Author Topic: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.  (Read 5755 times)

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Offline Black Wolf

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Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
So, to the best of my knowledge, there're no canon figures on the number of Terrans and Vasudans that died during the 14 year war, so I thought the wisdom of the crowd might help me figure it out.

I don't have a particular timeline in mind for the full 14 years, but the assumptions I am making are that the space war was much less a WW2 style full intensity all the time type event, and more a sort of long, medium to low intensity struggle characterized mainly by occasional major offensives by either side, and a lot of quasi-guerrilla warfare driven by smaller ships slipping through node blockades and running around behind enemy lines. Planets are rarely, if ever bombarded from orbit due to the precedent it would set, and are instead captured by ground warfare, which is where I figure the bulk of the casualties and fighting would be.

I realize that you can fiddle the story that you use and justify almost any figure for this number, so I'm not super worried. I just need a figure for various purposes in Frontlines, and I figured I might as well make it consistent with some kind of general consensus.

So, any thoughts?

[EDIT]Note that I'm only worried about the T-V war - everything before the Shivana forced an armistice. The HoL and the glassing of Vasuda prime and all the Shivan related stuff aren't really relevant in this particular instance.
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Offline Lorric

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
I don't know where the work is, I'd like to read it, but maybe this would be of some use:

http://www.hard-light.net/wiki/index.php/Eishtmo's_Terran-Vasudan_War_timeline

 

Offline Goober5000

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
Yeah, Eishtmo also thought that the T-V war was a lot like WWI.  Here are some more of his thoughts...

I do have one last thought on why the war was such a stalemate for so long:  It wasn't really much of a war for the bulk of it.  And by bulk, I mean the first 10 - 12 years.

Ever play Civilization II?  You'd be out exploring, come across some random civilization that would promptly declare war on you even though they were half a world away?  You'd never see a single unit of theirs for hundreds of turns, and battles, if they happend at all, woudl be if your units just HAPPENED to come across each other.

I think this is how most of the 14 Year War was fought.  Sure, they declared war early, but the actual FIGHTING almost never took place, not just for the early part, for MOST of it.  It was only in the last few years that we see any serious fighting at all.  This would explain odd names (Aldebaran Encounter, Vega Engagement), and also why the Vasudans held off the Terrans for so long:  They just plain never fought them.  There were battles, of course, rare, but they happened, and they were good sized, but never big enough to consititute the kind of war we see in FS1 and FS2.  Once they were over, it could be months before the two sides ran into each other again.

Except on the ground, where they probably still had the heaviest fighting of the war.  The space war, however, was a yawn.  It was probably more like the navel war of World War I, which really didn't do much of anything outside of ONE big battle.  Then nothing ever again.

All this would explain some oddities we see.  Vasudans in Betelguese and Ross 128 because they had colonies there that the GTA didn't find right away, Terrans colonizing Regulus, and the NTF making Sirius one of the core systems.  Also remember that the GTA had only been in interstellar space for about 7 years before the 14 Year War started, which is a pitifully short amount of time to expand through this small corner of the galaxy.  Add on another 10 years, though, that's more than enough time to build sizable colonies outside of Sol, ones big enough to withstand losing Sol at the end of FS1.

The war didn't actually get hot and interesting until the Vasudans deployed the Typhon, and they probably only did it after they were sure they could take on an Orion.  And even building the Typhon was probably not something they needed to rush to build, so it would explain the absence of a PVN destroyer and why the GTA just simply roll over the Vasudans:  Neither side knew where the other was, and neither was really looking either.


It's worth noting, however, that the GTM-N1 Harbinger was originally used for planetary bombardments during the T-V war, according to a FS1 command briefing.  So planetary bombardments weren't unheard-of, although nothing is said of how frequent they were.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
Between the planetary bombardments and the implied massive colonization push during the Great War (implied, that is, by FS2 population numbers and the very limited duration of Terran starflight) you've actually got quite a bit of room for casualties during TVW because of the huge number of civilians moving between systems. At times it may have been a very grim war of direct life attrition.

