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The combat system (CS) (more commonly known as the Battle System) is the system used in STNE to determine battle outcomes. Every battle consists of individual turns called battleticks (BTs) where the attacker initiates an action that is a trigger and the defender responds. Any ship can trigger an action that may cause a counter-attack from ships of another player depending on ship alerts and diplomacy. The CS is always active throughout the game, regardless of whether a truly offending action occurs. This means that should a player do an action that can start a BT, they should almost always expect a counter-attack no matter what. A BT is not just caused by the firing of weapons...
There are many more causes of BTs, including entering a sector, raising shields, arming weapons, and docking to a station. For more information, see Battletick.
The CS is almost fully automatic. It calculates the available weapons and defense values of the targets and then chooses the best weapons and fires at the targets. However, it is possible to change certain settings which can affect attack and defense. The number of weapons fired and the weapon strength for an attack can be set, and the settings for defense can also be set separately.
Main weapons used can be set in defense. The CS will normally choose the weapon with the highest strength. but it is possible to change settings and save expensive ammunition such as quantum torpedos when a BT is initiated.
This section provides a description of a battle from the point of view of the player (or NPC) attacking.
In a BT, the offensive weapons of the attacker are exploited before the attacked can respond and finish the BT. The attacker can only finish the BT if all defending ships have been destroyed or disabled.
Ships can only fire if all the following conditions are met: Weapons systems (Phaser, disruptors and/or torpedo tubes) are online, the ship has enough crew to arm and fire the weapons, the main computer is online, and there's enough energy to fire weapons, the ship has the correct resources to fire (e.g. torpedoes.) Also there is a limit to the number of slots belonging to the attacker which can fire, the limit is either 20 slots (provided the attackers fleet has 20 slots) or 1.2 times the defenders slots, whichever is higher.
Before an attack, you should be sure that all criteria have been met and that all attacking vessels are ready through enabling of the shields and weapon systems (powering these up does trigger a battletick, meaning the defender thus has the chance to counterattack should this be done mid-battle).
Ship vs. Ship
The CS allows the attacker to exhaust all weapons firing possibilities, using the most powerful ships in the attackers fleet, before allowing the attacked player to defend themselves. You can choose to either disable the attacking fleet or destroy it - the CS automatically plans the attack run. It selects the ships and weapons automatically and executes the most powerful attack possible. It is also possible to limit attacks to only use energy weapons, useful for attacking NPCs or debris fields where expensive ammunition should not be wasted.
Enemy ships that have shields raised can use those shields to absorb enemy fire, protecting the hull from damage. This proves especially useful since it can reduce the amount of energy and time spent repairing (10 energy is needed to repair 1 hull point, whereas 1 energy is needed to repair 1 shield point). However once shields reach 20% strength, damage bleeds through, causing the shields to only absorb partial fire from the attack and the rest of blast to damage the hull. As shields diminish, less damage is absorbed by shields while more damage is done to the hull. Bleedthrough is calculated as a percentage, and is calculated from 20%. Assuming, for the moment, your ship has 10% shields, 50% would go to hull damage and 50% to shield damage. For Example
Shields: 200/2000 Offensive weapons values: 260 Shield Damage / 210 hull damage Final Damage: 130 Shield damage (50% of the shield damage value) + 105 hull damage (50% of the hull damage value).
Ships can also have armour. If the hull of a ship is damaged in an attack, the attack damage can be reduced up to the maximum of that ship's armor rating down to a minimum of one, however at least 50% of a weapons strength bypasses armour, (for example, a ship that has 4 armor and is attacked with a photon torpedo with strength 10 can receive anywhere from 6 to 9 hull damage, while a ship with the same armor that is attacked by a ship with a phaser power of 4 can receive 2 or 3 hull damage).
Some ships have a certain chance to dodge enemy fire, determined by its evasion percentage. Such ships have powerful point-defense capabilities or high maneuverability, allowing them to destroy or dodge projectiles such as torpedos and disruptors, before they reach the ship. When facing high-dodge ships, phasers should be considered as an alternative since phasers can rarely be dodged. However, phasers are usually weaker than torpedoes or disruptors, which makes them only useful against lightly armored targets. The weapons 'Miss Chance' also affects how likely it is that the enemy ship will be hit.
The forumlas for calculating the total miss chance are as follows:
Positive Ship Evasion and Positive Weapon Miss Chance
Total Miss Chance = Ship Evasion + (1 - Ship Evasion) * Weapon Miss Chance
Positive Ship Evasion and Negative Weapon Miss Chance
Total Miss Chance = Ship Evasion + Ship Evasion * Weapon Miss Chance
Negative Ship Evasion and Positive Weapon Miss Chance
Total Miss Chance = Weapon Miss Chance + Weapon Miss Chance * Ship Evasion
Negative Ship Evasion and Negative Weapon Miss Chance
Total Miss Chance = 0
Ship vs. Planet
Buildings of planets can also be attacked. In contrast to ships that are attacked, the status of buildings cannot be viewed; the damage dealt must be calculated manually by the attacking player. Some buildings also have armor. When using phasers against targets of planets, note that the damage is reduced in addition to the density of the atmosphere (in addition to the building armor). Here, the damage is reduced fully. This means that a phaser with 10 strength attacking a planetary building which has 2 armor on a planet that has 8 atmospheric density will do no damage whatsoever Note that because of this torpedoes can do the most damage because they suffer no damage reduction due to the atmosphere. However, they still suffer damage reduction by the armor of the building.
