Tactical Combat

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Real-Time Combat

When two or more fleets meet during the Strategic Turn, a round of tactical combat occurs. These combats are resolved between strategic turns and more than one can occur. This combat plays very similarly to other Real-Time Strategy games using a combination of mouse commands to select and order ships.

Each ship in the battling fleets is represented in 3D space and you maneuver the ships to win the combat and/or meet your objectives. All movement orders are given in two dimensions while the ships themselves can maneuver in three dimensions. Ships can also be given orders to change altitude to another of the three combat planes and also to roll, with the ability to stop the roll every 90 degrees.

Only one fleet can be selected by each player per battle, with a Command Point limit provided by both by the command ability of the Admiral / CnC ship in the fleet and the support capacity of the naval base the fleet is attached to.

Tactical Combat can take place in deep space, around a planetless star or in a star system with multiple planets.


Tactical Commands

Tactical 101

Accelerated Time and Time Compression

There are two ways in which combat may be sped up, time compression and accelerated time.

Time compression can be used manually. By default the hotkeys for speeding up and slowing down time are bound to + and - (not the numpad keys), but like most hotkeys these may be reassigned by the player.

Accelerated time is a speed increase of the combat, not of the combat time. It is a technique to get you rapidly to the area of interest. With accelerated time active, ships are moving at roughly x16 speed for every tick of the clock.

The idea is that your ships are in accelerated time in order to traverse the combat plane to find the enemy. The ships drop out of accelerated time when either they get within sensor range of the enemy ships or enemy ships get within sensor range of the players ships.

Time compression and accelerated time can be active at the same time.

Admirals

All fleets in tactical combat are controlled by an Admiral. For more information, please see the Admiral page.

Psionics in Combat

Psionics are a new addition to tactical combat in SotS2. For more information, please see the Psionics page.

Ship Stance

There are two components to automated ship stances: a ships primary weapon and the selected stance. There is a small star displayed next to weapons in both the design screen and in combat. This star indicates which weapon on a ship is considered the 'primary' weapon. The 'primary' weapon controls the range of the selected stance as follows:

  • Stand Off is a maximum range setting.
  • Pursuit is a medium range setting.
  • Close to Attack is a minimum range setting. [1]
  • Neutral is effectively no setting. The ships will only move to a player selected point and only when a player commands it.
  • Retreat will cause the selected ships to attempt to flee the battlefield.

Auto Resolve

Before combat begins, if the player decides they do not want to control their fleet in a battle, they can set their combat to Auto Resolve. This allows the players fleet to be controlled by an AI while the combat is simulated at high speed.

Ship Roles

There are several classes of ships: [2]

Unarmed:

  • are ships which have no weapons. They will idle in a safe area ("chase their tail") and will retreat when all other combat ships are destroyed.
  • some freighters, colonizers, and construction ships

Civilian:

  • will idle in a safe area unless there are no other aggressive ships and will usually remain near unarmed ships. They will attack if provoked. These are typically ships that you DO NOT want to run into enemy hands and get destroyed as it will either end your mission or destroy your fleet.
  • Cruiser Command Ships (larger ships are "Aggressive"), colonizers, constructor, supply ships, civilian vessels, gate ships...

Planetary Assault:

  • will directly attack planets. For the most part, will ignore other enemy ships unless all enemy colonies are destroyed.
  • assault shuttle carriers, siege drivers, wraith abductors, biowar...

Aggressive:

  • all other ships. These will seek and destroy all ships and colonies. If the enemies are faster than this group, they will try to lure the enemy back to an enemy colony.
  • usually anything bigger than a cruiser as well as any other ship type not listed in the above group.

AI Behaviors

  • The AI see other ships the same as a regular player. Either found in the sensor or a combat zone gets taken.
  • If a combat zone gets taken and the AI is defending, they will send a scout ship to see if it is an enemy ship that is in the combat zone. If it is, it will call some aggressive ships to help defend.
  • If the AI is defending and nothing changes, the ships will just idle around waiting for something to become visible (more spread out than any player would do).
  • If the AI is attacking, it will shoot for the enemy colonies or stations (same as a player would do as these are the only things visible at great distances).
  • The AI will use anything that would normally have to be manually fired/triggered by the player, including AOE torpedoes, Battle Riders, Drones and Psionic attacks. [3]

Armor

SotS II adds another layer of detail by getting rid of the simpler real-time strategy-style hit points model and replacing it with a 2D armor matrix and then an internal structure that generates critical hits once that armor is punctured. Apart from the effects of critical hits slowly degrading ship and section performance, the other most noticeable aspect of this system is the fact that different weapons will remove armor from the matrix in different patterns.

