No more OP death stacks

For what's not in 'Top Priority Game Design'. Post your ideas, visions, suggestions for the game, rules, modifications, etc.

Moderator: Oberlus

Message
Author
User avatar
Oberlus
Cosmic Dragon
Posts: 5796
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2017 4:25 pm

Re: No more OP death stacks

#16 Post by Oberlus »

LienRag wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:22 pm Basically, I agree with most of Oberlus' post there - which shows how serious the situation is !
xDDDD
LienRag wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:22 pm (the part I don't agree with is this one : several max-size stacks, and I don't see that as fixing anything. That would mean having less viable tactics. Actually it's what would bring a more tactical game, but only if those were able to join in a deathstack for an assault)
The whole point of the OP of this thread is about making extra ships above whatever threshold (absolute or flexible) inefficient, regardless of them in a single fleet or in several, so no, no way to join the deatshtack, and so I think you actually agree: this makes useless to concentrate forces, so there is one less tactic.

BlueAward
Small Juggernaut
Posts: 714
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2022 3:15 am

Re: No more OP death stacks

#17 Post by BlueAward »

wobbly wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:16 pm
BlueAward wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:54 am Other concept is active upkeep.
I'm not convinced upkeep would even fix the core problem. High upkeep means using a smaller death stack, but its no less "stacky".
I suppose what Oberlus proposed, some exponential growth in cost the more ships are stacks, acts more like it?

Ophiuchus
Programmer
Posts: 3495
Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:01 am
Location: Wall IV

Re: No more OP death stacks

#18 Post by Ophiuchus »

Oberlus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:31 pm The whole point of the OP of this thread is about making extra ships above whatever threshold (absolute or flexible) inefficient, regardless of them in a single fleet or in several, so no, no way to join the deatshtack
No. That representation is not even close to the OP.

There are no thresholds in my suggestion at all.

And if going for full linear, deathstacks would still not be worse than non-deathstacks. So it is not about making ships more inefficient, it is about making stacks less efficient.
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Look, ma... four combat bouts!

User avatar
Oberlus
Cosmic Dragon
Posts: 5796
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2017 4:25 pm

Re: No more OP death stacks

#19 Post by Oberlus »

BlueAward wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:33 pm
wobbly wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:16 pm I'm not convinced upkeep would even fix the core problem. High upkeep means using a smaller death stack, but its no less "stacky".
I suppose what Oberlus proposed, some exponential growth in cost the more ships are stacks, acts more like it?
Yes, the fluff would be something about it being more difficult to maintain a bigger fleet in a single place (they need better logistics, drawing resources for more planets from further away).

This opens up options for policies about
- Greater base ship upkeep but less extra-upkeep from stacking (balanced so that it pays off compared to no-stacking when concentrating a big percentage of the total army). Fits imperialists.
- Lower base ship upkeep but extra upkeep outside of supply or depending on distance to owned planets, or to owned ships of the same species. Fits with democracies, pacifists and empires on the defense.
- Synergies with stability, species opinion, RP and PP. Plenty of options when one finds the fluff.

Ophiuchus
Programmer
Posts: 3495
Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:01 am
Location: Wall IV

Re: No more OP death stacks

#20 Post by Ophiuchus »

BlueAward wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:33 pm
wobbly wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:16 pm I'm not convinced upkeep would even fix the core problem. High upkeep means using a smaller death stack, but its no less "stacky".
+1
Oberlus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:47 pm
BlueAward wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:33 pm
wobbly wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:16 pm I'm not convinced upkeep would even fix the core problem. High upkeep means using a smaller death stack, but its no less "stacky".
I suppose what Oberlus proposed, some exponential growth in cost the more ships are stacks, acts more like it?
Yes, the fluff would be something about it being more difficult to maintain a bigger fleet in a single place (they need better logistics, drawing resources for more planets from further away).

This opens up options for policies about
- Greater base ship upkeep but less extra-upkeep from stacking (balanced so that it pays off compared to no-stacking when concentrating a big percentage of the total army). Fits imperialists.
- Lower base ship upkeep but extra upkeep outside of supply or depending on distance to owned planets, or to owned ships of the same species. Fits with democracies, pacifists and empires on the defense.
- Synergies with stability, species opinion, RP and PP. Plenty of options when one finds the fluff.
The main downside of this is that it gives an incentive to separate all your ships in times of peace and to amass them if going for battle.

