How to Hit a Drone

Galactic diplomacy with extreme prejudice.
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Tryptic
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How to Hit a Drone

Post by Tryptic » Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:08 pm

Fighter craft are like the aircraft of land-based RTS games. They are all but immune to standard weaponry, but the guns that counter them tend to shut them down hard. As a result, they make a good tactical surprise but it's difficult for game developers to keep them effective into the late game.

In SOTS, once your opponent has point-defense phasers or even just emitters, drones are no longer a viable option. Drone dreadnoughts try to scale-up their firepower by bringing a whole bunch of drones, but that doesn't seem to work for me. For SOTS II, I suggest they take a different approach.

Small, fast fighter-craft can zip around and evade enemy fire, their strength is in numbers. When the enemy invents turrets that can track and destroy them, what would be the logical response? You can't give them better armor, that would make them slower and thus easier to hit. You can't just make them in greater numbers. What you would do is try to reset the playing field, remove your enemy's ability to destroy them. But fighter-craft are too small to carry advanced ECM computers. So you put them on the mother ship.

I suggest that the larger drone-carriers (dreadnoughts and leviathans) receive racial-specific abilities to protect their drones. For example the Liir could remotely flicker their drones in a certain area around the carrier, while Zuul disable enemy small mounts with specialized disruptor tech. The drone-focused races like Tarka and Morrigi could remotely ECM the area without having to get in close like the others. The enemy would need to focus fire on the carrier first in order to easily take down the drones, or they could simply bring advanced ECCM. Area weapons would still be an effective counter in any case.

After all, what can Electronic Counter Measures do when the enemy ship fills your viewport? It's only for the small, mobile ships that it makes a big difference, but only the big ships can fit large computer banks to deploy it.

Simetra
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by Simetra » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:08 pm

I only want to say: Tarkas are NOT drone specialists. The Morrigi are, not the tarka.

And for the rest ... blub

kdonovan
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by kdonovan » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:17 pm

The modern response to increased accuracy of AA weapons has been stealth, ECM and anti-radiation missiles to blind the defenders, accurate standoff weapons to stay outside of the defender's range, unmanned drones to make the airframes cheaper and more expendable, and command coordination to allow for a plan to systematically overwhelm the degrade system.

Tryptic
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by Tryptic » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:09 am

Simetra wrote:I only want to say: Tarkas are NOT drone specialists. The Morrigi are, not the tarka.


I tend to think of the Tarkas as the second-best drone race, since they have battle riders and their drone dreadnought has conventional firepower, unlike the other ones: http://sots.rorschach.net/Drone_Section . Which race would you consider second-best for drones?

kdonovan wrote:The modern response to increased accuracy of AA weapons has been stealth, ECM and anti-radiation missiles to blind the defenders, accurate standoff weapons to stay outside of the defender's range, unmanned drones to make the airframes cheaper and more expendable, and command coordination to allow for a plan to systematically overwhelm the degrade system.


Exactly. Longer-range weapons apply to bigger ships (although now I want to go and outfit a bunch of SOTS drones with sniper cannons and see what they do o.O) and coordination is sort of passive for drones. The standard for game mechanics is to NOT make the fighter craft stronger on their own but to add some sort of bonus to the carrier ship. Sins of a Solar Empire isn't a perfect example, but I love the microphasing aura that allows fighters to teleport out of the line of fire when they're within range of the ship.

In real life, carriers stay the hell away from combat and use extreme range on their fighters. In games we like to encourage them to come in close because that's more fun.

Simetra
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by Simetra » Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:13 pm

Battle Riders are no drones, they are manned STL-Cruisers.

And that the Tarkas drone section has weapons could also be seen as they don't trust drones and "need" the additional firepower.
You should look at the drones themselves, not the sections. (except for the morrigi which get additional drones and cols on the DN)
And the drones are more or less the same (yeah not morrigi ones!) - there is no other drone-specialist ;)

kdonovan
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by kdonovan » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:45 pm

IIRC Zuul have heavier weapons on their drones. But can they really afford to research them early in the game when they are useful?

I wonder if Liir might be good at drones - more RPs to spend getting them early on and their circling maneuvers might be better suited to drones. (Do their drones do thus?)

If there were a way to give your drones sniper cannons and them get them to stay at extreme range while sniping off turrets they might be effective later on.

Simetra
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by Simetra » Fri Jul 01, 2011 7:22 pm

Yeah the Zuul one has a medium instead of 2 small ones, but also has the weakest armor - its like any other zuul: A glass cannon.

onmach
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by onmach » Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:19 am

If the drone tech didn't require stupid amounts of research to use, it wouldn't be all that bad. Sure point defense is pretty annoying, but what is really annoying is that you have to research cruisers, then you have to research cruiser drone section for (I believe) more than it costed to get cruiser. You could have been researching a better weapon or better armour for your drones, but instead you spent a ton of time and money. And then we get to dreadnought and suddenly you have to get drone squadron. And then you have to get heavy drone frame. Then you have to get weapons that can fit on that frame.

And for what? You get the same number of drones as you had before because the drones scale up directly with supply, so it isn't even much of an advantage. Other types of ships get much more powerful weapon mounts as they go up in size, as do drone ships, but bringing your carriers into battle seems to kind of defeat the point of having a carrier in the first place.

I would personally add later game personal weak disruptor, weak deflector, and shield modules you could install on drones. That would make them a lot more effective. Also just increasing the drone count would make it a lot better as well. Right now you pretty much don't need dedicated point defense cruisers to survive, but you should if your opponent is going very heavy drones.

