Discussion of Mass/Energy to Ship Size-Speed-Maneuverability


On the subject of CIG’s previous neutering of the Warden in response to Arena Commander complaints (a X vs. X number of ships arena game where balance matters), and are perhaps restoring the Warden to it’s larger class “rational” prowess in the rework.

Carrying on the discussion from Discord:

Physics would tell us that if a Large Ship (LS) were 3x the size/mass of Small Ship (SS), and LS had 3x the thrust (maneuvering thrusters/main) of SS, the performance of maneuvering each ship would be the same; top speed, turn speed, etc.

Arguing that the small ship can accelerate, travel, turn faster is like saying that (all things being equal relative to exercise and diet) a small person of 4 ft 10 in could turn around quicker than a person 6 ft 4 in. That’s not true. The taller person can turn just as quickly with almost half again the body mass, because the larger scale muscular mass and strength they can turn just as quickly. In fact the larger person has ‘more’ - more lifting power, more capacity to carry more weight farther, more punching strength, more … can generally rip the little guy to pieces. A different class of capabilities.

In the ship, the LS has 3x the hull/armor such that the SS ballistic ammo may at some point no longer penetrate it, bounce off it, while in kind, the LS’s larger ballistics can not only go through the SS’s hull armor, but can literally tear it apart like a car running over road kill. 3x the mass, 3x the space for 3x the power plants, 3x other space for add’l equipment (such as if a scanning ship, a 315p’s capabilities to scan is not balanced to be equal vs a Carrack’s capabilities; Carrack is ‘more’), 3x the shield strength/thickness to break through and again the SS weaponry may be repelled entirely… 3x.

It’s not a balance for equality, but rather, it’s a different class of ship. The small ship has it’s role. Again, in remote regions, a carrier may provide firepower support by carrying SS + MS where no base, fuel, repairs are otherwise available, bringing those squadrons where no squadrons normally are or can otherwise be supported; so now there is supported firepower thanks to the carrier.

Anywhere, if you are a warden, and there’s two enemy squadrons of small fighters, which side would you rather be? Is the small fighter useless in a 6 v 1 scenario? Is a single cop useless against a crew of bank robbers? He’s less useless in that situation when 5 other cops arrive on the scene. Which side would you rather be; the Warden or the two squadrons? Hard to say, given missile capabilities (larger missiles with larger drives to move them) vs. many other factors. But I’d probably want to be the two squadrons personally.

The PU is not about 1v1 irrational balance to equality. It’s not mortal combat with balancing special powers. It’s not rational to say, “I wish that small ships were as important and proficient in battle as their bigger counterparts, and because I wish it, it should be so.” One’s wishes and physics don’t match; are irrational.

An interceptor is an interceptor because it’s mass and engines are proportionally designed to deliver speed and strike. But here when speaking in general to larger fighters vs. smaller fighters, it’s not the same thing. Here we’re saying that all design aspects being relatively equal (role), that a large interceptor is more powerful (superior in combat) than a small interceptor. Both in that case designed for speed and strike, the large interceptor is superior to the small interceptor, but costs more, costs more to operate and repair, to refuel, but if one were to face the other, I’d want to be the large interceptor, because factoring out pilot skill it will win.

A battle between 10 Wardens and 10 Hornets; I definitely want to be the 10 Wardens; pilot skills and leadership being equal. They’re a different class of ship. But the PU is not about 10 vs 10. It’s not an arena arcade game.

We know at some point CIG is factoring this all in, that small ships vs Capital ships, the shields just swat away the small firepower. This should be true across all classes of ships to degrees of variance in kind. As a matter of combat ships- relative to size class - it is perfectly reasonable for different size classes of combat ships to have the same top speed, afterburner speed, turn speeds; whether an 325a, a Retaliator, or a Polaris. CIG muddies the comparative waters in that the Polaris is not identical to the Retaliator in design (the Polaris is not just a larger Retaliator; looking the same, scaled up weapons), of course not. So direct comparables are not apparent in looking at scaled up classes of ships, but relatively, generally, “class ups” of ships, scaled up in drives, power plants, shield generators, weapon classes… should be just as fast, as nimble, as their smaller counterparts. That’s physics.

Edit: caveat being unless CIG says that drives 3x larger are not 3x the thrust, but that there’s some diminishing returns in effectiveness of larger drives.

