Defensive Tactics and Doctrine

Terran Stellar Navy Forums (OOC) Division Development Defensive Tactics and Doctrine

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    Verok suggested that commentary go on the forums, so let’s get that ball rolling.

    The easiest way to keep a station from being attacked is to keep enemy fleets away from this. Delta-1 passes, taunting from Comms, or using ordinance to hit enemy fleets are all easy ways to gain tango from enemy fleets. If you apply this tactic to all enemy fleets inbound on a specific station, that station is nominally “safe”. If the station is currently being attacked, then applying these tactics can help though you should still stay in range to make sure that you actually acquire tango. If you don’t, you’ll need to circle back around and destroy the target. If you acquire tango successfully, make sure your exit vector from the area pulls the enemy fleet away from the station rather than over it because enemy fleets will still take opportunistic shots at the base while it is in range.

    In general once you have tango, the station is safe. Keep drawing the enemy fleets away from the station and they won’t fire on it directly. Keep flying away from the station and you won’t accidentally dump your swarm of drones on a defenseless station. If you can drag the enemy towards minefields, black holes, or aggressive biologicals like piranhas, then you can inflict damage on them without bringing the ship within engagement range. Likewise, if no friendly ship is within engagement range then enemy ships generally won’t launch additional drones.

    If you can keep enemy fleets away from bases, then as long as the situation doesn’t change you have as much time as needed to wear them down and destroy them whether you dart in and do short bursts of delta-2 or keep them at missile range and conduct an omega-1 continuous while recharging to keep your supply of torpedoes stocked.

    The above tactics also apply to fighters, though if a fighter wants to do this they should either have a science map up, know what their exit vector will be before they launch, or coordinate with someone to acquire the appropriate target and then leave along a helpful exit vector. With afterburners, you can outrun any ship so long as it is neither warp-capable nor a carrier. Fighters also allow a ship to acquire tango and flee in a direction, then their main ship can follow behind away from most beam arcs and destroy the enemy fleet from behind or allow a single cruiser to “control” multiple fleets by launching a fighter to bait a single enemy fleet before proceeding on to another.


    Beautifully put. From experience though it really does require the helmsman to be very aware of the overall tactical situation or receive appropriate guidance from the Science Officer or Captain.


    The problem was a lack of recognition that the incoming drones would destroy the station in this instance, iirc.


    The sim we did during the last shift was purposefully created with a few situations in mind to test how we did. There were no black holes or minefields to fall back on, and the stations couldn’t defend themselves. Also, I don’t think any ships had dedicated comms officers, which added a bit more strain on crews.

    One if the biggest things we ran into was that fleets were losing interest in us before we could circle around to to return to the first of the group we achieved tango with. We used the tactics described by Nhaima at the beginning, but it failed quickly because of the number of enemy ships and bases we tried to handle.

    I was ordering strafing runs with Viper frequently to keep the enemy fleets interested in us, but by the time we would get back to the first in the group (we initially had 4 enemy fleets), it was making a run for the base already. Not having much working space between the fleets and the base to begin with, they were able to overwhelm us fairly quickly.

    Ultimately, when I knew that there was not much of a chance to defend the outer bases, I chose a base that seemed to have the largest buffer zone around it, and withdrew the fleet to start pushing enemies back from those bases.

    I think Nhaima’s description of how to deal with one of those scenarios is quite accurate, but only in an ideal situation. When numbers, the environment of the sector, and time are all working against you, that’s when sacrifices have to be made. If I had it to do over again, I probably would have sacrificed some of those outer bases earlier on and concentrated on saving the bases more in the center of the map.


    From a command point of view, there are a couple of things that can make things particularly tricky.

    In the past, I have found that if I were to set a course that deliberately took us past and enemy fleet, it would end up ‘bending’ around to engage the enemies head on. The helms officer would have assumed it was an oversight on my part and the course must have been off by a few degrees. In actual fact, the aim would have been to take the ship past the fleet and attack from a specific direction, for example attacking from the opposite side of a base to draw enemies away, or bypassing other nearby enemies to attack a different target. I have had to abandon many plans due to such instances. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment with everything going on, it just isn’t possible to outline clearly or in detail exactly what is being planned by the captain.

