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Re: [FT] Hardened Systems

From: "Oerjan Ohlson" <oerjan.ohlson@t...>
Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 00:17:51 +0100
Subject: Re: [FT] Hardened Systems

Richard Slattery wrote:

> On 15 Jan 99, at 0:45, Oerjan Ohlson wrote:
> > If the mass penalty for hardening is only 25%, you'll still be
> > until the enemy takes his 2nd treshold check (though you won't be
> > behind after the first) and you'll still take *your* 2nd treshold
> > before he takes his, but you'll have so much more firepower left (in
> > absolute terms, not relative) than he does after the 2nd and 3rd
> > that you'll be able to mutually annihilate each other <g> If the
> > penalty is 50%, you won't catch up - unless you're lucky early on,
> > course, but you'll lose far more battles than you win.
> You seem to assume a ship where /everything/ is hardened.

That's one way to test it. But see below.

> I 
> wouldn't harden many systems, not drives, shields etc, just critical 
> systems, firecon, perhaps a weapon or some weapons... sml's 
> being not a bad option... losing a launcher with unfired missiles is 
> so annoying. So the ship won't have 2/3 of the firepower, it will have

> nearly the same, but some critical systems whose loss stops your 
> entire ship being useful.

Sure :-) Hardening the FCs save you from embarrassing disasters, but
at 25% (FRU) more Mass you're usually just as well off buying another
spare system, or armour, instead. Armour often has a better effect than
hardening your key systems (for the same Mass and higher cost); the
exception would be if you harden a few FCs on a very large ship... and
even there you're usually just as well off buying a spare FC instead.

> > Since the *hardened* systems won't fail until *more* than half the
> > have already bought it, they have a smaller chance of repairing them
> > early. They can repair some, but they'll have on average less time
> > it in and fewer DCPs to use, so the the DCP's impact will be less
> > for the unhardened systems. The "hardened" loss percentages are a
> > high as well, but not as much too high as the unhardened ones.
> So just before your ship is destroyed you won't be able to repair 
> systems.. uhm, so? as if you were going to do anything other than 
> bail out of the shattered husk at this point.

Exactly. DCPs have a bigger effect on unhardened systems than on
ones, which reduces the impact of hardening to less than the figures
posted earlier would suggest.

> Localised intense shields for the sensors, a bit more redundancy, 
> multiple routing of data lines back to the bridge and weapons 
> directors... and you get 25% more availability (your numbers ;), 
> doesn't seem too unbeleivable.

Buying another FC tends to get you more than 25% improvement while you
still have weapons, and costs just as much in Mass. Is that any more

> > > So, to summarise... REALLY good early in a battle, you can't lose 
> > > them except to needle beams/missiles (and emp missiles 
> > > perhaps?). 
> > 
> > Quite the contrary, in fact. Hardened systems are really BAD early
> > battle, since by then the enemy hasn't yet lost any systems to
> > checks and therefore outguns the hardened ships by a rather wide > >
> Systems that you cannot lose early in a battle is bad.... 

You can't lose *any* system until you reach the first treshold check
(barring Needle beams and EMP missiles, but hardened systems are
vulnerable to those as well). That's what I consider to be "early in the
battle" :-)

Around the second treshold check, which is when the hardened systems
start showing their true mettle, is in the *middle* of the battle to me
not early.

> uhm, there is a new form of logic. 

No, just a confusion of terms :-)

> You are fixated (wink) on a whole ship having every system on board it
> upgraded, 

Nope :-) 

> where yup, you will be 
> horribly outgunned, and die under a hail of fire, while I would go for

> only critical systems and keep almost the same firepower,  and 
> keep direction of it for longer, or actually manage to fire off all
> sml's. 