 

Offline Black Wolf

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
I disagree with several of Eishtmo's positions on the TV war, but I am aware of what he's said. I'm just not interested in accepting it without question.

It's worth noting, however, that the GTM-N1 Harbinger was originally used for planetary bombardments during the T-V war, according to a FS1 command briefing.  So planetary bombardments weren't unheard-of, although nothing is said of how frequent they were.

Actually, the wording of the briefing states that Harbingers were "reserved" for planetary bombardment, not that they were ever used for it. Add that to the fact that they're salted bombs, designed for maximum fallout, and the interpretation that they're revenge weapons begins to make sense - you don't use them unless the other guy does first, and you need to ensure that doing so has some seriously unpleasant consequences. It's not quite MAD, but it's in a similar vein.
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Offline Lorric

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
I disagree with several of Eishtmo's positions on the TV war, but I am aware of what he's said. I'm just not interested in accepting it without question.
Has anyone even done anything on any part of the Terran/Vasudan War that wasn't right before the Shivans show up? I haven't seen anything (and would be interested in anything there might be, but I've searched and found nothing.) And there's very little on the war in the canon. So really, you have basically a blank canvas to paint on in that regard as far as I can see.

Me personally I'd keep the casualties on the low side for a war like this, because of the way the Terrans and Vasudans basically seamlessly create the GTVA. Even with the Shivans, you'd expect a bit of backstabbing and score-settling by both sides if there were bitter grudges from the TV war, and certainly after the great war was over, there's be room for some score-settling. But it doesn't happen. What you describe in your OP sounds like a good basis to work with to me.

 

Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
Well, this poses an interesting problem given the medium that we use to tell stories around here. Eishtmo's ideas are interesting and plausible, but.. they don't make for a very good space sim campaign. I'm sure it could be done, but it would be difficult to do a campaign where battles are few and far between. That scenario much more easily lends towards Star Wars Prequels levels of blah, as far as a campaign is concerned.

So therein lies the issue. How do you plausibly tell the story of a time period in the 14-year war and have it go beyond some written thesis into fun-filled campaign with actual, you know space shooting.

I really like some of Eishtmo's ideas (and they helped form a basis for several aspects of BtA), but the reality is that his stuff never got off the ground well in FSO. TVWP is still struggling to get something decent out that isn't U-War.
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Offline Lorric

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
A less intense war does allow smaller battles to be more believable though, which means the player can have a greater impact than some big BOE where you're just one fly in a swarm of flies buzzing around.

Black Wolf of course will already have his own plan, but I bet you could create some campaigns where it's not about the big picture. Especially when the T/V war had no winner or loser anyway. You could simply have a campaign revolve around one mission (where you play several missions to complete that mission) or a Vasudan Admiral against a Terran Admiral / rivalry between two capital ships, or just keeping your own capital ship alive behind enemy lines, something like that. And of course the novelty of unshielded combat.

 

Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
Well, I think it's a little more difficult than that. Since you would only focus on a short set of skirmishes, you get a cog-in-the-machine effect in a different way. Why does this skirmish matter in the scheme of a 14 year long war?

I think what I'm mostly getting at is that it'd be difficult to do a story about the war itself and instead the story needs to be about something else, but within the context of the 14 year war. Consequently, I faced this same problem with BtA's story. It's hard to write a series of missions about the decline era because, well, not much happens in the grand scheme of things until the BETAC signing. Skirmishes with HoL, criminals, etc.. but nothing major that we know of. So instead of writing a story about the decline, I wrote a story against the backdrop of the decline.

And I suppose it's possible that this is all just from my tunnel vision of FS1/FS2 being major grand stories about "The War".. perhaps you've all gone through that process already and I'm just catching up. Though, few who've worked in the TVW era seem to have grasped that, as evidenced by the lack of good TVW era campaigns.

