Continuing my points from this post:Why Planetary Supply lines should be limited to 1 jump, in order to make a comprehensible interface
First of all, what information does the interface need to convey?
1) In what systems can an empire's ships be resupplied?
2) Where are those supply lines vulnerable to blockades?
3) By what routes play planets exchange resources?
4) Where are those routes vulnerable to blockades?
To meet these goals (with either the v.04 preliminary rules or my proposed "1 jump planetary supply range") we need to distinguish between starlanes which connect planets, and starlanes which connect systems where planets may be supplied. Consider this example:A
— e — B
"A" and "B" are planets which can move supplies up to 1 jump away. "e" is an empty system. Obviously either planet could supply a ship at "e", however these planets cannot exchange resources. It would be pointless to try to set up a blockade between "A" & "B" by occupying "e" because "e" is already unused.
Thus in any case we'll need to graphically distinguish:
A) supply lanes which connect planets, from
B) those which potentially can resupply ships, or connect to potential colonies.
Since "A" will always be a subset of "B", we'll actually be showing: "A" one way, and indicating all of "B" that's not part of "A"
, with a different appearance.
In my examples i'll use solid-colored lines for "A", and dotted lines for "B".
Again, all of this is simply background for the discussion which is equally true with or without my proposed change.
The following is an example of how the starlanes of a small empire would look at the supply distance grows per the current v.0.4. The numbers to the right of the planet name indicate how many jumps out the supply lines can go.
#1 A relatively small empire of 5 planets in early game. Note that "Parr" can't exchange resources, it's too far out. There are quite a few systems where an attacker could place a fleet and divide the empire. Only "Valamar" receives supplies from more than one route.
#2 "Parr is now connected. All planets have at least one alternate route for supplies. The only single system in which an occupation could divide the empire is at "Noxia" the capitol. Ships can be supplied over a larger area.
#3 The area covered by planetary supply lines is now noticeably bigger than the empire. Ships can be supplied significantly beyond the boundaries of this graphic.
#4 Now a blockade of "Noxia" would only separate "Noxia", the rest of the empire could still share resources.
#5 The only possible place for an indirect blockade is at (the star i forgot to name)
connecting to "Parr". Otherwise the idea of any sort of indirect blockade is silly... unless you want to divide your forces over a large area to attempt some sort of picket line— which would likely be less useful than simply blockading all 5 planets individually.
However even with this small empire it could take you quite a while to trace out all the lanes to figure that out. And this example is rather moderate... most of the planets can only send supplies 5 jumps, while the max distance will be at least 10, probably more. Nearing that point any empire would be surrounded by a large ball of planetary supply lanes, so that it's not obvious where in the middle of all that the core empire resides, or at what points if any it is susceptible to indirect blockade.
Thus i'm proposing that planets can share resources only at a distance of 1 jump, and that distribution outposts may be built to bridge any gaps. This would have the following advantages:
* Indirect blockades are a viable strategy in more situations.
* It's easier to see where indirect blockades may be possible, and what the shape of an empire is.
* The empire itself has a more definite shape.
* The player has control of the shape of his empire via placing hubs, rather than passively waiting for the supply range to grow.
Big quote for a relatively short post, but I think some context was needed...
What if the distance planets can send supplies to other planets is one jump for every 20 points on the planet's construction / infrastructure meter? This places a fairly low practical cap on the range for any planet (1 or 2 jumps until you can get construction above 60, which should be relatively late game). It gives players a way to increase the range: by increasing their planet's infrastructure, it nicely makes more developed planets have a longer range, which means far-flung planets won't be easy to keep connected, while keeping the core empire connected will be easier. It seems to nicely mesh with a tradeoff in strategy between making lots of underdeveloped colonies in every system - which need relatively less planetary supply range to keep connected - vs. making few heavily-developed planets / systems, which would need longer-range supply to keep connected. It also gives construction something else tangible to do besides making other meters grow and acting as a threshold to activate some effects (ones that require develped planets to function). It's conceptually reasonable as well, as a more developed / infrastructure rich planet would have more ability to ship large amounts of resources elsewhere.