It’s all rather about situational superiority when facing combat - in numbers of ships, classes of ships, that can rationally be planned given rational threat assessments, costs and profit margins (when the latter matters; commerce vs. military scenarios). In other words, you don’t bring the Idris, or even the Warden out, when the fighter or two gets the job done. That’s rational. Can’t say how rational it will be since it’s in CIG’s hands and they’ve already once neutered rational with the Warden. But to say, “every ship should be balanced for equal trade offs with other ships” as if this is an arena game, as if physics doesn’t apply across different classes of ships… I say, “foul.”


Your comment on 10 v 10 balance is key. SC isn’t an arcade game. Personally I’m fine if AC goes away when the game goes live.


Amen to that, Jolly.


This is flawed, bigger ships don’t auto get maneuvering thrust equal to their forward thrust. And maneuvering thrust is the main problem when it comes to turns and agility.

You are correct, it is because of angular momentum. Something fish, planes, boats, and quadrupeds have a larger problem with than us as out means of changing that momentum is under us and our center of gravity. If these people were swimming for example, the smaller person would likely have a smaller arc turn than the larger. Everything else being equal.

You are again assuming 3x the size equals 3x everything. It is not true. Especially as it has more crew and thus more “dead” space, for them to walk around and for amenities.

They should be, and are. As you have, and I believe most people have also, said they do serve different roles. It is like when we pull out fighters to fight a gun ship like the hammer head. We have more agility and in the end more fire power. Thus it makes sense, a hammerhead v hammer head, or a hammer head which is only half crewed versus a Vanguard, is likely to be more of a fair fight. Why? Because the larger the ship the less agile and maneuverable. The Vanny gets around this, similar to the hammie, with turret(s) which has a larger firing arc, and bypass some of the agility issues. Which a smaller ship can and should take advantage of by knowing and being in the blind spots.

I have not seen anyone here saying this.

EDIT: Clarity and spellling


To Nilen:

On the first point, that’s a matter of design - number of thrusters, size of thrusters. But they absolutely have the capability of scaling up “times 3” for equal acceleration, vector changes, top speed between large and smaller vessels - at least in a rational universe, we’ll see how BDSSE we get.

You said, “You are again assuming 3x the size equals 3x everything.”

Not assuming, making a simple example - all things being equal - for simply making a point on the core discussion to dispel the irrational myth of “equality across classes of ships through trade offs” … that very simply 3x means 3x, that the potential specifically for matched acceleration, vectoring, speed, etc. across classes of ships is rational if the larger ship has 3X the thrust to match it’s 3x mass.

And yes, with 3x the size, there is more room for “more,” as in the OP’s example of the Carrack - that the Carrack is not just a larger 315P, but is actually “more” an Exploration ship than it’s Junior counterpart, as with 3x more space for exploration equipment, we get more range, computing/analytics, dedicated stations, etc. All relative to the core discussion at hand with simple statements. Like the combat equivalents, the exploration vessels represent different classes of ships within their function. That ships within various classes of function are not “equal through trade offs”, but scaled up in any/all of capability, proficiency, potency, capacity.

On “I wish that” … your response is tangential to the core/flawed point of discussion… that all ships must be equal (as if an arcade arena game), that an Arrow must be equal to a Warden through application of trade offs. Not true, as stated in the OP. Does the Arrow have value? Sure, but that’s not the heart of the debate. I gave examples in the OP as to when the Arrow has value, and there are plenty of scenarios when the Arrow has value - I personally hope to employ more Hornet-class fighters than Hammerhead/Idris-class behemoths that are very costly to operate.

But at its core, as a comparable, the Arrow is not the Equal of the Warden - not through trade offs, not at all, and if the game is designed rationally in the end, a group of 10 Arrows would not prevail against a group of 10 Wardens; because the Arrows are outclassed in that scenario. The Warden is a superior class (a different class) of ship. It was to that core debate that the quote you’re responding to was directed.

I’ve seen people saying it in RSI forums, and in Discord it was said repeatedly that they are equal “through trade offs.” That we’re somehow taking one class of ship at sub-$100 cost (for a reason) and comparing it to another class of ship at $250, and arguing that they’re equals - just having different trade offs. The Warden was inappropriately nerfed based on this flawed complaint as applied to an arcade game (AC).

