Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Hakkonen
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Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby Hakkonen » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:42 am

Looking through the back of High Guard, I notice three warship designs that have no armor at all: the Midu Agasham-class destroyer, the Gionetti-class light cruiser,and the Arakoine-class strike cruiser. Several others have minimal armor. The Ghalalk-class armored cruiser is actually better armored than two of the three described dreadnought classes.

Is there any kind of coherent design philosophy here? Why would you build a combat ship with no armor?
Moppy
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby Moppy » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:55 am

Classic high guard designs aren't very good, either because of roleplay or insufficient game testing on top of broken rules.

From the x-wing subreddit yesterday (co-oincidence? Did you come here from there?) I learned about a Traveller High Guard competition that was won by a computer designed fleet. It looks nothing like a book squadron at all. No agility, all planetoids, and lots of small batteries.

I was working on a Mongoose High Guard resolver (which I said elsewhere), then I decided it was pointless. Traveller is a roleplaying game, not a wargame. There is no High Guard tournament, and no-one will care what the optimal designs are. I got it working but it's results are invalid because its AI is too stupid to allocate power plant energy and pick targets intelligently, so you'll always be able to criticise its choices. I knew tht would be a problem when i started work on it, and now regret the decision to spend a weekend writing the dice resolver. :-)
Reynard
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby Reynard » Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:53 pm

Actually time not wasted. You ran the research and gained insight on the issue. Because SCIENCE!
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:03 pm

Most of the warships are close copies of ships in CT Fighting Ships. They were not fit for purpose then either. They seem to follow some sort of 20th century wet ship logic with smaller ships generally having less armour, despite that being completely at odds with the design and combat system. In CT high jump required painful compromises, at a guess J-4 was chosen as Imperial standard to force those compromises.

I chose to see the Imperial Navy as not completely inept, so I don't use those designs. I see them more as design examples. They work perfectly fine to overwhelm the players' Free Trader.


Traveller is vast toolbox and can be played any way you like, from regular war-games to a combatless rpg. Your choice.


Yes, Eurisko was an interesting example. He actually read the combat rules before designing a combat fleet, shocking... He also used a computer to self-refine the designs, by actually trying the fleet in combat. The resulting design is very much specific to that environment, in general CT and about TL-12 combatants. A similar fleet would not work very well at TL-15.
phavoc
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby phavoc » Sat Mar 30, 2019 2:31 pm

As far as anyone can tell there isn't a coherent philosophy behind the ship designs. Some of them follow wet navy patterns and others do not. Historically we've seen some rather odd designs out there, but for the most part all navies followed the same thought process up till new technology or someone came up with an idea that rendered previous versions obsolete, such as the HMS Dreadnought.

Generally speaking your smaller ships are not meant to battle capital ships. Their job is to be numerous and yes, expendable to an extent. Their opponents are going to ships their size and below. The one thing that make Traveller a bit different is their relative lack of weapon size variations. Main guns are hordes of smaller guns, with the exception of the spinal mount, which itself has limited variations. Destroyer sized ships should have spinal mount options as well.

As far as the older tournament battles for trillion credit squadron, the winner built a min-max fleet designed to win within the ruleset. Min-max designs are often built by players because their designs don't have to follow reality's rules like a real design would. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does need to be acknowledged if you want to compare.

The other thing is that each iteration of Traveller has subtly or massively changed the rules - yet there has been a slavish attempt to keep the classic ships the same, which only makes some bad designs worse. Couple that with the some versions mistakes of publishing even the core designs with inconsistencies and mistakes, we'll, that just compounds a lot of the issues.
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sat Mar 30, 2019 6:17 pm

Why is there a choice to have armor or not when building ships?

There's your answer.
Condottiere
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby Condottiere » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:31 pm

Ideally, you want game mechanics to create a rock papers scissors dilemma in that you can't design a ship to be everything, without costing something, whether firepower, protection, mobility, time or money.

I recall being quite vocal against permitting multiples of spinal mounts on the same hull, not that there still aren't loopholes, if you want to take advantage of that.

