June 12, 2020

Aurora Tutorial Part 11

So far in my discussion of combat in Aurora, there's one major aspect I've overlooked: the command system. The game generates officers, and you can make use of them to greatly enhance the efficiency of your fleet.1 Each officer has a set of characteristics, bonuses they can give to whatever is under their command. These range from almost universally useful things like crew training (makes the crew better in the long term) and reaction (makes the ship respond faster if surprised) to very niche skills like diplomacy. In practice, you don't have to worry too much about these. If you check automated assignments in the upper right of the commanders window, it will staff your fleet with what it believes is the optimal distribution for your ships. It does a good enough job to not be worth any headaches around micromanagement.

Obviously, your navy will have ranks. All officers entering from the military academy will start at the lowest rank,2 and will be promoted based on a combination of their skills and time in grade. Officers with good bonuses rise quickly, while those who are only good at one obscure thing generally don't. Before version 2.0, the game was set up to make the population of each rank one-third of the population of the one below it, but the current model only promotes when there is a specific vacancy that needs to be filled. When a vacancy opens up, due to retirement3 or a promotion in the rank above, the highest-point officer available with a relevant bonus is promoted. Each position has a specific rank, and at least for shipboard commands, only officers of the specified rank are eligible. If someone is promoted while in one of these positions, they are immediately relieved.

It's fairly obvious that each ship will have one slot for a commander,4 and additional systems can be found under Command and Control which allow other officers to be assigned to aid him. Note that these may not be researched in a default tech game, so you'll need to research/instant them (under Sensors and Fire Control) if you want to use them. Auxiliary Control allows an executive officer, who aids crew training. Science Department allows a science officer who makes surveys go faster. These two will ensure that the ship's captain is at least minimum rank+1, while their officers will be one rank below the captain. The other two regular command sections, Main Engineering (reduces the breakdown rate) and CIC (seems to help accuracy) move the ship's commander to minimum + 2 and have officers of two ranks lower. The Flag Bridge is sort of unique. It allows an officer a rank higher than the commander to be appointed, and the highest-ranking one in the fleet adds his reaction bonus to every ship in the fleet. However, flag officers have to be appointed manually through the commanders window. It's a good place to put officers who have been promoted too far for ship command.

A couple of other points before we move on to naval administration. First, you can use the Senior C.O. checkbox to increase the level of the commander one above the default. This is useful to extend the life of skilled officers with certain types of bonuses, like Logistics and Mining. These are useful for speeding cargo loading and orbital mining respectively, but default civilian ships are all Rank 1, so these officers will retire fairly early. If you have a particularly big freighter or fuel harvester, then letting its commander be Rank 2 will help. It can also be good if you want to use a higher-ranking officer than normal on a particularly large and important warship. Second, you can set commander priority in the Ship Design window under the Miscellaneous tab. Note that until 1.12 the priority worked backwards from how you'd expect. Low numbers meant that the slot would be filled first, while higher numbers had lower priority. Fortunately, this is no longer the case.

Now we turn to naval administration. C# Aurora added hierarchies of commanders that will give bonuses to the officers below them, created and managed under the Admin Command tab of the Naval Organization window. All races start with a single naval headquarters that all other units and commands are subordinate to. Below this, you can create as many nested admin commands as you want, of any of seven types. Each allows its commander to grant certain types of bonuses to subordinate ships. The General type allows a wide range of bonuses, each at low level. The others emphasize types that are relevant to their function. For instance, Naval Admin Commands allow the fleet commander to apply Crew Training, Tactical and Engineering bonuses to the ships of the fleet, so long as they're within a radius based on of the number of naval headquarters present on the body where the fleet is based.5 Patrol commands don't gain the crew training bonus, but have twice the radius. Survey commands get bonuses to survey and engineering, and also have twice the radius of normal commands. Training commands allow ships to learn to work as a fleet much more rapidly, at a cost in wear and tear on the crew and the ship. Logistics commands are primarily for transports, while industrial commands speed mining and jump gate construction.

