower or targeting systems to do it. Think Independance Day before the virus and the fly up the super weapon trick. Fighters were just ineffective (zero damage).

Side thought: I am still thinking that bombers would want to release their load under the shields of the enemy ship (just like the game today). If they are outside the shields they hit the shields like any other weapon.

@Red Cinema
Yes, some mechanics would need to be reworked. Most captial ship weapons could not fire at fighters and bombers (of course they have all sorts of anti fighter/bomber/missile weapons). Currently cruisers fire rockets/missiles/torpedoes at fighters that are designed to kill other capital ships. Besides the ammo loss these weapons just couldn’t hit. Imagine a modern day battleship firing 23 inch guns at an F16, they would never hit.

Again, the abstractions in the current GSB are great. I like the game. I can’t wait for the campaign. But the scale is off in the game. It works for the most part. But I believe there is better available, richer distinctions and abstractions and more involved game play (design and deployment).

There has been much discussion on this issue (I agree with you), at

Yes much discussion and I disagree with the term “dreadnought”.

[quot=“Ramcat”]Ah, yes, they were. But did you notice the targeting computer and the time it was taking to get a lock? This is one of my points, small bomber sized weapons need to hit specific points on capital ships to hurt them. They can’t just unload a guided missile into the thickest part of armor plate on a flyby and expect good results.
Well that was because they were using computer systems from the 1970’s…

But on a reality side note - just check out youtube for the amount of missile systems that FAIL.
btw Ramcat - does the military get any of it’s money back from failures like this?

And now for my take on the fighter/bomber craft of the game.

I am worried that an introduction to a fighter/bomber class weapon that would seriously damage a cruiser would become a serious overpowered weapon that would remove large classes from the game entirely. If we complain that fighters as is are too powerfull - would not the introduction of more powerful weapon makes things worse?


I think you’re missing the point. I don’t think there would be any fighter/bomber class weapons. The closest suggestions Ramcat made were for a fighter/bomber ship role, that might carry both fighter and bomber weapons.

If the bomber-class anti-capital weapons were introduced, then there would be no need for fighter weapons that are capable of hurting capital ships. Even the very basic “get under the shield” trick that fighters exploit would no longer be needed, because those would now be the role of bombers carrying anti-capital weapons.

The purpose of the fighter would be to counter enemy bombers, intercepting them and taking them down, and they would be optimized for this role. Fighter/bombers would have kind of a mixed role, carrying both types of weaponry, but be less damaging to capital ships and take longer to kill off the enemy bombers than more specialized counterparts.

Another example would be those little fighters that are set to ‘escort’ capital ships and fly around like a swarm of bees… those would make great defensive “fighters” to take out enemy bombers. The ones that actually go out and try to take out the cruisers… those would now be bombers, possibly with some additional fighters to help clear the path for them.

The purpose of introducing the bomber isn’t so say “more bigger weapons = good”, the purpose is to say, let’s balance out the roles so that not EVERY fighter is capable of damaging a cruiser, and fighters only need to stick to their “fighting” roles.

In actuality, you’d have the same amount of ‘fighters’, but some percentage of those would be bombers instead. Bombers would try to hurt capital ships and fighters would try to stop the bombers.

I don’t think I like the idea of “bombers” as a class of ship, so much as a type of fighter. I think some ‘bomber-style’ hulls and weapons would be nice. Especially if we had a “limited ammo” variable so that the bombers had to come back to carrier bays to replenish their payload.

The current armor model/balance is standing in your way. It’s heavily biased towards DPS over penetration.

Bombers designed to inflict capital ships can be armed with high explosive armor-penetrating weapons that inflict a lot of damage, like a big bomb effect, or could just as easily be armed with something like the pulse laser designed for DPS on enemy cruisers. Adjust the range and tracking speed so that bomber-style weapons can’t engage fighters effectively but can hit underneath the shields of capital ships.

Now increase the minimum range of fighter-style weapons (along with projectile speed and maximum range), and now fighters can easily engage other fighters and bombers but can’t shoot underneath or through capital ship shields anymore.

This is sci-fi! we need a term for something bigger than the biggest city in space loaded with enough guns to pulverize a moon! :stuck_out_tongue:

My corvette mod has stalled in favor of the Eve-online mod I have been scrambling to get out. MAYBE once i get that out and ballanced, bug free I can go back to working on the corvettes, witch are basicly large fighters as frigates, but only have the ability to mount fighter class weapons. Something still in devlopment when stalled.

I have been thinking about this since you wrote it. You are correct, in the currrent game, DPS (damage per second) is the model of wearing down bigger armored hulls until you take out their hulls. From my observations (correct me if I’m wrong) the hull strength is the sum of the components damage points (plus hull bonuses if you have them).

Ok here’s a thought to model bombers in the current game (with a DPS model for damage), bomber weapons that hit do damage directly to the internals (hull). They “bypass” armor. Of course the damage amounts would need to be adjusted and all the current fighter weapons would need to be changed to not hurt capital ships.

In that model, fighters kill fighters and bombers. Bombers kill capital ships, and if equiped with fighter weapons other bombers and fighters.

I thought fighters with 2 rockets fulfill the role of bomber nicely. Anything without shield dies very quickly to those things.

The only “bomber” that is missing would be something that can break shields. I think a reduction of torpedo weight should fill this role just fine.