For those not in the loop, Man the Guns was a Hoi4 DLC/update that added a lot more depth to the fleet combat. It divided ships into 4 distinct classes (light screens, heavy capital ships, aircraft carriers, and submarines) which each acted differently and had a specific role during combat.
Additionally, the update changed the ways that fleets behave. Instead of being treated like an army that happens to move on water – the fleets would have to be assigned areas of operation, where they would automatically carry out their missions. These consisted of raiding or protecting convoys, patrolling the area for enemy fleets, laying or sweeping mines, supporting naval invasions, or attacking discovered enemy fleets.
Each fleet would be led by an admiral – who could have up to 10 different task forces each with a different objective that supported each other (for example 4 patrol groups and 1 strike force once the enemy is found).
The ship designer received a lot more functions and each ship could be optimized to better fulfil a specific role. The player had a lot of freedom here. Do I focus my heavy cruisers on combating enemy battleships or light screens? Do I bring dedicated anti-air ships into this fleet or have each one come with its own AA gun? Should my anti-sub ships carry guns for combating surface enemies, or do I trust my main strike fleet to take care of them? These decisions had an effect on cost, rare resources required for production and the construction time.
Each task force should have a different composition depending on its mission, but at the end of the day every class of ships had some use and its own specific role.
I think this system would feel right at home in Stellaris and could add some more depth to the battle system and ship designer. It would make each different ship class have its own purpose in combat and around your empire. And frankly I think it would be more fun to think about designing all of the different classes in the ship designer.
As it stands, Stellaris navies generally follow the old "army in space" principle. During peace time, they are placed in various areas around your empire and sit there, waiting for the next war. During war, they move from "province" to "province" occupying them, and sometimes engage in doomstack battles.
Theres nothing inherently bad with this system, but I think it could be made more interesting.
Stellaris did try to take some steps in the right direction by adding trade route piracy. You now need to divert some of your frigates towards patrolling your empire. The ship designer also already allows you to pick computer systems for your ships that affect how they act in combat (swarm, picket etc.). I think these systems should be made more detailed.
Right now, choosing your fleet composition is pretty much only an RP choice. There is no need to have various ship designs in a fleet. It would be more interesting if you needed a varied combat fleet, perhaps some border patrol fleets within your own empire, and could send out scouting or invasion fleets into enemy territory or something.
There might be some issues with balancing, but Im sure Paradox can work them out eventually. As for making such a naval update feasible, the devs could make the general changes a free update, and have a DLC that adds a new ship type (maybe some submarine inspired cloaking ship? – though it might not be fun to fight against).
TLDR: The current navies in Stellaris feel pretty much like eu4 armies in space. The system could take some inspiration from MtG, to make naval combat and the ship designer more in-depth, detailed and interesting. What do y'all think?
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