The biggest advantage of all of these is that the commands nest, and the bonuses of the commanders stack. Creating reporting hierarchies is an excellent use of senior officers, who before this version of Aurora tended to be kind of useless, and great for roleplaying as well. There are two main reasons not to go crazy, though. First, you need to make sure you have officers of sufficient rank for the higher bits of the hierarchy. Each admin command must be led by an officer at least one rank higher than the highest-ranking officer under him, either admin command leader or ship captain. This adds up fast, and in practice, you're probably not going to get more than 3 or 4 levels deep before you can't find someone with the rank to run the whole navy. Second, you have to go in and manually assign officers to these positions. This isn't a huge job, but it can be annoying. And while you are allowed to appoint anyone of the necessary rank or higher to an admin command, I believe you need each commander to be junior to the one above him.

So why not go the other way, and just have a couple of hierarchies, each focusing on a single job, and nested to squeeze the most out of the commanders? A couple of reasons. First, roleplaying, which may or may not appeal to you. Second, as your empire expands, you might need to spread your admin commands out. Doubling the HQs for each increase in radius works well up to 4 or maybe 8, but starts to scale poorly after that. Best to spread the HQs out some. The bonuses from higher headquarters continues to apply so long as a command chain can be traced. And naval HQs don't require a population to staff them, either.

So now we have our shiny new warships, all ready to go with their commanders and administrative structure. But "amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics", and it's time to take another look at the various ships which will form your logistics chain. I'll pick up there next time.

1 Ground officers work fairly similarly to naval officers, but with different bonuses. I'll talk about them more when I get around to ground combat.

2 For the US and UK themes, which I normally use because it's mentally easier, this is Lieutenant Commander.

3 Once an officer (or any commander, for that matter) passes a certain amount of time in service, they have a chance (20% per year, I believe) of deciding to retire each build cycle. The time threshold depends on rank, and the chance is doubled if they don't currently have a job.

4 Note that a ship without a commander will work just fine. It just won't get any bonuses.

5 The number of headquarters required for a given radius r is 2^(r-1), so a single HQ had radius 1, and 8 HQs have radius 3.


  1. June 12, 2020echo said...

    The radius doesn't include the admin's home system, right? So a radius of 1 means "a system one jump away", not "just the one system"?

    And thank you, I'd been creating all my admins as GEN, because I didn't realize you needed to click the right one on that bonus table before clicking "create admin". >_>

  2. June 12, 2020bean said...

    That's correct.

  3. June 14, 2020echo said...

    The fog of war in Aurora makes for some really fun puzzles.
    Survey ship met some xenos ships and briefly detected their planet. They wouldn't communicate (not that I'd ever talk to one, the way my race's stats are).

    The list of things I learned from the resulting engagement is tiny:
    Some of their ships have 5km/s speed, unknown tonnage.
    The 7kt ship survived the first strike of 12 str6 nuclear missiles. The second strike didn't come for 30min, but this was probably lost sensor lock, not info on their reload time.
    I never even saw the missile speed, but if their ships are 5k a 15-20km/s ASM seems likely?

    6th game year. I've been focusing on booming the economy and have no warships, but still have 25k instant build power.
    I'm thinking escorts w/ 10cm railguns & 6k-km/s tracking (what FC range?) for pd and knife fights. 2mkm range AMMs with 30-40% Pk, and 20mkm ASMs with 80% acc against 5k-km/s ships. All ships with 2 armor layers for leakers.

    Do any of those sound dumb? Is there any other important intel I should try to collect first?

  4. June 14, 2020bean said...

    I often find my missile speed to be 6 to 10 times my ship speed. It's very possible that the delay in the follow-up salvo was doctrinal, as they waited for the first salvo to hit, then fired again. Otherwise, the AI would just waste all of their missiles against one ship. That should let you get a decent handle on how fast their missiles are.

    Other than that, your plan sounds reasonable.

  5. June 14, 2020echo said...

    If their missiles might be 30-50k-km/s, anything I can build would get creamed with no way to run. That'd be a 9-15% Pk on my railguns, with the AMMs totally useless.

    Sounds like the HMS Expendable is going to get loaded up with thermals and a missile warning sensor to do some recon.

  6. June 14, 2020bean said...

    First, I should say that I have some more concrete suspicions, but they're spoilery. How much do you want to know?

    Second, the AMMs will still be useful. If it's 30 kkm/s, it'll be 2/3rds of the Pk it would be at 20 kkm/s.

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