If I understand the Eurisko gambit correctly, there was no necessity to provide for tactical or strategic movements, and with modern Artificial Intelligence, we probably could run simulations a couple of million times to optimize any fleet of ships to the given guidelines and game mechanics; they've managed that with chess and Go.

Actual protection is measured by how difficult it is to hit something, being powerful to penetrate armour measured in inches and feet of width, and being able to absorb the damage.
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby msprange » Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:40 am

Moppy wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:55 am
Traveller is a roleplaying game, not a wargame.
This is a big argument for a lot of what happens with larger ships in Traveller - there are historical reasons (the original designs) and universe reasons (the presence of spinal mounts assumed to be the Big Ship killers.... among others) but, it has to be admitted, there is a degree of handwavium present because the focus is on Travellers and the kind of ships they fly. In other words, even though their pulse lasers can score a Dreadnought's hull, the effect is less than minimal.

This is an area we are keen to look into, but the scope has to be right - and, to my mind, that means a dedicated naval wargame, likely involving miniatures. That would be the time to revisit big capital ships and gauge how weapons and armour should work at the high end but, for now... the priority is to work on the universe setting and rules players are actually likely to use...
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Moppy
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby Moppy » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:39 am

Condottiere wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:31 pm

If I understand the Eurisko gambit correctly, there was no necessity to provide for tactical or strategic movements, and with modern Artificial Intelligence, we probably could run simulations a couple of million times to optimize any fleet of ships to the given guidelines and game mechanics; they've managed that with chess and Go.

Eurisko ran on 100 machines in a Xerox lab for 10 hours per night, for a month. That's 30,000 hours in 1981, which would be trivial for a Macbook Pro today (maybe an hour?). I don't know exactly Eurisko worked as he never released the code, and the research paper is paywalled. However, the state of the art methods he used from 1981 wouldn't be required today.

Today, for a conventional (not machine learning) AI, having the computer use human-created rules and automatically tune the parameters for them by running simulations would be the expected method. It's proven technology that I would expect any competent software engineer to be able to implement - you just have to find one who will do it as a hobby project for free.

Machine learning on the other hand, is new ground; such a program would be quite experimental. It could be easy and cheap, and doable in a weekend on a single machine. Or it might not. DeepMind said they used 20,000 hours of TPU compute for Alpha Zero chess (4 hrs on 5,000 TPUs). Cloud-based TPU services retail for $5 an hour at retail. This cost is per training run, and since nothing works first time, they certainly paid for more than 1 run.
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby Sigtrygg » Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:23 pm

msprange wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:40 am
This is a big argument for a lot of what happens with larger ships in Traveller - there are historical reasons (the original designs) and universe reasons (the presence of spinal mounts assumed to be the Big Ship killers.... among others) but, it has to be admitted, there is a degree of handwavium present because the focus is on Travellers and the kind of ships they fly. In other words, even though their pulse lasers can score a Dreadnought's hull, the effect is less than minimal.

This is an area we are keen to look into, but the scope has to be right - and, to my mind, that means a dedicated naval wargame, likely involving miniatures. That would be the time to revisit big capital ships and gauge how weapons and armour should work at the high end but, for now... the priority is to work on the universe setting and rules players are actually likely to use...
My latest kickstarter package to arrive at my door is Squadron Strike: Traveller.
I would still love to see Mongoose dust off Call to Arms with a Traveller version - Call to Arms:High Guard.

I keep tinkering with adapting Victory at Sea to a space based big ship combat game for Traveller...
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby DickTurpin » Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:37 pm

Those warships designs bothered me as well, but there is some rational for building unarmored dreadnaughts. Those ships have heavy allotments of sandcasters, point defense, and screens. Those defenses coupled with their huge hull point total means that they do not really have any reason to fear anything smaller than a spinal mount and 15 points of armor is not going to reduce a spinal mount attack by enough to notice.
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby baithammer » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:32 pm

DickTurpin wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:37 pm
Those ships have heavy allotments of sandcasters, point defense, and screens.
Which doesn't cover particle or plasma weapons, and with 2ed MGT the tachyon weapons.

