Ships must enter a star system in order to survey its planets. This means that the ship must physically enter the star system in order to see what number and kind of planets the system possesses. Survey bays are required to conduct the most efficient surveys of a star system.
All players begin a game of FOTS with a large number of unexplored star systems. As they explore new sectors, players will encounter an increasing number of such unexplored star systems. The composition of a sector and the exact disposition of a star system, including any information on planets within that star system, remain unknown until and unless a ship enters a sector and conducts a mapping mission and until and unless a ship conducts a survey of a star system. Simply flying through a sector or star system is not enough to map the sector nor survey that star system.
Note: The terms map and survey are NOT inter-changeable. Both terms have specific meanings and duration.
Sectors can be mapped by sending a starship into a sector and ordering that starship to conduct a Mapping Mission.
Mapping Missions are conducted by the simple process of flying a ship into the sector and having it spend at least 1 game week within the sector with the intention of mapping it. No special equipment is required. Bases and other installations may conduct Mapping Missions only after they have been completely assembled and activated.
Currently the GMmacro program does not support mapping missions. Players may indicate mapping missions by placing the order “Map Sector ###x###” exactly as shown here in column C of the Orders section of their individual fleet orders on the Fleets & Defenses page of their turn orders spreadsheet.
Survey Missions are much more complicated than Mapping Missions. They require more time to conduct because they are more complicated and because they gain so much more information.
The sensors and personnel aboard any starship or gunboat are minimally capable of survey missions. Units with long-range (LR) scanners will be able to perform surveys more quickly, and those with survey bays much more quickly.
Survey Missions require a ship to move inside a star system and remain on-station until all scans have been completed. Exiting a star system before a scan is complete results in an immediate loss of all information gained on that system. There is currently a single type of system survey: the detailed survey. DS surveys will gather information on any and all inhabitable worlds within a star system; the total number of planets within a star system; the classifications of these planets; the RP potentials for each planet; the presence of any unusual artifacts, bases, outposts, early warning stations, special resources, or alien civilizations; and the total potential RP value for the entire system. The basic amount of time for a system survey is one turn; however, LR scanners and/or survey bays over the first required will halve survey time down to a variable minimum.
In the interests of simplicity, survey vessels may be pooled so that players do not need to move them around the map and thus create clutter and confusion. Surveys may be ordered from this pool.
Bases and other installations may only conduct surveys on the system they are installed in after they have been completely constructed.
The Gmmacro program completely supports survey missions so long as they are properly formatted. Each survey mission must be specifically formatted as follows,
Survey orders are placed in column B of the Orders section of the player’s individual fleet orders on the Fleet & Defenses page of their turn orders spreadsheet.
12.1.3 Time, Numbers & Additional Scanners
Any ship that possesses at least 1 LR scanner may conduct Mapping Missions. In contrast, basic starship sensors are (barely) able to conduct slow Survey Missions.
For each additional LR scanner above the minimum of one that a ship carries, one additional system or operation may be conducted simultaneously. For example, a scout carrying 2 LR scanners could conduct a DS Survey while simultaneously conducting a Mapping Mission. As system surveys are range 0 activities, any additional missions would have to be sector mapping ones.
For each additional LR scanner above the minimum of one that a ship carries, the time required to conduct a Mapping Mission may be reduced by 50% to an absolute minimum of one day.
Survey missions have a base time requirement of one turn, or two game months. A long range scanner halves survey time. A 0 gen survey bay halves survey time. A 1st gen survey bay divides survey time by 4. A 2nd generation survey bay divides survey time by 8. Thus, a 2nd gen survey ship with a survey bay and one or more LRS can survey a system in four days.
12.1.4 Limitations On Surveys Done Per Turn
Usefully employing survey data is also limited by governmental capacities of an empire. There are only so many surveys that a bureaucracy or functional equivalent can handle at a time, given the considerable organizational requirements of navigational systems updating, deploying the right sorts of colonists with the right sorts of equipment, diplomatic arrangements, revised military planning, organization of archaeological or zoological missions and the like. This cap is equal to 30 surveys per turn per advanced species homeworld with a fully functional bureaucracy, plus one additional survey per 1000 RP’s in base economy. Thus, for example, an empire with one homeworld and 5000 RP’s in colonies could conduct 35 surveys per turn, while one with 50000 RP’s in colonies could conduct 80.
A species’ homeworld’s survey capacity can be reduced or even eliminated in takeovers by other states or in case of governmental crisis. In general, extremely brutal changes of hands can reduce it to 0, while only the most smooth and easy transfer of power allows for the full 30 surveys of capacity to be retained. The capture of homeworlds becomes a considerable benefit to a conqueror’s survey efforts, or at the very least, a crushing blow to those of the empire that loses the homeworld.
The normal type of survey is a Detailed System (DS) survey. DS Surveys are careful and complete surveys of a star system. DS Surveys will gather information on any and all inhabitable worlds within a star system: the total number of planets within a star system; the classifications of these planets; the RP potentials for each planet; the presence of any unusual artifacts, bases, outposts, early warning stations, special resources, or alien civilizations; and the total potential RP value for the entire system. DS Surveys require one turn to complete during which time the starship conducting the survey may not move out of the star system. This time can be reduced as outlined in Section 12.1.3, above.
Detailed system surveys are the default mode for the GMmacro program.
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