This creates a whole new layer of weapon detail as a laser may make a four-point hole straight in from the top of the armor block, but a gauss round, while also doing four points of damage, makes a wide shallow gouge. When you combine this with the concept that a weapon only has to penetrate the abstracted armor block in order to damage the internal structure of a ship, it opens a whole new tactical realm to the game and makes things like loadouts and maneuvering to cover your ship's weak side all the more important in SotSII.

Armor readouts are NOT health, there is still the full ship underneath them with critical hits galore. The armor display can be called up as an overlay in tactical combat, not just sensors, so you folks keen on maneuvering can tell very quickly which side of your ship is being laid bare.

Armor readouts have 4 quadrants, which in overlay view displays 2 as visible at any moment as you rotate camera. Penetration into internals will display as classic SotS plasma venting. The 4 quadrant armor extends to the front and back tips, so that when you are hit head on it will still fall on the top, bottom or either side.


Armor and Ship Size

The size of a ship has an effect on how easy it is to damage, with larger ships being impervious to differing quantities of damage. This represents how the sheer mass and infrastructure of a larger ship can shrug off small amounts of damage. For example, if a LV is hit by a weapon that does three or less "layers" of armor damage, no damage is actually done to the Armor. The following is a list of how much damage a ship resists:

  • LV - 3 Layers
  • DN - 2 Layers
  • CR - 1 Layer
  • BR - 0 Layers (but a small Armor panel)
  • Heavy Drones - 0 Layers (but a small Armor panel)
  • Drones - 0 Layers (but no Armor panel)

Adamantine Alloys gives one additional layer of resistance. Phase Dislocation also gives one additional layer of resistance, but is only available to the Liir. Other armor techs just add more rows to the armor matrix.

One thing to note however: Once the armor is destroyed, the resistance layers on that section facing will no longer reduce or stop damage. So a weapon like a Stormer will do no damage to a DN on it's own. But once the DN's armor in one section is destroyed, a Stormer can (and will) do large amounts of structure damage if fired into that now unarmored section.

Armor and Damage

Damage is applied to the armor plates of a ship based on the specific weapon attributes. A missile's damage is applied all on the surface, broad and (relatively) shallow and is separate for each missile. Armor Piercing round damage penetrates further, leaving a narrower and deeper damage path. There are weapons that are poor vs armor but devastating against the inner workings of a ship. This is usually represented by poor damage patterning but with large bonuses to scoring critical hits if it does make it through to internal structure. Every point of damage not used to kill armor kills structure points instead and is assumed to be penetration damage in terms of Critical Hit Calculations. [4]

Example of Weapon Penetration


Weapons

For specific detail on what armour penetration and effects the various weapons are capable of, please refer to the specific weapon.

Most Weapons apply their damage in a fixed pattern. That damage pattern is triggered by the first intact armor block it hits and does not expand, extend, drop down or fall through empty spaces. And the blue resistance layers do not trigger the damage pattern, but they do reduce it no matter where the trigger point is in the armor matrix. However, Beam weapons of all types act differently.

Beam Damage

Beam weapons do not follow the same damage pattern rules that govern most other weapons. While the first intact armor block will trigger the damage pattern, the damage from beam weapons will "fall through" any empty space in its path. [5] Additionally, almost all beam weapons have a firing duration that is split into 0.5 second "ticks". With each "tick", the beam damage pattern is applied to the target (as long as the beam is still hitting the target). So a Cutting Beam, which has a beam duration of 3 seconds and stays on target that full 3 seconds, will apply its damage pattern to a target 6 times. And while the blue resistance layers do not trigger the damage pattern, the damage reduction of those resistance layers is only applied to the first "tick".

Weapons and Damage vs Armour

Defense Manager

Fleet and Defense Managers

The defense asset bar in the Defense Manager is a function of having a Naval Station. The player will not get the defense asset bar when there is no naval station. Naval Stations supply commands points for your Defense Fleet.

System Defense Boats

System Defense Boats (or SDB's for short) are deployed similar to deploying a defense platform. Once a SDB is built, it will appear in the system defense fleet. It can be dragged into position around a planet and can then be activated in combat via a button in the sensor view. [6]

Minefields

Minelayers in the defense tray will create persistent Minefields. [7] Placing minefields in the battle manager is a 2 step process. First you must drag your minelayers from the fleet widget into the defense widget at the bottom of the screen. Once that is done you may place minefields in the system. [8]

Capturing Ships

Ships can be captured by Boarding actions. Boarding parties generate random critical hits occasionally, until the boarding either fails or succeeds. Crew losses affect the ship's susceptibility to boarding parties. Once a ship is captured, the capturing player has two options: break it down (and maybe get a salvage tech boost) or to consign it to abstracted espionage duty that will result in higher chances of operational success.


