A thorough and in-depth supply system

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Tamwin5

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One of the biggest current issues with warfare in stellaris is doom stacking. There are no mechanics to prevent the massing of all your fleets, or many reasons to ever spread out forces before a war is all but won. This is bad, not just because it's boring, but because it means a weaker empire has very little recourse when at war with a superior foe, or when confronted with multiple foes. A supply system would limit the number of ships that could feasibly take part on a single front, allowing a small and weak empire to turtle, or battles between large federations/empires be fought across a wide swath of the galaxy, rather then just a single meeting of doom stacks. A supply system would also limit the range of ships, making cross galaxy ventures much harder... but still possible at risk and with the proper planning.

This idea I first saw in this thread, although it has significantly evolved since the initial concept that threat presented.

The base supply use per month, as well as the maximum stored supply, is dependent on ship size, as follows

Ship sizeSupply use per monthSupply per month per 10 naval capMaximum supply storedOperating time unsupported
Corvette10100505 months
Destroyer2512525010 months
Cruiser6015090015 months
Battleship1401752,00014.3 months
Titan/Colossus4002505,00012.5 months

Corvettes are the cheapest ship, supply wise, but also the ship with the least operating time. Cruisers have the longest operating time, while battleships have the highest supply usage relative to naval cap. This is intended to be a slight nerf against artillery battleships, while giving cruisers a niche in being the optimal “long range” ship. There would be ship components that deal with supply: a utility one giving max supply(50/150/400), and an augment giving +25% max supply. These would be rarely used, as it sacrifices fleet power for density or range. Still, having the option is important, especially for RP scenarios, and loading up a cruiser with supply modules could allow it to serve as a “tanker” for a fleet of strike corvettes in enemy territory.

If we take a fleet of 16 corvettes and 1 cruiser, if the cruiser has no supply increases it has an operating time of 7.7 months. While that might not seem like a lot, it's an increase of more than 50%, which is impressive for just a single ship. If the cruiser is fully geared for supply, it will have a storage of 3150 ((900 + 8*150)*1.5), giving a total operating time of nearly 18 months, more than 3 times the default.

All ships in a fleet pool their total supply and their supply expenditure, so you only need to worry about supply on a fleet-by-fleet basis. When a fleet gets down to 25% supply, it will give a "low supply" notification and alert, as well as having a visible icon or border when the fleet is selected. Reaching 10% supply will throw another warning alert, and the fleet will suffer -10% fire rate and -10% sublight speed. 0% supply will pop up a major warning similar to the out of resources or max war exhaustion reached, and give a massive penalty of -50% sublight speed, -50% fire rate, -50% weapons damage, and -50% disengagement chance. Running out of supply isn't an instant death sentence, but being caught even by a normally inferior force will lead to heavy losses... and with the reduced speed you'll be much easier to catch.

Supply is produced in a number of ways. Every outpost produces 10 supply monthly, with starbases producing 50 per level and shipyards producing 20 each. Every pop with military service enabled produces 1 supply, and every soldier job produces 4 supply (on top of the base 1). The main limit is the transfer of supply. Supply is stored in outposts and upgraded starbases, and the level of that outpost or starbase limits the amount of supply that can be transferred in or out. The connection between two adjacent starbases is determined by the higher throughput between them, but each starbase can only import from and export to one adjacent starbase at a time (two different connections). Gateways allow the connection to every other starbase with a gateway, but the connection is determined by the lower of the two throughputs. The movement of supply is done automatically, with the system first attempting to nullify any deficit in the system (caused by a fleet), then keep all starbases equal proportionately. A player can designate a starbase as a "staging ground", which will cause it to be focused as a destination of supply above other starbases. Buildings, modules, and even megastructures can effect storage and throughput as well.

NameProductionStorageThroughput
Outpost101,000200
Starport5010,000400
Starhold10020,000600
Star Fortress15030,000800
Citadel20040,0001,000
Shipyard+2000
Anchorage0+10,000+100
Naval Logistics Office00+200
Hyperlane Relay00Raises throughput of adjacent systems to be equal to this starbase (will chain).
Mega Shipyard+100/+200/+300+10,000/+20,000/+30,0000
Strategic Coordination Center00+100/+200/+300 global
Juggernaut20020,000+200

Due to how the fact that the connection between two starbases uses the higher number, it means that an anchorage can be placed directly behind a bastion to keep a fleet there at max supply, or a chain of [starbase - outpost - starbase - outpost - starbase] will maintain the full supply transfer of the starbases. Since hyperlane relays project the throughput of the starbase out one, the chain can instead be [starbase - outpost - outpost - outpost - starbase], making long transfer routes actually doable.

There will be five technologies, either in the physics or sociology tree, which increase the rate of supply transfer by 10%, so at max level the rate will be 1.5 times the numbers presented. There would also likely be techs which increase the supply storage of ships and starbases, and possibly some techs to reduce the supply usage of ships.

There are also several ways to decrease the amount of supply used by your ships. Being at peace, being docked at a starbase, and if the starbase docked at has a crew quarters all decrease the supply usage of a ship by 20%. This means that a ship actively fighting will be 2.5 times as much supply as it did docked in peace time. The main goal of this is that during peace an empire will have a supply surplus, and during war a supply deficit. As a war drags on to the point where supply caches are exhausted, fleets will be forced into docking at stations to keep from running out of supplies and becoming helpless. A war which drags on will lead to both sides unable to properly mount an offensive, and a status quo peace deal all but guaranteed. Obviously numbers would have to be balanced so this actually happens, and playtests done at varying levels of hyperlane density, habitable worlds, etc.