Just saying. They’re different classes of ship, and that’s a good thing.


Jolly, I second your AC comment. Only SQ42 and the Verse should be the options.


I just want to add in, the human scenario was not very good. The variation of leg width between tall and shourt people is not great enough for this example. A better example, in my opinion, would be that of a grown elephant and an young elephant that is about 1/3 the size & weight of the grown elephant. The young elephant has a smaller turning radius, and thus requires less overall effort and time to turn in the same direction as a grown elephant; force is not the only thing we need to consider when maneuvering. If that same young elephant had the same mass and could exert the same force as the grown elephant, the young elephant would still turn faster because its turning radius is smaller.

LS still take more effort to turn even with relatively equivalent thrust capabilities as a SS because their size results in a larger turning radius, but the warden is awesome and can still take out SS that outmaneuvers it because of the turret on the top. The warden does not need to maneuver as much as a SS, it still outperforms SS even in its current state if manned properly.

Even if the warden can turn on a dime, the dime can turn faster.

With all that being said, I am looking forward to the rework!


Do keep in mind, it is a game but yes CIG could easily make this game into a real life Space Sim like the real life FA-18 Simulator I was allowed to fly in the military even though I was an enlisted 0311. They will have to keep in mind the differences of space and being on a planet when comes to physics which it sounds like they are by the verbiage I have read. Does that mean, our Player sims need to work out and we have to hit a key to tell our PC to do AGSM to help mitigate G-LOC during high G maneuvers? Watch out what you wish for … LOL. Although I must admit, that would add a bit of extra difficulty during a dog fight and make things more interesting.



Can’t say that we’re on the same page on that analogy of a lumbering beast who’s beyond scale of muscle and bone to be as effective, nor the explanation associated.

In making my point, simple as it is, all things in kind and simple to make the point (that in physics the 3x larger ship with 3x larger drive/thruster energy should have the same acceleration, top speed, and maneuverability as it’s /3 smaller counterpart:

That the large ship which “turns on an axis” require no more relative energy to turn about than the small ship with the same performance, relative to the same mass/energy relationship. 3x the mass, 3x the energy = same performance.

They had the Warden correct (before the nerf resulting from arcade AC-player complaints) when they implemented it originally with great speed and maneuverability - because it made sense originally based on rational physics, and still will make sense if they restore it to it’s rational performance. We may agree to disagree.


Making something 3 times the size makes it nine times the mass.


Making something 3 times the size makes it nine times the mass.

The OP refers to size/mass synonymously. The subject at hand is mass/energy to relative performance, so yes, we’re referring to 3x mass. How would you even characterize 3x size relative to a discussion of ship mass/energy to performance other than “mass”? Not sure where you’re going with that again.

P.S. I would point out that in one regard of performance (not applicable to decoupled pivoting), the larger mass ship with relatively equal thrust would result in a larger turn radius when making a vector changes. In other words at a constant change of X for either a small or large fighter, the small fighter would make a directional change in a smaller circle than a larger ship (with a greater circle). They’re both turning at the same rate, but for the larger ship, a relatively larger circle. That circle delta being slight to larger depending upon how much larger the ship was from it’s counterpart.


Bottom line, if the verse was rational and you’re in an Arrow or Hornet, and you crossed paths with a heavy fighter, you should be very concerned. The same would be true if you were in an Arrow or Hornet, and crossed paths with a Hammerhead or Idris - just to a different degree.

This game is a verse, not Arena Commander. If you want to take on a rational Warden (or Hammerhead, or Idris), it requires the right mix of ships to create a “superior force”.

It should not be true that “all ships are balanced to be equal, just different features creating different trade offs towards equality”. Different ships are different “classes of ships”; such as small, medium, large, capital at its most simple for brevity’s sake. An Arrow is not equal to a Hammerhead, balanced by trade offs. No. They’re different classes of ships and one will smash the other. Or should if the verse is rational, again.

You don’t take a capital ship for a low risk escort duty - there are different costs associated with each class and number of ships involved with a venture, and the mix and classes of ships should be matched to the activity, role, threats/risks, and profit margins that can be rationally planned for.