    From a fleet perspective too, there are very few captains willing to sacrifice a base. There has been more than once that a ship has made a sudden move to defend a base, putting it out of position and causing me to plan around it, rather than come up with a more effective coordinated defense. Again, it might be because they assume I have made an oversight (which is a fair assumption to make), but most of the time I find that I am part way through formulating a strategy (even sending orders out) when ships have jumped into action without clear direction and forced me to re-think (or cancel the orders).

    It can be incredibly frustrating. I know the silence over comms can be difficult when it is clear that the enemy is closing and we need to engage, but I think we sometimes forget that others might be receivig orders. The one way around could be to broadcast orders to all at the same time (which on occasion I have done) but this can possibly interfere with bridge comms and so is not a preferred method.

    I do think the ideas you have Nhaima are good. When there are two many ships to handle, drawing them off and delaying them from attacking a base is key. What Verok added is equally relevant too. Consider what happens if too many bases are under attack. If two kr three ships are tied up defending multiple bases, whilst another is trying to combat incoming heavy fleets, it can be too overwhelming. Effectively, our force is spread too thin and the need to fall back to create fewer stronger positions may arise. A quick response to a fall back action is important in that instance.


    I completely agree that the methods that I outlined address the tactical scale only. It’s how a single ship can attempt to execute the task given to it by fleet command. How fleet command orchestrates and prosecutes a sector-wide defense is another matter entirely.

    : Let’s try a fleet-wide broadcast during a sim for ship orders and see if that gets too complicated during combat?

    : I don’t remember what the Viper was doing during the training sim but Phoenix wasn’t having trouble retaining tango on the bulk of the fleets approaching the stations they were guarding. This includes defending multiple stations against fleets coming from largely the same direction or a single station against fleets approaching from multiple vectors. How much time did you spend out of engagement range/5km? I know you can lose tango if the enemy fleet spends too long chasing you when you are too far away or if it’s only a comms soft tango.

    By the same token, I tried to outline multiple ways of getting tango because I’ve noticed that occasionally delta-1 passes don’t work. And if delta-1 passes don’t work, then a single homing missile won’t work. That’s usually when I load and launch an EMP (I favor EMPs rather than nukes because you usually carry more of them). I also don’t know how well mines actually work for this tactic. It is certainly possible that if you lay a mine, then the damage reads as coming from the mine rather than from your ship so you don’t get tango from the ships as they try to obtain retribution.

    And if you’ve tried all of this and nothing works then either someone else has tango most likely or they have scripted orders from the GM or are otherwise a little haywire with their AI and you just have to kill them.

    Of the two stations that survived the sim, Phoenix was originally assigned to defend both. The other two stations Phoenix participated in the defense of were destroyed but they were destroyed after Phoenix was given orders to disengage from her current activities and defend another station or support a different ship. The data derived from the sim suggests that what Phoenix was doing did in fact work and that Phoenix appropriately defended her stations absent outside orders.

    I don’t say this to brag or make this a “Phoenix vs. 4LD” feature. I say this because the entire point of what I outlined was that once you seize control then your time isn’t limited by how long it will take an enemy fleet to close on a defensive target. This doesn’t require an ideal circumstance, because it doesn’t need mine fields or black holes. It doesn’t even need asteroids to cut down the swarm of drones you’re going to be dragging. If you need to help cut down that swarm, then power impulse to increase the amount of time you can stay in full reverse without getting struck by drones and beams to help you shoot them down faster. When that time runs out, you kick into warp and pull away. You target support vessels and destroy them when you can so you thin out enemy fleets to something you can meaningfully approach and delta-2.