Overall I think this suggestion would make warfare much more interesting. The placement of anchorages now actually becomes important, rather than just being parked in some random system to get a black site over a planet or collect a 2 trade value deposit. Anchorages would also become important assets in war, as when a starbase is captured all the supply stored is lost, so sniping an enemy anchorage or losing your own, even if only temporarily, can drastically shorten the length of a war. The supply throughput limit would incentivize multiple fronts, but because ships do have internal supply, it would allow temporarily overloading a front to seek an advantage. Defensively, a fleet can be kept docked at a bastion and use the -40% supply to have a significant advantage in fleet power over an attacking force, requiring that that force go over the supply limit in order to match. If that fleet ever tried to go on the offensive or is forced to maneuver however, it suddenly will be draining supply. Early game a fleet of 20 corvettes can maneuver freely with only outposts as support, but as soon as that fleet expands or a second fleet is brought in it starts ticking down supply if they are kept on the same front. Fortress worlds, due to soldiers producing supply, would be incentivized to be stacked with bastions (currently, the opposite is generally better). I do worry that the AI might find this system hard to understand and thus hard to code competent AI for. I think it can be done, but I don't make AI so I'm really not the person to be judging that.
 
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Tamwin5

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A thought I had in regard to the Economy policy tab. Currently it lets you decide between no effect, or giving alloys/CGs +15% production at the cost of -25% of the other. While sometimes useful, it really isn't very interesting. Supply is the perfect thing to add into this policy and I'm adding a few other effects so as to balance out the increased/decreased supply. Numbers are iffy, but I think they are reasonably balanced for a first pass.

Civilian Economy
+15% consumer goods production
+10% trade value
-25% supply generation from pops
-25% alloy production

Mixed Economy
No effect

Militarized Economy
+15% alloy production
+25% supply generation from pops
-25% consumer goods production
-10% happiness (militarist pops excluded)
 
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Tamwin5

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My concern is that the idea of supplies or supply lines in this game is a joke. We are talking about a game where borders cannot stop you from moving scientists around INSTANTLY, nor stop communicating with another empire, nor trading with the magic market (magic because its instant and has everything). Hell we cannot even close borders after a war's end!

So with regards to fleet management. If your are insistent on time spent in the field away from your own borders the times give need to be measured in years and not months. It can take a year just to move to the front. I would also introduce a module you can equip to double the time on station a ship can have without resupply.

Plus supply usage should be modified by traits, ethics, and government types. Warmongers will accept much longer times away with fewer amenities.

The thing is, every single point you brought up in your first paragraph I think should be changed. Communications shouldn't reveal an entire empire, the market should be overhauled to actually use supply and demand, truces shouldn't open borders, scientists transferring around should be MUCH longer than 10 days. Just because other game systems completely ignore supply lines doesn't mean they should always be ignored.

It's also important to recognize places where gameplay takes precedence over pure accuracy. Scientists are a big example of this, imagine if you had to move scientists across your empire directly to each other to swap what they are working on? While it would be accurate, it wouldn't be fun, so leader teleportation exists (I just think it should be longer than 10 days). Similarly while I think the galactic market should have supply and demand, the resource transfers would still be instant. The main reason I added supply wasn't to add to the realism of Stellaris, but to apply limits as to how many ships could easy operate in the same area of space. Now, I'm trying to add that restriction in as realistic/flavorful a method as I can, but the core concept is still gameplay focused.

Remember that the time listed is merely the operating time while unsupported. Even just simple outposts with no tech can support a fleet of 20 corvettes with their throughput. And when your infrastructure is insufficient to support your fleet, the percentage that is supported will extend the operating time. If you have triple what you can support, that's still a 50% increase from the unsupported operating time. Most of the time your fleets should be under the throughput limit, meaning they have no time limit for how long they can fight. Going over should only happen due to coordinated strikes or defending against the same.

If you'd fully read my suggestion, you'd know that there are both utility and auxiliary components to increase stored supply, with the utility giving +50/+150/+400 supply, and the auxiliary giving +25%. A corvette can get 6 times as much supply (30 months), A destroyer can get 3.3 times as much supply (33 months), a cruiser can get 3.5 times as much supply (52.5 months), and a battleship can get 3.3 times as much supply (47.1 months). Of course doing this will be significant decrease in effective fleet power as you'd lose out on all shields and armor, but it *is* a possibility. As discussed in comments, there is also the option to buy supply from other empires, allowing you to send a fleet across the galaxy if you have friendly empires on the way and the money to pay them. The only time that the operating time will likely come into full effect is when doing a quick push into enemy territory (as a significant portion of the time you'll be in enemy space and getting no supply), or when going into unclaimed space to attack something, such as a leviathan or crisis.

edit: Supplies I'm envisioning as not being stuff like amenities and foodstuffs, but rather fuel, ammo, replacement parts, and other essential parts. I'm keeping it abstracted as merely "supplies" so as to not interfere with a player's head-cannon as to how their fleet operates. While I could see civics/ethics/government effecting supply, I think it would be mainly on the production, storage, and/or throughput side. Being able to stack supply reduction modifiers would be VERY powerful, and if it ever gets under even something like 70% I think it would severely harm the balance of the system. Getting -10% supply at 50% supply usage is twice as powerful as -10% supply at 100% supply usage.
 
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EXCAT

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Thumbs down.

For minor things (food, air), we have replicators or hydoponics.

For major repairs, you go to starbase.
 
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Thumbs down.

For minor things (food, air), we have replicators or hydoponics.

For major repairs, you go to starbase.

Replicators still need raw material in order to make things. Hydroponics likewise don't make food out of nothing, but pull resources out of the air and water, so they need fertilizer... At that point it would likely be more efficient to just stock the raw food instead, and thus not have to worry about a delicate hydroponic system in the middle of battle. There are parts which are classified or too complicated to be produced on a replicator. Reactors need fuel, weapons need ammo.