Edit: afterthought that when ship balance would be a consideration for CIG, would be when looking within a class of ships. So when they’re trying to sell another Small fighter, they probably want to distinguish it from other Small ships, and see that they’re balanced with other Small ships. Because as a practical matter, if they didn’t, the other ships would not sell, hurting their cash cow. But by distinguishing within the class, they offer variety of balancing roles that players may want more than one of the same class, to suit different situations. Balancing among Smalls, for variety, is not the same thing as trying to force (irrationally) balance between classes.


Been meaning to get back to this, but just worked up a crude illustration to make the points. These are obviously simple comparisons, but should be enough to make the point.

That with all the apples and oranges, it’s easy to confuse physics, trying to compare a brick like Starfarer with an Interceptor it’s easy to think one would be fast, one would be slow… but there’s more to it. If you wanted to, you could in fact strap some huge drives onto the Starfarer and make it accelerate faster and have a higher top speed, a street racer version. But the ships are designed in the verse to perform to specifications and function.

In some cases, such as when they significantly nerfed the Warden’s acceleration and top speed after complaints by AC players for arena “balance”, they in fact overwrote the sound physics that they initially had for the Warden.

  • The large interceptor would cost more to build, to buy, to maintain, to fuel …
  • The large interceptor’s heavy ballistics would have a much easier time ripping through the small’s shields and hull than the other way around. The larger ship would have incrementally (in kind) thicker armor and shields to penetrate by the smaller’s ballistics (energy).
  • All in all, the Larger interceptor is the superior ship in all relative capabilities (at a cost), but the Smaller is less costly, and may be the right ship for the right deployment.
  • In addition to cost to acquire, maintain, and operate, the smaller ship may be uniquely suitable to fit the right ship to the right job; such as when a carrier only carries small ships, or only the smaller ship is needed for a certain risk profile as escort to still make a profit for the run.
  • How do you combat the Larger interceptor compared with combating the Smaller? With more firepower; be it in opposing ship types or in superior numbers.

In many cases, the relative top speeds, acceleration, and maneuverability that CIG has implemented in this phase of development (or nerfed as the case may be) skewed to scale of ship - is fiction.

Hoping they bring back the rational ships and tune out the AC crowd.


Ok so time for some basic physics, which ties into the initial conversation we had. As an object gets bigger the relationship between the the mass and the thrust needed to accelerate it at a certain speed is not linear, it is exponential. The larger something gets the harder and harder it gets to change it inertia.

So using your example. your statement of the two fighters having the same thrust to weight ratio is false, the larger one has a smaller t/w ratio as you would need to stick in lets say size 5 engines and thrusters to achieve the same performance.

This is why big ships are slow and bulky, because they would need exponentially larger engines the bigger they are till you hit the point where the ship is nothing but an engine and cannot get any bigger because the thrust cannot overcome the weight of the engine.

All of this is before you even get to the structural issues, as you need to make the structure exponentially stronger too if you are going to accelerate or turn this ship at high g forces, again to survive the stresses on the structure from inertia.

This is why I said the vanguard warden would be best suited as a high speed slow accelerating interceptor that can’t turn very well. The design would skew the weight economy towards engine power and weapons, over manuvering thrusters. Give the warden high forward firepower, big powerful engines, but slower acceleration, good armor and shields, and pretty poor turning ability (pretty much a mig-25). It would fight using high speed passes, but not dominate against more agile fighters (the slow acceleration would give smaller fighters a chance to catch up while it is turning around, and let them dance around the passes). Plus this design idea also would work welll for the bomber and electronic warfare versions.

This would make the ship fairly balanced, require pilot skill to use well (or defend against) and fill a needed role of having a proper interceptor that can chase down stuff like bombers or pirates.


Hopefully this isn’t like RSI forums where mates get colorful to try to shut down conversation. Just having a conversation about ships that were logical and no longer are due to overt nerfage resulting from AC arena player complaints of imbalance. CIG doesn’t have to be rational, but we don’t have to balance for arena combat of equals either, IMO.

The discussion was related to “relative” mass-to-energy to achieve similar outcomes. It is not exponential.

Just a quick calculation on Acceleration: to achieve 32 meters per second acceleration, a Warden’s mass (239k) would require 10,000 N of force, while a Hurricane’s mass (86k) would require 3,600 N of force.

That means that the Hurricane’s mass requires 36% of the N force that the Warden does, and just so happens that the Hurricane is 36% of the Warden’s mass. Approx. 3x (x2.75) the force for 3x (x2.75) the mass.