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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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. Fleets that are docked pay minimal upkeep.
2. When you run out of energy (global resource) your shields are disabled. -100% shields. Easily solved by buying some energy every month.

My main goals were actually
  1. Provide a strong disincentive to over concentration of forces (I'd argue this is different from just a cost)
  2. Provide a more realistic form of war exhaustion through supply exhaustion.
Some other aspects that emerged from that and I think are important to the suggestion
  1. Making it hard to push into undeveloped space
  2. Provide strategic targets which can be attacked to limit the enemies ability to wage war (anchorages)
Running out of energy actually gives -75% shield hit points and -75% weapons damage.

There is obviously a gap here. 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.
2. Fleets can only be supplied by their Home Base. A fleet that is docked at a starbase that is not its home base pays full upkeep.
3. Inflate upkeep costs of a fleet by distance from its home base. Distance is travel distance where friendly systems count for less than 1, and occupied or enemy systems count for more than 1. So a fleet in home territory but far from its base lays a small penalty in upkeep, if upkeep passes through occupied systems, its inflated, and if it has to pass through enemy systems its inflated even more. Shios always pay upkeep, even when cur off, but ships that are 'cut off', pay a lot more.

All that we are doing here, is inflating upkeep by distance from home base, and also inflating upkeep by preventing too many ships from having the same home base. To minimize upkeep, you would have to dock your fleets at their respective home bases, and docking capacity means you pay a premium if too many fleets share the same base.

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 'out of supply' attribute to the fleet. Lets say its 1, and that it increments every month, and every time the fleet makes a jump, or engages in combat. We can then add negative modifiers to the fleet that scale with this out of supply attribute, so the fleet accrues larger negative modifiers the longer its 'out of supply'.

Example:
When out of supply > 10, impose a 5% penalty on sublight speed, fire rate, maximum shield power, hyperjump charge times.
When out of supply > 20 the panelaty 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 shios 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 dont, 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.

The trouble with tying stuff to the home starbase is that you can change that super easily, at any time. Limiting the number of ships which can be docked at a starbase only makes you spread out fleets while at peace, and likely only to a couple of adjacent starbases. But even if you didn't, the upkeep reduction for docking only applies if you have a crew quarters, and is only -25%. Useful for saving some alloys and energy during peacetime, but hardly a necessity.

This suggestion does nothing to address doomstacking, either by disincentivizing it or offering reasons to split your navy. It also makes fighting in an allies space incredibly hard, as you can't base your fleet there. It also makes it basically impossible for a fleet to operate deep in enemy territory or behind enemy lines, as you immediately run into the out of supply penalties. Personally, I think using jump drives to avoid enemy chokepoints should be a valid tactic late game, as it leads to more interesting wars.

Also, considering how much of a resource glut you can have in late game, I'm not sure that some increased upkeep on a fleet is enough of a disincentive to actually stop stuff. It just punishes a poor empire, while a rich empire can ignore it and just blaze ahead. Requiring you to pay money in order to doomstack doesn't stop doomstacks, it just makes people pay money.

As a whole though, I do agree that making systems simpler is better. Elegant design, having something be easy to understand, good gameplay, and match with lore/rp is always what I try to do. I don't think a supply system can work without a dedicated supply resource or meter of some sort, atleast not one which accomplishes my goals.
 
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MichaelJanuary

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My main goals were actually
  1. Provide a strong disincentive to over concentration of forces (I'd argue this is different from just a cost)
  2. Provide a more realistic form of war exhaustion through supply exhaustion.
Some other aspects that emerged from that and I think are important to the suggestion
  1. Making it hard to push into undeveloped space
  2. Provide strategic targets which can be attacked to limit the enemies ability to wage war (anchorages)
Running out of energy actually gives -75% shield hit points and -75% weapons damage.



The trouble with tying stuff to the home starbase is that you can change that super easily, at any time. Limiting the number of ships which can be docked at a starbase only makes you spread out fleets while at peace, and likely only to a couple of adjacent starbases. But even if you didn't, the upkeep reduction for docking only applies if you have a crew quarters, and is only -25%. Useful for saving some alloys and energy during peacetime, but hardly a necessity.

This suggestion does nothing to address doomstacking, either by disincentivizing it or offering reasons to split your navy. It also makes fighting in an allies space incredibly hard, as you can't base your fleet there. It also makes it basically impossible for a fleet to operate deep in enemy territory or behind enemy lines, as you immediately run into the out of supply penalties. Personally, I think using jump drives to avoid enemy chokepoints should be a valid tactic late game, as it leads to more interesting wars.