But all of that is flavor, and as I've stated several times, flavor is secondary to making a good gameplay system. From the player's perspective "supply" could be anything from the raw biomass of a hive mind, to personal of a normal empire, to the paperclips utilized by a paperclip maximizer determined exterminator. As long as there is an explanation that makes sense for every empire type, it works just fine.

So what are your thoughts on the gameplay implications of supply?
 
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One of the biggest current issues with warfare in stellaris is doom stacking. There are no mechanics to prevent the massing of all your fleets, or many reasons to ever spread out forces before a war is all but won. This is bad, not just because it's boring, but because it means a weaker empire has very little recourse when at war with a superior foe, or when confronted with multiple foes. A supply system would limit the number of ships that could feasibly take part on a single front, allowing a small and weak empire to turtle, or battles between large federations/empires be fought across a wide swath of the galaxy, rather then just a single meeting of doom stacks. A supply system would also limit the range of ships, making cross galaxy ventures much harder... but still possible at risk and with the proper planning.

This idea I first saw in this thread, although it has significantly evolved since the initial concept that threat presented.

The base supply use per month, as well as the maximum stored supply, is dependent on ship size, as follows

Ship sizeSupply use per monthSupply per month per 10 naval capMaximum supply storedOperating time unsupported
Corvette10100505 months
Destroyer2512525010 months
Cruiser6015090015 months
Battleship1401752,00014.3 months
Titan/Colossus4002505,00012.5 months

Corvettes are the cheapest ship, supply wise, but also the ship with the least operating time. Cruisers have the longest operating time, while battleships have the highest supply usage relative to naval cap. This is intended to be a slight nerf against artillery battleships, while giving cruisers a niche in being the optimal “long range” ship. There would be ship components that deal with supply: a utility one giving max supply(50/150/400), and an augment giving +25% max supply. These would be rarely used, as it sacrifices fleet power for density or range. Still, having the option is important, especially for RP scenarios, and loading up a cruiser with supply modules could allow it to serve as a “tanker” for a fleet of strike corvettes in enemy territory.

If we take a fleet of 16 corvettes and 1 cruiser, if the cruiser has no supply increases it has an operating time of 7.7 months. While that might not seem like a lot, it's an increase of more than 50%, which is impressive for just a single ship. If the cruiser is fully geared for supply, it will have a storage of 3150 ((900 + 8*150)*1.5), giving a total operating time of nearly 18 months, more than 3 times the default.

All ships in a fleet pool their total supply and their supply expenditure, so you only need to worry about supply on a fleet-by-fleet basis. When a fleet gets down to 25% supply, it will give a "low supply" notification and alert, as well as having a visible icon or border when the fleet is selected. Reaching 10% supply will throw another warning alert, and the fleet will suffer -10% fire rate and -10% sublight speed. 0% supply will pop up a major warning similar to the out of resources or max war exhaustion reached, and give a massive penalty of -50% sublight speed, -50% fire rate, -50% weapons damage, and -50% disengagement chance. Running out of supply isn't an instant death sentence, but being caught even by a normally inferior force will lead to heavy losses... and with the reduced speed you'll be much easier to catch.

Supply is produced in a number of ways. Every outpost produces 10 supply monthly, with starbases producing 50 per level and shipyards producing 20 each. Every pop with military service enabled produces 1 supply, and every soldier job produces 4 supply (on top of the base 1). The main limit is the transfer of supply. Supply is stored in outposts and upgraded starbases, and the level of that outpost or starbase limits the amount of supply that can be transferred in or out. The connection between two adjacent starbases is determined by the higher throughput between them, but each starbase can only import from and export to one adjacent starbase at a time (two different connections). Gateways allow the connection to every other starbase with a gateway, but the connection is determined by the lower of the two throughputs. The movement of supply is done automatically, with the system first attempting to nullify any deficit in the system (caused by a fleet), then keep all starbases equal proportionately. A player can designate a starbase as a "staging ground", which will cause it to be focused as a destination of supply above other starbases. Buildings, modules, and even megastructures can effect storage and throughput as well.

NameProductionStorageThroughput
Outpost101,000200
Starport5010,000400
Starhold10020,000600
Star Fortress15030,000800
Citadel20040,0001,000
Shipyard+2000
Anchorage0+10,000+100
Naval Logistics Office00+200
Hyperlane Relay00Raises throughput of adjacent systems to be equal to this starbase (will chain).
Mega Shipyard+100/+200/+300+10,000/+20,000/+30,0000
Strategic Coordination Center00+100/+200/+300 global
Juggernaut20020,000+200

Due to how the fact that the connection between two starbases uses the higher number, it means that an anchorage can be placed directly behind a bastion to keep a fleet there at max supply, or a chain of [starbase - outpost - starbase - outpost - starbase] will maintain the full supply transfer of the starbases. Since hyperlane relays project the throughput of the starbase out one, the chain can instead be [starbase - outpost - outpost - outpost - starbase], making long transfer routes actually doable.

There will be five technologies, either in the physics or sociology tree, which increase the rate of supply transfer by 10%, so at max level the rate will be 1.5 times the numbers presented. There would also likely be techs which increase the supply storage of ships and starbases, and possibly some techs to reduce the supply usage of ships.

There are also several ways to decrease the amount of supply used by your ships. Being at peace, being docked at a starbase, and if the starbase docked at has a crew quarters all decrease the supply usage of a ship by 20%. This means that a ship actively fighting will be using two and a half times as much supply as it did docked in peace time. The main goal of this is that during peace an empire will have a supply surplus, and during war a supply deficit. As a war drags on to the point where supply caches are exhausted, fleets will be forced into docking at stations to keep from running out of supplies and becoming helpless. A war which drags on will lead to both sides unable to properly mount an offensive, and a status quo peace deal all but guaranteed. Obviously numbers would have to be balanced so this actually happens, and playlists done at varying levels of hyperlane density, habitable worlds, etc.