    I’d also say that gaining control of enemy fleets in the sim we ran as soon as possible was critical, rather than simply conceding some bases. That lets enemy fleets group up, making it hard to obtain tango from their constituent battlegroups and harder to focus down and destroy once you decide to and you’ve run out of ordinance. If we had a smaller number of ships, only two or maybe three then I’d completely agree. Concede what you have to and keep the other bases protected by an active defense as outline rather than a static picket. But we had nearly the full fleet, and we didn’t have any other time limiting or environmental factor in that sim pressuring us to destroy fleets and secure bases at a pace faster than we were inclined to so if we’d have cared we could have lured them into the corners of the sector if we’d wanted. That was the most ideal circumstance in the sim, that we didn’t have anything pushing us to go any faster. I read your comments as somewhat dismissive of my outline, either as theoretical, ideal, or luck-based, and since this is my default approach to defending a target in Artemis I’d put that it most certainly works, even outside of ideal circumstances though it is admittedly enhanced by environmental hazards.


    It was mentioned on Discord that my previous comment was more adversarial than intended. I wanted to discuss the results of the sim only as a somewhat fresh data point, without judgment, ranking, or any concept of “better than”, that we could use to describe the subject by way of something more tangible than theory. I also read your comment as somewhat accusatory or dismissive, hence why my previous post also was a touch defensive but my reading in no way meant it was intended. I believe it is also worth reiterating that my opinions come from my microcosm at helm where I am largely free to optimize a tactical response while not being responsible for cross-ship communication or overall strategy since those are handled by my CO and XO.

    I apologize for any upset I may have caused, and I’d be happy to reiterate that ‘in person’ on Saturday.

    And thank you Matsiyan for the sanity check/third party translation. It’s greatly appreciated.


    I will confess that I wasn’t in the best of moods when I read the posts, which no doubt added some perceived tone that wasn’t there. So, I also apologize for reacting stronger than I should have.

    I definitely think that as far as tactical doctrine is concerned, the outlined procedure is worthy of adding to our library.

    In addition to working out tactics for large-scale invasions, securing bases, etc., I was thinking that another interwoven tactic related to crew development would be to talk to officers (probably helm first) about the idea of honing skills related to reactionary tactics. I think we do a good job planning out our approach, but learning to deal with instinctual reactions, like how quickly do you retreat once your shields fail, how do you plan your escape vector, etc. would be a good thing to really work on. New officers especially would benefit from this.

    I started working with my helm officer some time ago to stop him from automatically taking evasive maneuvers once we started taking damage. Our manuals even reference the fact that helm officers are encouraged to “take initiative” when it comes to this sort of thing. But sometimes that can interfere with tactic implementation. I try to use the commands, “Prepare for evasive action.” as well as “Stay in there!”, especially when in close range combat. As my helm officer will probably agree, it’s tough to force yourself to do that, but since a captain would tend to know how far a ship can be pushed before things start to get really bad, it turns into developing a level of trust between the captain and especially the helm officer. To me, I think this is an interesting process to develop, especially when it comes to gaining a trust level as well as a good communications process between key positions. Thoughts on that one?


    I think when to pull out regarding shields depends on whether you plan on having an extended engagement or whether you are in a must hold/almost done situation. If you pull out before your shields drop then they start recovering immediately. Otherwise, you have to wait out the penalty time for them to start recharging again. If you’re willing to absorb the penalty though, then my rule of thumb is once weapons notices their beams start firing noticably slower. At that point, you’re less able to mount an effective counter and you should pull out. Nothing says you can’t continue to harass them with homings, but pulling out of beam range once the beams stop being useful is probably a good thing.

    As far as knowing when, it is something you should work on with your helm officer. I think that van Leigh and I have a decent rapport on this, but if you ever worry then you can always communicate and explain what you want. This also includes loading a mine to drop on your exfil route. I’m not sure I’d say trust unless you want to hand them and your XO the reigns to the ship while you worry about strategic level concerns, but certainly communication and instinct building so you both operate on the same page.

    Also perhaps give thought and encourage your helm to think about how do you fix things if he decides to pull out before you’re ready. How quickly can he get back into it, what exit vector gives him the greatest number of options to get in or pull out further, etc. There are still times that I pull out before van leigh is ready, and that can be fixed by asking Engineering for a kick in the maneuvering boosters and heading back in, or if there is a way to take advantage of the terrain or some other fashion.

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