Critical Hits

After the armor of a ship has been penetrated, there is a chance for a ship to take critical hits. Critical hits are applied on a per shot basis and do not stack. Increased damage critical hits are only applied to a ships structure. [9] So a x5 critical hit applies a x5 damage modifier to the single shot that caused the critical hit, but that modifier is not applied to the next hit. Systems destroyed by Critical Hits, instead of just being damaged, cannot be fixed without outside intervention. Each ship displays a list of it's Critical Hits and there are also voice events when a ship takes a critical in combat.

Critical Hit Examples: [10]

  • Crew Death - kills 1-3 crew.
  • Reactor Coolant Leak - 1 crew (in engine) dies every 30 seconds.
  • Reactor Shielding - (after 2nd crit hit of this type) 1 crew death for every 10 seconds when driving over 50% normal speed.
  • Life Support - (after 2nd crit hit of this type) kill 1 crew per second.
  • Supply Hit - reduced supply.

Critical Hit Descriptions

CREW DEATH: Kills 1-3 Crewmen in the damaged section. (Non-repairable)

HELM CONTROLS – Loss of ship maneuvering control for 1-3 seconds. Severe cases, the ship is out of action for entire combat. (Non-repairable, unless severe)

MODULE FAILURE – One module destroyed. (Non-repairable)

COOLANT SYSTEM: Each hit reduces the rate of fire of all weapons. Successive hits mean a slower and slower rate of fire. After ten cumulative hits, the coolant system is destroyed and all energy weapons shut down. (Repairable)

REACTOR COOLANT LEAK (engine section only): Acceleration reduced by 25%. If ship moves at top speed while there is a coolant leak, one engine crew dies every 30 seconds. If three coolant leaks accumulate without repair, systems are destroyed for combat and ship must stop or go critical. (Repairable)

AMMO CONVEYOR (sections with ballistic weapons only): A random ballistic bank on the section has its rate of fire reduced by half. (Repairable)

SCANNERS (command section only): The first critical hit reduces the ship’s electronic counter-measure rating by half. The second hit leaves the ship unable to target or lock onto the enemy. (Repairable)

ECM (command section only): The first critical hit reduces the ship’s electronic counter-measure rating by half. The second hit reduces the ship’s electronic counter-measure rating to zero. (Repairable)

REACTOR SHIELDING (engine section only): First critical hit increases the ship’s energy signature by 30%. The second increases the ship’s energy signature to the point where everyone can see it - As well, the rate of fire on all weapons is reduced by 20%, 1crew member is killed in service every 10 seconds at minimum speed (worse at faster speeds). With a third critical hit the ship will explode within 30 seconds. (Non-repairable)

TURRET FAILURE: Random turret on section malfunctions and detonates. (Non-repairable)

TURRET HYDRAULICS – Speed of turret bank reduced by half. (Repairable)

TURRET MALFUNCTION: When hit, a weapon turret may malfunction and detonate, causing damage to the ship section and possibly causing more critical hits. (Non-repairable)

MAGAZINE EXPLOSION: If any weapon on the affected section has “explosive” or “corrosive” rounds, then stored ammo will detonate. 50 points structure damage and 1 to 3 more critical hits then occur. One weapon bank with those ammo types is rendered inoperative. If the section isn’t carrying those types of ammo, then general damage to supplies is taken. (Non-repairable)

CAPACITOR BREACH: If any weapon on hit section is an energy weapon, then the capacitor system for that weapon bank ruptures, doing 10 points structure damage and destroying all turrets in one energy weapon bank, as well as causing explosion damage. (Non-repairable)

SUPPLY HIT – Ship supply reduced by 10%. (Non-repairable)

MAIN THRUST - Ship thrust reduced by 25%. (Repairable)

LIFE SUPPORT – Life support damaged – one crew perishes per second. (Repairable)

SHIELD GENERATOR - Ship shield disrupted. (Repairable)

EXCESS DAMAGE CRIT – Critical hit causes more than typical damage (from 2X – 20X) [11]

Critical Hit Type Percentages

Not every ship section can have every type of critical hit. There can't be a Reactor Shielding critical hit to a section that doesn't have a reactor. Additionally if the ship section does not contain certain weapons, it's impossible to get certain critical hits. For example, a "Ammo Conveyor" critical hit can only occur on a ship section that is using Ballistic Weapons.

Critical Hit Type Percentages by Ship Section
Critical
Hit Type
Command
Section
Mission
Section
Engine
Section
Stations Unknown
Menace
2x Damage 10% 10% 10% 20% 10%
3x Damage 5% 7% 7% 10% 5%
5x Damage 2% 3% 5% 3% 3%
10x Damage 0% 0% 1% 1% 1%
20x Damage 0% 0% 0% 1% 0%
Ammo Conveyor 1% 1% 1% 0% 0%
Capacitor Breach 1% 1% 1% 0% 0%
Coolant System 1% 1% 1% 0% 0%
Crew Death 1% 2% 1% 1% 0%
ECM 1% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Helm Controls 1% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Life Support 1% 1% 1% 0% 0%
Magazine Explosion 1% 1% 1% 0% 0%
Main Thrusters 0% 0% 1% 1% 0%
Module Failure 0% 0% 0% 1% 0%
Reactor Coolant Leak 0% 0% 1% 0% 0%
Reactor Shielding 0% 0% 1% 0% 0%
Scanners 1% 0% 0% 0% 1%
Shield Generator 1% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Supply Hit 2% 5% 2% 0% 0%
Turn Thrusters 1% 0% 0% 1% 0%
Turret Failure 1% 1% 1% 1% 0%
Turret Hydraulics 1% 1% 1% 0% 0%
Turret Malfunction 2% 2% 2% 0% 0%