Some of the designs are referred to as older designs, should make two entries for them with one of them being the original TL issue and the second one being refab at the current TL.
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby Moppy » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:18 am

In general, large ship fights in Mongoose 2 will end by critical hit long before they run out of hull points. large ships will be immune to non-spinal crits from high effect rolls, so you'll have to crit by reducing hull points until they hit a critical hit threshold of HP. the automatic crits from the spinal are more dangerous than the HP loss - the possible exception being a large missile salvo against a lightly armored ship. Missiles do way more hull damage that most beams, because it's per missile and the 100-ton bay shoots 24 at once.
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby baithammer » Tue Apr 02, 2019 9:21 am

Large bays will also crit on 6+ threshold.
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby Moppy » Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:51 am

Am I mis-reading the rule?

For crits due to high effect roll on a large ship, the severity of the crit is equal to the number of % of hull points. A bay can't do 1% of the hull of the largest ships in a single hit.

In the example they have 224 damage on 10,000 hull points (2.24%) doing a severity 2, which makes me think 1.24% would be level 1 and 0.24% is no crit. A 100 kton ship would need approximately a 500 point hit to criticial it.

There is also another limit of at least 10 damage for "large ships" which is consistent with large ship starting around 2,000 or 2,500 tons depending on what options you pick to increase hull points.
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby baithammer » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:23 pm

There are two ways to score a crit, one is by exceeding 6+ effect on a gunnery roll which scores severity for every 1% of hull lost.( Minimum 10 points damage) ; Or through sustained damage with severity 1 critical every time it takes 10% of the hull as damage.

The first method also is limited by the type of weapon versus hull displacement, ships larger than 2,000t ignore critical hits from turrets / barbettes, ships larger than 10,000t ignore critical hits from small bays and under while the 100,000t ships ignore all but large bays.
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby Condottiere » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:57 pm

1. From what I heard, Advanced Micro Devices is getting fantastic yields on it's next iteration of the Ryzen architecture in chiplettes. with server core numbers per die will be through the roof, and then you double the threads; you have the megacorporations ordering customized specialist chips tailored to their specific needs, whether from Team Red, ARM, ASIC or whatever, and you'll rent computational time from Microsoft, Google or Amazon for comparatively peanuts, followed up by Tencent and Ali Baba, who with their oriental cunning will [attempt to] undercut them.

2. There's a formula for mitigating or minimizing potential damage by having a specific amount of armour and/or hull tonnage; at the moment, most of it escapes me, though recognizably at the higher end this starts at a hundred kay tonnes.
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby AnotherDilbert » Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:11 pm

Moppy wrote: Am I mis-reading the rule?
...
A 100 kton ship would need approximately a 500 point hit to criticial it.
That is correct, hence battleships are immune from crits, except by spinals, since no bay can do that much damage.
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby AnotherDilbert » Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:18 pm

Moppy wrote: In general, large ship fights in Mongoose 2 will end by critical hit long before they run out of hull points.
No? Crits can be repaired. You have to inflict enough crits to destroy something vital in a single round to mission-kill a ship. The next round most of the crits are probably repaired.

With the 1% rule there is no practical way to disable a ship with crits before you kill it with damage. Small well-armoured ships that can take crits from turrets are an exception.
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Re: Spaceship armor: rhyme and/or reason?

Postby Moppy » Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:00 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:18 pm
Moppy wrote: In general, large ship fights in Mongoose 2 will end by critical hit long before they run out of hull points.
No? Crits can be repaired. You have to inflict enough crits to destroy something vital in a single round to mission-kill a ship. The next round most of the crits are probably repaired.

With the 1% rule there is no practical way to disable a ship with crits before you kill it with damage. Small well-armoured ships that can take crits from turrets are an exception.
When I say large ships I mean high guard large e.g. Ghalalks and upwards; they're probably the minimum size for crurons since the small Element-class is weak. Those crits will be from spinals and you usually reach a "let's run away" point before the hull points go to zero.

edit: If you fight with fleets, stuff will naturally explode due to focused fire. But I was referring to smaller battles here.

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