So exponential cost growth is way off the table I think(?). That probably would lead to micromanagement. If it is square based one could pay linear for that extra combat efficiency.. which could be kind of fair(?)

I think it could work if has a noticable but not hurting cost curve,
To prevent loopholes (e.g. splitting fleets and send them constantly circulating in your supply) It would need to measure this not in single system/fleets; take at least starlanes into account; or even sectors or other metrics of closeness.
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Look, ma... four combat bouts!

User avatar
Oberlus
Cosmic Dragon
Posts: 5796
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2017 4:25 pm

Re: No more OP death stacks

#21 Post by Oberlus »

Ophiuchus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:42 pm There are no thresholds in my suggestion at all.
So flexible ones, stemming from whatever formula you use to discard ships from combat or scale down their HP or damage based on the number of ships or the total sum of their statistics or whatever.

Ophiuchus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:42 pm And if going for full linear, deathstacks would still not be worse than non-deathstacks. So it is not about making ships more inefficient, it is about making stacks less efficient.
That exponential/linear explanation in the OP is fishy, not fully developed.

Why is a fleet of 2X dmg and 2X HP four times better than a fleet of X dmg and X HP?
If dmg == HP, one round of dmg is enough to kill one the whole fleet. So after one round of damage the winning fleet has X HP (half of what it had at start) and the losing fleet is destroyed. There is no exponential nothing in there, one fleet had twice the power than the other, and caused twice the damage. The problem is when the damage of the losing fleet gets shared between the ships of the winning one and no ship gets destroyed. In that situation, the winning fleet is not four times better than the losing one, but infinitely better (zero loses). The damage*structure formula fails miserably in complex combat settings like the one we have in FO.

10 ships with dmg 1 and HP 4
total dmg 10 * total HP 40 = 400

1 ship with dmg 2 x 5 shots and 40 HP
total dmg 10 * total HP 40 = 400

After each combat round, the 1 ship can destroy up to 2.5 enemy ships. Lets assume none on the first round, 2 on the second, another 3 on the third, and then we have one fleet has half its damage (and a quarter of its starting HP) and the one ship still has 15 HP.

Why won the 1 ship fleet? because of bigger hulls, not because of total nothing multiplied by total whatever.

And this is just one example about the effect of the distribution of total HP and total damage among ships (targets) and shots (weapons). I'm sure there are more effects to account for.

Ophiuchus
Programmer
Posts: 3495
Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:01 am
Location: Wall IV

Re: No more OP death stacks

#22 Post by Ophiuchus »

Oberlus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:06 pmflexible ones, stemming from whatever formula you use to discard ships from combat or scale down their HP or damage based on the number of ships or the total sum of their statistics or whatever.
the formula would be used to find out how much scaling would be necessary for going from square based to e.g. linear.
a second part would try to achieve that.
Oberlus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:06 pm Why is a fleet of 2X dmg and 2X HP four times better than a fleet of X dmg and X HP?
roughly because it does double the damage per bout and lasts about twice as long bouts (and hits-before-killed is much better than structure).
Oberlus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:06 pm That exponential/linear explanation in the OP is fishy, not fully developed.
agreed; that is exactly that is why I posted. Also I never talk about exponential (X^N), but about squared (N^2)
Oberlus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:06 pm The damage*structure formula fails miserably in complex combat settings like the one we have in FO.

10 ships with dmg 1 and HP 4
total dmg 10 * total HP 40 = 400

1 ship with dmg 2 x 5 shots and 40 HP
total dmg 10 * total HP 40 = 400
yes, hits-before-killed is a way better metric
Oberlus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:06 pm And this is just one example about the effect of the distribution of total HP and total damage among ships (targets) and shots (weapons). I'm sure there are more effects to account for.
overshooting comes to mind (both kinds), shields for example and alpha.

if we do think that linear (N^1) is too often erring on the wrong side, we could go for (N^sqrt(2)) instead of N^2
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Look, ma... four combat bouts!

