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Author Topic: Tactics and strategy of SC ships  (Read 29220 times)
Valaggar Redux
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Re: Tactics and strategy of SC ships
« Reply #135 on: January 19, 2008, 02:22:06 pm »

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I also imagine that billions of tiny AI-remote-piloted fighters would be way more powerful than hundreds of massive powerful ships (built from an equivalent amount of mass). The fighters would be extremely difficult to hit due to the maneuverability their small mass allows them.

That depends on many variables. Many tiny fighters are more expensive than a few large battleships with the same firepower. So this depends upon whether this increased cost is worth the increase in defense. And if it is an increase in defense. Would being harder to hit and having less armor amount to more protection than being easier to hit and having more armor, or not?
Also, tiny fighters will not have much fuel onboard, which means that they will need to regularly return to refuel on their carrier. If the carrier is destroyed, the fighters are in jeopardy. Reminds me of Homeworld's Kadeshi.

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Because there is no air or aerodynamics or restrictions on maximum speed, executing maneuvers during battle would be very difficult; because there is so much empty space, you'd likely only see enemy ships as little pin-pricks of light, just barely within reach of your most long-range weapons (and you--within theirs)

Points of strategic interest are planets, moons and possibly asteroids (and starbases). To attack these, a fleet would have to brake to a reasonable speed.
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Elvish Pillager
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Re: Tactics and strategy of SC ships
« Reply #136 on: January 19, 2008, 02:25:57 pm »

It won't stand a chance against billions of beams! (Projectiles would only be used if they can be fired near the speed of light.)
Nah, it would stand a chance. The best a laser can hope to do is overheat the exact point it hits. Any kind of shielding would reduce the damage enormously, especially if the attack is distributed over a large area of the hull. I'm imagining shielding a ship with a rapidly spinning shell of matter, held at a particular distance from the body of the ship by magnetic forces. The only way to damage that with lasers would be by any heat absorbed by the shield and then re-radiated into the interior. Very fast projectiles, on the other hand, could puncture the shield rather easily, if it's thin enough.

Sure, lasers would be a viable weapon, but you'd have to have a variety of weapons because the opponent can bring defenses that make it practically invincible against any given form of weaponry.

I do agree that you'd almost always build the smallest ship that makes sense for a given outfit, rather than adding extra weapons. On the other hand, there'd probably be some powerful weapons and defense systems that would be too large to put on small fighters.
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Re: Tactics and strategy of SC ships
« Reply #137 on: January 19, 2008, 04:10:23 pm »

Would being harder to hit and having less armor amount to more protection than being easier to hit and having more armor, or not?

I don't think anything can survive being hit by an entire armada, so the amount of armor is meaningless (unless it can avoid taking damage altogether, but that's a different story.) Even if it's a huge ball of mass, it can be disabled by targeting its weapons. So I think the fighters are well worth the extra cost, if any.

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Also, tiny fighters will not have much fuel onboard, which means that they will need to regularly return to refuel on their carrier.

What if they have crazy fuel tech, like tiny fusion reactors? A relatively small amount of hydrogen would be enough for quite a while, even with the ridiculous amounts of energy they will be firing.

The best a laser can hope to do is overheat the exact point it hits.

No problem: increase the amount of energy you're thinking of by a factor of 10100. Tongue

Also, I only said "beam". That can also mean a particle beam, or whatever crazy things physicists might discover. (Or maybe even that is primitive. Why not tamper with spacetime and change the enemy ships' physical properties?)

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I do agree that you'd almost always build the smallest ship that makes sense for a given outfit, rather than adding extra weapons. On the other hand, there'd probably be some powerful weapons and defense systems that would be too large to put on small fighters.

Yeah, the fighter scenario assumes there's no technological defense system against the fighters' weapons. It also assumes that their agility actually gives them effective evasion - although their numbers alone could be enough, unless the big ships have a crazy amount of small, fast weapons.
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Valaggar Redux
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Re: Tactics and strategy of SC ships
« Reply #138 on: January 19, 2008, 05:56:14 pm »

Would being harder to hit and having less armor amount to more protection than being easier to hit and having more armor, or not?