How do you fire *off* the SMLauncher? Do you throw it at the enemy
;-) (Terminology nitpick: You fire SMs (Salvo Missiles) from an SML
(Salvo Missile Launcher) or SMR (Salvo Missile Rack). I've heard some
people discussing launching ICBM silos; that's pretty much the same

Seriously, though - the chance to lose the launcher is just as big as
chance to lose the magazine; hardening one but not the other does
things somewhat - fairly close to the efficiency *loss* you get from the
increased Mass. You have to have at least three salvoes per launcher
before the hardened launcher pulls ahead of the standard, and so far all
battles I've seen so far where SMs have figured heavily have been
decided, win or lose, on the second salvo. I have yet to se an SML ship
fire missiles on four different turns in a game; three salvoes I've seen
on two occasions.

There is really only one other type of critical system, and that's the
FCs (including ADFC). I've covered them in other posts as well as above
already :-)

> > Hardened systems are good *LATE* in the battle, when enough
> > systems have faild their tresholds while the hardened ones hopefully
> > haven't.
> Well, two beam armed fleets, one with some hardened firecon, the 
> other without, will do almost the same damage to each other, 
> assuming capitol ships on either side are much the same, except 
> for the use of hardened firecons... The hardened firecon ships ought 
> to have more ability to direct their remaining weapons.

Sure. Only I tend to concentrate fire against a single target at a time,
so I only usually need one FC per ship anyway... and the probabilities
have *at least* 1 FC isn't very different for hardened or unhardened
spending the same amount of Mass for FCs - not until the ship is so
battered that it's running out of weapons anyway :-)
> > For those ships where a little hardening is most likely to make a
> > difference, the price tends to be higher than it seems :-/ 
> Ok... hmm. For 25% cost/mass increase, it seems too cheap, and 
> always worth doing for certain systems, and probably for almost all 
> systems. 

Nope. Probably worth it for ADFCs and FCs, maybe for SMLs if you don't
armour their magazine, balanced (or, at least, much less effect on
results than using the same Mass to buy armour or extra screen levels
would have had) for other weapons and screens.

If you use it for all systems, you're doing exactly what you thought me
to be fixated with - and which I have told you (and the rest of the
list), repeatedly but obviously completely in vain, isn't very
You'll be badly outgunned early on, and hopefully be able to catch up in
the later stages of the battle.

> An extra game mechanic that is always worth employing 
> isn't worth having as an option, as everyone will use them, might as 
> well not have the option and reduce the potential complexity.

<sigh> That's what I've been trying to communicate. IT ISN'T ALWAYS
EMPLOYING - it just gives a different flavour to the ships without
changing the over-all balance. Using *armour* is more unbalancing than
hardening systems with a 25% Mass penalty.

> .. You see a bigger benefit for hardening some systems than 
> others

I see a possible benefit for some systems (FCs and SMLs). I *don't* see
benefit for the rest. I haven't seen it for two years now, and I've been
looking pretty damn hard for it. I explored the statistics to try and
figure out *why* I couldn't see any benefit... and they supported what I
had already seen, ie no benefit - for either side.

So yes, you could say that I see some variation of the level of benefits

> So, I'd perhaps suggest... 25% more mass, 50% more cost as a 
> compromise.. (so you don't have so much extra mass to push 
> about with drives or protect with shields). or perhaps even no mass 
> increase, but 50% more cost?

I think the former an unnecessary complication - I calculate system cost
by adding all 3xMass systems together and multiplying, etc; this'd be
impossible with partial hardening. The total cost increase for the ship
would be rather marginal unless you harden everything, in which case the
ship costs approx. 5% more for the same effective overall firepower.

The latter isn't balanced either. If you harden all systems (which would
most certainly be worthwhile if there's no Mass penalty) you get
effectively 25% more firepower for some 15-20% higher ship costs, ie
effectively reducing the cost of the ship by 5-10%.

 To give an idea of what a 5% change in cost for the same firepower is
worth, it is about as good as winning the initiative die-roll on every
turn during the entire game (thus shooting first, etc). The Mass penalty
has to be there, even though it complicates the design - it is what
the hardening balanced.

Oerjan Ohlson

"Life is like a sewer.
  What you get out of it, depends on what you put into it."
- Hen3ry

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