Overall I think this suggestion would make warfare much more interesting. The placement of anchorages now actually becomes important, rather than just being parked in some random system to get a black site over a planet or collect a 2 trade value deposit. Anchorages would also become important assets in war, as when a starbase is captured all the supply stored is lost, so sniping an enemy anchorage or losing your own, even if only temporarily, can drastically shorten the length of a war. The supply throughput limit would incentivize multiple fronts, but because ships due have internal supply, it would allow temporarily overloading a front to seek an advantage. Defensively, a fleet can be kept docked at a bastion and use thhe -40% supply to have a significant advantage in fleet power over an attacking force, requiring that that force go over the supply limit in order to match. If that fleet ever tried to go on the offensive or is forced to maneuver however, it suddenly will be draining supply. Early game a fleet of 20 corvettes can maneuver freely with only outposts as support, but as soon as that fleet expands or a second fleet is brought in it starts ticking down supply if they are kept on the same front. Fortress worlds, due to soldiers producing supply, would be incentivized to be stacked with bastions (currently, the opposite is generally better). I do worry that the AI might find this system hard to understand and thus hard to code combatant AI for. I think it can be done, but I don't make AI so I really am not the person to be judging that.

As a thought exercise, this sounds cool.

Having to manage this level of detail during warfare would, IMHO, be a horrible experience. To each their own, of course. Just my 2 cents: this level of micro-hell in combat, without any fixes for the current pop management micro-hell would be the final nail in the coffin for me.
 
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As a thought exercise, this sounds cool.

Having to manage this level of detail during warfare would, IMHO, be a horrible experience. To each their own, of course. Just my 2 cents: this level of micro-hell in combat, without any fixes for the current pop management micro-hell would be the final nail in the coffin for me.

First off, obviously this would need significant play testing. It might turn out that your misgivings are correct, and this turns war into a horrible micro hell while not actually achieving the goals it sets out to do. It might achieve those goals while being a micro hell, or be a fine system user-wise but not actually accomplish anything. So I'm going to speak in ideals here, and recognize that at this point it's all conjecture.

I don't know about you, but most of my warfare experience has been in MP, and as such the wars have been (mostly) relatively even with a smart opponent and high stakes. I already have be paying attention to my fleets, keep them from getting ambushed or dance around a stronger enemy fleet. I've very frequently had to come back after a war to fix unemployment, overcrowding, and other issues I let slip while I was focused on war, and I recognize that's a problem, and it's one of the reasons that I suggested a planet template system in the past (check my signature if you want to read it). A much more basic solution would just be to allow a building/district to be queued for when a planet reaches a certain pop number.

For most of your fleets, most of the time, your fleets should be staying under the throughput limit. This means that your ships can operate indefinitely, as they never end up having to actually use any of their own supply. For the times when you do have to go over supply, it will almost always be concentrated on a single front, and thus all the ships you need to pay attention to are on that front as well. And when that fleet gets low on supply (there is a warning at 20%, which should be more than enough time to safely pull back), all it has to do is stop by an anchorage to top off. Your starting starbase holds 10k supply, enough to fully resupply 200 corvettes. A Citadel with 6 anchorages holds 100k supply, enough to fully resupply 50 battleships (400 naval cap worth). And this is without any bonuses from technology.

What I imagine doom stack warfare will look like is something like this: Move out your doom stack, conquer several systems. If it's a close fight you're paying attention, if it's not you just click forward and forget. You get the 20% supply warning, time to head back. Split off one fleet or however many ships will stay under throughput to the front, while the rest head back. They stock up at starbases which are off your main supply line heading to the front. Move the current front fleet (which hasn't been able to fully resupply, due to just being net positive supply) back while the rest push forward. Cruisers and battleships last more than a year with no supply, with partial support it will be longer. That doesn't seem like all that much micro to me.

Do you see any flaws in my logic or the image I'm presenting here?
 
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First off, obviously this would need significant play testing. It might turn out that your misgivings are correct, and this turns war into a horrible micro hell while not actually achieving the goals it sets out to do. It might achieve those goals while being a micro hell, or be a fine system user-wise but not actually accomplish anything. So I'm going to speak in ideals here, and recognize that at this point it's all conjecture.

I don't know about you, but most of my warfare experience has been in MP, and as such the wars have been (mostly) relatively even with a smart opponent and high stakes. I already have be paying attention to my fleets, keep them from getting ambushed or dance around a stronger enemy fleet. I've very frequently had to come back after a war to fix unemployment, overcrowding, and other issues I let slip while I was focused on war, and I recognize that's a problem, and it's one of the reasons that I suggested a planet template system in the past (check my signature if you want to read it). A much more basic solution would just be to allow a building/district to be queued for when a planet reaches a certain pop number.

For most of your fleets, most of the time, your fleets should be staying under the throughput limit. This means that your ships can operate indefinitely, as they never end up having to actually use any of their own supply. For the times when you do have to go over supply, it will almost always be concentrated on a single front, and thus all the ships you need to pay attention to are on that front as well. And when that fleet gets low on supply (there is a warning at 20%, which should be more than enough time to safely pull back), all it has to do is stop by an anchorage to top off. Your starting starbase holds 10k supply, enough to fully resupply 200 corvettes. A Citadel with 6 anchorages holds 100k supply, enough to fully resupply 50 battleships (400 naval cap worth). And this is without any bonuses from technology.