Targeting subsystems

You can target specific subsystems of a ship (eg main turret) by clicking on it if the ship was already targeted. This works best with precision weapons such as beams and missiles. Targetable subsystem shows as a miniature target under mouse cursor.

Supply

Ships now keep track of their supply level. Supply is how much the crew and weapons require vs how much the ship carries. On screen, a ships supply is indicated by two numbers: the amount used and the amount on-board. So a supply of 76/155 would mean that a ship is using 76 out of an available total of 155 supply.

Morrigi and Hivers have the best supply ratings for their ships. Both races have learned much about long range spaceflight. The Liir are new to spaceflight but a) have less crew and thus b) their own personal body control makes for a great deal of efficiency. Humans alas, retain the Naval tradition of eating well. There is a supply preservation technology that increases ship supply as well as affecting trade goods.

Should supply be reduced below that which the ship requires for combat, weapons that rely heavily on supply will suffer extended reload times.

Fleets always attempt to reserve enough supply to crawl home. [12]


Energy

Ships now keep track of their energy level. Energy is how much its systems and weapons consume vs how much the ship produces. On screen, a ships energy is indicated by two numbers: the amount used and the amount on-board. So a energy of 90/140 would mean that a ship is using 90 out of an available total of 140 energy. If the energy system is damaged, things like weapon recharge and thrust and shield strength are negatively affected by some amount. Insufficient energy does not stop weapons fire, only reduces the rate of fire. [13]

Crew

Crew is how many individuals are required to work the ships systems and weapons vs how many are aboard the ship. Crew numbers are tracked in-game, with crew losses affecting both effectiveness of the ship systems and susceptibility to boarding parties. On screen, a ships crew is indicated by two numbers: the amount used and the amount on-board. So a crew of 35/65 would mean that a ship is using 35 out of an available total of 65 crew.. At the scales SotS operates at, ships crew come and go far too often, and act as far too much of a combat commodity, to convey any sort of "veteran" status.


Fleet Size

Fleet size is limited by both command ability of the CnC/Admiral and the support capacity of the naval base the fleet is attached too. In combat, an Admiral in the field only has their own command limit to work with.

Spare ships are kept at a naval base as reserves and will require a turn to reactivate, so they can NOT jump straight into combat.

Fleet size limits the number of ships available for scouting the battlefield, as well as thereby limiting the numbers of ships available for responding to the enemy in system. Thus you will now have to work for their zones of control.


Planetary Invasions

Planetary invasions are not currently part of the game.

However it has been stated that there are plans to develop a method of planetary invasion for the game.

"There will be no detailed planetary invasions in sots2 prime...but when there is, it is unlikely to have a special [tech] tree as that just makes it kind of blatant." [14] Ground combat will be a key part of an expansion and more importantly, a new race that is all about the taking and holding of ground. [15] Ground Combat will not be a full RTS. [16] Instead, the plan is for abstracted, fun (and not a micro nightmare) combat where troops are seizing key installations or even cities in order to minimize overall planetary damage. [17]


Salvaging

You have the ability to salvage the technology of the enemy after a battle. The type of "ship death" suffered by the enemy ship has an impact on salvage chances. Examples of ship death include: life support failing or the reactor flaring up.

The more science laboratory modules dedicated to the discipline a technology is in, the more efficiently random Salvage information is saved for a future date.


Suul'ka Horde Salvaging

The Suul'ka Horde Faction have a mechanic that allows them to be taught any tech that catches their eye. They retain the old fashioned salvage method as well, in case they are not prepared to pay the price of learning directly from the Gods.


References

  1. Mecron in Forum Post
  2. ddub in Forum Post
  3. ddub in Forum Post
  4. Mecron in Forum Post
  5. Mecron in Forum Post
  6. Nextek in Forum Post
  7. Mecron in Forum Post
  8. Nextek in Forum Post
  9. Mecron in Forum Post
  10. ddub in Forum Post
  11. castewar in Forum Post
  12. Mecron in Forum Post
  13. Mecron in Forum Post
  14. Mecron in Forum Post
  15. Mecron in Strategy Informer Interview
  16. Mecron in Forum Post
  17. Mecron in Forum Post