I don't think anything can survive being hit by an entire armada, so the amount of armor is meaningless (unless it can avoid taking damage altogether, but that's a different story.) Even if it's a huge ball of mass, it can be disabled by targeting its weapons. So I think the fighters are well worth the extra cost, if any.

The armada has to fire at a single point on the big ship's armour in order to penetrate it, which makes hit evasion somewhat less of an advantage for the small ships.
And targetting weapons is kinda like targetting small ships anyway. Except those weapons are moving in a more predictable way.
So yes, big ships are easier to hit, but not so easy as to make their armor useless.
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Elvish Pillager
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Re: Tactics and strategy of SC ships
« Reply #139 on: January 19, 2008, 06:48:33 pm »

The best a laser can hope to do is overheat the exact point it hits.

No problem: increase the amount of energy you're thinking of by a factor of 10100. Tongue
Good luck finding that much energy in the universe. Tongue

If you're going to use a reasonable ridiculously high amount of energy, then I guess that would destroy the ship; but if you're going to get that out of little fighters, and we assume that both your army and your enemy's army have relatively equal resources, then destroying a single one of your enemy's ships isn't going to be worth much in the battle.


Also, I only said "beam". That can also mean a particle beam,
First, photons are particles. Tongue

Second, if you mean particles of matter by "particle beam", then sure; that's basically just a load of near light speed projectiles. I think it'd probably be more effective (and maybe more technologically feasible) to use discrete projectiles rather than a beam.


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I do agree that you'd almost always build the smallest ship that makes sense for a given outfit, rather than adding extra weapons. On the other hand, there'd probably be some powerful weapons and defense systems that would be too large to put on small fighters.

Yeah, the fighter scenario assumes there's no technological defense system against the fighters' weapons. It also assumes that their agility actually gives them effective evasion - although their numbers alone could be enough, unless the big ships have a crazy amount of small, fast weapons.

Some more thoughts:

Since it's not possible to see a light-speed attack coming at you, ships couldn't "dodge" per se. On the other hand, they could move somewhat randomly, such that the enemy couldn't predict where they were going to be when their beam hit. Of course, the closer the two ships are, and the wider they are, and the lower their acceleration, the harder it is to do this. Each ship effectively has a maximum range at which it can be reliably hit: the distance at which, if the enemy fires directly at where they see it, it can't quite get out of the way in time.

Presumably fighters with light-speed weapons would flit about at the maximum distance from the enemy ship at which they would never miss. If an equal percentage of all ships is devoted to equally effective engines (to simplify), then they'll have the same acceleration, and so they larger ship will be a wider target - if both ships are using simple beam weapons, and the fighter is no closer than it needs to be to guarantee a hit, any significantly larger ship will usually miss.

This doesn't mean, on the other hand, that the smallest ships will win all battles. In the above example I assumed that they were using simple beam weapons, so this just means that simple beam weapons are unfeasible against small ships. A larger ship might be mounted with a spreading beam weapon; although this would take a ridiculous amount of energy, it would be practical when mounted on a large ship and used against small craft without armor or shields. (Fighters with armor or shields would lose to fighters without them, due to larger size or lower acceleration.) Better than a spreading attack, maybe, would be explosives; effectively a weapon that fires in all directions rather than a small range of directions. If you could fire an explosive at near light speed, set to detonate where the enemy last appeared to be, it would be impossible to dodge.

Another thing to note about these kind of space battles is that they would never happen. Humans would never start such battles, since for all this talk about how difficult it might be to defeat an army of fighters, it would be trivial to go past the army of fighters and kill any number of humans. The only other real potential I see for space battles is if they would be fought by robots with super-human intelligence, but it doesn't take much more intelligence than a human has to realize that fighting such a battle would be a total waste of resources.
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