I've been thinking about the directed energy weapons in Sins of a Solar Empire: how do they function, how do they relate to one another, and what do they signify in terms of the technological development of the three factions?
I'm aware of the pitfalls in thinking too much about this issue. Allow me to forestall a few arguments with the following disclaimer:
Nevertheless, I'm willing to speculate. The following constitute my analysis of the Sins of a Solar Empire energy weapon hierarchy.
In the Sins universe, the three factions appear to be roughly balanced:
Surprisingly, that only took me approximately an hour and a half to write. It was worth every minute.
I love this post.
I am unworthy!
This is actually more thought out than most that try to make more sense out of the limited game lore, but I have an issue with this. I don't think its fair to compare weapon strength either visually or with the in game DPS numbers. For balance reasons there is no way the beam weapons on a carrier could be equal to that of a battleship, and this could be explained in universe by the battleships obviously having far superior conventional power systems than other capitals. No matter how effective a particular weapon is, if you have more energy to put into firing them its going to be superior. Your other comparisons are a bit more valid because you compared TEC LF to Advent LF, but you could argue that these are dangerous numbers as well.
I might offer a different explanation for Advent beam weapons. While I agree they are probably plasma, the unusual uniformity of the beam (compared to the actual plasma weapons of the desdra or the vasari pulse weapons) seems to suggest this is supercold plasma, which could explain their lack of an ionic cloud around them (the other weapons show a little of this even though they must have a containment field, but super cold plasma would presumably be easier to contain).
And on the TEC versus Vasari armor thing, I don't think its wrong to say the TEC have better armor in absolute terms. What the Vasari do better is make better armor for the weight. After all they've been fleeing from across the galaxy for centuries, they need a more mobile force that can be constructed with nanobots, so extremely heavy armor is not an option for them. The TEC are fighting a defensive war of attrition, with many converted merchant ships with large displacements but less efficient power generation. Their Armor might be a bit inferior per unit, but all of their ships use more of it, giving them the absolute armor advantage even with taking into account that they build more of them.
This may surprise you, but I agree... mostly. It's a game -- balance trumps realism.
That said, capital ships may differ by class, but there's no reason to assume that any given capital ship has a more powerful reactor than another's unless explicitly noted. For example, if you compare the Skirantra Carrier and the Kortul Devastator, these are the numbers you get:
If you ignore the pulse beams, the Skirantra actually comes out AHEAD in terms of cumulative DPS. So here we have a carrier which does more DPS than a battleship in its forward arc.
Naturally, the devs omitted certain weapons systems on the Skirantra because it's a CARRIER -- its power is intended to be in its strike craft.
That said: all but two of the pulse beams on the Devastator are flank mounted, essentially reducing its frontal DPS from these weapons by 2/3s. So even with these weapons, the Devastator does only 7 more DPS than a Skirantra on a consistent basis. You could even argue that the Skirantra has the advantage here, because more of its DPS is concentrated in phase missiles, which can ignore shield mitigation.
I chose the Halcyon for a comparison for three reasons:
That said, there is an obvious error: the Halcyon's 20 beam DPS is calculated for TWO weapons -- the Kortul's 30 pulse beam DPS is calculated for THREE weapons. Meaning that plasma beams and pulsed plasma weapons are essentially equal, the primary advantage being that pulsed beams deal their full damage instantaneously, whereas beams must concentrate on their target for a while.
Rather than cold plasma, I would argue that the Advent are using psitech to augment the plasma beam's containment field.
What I was trying to say is that the TEC are basically using an extremely advanced form of the materials sciences we use today to make highly resilient alloys and polymers. TEC armor is probably composed of several functional layers, including ablative layers, gas pockets to disperse shocks, meshes to absorb impacts, and crystalline structures to absorb, disperse, or reflect beam weapons. They have reached the point where their armor is about is good as it can get using the techniques they use.
By comparison, the Vasari use a completely DIFFERENT synthesis method: nano-engineering. Being able to basically create "perfect" substances on a molecular level probably results in a vastly different research and development process, since you're basically identifying the most efficient nano-scale structures you can and the growing it en masse around a skeleton. The result is a much more homogenous armor type -- lighter, stronger, and more universally effective than TEC composites, but requiring extensive infrastructure geared towards nano-engineering. By comparison, composite armor is a hodgepodge of different materials and manufacturing techniques, each with different strengths and weakensses. That said, there may be circumstances in which TEC armor actually EXCEEDS the performance of Vasari armor, but overall, I would assume that Vasari armor offers better protection for less weight.