All this to say, IMO.. you could do whatever you want with casualties in the era, Black Wolf! :p
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Offline Lorric

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
Yes, it would be very hard to write something that "matters" in the T/V War.

Even if you created an alternate history story to bring the war to it's conclusion, it wouldn't mean much with the Shivans arriving soon after. If anything, it might make it harder to defend against the Shivans.

Off the top of my head, the only way I can think of to make an event in the T/V war matter is to be keeping a significant figure/s from the Great War alive through it. For example, the scientists that adapted the Shivan shield technology. Otherwise, it would probably have to be either character-driven to give you something to care about, maybe preventing humanity from losing the T/V war at some key moment, or simply missions created to actually allow you to fight in that era, and relying on that alone simply being enough to draw you in. For me, that is enough due to the lack of such missions, and I am most interested in Black Wolf's campaign.

 

Offline NGTM-1R

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
Eishtmo's interpretation and the World War I At Sea take in general has never made much sense in the face of the direct evidence of the first Command Briefing of the game, which presents the loss of five hundred pilots in Operation Thresher as not actually shockingly high, nor as enough to cripple operational units enough they would have to stand down for replacements and repairs.

500 pilots is presumably enough to completely wipe out several destroyer aerospace groups, but we're never presented with Galatea as coming in to replace units no longer combat effective; Galatea is a reinforcement so that combined with Terran units already in place to complete the operational objectives. The only really supportable conclusion from the evidence in the first CB is that this war is vast undertaking and the units committed to Operation Thresher could actually soak those losses and remain somewhat combat effective. The density of force that implies makes it almost impossible for there not to be constant major combat in shared systems.
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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
Eishtmo's interpretation and the World War I At Sea take in general has never made much sense in the face of the direct evidence of the first Command Briefing of the game, which presents the loss of five hundred pilots in Operation Thresher as not actually shockingly high, nor as enough to cripple operational units enough they would have to stand down for replacements and repairs.

What I think Eishtmo was trying to say was that the first 10-12 years was like WWI and the one big battle. After that, it was like WWII and true all out war. So by the time we get to FS1, 500 pilots isn't a lot to Admiral Wolf, but it still keeps the entire death toll from being insane.

If a story is to be told, I think it should follow the pattern set by the Star Wars "Lost Tribe of the Sith" eBooks. The first few eBooks take place at the beginning of the overall story. The next few take place ~1000 years later. The last few take place ~1000 years after that, along with an extra long finale. Each of the mini story arcs have a small finale before the time jump, but the entire collection tells a singular story.

This fits very well with the T/V war. You have the "First Contact War" part (no Turians), then you have the battles revolving the Leviathan production stopping/starting, and then you have the part before the Shivans. You create 3 mini-campaigns that all tie in together. The first few missions you are reacquainting with what happened in the time gap (along with playing the actual missions), then you lead up to a finale. The last mini-campaign is longer than the other two because you have more to work with and its the grand finale.

 

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
here is something that would slow down a war but allow big battles.

the inter system aspect of the war is dominated by limited access points, the whole damn thing is a series of open spaces linked by easily blockaded choke points meaning that there are three key stages to taking a systems.

1) break the other guys blockade while not leaving yourself dangerously exposed to counter attack.  I expect this to work like a blitzkrieg you punch through, overshoot, turn round and then hit the opponents defences up the rear
2) you engage in manoeuvre warfare hitting strategic targets as available
3) secure the next node(s)

In this model you would have long periods of low intensity warfare while each side built up for the next push followed by an intense period of perhaps a few months tops taking a system.

With operation Thresher I guess what happened is that stage 1 completed, stage 2 is where the offensive broke down, the GTA was able to hit strategic targets such as resupply points but failed to clear out military strong points leaving a contested system with both sides operating primarily from the jump node blockade points to minimise length and risk to supply lines and trying to create a hole in the opposition's defences while not taking too many casualties.

