Rules Question: NPR R&D Spending (Y7.02.3)

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Rules Question: NPR R&D Spending (Y7.02.3)

Postby Graystonw on Tue 14 Jan 2020 10:28

First, let me apologize if this has been asked and answered. My search didn't turn up anything, so if I missed it, I'll be happy to read the original discussion if anyone could point me to it.

Way back in 2004 I purchased Ultra Starfire because I was looking for a robust 4X game. It was exactly the sort of thing that I hoped to find! Unfortunately, Real Life(tm) kept me from ever truly getting up and running with it. Now that I have a job with a LOT of down time, I decided to update to Solar and have another go. Naturally, the extra time has spawned extra questions, including this one from my first real NPR setup.

Y7.02.3 discusses spending, but still leaves me with a few questions.

“EL research is critical to every race and ‘RP rate’ RPs will be purchased every month except in extraordinary circumstances.”


This is pretty clear. No issues here.

Later in section...

“Each (RDS) and (SA) will be engaged in work each month unless all SLs of open trees/branches are equal to or greater than EL, in which case some of the money can be diverted to other investments in the economy.”


This is where the questions really arise, probably best utilizing an example.

I rolled up an NPR and ended up with the following R&D setup:

EL 1
SL 1 - Electronics, Tactical Engines, Life Support, Plasma Torpedo, Science Instruments, Shields, Small Craft
SL 2 - Tractors
SL 3 - Sensors, Energy Beam

Electronics, Tactical Engine, and Energy Beam all began with RPs. All tech items up to SL were completed except Tb.

With a Large starting population, the race has 3x(SA) and 6x(RDS) to start.

So my question is, what does the NPR research? EL is given. But what about all of the SL that are at or above their EL? Does the fact that some of the SL already have RP affect that? What about the Tb that is available to be researched, but is at an SL above EL? I would assume that NPRs will max out investment in a breakthrough, but I don’t see that written anywhere. Finally, how much is “some of the [R&D] money” that “can be diverted,” and do those diverted funds go to the generic pool that is then divvied up per fund percentages, or does it go to a specific “investment in the economy,” such as IU / FT / colonization?

My take, but not necessarily what I think is the best option:

EL research at max RP
SA1 - breakthrough research
RDS1 - Electronics SL
RDS2 - Tactical Engine SL
RDS3 - Energy Beam SL
SA2, SA3, RDS4-6 - idle

These would continue with no additional research started until the race reaches EL 2 at which point it will start to research the SL 2 projects, but won’t touch Tractors, Sensors, or Energy Beams until it reaches EL 3, 4, or 5 respectively. Any monies not specifically used for research are available to the general fund and subject to fund percentage usage.

Naturally, there is always the “do what is in the best interest of the NPR” concept to fall back on, but I’d love to see some guidance for “newbies” like me.

Thanks!

-Gray
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Re: Rules Question: NPR R&D Spending (Y7.02.3)

Postby Cralis on Tue 14 Jan 2020 13:58

If you haven’t seen it yet in the forums, I recommend you start with Lomn’s Earthling Ernie tutorial at http://starfire.rochelle.name/tutorials

It is for starting a player race, but the concepts are the same and he does an excellent job explaining them. I am at work right now (so no rules), but I’ll come back and comment with specifics later.
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Re: Rules Question: NPR R&D Spending (Y7.02.3)

Postby Xveers on Wed 15 Jan 2020 02:55

Graystonw wrote:Naturally, there is always the “do what is in the best interest of the NPR” concept to fall back on, but I’d love to see some guidance for “newbies” like me.


My take on the "What does the NPR research?" question has more or less fallen along the same line of reasoning as you for the most part. Early on, an NPR will have too many needs and not quite enough cash, and especially at lower SLs you might not have enough science projects worth doing to fill up all your research labs. Don't worry, that problem will fix itself up soon enough! :)

First thing's first, NPRs will almost never cut back on EL research, unless their backs are against the wall and it's do or die time.

That all being said, there's a few things that, given the choice, make good general sense for an NPR to be researching. Often times it's worth pushing an SL or two ahead once you have the extra MC, especially if there is a knot or a new tech item. Getting SL's up against a knot is good because that means your NPR can get more checks against a knot (and pushing SL's above your EL isn't that expensive, comparatively speaking). Other priorities would be at least Xb (to start finding concealed warp points), Yc capital sensors, D point defense, and basic Drone technologies (for bouys and basic courier drones).