To replicate this achievement, the TEC would basically have to reboot their industrial base and start down an entirely new tech path (nano-engineering), and it would almost certainly take them a while to catch up to the Vasari, who have been doing nano-engineering for a long, LONG time, and perfecting it under fire as they dealt with rebel "valued citizens." Early TEC nano-engineering efforts would probably yield spectacularly inefficient results until they arrived at optimal results. Unfortunately, neither they nor the Vasari have that kind of time. It remains to be seen whether or not Vasari rebels will buy TEC support by selling them nanoengineering techniques to use against the Advent (not without deliberate flaws, of course -- it would never due to have these non-people cruising the stars with Vasari-equivalent hulls, particularly with their industrial base and stubborn refusal to SUBMIT).
Well it depends a bit on how you assume the ships power system works, which we really know little about. What we do know is that each ship has at least two, one for conventional power used by shields and weapons (perhaps engines as well), and one for antimatter used to power special abilities. The support capitalships and cruisers obviously have better antimatter generators than the others but less powerful conventional generators, which is why they aren't as good in regular combat. Carriers likewise probably have smaller conventional power generators so they can fit all the strikecraft facilities in roughly the same hull size, same for the Marza and Devastator for extra bombardment weapons. That would leave battleships having better or at least bigger reactors to power shields and energy weapons from.
Why not both?
I understand this, I'm just saying I think its more accurate to say the TEC uses more armor on each ship to give them an advantage, which would justify why their ships have more armor on an individual basis and why they can improve it even further with research more than the Vasari can. Its the difference between a Kevlar vest and a full suit of iron armor, per weight the Kevlar is better, but the iron suite of armor will win in a one on one boxing fight.
Isn't DPS wise though the Advents Plasma weapons are stronger than the Vasari's? What we know the Advent can do is develop a contained form of Plasma which is used in most of their weapons. They can also deploy use of their Plasma weapons more rapidly than the Vasari.
Rebellion is out and you linked me to this thread so you should have known I'd necro it.
Armor Restoration clearly closes the book as far as which race has the best armor and confirms that Vasari armor had previously been such due to the fact that they've been on the run and didn't have the resources to build their ships as well as they'd have liked.
Also, explain Phase Cannons and the Kostura. Go.
The Kostura Cannon is easy -- it uses a phase space field to accelerate the warhead to very near the speed of light, whereupon it is lobbed at relativistic speeds towards its target. The warhead itself is a two-stage projectile:
That said, in order to explain the phase cannon, I need to know what it does, and for that I'll need to be able to look at the data files for either the Vorastra Titan or the phase cannon weapon system -- and I have no idea how to do that.
I assume, since it's called a phase cannon, that it has a chance (maybe even a 100% chance) of ignoring shields and directly impacting the hull. If that assumption is correct (and there are no guarantees here), then we must assume that the weapon itself uses phase space in some way to bypass shields.
From my chair, this leaves but three possibilities:
I can't say any more until I have the data files. Sorry!
Well, even if you did have the data files they wouldn't be much help. PC's got yanked out in 1.03 and replaced (hopefully temporarily) with PM's. I'm hoping that in 1.04 they'll get put back in with some sort of unique mechanic (such as always damaging hull for instance).
Nice job btw Frosty.
What about Particle Beams? I figured that's what the Vasari used.
This is incredibly impressive. And it's nice to see something besides a troll post or a "I can't beat X, so take it out of the game please."
Also, you didn't touch on Disintegrators.
Actually, I did. Last night, when I was writing about the phase cannon. Look for yourself.
Didn't realize you updated the OP lol.
Back in the day of Traveller, we spent lots of time detailing and creating our own weapons as well as getting them from GDW's releases.
My favorite GDW weapon was the Meson Cannon. It fired a beam of near massless particles with a half-life of seconds and when they decayed they became more solid--so essentially they passed through armor and detonated inside your ship doing awesome damage. The trade off was slow refire and a long time to lock and charge.
Custom weapons I made were the impact fusion and impact fission guns. The impact fission gun was a rail gun that fired radioactive isotopes that underwent micro-fission on impact with a dense object.
The impact fusion gun was a particle accelerator that fired a plasma pulse that underwent fusion on impact with the target.
A half-life accelerator field was used to exponentially accelerate the decay process to prematurely detonate or melt down incoming weapons that relied on particle decay or radioactive processes to function. So it would render nukes less likely to work, cause meson cannon shots to bounce off, etc.
Nice explanations here...makes me darn nostalgic.
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