In the mode of war I described above high casualties are probably the norm and you will probably find destroyers operating beyond rated capacity at the start of the campaign with a ready supply of replacement fighters, pilots, parts and weapons ready to be rushed forwards to replace operational losses
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Offline InsaneBaron

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
Eishtmo's interpretation and the World War I At Sea take in general has never made much sense in the face of the direct evidence of the first Command Briefing of the game, which presents the loss of five hundred pilots in Operation Thresher as not actually shockingly high, nor as enough to cripple operational units enough they would have to stand down for replacements and repairs.

What I think Eishtmo was trying to say was that the first 10-12 years was like WWI and the one big battle. After that, it was like WWII and true all out war. So by the time we get to FS1, 500 pilots isn't a lot to Admiral Wolf, but it still keeps the entire death toll from being insane.

If a story is to be told, I think it should follow the pattern set by the Star Wars "Lost Tribe of the Sith" eBooks. The first few eBooks take place at the beginning of the overall story. The next few take place ~1000 years later. The last few take place ~1000 years after that, along with an extra long finale. Each of the mini story arcs have a small finale before the time jump, but the entire collection tells a singular story.

This fits very well with the T/V war. You have the "First Contact War" part (no Turians), then you have the battles revolving the Leviathan production stopping/starting, and then you have the part before the Shivans. You create 3 mini-campaigns that all tie in together. The first few missions you are reacquainting with what happened in the time gap (along with playing the actual missions), then you lead up to a finale. The last mini-campaign is longer than the other two because you have more to work with and its the grand finale.

Pretty much what I would say. I always had the impression that the T-V War was something of an on-and-off war, with specific, fairly intense operations as one side tries a new offensive against some target, followed by a calmer staring-contest stretch. Also, I assume civilian casualties were pretty low. Neither race seems to have been trying to exterminate or even subjugate the other; it was more of a "I want this system and so do they" matter. Military casualties would have come in waves, with Thresher being one.
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Offline Lorric

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
I could imagine by the time the Shivans came along, everyone on both sides might well have been tired of the war and happy to be done with it once the Shivans had been dealt with.

 

Offline NGTM-1R

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
What I think Eishtmo was trying to say was that the first 10-12 years was like WWI and the one big battle.

Ross 128 Vasudans say that you, like Eish, forget the U-boat war part of this analogy. (Also Dogger Bank and Coronel and Falklands and the bombardments of the English coast and I could go on).

More to the point, the "force density" comment apparently sailed over your head, so I'll reiterate: World War I and the later stages of the Pacific War happened because one side had very limited comparative resources. That situation if applied to the chokepoints theory of FreeSpace means that the war is over quickly as the side with the overwhelming material advantage finds a weak point in your multiple choke points, crashes through your node blockades and torches your planets. FS lends itself to the power of concentrated force to win battles that win wars by its very nature of FTL, which is one of the reasons the Colossus and the Shivans in both games work.

A parity of force at the strategic level is required to develop the 14 Year War for fourteen years. The availability of relatively large forces and the lack of a perceived or real material disadvantage means that people will be willing to risk some of said forces in aggressive patrolling and other activities that provoke combat on a regular and sustained basis. Inevitably, some of these small-clashes will escalate and you'll have semiregular outbreaks of major combat.

Add to that the fact that some systems were apparently shared, like Antares, for months at a time, and I'd expect the order of the day to be something much closer to Guadalcanal-the-campaign and its perceived parity of force than Jutland and its clash of the dreadnaughts as a result of mutual screwup.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2014, 07:16:46 pm by NGTM-1R »
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Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
Its all speculation based on highly limited canon information. Let's not start arguing as if someone is actually wrong. I might also suggest that this isn't a thread about the theories and psychologies of war... Especially given that the circumstances are so completely different than any anology we have... Because we have never actually witnessed a space war spanning throughout the galaxy against an alien species with different psychologies.