What I imagine doom stack warfare will look like is something like this: Move out your doom stack, conquer several systems. If it's a close fight you're paying attention, if it's not you just click forward and forget. You get the 20% supply warning, time to head back. Split off one fleet or however many ships will stay under throughput to the front, while the rest head back. They stock up at starbases which are off your main supply line heading to the front. Move the current front fleet (which hasn't been able to fully resupply, due to just being net positive supply) back while the rest push forward. Cruisers and battleships last more than a year with no supply, with partial support it will be longer. That doesn't seem like all that much micro to me.

Do you see any flaws in my logic or the image I'm presenting here?

I can see this scenario, the way you described it, and I think I can see what your imagining. If the numbers were tweaked to work the way you describe in the last paragraph, it would require some additional strategic planning when going to war---and that's almost always a good thing in, IMHO.

Assuming (in the spirit of considering the ideas) the system got fine-tuned for numbers and UI management, I see only two real "problems."

The first issue I see is how such a system might extend the length of wars. Wars already take a very long time, mostly as a function of ship travel time. Requiring fleets to "return home" for supplies seems like it could double, triple, or even further expand the amount of *waiting* that takes place in a war while ships slowly fly across systems doing nothing. On the other hand, slowing down wars further might slow down blobbing, which could be a good thing (though I'm sure some would cry foul). I'm not sure I would enjoy warfare more if it involved significantly more ship travel time, just to accomplish the same things as before, even if it involved a layer of enjoyable strategy.

The second issue I see is how such a system might further destabilize the game by adding another layer of very complex decision making to the AI. While we humans (apologies to any lizard overlords reading this ;)) can look at a supply-range map and make a plan in a matter of seconds or minutes, I'm very skeptical that the AI could be programmed to handle something this complex *well*. And, if its not handled well, then it would further cripple the AI, provide more ways for the player to exploit AI weakness, and make warfare less competitive. I'm not sure I would enjoy a more strategically complex warfare if it came at the cost of an even less competitive AI.

Lastly, I only play Stellaris in single-player games. So, right there, we assuredly have had very different experiences with the game. Much like the GSG/4X divide in this game's development goals, the fact that it needs to function as a single- & multi-player game is substantial hurdle, since what's good for one mode is not necessarily good for the other. I imagine, for instance, that a further crippling of the AI would be less of a game-ruining turn of events for you, since you mostly/only play multi-player. But, please remember us single-player plebs with mercy.
 
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I can see this scenario, the way you described it, and I think I can see what your imagining. If the numbers were tweaked to work the way you describe in the last paragraph, it would require some additional strategic planning when going to war---and that's almost always a good thing in, IMHO.

Assuming (in the spirit of considering the ideas) the system got fine-tuned for numbers and UI management, I see only two real "problems."

The first issue I see is how such a system might extend the length of wars. Wars already take a very long time, mostly as a function of ship travel time. Requiring fleets to "return home" for supplies seems like it could double, triple, or even further expand the amount of *waiting* that takes place in a war while ships slowly fly across systems doing nothing. On the other hand, slowing down wars further might slow down blobbing, which could be a good thing (though I'm sure some would cry foul). I'm not sure I would enjoy warfare more if it involved significantly more ship travel time, just to accomplish the same things as before, even if it involved a layer of enjoyable strategy.

The second issue I see is how such a system might further destabilize the game by adding another layer of very complex decision making to the AI. While we humans (apologies to any lizard overlords reading this ;)) can look at a supply-range map and make a plan in a matter of seconds or minutes, I'm very skeptical that the AI could be programmed to handle something this complex *well*. And, if its not handled well, then it would further cripple the AI, provide more ways for the player to exploit AI weakness, and make warfare less competitive. I'm not sure I would enjoy a more strategically complex warfare if it came at the cost of an even less competitive AI.

Lastly, I only play Stellaris in single-player games. So, right there, we assuredly have had very different experiences with the game. Much like the GSG/4X divide in this game's development goals, the fact that it needs to function as a single- & multi-player game is substantial hurdle, since what's good for one mode is not necessarily good for the other. I imagine, for instance, that a further crippling of the AI would be less of a game-ruining turn of events for you, since you mostly/only play multi-player. But, please remember us single-player plebs with mercy.

I don't think ship travel time will be quite as big of a concern. Most of the time when you are in the part of a war where you are fully conquering an opponent, you don't need your full fleet, and so your outpost-smashers are operating under the throughput. Also remember that every outpost/starbase you capture generates supply, and while it's only at 80% efficiency the more you capture the more your fleets can "live off the land". And in the situations where you do run low one supply while grabbing outposts (maybe there was a gap?), you can probably just grab the last few and limp back home at 0 supply. The main place where the travel time to resupply would be an issue is if you are A) conquering a massive empire, or B) fighting someone who is a bit away from you. Both of these instances I think it makes sense to have prolonged operations be difficult. Getting the -20% supply usage while at peace might be a big reason for empires to push for a peace deal even when they have the advantage. Sure they could push for the next couple of systems, but it's not as good of a return on investment as they'd get in a new, different war... or be worried about being caught with low supply in a defensive war (side note: the harmony tradition should be changed from build speed in a defensive war to supply generation in a defensive war).

As for AI... yeah that's the biggest sticking point. And even in MP games, this would be an issue, since FEs, Maruders, the crisis, etc. all would have to interface with this. Now I don't have any experience with AI, but I do see a way for it to work.

The way the AI will handle supply is through the use of "fronts". A front is any border that the AI has, be it with an ally, empty space, an FE, anything. Non-chokepoint borders would be treated as a single front, but likely with some modifier to account for the multiple systems. The AI will look at that border system, and it will see how many connected systems it takes to achieve maximum throughput to that border system. If it can't achieve maximum throughput, it will want to build starbases to allow it to pull from further away or funnel supply through choke points. These systems are marked as the "backing" for that front.

