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GalCiv IV: Supernova Dev Journal #58 - Doctrine: Targeting Priority

Published on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 By BATTLEMODE In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

Since v2.5 “Ares” and the Warlords expansion were released, we’ve put out a short series of developer journals describing the new features added to the war system in Galactic Civilization IV: Supernova.

Today we’ll look at the last component of the Doctrine system we’ve not covered yet, Targeting Priority.


I’m aware that I’ve already indirectly discussed this feature three or four times over since the updates landed, as it’s a core component of the new Ship Class and Doctrine mechanics and you can’t talk about any of that without the TP system being involved. So, rather than rehash all that information in laborious detail yet again, I’ll summarise it briefly in its context of creating a Doctrine for a Ship Class and then we can talk tactics!

For those of you that missed the previous journals, a Ship Class is a Ship Type plus a Doctrine, and a Doctrine is an Operational Ability plus a Targeting Priority.

A Targeting Priority is an ordered list of Ship Types that your Class is instructed to fire upon and destroy in a fleet combat action, sequentially one by one, until all Types in the Targeting Priority list are eliminated in their order of appearance. At this point your Class will be free to engage anything else in the battle.

Each Ship Type comes with its own default Targeting Priority but if you own the Warlords expansion, you’ll be able to change the Targeting Priority for the Ship Classes you create. Warlords also adds four new Targeting Priorities for a total of eight, giving you greater control over battles by instructing your various Ship Classes to target specific enemy Types in order.

This all sounds like a lot of GalCiv ship-design jargon without an example, so here’s one to better illustrate the point. We’ll take a look at a battle between two fairly even fleets and show the different combat results when we change the Targeting Priorities of a single Class.


Here we’ve got two fleets, Korath Clan and Baratak Grove, each with 10 fighters, 10 bombers, 6 frigates, 3 cruisers and one battleship. They’re loaded out with the third tier weaponry (Neutrino Emitters, Railguns, Avengers) and equivalent defences, no special modules. They work out about the same Combat Rating with roughly equivalent values in attack and defence too.

I’ve made an effort to ensure the fleets were evenly balanced in terms of ship number, weapon loadout and other combat modifiers coming from Techs, Civ Policies and so on. There was a small HP difference but the other fleet got some defensive bonuses to compensate, and testing showed they got pretty even results.

Firstly, I’ve kept the Targeting Priorities as their Type-based default: remember, with the Warlords expansion you can change each Classes Targeting Priority to something new but each Type has a default setting. The Fighter defaults to Smallest Combatants (targeting Fighters first, then Bombers, then Frigates, then Corvettes and afterwards whatever else is left), the Bomber to Largest Combatants (Dreadnaught -> Battleship -> Destroyer -> Cruiser), the Frigate to Bombers (Bomber -> Corvette -> Destroyer -> Battleship), the Cruiser to Smallest Combatants and the Battleship to Largest Combatants.


The two opposing fleets prepare to engage, showing an estimate of the final result. Baratak look to come out on top this time…


The two fleets engage, with the combat Phase limit of 100 being reached.


Here we see that the Baratak Grove come out on top with their six frigates largely untouched. I can’t show the whole battle in picture format but the bombers spend most of the battle taking down the battleships, then go for the cruisers, but at that point have mostly been mopped up by the fighters, frigates and cruisers who’re all set to target those smaller craft.


Now we’re going to try changing the Targeting Priority of the Korath Clan’s Bombers to Frontline Combatants (Frigate → Corvette→ Fighter) to see if they have a better result trying to take out some of those anti-bomber ships first.


Off they go!


The Baratak lost all their frigates this time as they were targeted down by the bombers, but their badly damaged battleship did survive the encounter. I’ll let you decide if that’s a better result for the Korath Clan or not, but what’s important here is that by changing the Targeting Priority of just one Class, we’ve had a rather drastic change in the outcome of the battle. Bombers have a default Operational Ability of Giant Slayer, which was wasted in this battle targeting those Frigates and Fighters before the larger ships, so perhaps this wasn’t the best strategy for them.

Let’s try something else. This time, we’ll set our Bombers to Capital Ships (Cruisers → Destroyers → Battleships) and see how that works.


Turns out it doesn’t work very well! This was the worst result for the Korath Clan yet, with the bombers neatly defeated before they could kill a single Cruiser, again not utilising Giant Slayer.


Let’s try setting the Korath’s battleship and cruisers to Gunships to target the Frigates and Cruisers first.


Still no luck for the Korath but the result was different again, this time many more of the Baratak’s tiny hull size craft survived, but they lost their three cruisers and all their frigates.

I’d argue that these four different outcomes we’ve seen here would be best judged depending on what other fleets both the Korath and the Baratak have in the area. Taking down a wounded battleship and three cruisers with no fighter or bomber cover might be easier for a second fleet to achieve than trying to kill a single battleship with a swarm of fighters defending it.

These results changed quite significantly with just minimal changes to Targeting Priority, usually to just one or two Classes. Imagine how different it’d be if with both sides picking the targeting priorities for all their Classes in the battle? And then consider that each has its own Operational Ability too, and you’ll see that the Doctrine as a whole will make a huge difference.

Just for funsies, I tried to win the battle as the Korath Clan using a mix of Targeting Priorities and Operational Abilities. Here I threw everything I had into killing those Baratak bombers as fast as possible, tailoring the Doctrine of each Class I had in action for that purpose.


That’s a bit better I think! Not an overwhelming victory but better than the sad, crushing defeats that the Korath were subjected to before. My intuition that the enemy bombers were the big threat wasn’t too far off the mark: here the Korath Clan have traded well, with more ships left over at the end of the battle than their plant-based rivals. I expect that focusing on the Frigates and Cruisers could also yield better results too.

Operational Abilities make all the difference when it comes to fleet actions with very balanced sides.

In most battles, you’ll not be fighting with such even forces. A Class’s Doctrine, carefully selected to complement the roles of other Classes in your fleet, will determine whether you’ll emerge as the triumphant victor or face an ignominious defeat!