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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Shadowstrike

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Mar 17, 2001
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One of the big motivations for 2.0 back in the day was to prevent doomstacking. In 1.9 times, doomstacking was the top strategy, and wars would be ended simply by the size of fleet you could mass for the one major confrontation. That's still kind of true post-2.0, probably far more than Wiz and the other devs intended. This is hardly an original thought, but Stellaris really needs a supply system to limit the concentration of fleet strength, and it feels really simple to just steal a working system from HoI4.

So under this system, each ship would have a variable called "supply", of which the total and the consumption rate would depend on the size of the ship. This would represent the stock of weapons, fuel, replacement parts, and crew that can be used to keep the ship running. You would be able to increase the supply rate of a ship by building storage bays - these could be either auxiliary components, or actually eat up weapons slots. In a vacuum, each ship's supply would dwindle over time, depending on what it's doing. Staying stationary would eat the least supply, while moving, firing weapons and repairing damage would all consume supply (even docking at a starbase should have some minimal level of supply consumption, to prevent people from amassing huge fleets at any given location). If the supply goes to 0, the ship becomes unable to repair, unable to fire, and limps along at a fraction of its top speed. Basically, this is a state you want to avoid.

Supply would be produced and stockpiled at starbases (i.e. it would have both a "stored supply" and a "supply replenishment rate"). Anchorages and naval logistics bases could be adapted to the role of creating and storing supply (possibly axing the concept of ship caps entirely). Each starbase would supply ships in controlled systems that are not cut off by enemy controlled systems, within a certain range (which would be based on tech) - this would draw down the stockpiled supply of the station, which is replenished by the supply generation of the station. If multiple starbases are in range, fleets would draw from the multiple starbases if necessary. If you have too many ships in an area, then supply consumption might outpace supply generation, and the stockpiles in your starbases will start drawing down.

Now, if a starbase is not at maximum supply storage, it would also draw on the supply from other adjacent starbases that have a positive rate of supply generation (again within a certain range, but larger than the range in which it supplies ships). Basically, the starbases further back would contribute their excess supply generation to a starbase that doesn't have maximum supply storage. Critically, this process would create a "supply line", like a trade route, which could be raided by enemies (or privateers), or cut off entirely if you lose control of all possible pathing between your backwards and forward supply lines. Because the rate of supply transfer is limited in throughput (because each starbase would be drawing from another starbase further back in your space), there is some limiting rate to how much supply you can "pull" to an area, which can be reduced by raiding activities along the supply line. If you start drawing a lot of supply, this might then cause supply at a starbase further back to start running out, causing supplies to be drawn from even further back in your empire, etc.

As a result of this whole system, there's now a cost to keeping ships in one place. Massing your fleet together is likely to not only eat up all the current supply generation, but also eventually all of the supplies you are able to drag forward through nearby starbases (and also make you more vulnerable to supply line raiding), meaning you can do it in a pinch, but it will leave you vulnerable in the future (this also makes it possible to do "defense in depth" strategies, where you simply withdraw deeper into your territory so enemies can't mass huge amounts of ships to attack you with at any one location). In peacetime, you would want to have your fleets spread out, so that you can collect as much supply at your starbases as possible (or even not have ships built so they don't eat supply at all). In wartime, you would have to think hard about where to amass fleets, or invest majorly in starbase modules to produce and store supplies in forward positions. Further, your progress into "enemy" territory is also limited by how much supply you can channel through captured starbases, and how quickly you can adapt them to handle higher levels of supply (and high supply generating bases would be a strategic liability if the enemy is winning, as they would be able to use your own supply facilities to run their fleets).

Edit: borrowed the idea of adapting anchorages as the supply generating/storage starbase building.
 
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