The AI will then judge and prioritize fronts. If a front is on empty space, it will likely be expanded, and so investment should be avoided. If it's against an ally or FE, then there *probably* won't be enemies going through there, but it's still something that should maximum throughput. But a border with a rival, low opinion empire, or non-allied player? That's a danger zone. A dangerous front gets priority to achieve maximum supply throughput to the front, and will also (if starbase cap allows) get extra anchorages places somewhere in the backing for that front, so that ships can resupply during long wars. This should help the AI create a robust supply network. Some potential flaws is that this doesn't have the AI plan how to handle supply if the lines move forward or fall back, and it also may need some specific code in terms of the hyperlane registrar (when should it wait for them before placing supply chain starbases, and when should it not?). I'm sure there are another couple of flaws other people will spot, please point them out if you notice/think of one.

We saw in one of the dev diaries that the AI judges potential targets and the fleet power required to take them, and then splits it's fleet among the highest priority actions. The AI also has a certain percentage of its fleets dedicated to defense. With the supply system, the AI would keep its defense fleets stationed at chokepoints and bastions, prioritizing active wars, dangerous fronts, possible flanking routes, etc. Since the fleet is defensive, it would stay docked at starbases, and thus take advantage of the -40% upkeep. The offensive fleet would add another qualifier to the targets it checks, which is if that target requires going over supply throughput, and if so how much and for how long. These fleets would resupply from the anchorages on the front, if those get fully depleted they'd pull back and the AI would be much more willing to take a peace deal (note that they are still capable of striking forward if they see an opportunity, but being based back behind the frontline would make ventures out take longer and use more supply and thus less worth it).

Of course, this system isn't perfect. There should be time when the "defensive" fleet moves out to attack, either alone or in tandem with an attacking fleet. The AI would need to be able to shift battle-lines around, and more importantly know when they should be holding at a starbase a few systems back from the front line, rather then an outpost. It would need to be aware that moving a strike fleet through a line may drain supply needed for the defensive fleet. But overall, I think this provides a framework which would make an AI decent at handling supply, enough so that it wouldn't embarrass itself.

Another thing to mention is that high AI difficulty could directly give a buff to AI supply, most likely in reduction of upkeep (probably 5% per level so grand admiral is -20%). This would help offset any lack the AI has in its strategy, as it's ships would be able to be more densely defend while under supply, operate for longer while exceeding supply, and overall last longer in wars as supply caches would drain slower.
 

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Another thing to mention is that high AI difficulty could directly give a buff to AI supply, most likely in reduction of upkeep (probably 5% per level so grand admiral is -20%). This would help offset any lack the AI has in its strategy, as it's ships would be able to be more densely defend while under supply, operate for longer while exceeding supply, and overall last longer in wars as supply caches would drain slower.

This would allay my fears of the AI being crippled by the system you described, especially since I always play on grand admiral. I don't really care how the AI empires build their empires (buffs, advantages, etc.), I just want them to present a challenge beyond the first 50-75 years.

Anyway, it's an interesting idea. While I temporarily gave up on Rome : Imperator, they supply system in that game was actually one of the few things I really enjoyed.

You set out some good ideas. I'm definitely more in favor of a supply system now than I was before.
 

EXCAT

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Let's step back - WHY is such supply system needed - and what are the consequences?

1) do we want more micromanagement?
No, we have plenty already

2) do we want wars to go slower?
One poster said they take too long as it is.
I'm fine with how they are right now; it takes may be a few years to conquer an empire - and that's fine, bc they need to have a chance to mount a defense.

3) more realism?
Being supplied from outposts is a very outdated idea. That's what they do in Primitive worlds.
(and in war you will have plenty of conquered outposts anyway, as ppl commented)

Ships can replicate anything, given they have enough energy.
For any realism - you could add another category to [Hull, Armor, Shield] - 'Energy reserves' or 'Munitions available'
It takes a lot of energy to replicate them missiles and other expendable munitions :)
And while you have an on-board reactor, it may not be able to replentish all munitions during the battle.

That's how far realism goes.
And the only consequence of adding such feature would be 1) more micromanagement 2) longer wars.
Pick your poison ;)
 
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This would allay my fears of the AI being crippled by the system you described, especially since I always play on grand admiral. I don't really care how the AI empires build their empires (buffs, advantages, etc.), I just want them to present a challenge beyond the first 50-75 years.

Anyway, it's an interesting idea. While I temporarily gave up on Rome : Imperator, they supply system in that game was actually one of the few things I really enjoyed.

You set out some good ideas. I'm definitely more in favor of a supply system now than I was before.

Thanks! Yeah I really love a proper discussion/debate, but too many people go into them refusing to change their point of view (admittedly I'm guilty of this as well sometimes). Threads like these are for hashing out what the weaknesses of a suggestion are, and hopefully finding ways to improve them. Your point about war length wasn't something I had actually considered before, and while I had thought about AI I'd never bothered to go into the thought excessive of how it would work.

I've never played Rome: Imperator before, but looking at it their supply system is somewhat similar to this suggestion. The biggest two differences are that you can always build more baggage trains, and that terrain has a supply limit, which incurs supply penalties for having units over it. Here I'm trying to use supply scarcity to simulate the effects of a natural supply limit, so being able to build cargo vessels would kind of defeat the point.
 
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Let's step back - WHY is such supply system needed - and what are the consequences?

1) do we want more micromanagement?
No, we have plenty already

2) do we want wars to go slower?
One poster said they take too long as it is.
I'm fine with how they are right now; it takes may be a few years to conquer an empire - and that's fine, bc they need to have a chance to mount a defense.