Juss saying.. This doesn't need to turn into a debate about who's right about a fictional time period in a made up story involving fake characters, desert aliens, and space weapons.
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Offline Black Wolf

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
So nobody wants to hazard a number? I'm sort of thinking a total combined death toll of around 15 million (spread over both sides, military and civilian, over the full 14 years) might be about right?
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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
Well, I'm going to be honest with you: I have no idea, and the information we have is so poor I guess it's impossible to come out with an accurate estimate of the death toll.

Personally, I'd go with a WWI-like T-V War, and a WWII-like Great War, as it makes more sense to me. First, because I can hardly imagine an all out war in space that doesn't involve great empires lasting so long, and second, because I believe the Shivans completely changed the rules when they first appeared in FS1, thus leading the PVE to end its hostilities with the GTA.

By the way, in our history we've had a war that lasted en entire century, mostly because it had its on and off periods that made it possible.


EDIT: Also, speaking of planetary bombardments during the T-V War, they would have broken many rules of engagement had they not been aimed specifically at military installations and bases on the surface. I can't speak for the Vasudans, but the Terrans sure would have made a big deal of the unnecessary death of millions of Vasudan civilians.

 

Offline InsaneBaron

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Re: Terran-Vasudan war casualties.
Well, I'm going to be honest with you: I have no idea, and the information we have is so poor I guess it's impossible to come out with an accurate estimate of the death toll.

Personally, I'd go with a WWI-like T-V War, and a WWII-like Great War, as it makes more sense to me. First, because I can hardly imagine an all out war in space that doesn't involve great empires lasting so long, and second, because I believe the Shivans completely changed the rules when they first appeared in FS1, thus leading the PVE to end its hostilities with the GTA.

By the way, in our history we've had a war that lasted en entire century, mostly because it had its on and off periods that made it possible.


EDIT: Also, speaking of planetary bombardments during the T-V War, they would have broken many rules of engagement had they not been aimed specifically at military installations and bases on the surface. I can't speak for the Vasudans, but the Terrans sure would have made a big deal of the unnecessary death of millions of Vasudan civilians.


On the one hand, mjn.mixael is right in that it's ultimately up to the campaign author. There's no clear canon information.

On the other hand, if I were writing the campaign I'd go with what Mobius is saying: an on-off war, with brief flurries of activity followed by stand-off periods. For one thing, if the war had been going full-bore for 14 years I'm pretty sure one side would have collapsed a while back. For another, neither the Terrans nor Vasudans seem to have been trying to exterminate the other race; it was probably more of a competition of planetary resources.

Personally, I think 15 million (that's a million a year) seems too high. An Orion carries about 10,000 personnel, and a Typhon likely carries a similar crew. Cruisers have much smaller crews, apparently in the hundreds but we can't be sure, certainly much less than the 6,000 crew of a corvette. 15 million is the equivalent of ten or eleven destroyers lost per year, and it's unlikely that that many destroyers were lost over the whole war. It would probably take at least 5 cruisers (guesstimating) to equal the crew of a destroyer, and given that destroyer losses were rare (probably less than five for the whole war), that means each side is loosing 50-60 cruisers a year, which seems unsustainable. Pilot losses are to be counted too, but given that it's one pilot a ship, and more then 20 pilots a sortie is very rare (esp on the terran side), they really wouldn't count for much compared to capship losses, and they certainly wouldn't make much progress towards a million a year.

Also, loosing 500,000 people a year for 14 years seems like something that would severely hinder the "Alliance", which seems to have formed very quickly after the Shivans appeared. While I'm sure there were people angry about it (ST:R) losses on that level would likely have lead to much more rampant speceisism.

Lastly, both species have a pretty clear concept of ROE, and seem willing to apply these rules to other species, so I doubt civilian casualties would be very high. Orbital bombardment with Harbingers would have been a sort of MAD atrocity.
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