There should be a command section that would allow carriers to repair their drones in between turns even if they were lost. It is hardly unreasonable for a carrier to have its own maintenance bay after all.

Simetra
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by Simetra » Sat Jul 02, 2011 3:38 pm

I think you miss the point: Drones were never meant to be a heavy weapon system, but more a form of Scouting/Harrasing/Hunting unit. While they are very strong in the DE times, this is because they are almost as big as some DE sections, they are big in comparison. But against DN they are dwarfs, thats not their time to battle.

A drone DN is more of a Supportship, and the onboard weapons are important, as drones can't hinder your enemies advance.

And to the last point: You can have repairships in your fleet, where is the problem?

Maybe I didn't get your point after all ...

MaHuJa
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by MaHuJa » Sun Jul 03, 2011 4:01 am

If you're half-assed about drones, they indeed won't work late game.

Aim to have 100+ drones flying*. Supplement with multimissiles, missiles, and torpedoes, whose primary purpose is to soak up PD damage - they seem to have priority on the PD target lists. A torpedo that hits is a torpedo that didn't soak damage away from the drones. It'll take a massive fleet to get the CPs for this, but since you're already playing as morrigi for this tactic, that means it can be anywhere when the next turn rolls around. Like, smashing that fleet that's only half built up.

A DN might be able to take a lot of punishment, but it still takes a lot of time to crawl over to your fleet, getting pummeled all the way.

*I don't remember how many I actually had, but it was well over 50. Any opponent was smashed by the wall of drones before they ever came close to my carriers. Enemy PD ships with PD missiles were merely priority targets. My drones also had a mixture of weapons, from mass drivers to phasers to AM cannons, to the occasional pulse phaser/phaser pd drone.

One thing this tactic is weak against, is long combat rounds. Also, remember to bring repair ships. (No, you didn't bring enough :P )

Did I mention they are also adept at smashing satellite rings and planets?

(I think this was the round I didn't have mines.)

Simetra
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by Simetra » Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:03 pm

Simple math: With both CP-techs, you get 78 CP with your flagship, leaving 60 points for drone ships, meaning 60 drones + the 6 from the flagship = 66 drones ;) More so with outnumbering of course.

You could get even more with COL-DN, as the have 4 COLs, and so can launch 24 Drones for 18 CP, but they are only short lived, but also negate the problem of long combat rounds.

Oh and: Relying on smaller droneships, especially DE has one big advantage: As soon a DE loses one of its drones, get them back to line, and another, fresh one comes to the front, and so new drones - with enough spare DEs you can have enough drones even in 10min battles.

williamjacob
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by williamjacob » Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:02 am

I suggest that the larger drone-carriers (dreadnoughts and leviathans) receive racial-specific abilities to protect their drones. For example the Liir could remotely flicker their drones in a certain area around the carrier, while Zuul disable enemy small mounts with specialized disruptor tech. The drone-focused races like Tarka and Morrigi could remotely ECM the area without having to get in close like the others. The enemy would need to focus fire on the carrier first in order to easily take down the drones, or they could simply bring advanced ECCM. Area weapons would still be an effective counter in any case.

Blackwarder
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by Blackwarder » Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:30 pm

I'll be surprised if there will be drones in SotS2, the SotSverse is moving toward raiders and parasite ships since small autonumos drones can survive in the modern battlefield. Drones are not the space equivalent of fighter planes they are more like reusable guided missiles able to engage several targets before being destroyed.

There is no such thing as space fighter, the best you can achieve is parasite ships.

Warder

ZedF
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by ZedF » Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:42 pm

It's pretty much confirmed there will indeed be drones in SotS2, but they may drop to more of a secondary role, such as scouting and the like. They are more like modern predator drones than like fighters.

Assault shuttles are fighter-sized vehicles that are crewed; you can see a pilot and co-pilot in the picture we have of one. I don't recall whether it was concept art or a screenshot though.

There is a human-only ship called a Node Fighter which is explicitly a small fighter-styled ship. They are probably smaller than battleriders or SotS1 destroyers. They get to exist because there is a unique method of transport that will only be usable by ships that size and smaller; to wit: the node sub-line. These ships can use sublines within a solar system to jump from place to place at FTL speeds, which is normally impossible in-system. However, they probably won't be superb at combat and will likely be more useful as reconnaissance/patrol vessels.
Zed's TARs (sample):
Fractious Allies -- Hiver vs. Hiver, with allies
Who Let The Bugs Out -- Hiver vs. Tarka and Zuul
Tarka Ascendant -- Tarka vs. Hiver and Zuul

Strategy & Tactics Forum Archive -- More posts on strategy, tactics, and TARs

Blackwarder
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Re: How to Hit a Drone

Post by Blackwarder » Sat Jul 23, 2011 6:37 pm

Well if there are drones I also think that they will get secondary roles, I would love to see a wild weasel ship with WW drones, but they won't be used as strike fighter (the Morigi will probably get some drone goodies though)

The assault shuttle was a shot from one of the earlier videos.

And the node fighter is the only parasite ship that can be likened to modern fighters since it use a new medium of transportation, I think that we already saw it in one of the videos, the small human ship that looks like a dart with node rings in the back.
I hope to see those babies embarked on carriers, they will make the perfect raiding force.

Can you guys imagine a one shot, short ranged and high yield Polaris like missiles?

Warder

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