Also, considering how much of a resource glut you can have in late game, I'm not sure that some increased upkeep on a fleet is enough of a disincentive to actually stop stuff. It just punishes a poor empire, while a rich empire can ignore it and just blaze ahead. Requiring you to pay money in order to doomstack doesn't stop doomstacks, it just makes people pay money.

As a whole though, I do agree that making systems simpler is better. Elegant design, having something be easy to understand, good gameplay, and match with lore/rp is always what I try to do. I don't think a supply system can work without a dedicated supply resource or meter of some sort, atleast not one which accomplishes my goals.

The one or two issues you mentioned are either easily solved, or I didnt explain myself well.

If we are going to apply a docking limit at starbases, we can also impose a cooldown on re-basing.

Defending an ally will not be any more costly than defending your own systems except for one exception. My model as presented depends on a contiguous empire or an ally that is an immediate neighbour. I have not considered the case where the ally is in a remote corner of the galaxy, or an empire is not contiguous.

The out of supply penalties in my model does not kick in for several months (need 10 actions in the example i provided) before even minor penalties kick in. So short forays into enemy space is quite valid.

However, other than cost of upkeep, there are no penalties to force-concentration in my model.

The broader concepts though, that ship upkeep serves as a multiplier to inflate upkeep, is valid. Upkeep accounts for ship class, size, design and technology. What needs to be added is the ability to identify status (home territory, allied territory, occupied territory, distance and routing), and multiply accordingly.

Other than cost though (and whatever you call supplies, it's an economic cost), any other penalty for force concentration would feel contrived. I would rather there be real incentives to spread your fleets (garrisoning, piracy, etc).

I dont see PDS adding in a complex supply depot mechanic based on an entirely new global resource.
 
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Colonizor48

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hart30

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Currently the only kind of "supply" in the game is, that fleet upkeep seems to get more expensive the further ur fleet is away from home. In the past there were reinforcement lines for ships, which could be broken by sending a fleet in between the enemy fleet and the enemy home. But that was the time of corvette spam.
 

Tamwin5

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Currently the only kind of "supply" in the game is, that fleet upkeep seems to get more expensive the further ur fleet is away from home. In the past there were reinforcement lines for ships, which could be broken by sending a fleet in between the enemy fleet and the enemy home. But that was the time of corvette spam.
I'm like 90% sure that fleet upkeep doesn't care about distance from borders. And reinforcement lines actually existed post-corvette spam era, it was removed for performance reasons.

Regardless, the main purpose of my suggestion is to provide a game mechanic to discourage doomstacking, which neither of the above are at all related to.
 

Colonizor48

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I'm like 90% sure that fleet upkeep doesn't care about distance from borders. And reinforcement lines actually existed post-corvette spam era, it was removed for performance reasons.

Regardless, the main purpose of my suggestion is to provide a game mechanic to discourage doomstacking, which neither of the above are at all related to.
Come on pdx bring back reenforcement lines that would be pog. You have more wiggle room with performance now that the pop system is way less laggy.
 
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Tamwin5

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Come on pdx bring back reenforcement lines that would be pog. You have more wiggle room with performance now that the pop system is way less laggy.
I'm sorry what? I highly doubt performance is so improved that they can just intentionally slash performance, what, so you can get a couple of corvette kills mid war and have a barely usable fleet section of the sidebar?
 
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Colonizor48

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I'm sorry what? I highly doubt performance is so improved that they can just intentionally slash performance, what, so you can get a couple of corvette kills mid war and have a barely usable fleet section of the sidebar?
How much did it actually affect performance? Surrely it could be optomized and it shouldn't be THAT hard on the cpu. Dont add them tho if they are anything like how trade values are handled. Optimize first.
 

Tamwin5

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How much did it actually affect performance? Surrely it could be optomized and it shouldn't be THAT hard on the cpu. Dont add them tho if they are anything like how trade values are handled. Optimize first.
Every ship that is rallying needs to plot it's own course, re-routing if it's path gets blocked and whenever the fleet it's going to moves. Making thousands of pathfinding operations across a galaxy is not good for performance. The optimization they chose was basically to have a single route plotted that all reinforcements use, and if it ever gets cut off then the reinforcements just appear at the shipyard rather than getting attacked by the fleet in question.

While I don't know the details or specifics, my gut intuition is that individual reinforcements are significantly worse than trade value.