User avatar
Oberlus
Cosmic Dragon
Posts: 5796
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2017 4:25 pm

Re: No more OP death stacks

#23 Post by Oberlus »

Ophiuchus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:50 pm
Oberlus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:06 pm Why is a fleet of 2X dmg and 2X HP four times better than a fleet of X dmg and X HP?
roughly because it does double the damage per bout and lasts about twice as long bouts (and hits-before-killed is much better than structure).
I meant that it's not true, as shown by the examples.
Ophiuchus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:50 pm if we do think that linear (N^1) is too often erring on the wrong side, we could go for (N^sqrt(2)) instead of N^2
I think that will suffer from the same issues, just with different curves. But worth trying.
Ophiuchus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:50 pm yes, hits-before-killed is a way better metric
Good luck trying to pull it out: hits-before-killed depends on who shoots and who is shot, so there is no common unit of measurement.

User avatar
Atreides
Space Kraken
Posts: 160
Joined: Sat Jun 24, 2023 1:46 am
Location: 40 Eridani

Re: No more OP death stacks

#24 Post by Atreides »

As someone who's studied a bit of military history I'd like to point out that combat power is in fact the square of the quantity times the quality. (Source: University statistics course)

That said I recall that the philosophy of FO is not realism but good playability so take it as you wish. : )

BlueAward
Small Juggernaut
Posts: 714
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2022 3:15 am

Re: No more OP death stacks

#25 Post by BlueAward »

Atreides wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 4:51 pm As someone who's studied a bit of military history I'd like to point out that combat power is in fact the square of the quantity times the quality. (Source: University statistics course)

That said I recall that the philosophy of FO is not realism but good playability so take it as you wish. : )
Well yeah, and that tends to be mirrored in games and exactly makes deathballing very effective, too effective for playability's sake. Even for the victor. So various games try to negate it in various ways

When are you gonna join the official MP games, eh? :3

User avatar
LienRag
Cosmic Dragon
Posts: 2243
Joined: Fri May 17, 2019 5:03 pm

Re: No more OP death stacks

#26 Post by LienRag »

Ophiuchus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:50 am Some call it in freeorion also the "boring gameplay" principle.

I'm not saying that the current situation is good.
Actually, I believe that I talked about how it made strategy quite one-dimensional a while ago.
But when a core staple of strategy (which consequently is intuitive for most players) has unintended consequences, the answer is not to remove this mechanism, but to analyse from where these problematic consequences stem and try to fix that.




Ophiuchus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:50 am Why would anybody in the world want to compensate for such a great principle?

Because strategy is born by equilibrium.
When concentration of forces meet no counter-mechanisms, then basically the stronger wipes out the floor with the weaker (like the Dune attack on the Sietch by the Na-Baron) which historically led weaker parties to identify strategies that provide counter-mechanisms to this concentration of forces principle.

Usual ones are logistic problems, area damage weapons, and dispersion/camouflage/protection.
Not sure what dispersion and camouflage would entail in FreeOrion, and for now we don't have protection (though it could be nice to introduce techs, policies and/or hulls that can benefit from planetary or asteroid protection).

One very interesting rule for storytelling is asking, for each protagonist, "what do they want, why can't they have it, and why do I care ?".
It works quite well for gameplay fun also...

So, instead of removing the "what do the player want" (concentration of forces) factor, we should work on the "why can't they have it" and "who cares" part.

The "why do I care" is the strategic settings; making it more diverse than just rushing towards the enemy Homeworld or his main Shipyard could help make the game more interesting and favor smaller fleets confronting each other on more scattered parts of the Galaxy.

The "why can't they have it" can be provided, again, by Logistics getting more constraining, by area damage weapons making concentration more risky, and by situational weapons/mechanisms removing the "one ship fits all roles" mechanism we have (like, ships much more efficient around Gas Giants, other much more efficient in empty systems,..., so that where and how you fight becomes more important than just what you fight).

Oberlus made an interesting proposition for recreating Logistics constraints, I really believe we should follow that path.
Once we find a way to make stealth less binary, it should be possible to have stealthy skirmishers behind enemy lines, so dispersing one's fleet before a planned attack would not be that risk-free...
Ditto if you come to your senses and understand how good my proposal of having speed parts depend on the ship number of part is...

