We Really Need A Combat Update

stellaris 5 - We Really Need A Combat Update

So we got our economy update, a diplo update is on it's ways but combat has more or less been neglected since launch. It comes down to stacking fleets then charging yours into theirs. Ground combat is just bombing until defenses disapear then dropping whatever assault fleet you could be bothered to build (generally built after war was declared). This game is on such an epic scale but combat… not so much.

I'd love to hear your ideas, I've looked at some of the other suggestions and I absolutely loved all the ideas people came up with. The current system is functional but I believe it just isn't fun or interesting, here are some points of contention I have and some suggestions that I believe would fix them. This isn't going to be as organized a post as my others, just me throwing some ideas at the wall.

Space Combat

Right now space combat comes down to building a big fleet of the best ships then smashing them together. From all my experience and time reading fleet composition matters very little but I find myself still making in depth fleets regardless, the fleet designing aspect of space combat is honestly my favourite part. It also feels kind of mindless, even in the planning stage.

I think something that could drastically improve combat is balancing combat more around the different ship types so that they become exceptionally good at their purpose. Imagine being able to design your own combat doctrine "I'll have a fleet of fast moving ships to wear down enemy fleets before my main fleet of heavy ships attack (supported by my artillery-class ships and a number of carriers)." You could add tonnes of extra unit types, for example submarine-esque long range rocket platforms (that could attack from the next sector over to help reduce stalemates), fighter swarms which will draw fire from ship cannons but are extremely fragile, transport ships can now attempt to board an enemy ship/station sacrificing armies to potentially damage or debuff the target.

I'd also like to see fleet power more heavily linked to populations, we have the improved system so why not tie the mechanics together? It could carry consequences like killing POPs if too many naval units die making combat more meaningful in the long term. I feel this would be intuitive and help balance expansion, population, and warfare.


Ground Combat

In it's current stage ground combat consists of a planet, it's buildings/devastation, and the units occupying it. Your fleet bombards the planets from space in one of a few stances and can damage units/buildings until you feel happy landing your armies. Armies consist of a few units but honestly you just go with the best one (there will be distinctly "best units") and land them on the surface and wait for the enemy or your armies to die. Armies have morale and health (and the corresponding damage values) This has some good ideas but none of it feels too involved or interesting, I never find myself looking forward to this part of the game. This aspect of the game has the most demand from the community to fix.

Defense armies are decided by jobs so again, why not tie offensive armies to jobs? Preparing for a war would involve militarizing your society by moving pops to military jobs instead of just building armies. Employed pops spawn armies of that race. I'd also like to see more complicated combat than we currently have, maybe something inspired by HOI, more unit types with different roles such as hard units, anti-air, artillery, etc.

Why just have a planet surface to fight on? I'd like to see 3 or 4 "layers". Have an orbital layer (where your orbiting ships appear, massive damage debuff in this layer), 1 or 2 atmosphere layers (where air combat takes place), and have the ground layer. Ground units would have to move from the orbital layer to the surface layer to be able to fight, the method and effectiveness depends on techs. Certain classes of ships/parts will spawn units capable of entering the atmospheric level.

The planet itself doesn't feel like it's that important either. You could have the planet decide just how big the frontline is, the frontline could even be divided into "theatres" where only units in the same theatre can interact with eachother (but can move between). All theatres must be taken before a planet is occupied. Imagine trying to take a planet and watching your units fighting together on multiple battlefields, it would feel like all out warfare. The player would probably have the ability to assign units to theatres manually as well just to reduce frustration if the AI does something dumb.

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