One other good place to look for inspiration on what the NPR would research is their ship design priorities. Do they favor armor over shields? LRW or SRW? and so on.

At the beginning, especially on low SL/EL, your NPR is going to be doing a lot of the other basic techs like every other empire, with the exception of their weapon choices. Give it a bit of time, you'll find that odd little quirks and concepts will slowly come into being for them!
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Re: Rules Question: NPR R&D Spending (Y7.02.3)

Postby krenshala on Fri 17 Jan 2020 16:09

One thing nobody else has mentioned yet, is that the limitation on what stuff is "available to be researched" that you list is just to find out what the NPR was already working on (or has completed). Once you determine that list of Trees/Branches and Tech Items, then you fall back on the normal limitations on what can be researched, and for how much.

If you haven't already, go back over Section N and you should be able to pick out most of the answers there. To help ...

  • See N4 for the limits on what the SA/RDS facilities can do (at once). e.g., You need an SA to do the EL project, but the project doesn't use any SA space, so if you have a single SA you could work on two science level projects and the EL project at the same time (assuming you had enough cash).
  • See N5 for project startup and operations.
  • N5.02 The Rule of 3 is one I believe you overlooked (or forgot) when you read through N initially. Until you actually start trying to do research projects in the game, its an easy one to overlook. :)
  • See N6 for project costs. Remember that if you change EL, your research project costs and RP targets need to be updated. It is entirely possible to need more RP before you can get a roll than you can purchase in a single turn, then get to roll the following turn because you gained an Economic Level.
  • See N7 for the project target RP totals.
  • N9 is all about ways (and costs) to speed up your projects, either by throwing more money at it, or getting (through various means) additional "help/information" on it.
  • N11 is how to use your breakthroughs.
  • N12 is LEL NPR setup stuff, though the "current" version has a few quirks that will most likely prompt more questions. Feel free to exercise your SpaceMaster Muscles and house rule a few things there to fit what you think makes the most sense, as that section is mainly to determine what they start with/can research, with the previous rules covering what they do after they become an active race.

If you have other questions on this, or if we missed something, definitely ask though. :)
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Re: Rules Question: NPR R&D Spending (Y7.02.3)

Postby Graystonw on Sat 18 Jan 2020 10:31

Thank you to Cralis, Xveers, and krenshala for your replies!

If you haven’t seen it yet in the forums, I recommend you start with Lomn’s Earthling Ernie tutorial at http://starfire.rochelle.name/tutorials


This was a great tutorial, and while I was familiar with most of the concepts, it was very illuminating regarding a couple of changes from Ultra to Solar such as H no longer being necessary on large craft and the requirement of small craft to complete Habitable Worlds Survey. Those were both things I had missed in my initial skim.

That all being said, there's a few things that, given the choice, make good general sense for an NPR to be researching. Often times it's worth pushing an SL or two ahead once you have the extra MC, especially if there is a knot or a new tech item. Getting SL's up against a knot is good because that means your NPR can get more checks against a knot (and pushing SL's above your EL isn't that expensive, comparatively speaking). Other priorities would be at least Xb (to start finding concealed warp points), Yc capital sensors, D point defense, and basic Drone technologies (for bouys and basic courier drones).

One other good place to look for inspiration on what the NPR would research is their ship design priorities. Do they favor armor over shields? LRW or SRW? and so on.


This was all right in line with my initial thoughts on "Do what's best for the NPR." Glad to see I was on the right track!

Once you determine that list of Trees/Branches and Tech Items, then you fall back on the normal limitations on what can be researched, and for how much.


I think this is where we might be missing each other.

To try to simplify my original question:

If a race has all available SL = EL, will they begin research on an SL = EL+1?

-G
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Re: Rules Question: NPR R&D Spending (Y7.02.3)

Postby krenshala on Sat 18 Jan 2020 21:01

Ah, let me step back a bit then. :D

Y6 is to determine what technology an NPR has available to be researched, and what the state of those treesare at the time of activation (Y6.02, Y6.03, and Y6.04 for the SL of the various trees). If an open tree has branches, the race could have those branch(es) unlocked as well (Y6.05). e.g., Laser Beams have Capital and Precision Lasers (among others) that could be open if the SL of the Laser tree is high enough SL. Once you've figured all that out, Y6.06 lets you determine if the new empire is already doing research on stuff. Whether those projects continue is up to you when wearing the hat of their Great Leader (usually they can afford that, even if it stretches the budge, and its usually worth it -- at least short term -- even then). :)

Once all of that stuff in Y6 is sorted, you use Section N as I mentioned above to determine what they can research, at what cost, and what will have to wait. If a tree isis 3 SL above their EL, they can't research it further until they gain a new EL (or certain specific conditions allowing project acceleration happen, which are hard to "arrange"). If the SL is less than 3 above their EL they can, and usually (eventually) will research it at some point.