About area weapons, I can think of three things :
- Allow the Solar Concentrator to make lasers on the ship do an extra shot per 10 ships in the enemy fleet (which would resurrect this ship part from the limbo it lies now).
- Allow Arc Disruptors to do an extra shot per 10 ships in the enemy fleet and per 25 fighters in the enemy fleet; and add an internal part "Arc redundancer" or whatever which reduces that threshold by 1 per part (so, with one part the Arcs get one shot per 9 ships, with two internal Arc redundancers the Arc get one shot per 8 enemy ships, and so on).
- Create a new part "Void resonator" that has 10 shots of 1 unscaled damage (or maybe 1 damage per 4 parts rounded up in the target ship), plus one shot per 5 enemy ships. This resonance works only on ships with a minimal wingspan (so, not on fighters), and since it's a resonance, it ignores shields. Advancement for this weapon would raise the number of shots (either the initial one or the one per number of enemy ships) but not the damage done.






Oberlus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:47 pm This opens up options for policies about
- Greater base ship upkeep but less extra-upkeep from stacking (balanced so that it pays off compared to no-stacking when concentrating a big percentage of the total army). Fits imperialists.
- Lower base ship upkeep but extra upkeep outside of supply or depending on distance to owned planets, or to owned ships of the same species. Fits with democracies, pacifists and empires on the defense.
- Synergies with stability, species opinion, RP and PP. Plenty of options when one finds the fluff.

Indeed, there are lot of interesting things that could come from introducing your proposed mechanism.





Oberlus wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 1:31 pm The whole point of the OP of this thread is about making extra ships above whatever threshold (absolute or flexible) inefficient, regardless of them in a single fleet or in several, so no, no way to join the deatshtack, and so I think you actually agree: this makes useless to concentrate forces, so there is one less tactic.

My point is not that making concentrating forces useless is good (to the contrary), but that making it difficult is indeed good for the game, as many small fleet allow a way bigger strategic diversity.




wobbly wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 10:52 am What's the end goal look like?

If I'm limited to 20 in combat and have 60, do I put 20 on the front line and shuffle 40 reserves in and out?

Note that a real usefulness for reserves would make the game better and more strategic, so if there is an interesting mechanism for that I'm not opposed to it.

o01eg
Programmer
Posts: 2046
Joined: Sat Dec 10, 2011 5:46 am

Re: No more OP death stacks

#27 Post by o01eg »

What if make it possible for weapon to miss and reduce chances to missing with bigger enemy concentration?
Gentoo Linux x64, gcc-11.2, boost-1.78.0
Ubuntu Server 22.04 x64, gcc-12, boost-1.74.0
Welcome to the slow multiplayer game at freeorion-lt.dedyn.io.Version 2024-05-12.bb52512.
Donations're welcome:BTC:bc1q007qldm6eppqcukewtfkfcj0naut9njj7audnm

Ophiuchus
Programmer
Posts: 3495
Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:01 am
Location: Wall IV

Re: No more OP death stacks

#28 Post by Ophiuchus »

LienRag wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 12:05 am My point is not that making concentrating forces useless is good (to the contrary), but that making it difficult is indeed good for the game, as many small fleet allow a way bigger strategic diversity.
my point is that having a direct setting for the efficiency of death stacking would allow for much better balance options and probably a plethora of sets of possible strategies.
LienRag wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 12:05 am Note that a real usefulness for reserves would make the game better and more strategic, so if there is an interesting mechanism for that I'm not opposed to it.
side note: if stacking was not that efficient, it might (more) sense to remove ships from combat to heal up and return those later. It also might make sense not to send the whole fleet - not sure, this certainly depends on the efficiency level.
o01eg wrote: Fri Apr 05, 2024 4:24 am What if make it possible for weapon to miss and reduce chances to missing with bigger enemy concentration?
this is not in the design space until geoff and vezzra shift their position
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Look, ma... four combat bouts!

User avatar
Atreides
Space Kraken
Posts: 160
Joined: Sat Jun 24, 2023 1:46 am
Location: 40 Eridani

Re: No more OP death stacks

#29 Post by Atreides »

Stacking limits are usually a good idea in most wargames.

User avatar
LienRag
Cosmic Dragon
Posts: 2243
Joined: Fri May 17, 2019 5:03 pm

Re: No more OP death stacks

#30 Post by LienRag »

They are, but in wargames there are usually way less choke points than it FreeOrion.

Post Reply