3) more realism?
Being supplied from outposts is a very outdated idea. That's what they do in Primitive worlds.
(and in war you will have plenty of conquered outposts anyway, as ppl commented)

Ships can replicate anything, given they have enough energy.
For any realism - you could add another category to [Hull, Armor, Shield] - 'Energy reserves' or 'Munitions available'
It takes a lot of energy to replicate them missiles and other expendable munitions :)
And while you have an on-board reactor, it may not be able to replentish all munitions during the battle.

That's how far realism goes.
And the only consequence of adding such feature would be 1) more micromanagement 2) longer wars.
Pick your poison ;)

Uhhh.... did you even read the first sentence of my suggestion, let alone the first paragraph? I directly answered this question, and it's NOT any of the three points you seem to be strawmannirg me into. The reason a supply system is "needed" (It's not needed, I just think the game would be better with one) is to limit the effectiveness of doomstacking. Micromanagement is a side effect, but one that I believe would be minimal. Most of the extra thought goes into where to place starbases and how to move your fleets, no need to click something a hundred times or rally a supply convoy back and forth constantly. As I talked about in an earlier comment (A reply to the one you mentioned), I don't think that the speed of wars would change much, as the slowdown would only happen at points where the war is tense and decisions matter, as opposed to the initial "move my fleets into position) or finish "just capture all the outposts already" which wouldn't be slowed down. The only place realism entered was that I was looking for the most realistic way of accomplishing my goals of limiting doomstacking. The main goal is and always has been to make warfare better and more engaging.
 
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EXCAT

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I did read your first sentence, and others after it :)

You want to prevent the "doom stacking".

You want the weaker empire to be able to win a defensive war.
And I agree with that goal - just not with the means you propose.

With any nerfs, a stronger empire will always be able amass whatever it needs, if it goes after the weaker one, mano-a-mano.

Solutions are:
if defending empire has better tech, but lesser fleets - try some edicts. They work great!
Do some hit-and-run attacks, to increase the attacker's exhaustion.
* Get into a Federation, or mutual protection pact *

The only thing the proposed supply system does - it makes the wars longer.
It may give the defender some added chances - but that's all it does.
 
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Tamwin5

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I did read your first sentence, and others after it :)

You want to prevent the "doom stacking".

You want the weaker empire to be able to win a defensive war.
And I agree with that goal - just not with the means you propose.

With any nerfs, a stronger empire will always be able amass whatever it needs, if it goes after the weaker one, mano-a-mano.

Solutions are:
if defending empire has better tech, but lesser fleets - try some edicts. They work great!
Do some hit-and-run attacks, to increase the attacker's exhaustion.
* Get into a Federation, or mutual protection pact *

The only thing the proposed supply system does - it makes the wars longer.
It may give the defender some added chances - but that's all it does.

I agree that for a weaker enemy the proper way to stand up to larger/more powerful nations is to band together with other nations. However there are many instances where this doesn't work: You don't have any friendly nations near you, the enemy is in a federation as well, or the enemy is just so big/powerful that even with a federation you're still the underdog. And that's fine. I'm not trying to make it so that weaker nations are on equal standing to more powerful nations, I'm just trying to keep them from getting instantly steamrolled. The way power disparity works is that the stronger you are than your opponent, your advantage increases exponentially. If your fleet is twice as strong as the enemies, you'll take very little damage (even with the "target rich environment" modifier offsetting this). The supply limit doesn't stop you from rolling in with a superior force, it just makes doing so have a risk and a trade off.

Supply keeps the stronger force from just moving straight through all your defenses with a superior fleet. It also makes hit and run attrition tactics (like you mentioned smaller empires should use) actually effective, as now cutting off a supply line is a major hinderance, and successfully raiding a staging ground anchorage can halt an entire advance.

Doomstacking is also an issue for when two empires are evenly matched. Two mega-fleets fighting in a single location is a lot less interesting than a war across a dozen systems. A massed fleet becomes a limited tool for a coordinated push to break through enemy lines or hold off an enemy advance, not the immediate go-to for every occasion. Positioning becomes hugely important, and using jump drives or other by-passes to sneak into other parts of an enemy empire and cut off supply or open up a new front give a significant tactical advantage.

I've already talked about my vision of how adding supply would effect war length and it wouldn't be a big deal. Can you explain your perspective, and why you think it will slow down wars?
 
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Another thought involving the supply system: All three of the civilian vessel types should require supply, with lack of supply resulting in a 5x-10x increase in the amount of time required to do their action (surveying/anomolies/special projects, construction, and colonizing a planet), in addition to the reduced speed and disengagement chance.

Ship typeSupply use per monthSupply storageOperating time unsupported
Construction ship510020 months
Science ship51000200 months (nearly 17 years)
Colony ship1002,00020 months

Now, considering that a base outpost with no tech is able to throughput 200 supply, and your starting planet of 24 pops + starbase produces 74 supply, supporting these vessels within your space is a cake walk. The problem only comes when you start moving vessels outside of space. However there is a way to remove the need for these ships to use supply (and thus any storage needs as well), which is through the tradition tree: The opener for prosperity will now also remove supply for construction ships, the opener for discovery will remove supply for science ships, and the opener for expansion will remove supply for colony ships. This way empires which want to specialize in a certain direction aren't constrained by supply, but for non-discovery empire it prevents galavanting off across the galaxy to discover everything for free (buying supply from a friendly empire is a quick and easy way to replenish science vessels).

I'm not 100% on this addition as it frankly doesn't really add much to the game besides flavor, and having to care about supply for civilian ships can be annoying (hence the ways to get out of it). I'd like more perspective and feedback on this.
 
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I really like this, however I think some way to ferry supplies to a fleet that is operating might be needed.