The specific order in which a race researches stuff will depend on a number of things, however. Cash available to the empire, the cost of particular projects, what situation the empire is facing at the moment, etc. For example, if they have run out of WP to explore, it would be worth while to push Science Instruments as high as possible to try and unlock a higher generation X system to try and location harder to spot warp points. Or, if the budget is tight, don't open a project above your EL and instead stick to stuff at or below your EL to minimize cost. Or if you are fighting another empire and need to focus on a specific weapon system to try and exploit a trait of theirs (e.g., if they are shield only, you don't want Force or Energy beams when fighting them, as Lasers bypass shields, while armor only races are weak to Energy beams because they bypass armor, that kind of thing). There are, unfortunately, far too many variables in this part to give a more definitive answer. :roll:

Did that help?
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Re: Rules Question: NPR R&D Spending (Y7.02.3)

Postby Kumakunshu on Sun 19 Jan 2020 22:18

Graystonw wrote:Thank you to Cralis, Xveers, and krenshala for your replies!

This was a great tutorial, and while I was familiar with most of the concepts, it was very illuminating regarding a couple of changes from Ultra to Solar such as H no longer being necessary on large craft and the requirement of small craft to complete Habitable Worlds Survey. Those were both things I had missed in my initial skim.


OK, stop right there. A little something needs to be clarified hear.

Small Craft are NOT required in the performance of any System Body Surveys. They can certainly be used for that purpose (and useful little tools to that purpose they are) but they are not necessary. The only requirement is that a surveying vessel be able to land on the body being surveyed and (if the surveying vessel is a large craft) it must be equipped with at least an Xp.
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Re: Rules Question: NPR R&D Spending (Y7.02.3)

Postby Graystonw on Mon 20 Jan 2020 08:03

Kumakunshu wrote:OK, stop right there. A little something needs to be clarified hear.

Small Craft are NOT required in the performance of any System Body Surveys. They can certainly be used for that purpose (and useful little tools to that purpose they are) but they are not necessary. The only requirement is that a surveying vessel be able to land on the body being surveyed and (if the surveying vessel is a large craft) it must be equipped with at least an Xp.


Perhaps I misunderstood then.

From R3.02.1
If no small craft are present, the max survey points that can be collected for each habitable survey is 50% of the max.


I read that to mean that, for example, a race could only collect 25/50 SP until it had small craft participating.

-G
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Re: Rules Question: NPR R&D Spending (Y7.02.3)

Postby Cralis on Mon 20 Jan 2020 15:09

Graystonw wrote:From R3.02.1
If no small craft are present, the max survey points that can be collected for each habitable survey is 50% of the max.


Greetings! I apologize it took me so long to get back to you, but I saw that you were engaged with other players :)

Actually, that part of the rules is difficult to understand and we have rewritten it for the next release. But the sentence you need is actually just prior to the sentence you quoted:

To conduct a habitable world survey a large unit must have at least one X system and one small craft (a gig will work), or be atmospheric capable (AC).

The sentence you quoted should have said "If no small craft or (AC) capable craft are present" or just "If not (AC) capable craft are present" (since shuttles, gigs, and other non-squadron small craft are automatically (AC) capable).

The intent is that if you cannot land to take samples of the habitable biome, and can only take pictures and readings from orbit, you will be limited in what you can learn about the world.

I hope that clears it up. It's being rewritten for the release we are working on now, so it won't be so confusing in the future.
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Re: Rules Question: NPR R&D Spending (Y7.02.3)

Postby Graystonw on Tue 21 Jan 2020 08:44

Cralis wrote:The sentence you quoted should have said "If no small craft or (AC) capable craft are present" or just "If not (AC) capable craft are present" (since shuttles, gigs, and other non-squadron small craft are automatically (AC) capable).

The intent is that if you cannot land to take samples of the habitable biome, and can only take pictures and readings from orbit, you will be limited in what you can learn about the world.

I hope that clears it up. It's being rewritten for the release we are working on now, so it won't be so confusing in the future.


That definitely clears it up, thank you!

-G
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