In general, disruptors cannot be used against planetary targets, since gravimetric fields and atmospheres disrupt and disperse the plasma burst.
As noted before, a BT always consists of a trigger and usually a response by other ships. The response depends on diplomatic relations with the offending player, alert level and the actual trigger action itself (e.g. beaming, firing, etc.).
Ships that belong to the defender's alliance and players with whom they have a military alliance will automatically defend the attacked player if they are in the same sector. Additionally, if the player who is triggering the BT has peace treaties with all of the defending players in the area, no response will be triggered (except the raising of shields on beaming goods from those ships).
The defender's goal is always to destroy the attacking ship using all available weapons. However, the following criteria must be met for this to happen: the ship(s) in question has weapons that are online and armed; its main computer is online; if the ship(s) has shields, they must be active; the ship(s) has sufficient crew members; the ship has sufficient energy to fire. Should the shields be offline at the start of the defensive BT, they are activated but no weapons will be fired by the ship during that BT.
If it is not possible to activate the shields (for example: no shield charge or a tractor beam is directed at the ship(s) in question) but all other criteria are met, the target will still be fired upon.
Should there be both ships and orbital defense batteries capable of responding, the vessels will respond first and then planetary defense weapons.
In defending ships will always direct fire at the weakest opponent and destroy/disable them first, then take out the next weakest ship, etc. Ships will automatically use the most powerful weapon at their disposal unless changed in the Preferences.
Return Fire Slots
Not all ships necessarily return fire the amount of slots which will return fire is either 20 or the result of the following equation, whichever is larger.
Return Fire Slots = Attacking Slots * 0.85|1.15 * 1|3-(Attacking Ships/2)
So, this means that the return fire slots is determined by 3 factors
- The amount of slots attacking
- Whether the ship is entering the sector (0.85 for entry, 1.15 for anything else)
- The number of ships attacking
So for example if an Iowa was to enter a sector with a large number of enemy ships
Return Fire Slots = 25 * 0.85 (Due to it being entry) * 2.5 (Because 3-(1/2) is 2.5, since this is greater than 1 it is the number which is used)
Return Fire Slots = 53.125
However if an Iowa escorted by 3 Ju'days was to enter a sector with a large number of enemy ships:
Return Fire Slots = 26.5 * 0.85 * 1 Return Fire Slots = 22.525
As you can see, the best number of ships to attack with is >=4
Orbital facilities (such as phaser cannons, phaser batteries, etc.) can return fire and attack a foreign vessel in orbit. Should it be available, deuterium from Emergency Fusion Chambers (both in the batteries and in fusion reactors) will be used as a substitute, 1:1 for energy, to attack offending ships. Torpedo batteries in particular will use up the strongest available torpedo out of Photon, Plasma, and Quantum torpedos in planetary storage to attack foreign ships. Each planetary battery (or shot from a phase cannon) is considered by the battle system to be 0.25 slots. Since a minimum of 20 slots can always return fire, on a colony where the defence consists solely of batteries all batteries would fire. The only situation where this would not be the case is if ships which have more efficient slot cost per attack, such as the EMP mine, or WMD are also present in orbit of the planet.
This section describes other intricacies of the CS.
When there is a state of war between triggering and defending players, a response to the BT will always occur. For a fight to be prevented, weapons systems have to be deactivated or green alert has to be set by the defending player
Should at least an NAP exist between two parties, countermeasures will only be taken when the trigger is a serious offense (for example: theft by beam). In that case, however, the offended ships will not respond with weapons fire but by raising shields only.
Should there be no diplomatic relations, the BT response depends on primarily the alert level of the defender.
To determine the status of diplomacy between two parties, you can use the Relationship search under Communication -> Diplomacy and enter the IDs of two players.
Vessels and planets have an alert status. In general, if all ships are on yellow alert, but planetary defenses are on red alert, all ships will act as if they were on red alert.
Possible Alert Statuses:
- Without diplomacy, ships will raise shields and return fire no matter what the trigger is, even if it is as simple as entering a sector or undocking.
- No action will be taken unless the trigger is a criminal action (beam, theft, fire).
- No actions taken, unless there is a war between both parties.
Note that the defending ships and planets include other players beside the player offended, including allied ships (alliance members or players with Military Alliance).
A ship that has multiple weapons (e.g. a ship that has disruptors 2x22) can use them all in one single BT. Ships that have multiple types of weapons (torpedo tubes, phasers, disruptors) may be able to use each weapon depending on its Attack value (found in the Ship Specifications). Ships will always use as many weapons as possible unless it has Defense values specified in its Preferences.
Attacking with a fleet can prove to be a difficult task to manage. Selecting number of weapons and type of weapons to use on a target for each individual ship is difficult when working with large numbers, so it is possible to use Plan Attack so that the CS can manage the logistics of the battle. This can be accessed at the bottom of the main Ships screen from Fleet Overview and selecting Plan Attack from the appropriate fleet, or by selecting Plan Attack next to the LRS screen on the screen of any ship commanding the fleet and issuing fleet orders. Here, planetary targets can selected. Ships can also be targeted and disabled through this menu. Once all targets are selected, pressing Fire will cause a BT to be run with the CS selecting the most powerful weapon to be used against the enemy target (unless specified in Preferences). Targets that are destroyed or disabled as set before the BT was run are removed from the selected ships, while targets that are still defense-capable will remain selected after the BT, allowing you to use Fire as many times as needed without having to reselect ships.