One problem I can see is an offensive fleet taking a bunch of territory, running out of supply and having to run back home while the small empire whose ships are right at home comes in and reclaims it all while the other empire's fleet is resupplying.

I do like any ideas that could prevent death stacking, as right now there is no reason to spread your fleets out and just use them all in one place as a sledgehammer to make wars faster.
 

Tamwin5

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I really like this, however I think some way to ferry supplies to a fleet that is operating might be needed.

One problem I can see is an offensive fleet taking a bunch of territory, running out of supply and having to run back home while the small empire whose ships are right at home comes in and reclaims it all while the other empire's fleet is resupplying.

I do like any ideas that could prevent death stacking, as right now there is no reason to spread your fleets out and just use them all in one place as a sledgehammer to make wars faster.

If you *really* need supply convoys, you can outfit ships (cruisers are the best for supply) with supply modules / auxiliary and then use merge fleet/share supply to transfer supply over to the fleets. Being able to port around supply is intentionally hard though, as if it's too easy then people will just ignore the supply limit.

The main way to avoid running out of supply is to just to keep fleets under the supply throughput amount. A fleet of 20 corvettes is plenty to take out outposts, and with the techs to increase supply throughput you can get more. However for a main push, this often isn't viable as such a small force can be destroyed by our opponent.

In those cases you likely will need to cycle fleets to the front lines. Ideally you'll take a starbase, and so can set a portion of your fleet to orbit there, reducing it's supply use by 20% (or 40% if there is a crew quarters), and allowing a great force then would normally be supported by the throughput limit. Combined with the firepower of the captured starbase, it'll be a defensive position.

Yes, your opponents might counter-attack, but now they are put in the same situation you just were, of having to risk pushing through a supply dead zone. If you have multiple fleets you can cycle one in while the past one is re-supplying, and catch them before they get as far in their offensive. You might want to bring smaller fleets that can last longer on supply, or change your design to sacrifice defenses for extra supply capacity.

It will be very likely that you just can't fit your entire fleet on a single front of the war. In that case you can either keep them in reserve, to go for an overwhelming attack at the right moment or rotate fleets around, or try to find another front of the war you can strike from. Buy some supply from a friendly nation on the other side of your enemy, and fly your ships around.

You might end up in a situation where, due to needing to pull back for supply, neither side can effectively push through an area of space. If you are unable or unwilling to open up another front, you might just need to call a white peace with only a small amount of gains, and build some starbases to better move supply there and fuel your war efforts. Having a fully stocked anchorage near the front lines can supply a fleet for decades.
 
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MichaelJanuary

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I tend to think this is providing an unnecessarily complex solution.

Leta go back to first principal's about what we want to achieve with a supply system.

1. Provide a cost to over concentration of forces.
2. Introduce the equivalent of a supply lines which need to be protected.
3. Compromise fleets that are behind enemy lines by having them run out of supply.

Let's consider what the game already does.
1. Ships cost monthly upkeep, which is in effect an abstracted supply.
2. Fleets that are docked pay minimal upkeep, while fleets engaged in any operations pay full upkeep.
3. When you run out of energy (global resource) your shields are disabled. -100% shields. Easily solved by buying some energy every month.

There is obviously a gap here, as the game does not penalise ships for being far from home base, or cut off from friendly systems . So let's see how we can solve it as simply as possible.

UPKEEP
1. Limit the docking capacity of starbases, so that if you dock too many ships at a starbase, you dilute the effect of reduced upkeep, or pay a premium on upkeep forr ships assigned to the base. This will encourage you spreading your fleets across multiple Starbases.
2. Fleets can only be supplied by their designated Home StarBase. A fleet that is docked at a starbase that is not its home base does not get an upkeep discount.
3. Maintain a 'route' in routing tables for the fleet, representing the path to its home base. For every 3 friendly systems the route passes though, upkeep increases by 5%. For every 1 occupied system the route passes, upkeep increases by 10%. For every enemy system the route would have to pass through, inflate upkeep costs by 30%.

All that we are doing here, is making sure that not all fleets share the same home base, upkeep is inflated by distance from home base, and also inflating upkeep if there are occupied or enemy systems on the route home. The premiums imply that any imaginary supply ships paid for by the upkeep, has further to travel, or are facing hazards on their journey/


OUT OF SUPPLY
If a fleet has no viable route to a friendly system (any friendly system, not an occupied system) we regard it as being 'cut off' and we add a 'supply shortage' attribute to the fleet. Lets say 'supply shortage' has a numeric value of 1, and that it increments every month, and also increments every time the fleet makes a jump, or engages in combat. We can then add negative modifiers to the fleet that scale with 'supply shortage', so the fleet accrues larger negative modifiers the more 'supply shortages' it incurs.

Example:
When supply shortages > 10, impose a 5% penalty on sublight speed, fire rate, maximum shield power, hyperjump charge times.
When supply shortages > 20 the penalty increases to 10%, and so on.

Note: the upkeep model and the out of supply model are two independent systems. You always pay for upkeep, regardless whether your ships are cut off. Out of supply just indicates that the supplies you're paying for is not reaching the fleet. You have time to rectify this condition, but if you don't, the penalties may become debilitating.


Apologies for posting a counter suggestion, especially one that's so half baked compared to your well modelled suggestion, but I think the simpler the model is, the more likely it is to be adopted.
 
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WeeBigTerd101

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This is super cool and with the coming espionage update if this system was in place then during a massive war the enemy could figure out your ships' supplies and your networks capabilities to supply you ships and then with espionage the enemy could attack your supply line and force a retreat on your ships if it can be fixed in time.
 

Rodmar18

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Perhaps you can add another supply-related in-game feature: when fleets benefit from extra sublight speed when in home territory or federal territory.